Knowledge of God’s Law and how He has promised to bless His People in obedience and curse them in disobedience must surely come to the mind of His People as they progressively suffer in disobedience.
When Israel was given the law at Sinai it had the potential to be a great blessing to them. However, privileges bring responsibilities. If God’s law is not upheld as the remarkable blessing that it undoubtedly is, and adhered to, God may not always save His people from the consequences of their disobedience to it. Like a good earthly father, God will not excessively shelter His children and this is what appears to be the meaning of Jeremiah 2:19 when Judah persisted in idolatry.
Jeremiah 2:19 “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee”; …..
God did not stop Israel’s wickedness and backsliding and was letting His People learn the hard way. He regarded this as the best way.
Furthermore God made an unconditional everlasting covenant with Abram and his seed through Isaac and Israel, – see Genesis 15.
Because of this covenant we know He will never fully cast away His People. To support this are the Lord’s words in Jeremiah 30:11:
“For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.”
“Therefore all that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.” Jeremiah 30:16
God’s elevation of Israel above all the other nations is obvious to see when studying Scripture, and the giving of the Law to Israel is one example of this privileged position. Deuteronomy 4 puts this clearly in, for example, verses 7-8:
“For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord thy God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day”?
So in view of this great privilege it is easy to see that God would be displeased with His people turning away from His law. Sadly, this is exactly what God through Moses began telling the people on their arrival at the Promised Land. Moses had disqualified himself from entering into the Land with the people. This happened because God wanted to provide a clear demonstration of His power to His People who were in open rebellion from lack of water in Kadesh. (Numbers 20:1)
On a previous occasion when the people were short of water, Moses had been told to strike the rock to provide water. (Exodus 17:6)
However, on this occasion Moses was told to speak to the rock instead of striking it, and this was to show to the People the mighty power of God when the People were becoming rebellious. Numbers 20:8-13:
“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink”. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of the rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, “Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and He was sanctified in them.
Bullinger’s Note: He was sanctified = He hallowed Himself.
In Deuteronomy 31:16 Moses was told to warn the people about their troubled future:
And the Lord said unto Moses, “Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, so that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke Me, and break My covenant And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.” Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, ‘Be strong and of good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.” Deuteronomy 31:16-23
Every law must have a sanction (that is, a punishment for those who break the law) and God’s law is no exception. Israel, to whom God’s law was given, was warned not only of the consequences of disobedience to the law, but also to the blessings in obedience.
These blessings and curses we find set out most completely in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 and apply to the children of Israel and any strangers living in their nation. These chapters are well worth reading for they have a familiar sound about them.
In obedience, the Children of Israel will face blessings such as:
The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and He shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy People unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in His ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. Deuteronomy 28:7-12
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Deuteronomy 28.15
The reason for this familiar sound is because the blessings and the curses still apply as we read in Deuteronomy 28:46 & 4:30!
And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Deuteronomy 28.46
When thou art in tribulatlon, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God and shall be obedient unto His voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which sware unto them. Deuteronomy 4.30-31
Furthermore, these blessings in obedience and curses in disobedience point to the identity of the children of Israel hidden in the world today. This evidence seems to escape the attention of most Christians today.
Only one people, God’s people Israel, can be shown through history to prosper in obedience to God’s laws, and to fall into subservience to their enemies in disobedience
Even with the help of the clues in Scripture, especially in the two chapters, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, the identity of the so-called “Lost Tribes” remain unsolved to the world today. Take for instance the passage describing the plight of Israel in disobedience:
What do people think when they read the Book of Judges where Israel over and over again does evil in the sight of the Lord only to fall each time into the hands of their enemies. When their condition becomes unbearable, God’s People cry out to God, Who sends them a deliverer. Let us take as an example the occasion when they fell into the hands of the Midianites.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers* for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. Judges 6:1-5
*”grasshopper” (Hebrew Arbeh) is usually rendered “locusts” or swarm of locusts.
Today, no doubt we would not want to be racist and would let these people take over our land because our pastors would tell us these Midianites are all God’s children and have just as much right to the land as our children. However, this is not what happened in the next verse.
And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, That the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; Judges 6:6-8
Because many people today do not read their Bibles with understanding to realize who they are and know about the everlasting covenant with Abraham, many do not realize that much the same thing is happening now.
We know that God will eventually turn His people, for as we read in Psalm 118, His mercy endureth for ever.
Evidence that God will eventually turn His People back to Himself is to be found in various parts of Scripture including Jeremiah chapter 18. Here we read the symbolic story of the potter in whose hands the clay had been marred. That the potter is symbolic of God is evident in verse 6:
Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee. Deuteronomy 28.45-48
Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of the law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. Deuteronomy 28.60-64
This is not where the story finishes praise the Lord for we read later in Deuteronomy chapter 30:
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day thou and thy children with all thine heart and with all thy soul: That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion upon thee and will return and gather thee from all the nations. whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. Deuteronomy 30:1-3
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; Deuteronomy 30:15
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
There is much frustration suffered by people who devote their time to trying to improve the lot of the world all to no avail. Those who seek ways for improving the political or the financial systems, as their nations become desensitized to the horror of the results of warfare, drugs, alcohol immorality and the resultant poverty and disease. One would think God’s People would see how simple it would be to follow the pattern set out time and time again in Scripture. Simple obedience to God and His commandments! But no, Scripture shows that God’s People seem always to have to go right down, and in their utter misery and when there is no other way of escape, they cry out to God.
It happened in Egypt, it happened six times in the Book of Judges, and it will most surely happen again.
To repeat Deuteronomy 31:17:
Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?’