THE TRUE AND REAL SONS OF ABRAHAM continued (Galatians 3:7, 8, 9)
All these “families of the earth” are blessed in Abraham, that is, in his “Seed” which came from his loins in Isaac the son of the promise. This “Seed” is none else but the Son of God in our flesh, born in the fulness of time. This is a point which is pivotal to all Christian faith and thinking. When this is clearly seen, then all salvation by works of faith is banished from the church, and all false “dispensationalism” is avoided with all its horrible pitfalls.
The term for “blessed” in the Greek is very expressive. It is “eneulogeetheesontai.” This is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew verb “nibheracu.” This is a Niphal reflexive verb: God would bless all nations in Abraham Himself. That is His sovereign, sublime prerogative in His covenant blessings in Christ Jesus. The Greek translation, which the, Holy Spirit quotes through Paul, indicates that those who are blessed are entirely passive in this matter of blessing. They in no way initiate this action of God’s blessing. They are blessed. They are blessed with all the spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, even as they were elected in Him from before the foundation of the world. All the elect are blessed. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God Who sheweth mercy. (Rom. 9:16;Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5) Besides, as the future tense clearly indicates, this will surely come to pass. It is the sovereign promise that is preached, the fulfillment of which depends entirely upon the faithfulness of God’s covenant as confirmed by oath (Heb. 6:13-20) It is really the anchor sure and steadfast in the holy place of God. That makes this “shall be blessed” so certain. God be praised!
For this preaching is anchored in this sure steadfastness of God’s purpose of election to bless all nations in Christ. Surely here we see that election is the Cor Ecclesia, the heart of the church. But here we also have election-preaching without mention of the term election. For when the proposition is maintained that the promise of the Spirit is out of faith, this is only possible because it is for the elect, for whom faith is merited by Christ, and to whom it is pure gift of God. (Eph. 2:8-10) Such believing children of Abraham are God’s creation in Christ Jesus, that none should boast in the flesh.
And so Paul reaffirms the propositional truth: so then they which are out of faith are blessed with believingAbraham. Abraham stands looking at the stars at night and hears the word: thus shall thy seed be in multitude. He believes and is justified and made heir of the world, fellowheir with Christ, his Son and elder Brother, the Firstborn of all creatures. (Rom. 8:28-30; Col. 1:15 ff.) Come now, you bewitched Galatians, and stand in this blessing of Abraham and be freeborn sons of God. Let no one rob you of this great grace for all nations.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN (Galatians 3:10-12)
Paul’s great polemic is now firmly anchored in the Scripture. He has chosen the battlefield in the very Scriptures which the Jewish antagonists of the gospel of Christ purport to believe. And the Scriptures cannot be broken, for God cannot lie. (Heb. 6:18)
But that is not the entire story. Paul has yet another arrow in his quiver. He will shew from the Scriptures themselves, from the very expressed words of God by Moses, that all who “are out the works of law” are not sharing in the blessings of God’s covenant with Abraham, but that they “are under (upo kataran) curse.” The text to prove this proposition is quoted from Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed be he that, confirmeth not (all) the words of this law to do them.” That too is a Word of God before which all must bow. And this word is, indeed, very significant. It is the fatal blow to all attempts of proud man to establish his own righteousness. Paul suggests this in Romans 10:2, 3. He is there speaking of those for whom he has a great sorrow of heart. He could wish that those who are ignorant of God’s righteousness might be saved. But they are “under curse.” They are under the ratified curse of Mount Ebal to which we will call attention shortly. He will shoot his arrow and lay all human pride low. For what is the plight of all who are out of works of law? It is that they are ignorant of God’s righteousness of the Cross, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they do not submit unto the righteousness of the free gift of God. They dream about a righteousness which they may attain by works of law. They follow after a righteousness of law, which they have never and shall never attain. Why? Because they seek it by works of law and not by the simple hearing of the Gospel of the Cross by faith.
It is not so that the wrath of God and the curse of Godshall come upon them, but it is upon them, and itabides upon them. They are under the curse of the law which says, “cursed is every one that does not remain in all things written in this book of the law to do them!” (Deut. 27:26.) For let it not be forgotten that this word was not merely spoken to Israel by Moses, but it was a word to which in a public assembly in the land of promise, they were to ratify the curse upon themselves if they did not keep the “law” with a solemn “Amen.” Moses gave these instructions to Joshua before he died in the land of Moab, before Israel crossed over Jordan. It was given to Joshua and all Israel as a solemn command which they must execute on two mountains, Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. On the one mountain, six tribes were to stand to pronounce the blessings of the law (Deut. 28:1-14) and on the other mountain (Ebal) the other six tribes were to stand to pronounce the curses. (Deut. 27:14-26) This was enacted publicly by Joshua after Israel’s armies had conquered Ai and they had made a wedge in the middle of the land. Then they wrote all the words of the law upon stones covered with plaster. And Levites stood in the valley between these two mountains, the one of blessings and the other of curses, and to the blessing the tribes on Mt. Gerizim said Amen, and to the curses the tribes on Mt. Ebal said Amen. Thus Israel solemnly bound themselves to the “blessings” and the “curses” by the “law of works.” The man that “doeth them” shall live by the law. Alas, no one did, and all placed themselves under the “curse” of the law.
Under that ratified curse of Mt. Ebal all Israel is which does not look toward the blood of atonement, pointing to Christ’s blood which speaks better things than that of Abel. When Christ was on earth he said, “Come unto me’ all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Christ does not give this heavy yoke of Ebal’s curse. He does not ratify and establish the “covenant curse.” That was ratified at Ebal. He came to realize the righteousness of God, the free gift out of many offenses unto justification.
With the Scriptures in their hand the unbelieving Jews in Jesus’ day nailed Him to the Cross; yes, nailed Him to the Cross Who came to remove Israel forever from that terrible ratified curse of Ebal. He did not come to prolongate the “curse” of Ebal in the church. For this curse is not upon those who believe in the crucified Christ, but upon those who are “of works of law.” These perish in their sins and under the wrath of God. Curse and blessing in the “covenant” was in the Covenant at Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal which we can learn by reading Joshua 8:30-35, which we will not quote here. However, this is the “law” dissected from the promise of salvation and the blood of the Lamb. They are not works of thankfulness of which the Decalogue speaks, but they are law-works according to the rule: he that doeth them shall live thereby. (Rom. 10:6; Lev. 18:5)
Now these disturbers of the peace and tranquility of the conscience in the blood of the Lamb, would once more place these Gentile Christians under the law ratified at Mt. Ebal. That is a denial of the blood of the Cross. Enemies of the Cross of Christ they are! Such is the sad story ever anew in the church of Christ. Think of Rome and of the ages before the Reformation where the doctrine of justification by faith never came to its own. Think of pietism in the church, imitation of Christ. Think of the “conditional” covenant conception which manipulates with the “curse” and “blessing” in the covenant. Paul here preaches curse and blessing too. It is he that believes in the Son who has the blessing of Abraham, and he that believes not the Son hath not life, but is under curse. Two kinds of people. One in the Covenant of God and the other under works of law. The one under curse and the other under blessing. The one in the bondage of sin and other in the freedom of the fulfilled law!
What a polemic! What a grasp of the Scriptures!
Come now ye bewitched Galatians. Stand in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free!
CHRIST HAS REDEEMED US FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW (Galatians 3:13, 14)
It is what Christ has done for us. Paul writes literally: “Christ us has redeemed out of the curse of the law.” He has redeemed us from that terribly ratified curse of Mt. Ebal. Calvary is no Mt. Ebal for us. It was Mt. Ebal for Christ. He is the “Amen” which Israel pronounced upon the “blessings and the curses.” The Lord there caused the iniquity of us all to come upon Him. (Isaiah 53:4-7) He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows! He was made sin for us. (II Cor. 5:21) He assumed the law: the man that doeth the same shall live thereby.
This Christ is the anointed of God. He is appointed and qualified by God through the Holy Ghost. He is the great High Priest, Who brings the sacrifice for the sins of the people. And He had to be made a curse for us to purchase us free from the curse.
Yes, even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Christ, the Son of Man, be lifted up on the accursed tree. He is made a “curse for us.” He is made this in our stead. Now he has purchased us. He has fulfilled the law and carried the wrath and curse of God. Heaven would not have Him, and earth rejected Him. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. He Who was irredeemable now redeems us by becoming the very “curse for us.” Mt. Ebal is satisfied. The Amen of ratification stands in Christ. Israel could say “in Christ” Amen, as they saw Christ as the “end” of the law for righteousness to everyone that believed. That is the only solution for that amazing enactment on Mt. Ebal where Israel assumed the curse, which they surely knew would come upon them.
But there is more to this wondrous story of the love of God by removing the “curse” in Christ. It is that Christ came to bring the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles, to the Galatians too. Such was the blessing of the preached gospel to Abraham: in thee shall all nations be blessed. This has come to pass. Christ “redeemed” us once and for all. Such is the implication of the tense used here, which is the aorist tense. Christ died at Calvary. He paid it all. He has nothing more to do. It is finished. The curse is removed. Justice is satisfied. God is just and the justifier of those who believe in Him. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah!
The blessing of Abraham has come to us. We are Abraham’s sons. We receive the Spirit of Pentecost. It is for all the elect of all nations. That is the gospel which Paul preached to the Gentiles. And now anathema upon anyone who teaches any other gospel than this gospel of the Cross, the accursed Christ in our behalf.