Blessings and Curses Revisited
In this lengthy chapter (which parallels Leviticus 26), God describes in great detail what would happen to the nation of Israel if they obeyed His words, and what would happen if they disobeyed Him. Verses 2-14 point out the specific blessings for obedience. They would include food in abundance (verses 3-6, 8), safety from enemies (verse 7), healthy children and abundant livestock and produce (verses 11-12). These blessings would also enable Israel to give to many other nations, without having to borrow from them (verse 12). All in all, Israel would become a “holy” people (verse 9), “the head and not the tail” (verse 13).
On the other hand, disobedience would bring about severe punishment. And that is just what happened. We know from history that ancient Israel and Judah later suffered some of the specific curses listed, including military attacks, when the Assyrians and the Babylonians besieged and conquered Samaria and Jerusalem and enslaved the two nations. But we know, too, that an even greater period of devastating punishment is still ahead of us. The Great Tribulation of the end time will be worse than any calamity or holocaust of the past (see Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×; Jeremiah 30:7 Jeremiah 30:7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
American King James Version×; Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
American King James Version×; Deuteronomy 31:29 Deuteronomy 31:29For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.
American King James Version×). It will afflict modern Judah, i.e., the Jewish people, and the modern descendants of ancient Israel, especially the United States (Manasseh) and Great Britain along with other Commonwealth nations, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Ephraim). (See our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.) God will use for this punishment the dreadful curses spelled out in Deuteronomy 28 as well as military attacks and enslavement at the hands of a new global superpower, the resurrected Roman Empire, called “Babylon” in the book of Revelation.
In particular, there will be famine due to food shortages and destruction through locusts, worms and other natural disasters, unhealthy livestock, and droughts (verses 17-18, 23-24, 38-40, 42). The people of the land will become incurably sick, both physically and mentally (verses 21-22, 27-28, 34-35, 59-62). They will be conquered by a foreign power and become slaves-some of them will be brought as captives of war to distant lands, including Egypt, never to see their country again (verses 32-33, 36, 41, 49 ff., 68; compare Isaiah 11:11 Isaiah 11:11And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
American King James Version×). During the siege of their cities, some will even resort to cannibalism (Deuteronomy 28:52-57 Deuteronomy 28:52-57  And he shall besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fenced walls come down, wherein you trusted, throughout all your land: and he shall besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you.  And you shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, which the LORD your God has given you, in the siege, and in the narrow place, with which your enemies shall distress you:  So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:  So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he has nothing left him in the siege, and in the narrow place, with which your enemies shall distress you in all your gates.  The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,  And toward her young one that comes out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and narrow place, with which your enemy shall distress you in your gates.
American King James Version×). This actually occurred during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as it did at other times (compare 2 Kings 6:24-30 2 Kings 6:24-30  And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.  And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.  And as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, there cried a woman to him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.  And he said, If the LORD do not help you, from where shall I help you? out of the barn floor, or out of the wine press?  And the king said to her, What ails you? And she answered, This woman said to me, Give your son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.  So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said to her on the next day, Give your son, that we may eat him: and she has hid her son.  And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by on the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within on his flesh.
American King James Version×), and it will occur again-only this time, it will be much more severe and widespread. Finally, the peoples of Israel and Judah will be scattered “among all peoples…. and there you shall serve other gods…. And among those nations you will find no rest…. You shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life” (verses 64-66).
God will bring such terrible punishment on modern Israel and Judah to teach them a much-needed lesson. Of those to whom much is given, much is required — and punishment is worse for those who fail to do right when they ought to know better (compare Luke 12:47-48 Luke 12:47-48  And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
American King James Version×). Israel and Judah, blessed with divine aid and unparalleled wide access to Scripture, should have been “holy” nations-an example to the rest of the world. But they will end up actually sinking lower than the gentiles in their rebellion against God (see 2 Chronicles 33:9 2 Chronicles 33:9So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
American King James Version×). That is why God will use the “worst of the Gentiles” to punish them (Ezekiel 7:24 Ezekiel 7:24Why I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled.
American King James Version×). But some, while in captivity, will come to their senses and repent, and God will accept them, free them and bring them back to the land which their fathers possessed, to prosper there (Deuteronomy 30:1-5 Deuteronomy 30:1-5  And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where the LORD your God has driven you,  And shall return to the LORD your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul;  That then the LORD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, where the LORD your God has scattered you.  If any of your be driven out to the outmost parts of heaven, from there will the LORD your God gather you, and from there will he fetch you:  And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.
American King James Version×, 9), while placing “all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you” (verse 7).