The Curse and the Blessing

So I was thinking about the lesson I just had regarding Deuteronomy 27 and the twelve curses the Israelites took upon themselves and future generations for failing to uphold the letter of the Law. If you read Deut 27, you will find that Moses tells the Israelites that when they enter into the promised land by crossing over the Jordan River, the six tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin must stand on Mount Gerizim; the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali must stand on Mount Ebal. And then the Levites will start speaking 12 curses over the Israelites, whom answer each curse with “Amen” (Deut. 27:11-26). The word, “amen,” is not simply a word of agreement, it resembles more a contractually binding signature. Deuteronomy 27:26 says, “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.'” Therefore, each time the Israelites responded “amen,” they were agreeing to place themselves under the curses that would befall them should they not uphold the entirety of the Law.

What we need to understand is that the Law itself was not a curse; rather, following the Law was the way to uninhibited blessings poured from heaven itself. The curses came when one broke the Law – they were the consequences. The Law was the way to blessing: the sin was the way to curse.

For us, who live on the resurrection side of the cross, we find ourselves living under the words of Paul in Galatians 3:10-14 ESV:

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 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”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

If you notice, Galatians 3:10 repeats Deuteronomy 27:26 verbatim. This entire passage is speaking about the curses that the Israelite people are under due to this contractual assent that occurred in Joshua 8:30-35 in fulfillment of Moses’ instruction in Deuteronomy. We know that no person aside from Jesus is perfect, therefore, those who live under the Law have undertaken the curses of the Law and cannot be JUSTIFIED by the Law. Christ alone can justify us through faith because he was hanged on the tree, taking the curse from us under his own cursing (Deut 21:22-23). Thank God He relieved us from the curse that came from the living under the Law. However, what I said in the beginning about the Law remains true: the Law was a source of blessing for those who follow it. We no longer have to live according to the OT Law; however, when we live for God and follow the rules that He has laid before us, both in the OT and the NT, we remain BLESSED. God’s law, for the Israelites in the OT, and for Christ’s disciples in the NT, is a source of blessing. The rules Jesus gave us to follow throughout the gospels are for our blessing. When we follow God’s rules and live a holy and righteous life, we live in freedom from fear, from consequences, from addiction, from enslavement to ourselves. His law, though it has changed for those of us this side of the cross, still remains a source of blessing. Jesus freed us from the curse, but he also has given us a law of freedom. I pray that we are able to remain faithful and steadfast in the midst of our trials, that we would live in righteousness and that God would open the storehouse of heaven and bless us for it.

Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

Go, beloved, and live righteously; revel in the blessing of the law!

 

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