And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lona thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth; And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, it thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God (Deut. 28:1-2).
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 (Deut. 28:15).
Blessings and cursings: these are inescapable aspects of every covenant, whether made with God or Satan, whether kingdom or empire. Every covenant is established by an oath, and every covenantal oath is self-maledictory: the cursings are guaranteed, and the individual calls them down from heaven or up from hell upon himself, should he fail to obey the covenant’s stipulations.
The covenant structure is God’s model for all other institutions, minus the self-maledictory oath. It is impossible to run any institution without hierarchy, rules, sanctions, and a system of succession. The hierarchy declares the rules, the rules must be enforced by the sanctions, and the sanctions must produce winners and losers. The winners over time are to inherit ownership or control over the institution: succession into the hierarchy. Without the carrot and the stick, the A and the F, the profit and the loss, no human institution could function very long or grow to become a significant influence.
The ultimate models of the sanctions in action are the New Heaven and the New Earth (II Pet. 3:13) on one side and the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15) on the other. The intermediate examples are heaven and hell. The Biblical judicial examples are Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
National Covenant Sanctions
The 28th chapter of Deuteronomy parallels Leviticus 26. Both passages announce the existence of national covenant sanctions, positive and negative. There are corporate blessings for obedience and corporate cursings for disobedience. These corporate sanctions accompanied the oath taken by the people at the foot of Mount Sinai: “And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord” (Ex. 19:7-8).
This oath was inescapably a self-maledictory oath, as Deuteronomy 28:15-68 indicates. There, the list of cursings is over three times as long as the list of blessings (28:1-14). By invoking God’s name, they were bringing themselves under the threat of God’s negative sanctions. They would have to continue to obey God’s law in order to remain on the positive side of the corporate ledger.
When the nations corporately invoked (called upon) God’s name, they were invoking the God who had just delivered them out of Egypt. God had brought national negative sanctions against the Egyptians in recent history; His promise to bring similar sanctions against them was not to be regarded as an idle threat. The Israelites understood this, which is why they asked Moses to intercede on their behalf. They wanted a representative covenantal agent in between them and God.
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was (Ex. 20:18-21).
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