Deuteronomy 28: Idolatry of the Heart

This entry is part 110 of 154 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

Deuteronomy 28 looks at the blessings God promised the Israelites if they would obey Him. The blessings extended to every realm of life: physical, economic, social, and political.

God intended that Israel’s obedience to Him would result in greatness. They would be a witness to the nations around them.

Disobedience to the Covenant

However, the Israelites chose not to obey God. They would go astray from His commandments, walking in the ways of the nations around them. Instead of being a witness to God’s holiness and splendor through their love of and obedience to Him, they would go astray.

For this reason, Deuteronomy 28 contains a set of curses, stressing the importance of following God. There are more consequences listed than blessings because God knew they would disobey Him.

Idolatry would lead the Israelites astray. After all, the gods of the nations were imminent; the Israelites could see and touch them. They supposed they could control the idols to get exactly what they wanted out of them.

God promised consequences and curses for their disobedience because He had given them much. And “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48 NASB).

The Heart is an Idol Factory

Like the Israelites, we are tempted to go astray in the ways of the world. Of course, we bow not to gods of gold and silver, but to gods of prestige, power, and popularity.

As John Calvin put it in his Institutes, the heart is a “perpetual factory of idols.”1 We excel at devoting our lives to something other than God.

The curses in Deuteronomy 28 should stand as a sober reminder to us. Of course, we are not a theocratic nation like Israel. However, God has given us Scripture, which reveals the work of Jesus Christ, and He expects us to obey His commandments (John 14:15). Therefore, let us surrender our hearts to God, learning to love Him and obey Him.

As we do so, let us praise God for the grace He has shown us in His Son, bringing us near to Him.

This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture

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  1. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006, orig. 1960), 1.11.8