Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Final thoughts on cursing and WOF

Eventually, one learns that Šimei’s curse fell utterly flat and that he was never acting under Yahweh’s directive as David had feared. This the Israelites would know because David never did lose his throne to Absalom, and he was able eventually to reestablish control over his restive family. The point is transparent. Even though anyone could pronounce fierce maledictions, as did Šimei, they would mean nothing without heavenly patronage.— Cursed Are You!, page161

<idle musing>
Notice what David didn't do: he didn't call the resident ašipu and have them do a Šurpu incantation to ward off the curse! That's what would have been done in Assyria. And don't even think about Šimei's fate! It certainly wouldn't have been what it was in Israel!

Something is going on here. Something deep and theologically significant. Something that we can't grasp fully because we don't believe in the supernatural in a real way.

David is being cursed—publicly—by one of his subjects. And he takes it without retaliating or "claiming the blood" (figuratively speaking) or "breaking the power of that curse" or fretting about negative confession. Get this, because it is essential—he trusts YHWH to be his defender. He believes that if he is innocent, the curse won't get activated by YHWH—and nobody else can activate it! Only YHWH has the power to activate a curse. And he doesn't do it!

OK folks, bring this into the 21st century. We are just as much, if not more, the heirs of the promise as David. We are filled with the Holy Spirit in a way that is deeper than David. We have access to far more truth about God than David did. And we don't trust God as much as David did! We think we have to take matters into our own hands and watch for attacks and "plead the blood" and invoke angelic protection and...oh you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, then praise God!

Do we really believe that we are seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians), that our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians), that we are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans)? Then why don't we act like it?

I look at the revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries. I don't see any strategic level warfare going on! I see prayer—deep, heartfelt prayer—but it is for the people and for God to move mightily. It isn't directed against the principalities and powers. They trusted God to take care of that!

Sure, I think they should have taken a bit more authority over the demonic. I read in Wesley's journal where they prayed over demonically possessed people for a whole night before they saw deliverance. I think they should have simply rebuked the demon as it says in the New Testament. But spiritual mapping? Nope. Sure, I think it is nice to be aware of what demonic powers are running around in an area. It helps me in my prayers—for the people! Not so I can rebuke some power or principality. Take a look at Jude. The archangel says, "May the Lord rebuke you!" Not, I rebuke you in Jesus' name. If the archangel didn't do it, what makes you think you can?

Hey, I've been involved in this stuff. I remember the first Fuller Seminary "Signs and Wonders" class. I was at Asbury Theological Seminary at the time. We were hoping Asbury would run one (by we I mean the charismatic element there at the time). I firmly believe in signs and wonders! I believe God still does that stuff. But if it doesn't result in transformed lives, then it is worthless. Worse than worthless, it is just a case of spiritual masturbation by the ones involved. It feels good, but there is no fruit. And it is addicting, just like masturbation is...

Oh, I know far more about this stuff than I care to talk about...and I'm still discovering areas that I need to throw out. My main concern is that I don't throw out the good along with the bad. Well, not really. My main concern is the people that I have taught over the years. I pray that God would keep them safe from the bad stuff and only bring to mind the good stuff. James is right, εἰδότες ὅτι μεῖζον κρίμα λημψόμεθα (knowing that we [teachers] will receive the harsher/greater judgment). Lord, have mercy!

Ok, have at it. Tear it apart. But do it only on a scriptural basis. Don't go bringing in the Acts of John—the church condemned it as heretical at an ecumenical council (it is a gnostic, docetic pseudepigraphic tale)—or some other pseudepigraphical book. Stick to scripture. And if you are of the Protestant persuasion, keep out the deuterocanonical books as well—Orthodox and Roman Catholic can use them : )
</idle musing>


David Reimer said...

Not much "idle" about this "musing"! Grateful for your reflections.

One paragraph leaves me puzzled, though, the one beginning "Sure, I think they should have taken a bit more authority..." (fourth from the end). I'm having a difficult time reconciling this...

"I think they should have simply rebuked the demon as it says in the New Testament."

...with the way the paragraph ends:

"Not so I can rebuke some power or principality. Take a look at Jude. ..."

My own conviction is that the subtlety of distinguishing "The Lord rebuke you..." from "I rebuke you in Jesus' name..." would be lost on most Christians with an inclination to rebuke, and that the dominant scriptural mandate is the one the bulk of your post describes.

That trusting attitude you find in David is also liberally sprinkled through hymnody and confessions. For example, here's the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling
and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Also nicely caught in Henry Francis Lyte's setting of Psalm 103, "Praise, my soul, the King of heaven":

Fatherlike he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows.
In his hand he gently bears us,

rescues us from all our foes.

jps said...


Thanks for commenting. Yes, you are correct about that paragraph. When I read it to Debbie (my wife), she raised her eyebrows. The distinction is between a demon that is demonizing an individual versus a demon that has an influence over an area without necessarily demonizing an individual (a principality spirit, so to speak).

Not sure that helps...but that is the distinction that I am making. The NT definitely gives the believer authority over demons who are demonizing an individual. It also does not give them authority over higher principalities, if we take Jude as our example—and I believe we should.

Thanks for the references, too.