God's Seven Curses

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What are the seven times God personally cursed someone or something? Which ones of these instances involved either a plant or animal? Which curses from God were declared upon inanimate objects?

What Is It?

A curse is the opposite of a blessing. While a blessing offers something that is positive or desirable, a curse negatively impacts what it is directed toward. When God, in the Old Testament, pronounces a curse he is rendering a righteous judgment that brings with it a penalty for one or more transgressions committed.

A Unique Penalty

The first of seven curses pronounced in the Bible is one that is quite unique. God, after discovering that deception and sin had been brought into his beautiful garden, confronts the creature through which the deception was promoted.

"Because you have done this you are cursed above all livestock, and above every animal of the field. You shall go upon your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life . . ." (Genesis 3:14, HBFV throughout).

Cain and his Children Accursed of God
Cain and his Children Accursed of God
Antoine Etex, 1832

The creature that tempted Eve was not a snake or serpent as is commonly believed. If it were originally a snake, then the curse pronounced upon it would make no sense! The creature that deceived Eve, which was possessed by the devil (see Genesis 3:15, Ezekiel 28:13), stood upright and possessed a certain amount of intelligence (Genesis 3:1).

God's curse upon the creature who deceived Eve immediately led to all of its limbs being removed. With its ease of mobility taken away, the creature was doomed to slither on its belly in order to travel from one place to another.

Adam's Punishment

After God penalized Eve for her willingness to disobey him (Genesis 3:16) he turned to Adam to pronounce a curse that would adversely affect his entire life.

"Because you have hearkened to the voice of your wife . . . the ground is cursed for your sake. In sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life. It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and thus you shall eat the herbs of the field . . . " (Genesis 3:17 - 18).

God initially made the earth to be abundantly fertile where crops could be grown easily with little effort. The ground, however, received a curse due to Adam's sin. Part of his punishment for sinning entailed having to exert great effort to grow enough food to survive (Genesis 3:19). The proliferation of worthless weeds and other invasive plants, previously unknown to Eden, would also be commonplace.

"The curse pronounced on man's account upon the soil created for him, consisted in the fact, that the earth no longer yielded spontaneously the fruits requisite for his maintenance, but the man was obliged to force out the necessaries of life by labor and strenuous exertion." (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary).

Vagabond and Wanderer

Cain, after he murdered his brother Abel in cold blood (Genesis 4:8), was confronted by God. His unwillingness to take responsibility for the murder, along with his lack of grief or repentance, doomed him to receive a curse from God.

"And now you are cursed from the earth, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you, and you shall be a wanderer and a fugitive upon the earth." (Genesis 4:11 - 12).

Not only was Cain cursed by being expelled from God's presence, he would no longer have a permanent home. His punishment as a fugitive meant that he would become a ceaseless wanderer, a person who would always feel like he should be somewhere else (e.g. endlessly moving like Satan, Job 1:7). Cain was also destined to work extra hard just to survive in the world.

The Great Flood

The fourth of seven curses involves all humanity. God causes the earth to be flooded, at the time of Noah, due to the violence and wickedness that had permeated all humans (Genesis 6:5, 11, 13). The Lord's destruction of almost all humans (except Noah's family) and all land animals (except those on the ark) was considered a curse by him.

Noah, after the flood, offered animals sacrifices to the Lord. These sacrifices were so pleasing to God that he promised himself to never wipe out all life due to sin.

And Noah built an altar to the Lord, and he took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor; and the Lord said in His heart, "I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake - although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will not again smite every living thing as I have done . . . " (Genesis 8:20 - 21).

A Most Unusual Promise

Abram (Abraham), while living in Haran, is commanded by God to leave his home for one that will be shown him (Genesis 12:1). He also receives the unilateral promise of becoming so blessed that what comes through him will bless the entire world! God's relationship with Abram is so close that He promises to personally curse those who reject him or want to do him harm.

"And I will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:2 - 3).

Just like Jesus' statement that those who reject him reject his Father as well (John 15:23), Abram is told that those who reject him will be treated as those rejecting God!

Robbing God

The sixth of seven curses we will review involves theft. God accused ancient Israel of robbing him of the tithes and offerings he commanded be given (Leviticus 27:30 - 33, Numbers 18:20 - 32, Deuteronomy 12:5 - 6, 14:22 - 23). Their refusal to obey him brought a penalty.

Will a man rob God? Yet you (speaking at the time to Israel) are robbing Me. But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings!

You are cursed with a curse; for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the treasure house, so that there may be food in My house (Malachi 3:8 - 10).

Jesus and the Fig Tree

The last of God's seven curses involves Jesus. The Lord, who was God in the flesh, entered Jerusalem with his disciples a few days before his death. Being hungry, and noticing a fig tree that possessed an abundance of leaves, he approached it expecting to find fruit. When he finds no fruit, he pronounces a curse upon the fruit tree.

And seeing a fig tree by the road, He (Jesus) came up to it, but found nothing on it except leaves only. And He said to it, "Let there never again be fruit from you forever." And immediately the fig tree dried up.

And after seeing it, the disciples were amazed, saying, "How quickly the fig tree has dried up!" (Matthew 21:19 - 20, see also Mark 11:12- 14, 20 - 21).

The tree on which Jesus pronounced a curse began to immediately start to die. The Bible suggests, however, that its full effect was not noticed by the disciples until the morning of the next day (see Mark 11:20 - 21).

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