We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Suzerainty Treaty

Deuteronomy 28 contains one of the scariest horror stories in the Bible. In this portion of Scripture God pronounces all the curses He will bring upon His children if they forsake His commands. These curses range from sickness to cannibalism! This is a grim chapter indeed.

Why is God our Father so severe at times? Why such dire consequences for their actions? In order to understand this severity we much consider the depravity of man. Surrounding Israel were pagan nations committing heinous acts. Parents were sacrificing their children in the fire. The Israelites had just spent 400 years under the pagan rule of Egypt. God’s laws were foreign to them. So in order to remove the contamination of the culture, God used aspects of the culture that they understood.

One facet of the culture that God used was called the Suzerainty Treaty, used by the king with a new people that joined his nation. In this treaty the king promised to keep his part of the covenant if the people kept theirs. A list of blessings and curses were decreed-if they remained loyal, they would never lack his care, provision, or protection. If they were unfaithful, the curses would be unleashed.

This type of treaty between the king and his people is really no different from the laws that govern us today. If we obey the laws of the land then we can enjoy its freedoms. If we break them, then we must pay the penalty.

There was one major difference however. God’s laws were relational, and he wanted His people to show appreciation for His care over them. In Deuteronomy 28:47 Moses writes:

“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things . . . now you will lack everything.”

I have to wonder if this relates to our nation today. A gesture of appreciation may be the starting place to turn things around. Perhaps we can practice this lost art, both at home and at work.

Published in: on December 10, 2010 at 4:26 am  Leave a Comment