But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God…
It is instructive that Moses dilates with far greater fullness on the curses attached to disloyalty than on the rewards of disobedience. In the childhood of the world people were more under the influence of fear than of hope, more deterred by threatening than drawn by promise. The message of Moses was admirably adapted to the people's need.
I. THE EQUITY OF THESE CURSES.
1. Disobedience under such circumstances of privilege was eminently base and blameworthy. Disloyalty had no excuse. To refuse to hearken to the Creator's voice was sheer obstinacy, which could plead no extenuation.
2. It was perjury. They had sworn to be loyal subjects. They had acknowledged the just terms of the covenant, and had entered Canaan on the terms of pledged obedience.
3. It was rebellion against their accepted King. If such flagrant rebellion escaped with impunity, God would be dishonored in the eyes of the universe.
4. The curses were their own choice. They knew clearly what the fruits of disobedience were. They had seen the fruits in others' fate - in the Egyptians, in their brethren, in the Canaanites. If they should choose other gods, they should be led into captivity, and there they should "serve other gods, wood and stone."
5. The curses were the natural evolution of their crimes. Sin is the seed of which penalty is the fruit. If they forsook God; God would forsake them. What could be more equitable? Men say, "Depart from me; I desire not the knowledge of thy ways." God says, "Depart from me; I never knew you."
II. THE EXTENT OF THE CURSE.
1. It is a complete reversal of the purpose of God. His purpose had been to bless - to bless abundantly. But sin changes the light into gloom, sweetness into bitterness, summer into winter, food into poison. At every point and through every moment the sinner is in direct and absolute antagonism with God.
2. Every earthly possession becomes an instrument of pain. The body, which is the organic instrument by which the soul has intercourse with the material world, furnishes a thousand avenues for pain. Our children are intended as channels of joy; they become channels of sorrow. Every possession becomes a source of anxiety and care. Every occupation bears a harvest of disappointment. Blight is upon all the summer fruit. Black portents fill every quarter of the sky.
3. The natural elements become agents of woe. The sun becomes as a fiery oven, while no cloud tempers the scorching heat. Fierce winds fill the heated air with fine dust, which afflicts the eye with disease and blindness. Inflammation of the blood and fever follow. The air is charged with pestilence, and men breathe it with every inspiration. Material nature fights for God.
4. The curse includes disordered reason. Nor can we wonder. The delicate organs of the mind are sustained in vigor by God, and if he withdraw his hand, madness swiftly follows.
5. In proportion to the previous exaltation becomes the degradation. It is better not to be raised to eminence than to be lifted up and then cast down. This would be a stigma of reproach in the eyes of all the nations.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF THE CURSE. "It shall come to pass."
1. It is fixed by an inherent necessity. The law of Nemesis is embedded in the constitution of the universe. As surely as night succeeds to day, as surely as fire melts wax, so surely does penalty follow sin. Every dynamic force in nature is in league with righteousness against sin.
2. It is made certain by Jehovah's word. His word is a part of himself; and as his nature is unchangeable, so no word of his can ever be revoked. This is his prerogative: "I am Jehovah; I change not."
3. It is made sure by the holiness of God. For God to treat sin with levity or with impunity would be to do violence to his own nature - would be to act against himself. In the light of holiness sin must be consumed; and if it inhere ineradicably in the sinner, then must the sinner be consumed likewise. So long as God is holy he must, by the essential quality of his nature, pursue sin unto the death. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
WEB: But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you.