In reading Deuteronomy 15 – 28 today I came across these familiar verses,
“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.” Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)
To hang a man on a tree was a form of what we call “capital punishment”; an offense worthy of death. A penalty that today is frowned on by many. The arguments go something like this; “It doesn’t make sense to kill one human being because they killed one.” or maybe “Violence begetteth violence.” Some might even say “The death penalty is not for a cultured, modern, educated people.”
When we, however, consider the Word of God and His commands for the death penalty and why we can have no legitimate argument against God for this divine punishment. God says every human being is made in His image. There is not one who is more or less in the image of God. For one to take a human life maliciously, with hatred, and forethought is murder; and God says this requires “Life for life”. If the murderer is allowed to live it broadcast to the community that this life is of more value than the life that was maliciously taken.
Of course, there is also the requirement of evidence of guilt. A murderer can only be found guilty by the testimony of at least two witnesses. We read these things in the reading of God’s laws; as recapped in Deuteronomy, and previously in Exodus and Leviticus.
One of the things we learn from this is that each human life is valuable. None less and none more so than another.
Now, back to “The curse of the tree”. This verse is even mentioned in the New Testament from Paul’s epistle to the Galations;
“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:'” Galations 3:13
We are all guilty of offending God, His holiness, His righteousness, and His law. We are guilty and worthy of death. We are just as cursed as the man who hangs on a tree. We read, however, that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” When Jesus Christ died on that cross [the tree] he became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and because He became the curse of sin for us; we were given His righteousness, thus we now have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).
Through His burial the guilt and condemnation of sin was carried away; and by His resurrection He bodily arose victorious over death’s condemnation and overcame the curse of the tree.
Blessed be the name of the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.
-Tim A. Blankenship