THE CURSE OF THE LAW
The Book of Numbers covers the 40 years of Israel’s miserable existence in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. God dealt with them harshly at times because they worshipped other gods from their heart and would not trust him to bring them into the land he swore to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Numbers is a book that is almost entirely void of any blessing from God. For forty years God endured the first generation of Israelites in the wilderness so that he could fulfill his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by bringing the second generation of Israelites into the Land of promise.
After God swore in his wrath that they would not enter his rest, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that first generation of Israelites had passed.
The book of Deuteronomy covers the last week, or so, of the life of Moses before the second generation of Israelites entered into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy literally means the second giving of the Law, and covers Moses’ instructions for them concerning how they were to live in the land after they took possession of it.
The instructions given by Moses were written in a book that contained the full terms of the Covenant with the blessings and the curses. This book is called the Law of Moses and it was placed in a side compartment of the Ark of the Covenant.
This book of the Law is not to be confused with the Ten Commandments which had been given at Mount Sinai 40 years prior, and kept inside of the Ark, directly under the Mercy Seat.
The book of the Law, aka the Torah, is referred to as the Law of Moses some 23 times throughout the scriptures by the following witnesses:
- Joshua (Joshua 8:31, 32 and 23:6).
- Daniel (Daniel 9:11, 13).
- Luke (Luke 2:22 and 24:44).
- Paul (Acts 13:39 and 28:23; 1 Corinthians 9:9).
- The Pharisees (Acts 15:5).
- The author of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:28).
- The author of the book of 1 Kings (1 Kings 2:3).
- The author of the book of 2 Kings (2 Kings 14:6 23:25).
- The author of the book of 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 23:18 and 30:16).
- The author of the book of Ezra (Ezra 3:2 and 7:6).
- The author of the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:1).
- Jesus and God, I saved the best for last (John 7:23, Malachi 4:4).
The Torah, or Law of Moses, served as a witness against the people of Israel because God knew they were stiff necked and would eventually forsake him and seek after other gods.
And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. ~ Deuteronomy 31:24-28
This was Israel’s covenant, and it was ratified by the declarations of both the blessings and the curses after the Israelites entered the Promised Land.
Scripturally speaking, there is no such thing as being under the law without being under its curse as well. That is why Paul warned the Galatians that if they attempted to seek right relationship with God through the Law, they would consequently be under the curse of the law.
In the language of scripture, Christ redeeming us from the curse of the Law, is the equivalent of being delivered from the law, entirely.
The actual terms of the covenant are given in Deuteronomy 27-30, and it is impossible to separate the Law Covenant given to Israel from the curse contained therein.
God promised the descendants of Abraham that he would bless them if they would keep his covenant and obey his voice. Yet God warned the children of Israel that if they did not keep his covenant and obey his voice, he would judge them and send the curse upon them. The curse would result in the Israelites being exiled from their inheritance in the land, and they would become servants to other nations.
Israel replied with “Amen” to the curses (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). Eventually Israel inherited the curse and was judged. This resulted in their becoming servants to other nations.
After the reign of King David and King Solomon, during the reign of Solomon’s son King Rehoboam, Israel was divided into two Kingdoms. The 10 northern tribes became known as Israel, and the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin were known as Judah or the Jews.
The northern tribes were ruled by a series of wicked Kings and eventually they were taken captive by the Assyrians in fulfillment of the curse. Later Judah was carried away by the Babylonians in fulfillment of the same curse.
God had plead with the leaders of Israel and Judah through the prophets but they refused to return to him fully and to do that which is right in his sight. They continued to resist and would not obey His voice. As promised, God’s judgment came and all Israel was exiled into captivity.
During the exile of Judah (the Babylonian captivity) the prophet Daniel began seeking the Lord for understanding regarding the prophecies given to Jeremiah regarding the captivity.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes… ~ Daniel 9:1-3
As Daniel sought God, he repented for the sins of his people, and acknowledged that the curse spoken of in the law of Moses had been poured out on the nation.
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. ~ Daniel 9:11-14
During this time of prayer and fasting, Daniel discovered by relevelation from the angel Gabriel that the 70 years of exile, had a two-fold meaning.
First, the Jews would serve the full 70 years in Babylon, then the exile would be over and the people could return to their home land. Secondly, there was a decree, not of 70 years but 70 weeks of years which were determined upon the people, and then the true exile would be over.
The first was natural, the second was spiritual, and God told Daniel exactly when it would all occur.
Before the exile of Judah into Babylon, the prophets had prophesied of a return to the promised land. These prophecies came true when many of the Jewish exiles returned after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. When the Jews did return from captivity, they bound themselves with a curse.
“The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples FOR THE SAKE OF THE LAW OF GOD. together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our Lord.” ~ Nehemiah 10:28-29
The Israelites, who returned from the Babylonian captivity bound themselves with a curse because they were dedicating themselves again to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.
The curse of the Law was the exile, and under the Old Testament, the land of Israel and especially Jerusalem and the Temple represented the presence of God. Being sent into exile or expelled from the land was a physical parallel to a much greater spiritual truth which is banishment from the presence of God because of our sins.
Though there was a return to the land and eventually a rebuilt temple, the presence of God never dwelt in it again, as he had dwelt in the previous ones (the tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon), for there was no Ark of the Covenant, which was called the Ark of his presence.
Consequently, the kingdom was never the same again.
God had revealed to Daniel that the 70 literal years of exile had a spiritual parallel of 70 “weeks of years” which would bring an end, not to the physical exile, but the spiritual exile. And through the Messiah, God would bring an end to sin (the domination of sin over God’s people).
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. ~ Daniel 9: 24-27
According to this prophecy there were 70 weeks of years which were determined for the Jewish people: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city… ~ 9:24
- weeks, (Hebrew – Shaw-boo-ah, literally sevened)
- In prophecy, one day equals a year ~ Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34
- Thus 7 days or 1 week equals 7 years.
- Seventy weeks equal (7 x 70) 490 years.
- determined, (cut off or separated).
- thy people – the Jews, Israel, God’s covenant nation under the law, the captives.
- The holy city – ancient Jerusalem, in Israel.
The seventy weeks would began at the time of the the command was given to rebuild Jerusalem:
(1). Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…
The edict of King Cyrus ~ Ezra 1:1-3; Isaiah 44:28
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. ~ Ezra 1:1-3
Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. ~ Isaiah 44:24-28 df
The edict of Cyrus was reinforced by the decree of Artaxerxes.
Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee… And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,~ Ezra 7:12-13, 21
Ironically, the Jewish Talmud, which is a very blasphemous against Christ, espouses hate against the words of Daniel 9:24-27. In the Jewish Talmud, there is a Rabbinic curse pronounced against those who seek to learn the meaning of this text: “May the bones of the hands of the fingers decay and decompose, of him who turns the pages of the book of Daniel, to find the time of Daniel 9:24-27, and may his memory rot from off the face of the earth forever.” (Talmudic Law, pg 978, Section 2, Line 28)
(2). Daniel’s prophecy gives the exact time frame of the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. ~ Luke 3:1, 21. Tiberius reigned from 14 A.D. until 37 A.D. This places the baptism of Jesus around 27-29 A.D. This is consistent with the time frame of commands of the rebuilding of the temple after the captivity.
(3) He shall confirm the covenant for one week (7 years – which is the 70th week).
Some have attempted to insert the anti-Christ into Daniel’s prophecy as the one who confirms the covenant (a supposed 7 year peace treaty between the anti-Christ and modern day Israel). Those who do so have created a “gap theory” between the 69th week and the 70th week.
This is nothing but a theory from men who are insistent in promoting a particular end time theology.
The first 69 weeks were consecutive, and if we believe the testimony of the New Testament, we will believe that the 70th week is fulfilled in the four Gospels and the book of Acts. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one who confirms the covenant for one week.
The covenant mentioned in Daniel which is confirmed, is the covenant by which the transgression is finished, and an end of sins is made, and reconciliation for iniquity is accomplished, and everlasting righteousness is established, and the vision and prophecy regarding Israel and redemption is complete, and the Most Holy ONE, Jesus, is anointed as King!
Jesus is the one who confirms the covenant with Israel in Daniel 9. Not the anti- Christ. Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
During the 3 and half years before his death on the cross, and the three and a half years after his resurrection, the gospel was preached exclusively to the Jews, though some Gentiles did seek to follow him. After the Gospel had been fully preached to the people of Israel, it was sent to the Gentiles.
Daniel declares “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” Paul says the following in Romans: Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers… ~ Romans 15:8
The writer of Hebrews declares: For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ~ Hebrews 2:2-4
The miraculous works of Jesus before his death, and the signs and wonders done by the apostles after his resurrection, was the confirmation to the Jewish people of the New Covenant the Messiah was establishing.
It is this same Jesus, who also brought an end to the defunct temple service by bringing judgment on the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as Nebuchadnezzar had been God’s agent to punished the Jews during the time of the Babylonian captivity, so the Romans carried out God’s judgment on the then standing temple in 67-70 A.D.
Christ had both redeemed his people, and brought and end to the overspreading of abominations in the temple!
“…and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
During the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, the Jewish people were still a people looking for the full restoration from the captivity. They were looking in hopes for the coming of the Messiah. Yet many were looking for the Messiah to bring a visible kingdom and thought of redemption and deliverance in this way (Luke 19:11). For them, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah meant freedom from Roman domination.
However, the Gospel came with a jolting shock as the people were called to repentance and warned of the coming judgment upon that which they trusted. God was doing exactly what he had always promised he would do, but in a way many never thought he would do it.
God wasn’t interested in establishing a physical nation, he wanted a spiritual nation: a holy people who would serve him in righteousness and truth, and this cannot be accomplished in the flesh. It must be accomplished by the power of God in the hearts of men, who have been born again and have circumcised hearts.
In Deuteronomy 30, God had told Israel that when they were in exile, he would turn their captivity if they would humble themselves and circumcise their hearts. On the surface this had only a natural application. Yet it had a much deeper spiritual meaning which Paul speaks of in Romans 10.
Paul takes the language of the Torah with regards to the return from exile and applies it to Jesus.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. ~ Romans 10:6-9
Paul, drawing on Deuteronomy 30:11-14, translates it from the natural to the spiritual, from the Law, to Christ.
Being exiled from the land and then gathered again into the land was only a foreshadowing of the true redemption which the Messiah would bring. During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah was understood by many of the Jews to be a “national deliverance” and restoration. Yet, God had much more lofty and wonderful plans for His people.
When Jesus came, his mission was nothing like many were expecting. The fulfillment of the promises spoken by the prophets would not be a “national restoration” of a physical kingdom but a “spiritual restoration” and the creation of a “holy nation” in the Kingdom of God – in Christ.
The Son of God came in the flesh to bring an end to the REAL exile for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He died for our sins and was raised again and exalted at the right hand of God. This is the fulfilling of God’s promise that the Messiah would be a descendant of David and would sit upon his throne forever. ~ See Luke 1:32; Acts 2:29:36
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), seated on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36), having the sure mercies of David (Acts 13:34), and He holds the Key of David (Revelation 3:7). He is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 5:5; 22; 16) and in him all the Messianic promises of deliverance and redemption are fulfilled.
Peter preached to the people of Israel concerning Jesus and said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” ~ Acts 3:24
The fulfillment of the words of the prophets, even those prophecies concerning the return from exile comes to fruition in and through Jesus Christ.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:13-14