The Curse of the Tree

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How could a tree ever be cursed? Trees are beautiful and majestic and just another amazing part of God’s creation that points to His creative and loving nature. Well, towards the end of the book of Deuteronomy we find a somewhat miscellaneous law about criminals being hung on a tree and being cursed by God.

“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 ESV

Three things can be taken from these two verses that are distinct indicators that Yeshua is the Messiah.

#1 The Accusation
During His life and ministry, Jesus made several statements about His divinity and oneness with God. Of course, that’s who the Messiah would have to be. That’s why God gave so many prophecies indicating that He would be the one to come to us, to save us, to redeem us. He and the Messiah are one. But many of the Jews didn’t realize that. They were shrouded in spiritual darkness, blinded by their own ignorance and pride. So many Jews sought to kill the Messiah for basically identifying Himself as the Messiah. They accused Him of blasphemy which was punishable by death.

I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”  The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

John 10:30-33 ESV

#2 The Punishment
Despite the innocence of Jesus, the angry mob lashed out and called for His death. It was the Roman authorities who sentenced Him, it was the people. The head of Roman leadership in the area, Pilate, knew Jesus was innocent. But he bent to the will of the hateful and misunderstanding crowd. Jesus sentence was to be hung on a tree…to be crucified.

Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me and said that he was misleading the people. Now, I have examined him here in your presence, and I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of. Nor did Herod find him guilty, for he sent him back to us. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death. So I will have him whipped and let him go.” The whole crowd cried out, “Kill him! Set Barabbas free for us!” (Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he appealed to the crowd again. But they shouted back, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Luke 23:13-21 GNT

#3 The Burial
According to the law, no man hung on a tree can be left there overnight. Jesus did not remain on the cross but was taken by a handful of people to buried in a rich man’s tomb. This was an exception because the Romans did not obey Jewish law. The bodies of those who were crucified were often thrown in piles and seldom buried right away. But Jesus was special.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:38-42 NIV
Let’s face the facts, none of us are perfect. No one in history, other than Jesus, has ever followed the law of God perfectly. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all blasphemed at some point, either by thought or action. By extension, we are all cursed before God due to our pride and self-centeredness. We all deserve the tree. Yeshua did not. Yeshua chose the tree so that we wouldn’t have to hang there ourselves.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:10-14 ESV
Be at peace brothers and sisters. The curse has been lifted. Glory, not the tree, is our destination!
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The Greater Moses

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Today we enter the fifth and last book of the Pentateuch…Deuteronomy. So far we’ve looked at 15 Messianic prophecies from the first four books of Bible, certainly not an exhaustive list, and how Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled each of them. We’ll finish the Pentateuch by looking at two more. Today’s prophecy is going to highlight perhaps one of the greatest and most highly esteemed Old Testament figures. That figure was one of several that God used to depict who His Messiah would be. Any guesses? Below, we’ll take a look at his resume and I’m sure that’ll help narrow it down.

#1 Highly Acclaimed Author

He is responsible for being used by God to write all of the books that we’ve been looking at so far. The Pentateuch laid the foundation for both Judaism and Christianity.

#2 A Great Leader

Not only could he wield a writing utensil, but he could also rally very large groups of people. At one point he unified and led millions out of oppression in Egypt towards a new life in the promised land.

#3 Mediator skills

One part of being a leader is dealing with conflicts. He continually had to settle disputes both internal and external by mediating between people and between God and the people.

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken.I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 ESV

In this passage, Moses is described as a prophet. It’s also stated that a prophet like him will rise up from among Israel. That prophet, like Moses, will preach divine messages directly from God. All who fail to listen to Him will be required to bear their own guilt. These are two key Messianic indicators. One, He’s the mouthpiece of God Himself. Two, following Him, can relieve the people of their guilt. The Messiah would carry on the message of Moses and also take it to the next level. He would also do something that Moses never could, save humanity of their guilt before God.  In one sense, following the message that Moses delivered could give life and hope to the people. However, nothing in the Old Testament ever provided for salvation other than faith in God. With that said, the new prophet that Moses speaks about has to be far more than just a prophet, since no prophet can save people from their sins. The new prophet would have to be more than just a mouthpiece of God, He would need to be God Himself.

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

John 5:45-47 ESV

Jesus accredits the prophecy of Moses and connects Himself directly with it. Jesus is referencing Deuteronomy 18 (as well as all the prophecies we’ve been examining in these posts). He claims that if the people believed the writings of Moses that they would believe His teachings. Jesus didn’t contradict the Old Testament, He clarified it, fulfilled it, lived it, and illuminated it. His teachings revealed so much of what humanity was missing.

I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

John 8:26-30 ESV

Jesus only said things that came directly from the Father. Just like Moses claimed, the Messiah’s message would be true because of the source. Jesus never preached on His own account. His accreditation was the fact that He and God were one. That makes Him a greater than Moses.

In Acts chapter three the Apostle Peter would reference the Mosaic prophecy from Deuteronomy 18 during his famous Jerusalem discourse that led to over three thousand people giving their lives to following Jesus. Not only did the prophecy of Moses point to the Messiah, but so did his life. The resume above is a great indicator of the Messiah. Think about it. Jesus is not only the author of God’s word, But He is also the word of God become flesh (John chapter one). Jesus is the head of all who follow God (Ephesians chapter one). Lastly, Jesus is the only mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy chapter two). Praise God that the Greater than Moses has come!

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters