Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Gift of the Law (Romans 9:4-5)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Romans, nine versus four and five. They are Israelites and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises. To Them Belong the Patriarchs and from their way race, according to the Flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. You may be seated. When I was in high school, my orchestra that I was playing with had an opportunity to go to Washington DC. It was the first trip that I had beyond, I think, a short trip to California. I'm out of the state, and it was really exciting, not the traveling and all of that, but I was particularly excited about seeing the things that people often go to DC to see, the memorials, the museums, the various monuments. When you go and you see these things, you go and you look at these things to remember something, to learn about some thing, to have impressed in your mind and your heart various important things to us as Americans, things that tell us something about who we are as a people. Maybe it's the sacrifices that soldiers have made, maybe it's certain presidents and things that they have done, certain buildings which tell us about our form of government, all kinds of different things. Well, many ways, what Paul is doing here in Romans nine, versus four and five is taking us on a tour of various monuments. He's showing to us these important things in Israel's history that mark them as the people of God. These various things are similar and that they remind us of their special status and they remind us of who Israel is and, ultimately, who we are as Abraham's children through faith in Christ. In this way we, even though we are in some ways strangers in this land we are, of also become citizens as those who have been joined into Israel through Jesus. We have these monuments, as are monuments, they belong to us, they become part of our history, and this is what Paul has been doing, and we're on the fourth of these now of our tour in Israel. I'm first he pointed us to the adoption in which we were minded, that God brought...

...this people to that himself, not just as a lord and Creator, but as their father, as one who is going to make them his heirs, was going to give them promises, give them gifts. Well, this adoption we saw also belong to it a glory, which was the second of these monuments. God shows to his son, Israel, his own glory. He manifests himself and these marvelous and spectacular ways, he shows them his majesty, His power, has might, all of his perfections in this very glorious way. This was accomplished, we saw, at the third monument, through a series of covenants, all guaranteed and granted by His grace. And we saw that these covenants began like a little stream in genesis three, after the fall, and it expanded and expanded and grew and grew into a mighty river until we reached the New Covenant Abraham, Moses, David and finally Jesus, that God's promises, his the promises that came to them in adoption, the promises of glory in Him, would accomplished through these relationships that he made with them. Well, today we come to the fourth of these. First to the Israelites belong adoption. Then glory than the covenants, and today we consider the giving of the law. We drive up on our tour of us, we all walk out and we say, will tell us about this one. How are we to understand the giving of the law to Israel. What difference does that make for us? He has in mind particularly that, particularly this particular aspect of the Covenant of Grace Under Moses, when the people went to Mount Sinai after being brought out of Egypt, and God threat God threatened and promised great things in the giving of his law last night. If you were here in Tucson I, I expect most of us were, I'm you saw the lightning storm, didn't you? It was fantastic. More than one a second. You had multiple lightning strikes every moment. We weren't in the middle of it, but we were watching it and we could see the light for I don't know, an hour or more, constantly flashing, constantly flashing. This is something of what happened on Mount Sinai. The descriptions that are given in the scripture describe this cloud DEC ending down on this mountain, with lightning striking and things flashing and wins roaring. As God gave the law to his people. We were telling our children it's not time to go outside right now, it's a dangerous time here. God manifested himself on this mountain, not just...

...in the lightning, but in his voice, in the giving of the law, all of these natural things to underscore the fact that he was giving them to something, something to them, of great importance, and it had a certain amount of threat to it, but also blessings that were promised for obedience. What was this gift? Are we right to consider it as a gift if it's so threatening? What were its purposes and how do we how are we to think about it? This is what we want to consider today, but first I want to clear away of an objection. How can the law be a gift when it's not good? What do I mean by this? Well, some people don't like the word law or rules. They're kind of offensive. If you say I want to tell you about some new rules, we sort of sometimes chafe at that. Some people chafe at that a law. They view themselves as totally autonomous, as answerable to no one, and so any talk about laws or rules is immediately offensive. The idea that somebody would give a gift of law doesn't really make a lot of sense to them, because they don't like rules. They think it restricts their freedom. They they push up against it. So to have this thesis that God gave these laws to Israel, and this was a blessing and a gift. How can that be? Well, to not like rules in principle, to not like laws in principle, is kind of like a fish saying it doesn't like water, or like a hawk saying it doesn't like air currents. Saying this restricts me to being a hawk or this restricts me to being a fish. That's, of course, silly. The principles of gravity and air pressure and water and oxygen and Gills and all these kinds of things are the lifeblood. They are the environment in which a fish lives, a hawk lives, and the same is true for us as creatures, not just in a physical sense but in a moral sense as well. We live under a particular kind of law, physical laws, moral laws, and that's a good thing when it goes well. It's a great thing when it goes well, and you might think about this by just imagining for something for a moment. Imagine a society in which a perfect law is given. We often don't like laws and rules because they're not given well. You might have rules at work that you feel are micromanaging you or kind of ridiculous or just hoops to jump through. They're not...

...thought out well, you think, perhaps, but imagine a society in which that's not the case, in which there's not a single law or rule that is unfair, not a single law that is biased in some way or that creates a negative situation, law that is perfectly made. So you have this perfect set of laws, nothing you could complain about. Everything would be good and protecting and honorable. Now imagine that this perfect law in this society was not only perfectly made, but it was fairly applied, perfectly applied in every instance, that it wasn't as though some people got away with breaking the rules and other people didn't, or that when you broke the law you received a harder penalty and then you deserved that would be very good. Would in it a perfectly perfect law, perfectly applied. But let's take it a step further. Imagine a society, idea where there's not just a perfect law and it's perfectly applied, but that everyone obeyed it, that there wasn't any problem with fairness in justice because everyone obeyed it. No one steals, no one lies, no one murders, no one commits adultery. Everyone worships perfectly according to the will of God. Does this sound oppressive to you? We live in our houses and we lock our doors and we have security systems and create shading and all kinds of things to protect ourselves against lawbreakers. We live in a society and we will always live in a world where we are constantly recognizing the fact that there are people who break the laws, people who might want to hurt us, people who might want to offend us or take our things. Imagine where you didn't have to worry about that. Imagine a society where you didn't have to lock the door and you leave your car key's in the car because it's a lot more convenient. Why would you take them inside every time when everyone's following the law? When you imagine this perfect society, you begin to see that it's not the law that's the problem. It's not a law against theft that's the problem. It's the thieves that are the problem. Blum, we don't chafe against rules if they're good rules, or at least we shouldn't. We shouldn't be upset with rules and laws. We should be upset with rule breakers. We should be upset with unfair laws this is why we have objections to laws, this is why we feel like our rights are being impinged upon, because they sometimes are. But here in Romans Nine, when...

God talks about giving his law to Israel, he's not talking about that kind of law. He's not talking about a God who just arbitrarily throws this thing and that thing out, who's not good, who's not holy, who doesn't apply things rightly. We're talking about a good law. We're talking about a glow. That was a given, I'm to a people. It was a gift. The law was a gift and, as we see a throughout the Bible it's spoken of that way in many different ways. Let's think about that now. How was the law a gift? What are the specific ways in which it was a good thing? Well, the first thing you might say is that it was a part of the formation of God's people. It was the fulfillment of his promises to Abraham. Imagine, for example, you were adopted into a household. You're adopted into a household and then your new father says to you, well, there's no rules here and simply walks out of the back door and you never see him again. Would that really be belonging to a family. Of course not. Each and every one of our families here, represented here and throughout the world, has a set of rules. Right. Some of them are common among our families, some of them are very particular. In your family, perhaps hopefully in all of our families. We have rules about not stealing, not lying, these kinds of things, but maybe you have particular rules in your family. You leave your shoes at the door or you leave them in the closet, or maybe there's certain words that you use or words that you don't use. are certain jokes or phrases that are appropriate at sometimes but not others. There's all these particular rules that we have in our families, and that's true when God adopted his people as well. It wouldn't make much sense, it wouldn't be all that special if God brought them in and there were no house rules, if there were no nothing that was particular to them as a people. What I'm saying, in other words, is that when God adopted them, when God brought this people and said you are special to me. I will be your God and you will be we're of my people, you will be a son and I will be your father. His laying down of the rules, his explaining to them how he wanted to the limb to live was a part of that blessing. It was a part of belonging, it was a part of knowing him as father. Israel was put in God's house. They were adopted and brought in, and that's why I'm in various portions of scripture we get language like this and Psalm one, verse two. Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. It's...

...a good thing, isn't it? A child in a house who considers the law or the rules of the house, who thinks about them and desires to please his parents or her parents. It's a good thing, isn't it? It's a good relationship and those children are typically very happy children. There's a good relationship there. Blessed is the man who delights in these things. Or consider some one hundred and twelve. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments. There are effects that happen when you follow God's law. Listen to the as Psalm one twelve continues. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments, his offspring will be mighty in the land. The Generation of the upright will be left blessed, wealth and riches are in his house and his righteousness endures forever. Light Dawns in the Darkness for the upright. He is Gracious, merciful and Righteous. See what God is saying, he says. But one who delights in the law of the Lord is the one who will live long in the land, who will have wealth and riches, who will be righteous. This is good right. When God gives the law to Israel, he's giving them not only a good law, but good effects that flow out from obedience to the law. This delight in the law of the Lord. These effects are expressed in a prayer in Psalm one hundred and nineteen, verse Thirty Five. David says, lead me in the path of Your Commandments, for I delight in it. Psalm one hundred and nineteen in many ways is a confession about God's law, a way of understanding what it is and and how it is. David says. Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in your ways. Let me ask you this. When you consider your relationship up to God, do you consider his laws? Do you think about his rules? Do you think about the house rules as a Christian, the obligations that you have? And when you think about them, what's your main heart reaction? Do you get annoyed and offended? Do you feel condemnation and guilt? Do you delight? Do you say I love to delight in the Lord's Commands, I love to hear his laws. I asked him to incline my heart to his testimonies and not to selfish gain. Is Obedience to the Lord for you, a pleasurable thing? It was for David. It was a joy...

...for him, a great delight, and it's part of what it means to know God, has savior and to follow his laws. And in all of this we see what a gift it was. It brought about good effects. It was a delightful thing, a pleasurable thing, a thing that was good in itself. Now let's think about the purpose. Having considered that it is a gift, what was the purpose of this gift? Kids all, let you in on a hint. That you probably already know, when your parents are looking at your Chris mislifts or birthday lists, they're thinking something in their mind. They're thinking what purpose can which? Which of these gifts will most accomplish my purposes? So they're at if they're asking, perhaps how can I inspire you, as my child, to pursue studies, for example, in this thing or that thing? Or maybe they're asking what will bring them the most delight of all of these gifts, what's going to make them the happiest? And they're thinking about we think about these things. We say, what can I give that's on this lets, that's going to make them the most happy or the most inspired to learn more science or do more math or practice your instrument more? As parents, we think about purposes. What's going to bring them comfort? What's going to help you the most? Well, God's the same way when he gives these gifts to his people. He has these purposes in mind. So what's God's purpose for the law? There's so many of them. One is to train them in holiness and righteousness. Another is to bring them close. God is a holy God, a good God, and he wants this people to be close to him and so he gives them as law, as he tells them, this is how you are to be holy. This is how you are to be righteous, and when you are this way, we will be close with one another. Sometimes a kid's maybe you've been in a situation where you kind of say with your parents, I don't know what to do, I'm not sure what's going to make them most happy. Maybe mom tells you to do one thing, dad tells you to do another. In your cotton a moment you say, uh, what do I do? How do I please my parents in this situation? God tells us his law, and he tells it in a way that's not divided, ever, so that we can be close to him, so that we can know how we can please him. He gives us his law to protect US kids. When your parents say, when you're very little, they say, hold my hand when we're in a parking lot, it's because we've heard stories and we know people who have died in parking lots and we don't want you,...

...our children, to suffer the same kind of thing. The laws and the rules are there to not just train you and teach you and bring you close, but to protect you and guard you. The same with God the rules that he gives us to protect them, to guard them. But God also gives his law for a very special reason that's very different between than between parents and children. He gives it to anticipate something. He gives them this gift so that they would begin to anticipate another gift. Maybe you've had this at Christmas time. You Open up one present and you realize this is just part one of two. For example, maybe you open a present and you find a bunch of train cars and you realize these go on a track and you look over and there's a giant box and you go that must be the track. That's something of what God does when he gives the law. He gives this part one present to anticipate the part two that's coming. He brings them into this kingdom in this kind of temporary way to anticipate a kingdom that will be eternal and everlasting. God's main goal isn't ultimately have us all packed into Israel, shoulder to shoulder, billions of people living under the law that he gave under Moses. God's goal is to create a new heavens and a new earth and which we will all live forever under his perfect and Eternal Law, in righteousness and holiness. That's what this little kingdom here under Moses points US tour. It's what Israel was pointed toward and it's what we is gentiles are also pointed toward. So we're considering this gift of God's law, what it means to live in his kingdom, what it means to belong to his house as adopted children. Now, all this sounds very good, and indeed it is, as I've been saying, but sin has to be taken into the picture. And when you take it into the picture, when you consider what it was to live in this kingdom under this law, but with sin, the law changes in a way, not because God changes the law and says, well, now I want you to do this or that. It changes as it relates to us. It changes how we feel about it. The law becomes heavy, it becomes a burden what was good. Sin Comes into the picture and all of a sudden turns the law into a form of bondage and slavery. Listen to what Paul says in Roman seven. I'll remind...

...you of these things that we covered a while back. Paul says in Roman seven he asked this question. Is the law. Sin Is the law, and evil, bad, morally bad thing that God has done. And he says by no means. And then he makes this point. Paul says yet it if had not, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. He says that we know our sin because the law is there. Sin Comes in when God says I want you to do this. That parts good, the commandment's good, but it's our sin that that challenges that, that makes the law bad in a sense, bad to us. In a way. It's when we get our discipline that we say, I don't like this law, I don't like this rule, but the rule is not the PROBLEMM'. The SIN is the problem. If we take our discipline well, if Israel took her discipline well, she would have said, and she did at times, forgive us our sin. We have sinned against you, we have broken your good and holy law. If you don't take your discipline well, which is real also didn't. Did you say, why are you doing this to us? Why are you punishing us? We don't like this law, we don't want this anymore. This good thing they were calling bad. Now this is not an accident. That burden of the law, the weight of the law as it exposes sins because of its goodness, was on purpose. God gave the law on purpose to do this. God gave a rule and a set of rules to his people so that they would feel that, so that they would know the weight of their sin. It might compare to like Tom Adam in the garden God. You remember, before eve was created, God took Adam and he parated the animals before him and he gave him this great blessing to name the animals, to rule over them. And you remember what happens in that. Adam comes to realize where's mine? Where's my partner? All of these animals are paired. All of these animals have partners. I have no one who belongs to me. You see what God does there? He gives Adam a gift which is good and of itself, but it's also good in that it exposes something. It exposes an that's why it's part one. Part two of this gift is when God gave Eve to Adam and Adam says, yes, this is good, this is very good. I have a helper, I have a friend, I...

...am complete. Now this is what God does, in a sense, with the law. He gives the law so that we would say something is wrong here, something is not right. The thing that's not right isn't the law, it's our sin in us. It's that God says to Israel here, obey this law perfectly and you will have this great kingdom. How is Israel to respond to that? We can't obey it perfectly. There's sin in us and we need a savior. We need your grace, we need your forgiveness. This is exactly what Paul says in glacians three. In glacians three he asks why then, the law? Why was the law given? Why did God give this gift? And he says it was added because of transgressions, he says. Continuing down, he says, for if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture imprisoned everything undersins so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. He says that the law served as a Guardian in Verse Twenty Four. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith this term Guardian is kind of like teacher or pedagogue. The law came in. It came into the world on God's people so that the God's people and all the world looking at them would see this one thing. Humans cannot obey. The law is perfect, the law is good, God is good, it's all set up right, but humans cannot obey. They can't. They didn't. Instead of inheriting this great kingdom, instead of ruling and reigning forever, they were kicked out of the land. They lost all of the promised blessings and gained all the promised curses. But, as I say, God didn't give the law to shame these people. He didn't give the law to embarrass them and say, Haha, look how sinful you are, I showed you. He gave them the law to teach US something, to be our Guardian until Jesus Christ would come. And you know what Jesus does? He fulfills the law perfectly. He takes on the curse of the law, that curse for disobedience, and he takes it on himself and then he distributes to us all the blessings that come from obedience to the law. He stands in our place...

...and says these people cannot do this, they cannot obey, though they must, and so I will obey for them and instead of them suffering all the punishments for disobedience, I will suffer it for them. And then I will give to them all the blessings that David was talking about. Wealth, riches of blessings, to offspring, life forever and eternal kingdom. I will give it to them. Jesus says, not only does this, not only does he fulfill the law, not only does he take on the curse, not only does he distribute the blessings, but then he changes our hearts. He changes our hearts so that we rise up from our deadness and slavery and bondage to sin and we say, make me a servant. I'm no longer running away from the law, I'm no longer for it, fleeing the light so that I can hide my sins and fight against God. No, I walk into his court room and I say, Lord, you've saved me, you've forgiven me, you've changed me. Here I am. What would you like me to do? You've given me gifts, you've changed my heart. I am a servant. I'm thinking about your law. I'm meditating on your law, I'm delving on your law and I am ready put me to work. That's what the Christian says, just like David said, he delights in the law because he knows God's grace. You remember, David sinned very greatly against the law. He committed murder, he committed adultery, he was foolish and did terrible things, but his heart was cleansed, he was forgiven of his sins, and so he stood up as that one with faith in these promises and desired to walk in the newness of life. So when we look at this monument of life in Israel, of what it means to be an adopted child of God, this giving of the law that he gave to them under Moses, we see this and we see what God has done. Were reminded of this great work of salvation, that he gave them the law so that they might see their need for Jesus and that they might go to Jesus for salvation, Die with him, ray be raised with him and then walk in the newness of life. Paul says that we are relised East from the law...

...in Roman seven having died to that which held us captive so that we might serve in the new way of the spirit and not in the old way of the written code. So add when you look at the Old Testament, when you look at Mount Sinai, you see that its flame is quenched. You see Christ on the cross, risen for you. You see this one who has fulfilled the law on your behalf. You see the goodness of God, The holiness of God, the requirements that have been met for you and the standard by which we are called to live. We find in the law, surprisingly through Jesus Christ, hope and forgiveness and blessing and grace. And when we see this, just as when you see a grand monument, you should walk away changed. You should walk away as a person who sees things in a different light. You should walk away as a person who desires to delight in the law of God, to serve him with all that is in you and to know the grace that you have in Jesus. May God grant these things to us. Let us pray.

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