Originally posted at a biblical perspective in August 2007.
Previously: the righteousness that is of faith, part two
We saw that granting anyone right standing before God — righteousness — was never the Law’s purpose, and that Jesus hinted that the scribes and the Pharisees misunderstood Moses about this point (Mat 5:20). Paul, in fact, does not even hint it, but boldly says that Israel was completely ignorant of it (Rom 10:3)!
So I started searching the Law to see what it said about itself, and whether it stated its purpose. What I found surprised me. First of all, I discovered that the Lord was very clear about the purpose of the Law, stating why He had given it in the Law itself. And secondly, He repeated the same message so many times and in so many ways (I assume to be certain not to be misunderstood) that the references to them are far too numerous to list.
But here is a stab at it (I highlighted the purpose part of each verse):
“So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am YHVH.” Lev 18:5
“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which YHVH, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” Deu 4:1
“So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which YHVH your God is giving you for all time.” Deu 4:40
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which YHVH your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear YHVH your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as YHVH, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” Deu 6:1-3
“So YHVH commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear YHVH our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.” Deu 6:24
“And now, Israel, what does YHVH your God require of you, but to fear YHVH your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve YHVH your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of YHVH, which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deu 10:12-13
“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey YHVH your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, YHVH your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey YHVH your God.” Deu 28:1-2
And there are many, many more which say essentially the same thing (I am in the process of compiling a list of all I can find). The pattern I began to see repeating over and over again, is that we are to obey the Lord’s commandments so that we will have life, length of days, blessings, so that good would happen to us and to our children and our children’s children after us. If you study every instance in which the Law gives a reason for obedience, you will find a common theme running through it all:
Obedience to the Lord’s commandments gives physical life to those who adhere to it.
All that promotes health, prosperity, well- being, and happiness — all that is necessary for the life of the body — will abound to those who obey the commandments of the Lord as contained in the Law. I began to see that Moses and Jesus were not at cross purposes at all. Moses gave the Law which gives physical life to those who obey it, and Jesus gave Himself for our sins so that we might have spiritual life!
Then why does Paul say that the purpose of the Law was to guard us until Christ came (Gal 3:23)? Those who do not have physical life cannot inherit spiritual life. The people who lived in Noah’s day were wiped out – they died, i.e. ceased to have physical life — because of their great wickedness. The Canaanites were wiped out as a people because of their great wickedness. A people who, because of wickedness, cannot survive on the planet, will not be around to inherit spiritual life through Jesus when He is come. Only those who are physically alive, after all, can hear the gospel — that righteousness is of faith — and respond to it to receive spiritual life!
So now that we have spiritual life, do we need to obey the Law any longer? To be continued …
Continued in written on hearts instead of stone.