There Was Hope in the Law
Written by: Kayla Sanders
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Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
- Galatians 3:23-25
Remember when you were younger and your parents would hire a babysitter for date night? When your parents left the house, they gave your babysitter authority over you for a set period of time. However, when your parents came home, the babysitter’s authority diminished. Why? Because Mom and Dad were your ultimate authority. In many ways, this comparison illustrates God’s purpose for putting Israel under the law.
“The law” is a generic term for Mosaic Law, which was established in the first five books of the Bible. This law contains thousands of rules covering every aspect of life from worshiping God, interpersonal relationships, and even how to prepare meals. There are a lot of rules to follow!
God established the law as a tool to expose the reality of Israel’s sin and their need for a Savior. We often view the law as restrictive and unfair. Our human nature fights against submitting to God’s authority. In the Bible, if anyone broke the law, they had to repent by sacrificing an animal in the tabernacle or the temple. We see examples of this throughout the Old Testament narrative and in the Gospels.
Israel could have hope in the law because God designed the law to be beneficial for them, not harmful or restrictive. God gave Israel the law to protect Israel before the Messiah came. When they stayed within the boundaries of the law, Israel thrived. When they decided to go their own way, they faced the consequences. Today, we don’t have to work so hard to please God through keeping every law but rather we please God when we exercise faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6).
When confronted with the reality of our sin, most of us turn away out of shame or regret. However, there was hope in the law because the Messiah would come and fulfill the law one day. Today, believers don’t need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sin. Because of Calvary, we have access to God in a way the Old Testament Israelites rarely did (Philippians 3:9). Our mediator is no longer a high priest in the temple but rather Jesus Christ who has promised to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). What greater hope could we have!
1. Take some time this week to study one instance when Israel chose to go against the law. What were the consequences of that decision?
2. According to Galatians 3, how does the law affect believers today?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the law because it reminds us of our need for You. Thank You for grace because it gives us the freedom to serve You out of love rather than obligation. Thank You for this reminder that You are and always have been good to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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