Thursday, January 27, 2011
Laying Down the Law - From Children of Israel to Sons of God
The dealings of God with mankind is progressive. Even as the divine day begins in darkness and progresses to light, so too do we find that Yahweh’s revelation of Himself to man is with an ever increasing brightness. Yahweh has given us many things in the natural creation to provide insight into His dealings with mankind. One pattern we see is found in the progression of a human being from a baby, to a child, unto sonship, culminating eventually in the maturity of fatherhood.
I want to explore with you at this time the evidence given in Scripture that the Law of Moses entrusted to the Levitical Priesthood was for men and women who were in their spiritual childhood. When Christ sent forth the Spirit to indwell mankind, the desire of God to bring a people past childhood into sonship was realized. Let us begin by examining the following Scriptures.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
These words of the apostle Paul reveal that there was a time appointed by God described as “the fulness of time.” This date set by the Father’s own counsel marked a profound change in Yahweh’s dealings with mankind. Those who were formerly “children” were “under the Law.” At the appointed time these children under the Law were “redeemed.”
The Greek word translated as “redeem” in the passage above is exagorazo.
Strong’s Concordance defines it in the following manner:
exagorazo; to buy up, i.e. ransom; figuratively, to rescue from loss...
The root of this word is the Greek exago. It is defined as, “to lead forth.” The people of God, in their spiritual childhood, were kept under the Law until a time when Christ should lead them forth into the maturity of sons.
Galatians 4:1-3, 3:23-25
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father... Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The message of the apostle is made plain in these words. The Law acted as a guardian and tutor for spiritual children. The children of God were under the guard and stewardship of the Law “until the time appointed by the Father.” This steward brought us to Christ, “but after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Christ came to exagorazo (redeem us, lead us out) from the Law that we might go on to maturity and receive the adoption as sons.
In the previous chapters we looked at numerous declarations in the Scriptures stating that the Law made nothing perfect.
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect...
The word “perfect” is a translation of the Greek word teleios. One understanding of this word is “mature.” The Law made nothing mature. The Law could not bring men and women past spiritual childhood. The Levitical Priesthood was focused upon the Law of Moses. As such, the Levitical Priesthood was one of imperfection dealing with those who were spiritually immature.
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
What is revealed in the words “if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood”? Paul is declaring that perfection (maturity) was not to be found in the Levitical priesthood “for under it the people received the Law. The Law made nothing perfect (mature).
There is a very consistent testimony in all of these Scriptures we have been looking at. The Law fulfilled a very important part of Yahweh’s plan for mankind. It had a narrowly defined purpose, and was limited in scope, both in its capabilities and duration. Over and over we read that it was given UNTIL some specific time appointed by the Father; until the time of reformation; until faith should come; until the seed should be born, etc..
In Christ the people of God are led out from the Law to enter into life in the Spirit. They are led out of childhood into a time of formation as sons that they might receive the adoption. The Law, and the Levitical Priesthood, had taken mankind as far as possible. It had guarded them while they were children. A new covenant and a new priesthood was required to take them on to spiritual maturity. The Levitical Priesthood was replaced with a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. Yahshua is the High Priest of this new order. He is the initiator of a new covenant of the Spirit.
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
People of God, can you understand that the pride of man, and the carnal nature, respond negatively to a change of priesthood? The natural descendants of Abraham were the sole stewards of the Old Covenant. Consider the passions and desires resident in the soul of man that would resist ever having this order changed. The Levites did not want to lose their unique role and call. Neither did the Jewish people, for they all considered themselves to be a holy people. A change of priesthood would alter their PLACE in this world.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our PLACE and nation."
It is a great failing of man that he is more concerned with his place and standing in this world than he is intent upon seeing the will of Yahweh accomplished. Although the Levitical Priesthood could not take men beyond spiritual childhood, they did not want to relinquish their role when God determined to raise up a new priesthood to take men on to maturity.
Many Christians are committing the same error today. They refuse to let go of the Old Covenant, even when they are shown clearly that it can make no man perfect. Why is this occurring?
Many men are able to make a good showing in the flesh by proclaiming a continuance of the Law, but they fall short of the standard of those who would be priests according to a Melchizedek priesthood. They are not walking as Christ walked. They have not counted the cost of being Yahshua’s disciples and accepted it. They are willing to give God a tithe of their time and money, but not their entire lives. Wanting to be esteemed as spiritually mature, they are unwilling to enter the kingdom of God as children.
The result is that the church continues to walk after the pattern of a Levitical Priesthood. Priests and parishioners, ministers and members, are all spiritual children. The body of Christ is composed of the immature and ruled over by spiritual children.
Childish leaders oppress my people, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you; they send you down the wrong road.
[New Living Translation]
Is it not revealing that the Law of Moses was delivered to “the CHILDREN of Israel”? The phrase “children of Israel” occurs more than 630 times in Scripture. Only in Christ are we able to move past spiritual childhood and on toward maturity as sons.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children..., we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
Consider what is expressed in the following words of the apostle Paul:
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
When we were spiritual children the Law was our guardian and tutor. We were heirs at that time, but treated no different than a slave. Not having the spirit and character of our Father formed in us, we were under an external master that told us what to do, and what not to do.
When the time arrived, Yahweh sent forth His Son that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. Christ has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts that we might walk with God as sons. We have been redeemed from under the Law that we might walk in newness of the Spirit.
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God... Now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
We were delivered (redeemed, led out) from the Law. We have been joined to Christ by His Spirit which was sent to indwell us. We are now to serve in newness of the Spirit, for it alone can lead us to maturity in Christ.
It offends the religious mind to suggest that those who are in Christ are no longer under the Law. Why is this so? Partly because many who were making a good showing under the Law must admit that under the Law they are no more than spiritual children. A focus on the Law cannot bring any to perfection (maturity). Even the best who are under the guardianship of the Law have not progressed past childhood. It is galling to the natural man to admit that we are yet babes when those around us have considered us mature spiritual men.
To lay aside the Law as the measure of their spirituality, many men and women will lose their PLACE in the same way that the Jewish religious leaders feared. Service as Levitical Priests focused upon the Law does not qualify men for service as priests of a new order.
What a very difficult task it is to lead people out of the old order and into the new. Only the humble will be able to make the transition. Those who are unwilling to release the honor they have attained as “law-keepers” and “Torah Observers” will not be able to enter the new order.
Consider the experience encountered by those who pass from one level of school to another in the public school systems of America. One might attain a place of respect, popularity and honor in elementary school, but passing on to Middle School they have to begin all over. Similarly those passing from Middle School to High School fall from the top of the ranks to the entry levels. One can be a BMOC (Big Man on Campus) in their senior year of High School, but passing on to the university level they find that they are once more considered an “underclassman,” a “pleb.”
How hard it is for those who have embraced the Law to depart from it to begin anew. Having mastered the roles of childhood, they are reluctant to pass on to higher things where they must begin at the lowest levels once more. The way to advancement with Christ is always the path of humility. The more humble a man or woman is, the further they will advance in the kingdom of God.
Oh the depths of the wisdom of God. He has so designed things that a man must manifest His character to make any advancement. Knowledge alone will not suffice. A good showing in the flesh is not enough. We must ever sink lower to be exalted. We must admit we are children in order to pass on to maturity.
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