Thursday, August 18, 2016


        Since the days of the early church, believers have struggled with the Jewish Law.  Are we beholden to the 10 commandments, must we keep the Sabbath, can we eat pork and shellfish, are we free to sin all we want because we are under grace?  We ask ourselves, "just what did Jesus mean when he said, 'if you love me you will keep my commands.'?"  What were Christ's commands, anyway?  What about the Jerusalem council?  On and on these questions go.  What we often forget is that God had made a promise to Abraham long before the Law. In fact, when God  covenanted with Abraham, He alluded to Christ, but made no mention of the Law.  

  In Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul writes on this topic and reminds his readers that 430 years before God gave the Law, He made a promise to Abraham concerning his offspring.  God did not make His promise contingent upon some future Law yet to be given, He made this promise of and by Himself.  Galatians 3:16-19  Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.   This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.  Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

      To fully understand this, we have to look at the covenant spoken of in the above passage, we find that in Genesis 15:18-21 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,  the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,   the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."  This is the land blessing made to Abraham. The land promised extends from Egypt to the Euphrates River.
A look at the map above is all we need to see as evidence Israel has never possessed the land promised to Abraham.  Israel did receive land from God, but not anywhere near what was promised to the offspring of Abraham.  
Even at the height of power, under the kingship of David, Israel never came close to possessing the land promised to Abraham's offspring.  

     Paul reveals to us that the offspring referred to is Christ, not the descendants of Abraham known as Israel.  God did make promises to Abraham concerning his descendants, recorded in previous passages, and God makes numerous promises to the nation of Israel concerning future redemption, but in the case of the covenant God made with Abraham concerning the land, the promise was made concerning Christ.  Later in Genesis 26, God reaffirms His promises to Isaac, Abraham's son, both the promise concerning Abraham's descendants and Christ.  

      To truly understand what this land promise represents, we look to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Christ came offering the Kingdom. Matthew 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'   Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom, had Israel accepted Him, He would have ruled over the land promised to Abraham's offspring.  Israel rejected Christ, by representation,(CLICK HERE to see how a nation is destroyed by representation) and we see a marked shift in Christ's message as He stops proclaiming the Kingdom and expands His ministry to Samaria while at the same time, beginning to speak of His impending crucifixion and resurrection.  Matthew 16:21  From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 

     So, we have established the promise to Abraham was concerning Christ, and we, the Church, are the body of Christ. Therefore, we will share in the fulfillment of the land promise during the millennial reign of Christ.  We, the church, are factored into a promise that was made prior to the Law and not nullified by the Law, according to Paul in the Galatians passage above. By logic, we see that the church is not under the Law, neither the 10 commandments, nor the Levitical Law.  Jesus did say, "If you love me, you will keep my commands." We know that Jesus commanded us to love God and love others as our self.  He also commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations.  So, rather than squabbling among ourselves about whether or not we need to observe the Sabbath, we ought to be doing all we can to love God, love others and making disciples.  Loving God and loving others will automatically lead us to obey the 10 commandments, but not for the sake of being obedient, but as a natural expression of love. In other words, in loving God and loving others, obedience to the 10 commandments becomes inadvertent.  

     Before someone argues that we can please God by loving, we must remember that Hebrews 11:6 tells us "without faith, it is impossible to please God." and Jesus told us that He was the only way to the Father, so without Christ, we cannot love God or please Him.  

     Where does all this leave the nation of Israel?  God did make promises concerning His chosen people.  God has promised to redeem His people, He has promised to shepherd over them in the restored Kingdom and He has promised to forgive them all their transgressions.   I have written extensively on this topic and you can find some of my posts HERE , HERE , and HERE 

     In light of Galatians 3, we should no longer wast time on matters of the Law as they pertain to the believer in Christ. Instead, we should be focused on what Jesus told us to do, love God, love others, make disciples.  If we were busy doing this, we would find great fulfillment and peace.

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