Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Promised Curse

“It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (Deuteronomy 28:15).

This grim verse of doom comes on the heels of an amazing tally of God’s supply—promised provisions for His people (14 verses to be exact). Do you need a secure hold through life, protection from your enemy, victory in your battle, food on your table, love within your family?—“hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord” and you are freely given each and every one! But this Almighty Blessing Giver brings a grave warning to all who refuse to walk in His ways. He calls them curses.

Not long ago I heard a Preacher say, “God will never do anything in your life without telling you about it first.” He is an honest God. Blessing or curse—whatever it is we are experiencing at this moment—we had it in writing first. The absolute wonder of this truth is this: we have the ability to choose what we want to receive.

That reality is sobering. The fact that we can curse ourselves (by how we choose to behave) must be pondered in a serious light. We must seek to obey our God in every area of our life: our speech, our morals, our worship, our work, our community, our entertainment, our money, our authorities, etc. He has something to say regarding each one. Therefore, we have a responsibility to know just exactly what it is He has to say.

After spending quality time recounting all that God had done to bless their forefathers, Joshua puts out a plea to those of the household of Jacob—basically he says, “Now its your turn! Today, YOU must decide to personally serve the Lord in sincerity and truth—YOU must choose this for yourself” (Joshua 24:14). Joshua then stands up and forcefully states his own allegiance to God. “As for me and my house,” he declares boldly, “We will serve the Lord” (Joshua 25: 15). That command, issued to the Israelites before receiving their promised inheritance, is ringing in our ears yet still: “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” We must heed it! This is significant to securing a blessing instead of a curse. There is a decision to be made—and it is to be made daily. What will we choose today?

Will we choose to trust in man? Will we use our own reasoning abilities to get us out of tough situations? Will we find security in our own strength—whatever strength we can muster? Will we forget God in our time of distress and turn to others for counsel? Thus saith the Lord in Jeremiah 17:5: “Cursed be the man!”

Will we choose to keep what God calls His? Will we refuse the Lord our tithes and offerings? Neglecting to cheerfully give back a small part of all that He has given to us, will we choose to hoard those resources instead? God declares forthrightly that He departs from those who depart from His ordinances—“For I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). If we do not bring our tithes into His storehouse He will close up the windows of heaven—His physical blessings toward us will dry up! If you rob me, He says plainly, “Ye are cursed with a curse” (Malachi 3:9).

Will we choose to neglect those in great need? Will we ignore the fact that many are in want—pretending they do not exist? Are we comfortable to stay within our houses of warmth oblivious to those left out in the cold? Will we turn around, turn the channel, or turn the page when confronted with those in poverty? Will we judge their plight in condescending tones? The Bible calls it “hiding our eyes.” Whether this is done in pride or ignorance the result is the same—“ye shall have many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27).

Will we choose to take the law into our own hands—a traffic law, a tax law, a property law—and decide what is best? God calls it removing landmarks! And He does not like it. Will we choose to allow injustice to bind the innocent? Will we treat the stranger, the fatherless and the widow with indifference—putting the letter of the law above the spirit of the law? Will we use our power to abuse those who have no protection? “Cursed be he!” (Deuteronomy 27:17-19).

Will we choose to preach, teach, share, or counsel others while neglecting our own personal sin? Will we judge harshly those in immorality while dabbling in it ourselves? Will we choose to lie and cover up our wrong behavior in order to appear godly? Will we minister to others in order to receive praise? Will we choose our own glory instead of Christ’s? “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully” (Jeremiah 48:10).

Will we choose to dishonor our parents? Will we turn aside from their teaching and engage in sinful lifestyles, openly mock their standards, or just neglect our duty to love and respect them? Will we choose to ignore their physical needs—and justify the sin of not taking care of them? Will we choose to harbor bitterness against them? Will we choose to place our own knowledge and desires above their advice and refuse to seek it out? “Cursed be he that setteth to light by his father or his mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16).

The Hebrew word that our Lord God uses throughout the Old Testament for curse is translated to mean execrate in the English language—“to declare to be evil or detestable; to denounce; to detest violently; to put under a curse.” God chose to use very strong speech when setting forth His decrees. He will honor His word. If you obey them, He will bless you abundantly. But, if you disobey them, He will determinedly set Himself against you—against your family, your crops, your wealth, your health, your defense, etc.! We cannot separate our Lord from His commandments—they are one and the same. God is the “I Am”—His name, His character, His ordinances, His promises… “I Am!” Do we believe Him? He loves His Law! Therefore, we are also called to love His Law.

God declares that disobedience is detestable—whether we feel it to be detestable or not! So many of our sins are easily justified as “meaningless”…but they will bring a curse, nonetheless! David prays, “Search me and know me—create in me a clean heart—keep me from presumptuous sins—make the thoughts of my heart acceptable in Your sight!” David understood the importance of not cursing himself—Psalm 119 is a powerful testimony to that fact! I pray that I will treasure the precepts God has set out in His Word and, therefore, choose to receive the promised blessing—not the promised curse.

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