DEUTERONOMY 27:11-16: “On that day Moses commanded the people, “When you have crossed the Jordan, these tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these tribes will stand on Mount Ebal to deliver the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. The Levites will proclaim in a loud voice to every Israelite: ‘The person who makes a carved idol or cast image, which is detestable to the Lord, the work of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret is cursed.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen!’ ‘The one who dishonors his father or mother is cursed.’ And all the people will say, ‘Amen!’” CSB
OBSERVATION: What are the two foundational elements of any society? Like the foundational beams of a building, if these two elements are neglected they will cause a society’s demise. This is also true for our personal lives. We gain some needed perspective from this portion of Scripture in Deuteronomy.
Moses is giving the children of Israel his final instructions before they cross the Jordan into the promised land. He has just finished reviewing their covenant with Yahweh, and he know gives them instruction on proclaiming the blessings and curses of the covenant once they cross the Jordan. Six tribes were to stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce the blessing, and six tribes were to stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce the curse.
The responsive reading of the curses is quite a bit longer than the two that are listed in verses 11-16. However, it is interesting that the first two follow the basic outline of the 10 Commandments. They are the foundational principles of any society. They are the love of God and the honor and respect of our parents, and all authority for that matter (as our parents represent all authority). The 10 commandments follow this same outline. The first 3 commandments are about our worship of God. The 4th commandment is about honoring our parents. It is the only commandment with a promise.
- “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 CSB
When a society dismisses the God of creation, when it begins to worship other things in place of God, it opens the door to all sorts of evil. However, the first sign of a society that is off the rails is the dismissal of respect for authority. It is this disrespect for authority that is first seen in the home, and then is manifested in the society. It translates into a disrespect and distrust for anyone in authority. It challenges the parent, the teacher, the law officer, the employer. It elevates the position of one’s own choosing and dismisses the wisdom of those who have lived before.
We live in such a society today. Someone has wisely observed that all great societies that have collapsed have done so first by collapsing within. This is certainly true of the nation of Israel. They did not fall prey to their enemies because their army was smaller. They fell prey to their enemies because the Lord withdrew His protection and blessing from them. He did this because they forsook their worship and devotion to the Lord, and they rejected all authority that He had established.
Now, I want to preface this next statement and admit it will sound like an older guy ranting about the past. However, I feel it is worth the risk. When I was a child I was not allowed to call another adult by their first name. We had some hip adults in our neighborhood that wanted us to call them by their first name. However, my parents would not allow this. To every adult it was Mr., or Mrs., or Miss – and then their last name. I was taught to honor and respect my elders, my teachers, the police, and those in authority over me. This translated into my respect for my employer and in general my fellow man.
Yet, this value was not taught in a vacuum. It was taught in the context of my Christian faith. We honored the Lord in our home. We prayed before meals. We went to church. We looked to the Scriptures as the Word of God. It was this foundation that led us to the latter. We first learned to honor and respect the Lord. This naturally led us to honor and respect our parents and authority. We were reminded of these principles every time we prayed the Lord’s prayer.
- “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-10, 12-13 CSB
There was a time when the citizens of the USA were proud to proclaim that they were “…one nation under God…”. I remember that day. Is it any wonder that we have such anarchy in our society today when we have taken such great strides to remove God from every public place in our society. When you remove God, the very next thing to go is respect for authority. When there is no respect for authority there is anarchy. And anarchy leads only in one direction – to destruction.
Is there hope? I believe the only hope that is left is for each believer in Jesus Christ to let their individual light shine. We cannot turn a huge ship that has traveled off course with the snap of our fingers. However, we can begin to live our lives modeling what it means to honor God and to honor our parents and all authority. If we allow our light to shine in the darkness, if we stand up for the principles that foster respect, if we vote for our values, we can see a shift in the course our nation is taking.
Granted, it will take the sovereign intervention of the mighty hand of an all merciful God. Yet, when Christians united in prayer and purpose in the past, the Lord poured out the winds of repentance and revival upon our land. Lord, move in the hearts of Your people to cry out to you once again. Pour out Your Spirit upon our nation. Bring a mighty revival that will turn the tide of a ship that has gone far off course.
In Jesus Name!