Divine Blessings and Curses Are Based on Obedience to YHVH’s Torah-Word
As divine blessings come upon people for Torah obedience, so do curses come upon a people who have forgotten their Elohim because they have been blessed materially and in their self-sufficiency have forgotten who is the source of their blessings as this chapter shows. These are immutable laws that are written in the universe and no human-devised philosophical or religious ideologies regardless of their cleverness can circumvent them. To go against these laws is like attempting to push a giant boulder up a steep mountainside. Eventually the boulder will role backwards crushing the pusher. What wisdom can be learned from this passage on blessings and curses?
YHVH’s Torah instructions continually stresses that blessings are contingent upon obedience to YHVH. Similarly, Yeshua reveals that rewards in his everlasting kingdom are also contingent on obedience to his Torah-laws. The greater the obedience, the greater the reward (Matt 5:17).These principles are universal, yet how prone humans are to forget the cycles of history that repeat themselves over and over again like the unstoppable turning of giant millstone grinding into powder those who refuse to learn the lessons from the past. Each generation proudly asserts its exceptionalism and that, somehow, it is immune to YHVH’s inexorable and immutable principles of divine judgment. Only in the perfect hindsight of history can we see the fallacy of this assumption. Ancient Israel failed to learn these lessons as have subsequent people who are both ignorant of Scripture as well as many who claim to follow the Bible.
In the case of America, and Great Britain before her (and other formerly European Christian nations as well), there was in times past a national consciousness of core biblical values and, to one degree or another, a general public acknowledgement, acceptance of and respect for the Elohim of the Bible. However, as the historical record reveals, as a nation becomes blessed, it reaches an apogee of prominence, power and wealth where it becomes rich and increased with goods and no longer needs Elohim—or so it thinks. It then becomes materially fat and forgets the source of its wealth and falls into a state of self-sufficiency leading to spiritual blindness in that it fails to recognize its true spiritual state (recall YHVH’s warning to a lukewarm church in Rev 3:14–22). This can happen to individuals, churches and to whole societies.
Because YHVH loves his people and wants to walk among them, to be their Elohim and to bless them (Lev 26:12), when they disobey him and walk in ways that are harmful to their well-being, like any loving parent, he is forced to discipline them. Again and again he sends them his prophets and watchmen to warn them that they are on a path of self-destruction. But because of pride, most people refuse to humble themselves and repent (Lev 26:40–41). It is the same old story over and over again. Human pride insists that “judgments cannot happen to us because we are so special, ” and “All things will continue as they have from the beginning and no evil shall befall us.” Such a self-assured individual and society retorts in mocking and scoffing tones in response to all those who would hold them accountable for their errant ways (2 Pet 3:3–7). If only the great people, nations and empires that have already trodden this well-worn path and are now in the dust bin of history could speak from their graves and this generation had heart ears to hear!
As a loving Father, YHVH does not lower the gavel of his full disciplinary judgments immediately upon his wayward children. He increases the dosage of his spiritual medicine incrementally in hopes that each successive ratcheting down of his judgments will bring healing to his spiritually apostate children such that they will humble themselves, confess their iniquity (or Torahlessness, Lev 26:40) and repent of their sin and submit to his laws, so that he can bless them.
In this chapter, YHVH reveals four sets of judgments with each one becoming seven times more severe than the previous one (Lev 26:18, 21, 24, 28). This reminds us of YHVH’s end-times judgments upon a rebellious world that has given itself over to devil worship just prior to the return of Yeshua as prophesied in the book of Revelation. In that book, there are seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders and, finally, seven bowl judgments.
What can you do? You may not be able to change society, but a societal change begins one step and one life at a time; it starts with your life! That is the only thing for certain that you can change. No one person can turn the whole earth into a beautiful garden, but you can start by eradicating the weeds from your own garden. You know what needs to be done. Just listen to your conscience—to YHVH’s Spirit knocking at the door of your heart (Rev 3:20), and then repent and obey YHVH and his commandments. It is that simple.
The corollary to this passage on blessings and curses with regard to Torah obedience is Deuteronomy chapter 28.
Some More Thoughts on Divine Judgment
- By dictionary definition, judgment is “a decision of a court or judge; a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment.”
- The Bible speaks a lot about judgment. When we read about the subject of judgment in the Bible, it usually pertains to the “other guy” involving someone in the past, or someone in the future, or someone that we consider to be more sinful than we are. The problem is that our pride prevents us from thinking that Elohim’s judgment could happen to us.
- Judgment is nothing more than suffering the consequences of our actions. It’s simply a function of the law of cause and effect. If you jump off of a building, you’ll suffer the consequences of your actions when you hit the ground. Similarly, when we break YHVH’s commandments, we will suffer the consequences. Judgment is also a matter of degrees. To the degree that we obey his commandments, we’ll reap the blessings of obedience. Conversely, to the degree we disobey them, we’ll reap the negative consequences (Lev 26:3ff cp. 14ff) in the same way that jumping off a two foot ledge versus a 500 foot ledge has different consequence—a twisted ankle compared to death. For most of us, our actions with regard to obedience to YHVH’s laws are a mixture of both good and evil, so we’re reaping both blessings and curses at the same time.
- As a result of coming out of the mainstream church, most of us have been so indoctrinated with the concept of YHVH’s love and grace, that we have a skewed view of his judgments. Few preachers ever talk about divine judgment. Add to this the fable of the pre-tribulation rapture where it is believed that the saints will be taken to heaven before they have to endure any end times tribulation, and the idea of divine judgment is shoved further into the back of many believers’ minds. If a preacher does talk about divine judgment, they’re often accused of being judgmental, and this accusation, whether accurate or not, tends to shut down the conversation on the subject of divine judgment. No one wants to talk about it since it messes with people’s false view of an Elohim who is so loving and gracious that he would never judge anyone for anything. Any discussion of the subject of divine judgment also forces people to face the reality of their own sinfulness and wickedness and the fact that they deserve Elohim’s judgments for their disobedience to his laws.
- Beyond this, most of us have contrived our own personal theology whereby we excuse and justify ourselves in the comfort zones of our sin. Our hearts become hardened as we justify our sin, and we often excuse our own sinfulness by comparing ourselves to someone who, in our mind, is a worse sinner than we are, thus making ourselves feel better about ourselves. This is a deceptive form of self delusion and is not based on the reality of YHVH’s righteous standards.
- The Laodiceans of Revelation chapter three, for example, were followers of Yeshua. They weren’t adulterers, idolators or murderers. They were “good Christians.” What was their sin? Being lukewarm with regard to their faith and having an inflated view of their own righteousness. For this sin of pride, YHVH was willing to reject them! For this, they had to go through fiery judgments. It seems that YHVH’s standards of righteousness are much higher than most of us are willing to admit, and that our standards of righteousness are too low. Between these two standards, there’s a huge gap. To get from our low level of righteousness to YHVH’s high level, one of two things need to occur. We need to wake up to our true spiritual condition and repent of our sin, or YHVH will have to use the shock treatment of divine judgment on us to wake us up forcibly. It’s like the rebellious child for whom a verbal correction is insufficient, thus necessitating the parent to bring out the paddle—a more severe form of discipline. In reality, for most of us, it’ll probably be a combination of the two to get us where YHVH wants us to be—the rebuke and the paddle. Even then, after we’ve gone through judgment and repented of our sin, we will still need Yeshua’s imputed righteousness to make up the difference for the lack of our own righteousness. That’s how sinful, dark and evil our hearts really are in YHVH’s view! Remember, what the apostle says: The righteous are scarcely saved, and YHVH’s judgment must begin at the house of Elohim, which is the church—that’s you and me (1 Pet 4:17–18)!
- Let us not squander any of the time of grace YHVH has given us to repent before his heavy judgments begin to fall on us in these last days. Remember this:
And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at [overlooked]; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)
- The church is being judged (refined) including those who have come out of the traditional, mainstream church system and come into a more Hebraic, pro-Torah view of Scripture and lifestyle. Sadly, many in the so called Hebrew Roots Movement have brought with them the same lukewarm attitudes they had when they were in the mainstream church. YHVH is now separating the wheat and tares—those who are true believers versus those who are playing religious mind games.
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Cor 11:18–19)
- Spiritual leaders are especially being judged. Those who are self-appointed, and who are pursuing money and power using corporate American marketing techniques to build their ministries are being judged. Those who are merchandizing YHVH’s people will be judged (2 Pet 2:3; 1 Pet 5:2; Rom 16:18; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; Tit 1:7, 11). YHVH is separating out the hirelings from the true shepherds who mirror his own heart (Ezek 34; John 10:7ff). Leaders of congregations who don’t fit the biblical qualifications for eldership will be exposed and deposed. Those who have major sin skeletons in their closets, who have not repented of sin, and who have failed to make proper restitution for those sins will be exposed. If you’re a leader, beware of YHVH’s judgments. If you have hidden sin, or are self-appointed, or have ulterior motives for being a leader, YHVH will expose your sin. If you’re a sheep, be careful to know those who labor among you (1 Thess 5:12). Only associate with spiritual leaders who meet YHVH’s high standards of righteousness.
- When trials (YHVH’s judgment?) come upon us (Jas 1:2), we must seek YHVH’s wisdom (Jas 1:5), so we will understand why these trials have come upon us. This is very difficult to do. Our pride usually causes us to excuse ourselves from any culpability for the trials that come upon us. We often blame others, or attribute the trials that come our way to time and chance. When we’re in the middle of a trial, it’s extremely hard to see the forest for the trees. Because of the spiritual beam in our own eye, it’s easy to be blind to the hand of YHVH’s chastening judgment on us as he tries to refine out of us the impurities that are preventing us from growing spiritually closer to him. On the other hand, with ease we are often able to see the splinter in our neighbor’s eye and it’s clear to us what his sins are and why he’s suffering divine judgment. This was the case with Job’s three wicked friends.
- In the end times, YHVH is going to turn up the spiritual heat of refining judgment on his people. Those who refuse to repent will get hotter, more intense judgments (qv. Lev 26:14–39). Like a good parent, YHVH endeavors to instruct and correct his children through a light-handed approach at first, but when they refuse to hear him, he is forced to use more intense and painful means to get their attention (Ps 32:8–10). The old saying, “When they feel the heat, the see the light,” applies here.
- The four sets of successively intensifying judgments of Leviticus 26 relate to the judgments in the book of Revelation (the seven seals, trumpets, thunders and bowls). The time is coming when YHVH will judge the whole world. That judgment begins first at the church (1 Pet 4:17). Yeshua YHVH wants to marry a holy, spotless and pure bride. The foolish virgins of Matthew 25 lacked the oil of YHVH’s Torah and Spirit. That’s why they were excluded from the wedding supper. Similarly, the Laodiceans Christians were spiritually tepid, naked, impoverished and blind, which is why they had to go through the refining fires of YHVH’s judgment. In the book of Revelation, there are the 144, 000 redeemed Israelites, and then there are those who, because of lukewarmness, must go through the refining fires of the great tribulation to get their spiritual robes washed pure. The latter group will be the larger number of believers—a great an innumerable multitude. This doesn’t even include those believers who have already fallen away in the great apostasy of the end times (2 Thess 2:1–12).
- Remember this one thing: Heartfelt repentance is the key to averting YHVH’s judgments and experiencing his grace (Lev 26:40–41;1 John 1:9).
- Please also remember this: It’s the divinely mandated responsibility of the proverbial watchman on the wall to warn the city of the judgments he sees coming. He’s likely to be unpopular with the people, who are complacent and apathetic in their status quo—all things continue as they have from the beginning (1 Pet 4:3), they say. But the watchman still has to warn, or the people’s fate will be on his head; their blood will be on his hands (Ezek 3:16–21).