After having been delivered from the captivity of Egypt, but before entering into the promise land, the land of milk and honey, because of their disobedience to God the children of Israel wondered forty years in the wilderness. It was during this time that Moses, speaking for God told them, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse” (Deut. 11:26). He went on to specify just how which they got would come about. In short, they would receive the blessing if they obeyed the commandments of God (Deut. 11:27), but they would receive the curse if they did not obey the commandments of the Lord (Deut. 11:28). Contextually speaking, this blessing and this curse was in reference to Israel as a nation and their success or failure as a physical nation among other nations of the world. In other words, would they receive all the blessings promised for them in the land of Canaan or would they be overthrown by other nations and taken into captivity, it all depended upon their response to the commands of God. Yet, a survey of the entire Bible will show that the same holds true for every age, God has offered a blessing and a curse and the determining factor for which one gets is whether one is obedient to God’s commands or not.
In what is generally called the patriarchal age, the age prior to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, God spoke directly to the heads of the houses (patriarchs) who then directed the family, thus called the patriarchal age. The first example of a command given and either obeyed or disobeyed was given in the garden of Eden. God told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). Adam and Eve were already enjoying the blessing of living in the garden and having a close relationship with God. Their disobedience to that command of God (Gen. 3:6) resulted in their loss of their garden home as well as the relationship they had enjoyed. What they received then was the curse. God gave commandment to Noah concerning the building of an ark for the purpose of the salvation of his family during a flood that would wipe the rest of humanity off the face of the earth (Gen. 6). The Bible says, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). Of course the blessing he received from this obedience was the salvation of his family. Abraham was a prime example of one who consistently obeyed the commands of God and was blessed for his efforts.
The Mosaic age refers to the age of the law of Moses given to the nation of Israel from mount Sinai (Exo. 20). This is of course the age from which our initial statement from God concerning a blessing and a curse came (Deut. 11:26). The list of examples of both those who obeyed the commands of God and were blessed and those that disobeyed the commands of God and were cursed abound. The nation of Israel in the forty years of wilderness wandering attest to the fact that a curse would be the result of disobedience to God, while the conquering of and the taking possession of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua is an attestation of the reception of God’s blessings as the result of obedience to His commands. The period of the judges has long stood out as example of how when the people of God faithfully follow Him they are blessed, and when they turn away from following Him, they receive a curse. Time after time God’s people went astray from following Him only to be oppressed by the various nations around them. Then time after time, when they turned back to God, He sent a judge to deliver them from that oppression. Because of continued disobedience to God’s word, they were finally taken into captivity, loosing that land that they had been promised. Indeed the blessing and the curse were both experienced by the nation of Israel.
Though there are many today that deny that God has placed before man both a blessing and a curse in this the Christian age, following the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the old patriarchal laws or the Mosaic laws. However, as has always been the case, such a blessing and a curse is set before us in this age as well. One has to deny most of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments in order to take away choice which God has always placed before man. Just as Israel had been promised a blessing, but lost it and received a curse, so God has placed such a blessing before us, along with the curse, depending upon our obedience. After speaking of the failure of Israel, the writer of the book of Hebrews states, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it…Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:1, 11). Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The problem is, not all will come to Him. Jesus spoke of both the blessing and the curse when He said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46). As Joshua told the children of Israel, “choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Josh. 24:15). (Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.