Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From Moses to Christ - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"It is He also who teaches Moses to act as instructor. For the Lord says, 'If any one sin before Me, him will I blot out of My book; but now, go and lead this people into the place which I told thee.' Here He is the teacher of the art of instruction. For it was really the Lord that was the instructor of the ancient people by Moses; but He is the instructor of the new people by Himself, face to face." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
Instruction was not wanting before the advent of Christ, however, it was an instruction through the agency of a mediator. For while God instructed Moses who then instructed the people, now God instructs us face-to-face having taken away our intermediator and having appeared Himself to take away our sins and to lead us into the right path. Having been brought into right relations with God, we are now instructed by God, face-to-face, as a father to his child. No more must we depend in the intermediation of another, for we can approach God directly for whatever we might need.
"For the same who is Instructor is judge, and judges those who disobey Him; and the loving Word will not pass over their transgression in silence. He reproves, that they may repent. For 'the Lord willeth the repentance of the sinner rather than his death.' And let us as babes, hearing of the sins of others, keep from similar transgressions, through dread of the threatening, that we may not have to undergo like sufferings... Who, then, would train us more lovingly than He? Formerly the older people had an old covenant, and the law disciplined the people with fear, and the Word was an angel; but to the fresh and new people has also been given a new covenant, and the Word has appeared, and fear is turned to love, and that mystic angel is born—Jesus. For this same Instructor said then, 'Thou shalt fear the Lord God;' but to us He has addressed the exhortation, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
There is no instruction without rebuke. While one may teach without regard to the obedience of their students, the goal if instruction is obedience by those who are instructed. Instruction calls us into obedience to the one instructing us and, when obedience is lacking, instruction provides adequate rebuke and discipline to restore us back to obedience and the right way. Under the Old Covenant, obedience was secured by fear; fear of rejection by God, fear of capital punishment, and fear of being excommunicated from the life of Israel. However, under the New Covenant, our obedience is secured by love; God's love for our and our love for Him. The law was a hash task master, requiring obedience before acceptance, yet Jesus is the loving Son of God who, after loving and accepting us, prompts us to obedience through our love for Him.
"Now the law is ancient grace given through Moses by the Word. Wherefore also the Scripture says, 'The law was given through Moses,' not by Moses, but by the Word, and through Moses His servant. Wherefore it was only temporary; but eternal grace and truth were by Jesus Christ. Mark the expressions of Scripture: of the law only is it said 'was given;' but truth being the grace of the Father, is the eternal work of the Word; and it is not said to be given, but to be by Jesus, without whom nothing was." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
We often don't think of the Law as being a form of grace. We may even think of the Law as something evil, enslavish, and separate from the love of God. However, this is not the case. The Law was given through the grace of God to teach us what is right and good and to prepare us for the coming Christ. God's grace, or favor, was shown to His chosen people in that they were chosen to receive His law. Paul writes, "who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 9:4-5) and "But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully" (1 Timothy 1:8) The Law is good an holy, but it also represents a temporary grace. The Law "was given" while the grace Jesus brings is who He is. One is given for a time and one remains forever. Thus, Moses speaks of another Instructor to come:
"'A prophet,' says he, 'like Me shall God raise up to you of your brethren,' pointing out Jesus the Son of God... 'Him shall ye hear;' and, 'The man who will not hear that Prophet,' him He threatens. Such a name, then, he predicts as that of the Instructor, who is the author of salvation. Wherefore prophecy invests Him with a rod, a rod of discipline, of rule, of authority; that those whom the persuasive word heals not, the threatening may heal; and whom the threatening heals not, the rod may heal; and whom the rod heals not, the fire may devour." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
As our eternal Instructor, Jesus comes with a full complement of tools to instruct, train, discipline, and direct: He persuades, He warns, He disciplines, and, if need be, He judges. All this that He might train a generation of righteous sons and daughters.
"For to be chastised of the Lord, and instructed, is deliverance from death. And by the same prophet He says: 'Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron.' Thus also the apostle, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, being moved, says, 'What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, in the spirit of meekness?' Also, 'The Lord shall send the rod of strength out of Sion,' He says by another prophet. And this same rod of instruction, 'Thy rod and staff have comforted me,' said some one else. Such is the power of the Instructor—sacred, soothing, saving." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
What a loving God who does not withhold anything meant for our benefit. How great is His commitment to our instruction that even when we are not willing He is still willing. What a great and loving Instructor we have.

David Robison

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