It sounds like you are doing well. I am glad to hear that you are feeling better about understanding the two covenants.
To be straightforward, I am not entirely confident in my understanding of why God made the covenants as He did. There are not a lot of Scriptures on this point, but it is an intriguing and instructional thought, even though I have not yet found a firm conclusion.
I do believe God wanted and sought a relationship with Old Testament saints, and even those who preceded the Old Law:
Moses and Micah wrote:You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5-6; see also 10:12-13)
With what shall I come before the LORD, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
What was the point of the Old Law? Paul states it in this way:
Paul wrote:What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
What was the reason for the Old Law? From this passage, it seems that sin
was the primary reason for God's creation of the Old Law. What does that mean? I am not entirely sure, but let's keep reading to see if it will become clearer
Paul wrote:Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin ... (Galatians 3:21-22a)
Well, we do at least know the law was not
given to provide life, because we learn that it is fundamentally impossible for law in general to give life. Why is that? And, why would God provide something that would not work for us?
Paul wrote: But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. (Galatians 3:22-23)
Now we focus on the reason why the law, as revealed through Scripture, has condemned us to sin: So that we might believe! But, believe what? Verse 19 and 22 gave us a clue, but the following verses makes it clear:
Paul wrote:Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:24-27)
The Old Law served as a teacher, guardian, schoolmaster, or pedagogue until we were mature or ready. The Greek word, paidagogos
1) a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood. (Strong's #3807)
But, at what point were we mature or ready? And, ready for what? Paul has already given the answer (Galatians 4:4
): The law was "to bring us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith"
. I guess that without the law, we would not have been able to handle the requirement for belief in Jesus. Now here is where I start having difficulty. Why would that have been a problem? Why would belief in Jesus have been so hard? Currently, I think
there were two fundamental stumbling stones: Christ and justification by faith. Taken together, they point the way to the real problem.
Please notice that this teacher, the Old Law, was not only to bring us to Christ, but it was to enable justification by faith. It was only after this system of justification came, which was founded on Christ, that the teacher's job was done. Why would these two items be difficult for us to accept? I think
part of the answer may lie in the previous verses: Remember the law could not give life. It could not justify us (Galatians 3:21
)! That's what Paul says here, but recall that just previous, Paul stated the law not only could provide life, he stated the conditions:
Paul wrote:Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:12; see also Romans 10:5; Leviticus 18:5)
So, what was the real problem? The law? No, the problem was us
Paul wrote:For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
The problem with the law was never the law. It was us! The law relied on us, because its offer of life was predicated upon our perfect keeping of it. Its justification depended upon us!!! The law offered no provision for any failure, second chances, mercy or forgiveness. That is why Christ and a system of justification by faith in Him had to come. We were too weak obtain the life that the Old Law, or any law promised through perfect keeping of it. But, why? What was the problem? For this, let us go back to the beginning:
Moses wrote:Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6)
Since the beginning, man has been second-guessing God, passing all of God's judgments through a filter, "Does this make sense to me?" We have been offering lip-service to God, saying that we trust Him, but in reality, when push comes to shove, the commands that demand our sacrifice but do not make sense to us, we find some way to excuse and dismiss. This is a failure to trust God, to truly believe in Him and have faith in Him. For some reason, we still think we can do it. We fail to see the horror of our sins and our utter failure to justify ourselves. Here, Paul's other statement regarding the purpose of the law makes sense:
Paul wrote:And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. (Romans 7:10-13)
Even though millions of gallons of blood were spilled during the Old Covenant, it is only at the cross that we see the true terror and destruction of our sins. Only in the spilled blood of our loving, perfect, innocent Creator, "the just for the unjust"
, do we realize what we have done. God made the world and us "good", "straight"
, or "upright"
(Genesis 1:31; Ecclesiastes 7:29
), and later He made the world "crooked"
), so that we might turn and seek Him (Romans 8:20-21
). Even though the world has become a reflection of us, our weakness prohibited us from seeing how sinful our sins truly are.
The Old Law climaxed in the final sacrifice for sin, which expressed not only God's true nature (justice and love), but it also expressed our own: stubbornness, failure, and destruction. And, that is what we did not want to see. We do not mind hearing about love, or even God's justice, assuming it is not directed toward us. We revel in such truths, but to accept our true nature, one that we have chosen - that is a far harder thing.
Christ's sacrifice communicates the weight of our sin. No one can "see" sin. We may see its earthly consequences, but only at the cross do we really see the true cost of our sin without having to personally suffer its eternal consequences. The Old Law, culminated at the cross, makes that apparent. However, it makes one other thing apparent to us, which is well explained in the next paragraph:
Paul wrote:For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:14-24)
Although the logic may be a little difficult, the point is clear: The law made our sins abundantly manifest to us. In light of the law and the cross's presentation of sin, we now have some true sense of the gross weight of our sin, and now we are ready to finally rely upon God, and with Paul we can cry out, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Now, with a crushed, humble, and truly penitent heart we are ready to trust God and have faith in Him (Psalm 51:15-17
). Now, we are ready to be justified by faith. Now we are ready to have a relationship with God.
But, we have relationships with all creatures. We have a spiritual relationship with God as sinner or saint, because He is our Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge - regardless. This is obvious, as I am confident you know. I have said all of this to bring us to this question: "What kind of relationship does God seek?" I dare not try to summarize what is expressed in the sum of Scripture, but surely faith, justice, love, and mercy would be near the top of the list (Matthew 23:23; Micah 6:6-8; I John 4:8, 16
). Observing that reliance upon ourselves is what brought us here, surely faith is crucial, as noted in Scripture (Hebrews 11:6
). It is no surprise that a covenant that justifies us through God (faith), and not through us (works), would encourage a relationship that is built upon trust. The difference in the relationship between the Old and the New might be summed up in this word, "Father". I need to do some more studying on this point, but I do not think the Lord ever adopted this title until the New Covenant. Before, He was always the Existing One (Jehovah), God, or Lord, but never "Father". The father-child relationship may be a key difference. This is also manifested in Jesus calling us "friend" and "brother", although Abraham was called the friend of God previously (II Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23
). There is a closeness, exhibited in disclosure of more, clear information (Matthew 13:16-17; John 15:14-15; I Peter 1:10-12
), but is also exhibited in heightened requirements, requirements that more so try our faith and test our tenderness of heart.
Consider that Jesus eliminated general divorce in the New Law, something that was tolerated under the Old Law:
Matthew wrote:They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matthew 19:7-9)
This is also observed in worship: Many of the carnal aspects of worship, which served as a shadow, have been eliminated, replaced with a truer spiritual form. There is no more temple, incense, feasts, or instrumental music. These things have been replaced with the people of the church, prayer, the Lord's Supper, and singing from the heart (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:16-18; Revelation 5:8; I Corinthians 5:7-8; 11:23-26; Ephesians 5:19
). These newer forms provide little if any gratification to our "flesh", while providing ample nutrition to our "spirit".
Lastly, faith is easily seen in baptism. Who would believe that baptism is connected with our salvation? But, just as God granted Naaman cleansing from his washing in water, so the Lord grants us forgiveness of sins through faith in the waters of baptism (Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 2:37-38; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:1-8
). It does not make sense to me, but I think that may be the point (I Corinthians 1:18-31
). Maybe that why it is called, "justification by faith"?
email wrote:Maybe I have been looking too hard for God - rather than let Him find me.
Luke wrote:"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (Acts 17:26-28)
We can definitely look too hard or not in the right way or the not in the right places, but we definitely need to look.
From every extreme, there is another far removed and equally wrong. This is a trap into which mainstream, Protestant denominations have fallen I believe, in that they teach salvation through faith or grace only. As the old saying goes, too many people ran too hard away from Rome that they did not stop at Zion, but kept on running until they were in Egypt.
I pray you find some value in these meditations. I look forward to hearing from you again.
May God bless us with tender hearts.