Friday, December 28, 2007

Deuteronomy 31:30–32:47

Deuteronomy 31:30–32:47: Moses’ Song

Synopsis

In the last passage, God gave Moses a song to sing, to “testify” against the Israelites, then they inevitably fall into sin (see 31:19–22). In this passage, we get the text of the song.

To start, Moses has a bit of a prologue:

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;
  hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Let my teaching fall like rain
  and my words descend like dew,
  like showers on new grass,
  like abundant rain on tender plants.

(verses 32:1–2)


He then goes on, in verses 3–4, to praise the LORD, for being perfect, faithful, and just. And in verses 5–6, he compares that with the actions of the LORD’s people, who have left Him and His ways—which flabbergasts him, when he thinks about all the LORD has done for them.

It wasn’t always this way, of course; in verses 7–14, the song recounts things the LORD has done for Israel in the past. How He has protected His nation, and provided for them. But then in verses 15–18, the song tells about how Israel abandoned the LORD, and ran after other gods.

God’s response to these actions is given in verses 19–25, and it should be pretty familiar, after the passages we’ve been reading recently in Deuteronomy—He simply does what He has promised to do! God will abandon His people, hide His face from them (verse 20), and, even worse, pour out His wrath on them. But not completely; in verses 26–27, He tells us that He is having some mercy on the Israelites, for His name’s sake—He wouldn’t want to completely destroy them, and have the surrounding nations think that they had done it with their own might.

Verses 28–33 give us some indication as to why the Israelites are going to abandon their God: they have no sense. They can’t understand that their God is different from the “gods” of the surrounding nations. Still, sense or no sense, verses 34–43 indicate that God is going to judge, and bring punishment where it is deserved. He will also ask the people, when that judgement comes, where are your false gods now? Why aren’t they able to help you?

Once Moses has recited this song to the people, he says to them: “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess,” (verses 46b–47).

Thoughts

I haven’t yet decided how to cover poetry, in this blog; I haven’t had to do it too much, as of yet. So I’m just muddling my way through, for this passage. (Hopefully I’ll have some kind of a method nailed down by the time I get to Psalms…) So if you’re reading this, and you’re not me, I’d suggest you read the full text of the poem, and not just my summary. (I think you should always do that, but in the case of poetry, you’ll lose not just the meaning, but also the feel, if you just go by my summaries. Remember that this blog is mostly for my own benefit, not for someone else’s.)

Keep in mind that this is talking about actions the nation of Israel will take after they’ve entered the Promised Land—so for the people first hearing the song, sung by Moses, this is all prophecy, but when they do abandon God, and the song is sung to future generations, it will be history.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Deuteronomy 31:14–29

Deuteronomy 31:14–29: Israel’s rebellion predicted—again!

Synopsis

Over and over again, in the last few passages, the LORD has either hinted, or openly said, that the Israelites are going to abandon Him. This is another such passage, but much more explicit than the ones that have come before.

The passage starts with the LORD telling Moses to bring Joshua. Moses and Joshua are to present themselves at the Tent of Meeting, where the LORD will commission Joshua to succeed Moses. They do, and the LORD appears in a pillar of cloud, which stands over the entrance to the tent.

The LORD tells Moses that he is going to “rest with [his] fathers,” and that the people are soon going to abandon the LORD, and “prostitute” themselves to other gods (verse 16). When that happens, God is going to become angry with them, and “hide [His] face from them” (verse 17).

God then gives Moses a song to sing, so that they won’t forget about all of these things. (We’ll get to the song in the next passage.) After God has brought them into the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey” (verse 20), and they’ve begun to thrive, they will abandon Him, and start worshipping other gods. But this song will be remembered by their descendents, so when God punishes them for their disobedience, it will “testify against them” (verse 21). So Moses writes down the song, and teaches it to the Israelites.

The LORD then instructs Joshua—again—to be courageous, because He is going to bring Joshua and the Israelites into the Promised Land, and be with them.

Moses then finishes writing the law into a book, and gives it to the Levites. He tells them to take it and place it beside the ark, asa “witness” against them (verse 26). Why a witness against them?

For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! (verse 27)

So Moses has the has all of the elders and officials summoned, so that he can read the law to them. (Verse 28 actually says “so that I can speak these words in their hearing,” but I think that means reading the law to them.) Moses knows that the people are going to turn away from the LORD, and that He will punish them because their rebellion will provoke Him to anger.

Thoughts

This is obviously a very negative passage; it’s no longer just “if you disobey God, He will punish you,” it’s a full-out prophecy that they are going to abandon Him, and He is going to punish them. Later on, in the Old Testament, prophets will come to the Israelites, and will tell them that they’re about to be punished by God; when that happens, they should be remembering passages like this—but, to the great surprise of nobody, they will not. Human nature is human nature; once they start thinking of themselves as God’s chosen people, the idea of being abandoned by Him (the way that they abandoned Him) will be completely foreign to them.

There are some expressions used in this chapter that are used a lot in the Old Testament, and that I just love, for their descriptiveness:
  • Often, when God is talking about the Israelites abandoning Him for other gods, He calls it “prostituting themselves.” Worship of God is not just something that they’re commanded to do; they are to treat their relationship with Him as if it’s a marriage, and they are to be fully committed to Him. When they decide to worship some other god, hoping for better crops, or hoping to defeat some enemy in battle, it’s like they’re selling themselves to that god, hoping for these favours in place of money.

    In other places, God also calls it “adultery” when the Israelites abandon Him, and I find that these two expressions go together: they already have Him, and He can provide them whatever they need, just as a husband should provide for his wife, so why would they go and sell themselves to some other god?
  • Often, when God talks about taking His favour away from the Israelites, He describes it as “hiding His face” from them. It’s not just that He’s not blessing them, it’s like He’s pretending He’s not even there.
  • The LORD often describes the Promised Land as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” I simply love this description; when I hear it, it makes me want to live there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deuteronomy 31:9–13

Deuteronomy 31:9–13: Reading of the law commanded

Synopsis

In this passage, Moses writes down all of the laws that the LORD has handed down, and gives this written copy to the priests.

He commands them to read this law to the people every seven years, during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess. (verses 12–13)

Thoughts

I don’t really have much to say about this passage; it’s pretty straightforward. (I’m sure I’ve typed that sentence, or similar words, a dozen times by now in this blog.) But this is one more place in the Old Testament where the LORD commands the Israelites to pass down His commandments to their children. And it makes perfect sense: If you don’t teach the next generation the laws, how can you expect them to follow them? For that matter, this might be one of the reasons the Israelites did abandon God, later on in their history; perhaps they hadn’t been doing a good job of teaching subsequent generations about these laws.

Deuteronomy 31:1–8

Deuteronomy 31:1-8: Joshua to Succeed Moses

Synopsis

This passage is sort of a formal handing over of power from Moses to Joshua.

Moses—who is now 120 years old—begins by summoning the Israelites, and reminding them that he will not be crossing the Jordan with them, into the Promised Land. However, he reminds them, God Himself will lead them into the Promised Land. God will destroy the nations who are currently living there—just as He destroyed the kings that have already been defeated, on this side of the Jordan—so that the Israelites can take possession of it. And because the LORD will be with them—because He will never leave them nor forsake them—the Israelites should not be afraid of the nations currently living there.

After this, he specifically summons Joshua, and tells him to have courage, as he leads the people into the Promised Land, and divides it up among them as their inheritance. And he should have courage for the same reason the rest of the Israelites should: because the LORD will be with him.

Thoughts

When Moses tells the Israelites, or Joshua, to have courage, it’s always for the same reason: Because they have no reason to be afraid. This whole passage keeps emphasizing, over and over, “the LORD will be with you, the LORD will be with you.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Deuteronomy 30:11–20

Deuteronomy 30:11–20: The choice is yours…

Synopsis

The last few passages have been about God giving the Israelites promises of blessings if they follow Him, and curses if they don’t. They renewed the covenant, and He told them that He knew they wouldn’t always follow Him the way that they should. So I find it interesting that this passage is one where God once again asks the Israelites to choose: Follow Him, or not.

First off, God (or Moses, depending on your viewpoint) tells the Israelites that the choice they have to make is within their ability to understand.

It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (verses 12–14)

So the Israelites can’t plead ignorance; they can’t say, “well, yes, I agreed to follow God’s commands, but I didn’t actually understand what I was getting myself into.” What God is asking of them is perfectly understandable.

And what does this choice amount to? It’s “life and prosperity,” or “death and destruction” (verse 15). They can either love the LORD, and obey His commands, in which case He will bless them, or they can turn away and disobey, in which case He will destroy them.

So the choice is theirs.

Thoughts

This passage got me thinking about the ability of humans to obey God. This passage makes it clear that the Israelites understood what was being asked of them, and if they disobeyed, they’d be doing so knowing that they were breaking God’s commands. (If they gave it any thought—we often disobey and conveniently don’t think about what we’re doing, and in later years, the Israelites seemed to get more and more “secular” in their thinking.)

There seems to be a dichotomy between the Old Testament, in which the Israelites were commanded to obey God, and the New Testament, which tells us that we’re slaves to sin. (See Romans 6, for example.) So which is it? Would the Israelites have been able to obey God, or not? I don’t think this dichotomy exists, and see this as the difference between sin in general, and specific sins. For example, in general, a human is sinful, and is a slave to that sin. We can’t be holy or righteous, on our own. But in specific, any time a human commits any particular sin—whether it be murder or just hate; adultery or just lust—that human is responsible for that sin. (That wasn’t enough detail for this to actually be correct; I’d have to write for days and days to try and tackle a subject this big…)

To a certain degree, however, this is a purely theoretical discussion. More practically, we have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot save ourselves from our sin, and that we need Christ to save us.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Deuteronomy 30:1–10

Deuteronomy 30:1–10: Forgiveness

Synopsis

The NIV heading for this passage is “Prosperity After Turning to the LORD,” but I’m going with “Forgiveness.”

This passage is part promise, and part prophecy. After the Israelites have disobeyed God, and He has scattered them among the nations, and then after they have repented of their sins, He will welcome them back. He will bring them back to Israel, and He will bless them again. But, again, there is a condition involved: If they will adhere to the laws that Moses has handed down to them. Hopefully, they will have learned from their mistakes.

Thoughts

In a previous passage, Moses outlined to the Israelites blessings that the LORD would bestow on them if they followed Him. Then, in the passage after that, Moses outlined curses that the LORD would curse the Israelites with, if they didn’t follow Him. It’s easy, when reading these passages, to get into a mindset as if the LORD didn’t know what was going to happen; “if you follow me I’ll do this, and if you don’t I’ll do that.” But we have to remember that God knew exactly what the Israelites were going to do. And in this passage, He predicts to them what He will do after they have disobeyed, after He has punished them, and they have repented of their sins.

Remember the order in which these passages come:
  1. A passage outlining the blessings the Israelites can receive, for obedience
  2. A passage outlining the curses the Israelites can receive, for disobedience
  3. A passage in which Moses renews the covenant, with the Israelites
  4. This passage
If I had been writing the Bible, I probably wouldn’t have put it in that order. I would have put the blessings, then the curses, then this passage, and then the passage where Moses renews the covenant with the people. It seems to make more logical sense, that way. But I think God did it this way on purpose: He gave the Israelites the blessings and curses, and then had them renew the covenant, and agree to God’s terms. Then He let them know that they were going to be breaking their word.

But He will still forgive them. One of the main messages in the Old Testament is that the Israelites are God’s people, and He is not going to abandon them, even when they abandon Him.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deuteronomy 29

Deuteronomy 29: Renewal of the Covenant

Synopsis

The NIV title for this passage is “Renewal of the Covenant,” but it seems to me that it’s not so much a renewal, as it is just Moses reminding the Israelites, yet again, that Moses will be gone, soon, and the Israelites need to follow the LORD, in his absence.

He first summons the Israelites to him, and reminds them what the LORD did in Egypt; all of the signs and wonders that He performed. And then, for the forty years that they were in the desert, God preserved their clothes and their sandals, so that they didn’t wear out. And yet, Moses, says, “… to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear” (verse 4)—despite all that the Israelites have seen, they have not yet been granted wisdom to understand all of these events. To put them into perspective. Moses also reminds the Israelites that for the forty years they were in the desert they ate no bread and drank no wine (or other fermented drink), so that they would know that God was their LORD. (I don’t know if this qualifies as a “miracle,” but how likely is it that your clothes would last forty years, and not wear out?)

He then recounts their battles with the kings of Heshbon and Bashan, when the Israelites took their land, and gave it to the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites. (I don’t know if “Mannassites” is the right term; the NIV just says “the half-tribe of Manasseh” (verse 8).)

So how should the Israelites respond, when looking back at these past events?

Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today. (verses 9–15)

And, of course, part of being God’s people is not worshipping other gods/idols. Moses reminds the Israelites that all of the nations they passed through, from Egypt to the Promised Land, had idols that they worshipped. The Israelites, however, are not to fall into such idolatry; they are to “make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison” (verse 18).

Moses then touches on a very interesting point, and one that the Israelites will suffer from for the next couple of hundred years (or whatever): He warns the Israelites that people will hear the oath the LORD has sworn to Israel, and think that they are protected by God, that they are God’s people, even if they go their own way. But this will not be tolerated:

When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law. (verses 19–21)

There is a footnote, that indicates verse 19 could also be translated as:

When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way, in order to add drunkenness to thirst.”

Neither translation really makes sense to me; I think this verse is using an idiom from the Israelites’ day, that doesn’t translate well anymore.

If and when this happens, everyone will wonder why the LORD will have afflicted His nation; why the people have diseases, and why the whole land is a desolate, barren wasteland, just like Sodom and Gomorrah were when He destroyed them.

All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the LORD uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”

(verses 24–28)


The chapter ends with an enigmatic, and yet very popular, verse:

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. (verse 29)

You don’t have to know everything. You just have to know what God has chosen to reveal to you—if you don’t know something, and it’s not explained in the Bible, it means that you don’t need to know it.

Thoughts

You could view the entire book of Deuteronomy as Moses trying to prepare the Israelites to get along without him. (Or the LORD preparing the Israelites to get along without Moses, depending on your point of view.) This chapter is one of the places where it’s very direct; “look,” Moses is saying, “you’re going to be on your own soon. You need to make sure to follow the LORD! Don’t ever forget that!”

It’s no accident that God specifically warns the Israelites not to think they can get away with doing whatever they want to do, and yet still be treated as God’s chosen people. As I mentioned earlier, this notion will plague the Israelites for much of their later history. Time and again God will send a prophet to them, to warn them that He will punish them for disobedience, and they will not listen to the prophets, thinking that God would never let them be defeated by another nation—after all, they’re His chosen people!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Deuteronomy 28:15–68

Deuteronomy 28:15–68: Curses for Disobedience

Synopsis

In the last passage, Moses outlined to the Israelites all of the blessings that God would bestow on them, if they would follow His commands and obey Him. But what if they don’t? In this passage, he outlines to them the curses that God will curse them with, if they don’t obey Him.

There isn’t much preamble in this passage; Moses just jumps right into the curses. If the Israelites don’t obey the LORD, then…

  • God will curse all of the Israelites, in the city and in the country
  • He will curse their basket and their kneading trough. Just as in the last passage, I’m not 100% sure what God means by this; is it in reference to their crops?
  • God will curse the crops, the livestock, and the fruit of the Israelites’ wombs. (I don’t know if this means that they won’t be able to have children, or will only bear sickly children, or what.)
  • He will curse them when they “come in” and when they “go out” (verse 19)
  • If the Israelites obey God, he promised to bless everything they put their hands to. But if they disobey Him…

    The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. (verses 20–24)

    Quite the poetry!
  • They will be defeated by their enemies. In the last passage, God had promised that Israel’s enemies would come at them from one direction, but flee in seven; in this passage, God tells the Israelites that if they don’t obey Him, they will be the ones fleeing from their enemies in seven directions. That they will, in fact, become “a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth” (verse 25). Not only will the Israelites be defeated, but their carcasses will just be lying around as food for the birds and animals, and there won’t be anyone to shoo those animals away!
  • God will afflict the Israelites with boils, and tumors, and itching diseases, and they won’t be curable. (In fact, in verse 27, it doesn’t just say that God will afflict them with boils, but with “the boils of Egypt”—He will give them the same punishment He gave the Egyptians!)
  • God will afflict them with “madness, blindness and confusion of mind” (verse 28). They will grope about like blind people, even at midday.
  • They will be unsuccessful in everything they do, and they will be oppressed and robbed, but there won’t be anyone to help them.
  • Everything the Israelites have will be taken from them:

    You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and ravish her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. The sights you see will drive you mad. The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. (verses 30–35)
  • The Israelites and their king—note that it’s already assumed that the Israelites will set up a king for themselves—will be taken into captivity into a foreign land, and not only be in captivity, but will fall into worship of the other nation’s idols.
  • Verse 37 says: “You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you.”
  • They will sow lots of seed for their crops, but won’t harvest much, because of locusts. They will plant their vineyards, but not harvest many grapes, because worms will destroy them. They won’t get many olives from their olive trees, because the olives will simply fall off. They will have sons and daughters, but they won’t keep them because they’ll be taken into captivity. Any other types of trees or crops will be destroyed by locusts.
  • Aliens living within Israel will rise up higher and higher, while the Israelites themselves will sink lower and lower. The aliens will lend to the Israelites, but the Israelites won’t lend to the aliens. The alien will be “the head,” and the Israelites “the tail” (verse 44).

After announcing all of these curses, Moses stops to take a breather, and remind the Israelites why this is necessary:

All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. (verses 45–48)

After this, Moses goes on to talk about some more curses. It seems that the curses mentioned above are meant as a first warning; if the Israelites still don’t obey God, then He will bring a second wave of curses:

  • He will send a nation from far away, whose language the Israelites won’t even understand, to attack them. This nation will be “fierce-looking,” and will have no respect for young or old (verse 50).
  • This attacking nation will confiscate all that the Israelites own; their livestock, their crops, their grain, their wine, their oil, everything. They will then lay siege to the Israelites’ cities, and tear down the walls.

    Verse 52a is interesting: “They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down.” The phrase I find interesting is “the high fortified walls in which you trust”—God is predicting that the Israelites are going to stop trusting Him, and trust in their walls, instead. In the works of their own hands.
  • How bad will these sieges be? So bad that the Israelites will run out of food, and turn to cannibalism to survive!
    • Men—even “gentle and sensitive” men (verse 54)—will be so consumed with their hunger that they’ll eat their children, and not even share any of the flesh with their wives and other children.
    • Similarly, women—even a woman who is “so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot”—will give birth, and hide the afterbirth from her husband and children, so that she can eat it in secret, and not share it with them.

Moses ends the passage with this summary:

If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God—the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.

Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

(verses 58–68)


That last piece gets me; it’s not just that they’ll be reduced to slavery, but they’ll be so forsaken that they won’t even be desirable slaves.

Thoughts

If you look closely, you’ll see that this passage, in which Moses tells the Israelites all of the curses that they will receive if they don’t obey the LORD, is almost four times as long as the last passage, in which he recounted to them the blessings they would receive if they followed the LORD’s commands. I don’t know how significant that is, except that it’s probably because the LORD knows the human heart; it’s not enough for us to know the benefits of following Him, we also have to understand the serious consequences of not following Him.

Not surprisingly, all of the curses mentioned in this chapter actually came true, for the Israelites. They didn’t follow the LORD as they should have, and He eventually took away their prosperity, then took away their nation, and sent them into captivity in other nations.

I hope, if anyone is reading this other than me, that they are reading the actual passages in the Bible, and not just what I’m writing. Especially for passages like this; surprisingly, for a passage full of curses, there is some wonderful poetry in here.