The Lord is constantly telling His people to remember what He has done for them. Today He says when they come into the land flowing with milk and honey, He wants them to remember how He rescued them out of Egypt. So He tells them to gather the first of the produce and bring it to the priest and do what? Tell the story of the Bible! “My father was a Syrian [Jacob], about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers… He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’; and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.”
Paul is later going to refer to Jesus Christ as the firstfruits – “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus will be the firstfruits of our resurrection, giving us assurance that those who trust in Him will also rise from the dead. And it is no coincidence that Jesus will rise from the dead on the day of the Feast of Firstfruits; the day after the Sabbath following the Passover when Jesus will be crucified. Like the Israelites are to remember how the Lord saved them out of Egypt and provided for them, we are to remember how the Lord is saving us and providing for us through His Son, Jesus. God is sending His Son, the Savior, as He promised in the beginning of this story (Genesis 3:15) to die for us and rise from the grave, giving us assurance that we too can have eternal life through Him.
And what does remembering do? It leads to worship and thanksgiving. Moses commands the Israelites when they cross the Jordan to write a copy of the book of the law and place it on Mount Ebal so that the word of God is constantly before the people. Then he gives further instructions for the ceremony of blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal, as we first read about in Deuteronomy 11:26-32. This ceremony will take place in Shechem where the Lord first promised the land to Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:6-7).
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:”
- “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.”
- “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”
- “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.”
- “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.”
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:”
- “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.”
- “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.”
- “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”
- “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.”
“The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.”
Moses warns the people that if they continue in their disobedience, their circumstances will become so dire that they will eat their own children; and this is exactly what we will see happen down the road in the story. The people are going to turn their backs on the Lord and engage in all sorts of sexual sin and idolatry, and this horrific thing, women eating their children, will occur (2 Kings 6:26-30).
However, Joshua will make every effort to point the people toward the Lord during the conquest of the promised land. Once the Israelites are settled in the land, Joshua will bring the people back to Shechem to renew the covenant of the Lord with them (Joshua 24). The Conquest Era begins in a few more days, so keep reading! (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:1)