However, when grace is applied to God, people draw a mental blank. Perhaps this is because dogs have better relationships with their masters than most people do with God. Yet the concept of God's grace is fundamental. And it is very important. So the Lord taught this concept to Israel by showing them two mountains, Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, which are within shouting distance across the Shechem Valley. Today Mt. Gerizim is called Jebel el-Tor and Mt. Ebal is called Jebel Eslamiyeh.5
The Lord explains that He is setting before Israel "a blessing and a curse." In the Hebrew this is a rhyme. "Blessing" is berakah and "curse" is qelalah. The phrase is: berakah w' qelalah. This made it easy to remember, as if anyone could forget the visual illustration. As a sidelight. The Lord's lesson here is the way memory experts teach. Rhymes help. Also visualization of a concept anchors it in your right lobe, which is a powerful memory jogger.
Blessing or cursing are important to everyone. And guess what determines blessing or cursing? The grace of God does. But, this passages teaches that grace is available if a person wants it. The blessing is received "if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord your God" (verse 27). Actually, "listen to" is shama`, which means "to hear and obey." The "commands of the Lord" was the Bible Doctrine available to Israel, which amounted to the Torah, or Law - the first five books of the Bible. This included all the teachings about the Tabernacle. So the blessing of God was available to all who would "hear and obey the commandments of the Lord."
Principle: God's grace is available through hearing and obeying Bible Doctrine.
For those who choose to disobey the direct orders of Almighty God, the consequences are given in verse 28: "and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God." So God curses people on the basis of their disobedience to Bible Doctrine. That is very clear - as clear as a mountain. Here's the opposite graphic illustration. For those who reject the blessing of God, they will receive an equal amount of cursing. We make the volitional choice to orient to the grace of God and receive blessing or to reject it and suffer the consequences, which will be dire. If we reject the blessing of God, we will be forced to orient to the justice of God.
The rest of verse 28 is a prediction of how the people will disobey God. They will follow other gods. This is exactly what happened to Israel. They eventually followed other gods. The generation that left Egypt all died in the wilderness with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. They died the sin unto death without ever reaching the Promised Land. Later both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel were destroyed when they followed other gods. "Other gods" refers to idolatry, the worship of Satan and his demons.
The next verse designates Mt. Gerizim for the blessing and Mt. Ebal for the curse. These two mountains lie in the center of the Promised Land across the Shechem Valley from each other about 1600 feet apart.6 The acoustics are excellent there and the mountains are within shouting distance. Mt. Gerizim is on the south and Mt. Ebal on the north side of the valley. The location of the mountains is given in verse 30, but that verse is full of Bible Doctrine. For those who believe, there is much to be learned from it.
The spot is further described as "behind the way of the sunset." Note the corrected translation: The phrase rendered "west of" in the New American Standard is literally "behind", although "west of" is the meaning. These mountains were west of the highway that ran through the land from north to south. The Army of Israel would enter the Promised Land from the east and advance to the west. This shows their strategic penetration. "Behind the way of the sunset" obviously designates the west, which is significant. Why? Because the most prosperous tribes of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh, camped on the west side of the Tabernacle. These were the tribes with the double blessing, the bankers. And these mountains just so happen to be on the border between the allotment of Ephraim and Manasseh in the Promised Land. By application, the west is the side of prosperity of a city or a country.
To navigate there must be a reference point. Mt. Ebal, the curse was on the north, and Mt. Gerizim was on the south. That would make cursing on the right hand and blessing on the left hand facing west, and that would be absurd. Everybody in Israel knew that the right hand side was the place of blessing. So what's this all about? The Tabernacle was always pitched toward the east, toward the rising sun. Why? Because the spiritual entrance was on the east.
There are only two acceptable reference directions in the Plan of God: The north or the east. This passage gives a reference associated with the west; so it is explained in the context. Once the Bible is believed all kinds of things will make sense; without this knowledge, all will be confusion. So, if a person simply turned around and faced east; then blessing would be on the right and cursing on the left just as the right side is always the spiritual side and the left is the temporal. But there is more. Mt. Ebal was on the north side of the valley. And Israel was always attacked from the north. The Assyrians came that way, and the Chaldeans came that way. The tribe of Dan camped on the north side of the Tabernacle. Dan was the center of the federal judicial system. The Levites, the priests, camped on the east behind Judah, the leader. And on the south were the rebels, outlaws, and those who were cursed.
The last phrase in the verse, "beside the terebinths of Moreh," is the fulfillment of the Palestinian Covenant given to Abraham when he entered Canaan (Genesis 12:6-7):
Principle: In grace, mankind receives the blessings.
So when mankind rejects the grace of God, the eventual result can only be cursing. There is no other way. Although God may delay the cursing when and how He sees fit, rejection of grace is tantamount to choosing cursing. When a person says, "I don't want the grace of God," that person is also saying, "I don't want the blessing of God." They are inseparably linked. Accepting grace leads to blessing, but rejecting grace is a request for cursing. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ tried to explain (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23):
Mankind is a guest in the Universe that God created. The Universe is the system, and mankind is just a speck in the midst of it all. Can the pot look up at the potter and say, "Why did you make me?" Or can the pot defy the potter? Can a clay pot reject it's maker? Man is merely a part of the system that God created. From a systemic perspective, how can a part of the system reject the system? The picture of God and the Universe at the right illustrates the system which God created. Mankind is only a small part of the system. How can man defy the system?
The alternative for anyone arrogant enough to defy the grace of God can only be cursing. No one can oppose God, the all-powerful, and survive. There may be a period of clemency, but eventually there must be cursing. God has given mankind a choice (a free will); and when anyone makes the choice to oppose God, that person will invite the cursing of God. The one who rejects God brings the roof down upon his own head.
All mankind was in a state of rejection of the grace of God with the exception of Noah and his family - eight people total.
So the flood that covered the earth and killed all mankind except for Noah and his family was the worst cursing in history. And that cursing was due to defiance of the grace of God. In rejecting salvation (God's offer of grace) and choosing the Satanic alternative, mankind opposed God's grace. That generation rejected God, salvation, the human species, and the institution of marriage. Satan has always opposed marriage. Note: The institution of marriage is for the human race only. Marriage is for one male and one female of the human race only.
In Deuteronomy 28:13, jhwh refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (preincarnate), who is the chief executor of the Plan of God. The phrase, "will make," refers to grace. The LORD does the work here. He is the one who promotes and gives blessing.
"The head" refers to more than the physical head upon the shoulders. The head represents authority. The term refers to one who is in authority; the chief. The head also refers to the front, the first and, in this way, symbolizes leadership. "The LORD will make you the head" means that the LORD will bless Israel in grace. Only He can promote. He has all authority "in Heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). In the illustration of the Universe, God the Father is the highest authority, but He has allocated all authority over Creation to the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. The promise in this verse is to Israel. The LORD is promising to make them the head. He will make Israel the world leader. He will make Israel the source of blessing for all the nations on earth. Israel will be the Client Nation.
The alternative to grace follows, "and not the tail." Now when the head and tail are used together, it is obviously a metaphor because animals have heads and tails. Human beings don't. But the metaphor is symbolic. Although people don't have physical tails, they may have the characteristics of the tail of an animal. Many animals have heads and tails. Some, like snakes, only have heads and tails (no body). But the symbolism of not being a tail means that Israel will not come last. Israel will not be least. It will not be ruled over by others. It will not be a slave nation.
"And you shall be only inclined upward" - here the translation has been revised due to the adverb, ma`al, which means upward (not "above"). To be inclined upward means advancing to the high ground of success and victory. It means going forward. It refers to a strategical advance. It refers to a historical uptrend. So this is a promise from the LORD. The nation of Israel will be advancing toward prosperity and blessing. This will be achieved by the grace of God.
"And you shall not be inclined downward" - this is the alternative to grace, which will not occur if Israel responds to the grace of God. The negative here is lo' in the Hebrew, which is strategic (long term) negative. The adverb, mattah, means downward. It refers to decline, losing, failing. It refers to a historical downtrend. So, if Israel is not inclined downward, it will not be the victim of historical decline. It will not fall as a nation, have economic recession, and military defeat.
"Since you hear and obey all the commandments of the Lord your God" - This is the expression of positive response to the grace of God. The conjunction is ki, which means because or since. The verse is positive logic; therefore, it is translated as "since." The verb is shama`, which means "to hear and obey." This requires positive volition to listen to the teaching of Bible Doctrine and to obey it. And what is to be heard and obeyed? "All the commandments of the Lord your God" - i.e. Bible Doctrine - are what must be heard and obeyed. Thus, the prosperity of Client Nation Israel depended on the daily perception and application of Bible Doctrine.
"Which I order you today, and you diligently obey them" - This is further emphasis that this is a direct order backed by the authority of God. The Word of God teaches mankind about the grace of God. It is backed by divine authority and must be taken seriously. Moses is speaking for the Lord to the people, and the commands should be taken as coming directly from God. Israel was commanded to obey Bible Doctrine. It was an order. And furthermore, they were to "diligently obey," which means to be conscientious in their obedience. This means to obey with loyalty, honor, and integrity - not the halfhearted effort that is characteristic of pseudo scholars and those who are academically lazy. It means to be serious students of the Word, to have faith, and to walk in the light.
The Head and Tail Soul Model illustrated at the right may be explained as follows: When the head is in control of the thinking, then the body is subordinate to the head. Thoughts on the cerebral cortex are required for the head to be in control. Further, the thoughts on the cerebral cortex must be spiritual. The thinking must be under the authority of God, or there is arrogant insubordination, which will not hold a person together in the angelic conflict. When a person is arrogant, that is equivalent to what Jeremiah called hebel, i.e. emptiness, nothingness, breath, hot air. Paul called the same thing mataiotes, the vacuum in the mind. When the head is responding to the authority of God, the soul is full of light, the tail is under control, and the individual is the recipient of the grace of God.
However, when the head is not under control, the person will succumb to the power of the tail. When there are no spiritual thoughts on the cerebral cortex to control the soul, the Old Sin Nature breaks out. When the Old Sin Nature is controlling the soul, the individual is at the mercy of the garbage in the subconscious, the emotion, and the urges of the tail. The tail has an affinity to the cosmic system. The tail expresses itself as an affinity toward lawlessness, which is symbolized by the genitals; or an affinity toward legalism, which is symbolized by the anus.
The person who is under the power of the tail is also the pawn of Satan in the Cosmic System. Two of Satan's favorite methods of deception are legalism and lawlessness. For this reason Satan expresses himself as the goddess of love and the god of war. He understands the failure mode and has set up his Cosmic System to snare those who stray from the grace Plan of God. The person in the Cosmic System is described by James as an adulteress (James 4:4) due to friendship with the world.
For the person who is under the power of the tail, the vacuum in the mind creates a void into which is sucked the Cosmic System. In self absorption, the emotion and subconscious rush into the void to fill the person with feeling of the tail. When the motivation from tail is in control, the individual becomes frustrated. He will pursue a Frantic Search for Happiness, and sink to his lowest level of reversionism unless the condition is checked by Rebound. Failure to Rebound may lead to self deception in which the individual seeks to gratify his passion or vent his wrath. But the more he tries to satisfy his tail, the more frustrated he will become.
Now, the point of all this is: The person who responds to the grace of God can only do so by thinking. When there is apathy, the emotion will quickly enter the vacuum of the mind. Response to the love of God is only possible through thinking - not emotion. Emotion must be kept under control. Emotion is okay as a responder, but it is a terrible master. So, in order to respond to the grace of God, a person must think; and the content of the thought must be Bible Doctrine. Doctrinal thoughts must be on the cerebral cortex. The soul must be circulating doctrine as the heart circulates blood through the body. There must be a free flow of doctrine in the soul, or the head will succumb to the tail.
So, this head/tail model is all about grace. Those who respond to the grace of God use their heads to think doctrine and to respond to the love of God. They hold to their personal love for God, and they don't let anyone distract them. Then God will share His Happiness (+H) with them, and the Lord Jesus Christ will be at home in the heart, the right lobe (Ephesians 3:17). This is more grace, a love relationship of occupation with the person of Christ. Furthermore, the prayer life will be operational, and there will be light in the soul. Light can only come from the head.
Perhaps this sounds contradictory. Nobody earns or deserves anything from God. It is therefore, God who determines how and when He will bless or curse. He sends rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous. He provides evil people with prosperity in this life. But when God offers something in grace, e.g. Salvation, and a person rejects it; then that person will have to suffer the alternative. By rejecting the grace provision of Salvation, a person chooses to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Similarly, when a person rejects the grace provision of Bible Doctrine, that person will not be spiritually enlightened in this life and will forfeit his spiritual inheritance in this life and in eternity. A person who rejects grace after Salvation will not lose his salvation, but he will lose his eternal reward.
AUTHOR Larry Wood