The Course, and Cause, and Kinds of Curses (Part 2 of 2)

5.     A Notice or a Pronouncement? 

To the fallen man, God said, “cursed is the ground for thy sake.”  God appeared to have cursed the ground, not the man; yet the ground was cursed “for thy sake” – for the sake of the guilty man (Genesis 3:17).  God proceeded to say that man would thenceforth eat his bread “in sorrow” and “in the sweat” of his face (vv. 17-19).    

It might also be argued, and very well so, that God’s statement to Adam was not the pronouncement of a curse but merely an announcement of consequences that the failure and Fall had already brought upon Adam: “cursed IS…”  All the same, God never directly cursed man.   

6.     Commanded to Curse or to Bless? 

One expression I have not found of God in the Bible is, “I curse you…”; but it is not uncommon on the lips of certain sorcerous priests who often seek to threaten meek sheep with their robes and their rods.  Even Balaam confessed,  

How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? 

20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it (Numbers 23:8, 20)

Whether the greedy Balaam obeyed that commandment or not, is a story for another page.  If Balaam was going to curse whom God had blessed, it was not the commandment of God; it was the seduction of fat bribes and some weakness in character. 

7.     Direct and Indirect Curses: The Paradox of Cursed Blessings 

We might say, from the character of God as seen at Creation, that the Almighty does not curse but blesses what He creates.  For instance, “And God created great whales … And God blessed them … So God created man … And God blessed them” (Genesis 1:21-22, 27-28).  God gives what He has: blessings, not curses.  The nearest to a curse from the lips of God is found in Malachi 2:2 where God said to stubborn Israel,  

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. 

Here, God threatens to dispatch or “SEND a curse.”  The curse was going to be a messenger on special assignment from God, to a specific target: “upon you.”   In other words, a curse can be on errand from a sender, detailed to carry out specific outcomes upon or against a given target. 

About stubborn Israel in Malachi 2:2, God proceeded to explain what He meant by ‘sending’ a curse; He meant that He would curse their blessings, but not them.  In fact, He said, “I have cursed THEM already.”  So, what God cursed was not His stubborn people but their cherished blessings (in the plural); an indirect curse.  What does that mean?  How would that work?   

This is how:  their cherished car that had been the object of much pride and support would suddenly be smitten with frequent faults that would make it a drain pipe for much unplanned finances; their much desired and admired fine house would suddenly be visited by a ‘messenger’ from God, with endless litigations that would make that ‘blessing’ a wearisome worry and waste of time and other precious resources; they would be blessed with a job that everyone celebrates, but a job that would become the source of constant distress, loss of health, loss of friends, loss of investments, until it is wondered if it had not been better without that cursed blessing; the very rich and handsome husband who had hitherto been such a joy would suddenly and ‘unreasonably’ be inflicted with such a curse as to impoverish them to be so poor and ugly that they would wish they had not been married at all, as all that used to envy them begin to pity them.  They would still be blessed, very blessed, but the blessings would have been invaded with a curse.  Should you take them through a spiritual scanner, no curse would be found on them.  The curse is not on their lives but on what they have. 

A blessing is good, but some good blessing can carry a curse, as any clean water can also be polluted.  So, even when God might not directly curse His own people, He can send a curse upon their ground, or upon their blessings.  Thus, a people on their happy way from wicked Pharaoh in Egypt, blessed with freedom from slavery and refreshing miraculous waters from the rock, could be cursed to wander and waste in the wilderness, being bitten by venomous serpents along their blessed route that is guided by God’s rare pillars of fire and pillars of cloud.  An indirect curse might not be generational, but it could be no less dangerous. 

8.     God’s ‘Dirty’ Messengers 

God gives what He has: blessings, not curses.  For instance, when Satan kept urging God to ‘touch’ Job and afflict him, God made it clear that His hands carried no such damnations.  Job would be more doubly blessed if He touched him.  To curse and to kill were things in the ‘hand’ of Satan, not God.  The point was stressed when God said further to Satan about Job, “only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:11-12).  It was obvious whose ‘hand’ carried what.  That is not to say, however, that God is all ‘blessings’ and no judgment.  If it ever comes to doing the ‘dirty job’ upon the wicked, God also has those to do it, who would often do it very badly well (Ezekiel 5:17; 14:21).  

20 The Lord asked, ‘Who will deceive Ahab so that he will go and be killed at Ramoth?’ … a spirit stepped forward, approached the Lord, and said, ‘I will deceive him.’ … ‘I will go and make all of Ahab’s prophets tell lies.’ The Lord said, ‘Go and deceive him. You will succeed'” (1 Kings 22:20-22, Good News Translation).

Could God work with deceivers and killers? Can the good God ever have anything to do with such negative forces to His great purpose?  I don’t know.  I still have much to learn from the Bible.

9.     Cursed Places 

The next time we hear a curse in the Bible, after the forbidden fruit incidence in the Garden of Eden, is at the instance of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.  Then, God said to Cain, “And now art thou cursed from the earth.”  God proceeded to explain Himself to Cain: “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength” (Genesis 4:11-12).  The ground had been blighted for the sake of guilty man. 

Again, we might worry: was that the pronouncement of a curse upon Cain, or was it merely a notice to Cain of the execrable consequences that his action had activated upon himself?  Was God saying to Cain, “Because of what you have done, I curse you…” or He was saying, “Alas, Cain, behold what you have put yourself into; behold the latent curse that you have now unleashed upon yourself by your wicked action!  Thou ART already in the condition of a curse”?   

Not only lives but also lands can be cursed.  In the Garden of Eden, the ground was cursed for the sake of man.  When Cain killed his brother, the land’s support to Cain the culprit was deactivated (Genesis 4:10-12).  When Joshua conquered Jericho, the land was cursed.  For the next nearly 500 years or so, until Prophet Elisha’s intervention, the blessed people in that cursed land suffered the consequences so long as they stayed there (Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34; 2 Kings 2:19-22).  The people were not cursed, but the place was.  So, not only people but also places can be cursed.  Sometimes, though, the detestable curse might not show in the elegant skyscrapers and Edenic attractions of the place (Genesis 13:11-13; 2 Kings 2:19). 

10.        Inherited Curses 

These are curses that come to a person through their ancestral line. They might have been acquired or pronounced in the past, but they go down the blood line.  When Gehazi sinned, for example, his master the prophet announced a curse that was going to come upon him, and be inherited by his seeds forever.  Elisha said to him, “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever” (2 Kings 5:27, NIV).  Every descendant of Gehazi down a thousand generations over a million years across continents, “forever,” unless God intervened, was thenceforth going to be a leper, not for what they have done or would do, but for what their ancestor did, even if in future they lost touch with that culpable and regrettable ancient history.

Another example of an inherited curse would be the pronouncement of Joshua against the Gibeonites who through deceit had secured a covenant of peace with Israel: “Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God” (Joshua 9:23).

When David sinned in the matter of Bathsheba, Prophet Nathan alerted him to the consequences of his action, some of which consequences were going to run down the bloodline forever.  For example, the prophet said, “the sword shall NEVER depart from thine house” (2 Samuel 12:10).  Mark the word “never.”  It was not the prophet pronouncing a curse; he was merely announcing what had been set in motion by David’s adultery and murder.  Promptly, from the next chapter, the bloody scenes began.  The sword started to claim its preys, from Amnon the royal rapist to Absalom the sly killer; to Solomon versus Adonijah, all first generation sons of David (2 Samuel 13:28; 1 Kings 2:24-25), and further down the lineage to about 120 years later when Queen Athaliah of Jezebel and Ahab, wife of King Jehoram, massacred the princes royal, her own grandchildren, descendants of and heirs to the throne of David, in her desperate usurpation of the throne of Judah.  Those were deaths and disasters manipulated by an ancestral curse, an inherited curse running down the bloodline. Revelation 2:23 reports a similar New Testament case, of death that was going to come upon the children of a great preacher in the church, through the transgression of their parent, an ancestor, a preacher in the church. The reporting voice was that of God.  The curse had a cause.

11.       Attracted Curses 

These are like roving curses of no particular address for no particular target, but which one attracts upon oneself by a lifestyle.  Sometimes these might eventually run through the bloodline, but they were originally attracted.  They might have been announced by someone, but they were not pronounced by them.  The announcer merely alerts the guilty party to what their action has brought upon them.  In such cases, the announcer may sometimes be mistaken for the pronouncer. For example, the Bible warns that one should not bring “an abomination” into their house, “lest thou be a cursed thing” (Deuteronomy 7:26).  This curse has nobody’s name attached to it.  It has no specific address.  If anyone contravenes that law by taking idols into their house, they would immediately activate and attract the curse upon themselves, which may thereafter be transmitted down the bloodline or quickly terminated through repentance.

Again, the Bible warns, “Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way” (Deuteronomy 27:18). This curse has no specific target. It is a roving curse out there in space.  Anyone who takes wicked advantage of the disable, to exploit them, promptly attracts that curse upon themselves.  Depending on the nature of the particular abuse or exploitation, the consequences could be immediate or the curse could be generational.

The Bible says to honour one’s parents so that one would live long on the earth. That is the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12).  To obey that injunction is to activate the blessing of long life upon oneself; to flout it is to activate the curse of premature death upon oneself.  No one needs to pronounce it for it to be activated.  It is attracted by a kind of lifestyle, and there are many such roving curses, some of which are activated unawares, but are active all the same.

12.      Prayer 

If it takes pronouncements to activate a blessing and a curse; if a priest might bless and their words be accordingly honoured by God; if housing an abomination might admit a curse upon oneself, as housing the Ark of God attracts blessings into a household, may I, as priest of God, and by this word of the Lord willingly housed by you as point of contact, declare, that all inherited and acquired curses be broken from your life this day. Amen.  May every curse attracted and activated by a wrong lifestyle this day be deactivated in the name of Jesus.  May your bloodline be purged of curses and be imbued with blessings.  May every lingering curse and limitation in the overt form of Naaman’s leprosy or in the covert sacramental form of Gibeonitish slavery, be broken from your life, in Jesus name. Amen.   

From The Preacher’s diary,
December 20, 2022. 

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