Thursday, July 15, 2010

So what happened? (DT 26:16-19)

"This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken." (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)
The Mosaic covenant was a covenant between God and the Jewish people that, if they would obey His commandments and live according to all of His laws, then He would be their God and they His people and He would make them a nation to be desired and praised. They would be above all other nations; the head and not the tail; and they would be the joy of the whole earth. Unfortunately, while Israel did experience times of greatness, her end was in dispersion and captivity. In the end, God divorced His nation Israel and terminated His covenant with them. "I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce." (Jeremiah 3:8)

So what happened? How is it that a nation founded on so great promises made by a covenant keeping God would fail to obtain all the benefits and blessing of that covenant and instead fail all together? The problem was not in the promises or with the God who made those promises, the problem was with the people. Joshua understood the problem when he told the people, "You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you." (Joshua 24:19-20) The truth is that, no matter how great the promises or righteous the laws, in our hearts we are unable to keep and observe what God commands us. Unregenerate man, with his sinful nature, cannot and will not obey God. "Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7-8)

Trying to keep the law is a dead end. Paul reminds us that, "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight." (Romans 3:20) No matter how hard we try to keep the law we will never be able to live sin free; we will never achieve the level of righteous required to inherit the promises and blessings of God. Trying to obtain righteousness via the law will never work. What we need is another way to achieve righteousness. Fortunately, God has made just such a provision. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) God has made provision through His Son that, for those who believe and live in Him, they will fulfill all righteousness and will inherit the promises and blessings of God. "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:21-23) Let us stop trying to establish our own righteousness by attempting to keep the law and, instead, let us find true righteousness though faith in Christ Jesus.
"What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works." (Romans 9:30-32)
David Robison

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