After that, God made a law (Exodus 20:1-17). The law came after the promise. The law did not nullify a covenant already ratified. There was a purpose for the law, but it wasn't the way to righteousness.
The promise Abraham believed was Jesus (Galatians 3:7-14). Before he details the birth of the child, Matthew is careful to establish that Jesus is the one they were waiting for (Matthew 1:1-16), the son of David, the son of Abraham. And while he was the child they were expecting, he was also born to be much more.
Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, exhorts the believers not to fall back on a system of the law, which came after the promise, and which cannot impart eternal life. In the third chapter, he reminds them in v. 10-14, that to fall back on the law is to return to a curse:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by the 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.Christ was born to be a curse. The sinless baby of Bethlehem, meek, vulnerable, and totally dependent upon his mother, came to be a curse.
Christ was not a curse because he hung on a tree, rather, he was hung on a tree because he was cursed by God:
The law's curse is God's curse because the law is God's law. Thus, Christ became an object of divine reprobation, cursed both by God and by his law.1He was cursed when he bore the sin of the world, when his heavenly father turned his back on him as he hung on the cross (Matt. 27:45-50). Because he was the curse, we are no longer heirs of condemnation if we are in Christ. We are heirs of the promise.
Does that not just blow your mind when you think of it? How would I have felt, as a mother, after waiting nine months, when I finally held my beautiful baby in my arms was reminded that this child was born to be a curse? It touches us at the deepest parts of our hearts to think of that.
That is what it took to save us. God is a covenant-keeping God, and it was his intention to keep the one he'd made with Abraham; the one which would include us; the one that gave us access to God through faith.
When we welcome the Christ child into our hearts this season, let us remember the reality that he was born to do something that no one else in human history was born to do: to be a curse. He was born to be a curse for you and for me.
1. Philip Graham Ryken, Galatians ( Phillipsburg, NJ, 2005), p 117.