As we look back over the scope of human history, and then project toward the future of mankind, there are some sad realities. There is no history of a nation or empire that continuously endured (though God’s preservation of Israel is the most positive example of longevity, which is an ironic thought in consideration of this depressing chapter we are slogging through right now!). All human institutions have failed and come to ruin at some point. There is no science or advance of modernity that will change this pattern. Everyone dies; and there is no science that is going to change that reality. At some point, we know also from the Scriptures that this world comes to an end.
Sorry to be a big downer today, but I’m just talking realities with you. For all of these things and many more in the human condition, it is not a matter of if, but when! But it can be our hope that it will not happen in our lifetime if we have anything to do about it … in positive obedience both by our own personal management, and with the coordination of others also following God’s truth.
The passage we read today presents a subtle change of tone in Moses’ warnings – from “if” they do not obey, to what will indeed certainly happen “when” they do not obey the covenant with God. Continuing the list:
Consequence 7 – (verses 36-37) – Exile to a Foreign Land – This would be fulfilled for the northern 10 tribes in 721 B.C. by the Assyrian Empire. The southern two tribes of Judah and Benjamin would hold out longer until 605 B.C. when taken into exile by the Babylonians.
Consequence 8 – (verses 38-42) – Crop Failure and Economic Ruin – In an agrarian society where wealth was measured more in terms of crops and herds than in currency, the economy was dependent upon the weather and other conditions such as freedom from pestilence. God would take that protection from his people upon their rejection of him.
Consequence 9 – (verses 43-48) – Servitude to Foreign Powers and Occupiers – Throughout Israel’s history – even before the captivities to Assyria and Babylon, the Israelites were at various times plagued by foreign occupiers – like the Philistines, the Midianites, and all the other –ites … not to mention the termites, etc.
Israel, don’t be stupid – just obey! Tri-State Fellowship, don’t be stupid – just obey!
36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.
38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.
43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.
45 All these curses will come on 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. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 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.