The Grace of Torah

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I’ve been translating through the book of Deuteronomy lately. Its been a good refresher for my Hebrew knowledge, and I’d encourage any of you readers who have taken Hebrew and let it slide away, to jump back in and see it all come back, albeit slowly. Deuteronomy is a great place to dig into some long neglected Hebrew. And surprisingly, some of those words start to look familiar after awhile!

But what I have observed most, is God’s gracious act in not only delivering His people from bondage under the Egyptians, culminating in the Red Sea crossing, but also His gracious provision of a set of laws and regulations whereby to govern the people as they dwelt in the land. Even before they enter the land, God revises aspects of His law {Exodus 20} to accomodate life in the promised land {Deuteronomy 5}. Circumstances that were not around during the wilderness adventure will now be evident as these people seek to adjust to life in a new land. So how do you get along with your neighbor? What do you do if you see an animal of his lying in a ditch? What is your responsibility to your neighbor and community? God provided a way for this community to exist together so that they could dwell in the land and reflect His glory to the nations around them.

Instead of seeing God’s law in the OT as a bad, terrible, and burdensome thing, we need to begin seeing it as it was and is: grace! Yahweh had already delivered His people from bondage under Pharaoh, why we would he bring them out and put them under bondage again?

Let me encourage you to read Deuteronomy again and see His grace as evidenced through His law. Shed the idea that the Law was a burden. Or as Moses said,

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Deuteronomy 30:11-14

I know many of you will wonder how does this reconcile with Paul’s ‘apparent’ negative view of the law {as found in Romans and Galatians}. I would say that God’s law for the Israelites was never meant for them to obtain perfection; i.e. moral perfection. They couldn’t have. But they could keep His laws in order to dwell in the land. That may shock some of you because we have had a bad view of the law circulating the church for many years. But the average Israelite would say, “No! Its grace! It’s wonderful. I love God’s laws!” {See Psalm 119}. For Paul, and his point in Romans, ALL of humanity is sinful and there is no way to perfectly keep the law and obtain righteousness. That alone comes from Christ. Even Jesus himself “elevated” the law of adultery from actually doing it to just lusting in your heart {Matthew 5:27-30}. And it is with these new “glasses” that Paul is reading the law. Of course God didn’t want His people to lust in their hearts, and He knew they would, but His law commanded that they not actually commit the act of adultery {more later on the 10th commandment and what it means to ‘covet’}. And even God knew that His people would sin before He gave them His law. And so, in another act of grace, He sets up the sacrificial system which would atone for His people’s sin, and which finds culmination in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God {John 1:29}.

May God restore a love for His GRACIOUS law among His church today…

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