God did not create humanity to experience covenant curses, only covenant blessings. Adam’s sinful choice made covenant curses a necessity.
Are the covenant curses the natural consequences of sin, or are they imposed by God? The answer is complicated by the fact that the Bible often describes things God allowed as things He caused (Job 1:12; 2:3–6; 42:11; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1). This debate will never be fully solved until the millennium and need not concern us here. The divine covenant contained and contains blessings and curses. Our concern here is to ponder what the covenant curses mean.
Baptism is the New Testament symbol of an inward conversion and a rite of passage into the new covenant. At baptism we enter a new union with Christ and a new relationship with His kingdom as His spiritual sons and daughters (Rom. 6:3, 4; John 3:3–5). Baptized believers, as the sons and daughters of God, have granted to Him, and He appears to have taken on, an enhanced parental role on their behalf for their spiritual protection and development: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Prov. 3:12, NIV). “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” “ . . . for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:6, 10, NASB). This was and is the continuing role of the covenant curses. They are designed to protect us from any further ravages of sin and to secure us to God’s heart by ties that cannot be broken (Lev. 26:40–45).
Our spiritual forbears viewed and related to the covenant curses as blessings. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Ps. 119:67, NKJV). “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Ps. 119:71, NKJV). David prayed for whatever it would take for God to wake him up when he went astray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23, 24).
The point of the covenant curses is to lead the unconverted to conversion and to reclaim the converted who have strayed (see Jer. 18:7–10). His “curses” are perfectly calculated to be sufficiently intense, but no more so than absolutely necessary, to accomplish their redemptive purpose (Isa. 28:23–29)! “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Isa. 42:3, NASB). “He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” (Lam. 3:33, NKJV).
Think of the “correcting” hardships and sufferings that remind us that we have strayed from the path of the teachings of God’s Word, and think of the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit in our own conscience, as evidences of Jesus’ enduring, covenantal love for us. He does not want us to suffer the intensifying hardships of sin or to lose eternal life without as many corrective warnings and hardships, or “curses,” if you please, as needed to alert us to the devastating and potentially fatal dangers involved and to encourage us to renew our relationship with Him. Some of us have to run many such “red lights” and get into a few “accidents” in the process before we heed the warnings and turn back. Some never do. But Jesus’ covenantal commitment is that if we fall away completely, to eternal destruction, it will not be because we did not have sufficient warnings to turn back. He will never force anyone to convert or to repent, but He loves you intensely and has committed Himself to Your salvation to the extent that He will leave no stone unturned to secure you to Him. And if, in the final analysis, you persist in the way that leads to eternal destruction, it will be over His dead body! Thank God for His covenant “curses”; they are among our greatest blessings!