Barry Newman's Blog

May 31, 2011

Science and Genesis 3: 1 – 24 (part XVII)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 11:02 pm

An aside on God cursing

Certainly the idea of God imposing something like a hex is inappropriate.  It is human beings, operating in a world akin to magic, who seek to place a hex on somebody or something, with no certainty that their endeavours will bear fruit.  God does not operate by magical means and he does not simply endeavour to bring about his determinations, as though he might fail. His own power is sufficient for him to accomplish what he decides to do.  However as implied earlier, while Walton’s view that curses are wishes might be appropriate when applied to men, that notion seems quite inappropriate when applied to God.  In 1 Samuel 26 David utters a curse but he cannot guarantee that it will come about.  That will be up to God.

Furthermore, this writer does not concur with Walton’s agreement with Scharbert’s analysis of Deuteronomy 28: 16-28. While 28: 16-19 refers explicitly to the people of Israel being cursed (if they choose to disobey Yahweh their God),  vv. 20 – 28 together with vv. 29 – 68 are an elaboration of what these curses will amount to.  Verse 48 referring to what has gone before begins, “All these curses will come upon you.” (NIV)  (See Craigie, P.C., The Book of Deuteronomy, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1976, pp. 338-353 for a similar view.)  If this viewpoint is correct the “negative actions of the Lord” are not to be distinguished from the curses but are explications of those curses.  The point being made is that rather than seeing the curses that emanate from God in some passive sense – which could be understood to lie behind the idea of God removing his protection and favour, they are to be understood as referring to his promise of “evil” to come which he will positively bring about. Certainly understanding God to be removing his favour and protection is one possible way of interpreting his intentions in a specific situation but in the case of uttering a curse, this perspective seems too limiting.  The idea that God in his blessings is bestowing his favour and protection and that God in his curses is operating in an opposite manner to this – removing his favour and protection has a certain appeal.  But as Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 68, in the opinion of this writer, makes clear, both blessings and curses entail the positive action of God to directly bring about “good” in one case and “evil” in another.


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