Today Derek looks at why curses come upon people: If we do not listen to God’s voice and do what He says. We can prevent these curses by listening and obeying. Using a number of verses in Deuteronomy 28, Derek brings out some of the results of curses.
It’s good to be with you again as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme through this week has been God’s Abundance. I do trust that you found it helpful and inspiring. In my talk yesterday we looked together at the Bible’s comprehensive list of God’s covenant blessing found in Deuteronomy 28:1–14. The conditions we must fulfill to qualify for these blessings are stated in the first two verses, Deuteronomy 28:1–2:
“Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord you God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” (NASB)
I pointed out that more literally the phrase translated “to obey” means “to listen to the voice of.” And I prefer that translation. I think it brings out an important point. So the two conditions for receiving the blessing are first, listening carefully to the voice of the Lord; second, doing what He says. But I like to emphasize that listening to His voice, because if you don’t hear His voice you can’t do what He says. I pointed out this is really the basic condition for a right relationship to God through the whole Scripture. Even in the New Testament, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.” And again the implication is clear, if they don’t hear His voice they can’t follow Him. So these are the two great basic conditions for inheriting the covenant blessings of God; listening carefully to His voice and then doing what He says.
I went through the list of blessings in some detail and I suggested that it could be summed up in the following words:
I suggest that you in your own convenient time go to that list in Deuteronomy 28:1–14 and check and see if you think my summation is accurate.
Today we must look at the opposite side of the coin—the curses for disobedience. You see, it’s unrealistic to dwell on the blessings and act as if there weren’t such things as curses, because they are very real. One thing the Bible makes clear that most people don’t fully grasp is that a curse is a very real thing. And a curse comes for a reason. This is stated so clearly in Proverbs 26:2:
“Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight.” (NASB)
Just as a bird alights on its appointed place because it has a right to be there, so a curse alights upon us for a cause. A curse without cause does not alight. If curses come there’s a reason for them. And the reason for the curses here in Deuteronomy 28 is very clearly stated. Deuteronomy 28:15:
“But it shall come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” (NASB)
Once again, the phrase translated, “obey the Lord” is really “listen to the voice of the Lord.” So the reason why the curses come is twofold: if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord and you will not do what He says. So very simply the reason for curses is not listening to the voice of the Lord, not doing what He says. In other words, the curses come for exactly the opposite reason for which the blessings come. The blessings come through listening and doing, the curses come through not listening and not doing. That’s very logical, very practical.
Now the full list of curses follows in Deuteronomy 28:16–68, which is 53 verses. And they are all given over to the curses. You need to read that for yourself. I cannot go through it in detail in this brief talk. But you see, I think you’ll find if you go through the list of curses you’ll discover that you’re enduring curses when you should be enjoying blessing. And that perhaps can change your whole life and your lifestyle. I just want to point out some of the main areas covered by the curses. I think the main area perhaps is mental and emotional and there’s a number of statements made in verse 20: “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to...” (NIV).
I would say the two curses there are confusion and frustration—everything you try to do turns out wrong.
Verse 28: “The Lord will afflict you with madness and confusion of the mind... (NIV). The curses there are madness and confusion of the mind. One thing emerges very clearly: confusion is a curse.
Verse 34: “The sights you see will drive you mad...” (NIV). To be driven mad is a curse; madness is a curse.
Verse 65: “The Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, a despairing heart” (NIV). The curses there are anxiety, weariness and despair. How many people you can see in almost any major city, walking around bowed down under those curses, and not really knowing why the curses have come.
Now we’ll move on to the area of the physical and again the list is long and totally comprehensive.
Verse 21: “The Lord will make the pestilence cling to you...” (NASB). That’s pestilence and notice it clings, we can’t shake it off.
Verse 22: “The Lord will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation...” (NASB). Three curses; consumption, fever, inflammation.
Verse 27: “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured...” (NIV). The curses there are boils, tumors, festering sores and the itch.
Verse 28: “The Lord will afflict you with blindness...” (NIV). Blindness is a curse.
Verse 35: “The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head...” (NIV). Again boils are singled out as a curse.
Verse 59: “The Lord will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses...” (NASB). What a verse! What a terrible picture! And all that’s curses—extraordinary plagues, chronic sicknesses.
Verse 60: “The Lord will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you...” (NASB). Now I’ve spent two years of my life in Egypt, and I want to tell you there aren’t many diseases that aren’t found in Egypt. There’s an awful list. And all the diseases of Egypt are part of the curse.
And then as if that weren’t enough, the next verse, verse 61 says this: “Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of the law, the Lord will bring on you until you are destroyed...” (NASB). So it’s not merely all the sicknesses and plagues that are written in the book of the law, but all the rest that are not. In other words, every kind of sickness and every kind of plague is part of the curse.
Now there are other areas dealt with but I don’t have time to touch on. The whole area of relationships— especially family relationships. Wrong family relationships are part of the curse.
In closing this list of the curses I want to deal with the area of finance because this is directly related to our theme which is abundance. Here are the curses that affect the area of finance and possession.
Verse 29: “and you shall grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways...” (NASB). Not prospering is a curse.
Verse 47 and 48 which really sums all this up in the area of the material and the financial. “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things”; [notice, that’s God’s will that we serve Him with joy and glad heart for the abundance of all things. Notice that beautiful word “abundance.” What’s the alternative if we don’t meet the conditions? The next verse says, “therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things...” (NASB). That’s a curse. Actually it’s four aspects of one curse. Let me just point them out to you:
LACK OF ALL THINGS.
All those are aspects of the curse. I summed them up in one phrase and I think you’d agree with me—the phrase is absolute poverty. When you’re hungry, you don’t have anything to eat; you’re thirsty, you don’t have anything to drink; you’re naked, you don’t have any clothes to put on; and you’re in lack of all things—that is absolute poverty. You cannot have greater poverty than that. And absolute poverty is a curse. Can you receive that? Poverty is a curse. It’s not a blessing. It’s not in the list of blessings. It’s in the list of curses. Receive that. Study that passage for yourself.
I want to sum up the curses now, just as I tried to sum up the blessings. This is the list I’ve come up with—but again I want to recommend you go to that passage in Deuteronomy 28, the last 53 verses and read them for yourself. This is the summation of the curses:
MENTAL & PHYSICAL SICKNESS
I think I’ll read that list once more. I want to leave that impact on you. This is the list of curses summed up:
MENTAL & PHYSICAL SICKNESS
What’s the reason for the curses? Very simple—not listening to God’s voice and not doing what He says. That’s the watershed of human life. If you listen to God’s voice and do what He says, you’re on the side of blessing. If you don’t listen and don’t do, you’re on the side of the curse.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at the same time Monday through Friday. I’ll continue with the theme of God’s Abundance. Specifically, I’ll be dealing with God’s Remedy for the Curse. It’s very important that you listen to that.