This chapter is about rewards for obedience to God & punishment for disobedience to God. This is gonna be a good one. The section of rewards is a lot shorter than the punishment section. The reward section is 13 verses long. The punishment section is 33 verses long. Isn’t that how it is nowadays?! When you sign up for something the rewards section is like 3 sentences long. And the “punishment” section is like the span of your arms! Well, I hope y’all enjoy the read.
There’s no God talking to Moses or Aaron. The text just gets into it. So shall we.
This is the rewards section:
Don’t make idols, set up any images, or a sacred stone (think like the sacred egg) for yourselves. Don’t place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. (Think Stonehenge.)
Observe the Sabbath & have reverence for my sanctuary.
If the Israelites follow(ed) God’s decrees & are careful to obey God’s commands, He’ll send the Israelites rain in its season. The ground will yield its crops & the trees of the field their fruit. Their threshing will continue until the grape harvest. The grape harvest will continue until planting. They (the Israelites) will eat all the food they want & will live in safety in their land.
God will look on the Israelites with favor & make them fruitful, increasing their numbers. God will keep his covenant with the Israelites.
The Israelites will still be eating the last year’s harvest when they will have to move it out to make room for the new.
God will put his dwelling place (his tabernacle) among the Israelites. God won’t abhor (a fancy word for hate) them. God will walk among the Israelites & they’ll be his (God’s) people. You’ll also find this in Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27; & II Corinthians 6:16.
God broke the bars of the Israelites’ yoke & enabled the Israelites to walk with their heads held high.
Now onto the punishments:
If the Israelites won’t listen to God & carry out all these commands, here’s what’s gonna happen: God will bring upon the Israelites sudden terror, wasting diseases, & fever that will destroy the Israelites’ sight & drain away their life. The Israelites will plant seeds in vain, because their enemies will eat it! (Dang God! That’s some already heavy stuff! The “wasting diseases” are like leprosy. Because with leprosy, your skin wastes away.) Those who hate the Israelites will rule over them. They (the Israelites) will flee even when no one is pursuing them.
If after all this, the Israelites still won’t listen to God, he (God) will punish them for their sins 7x over. The Israelites’ strength would be spent in vain, because their soil won’t yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit.
If the Israelites remain hostile toward God & refuse to listen to God, God would multiply the Israelites’ afflictions 7x over. God would send wild animals against the Israelites. The wild animals will rob the Israelites of their kids, destroy their cattle, & make them (the Israelites) so few in number that their roads will be deserted. (So much for the promise that God made to Abraham, “make your (Abraham) descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky & as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17 & Hebrews 6:14))
When the Israelites withdraw into their cities, God would send a plague among them. God will give the Israelites into their enemies hands. When God cut off the Israelites’ supply of bread, 10 women will be able to bake their bread in 1 oven. They’ll dole out the bread by weight. The Israelites will eat but won’t be satisfied.
In God’s anger, he’ll be hostile toward the Israelites. God himself will punish them (the Israelites) for their sins 7x over. They’ll eat the flesh of their sons & daughters. (Yep, straight up cannibalism.) God would destroy their high places (This could mean either places that topographically high or a high place like a synagogue.), cut down their incense altars, & pile their dead bodies on the lifeless forms of their idols. God will abhor the Israelites, if they don’t listen!
God would turn the Israelite cities into ruins, lay waste their sanctuaries, & their cities will lie in ruins. God would take no delight in the “pleasing aroma” of the Israelites’ offerings. (Because, for some reason, God enjoys smelling things the Israelites burnt.) God would lay waste to the land, so that the Israelites’ enemies who live there (the Canaanites) will be appalled. God would scatter the Israelites among the nations & draw out his (God’s) sword & pursue them. (So pretty much, God is going to make the Israelites go their separate ways. Everybody going to the winds. We’ll be getting more in depth with this in later books. *Spoiler Alert* The Israelites don’t know how to follow rules very well. And God is gonna pull out a sword & make sure that the Israelites get their butts kicked.)
Then God decides to go for broke. God then lets the Israelites know that the people who are left are going to waste away. Not only that, but in the lands of the Israelites’ enemies because of their sins. But wait, and also because of their fathers’ sins.
If the Israelites confessed their sins, & the sins of their fathers, their treachery against God & their hostility toward God, (here’s the kicker:) which made God hostile toward them, so that God sent the Israelites into the land of the enemies. Then when “their uncircumcised hearts” are humbled & they pay for their sin. God will then, all of a sudden, remember the covenant with Jacob, Isaac, & Abraham. And he’d (God) would remember the land.
The Israelites would (& so totally do! Sorry! *Spoiler Alert*) pay for their “sins” (or for not listening to what God says they need to do.) because they rejected God’s laws & hated (“abhorred”) God’s decrees. God does say that he’s not going to be a complete jerk. He’s not going to wipe out the Israelites completely. Because for the Israelites’ sake, God will remember the covenant with their ancestors.
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