As those of you who know me well are aware, I’m much interested and involved in Civil War history, reading, research, and communication. It is very common when reading first-hand accounts of Civil War battles to see the writer talk about the effects upon a regiment when defeated in battle. The smoke from dozens of cannons and thousands of rifles, along with all the associated noise, blood, and terror of battle, made for a horribly confusing scene. When a regiment was being driven from the field, they would often end up running in varied directions. The wounded would lie in one spot until perhaps a time later when they would struggle if possible to regain their unit … but where would that be? It might take days for surviving stragglers to find and connect with their regiment and brigade. That sort of confusion and defeat is similar to what is pictured in today’s reading from Deuteronomy.
Moses continues in these verses with his sermon that delineates a list of consequences to follow for Israel if they do not obey the covenant with God.
Consequence 4 – (verses 25-26) – Defeat in Battle – This again is a turnaround statement from the blessing section at the beginning of the chapter. Instead of the enemy fleeing in seven directions, this would be Israel’s experience in battle as punishment for their rejection of God. The number (seven) indicates the idea of a total and complete rout.
Consequence 5 – (verses 27-29) – Egyptian-like Diseases – These were the kinds of illnesses and plaques that befell the Egyptians because of their enemy status – but here they would be the experience of Israel, essentially for becoming an enemy of God by rejection.
Consequence 6 – (verses 30-35) – Oppression of Godless Enemies and Occupiers – No longer would Israel be able to depend upon the Lord to protect them from the fully evil and conscience-hardened enemies who would afflict atrocities upon them without any guilt.
The total picture is of complete disarray and confusion. Their lives would be so convoluted as to be impossible to sort out successfully. What a total mess … a disaster that was unnecessary if only they would have obeyed. This truth is timeless.
25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.
30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape 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. 31 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. 32 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. 33 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. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 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.