Deuteronomy 28

 

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE (vs. 1-68)

 

 

Having enjoined the proclamations of the blessing and the curse on their entering into

possession of Canaan, Moses, for the sake of impressing on the minds of the people

both the blessing and the curse, proceeds here to dilate upon both, dwelling especially

 upon the latter as that which the people the more needed to have brought

 home to them. As he proceeds, the language of terrible denunciation passes into

that of no less terrible prediction, in which the calamities that should come

upon the nation because of their APOSTASY and REBELLION are clearly

 and pointedly foretold.

 

 

                                    THE BLESSING (vs. 1-14)

 

1  And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice

of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I

command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above

all nations of the earth:”  The condition sine qua non of all enjoyment of the

Divine bounty was obedience on the part of the people to the word and Law of

Jehovah their God. This rendered, the blessing would come on them rich and full,

and abide with them (vs. 2, 9, 13-14).

 

2 “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou

shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.”  The blessings about to

be specified are represented as personified, as actual agencies coming upon

their objects and following them along their path.  (Compare “Surely

goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6)

 

3  Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the

fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

5  Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.  6 Blessed shalt thou be when

thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.  (Numbers

27:17; Psalm 121:8).  7 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 fullness of the blessing in all

the relations of life, external and internal, is presented in six particulars, each

introduced by the word “blessed.”  Israel should be blessed in the house and in the

field, in the fruit of the body, in the productions of the soil and the increase of herd and

flock, in the store and in the use of what nature provided, — in all their undertakings,

whether in peace or in war, at home or abroad. Basket and thy store; rather, basket

 and kneading-trough (see Exodus 8:3; 12:34); “the basket” representing the store in

which the fruits of the earth were laid up, (a few years ago my Amish neighbor dug up

400 bushel baskets of sweet potatoes – I should think this is a modern example of

God’s blessings in the 21st century – CY – 2012) - the “kneading-trough” the

use of these for the  supply of daily needs.

 

8 “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 effect of the blessing should be seen, not only

in the supremacy of Israel over all opposition, but in the abundance of their possessions,

in the success of their undertakings, and in the respect in which they should be held by all

nations. Storehouses. The Hebrew word (μymis;a}), which occurs only here and in

Proverbs 3:10, is properly thus rendered. It comes from a root which signifies to lay up.

 

9 “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.”  The Lord would establish them to be a people holy unto

Himself, in whose blessed condition all would see that they were indeed His

people, favored by Him.

 

10 “And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of

the LORD;” -  rather, the Name of Jehovah called upon thee. The Name of God

is  God Himself as revealed; and this Name is called or named upon men when they

are  adopted by Him, made wholly His, and transformed into His likeness.

This blessing Israel enjoyed as a nation — “Theirs was the adoption and the glory”

(Romans 9:4) — but it was theirs only in symbol and in shadow (Hebrews 10:1); the

reality belongs only to the spiritual Israel, and this came to men in all its fullness

when He who is “the image of the invisible God” appeared and set up his tent

among men, “full of grace and truth” - (John 1:12,14) - “and they shall be

afraid of thee.”

 

11 “And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods,” - literally, shall

make thee to abound for good; i.e. shall not only give thee abundance, but

cause it to redound to thy felicity - “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 swear

unto thy fathers to give thee.”

 

12 “The LORD shall open unto thee His good treasure,” -  equivalent to

His treasure-house, i.e. heaven, whence blessing should be poured out upon them

(compare ch.11:14; Leviticus 26:4-5). He would so fructify their ground, and so

bless their toil in cultivating it, that they should become rich, and be able to lend to

other nations, and not need to borrow - “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.”

 

13 “And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou

shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto

the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day,

to observe and to do them:”  They should be manifestly superior to other nations,

heading them and being above them, their leader and not their subject or follower

(compare Isaiah 9:13). Note the contrast in vs. 43-44.

 

14 “And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee

this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”

 (Compare ch. 5:29; 11:28.) Moses ends as he began, by reminding them that the

condition of enjoying the blessing was OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE LAW

 and STEADFAST ADHERENCE  to the course in which they were called

to walk.

 

 

     GOD’S BLESSING PROMISED TO THE OBEDIENT (vs. 1-14)

 

This passage teaches us that one of the motive forces by which God would quicken men

to righteousness and educate them in it, is found in showing them that His providential

arrangements are such that the shaping of their earthly destiny is, in some sort, in their

own hands. Of their earthly destiny,” we say. For it is a well-known fact that Moses

seldom, if ever, refers to the next state of being. The rewards and punishments known

to the Pentateuch are almost entirely connected with this earthly state. Of course, there

is nothing like a denial of a life beyond the grave. But it did not fall within the scope of

the revelation given through Moses that another world should be brought clearly into

view. We doubt not that there was mercy as well as wisdom in this arrangement; the

people had as much revealed to them as they could bear, and more than they knew

how to improve. There is a world of deep meaning in the disclosure of the laws of

God’s providence which are unfolded to them here. One would think that such

promises as are made to the obedient would have been enough to win them to follow

the will of God; and that the long-continued, terrific, appalling statement of what would

follow on their disobedience would have been enough to dissuade them by “the

terrors of the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:11) from venturing on the highway of evil. It

would be easy to write a separate Homily on each verse in this paragraph, but, with

such expansion, our work would extend to a most inordinate length. We

will but suggest, and leave the expansion to others. We have but one more

proviso to make before coming to our main divisions; that is this: Barring

the special complexion here given to the chapter, owing to the peculiar

feature of Israel’s national constitution, the main laws of providential

administration which were disclosed by Moses are still in force. (Matthew

5:17-19).  Even now it is true, “Godliness is profitable unto all things: having

promise of the life that now is.” (I Timothy 4:8).  And this is the truth which, in

varied forms, is set forth here.  Let us observe:

 

  • A MAN’S EARTHLY DESTINY IS, IN SOME SORT, IN HIS OWN

HANDS. (vs.1-2.) “If thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy

God,” such and such blessings shall “come upon thee, and overtake thee.”

If Israel sought success for its own sake, irrespectively of the rightness or

wrongness of any methods adopted to secure it, there would be no

guarantee whatever of their securing the end at which they aimed; and even

if they should, the results would be fraught with evil; for “the prosperity of

fools would destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32).  But if their supreme, their sole

aim, was to do right, to serve and please the Lord, then the Divine blessing

would be sure to follow them. “‘Tis ours to obey, ‘tis his to provide.” If we

do right, and leave the issues with God, we shall not be left without tokens

of His approving smile (Matthew 6:33). There may be large temporal gains,

or there may not; but, with the much or with the little, that blessing will

come which maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow therewith!

(Proverbs 10:22)

 

  • THE BLESSING ENJOYED BY THE OBEDIENT MAN WILL

REST ON EVERYTHING WHICH HE HAS, AND WILL FOLLOW

HIM EVERYWHERE. Let every clause in the paragraph be separately

weighed. Would we set this in gospel light, if any one were to ask the

question, “What are the signs of God’s blessing which God’s faithful ones

enjoy, even in this life?” we would enumerate six of them.

 

Ø      They have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ø      They have a clear conscience; they know that the aim of pleasing

God is right, whatever difficulties it may involve.

Ø      They enjoy what they have as from God, and as the loving gifts

of a Father’s hand.

Ø      If much be given, they delight to use it for God.

Ø      If little be theirs, they know that a little that a righteous man

hath is better than the riches of many wicked. (Psalm 37:16)

Ø      And, above all, the supreme proof of God’s blessing is that gains and

losses, joys and cares, health and sickness, do “all work together for

 good” to them (Romans 8:28); they minister to the growth of character,

and help to make them better, wiser, and holier men.

 

  • THERE IS A SPECIAL LAW OF GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL

GOVERNMENT WHICH ENSURES THIS BLESSING TO THE

OBEDIENT. (v. 12.) In this verse, it is said, virtually, that the amount of rain

will depend on the amount of virtue, and that the accumulation of men’s

possessions will depend on their fidelity to God!  The second sentence we

can understand, since fidelity to God implies, among other things, fidelity in

the use of God’s appointed means of success; so that this is only saying,

Use the right means rightly, and you will gain your end. But as to the former,

who can understand it? The amount of rain dependent on the measure

of virtue — how can such a thing be? We ask, first of all, Hath the rain

a father? The reply is, Yes, beyond all question — God. But then God is

the Father of spirits also.  That is to say, there are two spheres: that of matter

and force, and that of spirit; the one governed by physical laws, the other

by laws which are spiritual; but all laws, whether physical or spiritual, are

ordained and regulated by one Supreme Being, and in His hands there is

unity of action therein.. God would make the natural world A THEATER

 for confirming His will!  (compare Amos 4:6-13; Psalms 107:33-43). (See

comments on Deuteronomy 11:10-17 – this web site – CY – 2012)

 

  • LOYALTY TO GOD TENDS, NOT ONLY TO TEMPORAL

SUCCESS, BUT ALSO TO HONOR. (See v.12c and v.13.)

 

Ø      Seest thou a man diligent in his business; he shall stand before

 kings, he shall not stand before mean men.”  (Proverbs 22:29)

 

Ø      And collectively; if a nation has in it a majority of wise, truehearted,

upright men, such as fear God, love righteousness, and  hate iniquity,

nothing can prevent such a nation rising in the scale. Its

prosperity will be manifest in its inward peace, in the readiness of

other nations to deal with it by opening up commercial relations,

and in the good will of other nations which it will certainly share.

(Such once was the United States of America!  If the current

citizenry of the United States, with their current attitudes towards

God’s law, here by Moses expounded,  had been the leaders in

our beginning, America not only would have not, but could never

have risen to a status as a world leader.  Why?  Because the God

of the universe would not have allowed it.  Like the Saul of Tarsus,

they are “kicking against the pricks” - Acts 9:5 – CY – 2012). 

It will have the armor of light. Its virtue will be a wall of defense.

Its land will yield her increase; and God, even its own God,

will bless it”  (Psalm 67:6-7). “Happy is the nation that is in

such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord”

(Psalm 144:15).  To such a nation it may well be said, “Blessed is

he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee”

 (Numbers 24:5-9).

 

 

THE CURSE (vs. 15-68)

 

 15 “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:  16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and

cursed shalt thou be in the field.  17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase

of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.  19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou

comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”

 

In case of disobedience and apostasy, not only would the blessing be withheld, but

a curse would descend, BLIGHTING, DESTRUCTIVE and RUINOUS!

 As the blessing was set forth in six announcements (vs. 3-6), the curse is proclaimed

in form and number corresponding (vs. 16-19). The curse thus appears as the

EXACT COUNTERPART of the blessing!   The different forms in which the

Threatened curse should break forth are then detailed in five groups.

 

 

     First Group of Curses (vs. 20-26)

 

The curse should come upon them in various forms of evil, filling them with terror and

dismay, and threatening them with utter ruin (compare Malachi 2:2).  “If ye will

not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name,

saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse

your blessings:  yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it

to heart.”

 

20 “The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation,” -  rather, consternation;

the deadly confusion with which God confounds His enemies. The same word is used

in ch. 7:23 and I Samuel 14:20 - “and rebuke,” - rather, threatening - “in all that

thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou

perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast

forsaken me.”  (Notice the term “perish quickly” – this should be a warning to

the populace of the United States, especially since the New Testament says that

the Lord will make a “short work” in judgment – Romans 9:28 – CY – 2012)

 

21 “The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He

have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

22  The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever,

and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword,

and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou

perish.”  The afflictive visitations here named are such as destroy life; but the

distinctive character of each it is not easy exactly to define. The pestilence is

probably a generic term for any fatal epidemic. In the Septuagint,  it is usually

represented by the general word qa>natov thanatos -  death.

Consumption; literally, wasting; the designation of any species of tabes

(neurological problems) or marasmus (a form of malnutrition). Fever (tq,L,D",

from ql"D;, to be parched, to glow); inflammation (rtuj]j", from rr"j;, to burn);

burning fever (tj"D"q", from jd"q;, to kindle): different species of pyrexia, the

distinction between which has not been determined. The sword. Instead of br,j,,

sword, the Vulgate, Arabic, and Samaritan adopt the reading br,jo, heat, drought

(Genesis 31:40); but all the other versions support the reading of the received text,

and there is no reason why it should be departed from, more especially as

drought is threatened in the verse that follows. Blasting and with mildew;

diseases that attack the grain (Amos 4:9); the former (ˆwOpD;vi, from pD"v;, to scorch,

to blast) a withering or scorching of the ears caused by the east wind (Genesis 41:23);

the latter (ˆwOqr;ye, from qr"y;, to be yellowish) the effect produced by a hot wind,

which turns the ears yellow, so that they are rendered unproductive.

 

23 “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth

that is under thee shall be iron.24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land

powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be

destroyed.”  Terrible drought is hero threatened; no rain should fall (compare

Leviticus 26:19); but instead thereof dust, both light as powder and heavy as sand,

should fall upon them. The allusion is probably to those clouds of dust and sand

which often fill the air in Palestine, when the heat is intense and there has been no

rain for a season; the wind then becomes a vehement sirocco, and the air is filled

with sand and dust, and is like the glowing heat at the mouth of a furnace (Robinson,

‘Bib. Res.,’ 2:123; Thomson, ‘Land and the Book,’ 2:311).  (I am 68 years old

and have studied the Bible fairly extensively for 56 of those years, and this being

Feb. 13, 2012, is the first time I have ever made the connection with the sins of

America during the “Roaring Twenties” with the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930’s!

As a high school teacher of American History, I have long been aware of the

Great Depression and World War II getting the attention of the American people,

who changed ways for a while [in fact, the 1950’s, when I first became aware

of the world, was a great time to be reared!] but then the 1960’s to the present,

a long history of SIN AND DECLINE IN THE UNITED STATES, should

make us aware of history and alarm us for what might be coming down the

pike!  They say that “those who do not know history will

repeat it!”  I cannot speak for what God will do or is doing in this instance, but

if we did not learn from the Dust Bowl, perhaps it would do us no good to be

dealt with in a similar manner in the 21st century.  God has set a precedent of

giving a people, a nation up, to do what they wish!  We should pray God that

this is not the case!  If the Dust Bowl was not a “wake up call” and a modern

fulfillment of this curse from Deuteronomy, THEN I AM A FALSE PROPHET!

Consider God’s word to the nation under Isaiah, when Israel to was in decline: 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken,

I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not

know, my people doth not consider.  Ah sinful nation, a people laden with

iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters:  they have forsaken

the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are

gone away backward.  Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt

more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the

sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds,

and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up,

neither mollified with ointment.”{Isaiah 1:2-6} – Could it be that God is dealing

with us as Israel?  “Ephraim is joined to idols:  let him alone.” - Hosea 4:17. 

For Israel, at the last, “THERE WAS NO REMEDY” - II Chronicles 36:16 -

America, consider God word from Proverbs 6:15, “Therefore shall his calamity

Come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken WITHOUT REMEDY!”

Chronologically, this happened to Israel after God warned them, “And it shall be,

when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which He

swear unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee

great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,  And houses full of all

good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst

not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt

have eaten and be full; THEN BEWARE LEST THOU FORGET THE

LORD, WHICH BROUGHT THEE FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF

EGYPT, FROM THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE.”  - ch. 6:10-12 – Now

I ask, has this all not happened to us in the USA after the Founding Fathers

and earlier citizens than us have done all the hard work and, basically, THE

NOW GENERATION, is the ones that have DEPARTED FROM GOD

 to where our national leaders and even the average citizen, are

wringing their hands in helplessness??????????????  (There is hope!

Let us take heed to the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:11-14) –

“And that, knowing the time, that NOW IS HIGH TIME TO AWAKE

OUT OF SLEEP for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

THE NIGHT IS FAR SPENT, THE DAY IS AT HAND:  let us therefore

cast off the works of darkness, and let us PUT ON THE ARMOR OF

LIGHT – see Ephesians 6:11-18  Let us walk honestly, as in the day;

not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not

in strife and envying. But PUT YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST  and

make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. – CY – 2012)

 

25 “The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies:

thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before

them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.” - literally,

shalt be a tossing to and fro to all the kingdoms, etc.; “a ball for all the

kingdoms to play with” (Schultz; compare II Chronicles 29:8; Jeremiah 15:4;

24:9; 29:18).

 

26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto

the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.”  Utter defeat in

battle (the opposite of the blessing promised, v. 7) and dispersion among the

nations [literally fulfilled in  history] are threatened, with the utmost indignity to

those who were slain, in their bodies being left unburied to be devoured by birds

of prey and wild beasts (compare I Kings 14:11; Psalm 79:2; Jeremiah 7:33; 16:4)

 

 

The Second Group of Curses (vs. 27-34)

 

The Lord should afflict them with various loathsome diseases, vex them with humiliating

and mortifying calamities, and give them over to be plundered and oppressed by their

enemies.

 

27 “The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt,” - the form of leprosy

peculiar to Egypt (Exodus 9:9), possibly elephantiasis, “and with the emerods,” - 

tumors, probably piles (compare I Samuel 5:9-12) - “and with the scab,” -  probably

some kind of malignant scurvy - “and with the itch,” - of this there are various kinds

common in Egypt and Syria -“whereof thou canst not be healed.”

 

28 “The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and

astonishment of heart:  29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind

gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt

be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.”

Besides bodily ailments, mental diseases should come upon them — insanity, incapacity,

confusion of mind, so that even at midday they should grope as a blind man gropes, i.e.

under the most favorable circumstances they should be unable to find the right path, to

hit on the right and safe course. It is of mental blindness that the word is here

used (compare Isaiah 42:19; Lamentations 4:14; Zephaniah 1:17; Romans 11:25;

II Corinthians 4:4). Thou shalt grope (compare Isaiah 59:10). Thus afflicted in body

and mind, their state should be one only of oppression and calamity, with no hope of

deliverance.

 

The spoliation of them should be utter. All most dear and precious to them should be

the prey of their enemies. Wife, house, vineyard, herd, and flock should be ruthlessly

taken from them; sons and daughters should be carried into captivity, and their eyes

should look for them in vain, with constant and wasting longing (compare

Jeremiah 5:15; 8:20; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13; II Chronicles 29:9)

 

30 “Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou

shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a

vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.” - margin, “Hebrew,

profane.” This is the literal rendering of the verb; the meaning is that given

in the text. A vineyard was, for the first three years after it was planted,

held sacred (Leviticus 19:23); after that, its consecration ceased, and the fruit

might be gathered for common use (ch. 20:6), and it was said to be profaned.

 

31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat

thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy

face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given

unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.”

 

32 “Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine

eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall

be no might in thine hand.  33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labors, shall a

nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and

crushed alway:  34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which

thou shalt see.”

 

 

The Third Group of Curses (vs. 35-46)

 

Moses reverts to the calamities already threatened (v. 27), for the purpose of leading

on the thought that, as such diseases separated the sufferer from the society of his

fellows, so Israel should be SEPARATED FROM GOD and brought under the

dominion of strangers as a punishment for REBELLION and APOSTASY.

 

35 “The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a

sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the

top of thy head.” A sore botch; an incurable leprosy, affecting not merely the

joints and extremities, but the whole body. Such an affliction would exclude a man

from all fellowship and from all covenant privileges of the nation. So Israel, rendered

unclean by their sin, should be cut off from covenant union with God.

 

36 “The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over

thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there

shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.  37  And thou shalt become an

astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD

shall lead thee.”  As a consequence, God would bring them under subjection to a

foreign power, and they should be made to serve other gods, wood and stone

(ch.4:28), and would become an object of horror, a proverb, and a byword among

the nations (compare I Kings 9:7; Jeremiah 24:9).

 

38 “Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but

little in; for the locust shall consume it.” Even in their own land the curse

would overtake them and rest upon them in all their interests and relations.

 

“Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink

of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.”

Worms; probably the vine weevil.

 

40 “Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt

not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.” i.e. –

drop off.”  41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not

enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.”

 

42 “All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.”

Literally, take possession of. The name given here to the ravaging insect is not

the same as in v. 38; but there can be no doubt it is the locust that is intended.

 

43 “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high;

and thou shalt come down very low.  44 He shall lend to thee, and thou

shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.”

 (Compare vs. 12-13.)

 

45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue

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:

46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon

thy seed for ever.”  These curses would be for a sign and for a wonder, exciting

astonishment and dismay in the beholder, and showing that it was indeed

the HAND OF GOD that was upon the rebellious nation. Forever. This,

though it may imply the final and utter rejection of Israel as a nation, does

not preclude the hope of restoration of a part of Israel as individuals, or as

a remnant remaining in or returning to faith and obedience (compare Isaiah

6:13; 10:22; Romans 9:27-29; 11:5).

 

 

The Fourth Group of Curses (vs. 47-57)

 

In order still more to impress on the minds of the people the EVIL and DANGER

of  REBELLION and APOSTASY Moses enlarges on the calamities that would

ensue on their being given up to the power of the heathen. Because they would not

serve Jehovah their God, THEY SHOULD BE DELIVERED TO BE

SERVANTS OF THEIR ENEMIES!

 

47 “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and

with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 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.”

 

The description here given of the enemy to whom Israel was to be subjected, applies

more or less closely to all the nations whom God raised up from time to time, to invade

Israel and chastise the people for their rebellion — the Chaldeans (compare Jeremiah

48:40; 49:22; Ezekiel 17:5-7; Habakkuk 1:6), the Assyrians (Isaiah 5:26; 38:11),

the Medes (Isaiah 13:17-18); but there are features in the description which apply

especially to the Romans; and the horrors delineated in the latter part of the section

(vs. 52-57) carry one’s thoughts immediately to the terrible scenes which transpired

during the wars of Vespasian and Titus with the Jews as narrated by Josephus.

 

49 “The LORD shall  bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of

the earth, as swift as the  eagle flieth;” - The eagle was the common ensign of the

legion in the Roman army; and by the Latin writers aquila (eagle) is sometimes used

for a legion (Matthew 24:28) - “a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 

50  A nation of fierce countenance,” – literally, firm or hard of face; i.e. obdurate

and determined (compare Proverbs 21:29; Daniel 8:23) - “which shall not regard the

person of the old, nor shew favor to the young:”

 

51 “And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou

be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the

increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. 

52  And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced

walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall

besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God

hath given thee.  53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh

of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in

the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye

shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward

the remnant of his children which he shall leave:  55 So that he will not give

to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath

nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies

shall distress thee in all thy gates.  56 The tender and delicate woman among

you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for

delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her

bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,” -  So intense should be

the hunger, that the delicate and sensitive woman, brought up in luxury, and who

would not set her foot on the ground lest she should be fatigued by the exertion or

offended by coming in contact with the base soil, but when she went abroad must

be carried in a litter or borne by a camel or an ass, — even she should break through

all restraints of delicacy and affection, and would secretly devour the very infant she

had borne during the siege.   57  And toward her  young one” - literally, her

after-birth. The Hebrew suggests an extreme of horror beyond what the Authorized

Version indicates - “that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her

children  which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things

secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress

thee in thy gates.”  (Compare Leviticus 26:29; II Kings 6:24-30; Jeremiah 19:9;

Lamentations 2:20; 4:10.)

 

 

The Fifth Group of Curses (vs. 58-68)

 

Even these fearful calamities would not be the consummation of their punishment.

If they should be obstinate in their rebellion; if they would not observe to do all that

the Law delivered by Moses enjoined on them if they ceased to reverence and obey

Jehovah, their God;then should come upon them the curse in full measure, and

long-continued chastisement should show HOW GRIEVOUS HAD BEEN

THEIR SIN!

 

58 “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in

this book,” -  Not the Book of Deuteronomy, which was not then written, but the

Book of the Law, the Torah, delivered by Moses to Israel from God; and of which

he had been, in his addresses to the people, recapitulating some of the principal points

(compare vs. 60-6l). that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name,

THE LORD THY GOD;” -  It was not mere outward observance of the Law, not

the mere “doing” of what was enjoined that was required, but the doing of it

 heartily and sincerely in the fear of the Lord, in the fear of Him who had

revealed Himself to them by the glorious and awful Name, Jehovah, their God

(compare Leviticus 24:11). 59 “Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful,

and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and

sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.”

 

60 “Moreover He will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt,” - the plagues

sent on Pharaoh and his people, as recorded in Exodus chapters 7-11. Besides these,

other plagues, not recorded in the Book of the Law, should come on rebellious Israel,

so that they should be almost utterly destroyed - “which thou  wast afraid of; and

they shall cleave unto thee. 61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which

is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee,

until thou be destroyed.”

 

62 “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.”  (Compare ch.4:27; 10:22; Nehemiah 9:23.)

 

63 And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do

you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to

destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off

the land whither thou goest to possess it.” (Compare ch.30:9; Jeremiah 32:41.)

He, whose joy it had been to do them good, should rejoice over their destruction

(Proverbs 1:26).

 

64 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.”  65 And

among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy

foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and

failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:”  Those of them that survived the plagues

that should come upon them, and the horrors of the siege, should be scattered

amongst all nations to the ends of the earth, and there subjugated to the utmost

indignities and sufferings.

 

66 “And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee;” -  literally, Thy life

shall be hung up before thee; i.e. shall be like an object suspended by a

thread which hangs dangling before the view, ready to fall or to be cut down at

any moment -“and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none

assurance of thy life:  67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it

were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!

for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight

of thine eyes which thou shalt see.”

 

Worst of all, they should be again reduced to bondage, carried back to Egypt, put

up for sale as slaves, and be so utterly despicable that no one would purchase them.

 

68 “And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again” - If the Exodus was the

birth of the nation of God as such, the return would be its death” (compare Hosea

8:13; 9:3) -  with ships,” -  They came out of Egypt by land, as free men; they

should be carried back imprisoned and cooped up in slave-ships -  “by the

way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again:” –

This does not refer to their being carried to Egypt in ships as different from the

way by which they had come out from it, but simply to the fact that they should

be carried back thither, contrary to what was expected when they so triumphantly

came forth from it – “and there ye shall be sold” -  literally, shall sell yourselves;

i.e. give yourselves up to be sold as slaves. It is a fact that, after the capture of

Jerusalem by Titus, the Jews were in large numbers carried into Egypt, and there

subjected to most ignominious bondage; and in the time of Hadrian, multitudes

of Jews were sold into slavery (Josephus, ‘De Bell. Jud.,’ 6:9, 2) - “unto your

enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.”

 

 

Love Veiled in Judgment (vs. 15-68)

 

Probably many may think that this is one of the most awful chapters in the

Word of God. Certainly we are not aware of any other in which there is

such a long succession of warnings, increasing in terror as they advance.

In fact, Matthew Henry tells us of a wicked man who was so enraged at

reading this chapter that he tore the leaf out of his Bible! Impotent rage!

Impotent as if, when a man dreaded an eclipse of the sun, he were to tear

up the announcements thereof. (Reader, there is a scheduled total eclipse of

the sun to occur about ten miles from where I am typing this, centered

near Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky, for August 21, 2017.  Whether

the Lord will delay His coming until then, or whether I will be here to see it,

remains to be seen.  I thought this was an interesting tidbit to the above commentary

entry – CY – 2012)  It would come for all that! So here; there are two historical

facts:

 

·        The CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID DEPART FROM THEIR GOD

·        ALL THESE CURSES DID BEFALLTHEM

 

Some are unspent even yet. Hence this chapter is a standing proof of the accuracy of

the foresight which dictated its prophecies. But while we thus get, on the one hand, a

verification of the words, and so a proof of their Divine origin, another question is

raised, viz. How are all these terrible realities consistent with the love of God? Now,

far be it from us to attempt any vindication of the ways of God. He is infinitely

 beyond any need of that. What He does is right, whether we can see it to be so

or no. One thing only do we aim at now: that is, to guard men against any

misinterpretation of those ways, and to point them to such teachings concerning them

as God has given to us. Our theme is LOVE VEILED IN FROWN; OR THE

TERRORS OF THE LORD A NECESSITY OF HIS INFINITE LOVE!

 

  • It should be deeply graven in our souls that the storm-cloud of Divine wrath,

though we call it “the curse of God,” must never be thought of in any way

which would be inconsistent with His pure and perfect love. The wrath of

God is holy love judging wrong.  (I recommend – The Wrath of God by

Arthur Pink - # 4 – this web site – CY – 2012)

 

  • When once the wrath of God is incurred, the sinner cannot elude it,

any more than he can retreat from his own shadow.

 

  • God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but His

vindication of his own laws is essential to guard righteousness as with a

wall of fire! Hence:

 

  • THE TRUEST KINDNESS IS SEEN IN THE PROCLAMATION

OF THE MOST ALARMING WARNINGS WHICH CAN BE

GIVEN!   THE TRUEST LOVE IS THAT WHICH IS MOST

FAITHFUL!  GOD IS LOVE AND GOD IS FAITHFUL!

 

  • A like holy guard to that which is here thrown around the Law of

God is also thrown around the gospel. Just as, on the one hand, this Law

did not and could not annul the promise which had been made to Abraham

and his seed, even so, on the other hand, not even the richness and glory of

the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can ever annul the action of these

stern, retributive laws of God’s providence on those who continue in sin,

and who reject the redemption brought in by the Son of God (see

Hebrews chapters 9 and 10.).  (I recommend How to Be Saved  - # 5 –

this web site – CY – 2012)

 

 

A Nation Becoming a Beacon (vs. 15-68)

 

In this chapter, we find that the blessings promised for obedience bear a small proportion

(14 verses) to the curses denounced against disobedience (54 verses).  We shall try to

sum up the evils here threatened against Israel in case of their disobedience, and then

point out their practical and present application.

 

  • DEGRADATION OF CITY LIFE. If the massing of people gives

advantages to religious effort, it gives corresponding advantages to sin.

Temptation becomes intensified. The leaven of corruption gets speedily

through the compacter mass. The very mention of the city and its sins and

sorrows brings a frightful panorama before us. Ignorance, drunkenness,

irreligion, licentiousness, — all these are found in their most fearful forms

in cities. Now, the Jews are threatened with a curse upon their city life in

case of their disobedience. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are but

samples of doomed cities through the disobedience of the people (Matthew

11:20-24).

 

  • AGRICULTURE WILL BE CURSED BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE.

The land of promise will become, through drought and carelessness, a barren

waste, like the worn-out lands of slave-holding people, which once were

glorious virgin soil. And travelers today,  have no difficulty in believing that

Palestine is under the curse of God.  The threat of Deuteronomy has

become A SAD REALITY and the land stands as a witness to THE

FAITHFULNESS OF GOD’S WARNINGS!

 

  • A CURSE WAS TO REST UPON THEIR CHILDREN. No more terrible

form of judgment can be supposed than this. Parents are touched deepest in their

children. Hence it must have been a great trial for the wayward Jews to

find their children deteriorating through their sin, (it is much easier to

lead your children into Sodom than to lead them out) and carrying in their

persons the curse of God. Population dwindled, and instead of being the

countless people they once were, they have become so small that it is one

of the wonders of the world that they maintain their separate existence.

 

  • DISEASES OF THE MOST FRIGHTFUL KIND HAS COME UPON

THEM  Now, it would seem that certain diseases were peculiar to Egypt, and

of these the Israelites were particularly afraid. Now, the Lord threatens them

with all the diseases of Egypt, of which they were so afraid (vs. 27, 35, 60).

The diseases with which the human frame is visited are certainly manifold and

terrible. To attach them to sin in a way of natural law only makes the

judgment the more terrible. Of course we cannot say special sickness is

proof positive of special sin; but we can say that but for sin there would

have been no suffering and no sickness; and that sin deserves all that is

sent. The frightful character of the sickness and sorrows God sends is the

expression of His detestation of man’s sin.

 

  • FAMINE WAS STILL A WORSE CURSE.  To perish with hunger because

of the scarcity of food is terrible. To waste away for want of due nourishment is

terrible. Yet this the Lord threatened, and ultimately sent as the history tells

us.  (When this judgment comes on us, think how hard it will be on Americans

who are used to having it all!!!!!!!! – CY – 2012)

 

  • WAR AND SIEGE. The worst enemy of mankind is man. Of all

judgments war is worst. And the siege endured in Jerusalem twice over

transcends all others recorded in history. Of minor sieges at Samaria and

elsewhere we need not speak. According to Josephus, “eleven hundred

thousand Jews perished in the course of the siege of Jerusalem under Titus

by sword, pestilence, or famine. Besides these eleven hundred thousand,

ninety-seven thousand were taken prisoners; and these were reserved, not

for the light sufferings commonly undergone by prisoners of war in our

days, but for the horrors of the slave-market, and for a life of perpetual

bondage.”  It is believed that direct reference is made to the Roman eagles

in vs. 49-50, and it is known that women ate their children in the terrible siege.

 

  • DISPERSION AND BONDAGE. To those with national spirit

dispersion must have been terrible. Emigration is now deemed bad enough,

even though it may be to a better inheritance. But the Jewish dispersion

threatened was captivity which we know came upon them at different

times. The Babylonish Captivity was acknowledged by them to be in

consequence of their sins (idolatry and the breaking of the Sabbath –

II Chronicles 36), the recognized curse of God. And even after

their return in part to Palestine, they came in for bondage to the yoke of

Rome, and felt the yoke of iron on them.

 

  • THE OFFSCOURING OF ALL THINGS unto this day. The Jews

were threatened with such a scattering among the nations as would make

them universally despised. And they have become so. Even yet,

notwithstanding toleration and Jewish money-grubbing, the nation has not

secured the respect of mankind. As Byron wrote:

 

“Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,

How shall ye flee away and be at rest!

The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,

Mankind their country — Israel but the grave!”

 

Such in brief are the judgments threatened, and, as history shows us, faithfully executed.

The nation constitutes the beacon of history — the most terrible evidence of the

perils of disobedience! The following lessons of a practical character are surely taught:

 

Ø      Of those to whom much is given shall much be required

(Luke 12:48).  No nation was so favored; but, neglecting its opportunities,

no nation has been so cursed. It has been more tolerable for Tyre and

Sidon, and for Sodom and Gomorrha, than for the Jews. (Matthew 11:

20-24)

 

Ø      It is terrible when judgment has to begin at the house of God.

This is the meaning of the melancholy history. It is a tragedy at the

house of God (I Peter 4:17). “Let him that thinketh he standeth

take heed, lest he fall.”  (I Corinthians 10:12)

 

Ø      The prophetic threatening did not prevent their apostasy. Though

as we believe, having their possible career through disobedience to

direct judgment so carefully sketched, the prophecy lay for ages as a

sealed, if not a neglected book.  We think, with the rich man in Hades

(Luke 16:19-31), that categorical warning would reform any of our

brethren, no matter how abandoned, but find it a mistake. He who

knows the end from the beginning has by His prophecy demonstrated

that warning is often despised just in proportion to its

 particularity and faithfulness.

 

Ø      THAT JUDGMENT ON EARTH IS AN IMAGE OF A MORE

TERRIBLE JUDGMENT BEYOND.  (If you would like to

verify this check out arkdiscovery.com and browse the part about

Sodom and Gomorrah – thus exhibiting the truth of Jude 1:7 –

Sodom and Gomorrha……are set forth for an example,

suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” - CY – 2012)

For us, each of us, if we do fail of the grace of God

there is reserved a misery of which indeed the words of the text are no

more than a feeble picture. There is a state in which they who are

condemned to it shall forever say in the morning. Would God it

 were even! and at even, Would God it were morning (v.67)

for the fear of their heart wherewith they shall fear, and the sight

of their eyes which they shall see.”

 

In forecasting what the doom of the impenitent shall be, we would do well

to remember what God has done to sinners in the present life. Imagination

may picture postmortem pardons and insist on sentiment determining the

doom of disobedience, even when perpetuated; but THE HISTORY OF

JUDGMENT HERE ON EARTH SHOULD MAKE EVERY SANE

MAN FEAR TO SPEAK LIGHTLY OF THE JUDGMENT BEYOND!

 

May God preserve us all from such an experience, through THE BLOOD

AND MERIT OF JESUS CHRIST, OUR  SAVIOUR AND GOD’S

 ONLY BEGOTTEN SON!

 

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