OBEYING THE CALL OF LIFE
God has always graced us into life. In the law and old covenant God provided a liturgy that graced Israel into a relationship with God. This was a covenant in which God fulfilled both sides. This was a ‘way’ but not yet a ‘new and living way’ because Messiah had not come. This had to await the incarnation. While this covenant stipulated ‘obey and live’ God new full well that Israel was not capable of obeying. So he provided a sacrificial liturgy in harmony with the ram caught in the thicket with Abraham. Thus when Jesus was baptised, John announced Him as ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the word.’
The gift of God has always been eternal life.
BOTH SIDES NOW
Baxter Kruger commenting on Thomas Torrance observes, “In a contract, there is a bilateral agreement between two parties which rests on the fulfillment of certain conditions on the part of each party; whereas, in the biblical covenant, God himself pledges to fulfill both sides of the covenant. Thus, Torrance comments: ‘The covenant was not made with a holy people, nor did its validity depend upon a contractual fulfilment of its conditions on the part of Israel, for it was a unilateral covenant which depended for its fulfilment upon the unconditional grace of God and the unrelenting purpose of reconciliation which he had pledged to work out through Israel for all peoples. And therefore…it depended upon a vicarious way of response to the love of God which God himself provided within the covenant—a way of response which he set out in the liturgy of atoning sacrifice and which he insisted on translating into the very existence of Israel in its vocation as ‘servant of the Lord.’” (1)
MAKES SENSE TO ALIGN WITH HIS WAY
Just as Cain could not make up a sacrifice of fruit and vegetables, so Israel could not instigate its own liturgy but must follow the temple service that mediated grace by looking forwards to the incarnated Messiah in ceremony and type. ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission of sins’ but this was not by the shedding of our blood. It was by the shedding of the blood of The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
ARE WE STILL NOT TRUSTING GOD?
There’s a lesson here for the astute and teachable. God provided the way. In Jesus Christ God has provided the new and living way into the Presence of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Now righteousness is not gained by attempted law-keeping. Righteousness becomes us first by grace and second by Christ come in our flesh. Holiness comes to all by union with God and to none by works of the law, religious agendas and moralism.
Clinging to the law as a way of salvation and recommendation to God is as ill-advised as Cain’s sacrifice and as disobedient as ignoring the living way of incarnation and mediation of the trinity into our being by the Christ of God. Disobedient and foolhardy because, ‘If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Gal 2.21 NIV.
(1) BAXTER KRUGER, On the Road to Becoming Flesh: Israel as the Womb of the Incarnation in the Theology of T. F. Torrance. P12