Now the rest of the people… all those who had knowledge and understanding, 29 are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; (10:28-29).
Let those words sink in. All the people, with knowledge and understanding, took on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law and to observe all the commandments, ordinances and statutes. I’m not sure if that sounds beyond courageous, or somewhere just past stupid. Especially if you think about the consequences involved for not carefully obeying every command.
“But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: 16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. 17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 “Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out, (Deuteronomy 28:15-19).
But it doesn’t stop there; the following 49 verses describe the full load of the curse: confusion, destruction, sudden evil, pestilence and diseases, drought, defeat and death, skin disorders, madness, blindness, bewilderment of heart, oppressed and robbed, without rescue, enslaved under brutal tyrannical rule, yielding to idolatry, objects of ridicule, never-ending labor with no return, children taken into captivity, sinking beneath the alien, hunger, thirst, nakedness, dire poverty, yoked under the siege of a ruthless enemy, hostility and the absence of sensitivity or compassion, fearful plagues, harsh and prolonged disasters, severe and lingering illnesses, ruined, uprooted and scattered with no resting place, constant anxiety and trembling heart, filled with dread and terror; culminating in returning back to the very place out of which they had been rescued, with no hope of redemption.
The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you, (Deuteronomy 28:68).
Would you take that curse and oath on yourself? Especially knowing that, “Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them,” (Deuteronomy 27:26); and, “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all,” (James 2:10).
Like I said, sounds somewhere just past stupid. But the people were desperate; desperate for His forgiveness, desperate to be brought back into relationship with their God, to walk again in His Presence. And I guess, if truth be told, desperation can sometimes come off as, well, stupid.
But God knew, more than anyone, the impossibility of it all.
But that was His plan all along. For in coming to grips with the stupidity of this bold claim to uphold His whole law and to take a curse and oath upon themselves, desperation was meant to lead to Truth, to the realization that Someone had to do this for them, because there was no way on earth that they could ever fulfill all the requirements of the law; and to think otherwise was somewhere just past stupid.
…Why the Law then? 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith, (Galatians 3:23-24).
But there would be One. One Who would be able, One Who would come to Take on Himself the absolutely unthinkable.
Consider Him, Who Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath
Every curse laid out in the law, every punishment and chastisement meant for us, would be laid on Him. And to all who would but place their faith in what He alone would do on their behalf, they would be saved from the curse and given His gift of eternal life.
And that sounds somewhere just past unbelievable. But surely it is so.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him, (Isaiah 53:4-6).
And in His great love for His creation, the Father would give His Son to be pierced and crushed for our sins, to receive the chastisement we ourselves deserve.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
And not only would He Take on Himself a Curse, He would become a Curse for us.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE,” (Galatians 3:13).
And by His grace, by His unmerited favor, according to the will of the Father, Jesus Christ gave Himself to hang on a tree that we might be rescued.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (Galatians 1:3-4).
And as He hung on that tree and Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath to accomplish the Father’s will, our forgiveness was purchased by His blood.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me,” (John 6:38).
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:7).
And according to the riches of His grace, we are redeemed with His most perfect and precious blood.
knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (1 Peter 1:18-19).
And for those of us who have received Him by faith, the Father has transferred us out of our desperate darkness and qualified us to share in the inheritance of the Kingdom of His Son.
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. 13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, (Colossians 1:12-14).
And in that unbelievable promise of His inheritance, is the place where there will no longer be any curse; for our Savior, the Lamb of God, Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath that we would be set free to serve Him forever.
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him, (Revelations 22:3).
How do we respond to Him, Who Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath?
The people in Nehemiah’s day were so desperate, they were willing to risk the curse in order to be reconciled to Holy God; so much so that they willingly validated their commitment in writing, in a sealed document bearing their names.
“Now because of all this
We are making an agreement in writing;
And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests,” (Nehemiah 9:38).
Scripture repeatedly references another document, holy and sealed, bearing the names of those who will be delivered and reconciled to Holy God.
- …But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered, (Daniel 12:1).
- …A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him,” (Malachi 3:16-17).
- “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” (Luke 10:20).
- …also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life, (Philippians 4:3).
- But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven… (Hebrews 12:22-23).
- I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple… 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, (Revelation 21:22, 26-27).
When I was in college, we used to joke about people we knew who had made really bad choices by summarizing their whole mess with the phrase, “they must be suffering from terminal stupidity.”
But eternity is no joke, and how stupid would it be to reject Him, Who Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath? How stupid to risk our names being excluded from His book of life? That would move us far beyond somewhere just past stupid into a place of terminal stupidity, a real place called hell; the place of eternal separation from Holy God and His heaven.
But when we trust Him, Who Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath, for our salvation, we are born again by His Spirit to one day share His glorious inheritance with all the saints in His kingdom.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God… 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:3).
Today, if you have never been born again by His Spirit by placing your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, today can be, actually should be, that day.
Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years,”(Hebrews 3:7-9).
For none of us are guaranteed another day, or even another moment. But His Word guarantees there is coming a day of Judgment.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, (Revelation 20:15).
Today, if you would place your faith in His free gift of His salvation by grace, you can be assured that your name will be recorded in His book of life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And while the world may argue that we do not need saving; and even try to convince us that sin is an antiquated concept in a book of myths, let us choose to trust His wisdom for our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Because let’s face it, trusting the world’s wisdom for our eternity is really choosing to make ourselves at home somewhere just past stupid.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men, (1 Corinthians 1:25).
Today let us humbly ask our Heavenly Father to grow us in His wisdom, that He would give us a spirit of understanding to grow in our knowledge of Him, Who Took on Himself a Curse and an Oath. And as He answers, we can trust Him to strengthen our devotion that we would please Him in all respects and bear fruit for His glory.
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, (Ephesians 1:17).
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:9-10).
Oh Father, we thank You for sending Your Son to Take on Himself a Curse and an Oath, that we would be redeemed and reconciled to You. Now please, may we leave behind the foolish ideas of the world to grow in Your wisdom and become a true disciple of our Savior. Father, may we bear much fruit that You would be glorified.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples,” (John 15:8).