"If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him on the same day, for the hanged man is cursed by God."
Doesn't this verse catch your attention? As believers we know 1 Peter 2:24-25 says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd the Overseer of your souls."
In the law (Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), Moses listed many sins worthy of death; giving your children to Molech, being a medium or necromancer, blaspheming the Name, gathering sticks on the Sabbath, worshiping other gods or the sun or the moon, and being a stubborn, rebellious son. However, being stoned to death was the consequence for these offenses, not hanging. The only mention of hanging someone on a tree to this point in the Bible is Pharaoh's baker (Genesis 40:19-22). But as believers, we know this verse is hugely significant because of God's curse on the man hung from a tree.
In Galatians 3, Paul challenges the Christians to examine the difference between works of the law and faith. Those who distorted the gospel told believers that belief in Jesus was necessary, but for real salvation, the works of the law were required. Using Abraham as the example, Paul contended that believing God was what counted as righteousness. Those of faith, not works, were the true sons of Abraham.
In Galatians 3:10-13, Paul uses several OT passages to drive home this point. Verse 10 says anyone who does not obey all the law is cursed (by God). Verse 11 makes the point that the righteous live by faith not works. Verse 12 provides the antithesis of verse 10 by saying "The one who does them shall live by them." The passage, in effect, says anyone who keeps all the law has life.
The climax is Galatians 3:13-14, "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'--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith."
Paul's argument is:
- Everyone who breaks any part of God's law is cursed. (Deuteronomy 27:26)
- Righteousness before God comes by faith not by keeping the law. (Habakkuk 2:4)
- The one who keeps all God's law has life. (Leviticus 18:5)
- Christ Jesus, the only One who kept all the law perfectly was cursed for us law breakers so that through faith in Him we might stand in His righteousness before God. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)
Much about this passage makes me shout for joy! Of course, Jesus rose from the dead! God the Father promised, "The One who does them shall live." Jesus Christ, my Lord, King, and Savior lives. Yes, death had no hold on Him. Because of God's promise, I am in Christ Jesus, who became my wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. Who else would I boast in but the Lord?