When studying for this unit, I was reminded of a lecture/sermon that R.C. Sproul presented at T4G ’08. You can access the lecture here. I mention the lecture because I wanted to write a few words this afternoon about Christ becoming a curse for us, and more than likely my thoughts will be rooted in that afternoon 6 years ago.
Bless and Curse. Two polar opposites everyone that has walked the earth is all too familiar with. This is no mere quaint comparison between a recitation after a sneeze, “bless you,” and a hex placed on an enemy. No. These are two realities that overshadow humanity. One the result of a choice. The other—the result of a choice. Both from the hand of the creator. One deserved. The other undeserved. The cultures and philosophies of today though have misunderstood and believe that the blessing is deserved and the curse is undeserved. “God is a god that blesses—never one that curses. We deserve to be blessed.”
In the beginning the creator chose blessing. But, the creation rebelled and received what it deserved—curse. We have received what we deserve. Curse for Adam’s family—death. Curse for all of creation—flood. Curse for the inhabitants of the earth—Babel. But, God made a choice—mercy. “Through you (Abram) all nations of the earth will be blessed.”
The story of Israel is a window for beholding the beauty of blessing as well as the horrors of the curse of God. The end of Numbers 6 sums up well the blessing of God.
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Blessing :: Experiencing the grace and peace of God and beholding his face. The longing of the people of God has always been and will always be to behold the face of their God.
In his lecture, Sproul presented the opposite of the benediction, which I believe captures the curse of God as seen unfolded many times throughout the story of scripture.
“May the Lord curse you
and abandon you. May the Lord keep you in darkness
and give you only judgment without grace.
May the Lord turn his back upon you
and remove his peace from you forever.”
Curse :: To hear YHWH say “God damn you.” On the cross, that is exactly what Jesus experienced.
“All of creation groans…” under the curse, but “He comes to make his blessings known as far as the curse is found.” How? He became a curse.