Conditional Blessings and Curses

 By – Paul Rahoi

Throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was promised gracious blessings for faithful obedience, and threatened with fearful curses (withdrawn blessings) for persistent rebellion.  The entire 28th chapter of Deuteronomy clearly demonstrates the CONDITIONAL nature of God’s blessings (vs 1-14) and curses (vs 15-68).  However, the majority of the Jewish people, in self-deceived arrogance, came to believe that the blessings applied to their nation UNCONDITIONALLY, and they ignored and evaded the threatened curses.  While “other” nations might be forsaken by God for “their” wickedness, the notion that wickedness in Israel might be equally punished was simply unthinkable.  What became of that presumptuous nation?

 

Prophets like Elijah, Elisha and Amos were raised up to reprove the tide of apostasy in the 10 northern tribes of “Israel”, and numerous calls to repentance were given over the course of many decades.  But Israel persistently despised God’s messengers who reproved their sins, and they ignored God’s threatened judgments, until He was finally compelled to punish them by the Assyrian empire.  The entire northern kingdom (10 tribes!) were swept away forever, dispersed among the nations, as God had threatened.

 

With the example of the northern tribes before them, amazingly, the remaining 2 southern tribes of “Judah” also came to believe they were unconditionally blessed.  They too manifested stoic indifference to their heaven-sent warnings, apostatized, and consequently were taken captive by the Babylonian empire, as God had threatened. After 70 years of captivity, a “remnant” finally returned, somewhat humbled, but with many still under the grand delusion that God was obligated to use their nation forever.

 

When Christ finally came, His teachings were extremely offensive to the Jewish leaders and those blinded by them.  They expected a Messiah who would overthrow the Roman government and re-establish the glory and independence of their supposedly indispensable nation.  But Christ taught that by persistent rebellion, their nation would never again be used by God, and would be replaced– mostly by Gentiles whom they despised!

 

“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43.  “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” Matthew 23:38.  The presence of God’s Spirit, His truth, His blessings… so long despised, would be withdrawn, and the nation left forever “desolate”.  This blunt teaching was intolerable, and its Divine Advocate must be exterminated.

 

To the fruitless fig tree, a symbol of the Jewish nation which was to be “cut down” (Luke 13:6-9) , Christ had said: “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever…  And… they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  And Peter… [said], Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.”  Mark 11:14,20-21.

 

But the Jewish nation was to call down this curse upon themselves.  As Pilate was yielding to the bloodthirsty demand that Christ be crucified, the representative of Rome washed his hands and said to the multitude: “I am innocent of the blood of this just person” Matthew 27:24.  But the representatives of Israel boldly and haughtily answered that they and their descendants would bear responsibility for the guilt of murdering the Son of God.  “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” vs 25.  God both heard and answered that awful request. Paul would later state that they “…both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:  Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”   1Thessalonians 2:15-16.

 

Like the Apostles, many God-fearing Jews have been (and will yet be) blessed and saved, but as a people and nation, their choices rendered them a cursed tree, a desolate house.  The prejudice and animosity against Jews, which God in His mercy might have quelled, has been allowed to fester among ignorant peoples throughout the world, to this very day.

 

Are not the same sentiments of that ancient people echoed today by Christians who seem to demand, unconditionally, that “God bless America!” or strangely declare that “Israel is God’s people!” or insist that their church has been and will be unconditionally blessed and used by God, forever?  Divine rejection, though plainly and repeatedly threatened in God’s word, and demonstrated throughout history, is as unthinkable as it was to ancient Israel.  What must be the consequences should Christians chose to maintain this bewitching attitude?

 

[This article was shared with permission from Brother Rahoi.]

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