Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thank God for The Law!

My boys are the 22nd generation of Bish's in Britain according to a distant relative who did some genealogy research about 20 years ago. That this rare name has been carried onwards for that long is cool to a geek like me... developing as it has from 'de la Bysse' to 'Bysshe' to 'Bish'.

As the New Testament opens we find that Jesus is the culmination of an 1800 year genealogy from Abraham via David and the exile. It's remarkable that this has happened and is traceable.

The Bible is a relentless search for The Seed (Gen 3:15) and so genealogies are mines in which to search for the gold of the gospel.... in which to search for The Christ.

What's The Law got to do with all of this? God made a promise and then 430 years later gave The Law. Later additions don't cancel or modifying the terms of a promise so why give the law?

For 430 years Abraham's family have been a family, a small family in Canaan who grew to a large nation contained in Goshen... and then they were set free as a vast nation with an inherited sinful desire for the gods of other nations with whom they began to intermarry.

The Law locked Israel down and ensures that a distinctive and identifiable remnant is preserved despite their best efforts to vanish into the nations and the pursuit of their gods. Much of Israel disappeared into nations (the Northern tribes) - but Judah (with Benjamin and Levi) survived. Imagine what would have been left without the restraining influence of the law...?

Thanks to The Law, 1800 years after Abraham, the promised Seed could come from a people carrying the grammar of the gospel (particularly around the Temple) "so that" (Galatians 3:22)  Jesus can be identified as the long expected Christ.

The Law helps us to see his life, death, resurrection, ascension and the pouring out of the Christing Spirit and know that Jesus is the Christ. Moses knew, and Jesus would preach himself from The Law to make his disciples hearts burn as they heard of The Seed, The Tabernacle... of Jesus leading his people out of slavery, of his meeting with his people, of the way that the air Israel breathed was meant to preserve her identity, and should have made her long for the Christ, and die to self-righteousness and sinning and everything (Gal 2:19). It put the nation death and in the end it put Jesus to death too...

Galatians 3 demonstrates the scope-limited, time-limited, purpose-limited but necessary role of the law for Israel, to bring the Christ - for all the nations. Not a complete theology of The Law, but a vital one, that served the gospel and has now completed it's purpose. The Law remains as Scripture from which all nations in Christ can benefit as they step into the promise made to Abraham concerning his offspring 'The Christ' in whom peoples from all the nations can become Sons of God.

Thank God for The Law given to Israel that ensured that the Christ came for the nations!


  1. Bliss from de la Bysse! That's a superb summary of the law :) Love the whole "locking down" of the people that the seed might not dissipate and vanish! Hadn't thought of it in quite those terms, very useful.

  2. Excellent as always. This helps me hugely as I try to get my head around the law. Where is de la Bysse from then?

  3. Johes de la Bysse was a mercenary from France, though whether that means Bysse is a place somewhere, or perhaps he's de l'abysse...

  4. Doesn't Gal 3:22 say that God punished ('imprisoned') Israel under the law?

    Doesn't Gal 2:19 say something more radical than our 'self-righteousness' dying, but our very selves?

    Perhaps the law wasn't the thing that was preserving the remnant, but killing everything that wasn't the remnant. So first it killed the Northern Tribes (as well as their own choice it was the verdict of guilty that the law provided that meant they were assimilated into the nations). Then all of Judah, save the remnant, was killed because of the law's verdict. Finally even the remnant of the remnant of the remnant (Jesus Christ) was killed, and then the death was complete and new resurrection life could begin.

    Which is not denying that there is plenty of promise in the 5 books of Moses...

  5. Agreed - the law doesn't just kill self-righteousness but everything in Israel, and then of course ultimately Christ. In putting everything to death it does ensure he comes...

    I'd have to check in on 3:22 as punished. Seems feasible, though its still a guardian as well... though the purposes of that might be many.