Question: "What are the curses God promised Israel for disobedience?"
Answer: In Deuteronomy 28, God provides a list of blessings for obedience in verses 1–14 followed by a list of curses for disobedience in verses 15–68. While the entire list of verses will not be repeated here, the following concepts stand out as curses upon God’s people, Israel, for when they disobeyed His laws:
1. Curses upon city and field: “You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country” (Deuteronomy 28:16).
2. Curses upon food: “Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed” (Deuteronomy 28:17).
3. Curses upon having children and upon livestock: “The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks” (Deuteronomy 28:18).
4. Curses during travel and at all times: “You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:19).
In verses 15–20, the word for “curse” is used seven times, and those curses are explained throughout the remainder of the chapter. The ultimate devastation for continued disobedience was that God’s people would be removed from the land and scattered among the nations of the earth. Verse 64 notes that God’s people would become like the pagans and serve other gods: “Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known.”
The ultimate disgrace is given in the final verse of the chapter: “The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you” (Deuteronomy 28:68).
In contrast to these curses were the blessings God promised for obedience. The opening words of the chapter note, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth” (Deuteronomy 28:1). God offered the Israelites both blessings and curses based on their response to His Law.
While Christians today follow Christ rather than the Law, it is important to note that God calls all His children to faithfully follow His Word. The rewards He promises us today are eternal, heavenly rewards given to those who serve Him faithfully. Those who trust in Christ will spend eternity in the Lord’s presence, the most important blessing of all.