Budai (布袋; 포대; 布袋; Bố Đại) was a Chinese monk usually identified with good fortune and luck. Statues and stories depict him as jovial and fat because of all the good food he eats. This explains his nicknames “Laughing Buddha” and “Fat Buddha”. His figure appears throughout Asian culture representing both contentment and abundance. People today hope to get some of his good fortune for themselves so they can benefit from his luck.
Pretas stand in contrast to the Laughing Buddha. A preta, or hungry ghost, is a spirit undergoing great suffering. People believe that pretas have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous, or greedy in a previous life. As a result of their accumulated bad karma, they became afflicted with insatiable hunger for a particularly disgusting substance. Also, disturbing visions afflict pretas.
Invisible to the human eye, some believe that humans in altered mental states can still discern the presence of pretas.They describe pretas as human-like, but with sunken, mummified skin, narrow limbs, enormously distended bellies, and long, thin necks. This appearance symbolizes their spiritual situation. Their gigantic bellies signify their enormous appetites but their slender necks symbolize their limited ability to satisfy those appetites. The sufferings of the pretas often resemble those in hell (naraka). In fact, people easily confuse the accursed in hell with pretas. However, hell does not permit beings to roam outside, while pretas can freely move on earth.
So mythology conveys both blessing, as in the Laughing Buddha, and curses, as in pretas.
Blessings & Curses… to the Israelites… for Instructing Us.
But does a spirit exist in the real world, beyond mere mythology, whose ability to bestow blessings or curses can be substantiated? Is there someone who possesses the authority to govern not only our own fate but also that of those around us?
The Creator God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures authors such blessing and curses. Both His blessing and his curse make those of the Laughing Buddha, or a preta, pale in comparison. He gave blessings and curses thousands of years ago, but we can still see them operating today. The Creator God directed both His blessings and curses to his chosen people – the Israelites. Though He did so, He intended that all other nations observe them and recognize the reality of His power. All of us who want prosperity and blessing, avoiding both destruction and curse can learn from the experience of the Israelites.
Moses lived about 3500 years ago and he wrote the first books that make up the Hebrew Scriptures. Moses had led the Israelites of out slavery in Egypt and afterwards received the Ten Commandments from the Creator God. His last book, Deuteronomy, contain his final words written just before he died. These contained his Blessings to the Israelites (Jews), but also his Curses. Moses wrote that these Blessings and Curses would shape world history and all other nations would notice them. These Blessings and Curses have affected history everywhere. So it would be prudent to reflect on them. We record the complete Blessings and Curses here. The summary follows.
The Blessings of Moses
Moses began by describing the blessings that the Israelites would receive if they obeyed The Law (the Ten Commandments). The blessings from God would be so great that all other nations would recognize His blessing. These blessings would result in:
10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you.Deuteronomy 28:10
…and the Curses
However, if the Israelites disobeyed the Commandments, then God would curse them in ways matching and mirroring the Blessings. The surrounding nations would see the curses so that the Israelites would:
37 …become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.Deuteronomy 28:37
And the Curses would extend through history.
46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever.Deuteronomy 28:46
But God warned that the worst part of the Curses would come from other nations.
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.Deuteronomy 28:49-52
It would go from bad to worse.
63 …You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.
64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.Deuteronomy 28:63-65
These Blessings and Curses were established by formal agreement between God and the Israelites:
12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.Deuteronomy 29:12-15
This covenant bound onto the children, or future generations. In fact God directed this covenant at future generations – both Israelites and foreigners.
22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger. 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”Deuteronomy 29:22-24
The answer will be:
25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”Deuteronomy 29:25-28
Did The Blessings and Curses Happen?
The Blessings were delightful, and the Curses dreadful.
But did they happen?
Much of the Hebrew Scriptures records Israelite history so we know their past. We also have historical records outside the Old Testament and many archeological monuments. They all paint a consistent picture of Israelite or Jewish history. We summarize this here using a timeline. Read it and assess for yourself if the Curses of Moses came to pass. This explains why Jewish groups migrated into Asia starting 2700 years ago. Jews scattered across Asia as a result of Assyrian and Babylonian conquests followed by mass deportations, exactly as Moses had warned.
The Conclusion to Moses’ Blessings and Curses
But Moses’ final words did not end with Curses. Moses concluded his blessings and curses like this:
1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.Deuteronomy 30:1-5
After thousands of years of exile, in 1948, the modern nation of Israel was re-born from a United Nations resolution. Jews started immigrating back to Israel from nations around the world – exactly as Moses’ predicted. Across Asia today, Jewish communities are dwindling rapidly as Jews depart to return to their ancestral land. The Blessings of Moses are fulfilling before our eyes, as certainly as the Curses shaped their history.
This raises several implications for us. First, the blessings & curses had their authority and power from the Creator God. Moses worked simply as an enlightened messenger. These curses and blessings reach down thousands of years, across the nations of the globe, affecting billions of people today (The return of Jews to Israel has created turmoil, regularly causing events making global headlines). This provides evidence that this God has power and authority to operate in the ‘real’ world.
In the same Hebrew Scriptures The Creator also promised ‘that all peoples on earth’ would be blessed. ‘All peoples on earth’ include you and me. Again in the sacrifice of Abraham’s son, the Creator God reiterated that ‘all nations would be blessed’. The striking location and details of that sacrifice help us know how to obtain this blessing. The blessings being poured out now on the Jews returning from Asia is a Sign that God wants to and can equally bless peoples in all the states of Asia and in the other nations around the world as He promised. Like the Jews, we too are offered Blessings in the midst of our Curse. Why not receive the gift of Blessing?
After Moses a succession of seers or prophets came among the ancient Israelites. They wrote down their prophecies in the books following those of Moses in the Bible. We explore the structure of these books and examine how these prophecies foresaw events hundreds of years into the future. We take this up here.