By M.E. van Gelder
To bless or to curse is a personal choice that yields profound life changing consequences, restoration or destruction. The course and destiny of human history is intertwined with its decision to bless or to curse. Let’s examine this assumption a bit further by looking to the scriptures.
what does it mean to bless or to curse? Is the relationship of restoration or destruction observable in the lives of others based on their choice to bless or to curse the God of Shem?
What it means to “Bless”
Approximately 4,000 years ago God made a promise to Abraham, a descendant of Shem (Gen 11:10-26). Abraham means ‘Father of A Multitude,’ and God made Abraham to be the father of a multitude of nations (Wooten, 2006, p. 1). God promised Abraham a land, a seed, a nation, blessings, and divine protection. God said, “I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you” (Gen 12:3, Jewish Study Bible). The Hebrew word to bless is barekh, which comes from the root word barakh. The word denotes spiritual and physical enrichment, abundant in quality and/or quantity because of the posture of the heart. Barakh literally means, “to kneel,” giving honor, preference, deference and service to another (Teplinsky, 2004, p. 29). In summary, the God of Shem will personally bless and restore those individuals and/or nations with fruitfulness and prosperity, spiritually and physically, who give honor and preference to Israel, the descendants of Abraham, by offering her a helping hand because they have postured their heart towards Israel’s God.
What it means to “Curse”
The Hebrew word for curse is arar; it means to bind with a spell, to hem in with obstacles, to render powerless to resist. The word used to curse thee is qalal; it means to be small, to be lessened, to be insignificant, of small worth, execrate, to bring a curse upon oneself (Zodhiates, 1994, p. 2303, 2361). When these thoughts are united together it paints a disturbing picture. Those who curse you connotes one who would impose a barrier, belittle, hate and call down judgment on Abraham and his descendants. The verse could be translated, “The one who treats you lightly, stops you from fulfilling your calling, belittles you, I must curse (Teplinsky, 2004, p. 43). The words, ‘I must curse’, denotes spiritual and physical misfortunes which gives way to utter misery and despair, for God Himself is doing the judging and pronouncing the curse upon the individual and/or nation. In summary, the one who curses Israel and her God binds themselves in a spell that renders them powerless to resist their own destruction.
To Bless or Curse reveals the soul
Why are some individuals blessed and others cursed when it comes to the subject of Israel and her God? It appears that through the course of history God has used Israel as a point of division in the souls of men in order to test and expose the inner thoughts of their heart. God’s sifting process divulges a person’s position in life; it ultimately reveals if they stand for God or against Him, thus it forges ones fate and destiny. In Exodus 22:21 and 23:9 God instructed Israel not to mistreat or oppress the alien. Instead, the Israelites were to extend compassion, protection, civil rights, justice and even love the alien in their midst (Teplinsky, 2004, p.219). However, the law also explicitly stated, “whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed” (Exodus 22:20, New International Version). The Law presupposed that the alien first submit to the God of Israel and the covering of His people, which then gave way to divine protection and blessings realized in their life. To gain a better understanding of this concept we will examine the outcome of at two foreigners mentioned in scripture, Rahab the Canaanite (Jos 2, 6), and Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, (Isa 36-37).
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