Curses and Blessings - RR171T35

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Curses and Blessings
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 35
Length: 0:28:21
TapeCode: RR171T35
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, in whom all shall flesh shall come, we give thanks unto thee that in an evil world thou art the Lord. Thy will shall be done, and all the workers of iniquity shall be brought low and destroyed. We come to thee therefore, Father, to cast our every care upon thee knowest thou carest for us. Knowing that thy mercies are new every morning, day after day, thy protecting care and grace surrounds us. Teach us so to walk, that in the midst of all troubles and adversities, we may rejoice in the certain victory that is ours, in Jesus Christ, our Lord. In His name we pray, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is Exodus 12:31-36, and our subject: Curses and Blessings. Exodus 12:31-36. “And he [Pharaoh] called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.” [00:03:16]

To the modern mind, the strangest aspect of this text

To the modern mind, the strangest aspect of this text is Pharaoh’s statement in verse 32, “Bless me also.” Because of the series of judgments which had overwhelmed Egypt, Pharaoh ordered Moses to take Israel out of the land and the Egyptians welcomes this, for they said, “We be all dead men.” The plagues had ruined Egypt politically, economically, agriculturally, and also had shattered their families and religious faith. The Egyptians clearly saw themselves accursed because of Moses and the Hebrews.

The reverse of the curse is a blessing. Pharaoh, in asking for a blessing for himself and therefore, for his people, was asking for a reversal of the curse upon all Egypt. A curse is a malediction, or implication. It declares that a person is not faithful to the laws of God and of all created being. He is at war with God’s very person, as well as with God’s creation. The curse, as a result, invokes the judgment of God against the enemy of God. The greater the privilege under God, the greater is the curse or judgment. Because of this, Pharaoh and Egypt, being prosperous and privileged, gained a more severe judgment because they despised God’s people, and especially God’s man, Moses.

For this same reason, Peter tells us judgment must begin at the house of God. The church, enjoying the greatest privilege of all, is the object of God’s singular wrath, and any people, any nation which is particularly blessed will be in particular accursed.

A curse is a form of prayer, because it appeals to God in terms of His covenant law to bring justice to bear on men and nations. Similarly, blessings can be a form of prayer. Such prayers, however, become impotent when there is no faith in God’s law. An oath, as in oath of office, is a conditional self-curse. whereby the oath-taker invokes God’s judgment on himself for a dishonest or violated oath. Thus anyone taking the oath is going to be the particular target of God’s wrath. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are very important chapters of scripture in this context. They are basic to the covenant. A person, church, or nation covenanted to God and calling itself the Lord’s places itself under the blessings and curses invoked in these chapters in a particular way for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Deuteronomy 28, as I’ve pointed out on other occasions, was once commonly used as the place to which the Bible was opened when an office-holder placed his hand on the Bible and took the oath of office. Failure to use this text today does not remove the application of the blessings and curses because they are God’s conditions for life. [00:07:44]

To bless means to declare that a person’s faithfulness

To bless means to declare that a person’s faithfulness is a joy to us, and we therefore thank God for him or her, and invoke God’s rewarding gifts upon them. It is also recognition of Godly authority. Hence, we are told in a number of passages such as Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 29, Proverbs 20:20, and Proverbs 30:11, and 31:28 that parents are to be blessed, not cursed. Judges and rulers, according to Exodus 22:28, should not be cursed because their authority requires honor, however evil they may be as persons. Again in scripture we are told, in Leviticus 19:14, to curse those who are weak or handicapped, as the deaf and the blind, is also a great evil. A blessing invokes life. A curse invokes death. A blessing invokes healthy, happiness, and victory whereas a curse invokes sickness, grief, and defeat. One biblical oath says that if a person is guilty, Numbers 5:21, “The Lord make thee a curse and an oath among thy people.”

In addition to this, we must remember that even among the Egyptians, there was a recognition that there is a governing reality and that this governing reality prospers or judges men and nations, so that what occurs in history is tied to the ultimate reality of things, even the Egyptians with their naturalistic faith recognized this. As a result, Pharaoh, however unwilling and however rebellious, had come face to face with the knowledge that the God of Moses had cursed Egypt. By releasing Moses and the Hebrews, Pharaoh now hoped to undo that curse, hence in freeing Israel he said, “Bless me also.” Reverse the order of things with your God. Moses made no response. [00:10:41]

We have then the spoiling of the Egyptians

We have then the spoiling of the Egyptians{?} which we discussed some months ago. The Hebrews did not ask for loans, they asked for their wages for their enforced servitude, and the Egyptians gave them gold, silver and raiment generously. They did so because they, too, sought a transition from being accursed to being blessed. As a result, they were especially generous to the Hebrews. The fallacy however, in the Egyptian view was that they saw curses and blessings in terms of their treatment of Israel, rather than their relationship to God. They were accursed for their murder of the Israelite male babies, not simply because these children were Israelites, but because it was a sin against God. At present, all over the world, abortion is prevalent. God’s judgment will not fall simply on those who kill white babies, but upon all who kill any unborn children because they are thereby at war against God. The test, in other words, was not Israel. It was not now the church, nor the white race, nor any other group. It is God’s order which is violated, and it is God who is offended.

One of the frequent fallacies in history is that men make the test their own nationality, or their own race, and they thereby offend God. In the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly, there is an interesting analysis, a rather long article on contemporary history textbooks in our schools. And the author is highly critical of them because he says, first of all, no one in reading them is ever prepared for the fact that there are problems in history, and we’ve not solved them by what we’ve done in the last twenty years. And second, the author says, “just as Parson Weems{?} portrayed Washington in his book as someone who could not do any wrong, so today all our history textbooks treat minority groups; women, and especially minority groups of other races, as though they were incapable of doing wrong and were innocence personified. This, of course, is a monstrous perversion so that what is taught is not history, but mythology. But the key point is this, offense is not against people but against God. And David saw this when, in the 51st Psalm when he had sinned both by committing murder and adultery, his prayer was, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight.” It is primarily and essentially God’s order that sin violates. [00:14:59]

As the Israelites prepared to leave, the women took

As the Israelites prepared to leave, the women took their dough before it was leavened. They wrapped their kneading bowls and their mantles and prepared thereby for a quick stop in the wilderness to bake unleavened bread. The last phrase in verse 36, “and they spoiled the Egyptians,” means according to one scholar, “ye shall save the Egyptians.” The word is not {?} to snatch away, defend, deliver, preserve, save or recover. It occurs 212 times in the Old Testament, and in 210 instances, it means to rescue or to save, and some would say that in this context, it means the same. Thus, the context determines whether or not the meaning of {?} is good or bad. Taken as meaning “save,” it tells us that while Pharaoh received no answer to his request for a blessing, the people did. Pharaoh gave nothing except the freedom which was Israel’s due. The people of Israel gave readily, but the power of Pharaoh was soon to receive another judgment or curse.

It is unfortunate that, in this passage we have two poorly translated words, but perhaps at the time the knowledge of Hebrew was not that precise. One is this word, with regard to spoiling the Egyptians, and the other is “leant” of “borrow,” which means they asked for their wages. Understood in this sense, the passage makes more sense. They were paid to get out of the country, they were paid what they had earned as slaves, or at least some of what was their due, and then sent out of the country, and the purpose of doing this was to move Egypt out from under the curse, under blessing. Pharaoh, however, was soon to prove that there was no learning in him, and he was to undo whatever good he had done by setting them free. Let us pray. [00:18:10]

Our Lord, and our God, we thank thee that day after

Our Lord, and our God, we thank thee that day after day, age after age, thou art the same. Thy mercies never fail. Thy word stands unchanged. Thy blessings and thy curses remain unaltered. We thank thee that through Jesus Christ, we have been moved into the realm of grace and blessing. Give us grateful hearts that we may serve thee as we ought, that we might move to bring everything into captivity to thee, that in Christ, we may take possession of the ends of the earth and make them thy kingdom. Grant us this, we beseech thee. In His name, amen.

Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] On the quotes from David…

[Rushdoony] What was that?

[Audience] On the quotes from David,

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] I depended only against you to {?}, it seemed to me that when we {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s true in a secondary sense. But it was God’s law.

[Audience] But he broke God’s law.

[Rushdoony] Yes, he broke God’s law, that was the point, and it was God who made that law. It was not man’s law but God’s law.

[Audience] Yes, but to treat the victim as non-existent seems to me an oversight on David’s part.

[Rushdoony] Uh, he was fully aware of that, but it was God’s law that was at stake in what he was dealing with in that context. So, when we commit murder, we indeed take a man’s life, but it is God’s law we break, not man’s laws. The state may pass laws which coincide with God’s, but it is God’s law we violate. We have to recognize the fundamental nature of the order. If we don’t start with the point that David did, we wind up like Pharaoh and the Egyptians who feel that curse and blessing should be in terms of a person. In other words, “We’ve been good to you Hebrews, therefore, we should be blessed now.” When it was God they had to deal with and God whom they offended, and this is a problem. We tend to think humanistically and say, “Here is the standard,” but it’s always God’s law. [00:21:28]

[Audience] But the people should not be forgotten

[Audience] But the people should not be forgotten.

[Rushdoony] Oh, no. If we obey God’s law, that means that not even our own life is under our power. It’s because of that point which David made, that the church very early declared suicide to be murder, because your life is not your own, nor is any other man’s life. It is God’s gift, it cannot be taken from man apart from His law. So, it’s permissible in self-defense, in terms of war, in terms of killing a criminal. But it means that we do not have a property right even in our own life. And that’s why, to this day, there are still some churches that rightfully treat suicide as murder, and it used to be that suicide, or would-be suicide who did not succeed was then arrested for attempted murder.

[Audience] I believe it’s still against the law.

[Rushdoony] Yeah, I think it’s still on the books in some places.

[Audience] I always assumed that it was a sign of a lack of faith in God, that despair in God.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but it was still tampering with life that was not his. Uh huh. In fact, many churches, in particular the Catholic, refused to give burial in consecrated ground to a suicide. Any other questions or comments?

[Audience] Nevertheless, the word “only” bothers me in that quote.

[Rushdoony] I understand. It seems a little hard to take, but the point that is important is it removes us from the determination of law. We’re not the criterion. A novel was written entirely on that theme by Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment. The right to take human life, can you take human life if the person is no more than a human louse, worthless, and the idea was that Rascalnikov advocated that it could be done, it should be done, and there would be no guilt nor any pang of conscience if you did.

[Audience] {?} The man that David sent was {?} not an unworthy man. [00:24:32]

[Rushdoony] Well, the point is however, it’s not the

[Rushdoony] Well, the point is however, it’s not the human life, whether it’s the person Rascalnikov murdered or David murdered. That’s not at stake. However much we like to think our life should be the criterion, it’s that God says, “Thou shalt not kill, except where I give permission,” and that’s the essence of the whole thing, and when we recognize the absoluteness of that, it says we have to take hands off every life including our own, except on God’s terms. Yes?

[Audience] The discussion reminds me of something you said on the Moyer’s tape that I thought was very powerful. You said, “It’s God’s word and we don’t have to like it,” and we don’t often like it, but it’s God’s word.

[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s very true. That’s why I always tell people who talk about the Bible as an inspiring book that it’s often painful reading because it is an indictment of us, very often. It is an inspired book, but sometimes very troubling reading. Right now, Dorothy and I are concluding a reading of Jeremiah. Very grim reading, particularly because the parallels to the present are so very real. The world today is showing the same stupidity that Judea did in Jeremiah’s day. The same incredible blindness, it’s not pleasant to read, but it is very healthy reading. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not, let us conclude with prayer.

Oh Lord, our God, thy word is truth, and thy word establishes the ways of life and the boundaries of life and death. Teach us to walk in terms of thy word. Make us joyful that we are thine, knowing that we have the greatest protection that any man can have, for vain is the help of man. Guide us day by day, and fill our hearts with thanksgiving, peace, and joy. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:27:57]

End of Tape.

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