It is better designated as the “act-consequence relation- ship” ("Tun-Ergehen Zusammenhang”).60
A second caveat to be noted is the fact that the sentences which express this notion (with or without Yahweh's agency) are an attempt to predict the future, not to evaluate the past. These observations move from deed to fate, not from present condition back to some (hypothetical) prior deed. That is, the meshalim do not draw theoretical conclusions about a person's past behavior or character on the basis of their present condition. Instead, they promise and warn that present conduct and disposition is the seed of the future. This openness toward the future implies the possibility of change and repentance.
The third caveat is closely related to the second. This talk of an "act-consequence relationship" cannot be forced into a rigid mechanism. Kovacs has correctly seen that
The "order" does not lie in some automatic or mechanical relationship of act and consequence. The world, is not rigid and inflexible. Such an order undermines the meaning of ethical choice: the appearance of choice is a sham. Ultimately, the effect is to deprive Yahweh of any freedom,
60 So von Rad in the quote above in n. 59 and elsewhere. Cf. Koch "Gibt es eine Vergeltungsdogma im Alten Testa- ment," 34.