By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Shabbat, 13th August, 2011)
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one 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" (Gal. 3:13-14).
The simple message of the scripture is that because Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by bearing the curse on our behalf, He has made available to us the blessing of Abraham, which is "the promise of the Spirit" received through faith.
Now, what is this "blessing of Abraham" and how can we claim it? How many believers know for sure what this particular blessing entails?
It’s a sad situation when you have been willed a property you don’t know the details of. If you don’t ignore it outright, it will be easy for any scoundrel to cheat you out of it. Now don’t let the devil rip you off! You have been bequeathed a blessing in Abraham, the father of all true believers (Rom. 4:16), and the time has come for you to claim it through faith in Christ, the One Grand Seed of Abraham, in Whom the blessing is realized (Gal. 3:16; Heb. 2:16).
What is "the Curse of the Law"?
What stood between us and "the blessing of Abraham" was taken away by Christ on the cross of Calvary 2000 years ago! Paul describes it as "the curse of the law". By the expression, "the curse of the law" he does not mean God’s "holy, righteous, and good law" (Rom. 7:12) is a curse, but that Christ by His death has redeemed us from the curse associated with or written in "the law", being a shorthand for the Torah or the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy). Where is this curse written in the Pentateuch and in what context?
We read in Deut. 21:22-23:
"And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
"His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance".
So this was Christ the curse Christ endured on our behalf–being hanged on a tree because of our sins, the wages of which is death (John 12:32-33; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:23).
Do you realize how deeply Christ loves you? He died a most horrible, ignominious death so you might be spared from the curse of being hanged on a stake in full public view as demanded in the Pentateuch! And not only that. By redeeming you from this curse, He has not only made available to you the blessing of father Abraham, but has also given you His Spirit to empower to receive it on the basis of faith.
The Contents of the Blessing of Abraham
What you should be itching to know now are the contents of "the blessing of Abraham" so you will know what you have been blessed with in Abraham through Christ. Genesis 12 contains the promised blessing God gave Abraham when He told him to leave his country and his father’s house "to a land I will show you" (v. 1). Here is the blessing God pronounced on Abraham:
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (vv. 2-3).
As the text plainly indicates, our main ground of blessing in Abraham is actually found in blessing number 7: "in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed".
We are blessed in Abraham because God said in Abraham shall He (God) bless all the families of the earth, Israelite and Gentile believers alike, as indeed Gal. 3:29 confirms: "And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise". This was the gospel of faith preached "beforehand to Abraham, saying,’ In you shall all the nations be blessed’" (v.7-8 ESV). However, in being blessed of God in Abraham through Christ, verse 9 says we are "blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith". That is to say, the very blessing given to Abraham is ours too, and therefore we have every right to stand on our blessing in Abraham to appropriate his blessing!
This blessing has seven elements in all. The first is that "I will make of thee a great nation". This promise was reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob as God formally called each of them into a covenant relationship based on the everlasting Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 26:3-4; 28:13-14).
The import of the blessing as it applies to us is not to have our own physical descendants as numerous as “the dust of the earth” or “the stars of heaven” (Gen. 13:16, 15:5). The promise anticipated a physical fulfillment then which has since served its purpose; now it applies spiritually, as far as we still have the blessing of Abraham to inherit in Christ.
And it’s that, as believers, we have been called out of the world and out of our individual social and family circles into the greatest family in the universe! This family has members both in heaven and on earth (Eph. 3:15). Hebrews 12 elaborates on this family in verses 22-24:
"But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel".
As Abraham was called out of his country and kindred and had God’s promise of being made "a great nation", so you have been called to be part of the great nation of God. The family of God is your family; your citizenship is in heaven (Php. 3:20). This will be fully realized when you sit down with Abraham, "the heir of the world" (Rom. 4:13), and with Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8:11). But until then, walk in faith as father Abraham and the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob did:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise" (Heb. 11:8-9).
The key thought being impressed on us is that although heirs of the promise of God to make of them "a great nation", the patriarchs did not immediately receive the promise but embraced it by faith. At God’s calling, Abraham went "out into a place which he was afterward going to receive for an inheritance" (MKJV). Likewise Isaac and Jacob. Because the promise had not yet been fulfilled, they lived as strangers "in the land of promise" and actually "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, [they] embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (v. 13).
So it’s with you. You are in the great family of God, greater and more powerful than any nation or society that has been or will ever be, but it will take faith to embrace it and to order your life by it. Faith is the key. According to Deacon Stephen, when God promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan, He "gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child" (Acts 7:2-5 ESV).
Don’t look at your present circumstances; look at what the promise says and take it by faith. In Christ ‘the whole family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph. 3:15). You are great because you are in God’s great family. The angels of God are your fellow citizens (see Rev. 19:10). Don’t let anyone rob you of this blessed truth!
The second element of the blessing is that "I will bless thee". This blessing is the chief purpose of your Christian calling: You have been called to receive a blessing, so don’t despise that blessing with retaliation and insulting words and curses hurled at one another (1 Pet. 3:9-12). Curse has no place in your life. How can that which Christ took away so you might receive "the blessing of Abraham" still find a place in your life if you are a true believer? Unless, of course, you deny it in your deeds and speech. So instead of cursing, delight in blessing and you will be blessed indeed (Ps. 109:17).
The third element of the blessing is that "I will make thy name great". What name is greater than to be named after Christ? As Abram’s name was changed to ‘Abraham’ to reflect his status as "the father of many nations" (Gen. 17:4-5) so we find our worth in Christ, though we were previously nothing (1 Cor. 1:26-31; Pet. 2:9-10). So then, ‘name’ here means reputation. In Isaiah 62:2 God promises to call Zion "by a new name which the mouth of the LORD shall name" similar to the confidential new name written on a white stone which Christ gives to each of His saints (Rev. 2:17).
The believers in Antioch were the first disciples to be called Christians following the wonderful testimony their lives and teachings demonstrated among the people (Acts 11:19-26). Let the name of Christ you bear deter you from any acts of ill repute (1 Pet. 4:14-16). You bear His great and wonderful name to bring honour to His name, with the spin-off benefit to bring you fame even in this life (2 Cor. 6:9-10).
Though your beginning may be small, your destiny is to be the head, not the tail (Job 8:7; Deut. 28:13). You are somebody in Christ. You are a king-priest in Christ (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6) just as Abraham was recognized as “a mighty prince” in the society of his day (Gen. 23:6).
The fourth element of the blessing is that "thou shalt be a blessing". This blessing goes beyond being merely blessed to being a medium of blessing to others. There are many ways in which Christ has made us a blessing to others. From the preaching of the gospel to our exercise of the gifts of the Spirit, Christ has made the members of His body a channel of blessings to the world and to the Church itself.
Zechariah prophesied that in days to come "ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you" (Zech. 8:23).
Have you made yourself a source of blessing to others? Do you share the truth and grace you have found in Jesus with the lost and perishing?
"Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of God from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3). You are that Zion and Jerusalem responsible to teach God’s truths to those still in darkness. Jude 1:23 says, " And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh".
The fifth and sixth elements of ‘the blessing of Abraham’ actually go together: "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee". God’s blessing pronounced on you, an heir of His promise, would not be reversed by anyone! Rather than anyone trying to turn the blessing into a curse, God would rather people wish you well in your heritage of blessing so some of your blessing might rub off on them! (See Gen. 39:5). Hence ‘I will bless THEM that bless thee’ but ‘curse HIM that curseth thee’.
Sadly, not all people delight in seeing others blessed. So some will definitely attempt to curse you. But woe betides him who tries! He would soon learn that the blessed of God cannot be cursed. When Balak, the king of Moab, hired the spiritualist Balaam to curse Israel, God told the latter: "Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed" (Num. 22:12). Later he confessed: "How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?" (Num. 23:8).
The secret is that God is not like man who will promise you a blessing and then renege on the promise or allow another power to reverse it (Num. 23: 19-20). "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!" (v. 23).
You have absolutely no reason to fear that the blessing you have inherited in Christ can be reversed or taken away from you by the enemy. He will not only stop the intended curse from taking effect, but bless you even more in lieu of the curse intended for you! This was what He did for Israel in Balaam’s vain attempt to curse Israel "whom the LORD had not cursed".
Although God did not allow Balaam to curse Israel, curiously He “turned the curse into a blessing” (Deut. 23:4-5). Yet, how can a curse that never saw the light of day be said to have been “turned into a blessing”? The simple explanation is that, for just the vain step the enemy took to curse Israel, God added to Israel’s blessing (Josh. 24:9-10)!
So He will do for you. All the promises of God to you are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ (2 Cor. 1:18-20). Whoever will attempt to curse you, whether man or devil, His word is that "Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is thee that curseth thee" (Num. 24:9).
Your blessing is secure in Christ. You are insulated from all curses. If you ever entertained the thought that somehow somebody or some evil power can curse you, drop that mindset now! The devil dare not touch the born-again believer who is not inclined to sin because of his transformed nature and, in addition, is careful to keep evil at an arm’s length (1 John 5:18). That is to say, the born-again believer does not only not sin willfully, but also avoids “every appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). Do so and the devil will fear and keep off. Don’t join the company of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1; 1 Pet. 4:2-5) and think that they can’t subvert your faith and moral integrity because you are spiritually strong. Keep away (2 Cor.6:14-15)! “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33).
The seventh element of the blessing empowers you to contribute to the growth of the universal family of God. Scripture characterizes believers in the gospel work as "fellow workers with God" (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). Through Abraham believers of all nationalities receive the blessing in Jesus Christ. Yet how would people come to faith without you and me who already believe preaching the Word?
In the world to come, the faithful disciples of Christ who helped in the spreading of the gospel will "sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:27-19). On earth we bless others by leading them to Christ, and in next world we reign with Christ over vast populations as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10). In Philippians 4:1 , Paul calls his converts to Christ "my joy and my crown".
Will you be able to say the same? Can you point to persons or even a family you have been a blessing to by leading them to true faith in the Messiah? As a recipient of Abraham’s blessing, know that God has called you to be a blessing to others.
‘Look to Abraham your father and Sarah your mother’
In appropriating the blessing of Abraham through faith in Christ, it’s important we look to father Abraham and matriarch Sarah for an example of faith and obedience:
"Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
"Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him" (Isa. 51:1-2).
The LORD will bless and increase us just as He did for Abraham and Sarah if only we do their "works" to show that we are indeed their children (John 8:39). They not only had faith but also obeyed God (Gen. 26:5; Heb. 11:8; Jam. 2:20-24).
God’s promise of blessing in Abraham through Christ is solid. It’s not simply a promise but backed with an oath "so that by two unchangeable things [promise plus oath], in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:13-20).
The blessing of Abraham promised to us is a sure hope whose fulfillment is guaranteed by Christ by His intercessory role on our behalf in the holy of holies in heaven. You are blessed in father Abraham. Nothing can reverse that fact. Amen!