God has a lot to say in the Bible about curses. Most popular is the passage in the Old Testament that comes in the first book of the Bible. After the creation of the universe and of man, in Genesis 3, the woman was tempted by the serpent and bites the apple giving some to the man. God then curses the serpent, then woman and then the ground and lastly man – in that order. In most cases in the Bible, curses are used by God for punishment and disobedience. Then in the last book, Book of Revelation 22:18-19 states “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds anything to them, then God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the Tree of Life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
The Bible starts with a curse and ends with a curse like bookends on a bookshelf. So what about the books in-between? Can a curse become a blessing? Looking further into the O.T., the story of Joseph is one that demonstrates this concept of a curse turning into a blessing. It starts with the curse of Joseph’s brothers hating him so much that they take his multi colored coat and spot paint it with animal blood then presenting it to their father. They take Joseph, throw him into a pit and then sell him into slavery. Thrown into prison, he interprets dreams and is eventually called to do the same for Pharaoh. Pharaoh is so pleased that Joseph is made Prime Minister, second in command. The climax of the blessing is Joseph saying to his brothers, “Selling me into slavery, you may have meant this for harm but God has blessed me and has sent me on ahead of you to provide for you and to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen 45:4-7).
The New Testament demonstrates this in similar fashion with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion was used as a criminal’s death and the Jews accused Jesus of wrong doing. He was cursed by the Jews and nailed to the cross like a criminal. The Jews said to Pilate “Crucify Him! May His blood be on us and our children.” In so doing, Jesus’ was blood was shed on the cross and the blessing is that we need Jesus’ blood on that cross for our salvation. By shedding His blood on the cross and our trangressions being nailed to the cross with Him, Jesus saved us from a death that was rightfully ours. It was this statement that the Jews cursed themselves with that actually turned into a blessing. Isaiah 53 known as the suffering servant passage portrays this well as the reason for Jesus’ life and His refusal to defend Himself.
Another example is the ten lepers. They were cursed with leprosy, came to Jesus and asked for His mercy. He healed them but only one came back to praise Him. His faith and the cleansing of his leprosy made him see the true meaning of what Jesus had done. When he returned Jesus says “Go, for your faith has healed you.” His leprosy, which was a curse, perpetuated the faith he needed to come and stand before Jesus to ask for mercy. The leprosy turned into a blessing and his faith healed him.