Watchmen from Jerusalem, Issue 1, 2009
I will curse those who curse you
In Genesis 12:3, God promises, "I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you…" The Hebrew word "bless" is the same both times, but the Hebrew for "curse" is two different words. This difference shows exactly what opens one up to God's curse.
God's "curse," aw'rar, means to strongly curse, to denounce, to loathe, to declare hateful. The word is first used when God cursed Satan for deceiving Eve (Gen. 3:14). Next is when God cursed the ground as part of Adam's punishment (3:17). Third, the curse that resulted from Cain murdering his brother (4:11). Then Genesis 12:3, where God declares He will "curse" those who "curse/despise" [see below] His people, the children of Abraham. Genesis 27:29 repeats this as God includes those who "curse/despise" the descendants of Abraham through Jacob. Hundreds of years later this is reaffirmed when God warns the prophet Balaam not to curse His people because they are blessed (Num. 22:12). Balaam then, in the presence of their enemy, proclaims this divine protection over the people of Israel (24:9).
Besides hatred towards Israel, another reason for a curse coming on peoples and societies is humanism, the worship of mankind. "Thus says LORD, 'cursed is the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from LORD'" (Jer. 17:5).
God feels so strongly about certain issues that He listed twelve things that bring a curse - even upon His blessed people (Deut. 27:14-26): idolatry, dishonoring parents, moving a neighbor's borders, deceiving/ harming the helpless, perverting justice for the powerless, a man having sex with his father's wife, having sex with animals, incest, a man having sex with his mother-in-law, violence toward a neighbor, taking payment to kill the innocent, and any person not in agreement with these laws.
What does a curse entail?
There are many ways things can go wrong. For those who do not obey His Covenant, God promises they will. Do any of these apply to your people or nation who claim to know the Lord - problems with the food supply, children's health, travel woes, insanity, blindness, confusion, infectious diseases, inflammations, tumors, violence, skin cancers, toxic mold, drought, pesticide resistant infestations, diseased crops, defeat by enemies, bad relations with other nations, oppression, evictions, shattered dreams, repossessions, debt collections, children moving far away and/or being taken captive by strange beliefs? In Deuteronomy 28:16-68 God lists these situations resulting from curses. But there is more.
A cursed society becomes cheap labor for other economies, the alien will surpass the home-born, foreign enemies will besiege that people in their own land. Civilization breaks down, plagues rage, most of the people die and people resort to cannibalism. At the end, such a people are plundered and taken captive, scattered over the earth to serve enemies who show them no mercy. They have no rest, but only anxiety and anguish. What is seen will cause constant fear. As slaves, such a people is not in demand, but only valued for fertilizer. Could God's warning have been any stronger?
Israel has experienced the fullness of God's curse, paying double for her sins (Isa. 40:2), because she alone of all nations, has had an intimate relationship with Him (Amos 3:1-2). Israel was chosen to be the example nation of both the blessing and the curse of God. Today, she is being drawn back into blessings (Jer. 31:3) - while most other nations are coming under curses - and that word in context implies a long-term process of destruction.
What exactly is "cursing" Israel?
The "curse" towards Abraham's seed (Gen. 12:3), which brings God's strong curse to bear, is in Hebrew kaw'lal. It basically means despising the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Strong's definition [OT7043] includes to ridicule, to belittle, to make insignificant. In one form the verb means to make despicable, to curse, and in another form to treat with or bring contempt or dishonor. In Genesis 12:3, "curse" (Piel stem) takes on intensity and intention. When God says (in the Qal or "prophetic future" stem) that He "will-curse", it can mean instituting a process of destruction for those intentionally and repeatedly "making -despicable/cursing" the Jewish people.
On those who curse/despise the Jews, God threatens destruction for two reasons. First, nations that despise His people and the great things He has done for them, rob God of His glory by profaning His name - basically saying He no longer keeps covenant, or He has changed His mind about His covenant promises to Israel, or He doesn't know the future (that is, if He had known the Jews would reject His Son, He would have chosen some other people group). Any of these is a perversion of God's character. This is why replacement theology is blasphemous.
Second, God places protection on Abraham and his seed for the sake of the gentiles. Genesis 12:3b, following the section we have studied, is the gospel to the gentiles, as Galatians 3:8 states. "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the [nations/gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed." If in history God did not protect His chosen people, then there would not have been a gospel to declare - to the Jew first, then to the gentile (Rom. 1:16).
Looking at the news with this in mind, we see why this world is shaking. God's curse is operating on all who despise Israel.