Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bearing the Curse (Galatians 3)

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)" (Gal. 3:13).

Throughout history God has made covenants with His people. A covenant is a bond in blood, a contract between two parties. The reward for keeping the covenant is a blessing, and the penalty for failing to keep the covenant is a curse. The Israelites understood that blessedness meant nearness to God. To be cursed meant to be cut off from His presence. God made a covenant with Israel that if they obeyed Him, they would be blessed; if they disobeyed, they would be cut off. Of course, since Adam’s rebellion against God in the garden no person has kept a covenant with God. The result is that we are under the curse of God, separated from communion with Him.

Only in Christ can that communion be restored. Christ accomplished this by His redeeming work on the Cross when He became a curse for us. Because the covenant curse meant separation from the presence of God, Christ had to suffer this way. This atoning work was foreshadowed in the Old Testament when, on the Day of Atonement, a scapegoat was driven outside the Israelite camp, bearing the curse for the people. Likewise, Christ bore the curse for His people, being driven into the darkness and separated from His heavenly Father. Such torture caused Jesus to cry out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

When Jesus bore our sin in His human nature, He was actually forsaken by God the Father. This was necessary because as our representative head, Christ had to bear the curse of the covenant in order to purchase redemption for His people. Only in this way could the blessings of the covenant, that of communion with God and eternal life in His presence, be obtained not only for Jews but for Gentiles as well.

The hope every Jewish person cherished was to see God face to face, to dwell in His presence, to be His people and for Him to be their God. But a broken covenant, caused by disobedience and rebellion against God, brought the curse of separation. Only in Christ, who redeemed us from the curse of the law, can we delight in the presence of God and look forward to the day when we will see Him face to face.

What is the greatest blessing you can imagine? Compare your answer to what you’ve learned in today’s lesson. What do unbelievers value as great blessings? How does this show a lack of understanding of the significance of Christ’s atoning work?