Note: Today is the 100th day of 2013, and that makes this my 100th “Every Day in the Word” blog! That also means that if you have kept up with our reading list, you have already read 100 key chapters of God’s Word this year. Keep up the good work!
In contrast to the curses of sin voiced in yesterday’s reading, today’s chapter begins with an amazing statement of the blessings of righteous living according to God’s Law. Here, God promises Israel that their faithful obedience would be blessed by His favor — they would be “set high above all the nations of the earth” (v.1). In fact, God’s blessings would “overtake” them (v.2), surrounding them with goodness at every turn: their work in the city and in the field (v.3), their fertility (v.4), their travels (v.6), their military (v.7), their business ventures (v.8) — even their kitchens and their cooking would be blessed (v.5).
Again, the blessings of living life God’s way would result in unlimited, incalculable blessings; those who are faithfully obedient to Him live under the open windows of heaven (v.9-12)! I am sure the Israelites were especially moved by the statement in verse 13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail if you obey His commandments.” They had been “the tail” of Egypt during their 400 years of slavery, but those days were over. God promised to promote His people if — and only if — they would obey Him (v.14).
But if they did not, every blessing would be reversed and negatively intensified. Disobedience would not just result in a lack of blessing, it would unleash a hurricane of “curses, confusion, and frustration” (v.20). Everything precious to the Israelites would be taken away: health, wealth, home, family, freedom, and sanity (see v.28, 34). Everything they feared would become a part of their lives: pestilence, disease, drought, and defeat.
The section of curses in verses 15-68 is intentionally long — 54 verses of cursing as opposed to 14 verses of blessing (v.1-14). The length and the overwhelming content is a literary clue to the seriousness of sin’s consequences.
The section of curses is intentionally horrific. References to starvation and cannibalism (v.54-57) are certainly meant to evoke fear — the fear of disobeying God.
The section of curses is intentionally dreadful. Israel’s worst nightmare was losing their promised homeland and being forced back to Egypt as slaves, but God assured them that if they persisted in disobedience not even Egypt would have them (v.64-68).
Let’s take this chapter for what it is: a warning against forsaking God’s way and going our own way. It is the Bible’s flashing caution sign, alerting us to the dangers of walking the road of sin. If you are bound to sin, you are bound to suffer. Consider yourself warned.