AN EXPOSITION OF DEUTERONOMY 30:1-3
1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee,
2 And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.
Five Cycles of Divine Discipline
As Moses comes to the end of his third great message to the Hebrew people gathered before him on the border of the Promised Land, he uses a summary phrase. Moses speaks of “The Blessing and the Curse.” The Hebrew people understood.
However, for the Church to understand this phrase, and the verses to follow, attention must be turned to the Doctrine of Five Cycles of Divine Discipline.
Within the Law, the Lord established what would happen if His people did not obey Him. The Lord informed the people He would place them under Divine discipline that would be administered with increasing intensity in five cycles.
The First Cycle of Divine Discipline is set forth in Leviticus 26:14-17, and serves as the introduction to the Dark Side of the Divine. While God is a God of majestic love and grace, while the mercies of the Lord are renewed every day, there is the holiness of God which must be honored. God insists on being obeyed. Violation of His standards demand a penalty be paid ether by self, or by a substitute.
The criterion for incurring the Five Cycles of Discipline is simple: the failure to carry out the Laws of Divine Establishment, summarized in the Ten Commandments, but expanded in 613 codices in the Pentateuch.
In the New Testament the Laws of Divine Establishment are summarized, in the Sermon on the Mount.
Each cycle of discipline is worse than the one before. The first cycle includes five forms:
There will be Divine Discipline in the form of illness and disease, such as cancer, tuberculosis, and AIDS. The Coronavirus is God’s call to reflection, and repentance.
There will be Divine Discipline in the form of crop destruction. In an agricultural society, the locust come to eat the crops.
There will be Divine Discipline in the form of defeat on the battlefield. In the centuries to come, the Hebrew people would be conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.
There will be Divine Discipline in the forms of abuse of authority. Those in national authority will sneer at the citizens of the nation. Instead of serving the nation, the leadership will serve itself, and only use government benefits to grab more power for themselves.
There will be Divine Discipline in the form of sublimation. Sublimation is a flight from reality. People want peace at any price. People want to flee to a safety zone and pet dogs, and other comfort animals. Free speech is silenced unless it is politically correct.
The Second Cycle of Divine Discipline is given in Leviticus 26:18-20. This particular cycle is a multiplication of the first cycle by a factor of seven. The number seven is a common metaphor in Biblical literature which means, “a lot.” The Lord said to Israel, “I will punish you for your sins over and over.”
In this cycle, the land and the environment itself becomes the enemy of the farmer, leading to an economic depression, in which food supplies dwindle, and poverty begins to take hold in earnest over a large segment of the population.
The Third Cycle of Divine Discipline is found in Leviticus 26:21-22. The third cycle of discipline multiplies the effects of the second cycle by a factor of seven. Specifically, the Lord said He would send wild beasts among the people.
The killer lions of Tsavo, Kenya, on the East Coast of Africa, offers an example of what wild beasts can do when turned loose by God.
The Tsavo lions were two-man eaters, responsible for the death of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway between March and December 1898.
The behavior of these lions was usual. They stalked the campsite, dragging workers from their tents at night and consuming them. Crews lived in terror. They tried to scare the lions by building campfires and bomas, or thorn fences, but to no avail. The lions leaped over or crawled through the thorn fences. Before the lions were hunted down and shot, they had killed about thirty-one workers. “I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate” (Lev. 26:21).
The Fourth Cycle of Divine Discipline is taught in Leviticus 26:23-26. This cycle multiplies the effects of the third cycle by a factor of seven. This is the cycle of civil war, and foreign intervention. Civil unrest would often begin in the countryside, and surround the city, or town, where the rulers of the nation lived. Even David had to flee the capital when his third son, Absalom, gathered a following in Geshur, in Syria, on the East side of the Joran.
The Fifth Cycle of Divine Discipline is described in Leviticus 26:27-37. This cycle multiplies the effects of the fourth cycle by a factor of seven. This cycle describes the total destruction of the nation by foreign enemies.
There will be cannibalism because of food shortages, even cannibalism within the family.
There will be widespread death directly attributed to involvement in the addiction cycle. People will be killed by the foreign enemies while participating in their idolatry.
The industries of the nation, and most of the buildings, public and private, will be destroyed.
The people will be carted off to foreign countries as slaves.
Fear will be the modus operandi, or method of operation of those who are left.
Reviewing the history of Israel from the vantage point of time, it can be seen that the nation suffered the Fifth Cycle of Discipline beginning in 721 BC, when the ten northern tribes of the nation were conquered by Assyrian. In 586 BC, the southern kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians. After 70 years in exile, God restored the nation, but then came AD 70, and Israel went under the Fifth Cycle of Divine Discipline, and remained there until May 14, 1948.
So, what is to be made of this information?
First, there is the interpretation of the text. In context, as a Prophet, Moses looked into the distant future of the Hebrew people after his death, and assumed the nation would be placed under the Fifth Cycle of Divine Discipline. Then, Moses foresaw the people growing weary of national disintegration and shame. A generation would arise that wanted to be different. The people in exile wanted to go home. They wanted to recover their spiritual legacy. “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee…And [thou] shalt return unto the Lord thy God…That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee” (Deut. 30:1, 2, 3).
Second, there is the application. The question comes. “What Will You Choose?”
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Moses pleads with the people before him to choose life, so that they, and their descendants might live. God wants His people to live and prosper. God does want to bless the elect spiritually, materially, socially, and medically. The way to have life, and that more abundantly, is to love the Lord God, obey His voice, and cleave to Him.
The way to have eternal life, and the hope of heaven, is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
“What will we choose, as individuals, and, as a nation?”