Scripture Focus: Isaiah 24.4-9, 21
4 The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. 5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left. 7 The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan. 8 The joyful timbrels are stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. 9 No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers.

21 In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below.

Reflection: Cursebreakers
By John Tillman

A curse consumes the Earth. This curse is related to other biblical curses. The first curse was “cursed is the ground because of you.” (Genesis 3.17; 4.10-11) Paul described the Earth groaning to be released from this curse that brings frustration, bondage, decay, and pain. (Romans 8.19-22) God enacts and announces these curses, yet holds humans responsible. Human actions trigger every curse.

Like other curses, Isaiah’s curse is the result of rebellion. In each case, humans have violated a covenant with God. Instead of filling the Earth with life, we have filled it with death. Instead of subduing and cultivating the Earth to bring blessing and benefit, we have abused and mismanaged the Earth. Instead of wisdom bringing harvests of joy, the Earth suffers foolishness that reaps the whirlwind.

Under God’s blessing the land should yield wine, milk, honey, and branches of vines and fig trees under which humanity can feel safe. (Micah 4.4; Jeremiah 32.22) Under our rebellion, the Earth is dried up, resources are wasted or consolidated, and people’s food, financial, and emotional security are threatened. We live fearful and frantic lives instead of resting in God’s peace.

Everyone on Earth suffers these curses, but, according to Isaiah, God holds two groups to a greater level of accountability: the powers in the heavens and the kings on the Earth. (Isaiah 24.21)

We know that, ultimately, Christ is the curse breaker. His fulfillment of the covenant and death for our rebellions secures God’s blessings for us and cancels every curse. But in the meantime shall we carry on in sinful, harmful management of Earth’s resources? By no means. (Romans 6.1-2) Would we go on in greed, or lust, or lying, or violence so that “grace can abound?” Of course not. Why then would we continue in practices that harm the Earth?

Some practices that “harm the Earth” can be debated and some may change with scientific advances or discoveries. However, in our hearts, let us desire cultivation rather than destruction and let the science catch up to us.

God let us groan with the Earth and work towards easing the curse’s burden.
Help us cultivate cleaner water, air, and land.
Help us cultivate food security and safety and ecosystems that are healthy and thriving.
Let us reduce waste and improve efficiency.
Cursed is the ground because of us.
Reversed is the curse because of Christ.
God, make us cursebreakers.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
The Lord is my shepherd and nothing is wanting to me. In green pastures he has settled me. — The Short Breviary

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Isaiah 24 (Listen 3:11)
Acts 11 (Listen 3:52)

Read more about The Curse Reversed
Even as he speaks the curse of Eden, God purposes and promises to break it. Scripture describes a God constantly working to reverse the curse

Read more about Reversible Blessings and Curses
The curse of Eden is written to be reversed. Within its words, a hero is promised who will break it. Jesus is that hero.