For the week of September 13, 2003 / 16 Elul 5763
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
Are You Blessed or Cursed?
However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you (Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:15).
A basic theme in the Scriptures has to do with blessings and curses. We read that if we obey God, he will bless us; if we don't, we will be cursed. This concept is probably more controversial today than that of God himself. Many people today claim a belief in God, but not everyone accepts that our behavior has any effect on how God relates to us.
This is the essence of the secular world view. The secular mind believes that the natural realm is the only thing that exists. According to this belief system, there is no such thing as supernatural beings or forces in the universe. Concepts of universal justice or objective morality are illogical, since there is no intelligent force to which we are accountable.
Relatively few people are pure secularists, however, since most people either believe in a personal God or in the existence of some kind of outside forces. We see this through the popularity of horoscopes, and the continued prevalence of superstitions, and other kinds of spiritual experiences held to by so many.
It is probably safe to say then that most people believe that our lives do indeed somehow interact with spiritual forces. It is how those forces interact with us that is a matter of debate. This is an area in which the Torah is clear. According to the Bible, God is personal in that he relates to humans according to his makeup and character. How we conduct ourselves on this earth matters to him and does have an effect on our day-to-day lives.
But what does being blessed or cursed look like? One might think that to be blessed means to be healthy, wealthy, popular, and successful. But that is not how the Scriptures see it. It would be wrong to deduce that Abraham, for example, was cursed all those years he was childless. The reason why Joseph was in prison was not because he was a cursed man any more than the nation of Israel was cursed while in slavery in Egypt.
Therefore we cannot look at someone's circumstances to figure out if they are blessed or cursed. Abraham, Joseph, and Israel were all actually blessed of God in the midst of their great hardships and challenges.
God's blessings and curses in a person's life may not always be obvious. Someone may look prosperous, but in reality their lives are empty. Another person may appear to be poor, yet possess a great sense of peace and joy in life.
Are you blessed or cursed?
The real indicator is not your circumstances but your relationship to God. Difficult circumstances may provoke us to ask this question. Whether or not we are conscious of God and his responses to our behavior, he is interacting with us all the time.
Maybe it is time to check out what he is actually doing in your life right now.
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