24 tells us of the covenant ceremony.
Forty years later in Deuteronomy 11:26-32, Yahweh commanded the Israelites to reconfirm the covenant on two nearby mountains, Mount Ebal (rocky, with little vegetation, representing the curse) and Mount Gerizim (with much more vegetation, representing blessing). The two have a natural amphitheater on their slopes where the Israelites could hear each other shouting across the distance. This place had not only geographical advantages for the ceremony but a historical one also. Between the two mountains lies the town of Shechem and the oak of Moreh
where for the first time: “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7).
That is, the renovation of the covenant in this place demonstrates Yahweh’s faithfulness. He promised the blessing of the land to Abraham and now, many generations later, He will lead his numerous descendants to the same geographic point where He made the promise so that they can receive it.
Deuteronomy 27 describes this future ceremony in more detail (it will be fulfilled in Joshua 8:30-35) and now He emphasizes another aspect of the covenant: the obedience of the Israelites in thankfulness for having this privileged relationship. While they stand on the mountains of blessings and curses, while they
proclaim the curses for disobedience in a loud voice, the Israelites should feel the strong tie between Yahweh’s faithfulness to His past promises, their obligation to obey Him and the future blessings or curses that await them according to their obedience.
And this leads us to Deuteronomy 28, a chapter that personally I find to be one of the most difficult in the entire Bible. It is not difficult to understand its meaning – basically it is a list of blessings and curses – but it is difficult to contemplate the horror of the punishment for disobedience. I cannot read it without trembling inside. It is not just that disobeying Yahweh makes someone miss or lose some blessings; the punishment for disobedience undoes all blessings and transforms them into horrible curses. Instability, shame, powerlessness and abject fear assail the disobedient until they return to the point from which they began: “And the LORD will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer” (Deuteronomy 28:68).
We are inclined to give excuses quickly for our disobedience… but
as we read how Yahweh views our disobedience in His holy righteousness in
Deuteronomy 28, it would be better to learn how to repent of it quickly, crying
out for His mercy and forgiveness.