The Promise of God’s Punishments

Yael Eckstein  |  October 6, 2022

dawn of a new day

I will heap calamities on them
    and spend my arrows against them.
—Deuteronomy 32:23

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ha’azinu, which means “listen,” from Deuteronomy 32:1-52.

Everyone knows that the Jewish people are called God’s “chosen people.” But considering the amount of persecution and suffering over the centuries, many Jews have wondered “chosen for what?”

It’s easy for Jews like me, living today in a strong and prosperous nation of Israel, to see the blessings in the fulfilment of God’s promises, but I often wonder how my ancestors throughout 2,000 years of exile held on to their faith.

If you look in the Bible, going all the way back to Moses in Deuteronomy, we see that God promised terrible punishments and suffering, if and when, the children of Israel would stray and violate their covenant. And honestly, the punishments are terrifying. Reading through the punishments, one might wonder if God even loves the people of Israel.

But the truth is that the promise of God’s punishments itself might actually be the reason why Jews never lost faith in Him.

The Promise of God’s Punishments

We read in this week’s Torah portion that God promised, “I will heap calamities on them and spend my arrows against them.”

Imagine if God had not promised such terrible suffering and curses when the Jewish people would sin. Imagine if He hadn’t promised extreme persecution, bloodshed, and a seemingly endless exile.

If such terrible tragedies had befallen the Jewish people even though God had not promised them, there would be reason to lose faith. After all, if the suffering that we experienced had been worse than anything foretold in the Bible, there would be a real possibility that God had given up on His covenant with Israel.

Ironically, precisely because God said that the suffering would be so prolonged and so terrible, Jews never lost hope. No matter how bad things got, Jews throughout the centuries could look at the Bible and say, “This is exactly what God promised.”

And if the punishments in the Bible are coming true, there was never any doubt that the blessings that come after the exile would come true, as well.

Your Turn:

Be a part of the fulfilment of prophecy by sowing into the work of The Fellowship, restoring the nation of Israel to the Promised Land.