I vaguely recall this verse in Deuteronomy, but it jumped out at me today:
If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree (NIV uses “pole” here), his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God)… Deut. 21: 22-23b (NASB)
Of course, I remember where I’d seen the verse before:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law [which is upon anyone who does not fully obey the Law], having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— Galatians 3: 14
The Apostle Paul probably had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Old Testament, having been a Pharisee. So as he reviewed his Bible seeking signs of Jesus, he came across this passage in Deuteronomy.
I imagine Paul stopping at this text in wonder — first, that this verse was tucked away in Deuteronomy, a pointer to the cross, part of the crimson thread woven through the Old Testament.
But more than that, Paul must have stopped at this text in awe — that God would allow His own Son, the divine Son of Man, the Messiah, to become a curse, to be hung on a tree. Paul must have been stunned (as he said in Philippians) that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” the accursed tree.
And because Jesus became our curse on the tree of death, we will one day enjoy fruit from the tree of life.
The tree of life will stand by the river of life in the new Jerusalem. But far better:
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in [the new Jerusalem], and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5
Jesus became a curse for me so that the curse of the Law would cease to exist and I would be able to spend all eternity gazing at His face, illuminated by His radiance.
Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30, Psalm 38:9=22, Proverbs 12:26-28, Luke 5:1-16. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.