Sunday, July 18, 2010

The law, written in stone (DT 27:1-8)

"So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime and write on them all the words of this law... So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime... You shall write on the stones all the words of this law very distinctly." (Deuteronomy 27:2-8)
What is evident about the law is that it is external to man. It is an external imposition upon a man which he is to obey out of his own will, ability, and alacrity. The law cares little about the inward notions of a man but seeks primarily to establish an outward conformance of behavior that is fitting to righteousness. Because the law is external to man, and often contrary to his nature, it is important that he be reminded of it often. This is why God instructed it to be written down, taught daily, and meditated on night and day.
"You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)
The Israelites' greatest danger was that they would forget the law of Moses and depart from what is right and, in their sin, they would be separated from the love, presence, and grace of God. Remembrance of the law was essential for their keeping the law. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." (Joshua 1:8-9)

Unfortunately, as we have previously seen, mankind was unable to keep the external law of God. The perfect law of God is beyond the abilities of man to keep in that mankind has been enslaved by a sinful nature driving them from sin to greater sin. "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh..." (Romans 8:3) Fortunately, God has a plan. It is to write His laws upon the hearts of man, that those laws may be internal not external, that they may change the inside of a man and thus change his outward behavior.
"'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. 'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the Lord, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'" (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Today God is about writing His laws "very distinctly," but not on tablets of stone but rather on the tablets of our hearts. "Being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3) When we receive and obey that word God is writing onto our hearts then we are changed and our change is not some mere outward obedience to some external law but a true and genuine change on the inside and, when one has been truly changed on the inside, for certain their outward behaviors will, in time, change to come into conformance with who they have become on the inside.

David Robison

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