Deuteronomy 21:22–23: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.”

December 5th, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Deuteronomy 21 outlines 4 acceptable methods of capital punishment, including strangulation, stoning, death by sword, and burning. But there was a 5th added when the crime was particularly notorious, hanging a man from a tree. One early Rabbi, named Eliezer, wrote, “the wise men say none are to be hanged but the blasphemer and idolater.” The Apostle Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 in Galatians 3:13 as an explanation of why we are now free from the law: “Christ has 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’)”.

Jesus’ hanging on the tree was a proof that He had been made sin and a curse for His people. He bore the curse of the law for our sins. The New Testament emphasizes what God did for us. The church has historically made the mistake of over-emphasizing what we could and should do for God, moving from a life of faith, grace, and spirit to a life of law, works, and fleshly efforts. Whenever we do this we go from a life of blessing and victory to one of defeat. God intended the law to show us our inadequacy and our need of Him. It was never intended to make men feel righteous.

The law is like a mirror or a thermometer. We might look in a mirror and see that our hair is messed up, but we would never try to use the mirror to comb our hair. We might take our temperature with a thermometer and discover we have a fever and are sick, but we wouldn’t try to use the thermometer to cure our sickness. The law reveals our spiritual illness, but it cannot do anything about that illness. Anyone who attempts to have a relationship with God by keeping the law is automatically condemned by the law because every human being breaks the law, which results in the curse or judgment of the law. This is why Jesus took the punishment that we deserved, allowing His creation to hang Him on a tree in order to redeem it—to redeem us. How will we ever thank Him enough?

“We do thank you, LORD, for forgiveness and mercy. Please guide us this day we pray, in Jesus’ name.”