Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place [Josiah] pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. II Kings 23:15-19 ESV
And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” I Kings 13:1-2 ESV
Have you ever heard of the curse of Tecumseh? Tecumseh was the chief of the Shawnee tribe, and in 1811 American forces, led by William Henry Harrison, went to war with the Shawnees and defeated them. In 1840 Harrison was elected as president of the United States, but he got very sick and died after only one month in office. Years later there was a story that Chief Tecumseh had put a curse, not only on President Harrison, but also on every future president of the United States elected in a year ending in zero. The curse was that that president would die while in office. Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, and he was assassinated in his second term. James Garfield was elected in 1880 and was assassinated, too. William McKinley was elected to his second term of office in 1900, and also was assassinated. Warren G. Harding was elected in 1920 and died of a stroke. Franklin Roosevelt was elected to his third term as president in 1940, and he died in 1945 near the beginning of his fourth term. John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960, and he was assassinated. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, but he didn’t die while he was in office even though he was older than presidents had been in the past. He served two terms and survived when a man shot and tried to kill him. Was the curse broken? Or was it all just a coincidence?
Strange coincidences happen, and sometimes people make up a story to explain them. No one knows that Chief Tecumseh ever put a curse on the presidents of the United States. But there was one curse that we know is true. When Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, built an altar to the golden calf he had made for his people to worship, a prophet of the Lord came and put a curse on the altar. He said that someday there would be a king from David’s line named Josiah who would burn human bones on the altar and make it unfit to serve any false god again. Many, many years later King Josiah cleared his own southern kingdom of false gods and goddesses, then went north and did the same thing in the area where the northern kingdom had been. He burned the old altar where people had sacrificed to the golden calf, and pulled the bones of the false prophets out of their graves and burned them on top of the ashes. This curse came true because it was from God, and all of God’s words always come true.
In the beginning, when our first parents sinned, they fell under the curse of sin and death, just as God had said they would. But God promised them that he would break that curse. The devil, who had taken the form of a snake to tempt and trick them, was also cursed by God. Someday a man would be born into the human family who would crush the devil’s head and destroy all his works. When that happened, the curse of sin and death would be broken for everyone who believes in God’s promised Savior. Jesus is that promised Savior. He destroyed death and all the forces of evil when he died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Jesus has broken the curse of sin for us, and we are free to be his people, now and forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for breaking the curse of sin and death for us and giving us eternal life. Amen.