The Higher Purpose of God’s Blessings

Yael Eckstein  |  August 26, 2021

idol of the golden calf

All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God —Deuteronomy 28:2

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8.

I recently visited the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Every time I visit, I am amazed by the collection of biblical and Jewish historical artifacts. But this time another display caught my eye. At the museum there were ancient pagan idols, used by idol worshippers in this part of the world thousands of years ago.

As I read the explanations of these ancient idols, I was struck by the fact that the purpose of all of them seemed to be the same. Pagans who used these objects to worship their false gods wanted their crops to grow and their children to live. In fact, according to most scholars, fertility and wealth were the main goals of all ancient pagan rituals.

As I walked around outside on the museum grounds, I wondered to myself, “Are we really so different from those idol worshippers?” Don’t so many people of faith focus their prayers on their own material well-being?

But we are different. Yes, we pray for blessings of health and wealth from God just like the ancient pagans did to their false gods. But for people of biblical faith, the blessings of God have a higher purpose.

The Higher Purpose of God’s Blessings

In the blessings that God promises His people in this week’s Torah portion, there is a phrase that seems unneeded. Chapter 28 begins, “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God.”

Verse 1 begins with the words, “If you fully obey the Lord your God.” And then after the blessings of God are spelled out, verse 2 ends with, “if you obey the LORD your God.” The repetition of this phrase seems unnecessary. What does it add?

The Hebrew word for “if” is ki (pronounced kee). Ki has a number of meanings. It can mean “if,” but it also often means “so that.” I believe that this is the correct meaning in verse 2. God is telling us that when He blesses us, He does so for a greater purpose. God blesses us so that we will “obey the LORD your God” and grow more and more in our lives of faith. That is the higher purpose of God’s blessings.

We don’t serve God so that He will bless us. God blesses us so that we will serve Him.

Your Turn:

Besides thanking God for the blessings in your life, think of ways that we can use those blessings to serve Him more.

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