Description
God promises Israel blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, including exile among the nations. If they return to him, he promises to restore them to their ancestral land, and to apply the same curses to Israel's enemies.
Commentary
As in Leviticus 26, God promised blessings on Israel as long as they obeyed him, and curses on them if they should disobey him. Many of the curses in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 were fulfilled in the invasions of Babylon (586 BC) and Rome (67-70 AD), when Jerusalem was besieged and destroyed. Unfortunately, such events will be repeated in the end-times when the Antichrist invades Israel.

In Matthew 24:15-21, Jesus prophesied that the Antichrist will once again set up the abomination that causes desolation in the temple. (This had already happened once before in 168 BC). In verse 21 he said, "For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen." Daniel also spoke about this time of great suffering (KJV: Tribulation) in Daniel 12:1, "At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape." (NET) So although there will be another time of great distress for Israel, those who truly seek God will escape, and this time of great distress will be followed by a great deliverance. After that, when Jesus is fully established as king on the earth, Israel will fully experience the blessings promised in Deuteronomy 28.

In Deuteronomy 30:1-5, God promises that if Israel returns to faith in God and obeys his commands, he will restore them from all the nations to which they have been dispersed and bring them back to the land of their fathers. In modern times, God has been fulfilling this promise through Israel's return to the land which began in the late 19th century.

In 30:7, God then promises, "The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you". This gives basis to the psalmist's prayer in Psalm 79:12, "Pay back into the laps of our neighbours seven times the reproach they have hurled at you, O Lord".
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Tags: Blessings for obedience, Curses for disobedience, Restoration of Israel, Great Tribulation
The Covenant Blessings
28 “If you indeed obey the Lord your God and are careful to observe all his commandments I am giving you today, the Lord your God will elevate you above all the nations of the earth.
2 All these blessings will come to you in abundance if you obey the Lord your God:
3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the field.
4 Your children will be blessed, as well as the produce of your soil, the offspring of your livestock, the calves of your herds, and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your mixing bowl will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The Lord will cause your enemies who attack you to be struck down before you; they will attack you from one direction but flee from you in seven different directions.
8 The Lord will decree blessing for you with respect to your barns and in everything you do – yes, he will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 The Lord will designate you as his holy people just as he promised you, if you keep his commandments and obey him.
10 Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you belong to the Lord, and they will respect you.
11 The Lord will greatly multiply your children, the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil in the land which he promised your ancestors he would give you.
12 The Lord will open for you his good treasure house, the heavens, to give you rain for the land in its season and to bless all you do; you will lend to many nations but you will not borrow from any.
13 The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always end up at the top and not at the bottom, if you obey his commandments which I am urging you today to be careful to do.
14 But you must not turn away from all the commandments I am giving you today, to either the right or left, nor pursue other gods and worship them.

Curses as Reversal of Blessings

15 “But if you ignore the Lord your God and are not careful to keep all his commandments and statutes I am giving you today, then all these curses will come upon you in full force:
16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the field.
17 Your basket and your mixing bowl will be cursed.
18 Your children will be cursed, as well as the produce of your soil, the calves of your herds, and the lambs of your flocks.
19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

Curses by Disease and Drought

20 “The Lord will send on you a curse, confusing you and opposing you in everything you undertake until you are destroyed and quickly perish because of the evil of your deeds, in that you have forsaken me.
21 The Lord will plague you with deadly diseases until he has completely removed you from the land you are about to possess.
22 He will afflict you with weakness, fever, inflammation, infection, sword, blight, and mildew; these will attack you until you perish.
23 The sky above your heads will be bronze and the earth beneath you iron.
24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; it will come down on you from the sky until you are destroyed.

Curses by Defeat and Deportation

25 “The Lord will allow you to be struck down before your enemies; you will attack them from one direction but flee from them in seven directions and will become an object of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your carcasses will be food for every bird of the sky and wild animal of the earth, and there will be no one to chase them off.
27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, eczema, and scabies, all of which cannot be healed.
28 The Lord will also subject you to madness, blindness, and confusion of mind.
29 You will feel your way along at noon like the blind person does in darkness and you will not succeed in anything you do; you will be constantly oppressed and continually robbed, with no one to save you.
30 You will be engaged to a woman and another man will rape her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not even begin to use it.
31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your very eyes but you will not eat of it. Your donkey will be stolen from you as you watch and will not be returned to you. Your flock of sheep will be given to your enemies and there will be no one to save you.
32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people while you look on in vain all day, and you will be powerless to do anything about it.
33 As for the produce of your land and all your labor, a people you do not know will consume it, and you will be nothing but oppressed and crushed for the rest of your lives.
34 You will go insane from seeing all this.
35 The Lord will afflict you in your knees and on your legs with painful, incurable boils – from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
36 The Lord will force you and your king whom you will appoint over you to go away to a people whom you and your ancestors have not known, and you will serve other gods of wood and stone there.
37 You will become an occasion of horror, a proverb, and an object of ridicule to all the peoples to whom the Lord will drive you.

The Curse of Reversed Status

38 “You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it.
39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them.
40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with olive oil, because the olives will drop off the trees while still unripe.
41 You will bear sons and daughters but not keep them, because they will be taken into captivity.
42 Whirring locusts will take over every tree and all the produce of your soil.
43 The resident foreigners who reside among you will become higher and higher over you and you will become lower and lower.
44 They will lend to you but you will not lend to them; they will become the head and you will become the tail!
45 All these curses will fall on you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping his commandments and statutes that he has given you.
46 These curses will be a perpetual sign and wonder with reference to you and your descendants.

The Curse of Military Siege

47 “Because you have not served the Lord your God joyfully and wholeheartedly with the abundance of everything you have,
48 instead in hunger, thirst, nakedness, and poverty you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. They will place an iron yoke on your neck until they have destroyed you.
49 The Lord will raise up a distant nation against you, one from the other side of the earth as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,
50 a nation of stern appearance that will have no regard for the elderly or pity for the young.
51 They will devour the offspring of your livestock and the produce of your soil until you are destroyed. They will not leave you with any grain, new wine, olive oil, calves of your herds, or lambs of your flocks until they have destroyed you.
52 They will besiege all of your villages until all of your high and fortified walls collapse – those in which you put your confidence throughout the land. They will besiege all your villages throughout the land the Lord your God has given you.
53 You will then eat your own offspring, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you, because of the severity of the siege by which your enemies will constrict you.
54 The man among you who is by nature tender and sensitive will turn against his brother, his beloved wife, and his remaining children.
55 He will withhold from all of them his children’s flesh that he is eating (since there is nothing else left), because of the severity of the siege by which your enemy will constrict you in your villages.
56 Likewise, the most tender and delicate of your women, who would never think of putting even the sole of her foot on the ground because of her daintiness, will turn against her beloved husband, her sons and daughters,
57 and will secretly eat her afterbirth and her newborn children (since she has nothing else), because of the severity of the siege by which your enemy will constrict you in your villages.

The Curse of Covenant Termination

58 “If you refuse to obey all the words of this law, the things written in this scroll, and refuse to fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God,
59 then the Lord will increase your punishments and those of your descendants – great and long-lasting afflictions and severe, enduring illnesses.
60 He will infect you with all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will persistently afflict you.
61 Moreover, the Lord will bring upon you every kind of sickness and plague not mentioned in this scroll of commandments, until you have perished.
62 There will be very few of you left, though at one time you were as numerous as the stars in the sky, because you will have disobeyed the Lord your God.
63 This is what will happen: Just as the Lord delighted to do good for you and make you numerous, he will take delight in destroying and decimating you. You will be uprooted from the land you are about to possess.
64 The Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of wood and stone.
65 Among those nations you will have no rest nor will there be a place of peaceful rest for the soles of your feet, for there the Lord will give you an anxious heart, failing eyesight, and a spirit of despair.
66 Your life will hang in doubt before you; you will be terrified by night and day and will have no certainty of surviving from one day to the next.
67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘I wish it were morning!’ because of the things you will fear and the things you will see.
68 Then the Lord will make you return to Egypt by ship, over a route I said to you that you would never see again. There you will sell yourselves to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”
(NET)
Narrative Interlude
29 (28:69) These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.

The Exodus, Wandering, and Conquest Reviewed

2 Moses proclaimed to all Israel as follows: “You have seen all that the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, all his servants, and his land.
3 Your eyes have seen the great judgments, those signs and mighty wonders.
4 But to this very day the Lord has not given you an understanding mind, perceptive eyes, or discerning ears!
5 I have led you through the wilderness for forty years. Your clothing has not worn out nor have your sandals deteriorated.
6 You have eaten no bread and drunk no wine or beer – all so that you might know that I am the Lord your God!
7 When you came to this place King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan came out to make war and we defeated them.
8 Then we took their land and gave it as an inheritance to Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.

The Present Covenant Setting

9 “Therefore, keep the terms of this covenant and obey them so that you may be successful in everything you do.
10 You are standing today, all of you, before the Lord your God – the heads of your tribes, your elders, your officials, every Israelite man,
11 your infants, your wives, and the resident foreigners living in your encampment, those who chop wood and those who carry water –
12 so that you may enter by oath into the covenant the Lord your God is making with you today.
13 Today he will affirm that you are his people and that he is your God, just as he promised you and as he swore by oath to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 It is not with you alone that I am making this covenant by oath,
15 but with whoever stands with us here today before the Lord our God as well as those not with us here today.

The Results of Disobedience

16 “(For you know how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we crossed through the nations as we traveled.
17 You have seen their detestable things and idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold.)
18 Beware that the heart of no man, woman, clan, or tribe among you turns away from the Lord our God today to pursue and serve the gods of those nations; beware that there is among you no root producing poisonous and bitter fruit.
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath he secretly blesses himself and says, “I will have peace though I continue to walk with a stubborn spirit.” This will destroy the watered ground with the parched.
20 The Lord will be unwilling to forgive him, and his intense anger will rage against that man; all the curses written in this scroll will fall upon him and the Lord will obliterate his name from memory.
21 The Lord will single him out for judgment from all the tribes of Israel according to all the curses of the covenant written in this scroll of the law. 22 The generation to come – your descendants who will rise up after you, as well as the foreigner who will come from distant places – will see the afflictions of that land and the illnesses that the Lord has brought on it.
23 The whole land will be covered with brimstone, salt, and burning debris; it will not be planted nor will it sprout or produce grass. It will resemble the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord destroyed in his intense anger.
24 Then all the nations will ask, “Why has the Lord done all this to this land? What is this fierce, heated display of anger all about?”
25 Then people will say, “Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
26 They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods they did not know and that he did not permit them to worship.
27 That is why the Lord’s anger erupted against this land, bringing on it all the curses written in this scroll.
28 So the Lord has uprooted them from their land in anger, wrath, and great rage and has deported them to another land, as is clear today.”
29 Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law.
(NET)
The Results of Covenant Reaffirmation
30 “When you have experienced all these things, both the blessings and the curses I have set before you, you will reflect upon them in all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you.
2 Then if you and your descendants turn to the Lord your God and obey him with your whole mind and being just as I am commanding you today,
3 the Lord your God will reverse your captivity and have pity on you. He will turn and gather you from all the peoples among whom he has scattered you.
4 Even if your exiles are in the most distant land, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.
5 Then he will bring you to the land your ancestors possessed and you also will possess it; he will do better for you and multiply you more than he did your ancestors.
6 The Lord your God will also cleanse your heart and the hearts of your descendants so that you may love him with all your mind and being and so that you may live.
7 Then the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies, on those who hate you and persecute you.
8 You will return and obey the Lord, keeping all his commandments I am giving you today.
9 The Lord your God will make the labor of your hands abundantly successful and multiply your children, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For the Lord will once more rejoice over you to make you prosperous just as he rejoiced over your ancestors,
10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this scroll of the law. But you must turn to him with your whole mind and being.

Exhortation to Covenant Obedience

11 “This commandment I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it too remote.
12 It is not in heaven, as though one must say, “Who will go up to heaven to get it for us and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
13 And it is not across the sea, as though one must say, “Who will cross over to the other side of the sea and get it for us and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
14 For the thing is very near you – it is in your mouth and in your mind so that you can do it.
15 “Look ! I have set before you today life and prosperity on the one hand, and death and disaster on the other.
16 What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances. Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess.
17 However, if you turn aside and do not obey, but are lured away to worship and serve other gods,
18 I declare to you this very day that you will certainly perish! You will not extend your time in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.
19 Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!
20 I also call on you to love the Lord your God, to obey him and be loyal to him, for he gives you life and enables you to live continually in the land the Lord promised to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
(NET)