Second-hand Curses


Doug Wilson writes:

“The Levitical administration brought strong curses for disobedience (Heb. 2:2-3); the New Covenant administration brings much greater curses (Heb. 10:29; Heb. 12:25). Christians commonly assume that the really terrifying curses for disobedience were given in the Old Testament, and that under the New Testament all is grace. But this is precisely the opposite of the New Testament’s teaching on the subject” (To a Thousand Generations, pp. 28-29).

This is certainly a side of the New Covenant that Christians are never taught. The first time I ever heard of it was in David Chilton’s Revelation commentary The Days of Vengeance in 1989. But along with baptism (just had to throw that in), a rediscovery of the Old Covenant hammer makes everything in the New Covenant look like a nail. The Revelation is, after all, a book about the end of the Old Covenant.

It is very telling that all of these verses are in the book of Hebrews, written as a Deuteronomic warning to Jewish Christians throughout the empire who were being tempted to throw in the towel and head back to the Temple they had been chucked out of.

The curses here are, thus, Old Covenant curses, for Jews who had rejected their Messiah. Josephus called his book The Jewish War for a reason.

God certainly judges us under the New Covenant, but such a final judgment as this is still final, the one we get a glimpse of in Revelation 20.

And now that we have the Holy Spirit, Jesus has given us the ministry of judgment. Just as Israel was under the sword in Egypt, so Israel was handed the sword under Joshua, in order to take the Land. And I can tie this more mature ministry to baptism here as well. Israel “walked on water” as she passed through the Jordan.

So, I agree with a better understanding of the New Covenant containing curses. But, as with baptism, it is not the same. Our ministry is to put the entire world through the water (all men everywhere are called to repentance, which now includes them in the priesthood).

So the only final “cast off” judgments for now are those who judge Jesus to be a lie and remain in darkness. These are certainly personal, national and cultural judgments, but they are not AD70. God gives them up to their desires. It is water being trodden underfoot for the time being, not blood. There is still “a sacrifice for sin.” For now, God’s work moves on to those who will listen, as it did in Acts.

Share Button

Comments are closed.