Moses turns now to the curses that will happen to Israel if they forsake Him. These curses are widespread and affect all the people when the nation turns against Him.
The first words in this section set the tone for what is to come. “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all His commandments and His statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (verse 15). That NOT is key here.
God gives us choices. He also gives us chances. The curses we read about here happened to Israel but not until God had tried everything, including sending prophets and mild forms of these curses, to get Israel back on track.
If we look back at the blessings and compare them with the curses we find God initially using the same attention getting methods. Blessings or curses in the city and in the field. Blessings or curses in the basket and kneading bowl. Blessings or curses in fertility and infant survival for both human and animal populations. Blessing or curses in produce yield. Blessing or curses in battle. Blessing and curses in monetary arenas and esteem from others. ALL these areas God has power over. “For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6b).
The curses go into greater detail from this point. God is trying to scare the pants off the people! He wants them to have a VIVID picture of what awaits them if they turn away. He starts out slowly with “confusion and frustration in all that you undertake to do” (verse 20b) and moves on from there. By the end of His warnings He is describing cannibalism arising from desperate starvation. A father eating his child and doing so secretly so he doesn’t have to share the “meat” with even his own family. A mother hiding and eating her own afterbirth and infant secretly so she doesn’t have to share with the rest of her family.
If you think these things would never happen think again. In 2 Kings 6 we read that the famine in Samaria was so severe that two mothers consented together to eat their children. “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him” (2 Kings 6:28b-29). And this was not the end of that event so you can guess how much worse it got.
God doesn’t want to curse us. He wants to bless us but, just like I told my children when I punished them, they “paid” me for their “reward” and I had no choice but to honor our agreement. You cannot say you will do X if someone does Y without following through.
Jesus fulfilled the Law for us. We are no longer required to perform the sacrifices or wear the scriptures on our hands and heads. But we are still expected to follow His commands. We are to live out the commandments Jesus gave us. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.
These actions still carry blessings and curses but they are not spelled out so clearly. God continues to bless His people and He also withholds those blessings to bring us to repentance. God does NOT work by demand. You cannot force Him to give you want by doing specific works or making specific confessions. He rewards us how He thinks is best not according to what we want. He knows what we need. He knows how to bless us OR redirect us to bring us back in line with His perfect will for our lives. I’m MORE than happy to let Him take the lead here. I know I would just get myself in trouble if I tried following all my desires.
Father God, thank You for all the chances You have given me over my lifetime. I KNOW I have earned more “punishment” or “curses” than I have received. I have also received more blessings that I think I have “earned.” Thank You for loving me enough to bring me back to You when I wander away. I want only the good things of You in my life. Help me stay on Your paths. I know that trouble is part of this world and I am not isolated from it but I want to keep my quotient low by following Your will. Thank You for holding my life in Your hands.