Moses never imagined that his words in this chapter, Deuteronomy 21 would signify what Jesus Christ did for us. While the chapter is about marriage, inheritance, and family discord, verses 22 and 23 tucked in the end, refer to the intense aversion God has when we break the law and do not meet His perfect holiness.
In those days, culturally, when capital punishment was handed out, the body of the punished person was hung on a tree. Moses tells the Israelites that the person hanging on the tree is cursed by God because of the lawless and wicked thing he did. What it means is that this person faced God’s judgement for his actions. Killing the person who disregarded God’s laws for evil ensured that the wicked person, now dead, was cut off from the community forever.
Now, let us fast forward to the New Testament. In Galatians 3:13 we read Deuteronomy 21:23, “Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” Paul knew that none of us can perfectly adhere to God’s laws. We are all law breakers, and we are all under God’s curse – just like the person whose body was hung on the tree. But instead of us, Jesus hung on the tree – the cross – and Jesus took our wickedness on Himself. In bearing our sins, Jesus became the curse – He took our punishment. He also gave us His favor. Now we will never be cut off from God’s family. Our eternity with our Heavenly Father is sure because of Jesus’ death on the cross for you and for me.