Blessing or Curse?

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Gal. 3:13).

- Galatians 3:10–14

Like all covenants, God’s bond with Adam contained blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As long as our first parents followed the Lord’s commands, they could enjoy life in the presence of God, for He walked with them in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). Disobedience, however, would bring upon them the curse of death and exile from the Creator’s blessing (2:16–17).

After our first parents sinned and brought a curse to creation (3:16–19), God later redeemed the nation of Israel from slavery and covenanted with them that they should be His light to the world (Deut. 4:6–8; Isa. 42:6). He gave them His law, which told them perfect compliance would lead to eternal life (Lev. 18:5). Yet the Lord never expected His people to earn their own salvation by keeping the Mosaic stipulations. The Law included a sacrificial system, showing them that their own perfect obedience was impossible. The Pentateuch thus reveals Israel had to trust God to provide a representative to keep the Law perfectly and bring life to the elect (Gal. 3:24).

Nevertheless, the Israelites were obligated to keep the Torah blamelessly in gratitude for their salvation. They had to serve the Lord in faith and repent when they failed to do so. Having the presence of God among them would accompany obedience (Num. 6:22–27; Deut. 28:1–14). Disobedience would result in them being cut off from the promised land and thus entry into His holy temple (Deut. 28:15–68).

As it turned out, sinners grabbed hold of the Law, and it therefore magnified their own wickedness (Rom. 7:7–12). Israel’s exile (2 Kings 17:7–23; 25:1–21), the greatest of all the covenant curses (Lev. 26:14–39), proved beyond all reasonable doubt the pervasiveness of man’s depravity. Even God’s chosen people could not obey Him sufficiently to be rendered blameless.

Yet the Lord loves His people and sent Christ to bear the full brunt of the curse of exile. Jesus was cut off from God’s physical and spiritual blessing on the cross (Mark 15:34), so that these blessings would come to His people instead of the curse (Gal. 3:13–14).

Coram Deo

The fullness of God’s curse is permanent exile from seeing the Lord face-to-face in the new heavens and earth. Consequently, the greatest blessing is to behold His glory for all eternity. We who were once under the curse of sin and death have been redeemed by the One who willingly subjected Himself to God’s curse for our sake. Consider the grace of our Father and praise Him for His mercy on the cross. Ask Him to keep you mindful of your coming blessing.

Passages for Further Study

Josh. 8:30–35
Dan. 9:1–19
Luke 24:50–53
Rev. 14:12–13

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.