This parasha continues with the commandments regarding how the people are to behave when they enter the Land (ha Eretz). It tells them to write the entire Torah on plastered rocks and to stand, 6 tribes on one mountain and the other 6 on another one, and pronounce the blessings and curses that the people are subject to while in the Land. Chapters 28 and 29 specify, in somewhat graphic detail, the blessings for obedience and the curses (this is where it gets graphic) for rejecting the laws, thereby rejecting God.
But does God really curse us? God is good, all the time! We hear that often during services, and it is in the Manual, too. We also hear that God is the same: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Totally dependable. Loving and compassionate. Patient and forgiving; in fact, more than just willing to forgive, He wants to forgive!
We know God will judge, but we also know His judgments are infused with mercy.
However, He is God, and will do whatever He wants to do, however He wants to do it. We trust, and we should, that what He does is just and holy. God is loving, fair, merciful and compassionate, and he wants us to have only the best there is.
So, nu? With all that going for Him, why would He curse us just because we want to do our own thing? He gave us free will, right? He lets us make our own decisions, right? So, if we decide to ignore some, or all, of His rules why be so vengeful and nasty? I mean, c’mon, God- live, and let live. You go your way and I’ll go my way. No need to be all “up-in-my-face” about it. I’ll leave you alone and you leave me alone. Okay?
Actually…that is exactly what he does.
Remember that the world is a cursed place. It was cursed with the sin that Adam and Eve committed, and has remained cursed. In fact, Satan was thrown not to Sheol (hell), but to Earth. If you sometimes think it is hell on Earth, well- you’re right! It is.
God’s blessings are a kippur, or covering. It is the umbrella that protects us from the raining down curses that we must endure while we live in this world. We have the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, coming soon. Kippur means covering, and that is really what atonement does for us: when we atone before God, when we do T’Shuvah and (literally) turn from our sins, He covers us with His protection from the world, i.e., blessings. You see, things start off lousy- we are born into sin, with a sinful nature (Yetzer Hara) and into a sinful, cursed world. The wonderful things that happen to us are the exception, not the rule. Those exceptions happen because God covers us with His blessings. Yeshua said He wished He could cover Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) like a mother hen covers her chicks under her wings. Often, David used the term “under the wings”, an image of being covered and protected, in his psalms about how God cares for us.
We are given free will, and we can do whatever we want regarding the laws and commandments God has ordered us to obey. But we need to be ready for the consequences.
Does God curse us? I say no, because he doesn’t need to. We start off cursed, in a cursed world. God wants to cover us, to give us His Kippur, and we can choose to go to Him and stand under His protection, or we can choose to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and stand alone, unprotected in the midst of tsouris.
I think many people just don’t like being told what to do; yes, we are sheep easily led astray. But we are also stiff-necked and stubborn, prideful and egocentric. The way we are easily led astray is that anyone who promises us hedonistic pleasures and autonomy will have a following more numerous than the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. What God tells us to do is for our best interest and will lead to Eternal pleasure, but (sadly) we prefer to do what feels good now and ignore the Eternal consequences. We like to be “eased” into obedience, but that is not how it works with the Lord. He doesn’t ask, and He doesn’t need to ask, just like when I was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps I didn’t need to ask an enlisted man to do something. Even the Roman soldier who told Yeshua, by means of servants, that Yeshua did not need to come to his home to cure the sick slave, knew that was true because Yeshua had the authority to do so, wherever He was. God is THE ultimate authority in the Universe. He, and He alone, has the right and the power to enforce telling us what to do. Yes, he could send horrible curses upon us, but he doesn’t use that power- He doesn’t need to. He chooses instead to lovingly, and (I believe from what I read in the Bible) regretfully leave us to our own devices.
People curse each other- we willingly desire that bad things happen to someone else and if we could make it happen, we would. We actively curse each other. God does not actively curse us- His “curses” are passive, in that His curse is the result of us rejecting Him, and thereby throwing off His Kippur from the already cursed world. God doesn’t throw us under the bus- we run into the road and lay down in front of the bus all on our own.
Obey God, believe that Yeshua is the Messiah and accept Him as your Messiah, follow the commandments and you choose life: a life of blessings and an Eternity in the presence of the Almighty. If you prefer to do as you please, reject Yeshua and thereby reject God’s plan of salvation for yourself, you choose Eternal suffering. You may have one heck of a good life on earth- the sinful know how to get what they want (there’s an interesting parable about that in Luke), but in the end, you are choosing death.
It’s your choice.