The Blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:13-14)
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)
The passage we just read is Galatians 3:13-14 in the New Testament. We read through fairly quickly and you might not remember it well. But it says here, “Christ became the curse for us”. This might sound a little strange to you. In other religions, the ones they believe in are supposed to be blessed, and have magnificent and wonderful lives on earth. But the one we believe in and trust was cursed when He was on the earth.
There is another strange thing to note. As you have heard from the person who testified just now, when Jesus came up out of the water after being baptized, God said of Him, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” Yet from that day on, His life was full of suffering. People might think it’s better to suffer when you’re young because things will get better when you’re older. However, that’s not what happened to Him. He suffered until finally He was hung on a cross and shed His blood and died a terrible death. It is hard for us to comprehend. That is why most people regard Jesus merely as a man of Nazareth, a worthless man who was sentenced to death as a sinner by the Roman court.
Since that time, there are some people in this world who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the One in whom God is pleased just as God had testified of Him. On the other hand, there are people who believe that although Jesus was a great person, His life ended in death just as everybody else. Furthermore, they believe that this world is too wicked to bring about any change so that He also lived a cursed life and failed, despite His plans and dreams. That is why even to this day, many people do not like our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, God permitted all of that because God had a plan and a dream. It says that there is a reason why God allowed Jesus to be under a curse. It is because there is motherly love in God. A mother’s love is like this: “My child, be blessed! My child, all things will go well for you! I will bear everything for you. If there is any curse, I will bear it for you. So you be blessed!” This is a mother’s heart. “My child, eat well! It’s okay if I starve. It’s okay if I have to spend less. But you spend on whatever you need. I didn’t get education but you must! I might be struggling but you should go to university!” A mother wants all things to go well for her child.
That is exactly the heart of God. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ whom He loves the most and trusts and commanded Him, “Bear the curse for them!” God knew that even so, Jesus would not fall into temptation, feel wronged nor rebel. Thus, He sent Jesus so that He died on the cross. In that is God’s love for humanity, at the same time, God trusted His Son, He loves. What if the beloved Son didn’t listen to God’s word at that moment and instead said, “No, I don’t want to die on the cross! And look at those people! How evil are they? They are ungrateful too! Though they are offered something so good, rather than gratitude, they will point fingers, curse and say ‘We’ve been given worthless things!” How futile will this become if they curse God when God is giving them such a great gift? No, I don’t want to do this!”
Actually Jesus prayed like that before He died. “I don’t want to be cursed. Not for those people. I don’t understand. God, why would you let me undergo this curse for ungrateful humans? If possible, let this not come upon me!” Though He prayed, God didn’t grant His prayer. He let everything happen. If the Son prayed once and God answered, “Still do it!” He would have remained still. But since He couldn’t understand God, He said again, “Please take this bitter cup from me! Can I not drink it?” But there was no answer. He prayed the same a third time. “Can I please not do this? Do You really have to save mankind by doing this?” God looked away.
Because He knew this was definitely God’s will, Jesus got up and went where the Roman soldiers were waiting. Then He was arrested, questioned, and crucified to death. This is what Jesus chose. And it was what God had permitted. In this way, God allowed for Jesus to be cursed, though He loved Jesus. So why did He let Jesus to be cursed? “I will bear the curse”. And what did He say for you to receive? “Receive the blessing!” That which God wants to give unto mankind is the blessing He had prepared in eternity past. Thus, those who believe in Jesus today are blessed. We live our faith lives to be blessed. We believe in Jesus to be blessed. But this blessing is completely different to the blessing we know in this world. In the past, if you had strong, healthy teeth, you were thought to have been blessed. However, we will lose all those teeth one day, won’t we? Nowadays people get implants. No matter what you do, you can’t take anything with you when you depart this world. People say that longevity is a blessing but even that can’t go beyond 100 years. Those blessings all disappear in this world.
However, the blessing which God is giving us is unlike those; it is everlasting. God created us as eternal beings in order to give us that eternal blessing. I’m sure you are longing for that eternal blessing. Do you want happiness, everyone? And do you want that happiness only for the next ten years? I’m sure nobody does. Everyone wants eternal happiness. Even though one’s life may only be 70 years, people who don’t know about eternity say, “I want to be happy forever!” They say to their loved ones, “Honey, do you love me?” “Yes, I love you!” “Would you love me forever?” “I love you forever!” But how can they love each other forever? When they get old, one or the other will die and they will be forever separated. How can they love forever? Though they promise to, they can’t keep that promise. Nevertheless, we want to be loved forever.
Why is that? Why do we keep seeking the everlasting? It is because we are perpetual beings. That is, our soul-spirit. The body will fade away, fall and in the end die. But the soul-spirit surely exists. And that soul-spirit longs for the everlasting. The soul-spirit wants eternal love even though it is loved. The soul-spirit wants eternal happiness though it is happy. And God alone can give us that. Money cannot give us what is everlasting. People cannot give us everlasting happiness. God gives us the everlasting. Thus, even with blessings, He will give us the everlasting blessing. Hence, He says, “I will bear the curse. You take the blessing!”
God gave a name to that blessing. The blessing was called the blessing of Abraham in Galatians 3:14. Shall we say it together? “The blessing of Abraham!”
Abraham was a man who lived 4000 years ago in the Middle East. His home country is the region of what is now Iraq. The Palestinian region is where he later went to live in. And the Bible says the blessing is his. The blessing of Abraham. And God gave that blessing to us. What connection is there between a person living in South Korea in the year 2000s and Abraham who lived in the Middle East 4000 years ago? But there is a connection.
Who did God first promise to give the blessing, which God wanted to give us? It was Abraham. And Abraham believed it. Most people find it hard to have such faith. Yet when he was told, “I will make you a blessing!” he believed. “I will make you the source of blessing and for all the nations on earth, the people not only of this generation but the people hundreds and even thousands of years later will be blessed through you. So, you must leave your home country!” In those days it was very dangerous to leave your home country. He also didn’t know where he was going. God said, “I will lead you. So leave!” Hence this man left his home country and went all the way to a foreign land in the Middle East. There he became a great nation and after some hundreds of years, the Son of God Jesus came to the earth through that nation. Thus, the faith of this man Abraham is absolutely important to us. Had he not believed God’s word or ignored it, we would not have received the blessing.
What is this blessing that God promised Abraham? It is that God will be with him. “I will be with you!” We call Him God but He is spirit. Let’s say that together. “Spirit!”
Do you think there are many spirits in the world or few? There are many. If you have been to Buddhist temples or had shamanic rituals done, you would know very well. There are many spirits. The question is however, which of those spirits will you stay close to. There is a saying: like father like son. Sons take after their fathers. And similar can be said of the spiritual world. “Like spirit (god) like man.” People take after their god (spirit). Which god (spirit) do you keep inside you? Depending on which god (spirit) you stay with, determines your personality, health and even fate. That is why we shouldn’t get close to just any gods (spirits).
People commit murder. But when you ask them why they did that, some give a strange answer. Some say that they heard voices. They were told to do it. “Grab that hammer and do this and that!” They claim that they were instructed in detail as to what to do. The person didn’t even know there was a hammer until told. These things do actually happen. They came across the wrong god (spirit). Also, some people drink too much alcohol. In the old days in Korea, even non-Christians used to say of such people, “They have a drunk demon in them!” They said that not because they knew the spiritual world but just guessed that’s the reason. In fact, when a demon that loves alcohol goes into a person, they start to drink heavily. Therefore, the important question is which god (spirit) we want to live with. This God who appeared to Abraham not only said to him, “I will bless you!” but went on to say, “I will make you a source of blessing!” That’s the difference from other gods. Other gods say, “I’ll bless you, so lie to the other person!” “I will bless you, so get a divorce!” “I’ll bless you, so commit fraud!” But this God said, “I will bless you!” Yet He didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “You need to become a source of blessing. You need to become the root, the stump of blessing! By that, many people should be blessed through you. How many people? All the nations on earth, including the Gentiles, in other words, all people, apart from Israel – the descendants of Abraham – must be blessed through you!” This is the promise He made to Abraham.
Abraham accepted the whole promise so that finally Jesus Christ came to this earth, was cursed, and died. As a result, we received that blessing which was promised to Abraham. God was with Abraham and really made him become a source of blessing so that finally that blessing came upon us. The promise made 4000 years ago was fulfilled to me 4000 years later. Isn’t this wonderful?
What we can understand from this is that the God who had made a promise to Abraham lives for at least 4000 years. This is not the case with the other gods. You know those gods to which they perform shamanic rituals? They don’t last for very long. They may seem to help a bit, but it doesn’t last long. However, this God is keeping His words even after 4000 years has passed. We find out that He has been from eternity past and is unto eternity. Furthermore, He is the One who created heaven and earth and all things. He is, out of all gods, the One in whom nothing is impossible. He calls things that are not as though they were and uses them, and He even gives life to the dead.
This is the God with whom we are trying to be together, this togetherness is the blessing. In other words, to be with the God who appeared to Abraham – to be united and live with this God. He comes into me and I abide in God. Many people are walking around. Among them are people who have demons living inside them. But the spirit of our God, the One who appeared to Abraham, the One who raised Jesus Christ from the dead abides within us.
Our flesh will die one day. Even though we die, our being which is to fade away forever isn’t just left to disappear, but we are raised to resurrect. He raises us again. That is why He promised to be with us forever. We are the people who are certain that it is a blessing to be one with this spirit (God). We experienced this. So, if this spirit is with me, I can receive His help while I am on earth. Whenever people are faced with trouble, they seek people’s help first. They ask, “Can you lend me some money?” Or they look for people that have connections with others that might be able to help. However, we Christians don’t do that. We have the greatest helper right there with us, who has our back. We request of that God (spirit). “Help me! I need Your help right now!” Sometimes when we go through even financial hardships, we can ask Him to help us take care of our problem. And when we are ill, we can ask Him to help us with that too.
He has a big heart. So, whenever we ask for His authority, He doesn’t share it bit by bit. He gives His authority to His friend. Thus, we who believe in Jesus live with His mighty authority. My son is here with us right now. He came with his friend. This is what happened when my son was in preschool. He was walking to his preschool when he suddenly plunged down to the ground. He could have just gotten up, if he only fell down. I told him, “Get up!” but he couldn’t. He kept dropping to the ground. We didn’t know whether his legs were paralyzed but he kept collapsing.
And in that moment, I remembered a lame man I met when I was in China. This person was later healed after I and a pastor who was with me prayed for him, and he went around evangelizing since then. This man had been unable to walk since he was in year 5 until the age of 25. I asked him, “How was it you were not be able to walk?” He said he collapsed on the ground as he was walking and since that day he couldn’t walk. He had lived as a lame man for 20 years.
And I remembered him. Because my son collapsed on the ground and was unable to walk, I was scared. Though I tried so hard, I couldn’t get him to stand. I was panicking. I tried to catch a taxi to take him to the hospital but the taxi just wouldn’t come. And then I realized. “What am I doing? The greatest help is already with me. The spirit who was with Abraham is with me right now. The Holy Spirit is with me.” So, I decided to use my given right. “I shouldn’t be panicking. I have the authority given by God!” I set my heart, turned to my son and commanded saying, “In Jesus’ name I command; Get up right now!” Suddenly my son stood up. Then I commanded, “Run!” And he started running. Nothing happened to him thereafter.
If I didn’t have that authority, I would’ve been very distressed that day and I don’t know what the future would’ve been. But it was resolved that easily. It was so simple that people said, “I’m sure it wasn’t anything serious!” However, we encounter events like this so many times throughout our lives. That spirit (God) is always with us and helps us. If we were to mention everything He does, it would be impossible to go through everything in one day. Our lives are a continuation of testimonies.
Therefore, I exhort you to receive this blessing promised by God. And you must receive it. In order to make the blessing of Abraham yours, you must receive the promised Holy Spirit. That is, you have to receive the Spirit of God within you. This isn’t just saying, “You can stay beside me!” You must receive Him within yourself. I will explain this further later on, step by step. Some people are mentally ill-affected because they are demon possessed. But we are not being possessed by demons. Instead, the Spirit of God comes into us. Thus, to believe in Jesus means to receive in that Spirit. It’s a completely new life.
I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will make the blessing of Abraham yours and enjoy it. I will pray.
God our Father, just as God promised a long time ago, and just as Jesus Christ prayed as He died on the cross, help everyone here to receive the blessing of Abraham and become a source of blessing, so that not only they are blessed but through them, their family, children and all nations are blessed. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center