Shelf Life of the Law
Heavenly Father, when things are dark, let what You have done for me in Jesus Christ be a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.
Read Galatians 3:15-22
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Advent is about waiting, looking, hoping. The Old Testament People of God looked for the Seed, the Deliverer. We look and yearn for the Returning Triumphant Lord.
A church I know has a pair of stained-glass windows representing the Old Testament and the New. Their names are “Law” and “Love.” Christians sometimes draw a very stark contrast between these two phases of God’s work, yet Paul sees continuity too. He sees the Old Testament as a story without an ending, yearning for a promise that waits beyond the horizon. The Old Testament is thirst; the New is water. The story of Abraham in Genesis is part of Israel’s longing for a “seed,” a coming son who would make God’s grace seem real in an intense and new way. In him God’s promise would be fulfilled. Hope would take flesh, and, as we read yesterday, the blessing of Abraham would reach out to the families of the world.
The Law that Moses brought, a few centuries after Abraham, could not deliver that hope. The Law had a purpose, certainly. It was given “because of transgressions” (19). It named and defined sin and pointed plainly and positively towards right patterns of conduct, but it carried a built-in frustration, because rigorous law is always difficult to obey. This seems to be what Paul means by “a curse” (Gal. 3:10). Israel’s journey with the Law had proved a wayward and winding road, rather than a straight and sure path. Her history had included disaster as well as delight. Now the “curse” had been lifted—absorbed and nullified by the death of Jesus (Gal. 3:13).
Paul thinks of God’s purposes moving on, not from law to love, but from a provisional arrangement to a longer-term and firmer promise. The Law was given “until the Seed… had come” (19). Now its job was done and the boundary it had put around Israel was being broken open by the Good News of Jesus.
Were there stages in your walk with God from which it was right to move on? Did anyone get to know God better as a result?
Lord, in this broken and shattered world, may the Good News of the Gospel do its healing, reconciling work.
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