And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee. Deuteronomy 30:1.
Is it possible to be blessed and cursed at the same time? If I should seek and secure God's blessing, does that not erase all curses from my life? Can any curse be at work in the life of the one whom God has already blessed? Our passage seems to suggest that the two can be at work at the same time in a person's life or in the history of a people. “When all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse…” together at the same time!
Both the blessing and the curse operate on the basis of principles activated by a kind of life. For instance, God states that those who honour their parents would live long on the earth (Exodus 20:12). If the same person who honours their parents kills somebody, that person becomes guilty of blood, a sin which brings desolation on the land (Genesis 4:10-12). A person like this, while he or she enjoys the blessing of long life activated by the principles of Exodus 20:12, will at the same time be cursed for having violated Genesis 4:10-12. That person will live long, but on a cursed and desolate land, thus enjoying a blessing and suffering a curse at the same time. It will be a long but miserable life. The blessing from one law obeyed does not cancel out the curse from the other law violated.
One spiritual law states, “Give and it shall be given unto you…” (Luke 6:38). To give money, for instance, will activate the blessing of money in that giver's life. However, if the same person serves idols, that act will also attract the curses that follow idolatry, irrespective of the present blessing of prosperity. Thus, both the blessing and the curse can co-exist in certain proportions in the same life.
On their way from Egypt, the children of Israel enjoyed the blessings of manna from heaven, of water from out of the rock, and of the pillars of cloud and of fire that led them by day and by night respectively. While they had those blessings, they were also under a supervising curse which was going to ensure that they wandered for as many as forty years in the wilderness, until the last man in that marked generation of doubters had dropped dead. It was going to be self-deceit, then, if anyone pointed to the abundant blessings as proof that he or she was not under a curse at the same time.
During the same journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, a prophet was hired by the enemy to add a curse to the blessing that was already resident in the lives of the Israelites. It was impossible to curse the blessed of the Lord. The hired prophet therefore confessed that what God had blessed could not be reversed, and that it was not possible to add a curse to the blessing of God (Numbers 23:19-21), especially as the people of God had not broken the codes of the blessings through unrighteous living. The curse could not attach to the blessing at that time in those lives because “the curse causeless shall not come” (Proverbs 26:2), and “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel…” (Numbers 23:21). In other words, if there then had been “iniquity” or “perverseness” in their lives, they could have given the curse a cause to land.
Disappointed that he was going to forfeit his sumptuous honorarium from the king who had hired him against the Israelites, Balaam gave them the secret to contaminating the impenetrable blessing of Israel with a curse. Balaam the hired prophet taught the ungodly king to send his young people to seduce the blessed Israelites into sin. As soon as that happened, the curse came, and in a single day, 24,000 Israelites were slain (Numbers 25:1-9; 31:16; Revelation 2:14).
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it (Numbers 23:19-20).
The blessing may be impossible to “reverse,” as Balaam here admits, but not so impossible to contaminate. The blessing may so far outweigh the particular curse as to make the curse almost unnoticeable, sometimes, which does not erase the curse. A full glass of clean blessings can be polluted by an imperceptible drop of colourless curses. Such a mixture may not kill instantly, but it could sicken, and slowly take its toll, until it also kills at last.
I remember a childhood episode with mice. I had gone to bed in the village after dinner, without washing the foot that had stepped on some fallen food particles. I woke up to find half the sole of that foot scrapped by the intelligent mice as if a miniature blunt dozer had scooped the top soil off the sole. In the morning, I got a lecture on how those mice worked. They bit you, and if you winced, they blew a sedating vampire breeze to cool the spot. The breeze would be so cooling that it usually seduced the sore foot back to the cannibal. That night, I was suffering a pain and enjoying a soothing at the same time. I was too sedated with sleep and the vampire breeze to realise my predicament. That is how some curses work, in spite of the blessings; a cooling breeze of blessings making the vampire curse not so painful.
Moses recounts in Deuteronomy 28 that God was going to bless the migrant Israelites with a land that He was bringing them in to possess. Entering into that land of blessing was not going to be the end of precaution. If they obeyed God in that land of blessing, they would be further blessed (verse 8), but if they broke His laws while enjoying the blessing of that inheritance, God would add a curse to the blessing; a curse in the very “land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (vv. 8, 15). Having entered into one blessing did not therefore mean that other kinds of blessings (or even a curse) could not be added.
It is not enough to seek blessings without precaution about the things that could attach a curse to the blessings. It is not enough to seek the blessing and not also seek freedom from curses. It is delusion to think that because one has been so blessed, there is not a curse to worry about anymore. Even when one has entered into the land given by God, the blessing may still be polluted by curses arising from the violation of other laws.
From The Preacher's diary,
June 9, 2011.