Desolation and Reclamation of the Land of Israel: A Cursed Land
By Dr. David Reagan
Israel in Bible Prophecy
Before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God spoke a series of stern warnings to them through Moses, their leader and prophet. The warnings are recorded in Deuteronomy 28 and 29.
These chapters constitute God’s Land Covenant with the Jewish people. In this covenant, God made it clear that although He had given the Jewish people an everlasting title to the land, their enjoyment of it would depend on their obedience to the laws He had given them in the Mosaic Covenant.
The Hope of Blessings
The Land Covenant begins with promises of blessings if they are obedient (Deuteronomy 28:1-2):
1) “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
2) “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God…”
Moses then proceeded to enumerate the blessings in detail. They included such things as agricultural abundance, defeat of enemies, financial prosperity and abundant rain (Deuteronomy 28:3-13).
The Warning of Curses
But then, Moses started issuing warnings about curses that would come upon them if they were disobedient to the Lord (Deuteronomy 28:15ff). The variety of these curses was breathtaking — cities in chaos, youth in rebellion, an epidemic of divorce, confusing governmental policies, defeats by their enemies, rampant disease, drought leading to crop failures, foreign domination and even exile to a foreign land.
Moses concluded the list with a detailed explanation of what would be the ultimate judgment of God should they become entrenched in rebellion and refuse to repent (Deuteronomy 28:64-67):
64) “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
65) “Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.
66) “So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.
67) “In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.”
In summary, the ultimate punishment the Jewish people would receive for willful and unrepentant rebellion against God’s Word would be ejection from their land, their scattering worldwide, and their persecution wherever they went.
The Curse on the Land
Nor would that be all. Moses further stated that God would put a curse on their land, and as a result of that curse, the land would become filled with diseases and plagues (Deuteronomy 29:22). The land itself would become “a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass [growing] in it…” (Deuteronomy 29:23).
The curse would be so terrible that when foreigners came to visit the land, they would cry out, “Why has the LORD done this to the land? Why this great outburst of anger?” (Deuteronomy 29:24).
And the answer will be: “Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers… [and] they went and served other gods and worshiped them… Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath…” (Deuteronomy 29:25-28).
In the second segment of this series on the prophecies concerning the land of Israel, Moses will also speak some words of hope.