The first 2,000 years or two great Days in God’s timetable are distinguished by: (1) the cutting of the covenant with Abraham to ensure a godly line from which the Seed would come forth; and (2) the establishment of the Israelites as a nation under God. Now it’s time for stage two of the early Days.
God’s people have gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai to hear from God. The awesome display of His holiness frightens them. Perhaps they are remembering how they have fallen short during the Exodus from Egypt. They would rather God talk with Moses and let their leader relay God’s messages to them. Apparently, they still do not grasp God’s love for them. They reject a personal relationship with Him. God responds with the Ten Commandments, the foundation of what shall become known as the Law.
When we think of the Old Testament, most Christians think of the Law. Yet the Law did not come until 2,000 years later, two great Days after creation and the establishment of the covenant relationship with Adam and Eve. The ceremonial elements of the Law were added after God’s people entered the Promised Land.
So what purpose did the Law serve? Once again Paul tells us: “It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). Now assured of what God requires of them, the people are convinced that “all that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient” (Ex. 24:7). The rest of the Old Testament shall prove them wrong.
The Law set the standard for living God’s ways. Even then, the standard was beyond what fallen, corrupted, imperfect human beings could fulfill. The purpose of the Law was to show mankind that we fall short and that no matter how strong we think we are, we can’t live righteously through our own efforts. The Law also served as a sort of boundary line, keeping the Israelites from totally following after the immoral, heathen nations around them.
When Jesus came, He took it even further. He explained that it’s not just the letter of the Law but also the spirit of the Law that matters. It is not enough to not murder someone—that’s the letter of the law. But what matters is the spirit of the law—don’t hate a fellow human being.
The Chronos Lesson: We can trust the entire plan from beginning to end. Jesus told us that He did not come to destroy or dislodge the Law or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). The standard still remains—we still fall short. Jesus went on to say—and this is the crucial part—that He came to fulfill the Law. He was the only human who perfectly kept the Law. And that’s not all.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Rom. 3:21-22). In other words, Jesus kept the Law on behalf of all humanity. His perfectness and right-standing (righteousness) before God is attributed to us by God’s grace.
The theological term is propitiation. It means to satisfy the person who has been wronged in order to make reconciliation possible. In this case, Adam and Eve wronged God through their disobedience that brought sin and death into God’s perfect creation. Jesus’ willing sacrifice on behalf of all mankind made reconciliation possible with God. The catch? This reconciliation is a gift that has to received and opened.
Romans 3 goes on to say that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Thankfully, the sentence doesn’t end there. It goes on to say that anyone can be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. All that is required is for the person to: (1) admit that he or she has fallen short and are therefore in need of a Savior; and (2) accept Jesus’ finished work on his or her behalf as the only way to be reconciled to God.
The giving of the Law was a momentous moment in the Old Covenant. The giving of the Son on the cross would be a momentous moment in the New Covenant. Jesus knew He was the Son of God, yet He would always refer to Himself as the Son of Man. He would forever identify with us. There’s no greater love than this that a Man would lay down His life for us!
The Apostle John describes this as receiving grace upon grace. “For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-18). The truth is that we fall short of the Standard. The grace is that we can still have the gift of righteousness, forgiveness, and justification through Jesus. The Law came to show us God’s standard. The Standard came to show us God. He came to show us how to be light in a darkened world. We can only do that when we walk in His Light.