Tim: The story of the Bible begins with God bringing life out of darkness, ordering our beautiful world and then blessing all of its creatures.1
Jon: Hold on. Blessing. That’s one of those funny religious words.
Tim: Yeah right. People say a blessing over their meal or after they sneeze.
Jon: Or just a general way to say that things are going well for me.
Tim: But in the Bible, a blessing is more specific. The first blessing in the Bible is when God creates animals. “And he blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land.’”2
Jon: Ah, so God’s blessing is about flourishing and multiplication of life.
Tim: Right. It’s when God shares his life-producing ability with others.
Blessing and Curse [00:36-02:14]
Tim: Next, God gives humans an additional blessing that sets them apart from the animals. Not only are we one of God’s creatures that can generate new life, we’ve also been appointed as God’s representative image to rule and oversee this whole flourishing world on God’s behalf.3
Jon: So part of our blessing is to take care of God’s blessing for all creation.
Tim: And God wants us to rule while trusting in his abundance, to eat from the tree of blessing, that is, the tree of God’s own eternal life.
Jon: Now, there is another tree to eat from.
Tim: Yes, and it represents this decision to try and seize abundance and life on our own terms, by our own wisdom.
Jon: The humans encounter a deceptive creature, who tricks them into eating from this other tree, thinking it’s a shortcut to blessing.4
Tim: And instead of blessing, this tree brings a curse.
Jon: A curse. You mean like a magic spell?
Tim: No. In the Bible, the curse is when God hands people over to the consequences of seizing our own blessing on our own terms. It’s a curse because instead of abundance and life, we end up with scarcity, isolation, and death. So God curses the ground. And instead of fruitfulness, there will be famine. Instead of overseeing the world, they will have to work the land until they die.
Tim: But God also curses that deceptive creature that fooled the humans, saying that a human will come one day to destroy it. And that human will be born into a world of scarcity, where men and women and families and tribes are all locked in violent conflict.5
Jon: If God’s blessing is now covered with a curse, how can we flourish? Even more, how can we rule with God?
Blessing of Israel [02:15-03:40]
Tim: Well, here the biblical story takes an interesting turn. God chooses one couple: Abraham and Sarah. And God blesses them and says they will become a huge family.6
Jon: “Be fruitful and multiply!”
Tim: And there’s more. God says that his blessing on Abraham and his family is for this larger purpose, so that through them, God’s blessing can go out to all of the nations.
Jon: So wait. God’s plan is to reverse the curse and restore the blessing by first blessing this one family?
Tim: Right. And this family does experience God’s blessing. Even when they journey through times of danger and scarcity, they grow into this huge nation, Israel.
Jon: And God brings them to a mountain and invites them to be his representatives.7
Tim: Yes. God will bless Israel so that they can become a blessing to the nations. All they have to do is trust and live by God’s wisdom. And they’re told that this is a choice between life and death, between blessing and curse.8
Jon: Now keep reading because the Israelites almost never trust God for his blessing. Their story is filled with tales of deception and violent grabs for power, resulting in the ultimate curse: exile from their land and slavery to foreign nations.9
Tim: But Israel’s prophets, who lived through all of this, they still trusted in God’s promise to Abraham. And they anticipated a future Israelite who would come to restore God’s blessing and reverse the curse, for Israel and for all the nations.10
Blessing Through Jesus [03:41-04:55]
Jon: When we turn to the story of Jesus, we find Israel still experiencing the curse, living as slaves to the Roman empire.
Tim: But Jesus—he so trusted in God’s blessing, he claimed that it was arriving in a new way, through himself.11
Jon: He wanted his followers to trust in God’s abundance, to share and be generous.
Tim: And he even taught his followers to bless people who curse them.12 Jesus would even reverse the curse by healing and restoring people’s bodies.13
Jon: God’s blessing is being unleashed.
Tim: Jesus also confronted his fellow Israelites who were in power, and he accused them of getting in the way of God’s plan to bless Israel and the nations through them.
Jon: Those leaders arrested Jesus, so they could have him killed.
Tim: And instead of fighting back, Jesus believed that he was that chosen Israelite who would face the curse that Israel and all humanity deserves, and he would allow the curse to fall on him.
Jon: Jesus dies the shameful death of a man under the curse.14
Tim: But just as God brought life and blessing out of darkness in the beginning, so here, through Jesus, God reverses death by raising Jesus. The curse is put to death so that the blessing of God’s life can spread out once again.
Blessing the Nations [04:56-05:33]
Jon: After his resurrection, Jesus blessed his followers, and he said that his presence would be with them as they learn to trust in God’s blessing and share with others.
Tim: And while death and the curse still have a hold on our world, followers of Jesus trust that the power of God’s blessing is even stronger.
Jon: It means we can live with extreme generosity, even when it seems like there’s not enough.
Tim: And that leads us to the conclusion of the biblical story, where every nation is enjoying the gifts of God’s abundance. Because in God’s new world that is sustained by the life-giving power of Jesus, there is no longer any curse.15