I need to think this through a bit. Fortunately, this is a blog and that’s what blogs are for: to think out loud. Thanks for sharing this with me.
Proverbs 26:2: Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight.
Obviously, if there’s no cause, any curses aren’t going to stick to me. But in this is the clear inference that if there is cause, then the curses may very well stick to me, and I will be cursed.
Now, on the validity of curses, consider
Joshua and the city of Jericho:
Joshua 6:26: Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, "Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates."
Now add this verse from several hundred years later:
1 Kings 16:34: In his days Hiel of Bethel built
. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn , and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun. Jericho
Joshua declared a curse on the un-known rebuilder of the city. In other words, there was no cause for that curse to alight, but when a guy named Hiel starts building the city, suddenly curse sticks, and the conditions of the curse kicked in.
Curses are rather like laws. The law of this land – and to a certain extent, the Law of the Old Covenant – are not primarily a statement of “You may not do this,” but more a statement of “If you do this, this is what will happen to you.” The law cannot change behavior (we’ve known that, haven’t we?)
Sometimes, the details of the curse are not real specific, as in
Abraham’s covenant with God:
Genesis 12:3: I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
In this case, the curse describes the person who will receive the curse, and the condition that will make the curse stick, and they are the same: whomever curses Abraham (and his descendents, since the blessing was for generations); but it never describes the nature of that curse. Those who curse Abe’s descendents will be cursed, but the nature of that curse are not detailed. I suspect that the curse that falls on the curser is the same curse they fired at Abe’s kids: whatever they curse Abraham’s children with falls on themselves, but that’s mostly an opinion.
For the record, this business of cursing is not for us as believers.
Jesus commanded us:
Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Also for the record,
Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the Law:
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in , that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Christ Jesus
And there will be an end to the season of curses altogether. In Revelation,
John is describing eternity:
Revelation 22:3: And there shall be no more curse , but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
OK, now for some principles on the subject of curses:
1. Anything we do from obedience to the Law – by extension, anything from a sense of obligation or duty as sole motivation – is cursed.
Galatians 3:10: For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.
2. A curse may wander around unfulfilled for centuries until it is fulfilled. See the example of
Joshua (above), whose curse sat there unfulfilled hundreds of years after Joshua declared it.
3. I can choose whether I get stuck with a curse or not by whether or not I live my life with a cause for that curse.
Now think with me for a minute about application of these principles:
If we put a Christian bumper sticker on our car and drive like hell, then we deserve the curses spoken against us by other drivers. Trust me, they’re being spoken, and passionately. We live under a curse – many curses – because of our driving.
If we have a habit of saying things like “That was stupid!” or “I always do that!” when we make a mistake, we’re speaking curses against ourselves, and they’re likely to stick. We live under curses because of our habits of speech.
We live in a season when our nation looks win disfavor, even anger, against Arab nations, and there is a fair bit of cursing of Iraq or Iran or Saudi Arabia in popular culture. Remember Genesis 12:3: there is a curse on those who curse Abe’s kids, and it also means that anyone who curses the Arab nation may also make themselves a target of this curse, as they are the children of his son
Ishmael, who is the father of the Arab nations.
My recommendation is this: stop cursing. (That’s not the same as “stop cussing”, though there is room for that argument as well.) There is no good that comes from speaking evil over people, whether generally (eg.
) or specifically (the guy who just cut you off on the freeway), whether others or yourself. If we deal in curses, we are likely to earn them ourselves, and then the swallow stops flying and the curses come to rest on us; instead of living under the blessing of God, we live under curses, and everything goes wrong. Or those curses rest on someone else, and they have to live with what we’ve foolishly declared over their lives. Iraq
Interesting thoughts! I'm sure there's much to discuss in what you've written, but I'll zero in on something that I think is usually overlooked with reference to curses. I think blessings and curses are both tied to covenants in the Scripture. They don't just float out there, but find a place within the context of covenant, whether that covenant is creational or redemptive (that is, dealing with nature or grace). Thus, imprecations are covenantal - they're not hokus pokus, issued by anyone in any context. That kind of curse has no foundation (I don't think) in the Bible.
Hi Tim, good to hear from you. Particularly, I'd like to hear more about this. The implications of imprecations, eh?
What tells you that blessings & curses are covenantal?
Dave, my first clue is that covenants are set up as bonds with attendant blessings and curses (see Dt 28 for a clear example). The New Covenant is no different (see 1 Cor 10). God's covenants predominate Scripture. It's clear enough that all God's dealings with humanity are by way of covenant (see below), which includes the most fundamental one with Adam in the garden, wherein we are all under God's curse. All particular curses flow from man's cursed estate in Adam, which flows out of covenant.
On the exhaustive nature of God's covenantal dealings with humanity, read the wisdom of our Puritan fathers: "The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant" (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch 7:1).
As usual, Tim, your comments make me think. Thank you!
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