The Bible tells us that “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×, King James Version). The fundamental laws of God were summarized for us in the Ten Commandments, which you can read in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. (We also offer a free booklet that explains these titled The Ten Commandments .)
The ancient Israelites were told that if they obeyed those laws, everything would go well for them and their new nation would be truly blessed in every conceivable way. But they were also warned that if they disobeyed those laws, negative consequences would surely follow.
Do these promises and warnings apply in our personal lives and on the world scene today?
Blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience
Many people, ignorant of these laws, have learned the hard way that breaking them, even without knowing them, carries a penalty. For example, the Seventh Commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14 Exodus 20:14You shall not commit adultery.
American King James Version×). Millions of people have broken this law and learned to their regret that the negative consequences are often endless, leaving a trail of devastated and miserably unhappy lives.
In the recent financial scandals that have plagued the British Parliament, its members, largely ignorant of the commandments, have discovered the hard way that breaking the commandment that says “you shall not steal” (verse 15) can cost you your job. At the very least, nobody will trust you again.
Other laws may not be so obvious. The Fourth Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (verse 8), also carries within it a penalty for violation.
God revealed the Sabbath to the ancient Israelites. The root word in Hebrew means “cessation from work.” Human beings need a day of rest once a week just to rejuvenate themselves physically. They also need a day to focus on God.
Worshipping Him in a congregational setting was commanded in Leviticus 23:3 Leviticus 23:3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.” This is still commanded in the New Testament, in Hebrews 4:9 Hebrews 4:9There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.
American King James Version×and 10:25. Jesus Christ set us the example by regularly attending services in the synagogue on Sabbath days (Luke 4:16 Luke 4:16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
American King James Version×) in accordance with God’s instructions as to how we are to worship and honor Him.
Another commandment is even more difficult to obey, its full spiritual intent encompassing so many aspects of our lives. It’s the First Commandment, which tells us clearly that we should set no other gods before the true God (Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
American King James Version×). He must come first in our lives—above all else. To keep this commandment we need to be continually examining ourselves, as it is too easy for so many other things to get in the way of God and our relationship with Him.
The Eternal God, who through Moses led the Israelites out of slavery into their own land, emphasized repeatedly the need to live in accordance with His laws.
Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 are two biblical chapters that describe God’s promises of blessings for obedience and painful consequences for disobedience. This was not just a warning to a few individuals; it was a collective warning to the nation of Israel.
In the course of time, because of disobedience, the kingdom of Israel (10 of the 12 tribes) and the kingdom of Judah (primarily the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, known as the Jews) suffered foreign conquest and were taken into slavery as a direct result of their national sins. You can read all about this in the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament.
But more importantly, the listed blessings and curses are a clear warning to the English-speaking peoples and others today who are the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites.
A prophesied time of trouble
The prophet Jeremiah wrote of a time of trouble that would severely affect the Israelites before the second coming of the Messiah. 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×warns: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it”—after going through that trouble, that is.
Jacob is another name for Israel, the biblical patriarch from which the 12 tribes of Israel sprang. Prophetically, it refers to the descendants of those tribes—foremost among them being the major English-speaking nations today.
This coming terrible time of unparalleled trouble will be the direct result of national and individual sins. In Leviticus 26, the same chapter that promised great blessings for obedience, we find a warning that if the nations of Israel do not repent, God “will punish you seven times more for your sins” (verse 18). In other words, conditions will grow far worse.
As the nations of the Western world, many of them descended from ancient Israel, turn progressively further and further away from the laws of God, this will be the result. We see the sad result of broken laws already. The mess that the American and British peoples find themselves in is a definite consequence of turning away from God’s law.
One cause of national financial problems
Consider the financial mess we’re in. It’s rooted in our breaking of the laws of God.
God gave mankind the basic family unit. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×).
Four thousand years later, the apostle Paul affirmed the importance of the family unit when he wrote: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 1 Timothy 5:8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
American King James Version×). He also wrote, “If any-one will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 2 Thessalonians 3:10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
American King James Version×).
Until well into the 20th century, this family system was still the basic unit of society on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout the British Commonwealth countries. It remains the foundation of the rapidly expanding nations of India and China, even today.
But in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the nations of northwest Europe, the family has been increasingly undermined, replaced by a complicated social welfare system that has exhausted government coffers and attracted millions of people from third-world countries who want to enjoy the same benefits.
Ironically, in most countries this has led to a dramatic fall in the birthrate of the founding ethnicities. Immigrant groups, however, are more likely to take advantage of the generous benefits offered to parents by producing larger families.
Now we see tens of millions of people largely dependent on the state. We also have millions employed by governments busily redistributing the wealth from productive members of society to the nonproductive—instead of creating new wealth, which was the priority of our ancestors and remains the priority of the fastest growing nations of today.
This overly generous welfare system, creating a whole class of people dependent on government (and who will consistently vote for whoever promises them the most), has been made possible by excessive borrowing. Yet all too often the high standard of living people enjoy in their personal lives has also been made possible by massive borrowing, with millions of people wallowing in debt.
Everybody naively thought it could go on forever. But it couldn’t, and now we’re starting to see it all unravel.
Broken laws lead to great national problems
God’s laws cannot be broken with impunity—there are always negative consequences, even if it takes decades to see them clearly.
Contributing to the breakdown of the traditional family in the Western world has been the sexual revolution, which coincided with the expansion of the welfare state. In the United States, President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” in the mid-60s coincided with the growing use of the birth control pill, which revolutionized attitudes toward sex. The result is accurately described in Hosea 4:10 Hosea 4:10For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit prostitution, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
American King James Version×: “They shall commit harlotry, but not increase.”
Sexual promiscuity, the pill and the breakdown of the family clearly contributed to the decline in the birthrate, which is a major factor in the current financial crisis.
It is also contributing to a seismic shift in demographics. As the majority ethnic population declines in each of the Western democracies, more people are needed to do the work and pay the taxes that take care of the growing numbers of the elderly. Workers have to come from somewhere, so these people are being “imported” from third-world countries, radically changing the culture and face of their new homeland.
Abortion is another major factor in this and another example of the negative consequences of breaking one of the laws of God, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 Exodus 20:13You shall not kill.
American King James Version×). The United States alone currently aborts about 1.3 million babies a year—roughly the same number of immigrants it takes in each year, mostly from third-world countries with high birth rates.
It really doesn’t make any sense, does it?
More results of broken laws
All of this is a recipe for financial disaster. It could also lead to racial conflict in some countries as resentment builds against immigrants who are often blamed for taking jobs away from the native citizens. Extremist parties are gaining strength in many European countries, largely on an anti-immigrant bias.
We could put it all right quite simply by restoring the God-given family unit, making it once again the fundamental building block on which society is built. This would save hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds and euros and free up millions of government employees for more productive labor.
Other countries, those now replacing the West as the wealthiest and fastest-growing economies, did not destroy the family system in the first place. Their success is still largely the result of a culture built on a strong family system.
We can see this by looking at some of the immigrant communities in Western nations. They retain their strong family system against the predominant cultural tide. Ironically, a restoration of the family system will likely be the consequence anyway when the financial system collapses and there is no more borrowed government money to hand out as welfare payments!
Of course, the breakdown of the God-designed family unit is not the only problem in our societies. Greed has also contributed greatly to our financial problems. The idea that we can have something now without paying for it by putting it on a credit card, or that government can pay for its promises to citizens by increased borrowing or creating money out of thin air, goes against the spirit of the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17 Exodus 20:17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.
American King James Version×).
Breaking the Fourth Commandment has also contributed to our nation’s fiscal problems. Opening stores seven days a week only encourages overspending, adding to our debt load. More importantly, ignoring this command also contributes to the family breakdown by replacing any semblance of a day of rest and family togetherness with a day when family members run in all different directions.
Worst of all, though, it adds to the national sin of breaking the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (verse 3). Rather than putting God first in our lives, we have had an attitude like that described in Revelation 3:17 Revelation 3:17Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
American King James Version×: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”—when the reality, God says, is that spiritually we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (The same delusion on a national scale is referred to in Hosea 12:8 Hosea 12:8And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.
American King James Version×.)
A plea for change
We can see a lot wrong everywhere we look—and it’s set to get worse as we progressively turn away from God.
However, while Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 warn of dire judgment on disobedience, the same chapters call for repentance, a national and individual turning away from sin. Notice Leviticus 26:40-45 Leviticus 26:40-45 40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary to me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary to them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lies desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×: “But if they confess their iniquity [sin] and the iniquity of their fathers…then I will remember My covenant with Jacob … for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God.”
This promise is beautifully echoed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 2 Chronicles 7:14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
American King James Version×: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Our nations are unlikely to change before the return of Jesus Christ to this earth—but you can. God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 Acts 17:30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
American King James Version×). Follow His admonition in Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
American King James Version×to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”! GN