The Rule of Law: First Things (23)
Click here to watch a brief video introducing this week’s study. This week’s video is the same as for lesson 2.
“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you – ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’”Deuteronomy 6.1-3
God’s redemption of His people is grounded in the covenant He declared to Abraham (Ex. 2.24, 25). The covenant in which God gave His Law is neither different from, nor did it nullify, the covenant in which He gave His promises (Gal. 4.15-18). The covenant with Moses is an extension of the covenant with Abraham; therefore, as a people redeemed by grace, we need to understand how the Law and the promises relate.
The promises to Abraham (Abram) are “exceedingly great and precious” (2 Pet. 1.4). They include being blessed by God and being a blessing to the peoples of the world, and may be summarized by the phrase, “I will be your God, and you will be My people” (Gen. 12.1-3).
The land of Canaan was intended as the preliminary staging-ground for the unfolding drama of God’s promises of blessing with His people. Thus, the Law of God continually pointed the people of Israel forward to their occupation of that land, with hints and glimpses of the fulfillment of all that God had promised them (cf. Deut. 28.1-14). In the land, Israel was to understand, it would go well with them, they would live long and be protected from enemies, and the blessings of God would abound in everything to which they put their hands.
But realizing these promises, and the promise of their redemption, depended upon their knowing and obeying the Law of God.
Thus, in addition to the knowledge of God as Lord, Redeemer, and Sovereign, the Law also keeps the promises of God before the minds of His people as the reward they can expect to enjoy for obedience. God has redeemed us in order to bless us, just as He promised so long ago. And the way into those promises, and of becoming firmly rooted in them, is through obedience to God’s Law. We do not earn God’s favor by our obedience; rather, by our obedience we enter more fully into the Lord and His promised blessing and Presence.
The promises of God are intended merely as a token of Israel’s true reward: God Himself is Israel’s – and our – great reward, as He had promised to Abram (Gen 15.1). As the people of God enjoyed the blessings that came from obedience, Israel would know the even greater joy of the presence of God in their midst (Ps. 16.11). By their obedience they could claim the promises and thus “partake of God” Himself in a unique and wonderful way (2 Pet. 1.4).
These promises, like the Law God gave for their attaining, also point to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of all the hopes and desires of the people of God, the perfect embodiment of all His precious and very great promises (2 Cor. 1.20). Our highest attainment in life is to know Christ and, through Him and by His Spirit, God the Father (Jn. 17.3).
Thus God commands us to fill our minds with His Law, with a vision of Himself and reminders of His promises – each of these fully realized in Jesus Christ – so that with our minds, we might instruct our hearts to fear and love this gracious and generous God supremely. We learn God’s Law because we desire His promises, for obedience to the Law is the way into God’s promises, especially as these are realized in knowing Him Who has redeemed us, to partake of Him and to share in His glory.
Next steps – Transformation: Pray through the promises of God in Genesis 12.1-3. How do you expect to impact the people in your Personal Mission Field as you begin to realize more of these exceedingly great and precious promises?
T. M. Moore
The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- June 18, 2016
Fill your mind with God's Law and His promises.
The Rule of Law: First Things (23)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore