Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
Thirteen – Curse
The bible number thirteen is often associated with the bible subject of curse. This association begins in the book of Genesis when the words, curse, cursed, and curseth appear a total of thirteen times. It begins after Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden where God cursed the serpent above all cattle and every beast of the field. Then God cursed the ground for man's sake, telling the man, "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Next, we find that Ham, the thirteenth person named in the 5th chapter of Genesis committed a grievous sin against his father, Noah. At which time Noah under the inspiration of the Spirit of God pronounced a curse on the son of Ham, Canaan. Ham the son of Noah committed the sin and Canaan the son of Ham suffered the curse. The pattern parallels our situation as elect sons of God. We committed the sins and Christ the Son of man bore the curse for our sins:
1. Gal. 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Certainly, it can be said of all of us, that we have not continued in all things, which are written in the book of the law to do them. Therefore, we were under the curse of God because of sin.
2. Gal. 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Thus Christ was made a curse for us so as to redeem us from the curse of the law.
3. 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
When the children of Israel were to pass over into the land of Canaan they were to pass between two mountains: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Mount Gerizim was the mount of blessing and Mount Ebal was the mount of cursing. The Lord had the princes of six of the tribes of Israel to stand on Mount Gerizim and bless the children of Israel when they entered into Canaan and he had the princes of six of the tribes to pronounce curses upon the children of Israel when they passed into the land of Canaan.
Beginning with the thirteenth verse of Deu., Chapter 27, the Lord had the Levites to pronounce thirteen curses on the children of Israel for disobedience to the commandments of God. So long as the children of Israel kept the commandments of God they would be blessed, but when they disobeyed the commandments of God they would bear the curse. This is consistent with what we read in Is. 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
We are blessed in this life when we willingly follow and obey the Lord. We are cursed in our walk when we refuse to obey and rebel against the service of God.
Rebellion brings a curse upon the rebellious. Nimrod the thirteenth from Adam led the children of men in a rebellion against the commandment of God to go forth and be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Nimrod began to be a mighty one in the earth and he led the children of men to build a city and a tower let they be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. Because of this rebellion, God confounded the language of all the earth so that the children of men were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.
In Galatians chapter 4 there is an allegory involving the two sons of the two wives of Abraham. The bondwoman Hagar had a child after the flesh and his name was Ishmael and this represented the covenant of the works of the law. The freewoman Sarah had a son by promise, Isaac, and this represent the covenant of grace. Isaac was circumcised when he was eight days old. Eight is associated with new beginnings. Ishmael was circumcised when he was thirteen years old. Thirteen, as we have seen, is associated with a curse. Those who worship today under a works system are under the curse of bondage. Furthermore, they preach a cursed gospel: Gal. 1:8 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
The Lord's church is called the bride of Christ and is spoken of by her husband as being beautiful and greatly blessed and a virgin. In contrast, the Devil's bride is spoken of in Rev. 17:5 as follows: "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Thus in thirteen words this cursed harlot is described.
A form of the word, "curse," appears thirteen times in eleven verses in the book of Genesis:
1. Gen 3:14 "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:"
2. Gen 3:17 "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;"
3. Gen 4:11 "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;"
4. Gen 5:29 "And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed."
5. Gen 8:21 "And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done."
6. Gen 9:25 "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."
7. Gen 12:3 "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
8. Gen 27:12 "My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing."
9. Gen 27:13 "And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them."
10. Gen 27:29 "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee."
11. Gen 49:7 "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."
The first two references above deal with Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden at which time God cursed both the serpent and Adam for this transgression. This, of course, was a curse brought about because of sin. This God pronounced curse of sin is further explained in Gal. 3:10, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." This curse for sin had both timely effects and eternal effects. Adam and all his ancestry were cursed to die (naturally, in trespasses and sins, and eternal condemnation because of sin. The ground was also cursed for his sake and brought not forth its great bounty because of sin.
The third reference had to do with Cain's murder of his brother Abel. This was a curse brought about because of the wicked actions of man. Through wicked actions we often bring about plagues upon our lives that we must bear the consequences of. An example of this is set forth in Matt.7:26 "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
References four and five refers to the comfort God promised to man because of the the ground that God had cursed because of the sin of Adam. This promise was made after the flood and the destruction of man except for those in the ark. In the building of the ark and the subsequent deliverance of the eight in the ark, Noah was a type of Christ. This promise of their no longer being a curse upon the ground points us to the eternal deliverance from the curse of sin procured by Jesus Christ at the cross for the benefit of the elect of God. There is no longer a curse upon the ground (flesh) of the elect because of our eternal deliverance from sin by Jesus Christ.
Reference six refers to a curse placed upon Canaan because of a sin that his father Ham had committed against his father Noah. This will be dealt with in another essay.
Reference seven deals with a covenant promise that God made to Abraham. Part of the promise was, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." God had made a covenant promise with Abraham in which all the promises were based on what God would do. These were unconditional promises and pointed us to a covenant God made with himself before the foundation of the world. In the covenant of redemption, God promised to the elect that he would justify them. Sin had cursed us and God cursed sin for us and sent forth his covenant blessings upon us.
References eight, nine, and ten deal with the blessing of Isaac given to him of God that he might bless his son before he died. Isaac intended to pronounce this blessing upon his eldest son Esau. Rebekah, however, conspired with Jacob, the youngest son, to steal the blessing from Esau. Jacob opined that by trying to deceive his father that he would be found out and bring a curse upon himself rather than a blessing. Rebekah said that the curse would be upon her rather than upon Jacob. While Jacob and Rebekah reaped what they sowed because of their lies and deceit, Jacob still received the blessing from Isaac and the blessing and cursing promised to Abraham and Isaac was passed on to Jacob. This teaches us that sometimes we receive blessings that we do not deserve, and certainly this was true with Jacob and it is true with God's elect also.
In reference ten, Jacob before he died pronounced a prophecy upon his twelve sons. Simeon and Levi had wickedly slain a man after promising that he could marry their sister. Because of their wicked action, Jacob pronounced a curse upon the anger and wrath of these two sons. Sometimes we think that we can get away from the sinful actions that we commit, yet God is not mocked, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
There were thirteen men specifically mentioned in the fifth chapter of Genesis, the chapter on death. The first nine of those men mentioned were concluded with, "and he died." The lives of Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth, continued past the fifth chapter. The youngest of these thirteen mentioned in chapter five was Ham.
After the flood we read concerning Ham in Gen. chapter nine that he committed a sin against his father: Gen. 9:18 "And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant."
There are many lessons to be learned in the above passage of scripture. We will limit our present study to the curse placed upon Canaan. We know the following facts:
1. Ham had sinned against his father, Noah. This sin was not just what he saw, but included what he had done to his father.
2. Nearly every time that Ham is listed with his brethren in the scriptures he is listed in the middle even though he was the youngest son.
3. The curse was not placed upon Ham, but was placed upon the son of Ham, Canaan.
Thus, Canaan bore the curse for the sin that his father had committed. The son of Ham bore the curse for the sin of Ham.
We have no reason to doubt that Ham actually sinned against Noah and that Canaan actually bore the curse for the sin of Ham. Yet, there can be an analogy drawn from the above scripture. We, the elect of God, have all sinned against our heavenly Father: Gal. 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." That means that every one of us were under the curse of our heavenly Father due to the works of the law. Not one of us has continued in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. We are very much deserving of this curse and that this curse would be carried out upon us.
However, because of God's covenant love for us, he has made provision for us: Gal. 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Christ, the son of man, was made a curse for elect man. He hang on the tree of the cross in order to redeem us from the curse of the law. He bore our curse for us. According to 2 Cor. 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Thus, Christ bore our curse and then imputed his righteousness unto us.
Parallel to Canaan, the son of Ham, becoming a curse for Ham because of the sin of Ham, Christ, the son of man, became a curse for man because of the sin of man. Praise be to God for his unspeakable gift.