Exodus 20:1. And God spoke all these words
In Exodus 1-18 we have the harrowing story of God’s rescue of the children of Israel from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt and their perilous journey through the wilderness. In Exodus 19 they land at the foot of Mount Sinai. Here they will worship God. But here also they will be brought into a covenant relationship with God.
We often call this covenant the Law. Or the Law of Moses. Or the Old Covenant. And it starts here in Exodus 20:1.
The Law can be a tricky thing for Christians to understand. What does it do for us as those who are in Christ and under the New Covenant? Is it for us today or not?
Today let’s consider the purpose of the Law of God. What does it teach us who are in Christ? Here are 5 things the Law reveals to us.
1. The nature of God – The Law reveals God to us. His heart. His desire. His holiness, which is not less than his moral perfection, but it is also his unique transcendence made accessible for us. To know God’s law is to know his holiness and his mercy. The Law is commands (holiness) but also concessions (mercy). It is submission but also sacrifices. It is “consuming fire” but also “the mercy seat.”
2. The purpose of man – The Law reveals God’s design for man. What were we supposed to be as image bearers? What does a humanity of priests and servants to God look like in the world? The Law begins to answer this question. The Law shows us humanity restored. But please understand that in this regard there is a big problem…
3. The nature of man – The Law that was supposed to re-create mankind into the kingdom of priests that we were always intended to be is still limited by sin. Sin in the heart of man. And so the Law doesn’t re-create it only de-creates. It reveals our sin. It won’t say all this in Exodus, but the Apostle Paul will tell us that the Law’s job is to reveal sin not cure us of our sin.
Romans 5:20-21. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
4. The New Creation – The Law is meant to give us a glimpse of man as the new creation, but because of sin it will only reveal the fallenness of man not the glory of man. For this reason the Law will always fall short. It will have to make concessions (think things like polygamy and slavery). It is a shadow of a perfect community, but it is really only a step in that direction. God in his patient mercy is moving humanity toward perfection while allowing things that aren’t his perfect will. Why? Because we will need to be changed inwardly first before we can truly be that new creation.
5. The need for Christ – The ultimate purpose of the Law is to point us to our need for Christ. For a Savior. We will fall short. We will sin. We will see the glory of God in the Law and shrink back. Jesus did not shrink back. He followed the Law. He loved the Law. He alone loved God and neighbor perfectly. He fulfilled the Law thus ending it as our means of righteousness (Rom. 10:4).
“To live is Christ” means that the perfect righteousness of the Law keeper is in you. You are now justified as concerns the Law. Now you can love God’s Law and let it do it’s job in your heart. It’s job is not to make you better. It’s job is to make you worse so that you constantly run to the One who can make you better. Who HAS made you better. Jesus our Savior King.