Why Then The Law?, Part 2
Scripture: Galatians 3:19–3:22
Why Then the Law?
Text: Galatians 3:19-22
August 22, 2010
I. The Law was added to Reveal Sin. v. 19a
“When there was no trouble, he was a big saint; he worshipped and praised God, genuflected, and gave thanks, as that Pharisee did in Luke (18:1). But now that sin and death have been revealed, he would want God not to exist. In this way the Law produces extreme hate toward God,” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 26, p. 314).
“It is only the joy of hearing the gospel and being reminded that our sins are forgiven in Christ that will keep the demands of discipleship from becoming drudgery. It is only gratitude and love to God that comes from knowing that He no longer counts our sins against us (Romans 4:8) that provides the proper motive for responding to the claims of discipleship,” (Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace, p. 21).
II. The Law was ordained through mediaton. vv. 19b-20
“The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; He shone forth from Mount Paran; He came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at His right hand,” (Deut. 33:2).
“you who received the law as delivered by angels…,” (Acts 7:53).
“For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable…,” (Heb. 2:2).
Why were angels present and why did God use them as His instruments to deliver the Law?
1. Angels added to the terrifying phenomena that accompanied the giving of the Law.
“It is certain, that, with their heavenly choirs they surrounded the mount, and added to the majestic pomp of the Lawgiver” and were witnesses of all that was transacted,” (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants, p. 165).
2. Angels made the thunderous voice of God intelligible.
“It is not improbable, that the sound of those words, in which the Law was conceived, was formed in the air by the means of angels. For, God properly uses not a voice: this is a degree of imperfection: but yet it is called the voice of God, formed in the air in some extraordinary manner, to express the mind of God, for which purpose He uses the ministry of angels: namely, the Law was given in thunder and lightning: the thunder indeed, which formed the matter of the voice, which proclaimed the words of the Law, must certainly have had an articulation, superadded which was framed by the means of angels…the thunder, in which God spoke, was produced by the means of angels, and articulated into words intelligible to man,” (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants, vol. II, pp. 165-166).
3. Angels acted as God’s special couriers.
“…the tables of testimony, on which the Law was written by the finger of God, were delivered to Moses by the intervention of angels, (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants, p. 166).
Why does Paul emphasize this point about angels?
1. God’s voice in the Law apart from Christ is terrifying.
“…set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death,” (Ex. 19:12).
“23 …as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?,” (Deut. 5:23-26).
“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God,” (Deut. 4:24).
“…our God is a consuming fire,” (Heb. 12:29).
“19…beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear,’” (Heb. 12:19-21 ).
“’If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than me or else just silly.'
'Then he isn't safe?' asked Lucy.
'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you,'” (CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, pp. 75-76).
2. God’s voice in the Gospel with Christ is comforting.
“30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey His voice. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them,” (Deut. 4:30-31).
“God’s unchangeableness is the foundation of our comfort,” (William Perkins, Galatians, p. 193).
“18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them… 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel,” (Heb. 12:18-24).
© John Fonville
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