The Cursed One
The Jewish prophet Habakkuk knew the feeling of terror, anger, despair, and grief. He was deeply troubled over the rampant violence in Judea and he cried out to the LORD to do something about it. The answer he got was even tougher than the apparent victory of the murderers and thieves in Judea (Hab. 1:2-4).
The Lord told him that he was going to use the even more violent rising Neo-Babylonian Empire to punish his own people (Hab. 1:5-11). Habakkuk goes on to describe how everyone and everything gets tangled in the Babylonian dragnet, and he questions how a righteous, holy, and pure God could get so deeply ensnared in all this chaos of violence and injustice. The prophet goes up into a watch tower and waits to see how the Lord will respond, but as he waits, he declares, “The righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).
The Apostle Paul uses these words to prove that just as Abraham was justified by faith, so Habakkuk declares the same reality. Check out how Paul proves that if we want to try to justify ourselves by obedience to the Law, the writings of Moses, himself, will condemn us.
“For all those who are seeking to be justified by the Law are under a curse, for it stands written, ‘Everyone is cursed who does not consistently do everything written in the Book of the Law‘ (Deut. 27:26). It’s clear. No one will be justified by obeying the Law. In fact, those who are righteous live by faith (Hab. 2:4). Trying to obey the Law is the antithesis of living by faith. The Law states, ‘The one who does these things (the requirements of the Law) will live by them’ (Lev. 18:5).
On the other hand, the Messiah Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming the cursed one for us. For it stands written, ‘Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree ’ (Deut. 21:23). It’s clear. Jesus hung on the tree so that as the Messiah he might bring Abraham’s blessing to the Gentiles, a blessing that includes the promise of the Spirit that those who believe will receive. The gift of the Spirit came not because we obeyed the Law but because we had faith in the Gospel Paul proclaimed.” Galatians 3:10-14
So after Paul has proven that Abraham was justified by faith and not by obeying the Law, and that the Jewish Scriptures themselves state that under the Law we are all cursed because none of us live consistently with the Law’s demands, he clinches his argument: Jesus became the cursed one who hung on the tree for us, so that we could be purchased out of our slavery under sin to receive the precious gift of forgiveness and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
LORD, thank you that you promised Habakkuk that you would execute justice against those who terrorize and murder, but thanks that before Jesus returns to execute justice against all sinners, he died in the place of sinners so that anyone who simply believes in the Gospel can be transformed by the gift of your Spirit taking up residence in their lives.
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