Blessing and Cursing

This whole notion of blessings and curses has me intrigued. The guy saws off the very tree limb he’s sitting on, two guys refuse to take round wheels in place of their square ones… effective humor! How many times in our lives have we personally made stupid, insane choices and still expect a blessing as if there is no consequence, no action/reaction? How many times have the choices someone else has made directly affected us? There just doesn’t seem to be any way around it.

Then as a twist there is the ancient Chinese story of the man who lost his horse. Going through a series of events that at first appear as a misfortune (or curse), later turn out to be fortunate (blessings) in disguise. The point of that story being that life is always unpredictable and complex, but changing our perspective determines if we see it as a curse or as a blessing.

But does eliminating the cursing really all boil down to a matter of perspective, or are there times in all of our lives when we face troubles, challenges, and disappointments?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Deuteronomy 27 & 28 tell an interesting story. Moses was instructed to be intentional about building a monument and alter of white washed stones on the top of both Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Located west of the river Jordan about half way between Nazareth and Jerusalem, these two mountains face one another, with Ebal on the northern end and Gerizim on the southern end. According to tradition, Mount Gerizim (representing blessing) was lush and fertile while Mount Ebal (representing cursing) was rocky and barren.

The ceremony that followed was detailed in instruction but could be summarized in blessings being spoken from Mount Gerizim and curses being spoken from Mount Ebal. Everyone who was obedient to God’s law received the blessings. Everyone who made the choice to disobey God’s law received the curses. I would encourage you to read it, it’s really quite interesting and so fits the narrative of today! Fast forward two chapters later and you have the Lord Himself summarizing the ceremony in the following words:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

Like a watered, tended crop, all of creation was designed to follow God’s law, and thereby yields the fruit of either blessing or cursing according to the choices we make. To those who obey and choose life, blessing. To those who do not and choose death, cursing. By being obedient to God’s law, we choose life not just in this fleshly robe and present age, but for all eternity. What are the two greatest commands that summarize the whole of God’s law?

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31 - which is a reference to Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Anyone anywhere can replace the words “O Israel” with their own name and not change the message. For the Christian, we know from John 10:10 that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but that Jesus has come to give abundant life. Marry this verse together with Romans 8:28, knowing that Jesus is the one who works all things together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and the blessing/cursing begins to make even more sense. From this we understand that it is much more than just learning to shift your perspective. When the choices we or others have made, either in the past or presently, have a negative impact, love makes all the difference! Through loving God and loving others we thereby align to His purposes, and our great God is there to ensure what was meant for evil is turned instead for good. Amen.

Interesting thought… Knowing that the blessings and curses fall across all of creation and everything bound to time, I couldn’t help but think how all of the curses designed to fall on those who choose death apply to Satan as well. He lives with them all. All the diseases, all the fallenness. With no love in his heart for either God or man there is no choice made towards redemption, and without the redemption of Christ, he will carry all of those curses with him into eternity. Don’t let him drag you there, too. Choose life. Choose to love!

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