Monday, August 9, 2010

Genesis 12:3 Blessing or Curse?

This verse is actually a very interesting one: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse..." Genesis 12:3 (NIV) Various cultures of the time had a rich stock of curses to bring down upon the heads of their enemies. Some have been preserved (the NIV notes these: the Egyptian Execration Texts, the Hittite suzerainty-vassal treaties, kudurrus (stone boundary markers), the Code of Hammurapi (Epilogue). On a more current and humorous note, I came across this Irish 'curse':

May those who love us love us,
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

(I think that one is fairly well-known, but I found it at:

Although there are some blessings recorded at that same site, I don't recall reading many instances about lists of blessings being likewise preserved! We become offended much more often than we reward others' good behavior, I guess.

The fascinating part about this Genesis 12:3 is that we have historical examples to back it up. When God made a covenant with Abram, He actually meant what He said. We have already seen an example of this. When I wrote about Genesis 12:2 (I Will Bless You - 7/10/2010), we saw that when Abram and Sarai went to Egypt to escape the famine, Pharaoh and his household came under God's judgment when Pharaoh took Sarai to be his wife. Now, in that case, Pharaoh acted innocently enough, for Abram had deceived him as to the true extent of his own relationship with Sarai. However, the covenant promise still came into effect upon Pharaoh, whose household suffered from 'serious diseases' (Gen.12:17) as a result until Sarai was safely returned to Abram.

Time and again throughout the Scriptures those who oppose the Israelites find themselves facing the same type of covenant consequences. There are countless incidences; the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians are one well-known example. There are examples in more recent history as well. In an article by Dennis Prager (July 30, 2002) Those Who Bless the Jews and Those Who Curse the Jews), he notes several nations which have cursed, killed or otherwise afflicted the people of Abraham and suffered the results promised in Genesis 12:2. I have also read other articles regarding these same ideas, but the thing which I appreciated the most about this article is that it does not go on with ceaseless examples of these matters, but merely instructs us to take a look at the state of nations which bless or oppose Israel, as this is proof enough that the covenant blessings and curses are still very much in effect.

Sometimes the punishment is not immediate. Otherwise things could become rather mechanical, rather than indicate the relational aspects which God desires. Also, God is merciful. He wants to make Himself known to all nations, and gives all people ample opportunity to repent. However, when this is rejected, eventual punishment is inevitable, for He keeps His promises always.

For this reason, when I read in current news about nations which threaten to wipe Israel off the map or read of groups of nations united in their opposition towards Israel, I shake my head and wonder if they are aware of the very precarious position into which they are putting themselves. I also become rather grim when my own country (USA) has an official policy of being an ally of Israel, yet in action political leaders often seem to hold it at arm's length. (Until election time, that is, when the warm and fuzzies for Israel seem to blossom in full strength.) I am by no means a foreign policy expert, so perhaps there is much more which I am not understanding about these matters. However, that is the general conclusion which I come to when I take a look at the words and actions of some political leaders/bodies lately.

I will end with this blessing upon Israel and upon those who follow God :

"The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless the house of Israel,
He will bless the house of Aaron,
He will bless those who fear the LORD -- small and great alike." Psalm 115:12-13

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