Whenever Christians talk about law, especially the law of God, what is our tone? Are we grateful for law? Do we look at an Old Testament book like Leviticus and offer God praise for his kindness in giving the law? Not often is this the case.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord!
At the end of Psalm 147, we see that the psalmist offers praise to God for the kindness of revealing his law to the people of Israel. He sees the writing of the books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy as great mercy and grace. How can this be when we see such things so often as a burden?
Just consider the horror that would be ours if God did not choose to reveal to us his standards. Can you imagine how hard life would be if you did not know what God wanted, what pleased him, or what would earn his wrath? Can you imagine how horrible it would be to know that you need to be forgiven by God, but not knowing where to go to gain that forgiveness? Life would be a series of us making up our best rules and hoping against hope that maybe we might hit upon something that God would accept. It would be utter chaos and we would all face wrath.
It is a great kindness of God to reveal his law. The law shows us several things. For example, the law of God tells us what is wrong. While we may get tired of restrictions, it is still better for us to know that God is against something than for us to assume that something is OK because we are drawn to it. As with a warning label on poison, we may not want to be told what not to do, but obedience keeps us alive.
Also, the law of God shows people how to be forgiven. In the Old Testament, the sacrificial system was in place so that people who had sinned against God could come to him and perform religious actions that expressed their faith and repentance. Leviticus tells us time and time again that, when such sacrifices were made by sinners, they would be forgiven. So, the law is the only way out of the mess that we are in.
But, most importantly, the law of God points us to the gospel. The law shows us that, no matter how good we think we are, we do not live up to God’s perfection. The law exists because we are naturally law-breakers. It shows us our failings and helps us to see our need. But, it also shows us that God has a plan, a way in mind to bring justice and forgiveness. The law points us to Jesus.
Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law’s requirement of righteousness. Jesus died, making himself the perfectly lawful sacrificial substitute for the sins of those God would forgive. Jesus rose from the grave, proving that his offering for sin was perfectly acceptable and that all the law’s requirements are fulfilled for all who come to him in faith.
We should love the law of God because it shows us his ways, shows us our need, and shows us Jesus. It was good and kind of God to reveal his law. May we be grateful. May we read his word. May we be glad to know the mind of the Lord. May we obey the word of God as we rest in the finished work of Jesus for salvation.