Friday, April 10, 2015

Laws for a Lawless People

I covered Genesis 29-Numbers 8 in this week's reading. It was interesting to again read all the "rules" God laid out for His people. God didn't institute laws and commands for other people like He did for the nation of Israel. You come to the end of reading Exodus and Leviticus and you wonder if the Israelites had any time to "just live" with all the laws about restitution, slaves, social justice, Sabbath practices, feasts and fesitivals, temple building, endless sacrifices (I always wondered how they didn't run out of bulls, sheep, goats, and oxen!), offerings, clean and unclean animals, purification, sickness, atonement, relationships, diets, property, redemption, and numerous other categories.

Some of the first listed commands God gave His people was the night of the first Passover. He instructed them carefully on how to prepare the lamb and other food, and how to put the blood of the Lamb on the sides and top of the door if they wanted their firstborn spared from death. The Israelites obeyed these commands and their children were spared. But even though they saw the rewards of obedience many times, they also later found out the consequences of disobedience, for time and time again they turned from serving God to worship other gods.Yet, God chose them, an unruly people, and gave them His rules. He knew they couldn't keep them, but that showed them their dependency on God and paved the way for a needed Savior.

And in the middle of all the rules, you see the words "I am the LORD" or "because I am holy". The rules were given, not to hem them in unnecessarily, but to show the nation of Israel that they were set apart from the rest of the nations. They were called to be holy, as God was holy, because He chose them. Because He made them in the image of Himself. And though they defaced that image repeatedly, grace did come. The law showed them that they deserved to die--they could not keep the law even though their life depended on it. They were dead in their sin, but they had faith in God and looked for the day when the promise of their Savior would come. And He did, but not in their time.

The law was good, for it showed sin, but when Christ came, He fulfilled the law. That is why today we live under grace. Not grace to sin, but grace to become holy. That is why we're free from sin and death. That's where there is no condemnation. We've been released from the law, to live under grace. Grace binds us to a merciful God, not permitting sin, but destroying it, and holding us captive to the One who rescued us. We couldn't keep the law any more than the Israelites could, but we have a Mediator and a Savior who could and did. And He provided the life we needed to conquer the death of sin and be holy as He is holy.

Free from the law—oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Children of God—oh, glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

But now are we released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
(Romans 7:6)

2 comments:

  1. I always wondered how they didn't run out of animals too! :)

    I think I've been slowly grasping in our study of Moses' life in BSF, just how central worship was to the Israelites. I've always wondered how they had any life outside of it--any rest. But that was their life, and the tabernacle was the center of the camp, and they were thinking of worship requirements constantly. A lot different from our Western culture today. But still a challenge to make worship a central part of our daily rhythm.

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    1. Good point. Later on in the NT, we can see just how caught up in the commands and rules they got--forgetting to live God from the heart, not just from actions. Just like we get so distracted by the life around us that we forget to rest in Christ. No wonder they were given as an example for us. :P

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