Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Curse and the Cross

May isang pangungusap na madalas kong marinig sa usapan ng ibat ibang tao. Tila ba halos lahat ng nasa paligid ay marunong magsabi ng "God bless you" o ang mas maiksing "God bless".

Kasabay ng kaway pamamaalam, sinasambit nila "God bless!"
Sa chat, "Sign-out na ako, 'God bless na lang'
Sa text messaging, "TY po! GBU" (pinaiksing thank you at God bless you)

Halos lahat yata ng bati ay ay puwedeng dugtungan nito.
"Happy Birthday, God bless!"
"Best Wishes, God bless!"
"Happy Graduation, God bless!"
Bukod sa pagsambit nito para sa mga indibiduwal, puwede rin ito para sa mga grupo. "God bless the PNP" o "God bless the AFP"

Naririnig ko ring sinasambit ito para sa mga bansa. Sa takot ng mga Kano matapos ang 9/11 terrorists attacks, madalas nilang sabihin "God bless America!" Mula naman kay Bro. Eddie Villanueva at sa mga tulad niyang walang kasawa-sawa sa pagpapapaniwala sa mga bulaang propetang nagsasabi na may "prophetic destiny" raw ng bansang Pilipinas, madalas kong marinig ang "God bless the Philippines!"

Tulad ng ibang mga pangungusap na bukambibig ng karamihan, maaaring sa iba ay "expression" na lang ito na hindi na napag-iisipan kung ano ang kahulugan. Subalit kung ito ay nauunawaan at sasambitin ng taos-puso para sa iyong kapwa, ito ay napakaganda. Nagpapahayag ito na nais mong maranasan ng iyong kapwa ang kabutihan, habag, pag-ibig at kagandahang-loob ng Diyos.

When we are sincere in saying "God bless you", two things could be said about us. First, we mirror the character of our God who is perfectly kind. Sa Genesis pa lang, makikita mo na agad na siya ay isang mapagpalang Diyos:
     a. In Creation-- 1:26-28
     b. In the Post-Flood world-- 9:1
     c. To Abraham and his descendants-- 12:1-2

Second, We fulfill the New Testament command "bless and do not curse"-- even to those who perseute us (Rom. 12:14)

Having mentioned Rom.12:14, I would like you to notice that an antonym for "bless" is right before us; it is the word "curse". The Greek word is kataraomi which is defined by Louw and Nida's lexicon as:
"to cause injury or harm by means of a statement regarded as having some supernatural power, often because a deity or supernatural force has been evoked."1
In the ancient times, and even in the modern times, people believe that by uttering words, you either bring good or bad on other parties. We have a biblical example for this in Numbers 22 where Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel. We have pop-culture examples like Alice Bungisngis, the teenage witch whom  I saw on TV one day who said "Madapa ka sana!" at nadapa nga yung kaaway niya. And sadly we have examples from our own camp, professing evangelical Christians who adapted the lies of Positive confession (false) teachers like Kenneth Copeland who preaches messages like "You are the prophet of your own life" and Kenneth Hagin who tells his followers to declare "I am healed" no matter how severe the symptoms are.

However, one thing I am happy about is on the realization that man-made curses have no effect on those whom God has blessed (Num.22:12; Gen. 12:3). A dozen witches may form a coalition to cast spells against you but if you are blessed by God, no amount of man-made or even Satanic curses can harm you. For God is sovereign; when he stretches his hand, no one could turn it back (Isaiah 14:27)

But here is our real problem: the whole world is not under a man-made curse, but a curse from God himself.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." ~Gal.3:10

Objection Bro. Manny! God is love. God is good all the time; and all the time God is good. He gives blessings. He never curses.

Objection overruled (Gen. 3:19, 8:21, 9:11, 11:25, Deut. 28:15 ff.)

R. C. Sproul suggests the simplest way to understand what it means for a Jew to be cursed is to reverse the meaning of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26

The Priestly Blessing:
"The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

The Priestly Blessing reversed:
"May the LORD curse you and abandon you.
May the LORD keep you in darkness and give you only judgment without grace.
May the LORD turn his back upon you and remove his peace from you forever"2

To be cursed by God then is not just him withdrawing his favors but him working against you.

One key verse is Galatians 3:13: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

Sa mga karatig-talata nito, lumalabas na may mga bulaang guro na nakapasok sa iglesya sa Galacia; at kanilang ipinagkakalat na kung nais mong mapabilang at manatiling kabilang sa mga taong kinalulugdan ng Diyos, kinakailangang ikaw ay magpatuli at sundin ang mga nakasaad sa Mosaic Law. Kinagat ito ng mga tao.

Prideful man takes delight in the thought of being able to secure right standing before God by what he does. Human nature hasn't changed. This is confirmed by our experience in using Evangelism Explosion's diagnostic question #2: "Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you 'Why should I let you into my heaven?' What would you say?

Ang mga kadalasang sagot nila ay: "Sinisikap ko namang magpakabuti" "Wala naman akong tinatapakang tao" at iba pang works-based soteriology.

Paul saw such attitude as directly opposite to the gospel of grace. In verse 10, he asserts that those who rely on their merits measured by their adherence to the law are under a curse. He supports his assertion by quoting the law itself! (Deuteronomy 27:26). Thomas Schreiner reduced Paul's argument in a syllogism:

Those who don't do everything required by the law are cursed (v.10b)
 No one does everything required by the law (implied)
 Therefore, those who are of the works of the law are cursed (v.10a)3

James M. Boice comments:
“The law- is not a collection of stray and miscellaneous parts, some of which may be conveniently disregarded. It is a whole, and must be kept in all its parts if it is to be considered kept at all. The point is not that justification cannot come by keeping the law, at least theoretically, but that a curse is attached to any failure to keep it, no matter how small. Since all fail, all are under the curse. Paul is assuming the universality of sin in this quotation.”4

Woe is me! I am under God's curse. How can I escape from it?

Paul's answer is through Christ who gave his life on the cross to take the curse in behalf of those who would believe in him. The curse motif is very close to the penal substitution facet of the atonement. In my place, cursed he stood. The reversed priestly blessing was applied on Christ instead of being applied to me. He who has always been with the Father from eternity past, enjoying the sweetness of Trinitarian Fellowship was abandoned by his Father, because of the curse which was supposed to be upon us.

Moreover, he did not only rescue his people from the curse, he also placed them in a state of blessing (Galatians 3:14)
1 J.P Louw and Eugene Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains
2 R.C. Sproul Sr., The Curse Motif of the Atonement, 2008 T4G Conference
3 Thomas Schreiner, Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), p.204
4 James Boice, Galatians, Expositor's Bible Commentary


  1. Christ took upon Himself God's curse towards us, so that we may enjoy God's blessing in Him. O sweet exchange!

    Bakit ba napaka-ungrateful ko sa mga bagay na ginawa sakin ni Lord. Tsk.

  2. Thanks for droppin' by Jeph

    Natutuwa ako na hindi man ako naglagay ng application sa aking post, ikaw na mismo ang nakakaisip ng apllication, by the Holy Spirit's moving of course. That's what an appreciation of God's grace should lead us-- a zeal for godly living.