The language of blessing is used today with little to no understanding of its nature or cost.
Galatians 3:13-14 expresses the inner-workings of a theology of blessing. Blessings and curses are found throughout the Bible, but they meet together in one unparalleled moment at the cross. Christ was cursed so that we might be blessed.
The Lord blessed his image-bearers at creation (Gen. 1:28). Then he blessed the Sabbath day (2:3) – a day prefiguring the eternal rest and blessing of God.
Scripture says that God declared each creative act to be good, conveying the idea that blessing rested upon a world untouched by sin.
The blessings of Genesis 1-2 are strikingly contrasted with the curses of Genesis 3. No sooner was blessing pronounced that our first parents called down curses for themselves, their descendants and the world around us.
When Adam sinned, God cursed the ground from which he was made. Thorns covered the face of the earth. Man would work the cursed ground by the sweat of his brow.
The presence of thorns is a constant reminder of the devastating effects of sin. There is a complete undoing of God’s creation blessing. Man returns to the ground from which he was made. The Lord had given man the breath of life. The curse meant the removal of that breath.
The curse was reiterated in the Old Testament in temporal and typical forms. As Adam and Eve were cut off from paradise, God promised to cast Israel out of the Promised Land (Num. 15:31).
There also was a close relationship between the plagues of Egypt and the covenant curses (Deut. 28:21-29, 58-61). Darkness was the second-to-last plague brought on Egypt. This, too, was a covenant curse promised to Israel (Deut. 28:29). It was a picture of the eternal outer darkness spoken of by our Lord (Matt. 25:30).
Whether it was in the plagues that fell on Egypt or the covenant curses promised to Israel (Deut. 27:30), the curse resurfaced as a reminder of the justice of God and consequence of sin.
In the New Testament, we read, “All the promises of God are ‘yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 1:20).
Covenant blessings are assured to all who believe in Christ. Jesus said “yes” to the promised curses in order to secure covenant blessings for his people.
In Gethsemane, he sweat great drops of blood, as he labored for our redemption. In his sufferings, he wore a crown of thorns – a symbol of the curse. For three hours, darkness covered the crucified Lord as he bore the wrath of God for his people.
As the second Adam, Jesus bore the curse brought about by the first Adam. He is, in the deepest and most profound meaning of the phrase, the curse-bearer. On the cross, Jesus was cursed so that we might be blessed by faith in him.
His cry at Calvary, “It is finished” (John 19:30), is reminiscent of the way he had looked over the finished work of creation and said, “It is good” (v.12). Jesus accomplished the work of the new creation in his death and resurrection. The curse was removed and blessings secured for his people.
Are you laboring under the weight of your sin and the reality of the curse? Do you long for a life of blessing and rest?
Look in faith to the sinless one who was made a curse for us. When you do, you will say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).