Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 28.15-19
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.
17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.
18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.
“You wish to have the curse reversed? I’ll need a certain potion first…” — The Witch, Into the Woods, Steven Sondheim
Reflection: Reversible Blessings and Curses
By John Tillman
Curses in fairy tales are written to be reversed. The musical, Into the Woods, uses this storytelling trope as its primary plot device. Reversing the curse involves multiple characters from familiar storylines interacting and confronting each other with lies, betrayals, and, at times, the truth.
The opening sections of Deuteronomy 28 promise a blessing to God’s people that will be a pervasive good, touching their lives in every way. They will be “blessed in the city and blessed in the country…blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.”
However, God’s blessing can be reversed into an all-encompassing curse. They will be “cursed in the city and cursed in the country…cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.” God says this curse will “come on you and overtake you.” At times Israel would run an impressive race as God’s people, eventually this curse would overtake them.
Anyone steeped in the magic stew of fairy tales tends to see salvation through the lens of a heroic quest. Heroes in fairy tales, often through a combination of cooperation, wit, and luck, typically reverse their own curses. Divine assistance, from fairy godmothers or otherwise, is elusive and typically not determinative of the outcome. Humans, not the gods, exert heroic effort to break fairy tale curses.
Yet, we are not plucky heroes who can, with just a bit of luck, turn the tables on our enemy and reverse our own curse. We can’t make the potion. We can’t kill the dragon. We can’t climb the tower. And our kiss is the kiss of death, not a kiss of life.
Like many other curses of God, the curse of Mount Ebal is a reflection and reenactment of the curse of Eden. It overtook Israel, and it overtakes us. Peter describes our adversary as a roaring lion seeking to devour us. Paul describes an inner curse of sinfulness that even he, the great “Hebrew of Hebrews,” cannot escape.
Yet, the curse of Eden is written to be reversed. Within its words, a hero is promised who will break it. Jesus is that hero. The gospel message we carry is that, in Christ our curse is broken and all people can join him to be blessed in the city, in the country, when we come in, and when we go out.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Love the Lord, all you who worship him; the Lord protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily. — Psalm 31.23
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
Read more about Two Lamechs, One Jesus
There are those who work to reverse the curse, flooding the earth with hope, peace, and rebirth.
Which line of Lamech will you follow?
Read more about Accepting Jesus
May we, poor family that we are, join the holy family in redemptively reversing the curse.