The Tree’s Reminder

Autumn is in full swing in this part of New York. I think this year has been exceptionally beautiful. Bright oranges, reds, and yellows nearly shine against the dark green evergreen trees.

I have been reading and meditating on silence and solitude as spiritual disciplines. So, I decided to apply what I have been studying and take an afternoon to be alone for prayer and meditation. The Adirondacks are the perfect place for this. We have the perfect places to be alone: parks, trails, streams, lakes.

This afternoon I went walking on a short trail, notebook and pocket New Testament in hand. It was beautiful. Red squirrels were busily gathering food. Golden needles from evergreens were covering the ground in some places. Leaves from the other trees carpeted the trail elsewhere. Massive rocks rested by the path and offered a seat for a would-be writer to jot down his thoughts.

As I walked in this quiet place, my mind meditated on God the all-powerful Creator. Songs came to mind like “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

Then the Holy Spirit brought passages from some of my recent Bible reading to mind. Paul quoted Deuteronomy 21:23 in Galatians 3:13, which says: “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” As I looked at all those trees by that path, the Spirit led me to think of another tree. The tree that made the cross on which Jesus died.

As I thought on that one verse, I wanted to reflect on the context. I pulled out my New Testament and notebook, sat on a near-by boulder, and found the passage. It says:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:10‭-‬14).

The Law of God shows we are condemned. We are not able to keep the Law. We are sinners. We are cursed, deserving God’s judgement for sin. No one can be justified (declared right) before God by obeying the Law. The only way to be right with God is through faith in His Son.

Jesus Christ redeemed His people from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us by hanging on a tree (the cross). He did this, so all who believe on Him, including the Gentiles (non-Jews) receive the blessing of Abraham and the promised Holy Spirit.

As a Gentile, I rejoiced in this passage. Jesus was made a curse in my place. The promise of Abraham has come to me. I have received the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus. I am now in Christ.

Believers in Jesus from all cultures and ethnicities rejoice with me. The blessing of Abraham and the promised Spirit are ours through the work of Jesus.

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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.