Towards the end of the Torah of Moses, in the last chapters of the book of Deuteronomy, we get a hymn to the Law of God, a kind of musical rendition of the Ten Commandments (see Deuteronomy 27 and compare to Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).
And then in the records that follow, we can read the blessings that the people of God will receive if they follow his Law, and conversely the curses they will suffer if they do not follow the Law. We get the exhortation to “choose life” in Deuteronomy 30.
But what’s really interesting to me are the descriptions of Climate Change in Deuteronomy chapter 28.
It is clear that the writer believes that God is directly in charge of the rain and the fertility of crops, animals and human families, and unfortunately, many Christians today think the same. They cannot be challenged on matters of Energy use, as they believe that God is in control of any possible Greenhouse Effect.
But even in the Bible, people are encouraged to show responsibility. Right from the word go in Genesis, good human stewardship of the Earth is said to be part of God’s instructions.
And here in these very verses, the actions of the listeners are related to their fate – blessed or cursed. What we do matters, and what we do has results.
What I find so astonishing about the following verses in Deuteronomy is that the writer has a comprehension of a damaged environment, that presciently describes some of the problems resulting from Global Warming.
It’s almost as if the writer has had some first-hand experience of a rapidly degrading agricultural landscape : of drought and famine and loss of social and agricultural integrity.
And the depictions of the damage to human health from excessive heat is remarkably similar to the effects of stroke or heatstroke.
The Consumer Economy violates the Law of God that is an injunction against covetousness – wanting more than we have been given – wanting to use up more than we have been allotted.
In using more than our Fair Share we have broken the Law of God, and the curses are falling on us.
Deuteronomy 28 (New International Version)
Blessings for Obedience
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today…
2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity – in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground – in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.
12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
Curses for Disobedience
15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.
18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
20 The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.
21 The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess.
22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.
23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron.
24 The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
28 The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.
29 At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.
30 …You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit.
38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it.
39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them.
40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off.
42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.
45 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.