There are consequences for every action, both good and bad, just as there are consequences to obeying or not obeying God’s law.
Blessings and Curses
It could not be clearer that obedience blessings us while disobedience brings curses or negative consequences. There are only twelve verses in Deuteronomy that outline the blessings that come from obedience (28:3-14), but there are sixty-five verses where curses are the result of disobedience (27:15-26; 28:16-68).  Although God has determined to save Israel because of His covenant with Abraham, there is still responsibility or consequences for the nation’s actions. The society in which we live operates in much the same way. When someone breaks the law and they are caught, they have to pay some form of penalty. Years ago, I was forced to ride to work with my cousin until my car wax fixed, but he got road rage every morning on the way to work, and every afternoon, on the way home. He passed cars, sometimes briefly crossing the double-yellow lines…and only to save a few minutes. At best, he might get home about 2 or 3 minutes earlier, but I’d rather be late and arrive safely than to put my life at risk for a few minutes of time. Occasionally, he’d pay for his driving by getting tickets, and not only did these tickets cost money, they drove up his insurance rates. Now he pays a lot more for insurance than he used too. His disobedience of the law brought about bad consequences, even though he was free to obey or disobey. In the same way, Israel knows what God expects and they are obligated to obey or pay the consequences for their disobedience. The same thing applies to individuals, and corporately, with nations.
Nearer to God
An interesting thing happened when Israel obeyed the Law. God’s presence or His nearness was felt and seen, however since we know God is holy, He cannot dwell where sin is present, so if there is no repentance, He is not going to be near to any person or any nation as much as He would be if they lived in obedience to His law. Just as God is no respecter of persons, neither is He a respecter of any nation. We know that God did not choose Israel because of their greatness or moral superiority. He says, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut 7:7-8), but He does expect us to have regard for the poor, like widows or orphans (James 1:27).
Some say that God’s law is reflective of His character. They reveal Who He is and what He is like. That’s why the law was so important to Israel’s existence. The Book of Deuteronomy is clear that the exhortations to obey the law (4:1-4) come with stipulations tied to the Sinaitic Covenant (4:44-28-68), which is reaffirmed by Moses. This covenant says that both blessings and curses are dependent upon obedience or disobedience (27:1-28:68), and many of these civil laws are being upheld in nations today. These laws deal with societal order, from respecting property lines (19:14), to not bearing false witness in judicial matters (19:16-19), to matters of sexual immorality in regards to the conduct of men and women, both married and unmarried (22:13-30), and even laws intended to keep the courts free of frivolous lawsuits or cases (22:1-12). These laws are intended to make Israel holy and to be an example to other nations, which is why God says that they should “purge the evil from among” them (13:5; 17:7; 19:19, etc.). If Israel had obeyed, they would have been the supreme example to other nations.
Obedience and Prosperity
Our local, state, and federal officials expect the local citizens to abide by the law, and to meet certain expectations and obligations, like paying taxes, and if Israel had obeyed, God promised to exalt them too in “praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made,” for the purpose of exhibiting them to all the nations that practice evil, for they are to “be a people holy to the Lord” (Deut 26:19). Shortly after America gained her independence, many of the laws that were written came straight out of the Bible. There were laws concerning property boundaries, giving false testimony in a court of law, stipulations for involuntary manslaughter, and representation of the poor. During his inauguration as president, John Adams wrote “And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.”  Adams tied in blessings for the nation to that of upholding justice and virtuous liberty (obedience), and any possible success was directly tied to God’s presence “with (or by means of) the ends of His providence.” These national blessings were to be upon the nation and its government because they were mutually inclusive. This made America a Christian beacon to other nations of the world, at least for a couple of centuries.
Obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings curses, so it’s close to Sir Isaac Newton’s law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Breaking God’s law, just as breaking mankind’s law, brings consequences that are anything but good. We are all free to choose to do what is right, even when you’re in the minority, but as you know, what is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular. Choose to do what is right, whether it’s popular or not. Disobey, and there is no guarantee of any blessing from God…only consequences that are anything but good.
1 Desmond T. Alexander. From Paradise to the Promised Land (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publish, 2012), 306.
2. John Adams. Inaugural Address, Philadelphia, March 4, 1797, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.