This parashah is one of my favorites, mainly because of Chapter 28, which is the Blessings and the Curses.
Moses starts out by telling everyone that they must bring the first fruits of the land to the place where God will place His name, and the pronouncement they must make which is to re-affirm their history, what God has done for them and that they have not strayed from God’s commandments.
When the people are in the land they are to stand at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim and pronounce the curses upon people who do sinful things, with all the people saying, “Amen!” to each pronounced curse. The blessings are also to be said, although they are not specified here- only the curses are specified.
The blessings are identified in Chapter 28, as well as the punishment (curses) that will fall upon the people for disobedience. When you read the curses, they are more numerous than the blessings and as wonderful as the blessings are, the curses are relatively just as devastating and horrible.
But does God really curse people? Isn’t He the Lord of lords and Kings of kings? Isn’t He compassionate, long-suffering, abounding in grace and love? Does the Lord, God Almighty really sock–it-to-us just because we screw up?
This is what I love about this chapter- the truth of God’s “curses” is that they aren’t curses from God, they are curses we impose on ourselves by walking away from God.
God’s blessings are active- He gives them to us. We can earn them through obedience, and even when we are disobedient God will still bless us (He rains on the righteous and unrighteous, alike) because He is a loving and compassionate God. The blessings will come, without end while we obey and (as Micah advised) when we walk humbly with our God. In other words, God holds this giant umbrella, a hoopah, a kippur, a covering that protects us from the world and the horrible things in it. When we walk with God, meaning when we are obedient and staying in His will, we are protected. Oh, yeah, just like when we have an umbrella in the storm, our pants and feet get wet, and we may have to suffer some wind damage to our hair, but we are protected. The full force of the storm is kept away from us. That’s what it is like when we stay obedient.
God stays on His own path- ain’t nothing gonna change where God wants to go. So what happens when we disobey? He goes His way and we wander off in another direction. Ever try to walk with someone in the rain when they are holding the umbrella? If you don’t watch your step and make sure you are going where they are going, you get soaked. When we disobey God and wander off His path, we lose the kippur of protection that God provides us (i.e., His blessings) and therefor we suffer the curses of this cursed world.
It’s that easy. God actively blesses us, and His “curses” are not curses at all- it is Him passively allowing us to wander away from His protective kippur; what it comes down to is when we disobey God’s commandments, we curse ourselves!
If you feel that you are being cursed, under attack, check yourself out in the mirror. Ask yourself, “Am I walking with God or am I wandering off on my own?” God doesn’t really punish us, but He will allow us to punish ourselves when we disobey and wander off on our own. Even with Job, the curses and horrors Job suffered, were allowed by God but not directly performed by God.
We could argue that passively allowing evil is not really different than performing the evil, itself. In fact, we are told in Deuteronomy that we should NOT stand by and allow evil, we should help even our enemy if his donkey is overladen. So why can God get away with allowing evil to happen to others?
I don’t know. Maybe because He is God? Maybe because His plans are way above us, and what we perceive as a plan for evil He knows is really a plan for good. How many times in your life have you felt that you were never going to come out of a situation smelling good, yet when you look back that terrible time is what led to to a real blessing in your life? My first date with Donna was the “Date from Hell” but we got past it and just last week we celebrated our 20th Anniversary of that first date. And even today, each kiss is better than the last one.
It’s alright to question God, He’s big enough He can handle a few questions, but don’t expect to understand the answer. Hello? He’s God, and we aren’t!
God will bless you when you obey, and when you disobey you choose to walk away from His protection from the world so you suffer curses.
Here’s one last interesting thought: if you look closely, you will see that curses are the opposite of the blessings. That proves (to me, at least) that the curses are what exist in this world and the blessings are the absence of the curses. Just like being under an umbrella in the rain- all around us it is raining (curses), but under the umbrella we are safe from it.
How many times throughout the Tanakh is God described as our shield and protector?
God is our umbrella: do you have enough sense to get out from under the rain?