Israel's Inalienable Possesions - The Gifts and the Calling of God Which are Without Repentance/Chapter 06
THE LAW-GIVING AND THE SERVICE OF GOD
"Thou earnest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgements and true laws, good statutes and commandments"
" I "HE next step in the gra- dation of the great "gifts" which God bestowed upon Israel is expressed in the words, " and the giving of the Law" or " the Law-giving." I fear Christians, generally, would not count this among the gifts or privileges of Israel ; but such a derogatory
estimate of the Law shows a very 6 4
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shallow view also of the Gospel. The New Testament never speaks disparagingly of the law. On the contrary, it tells us that the law is "good," and "holy," and "spiritual"; only that in the unregenerated man it becomes weak and ineffectual by reason of the weakness and carnality of the flesh.
"The La\v r -giving" oh, what a wonderful event that was in the history of the world and of Israel, when Jehovah came forth from Sinai and burst forth (as the rising sun) from Seir unto them, when He shined forth from Mount Paran, and came with myriads of His holy ones, bring- ing in His right hand a fiery law unto them (Deut. xxxiii. 2).
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What a light that was which then, for the first time, shone upon the moral darkness of this earth ! True, it was not, nor was it meant to be, " the Light of Life." Much more did it become by reason of sin, and our innate corruption which it reveals a consuming fire and the minister of death. Yet it was "glorious" (2 Cor. iii. 7), for it was a reve- lation of God's holiness and a perfect transcript of His holy will. It was also a necessary precursor of the Light of Life, and was meant to be our school- master unto Christ ; that is, teach us our need of a Saviour, and to set us longing for the redemption to be accomplished by Him. I am often grieved at the
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ignorant use and popular per- version of a beautiful scripture. I refer to the Apostle's saying, " For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life " (2 Cor. iii. 6), which is often quoted by some as an excuse for a disregard of the literal sense, or even for a destructive handling of the letter of Scripture. But the Apostle plainly uses the term "letter" for the law the letter " written and graven in stones " ; and, my dear friends, this " letter " this wonderful revelation of God's absolute holiness and of the requirements of His holy government is meant to kill us, and must kill us, before the Spirit can come and give us life. " The Lord killeth and maketh alive ;
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He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich. He bringeth low, and lifteth up."
That is ever His process, and there is no other way ; and if, by the revelation of His holiness and your own inability and innate corruption, you have not, like Paul, been brought to an end of yourself, and to cry, " O wretched man that I am ! who shall de- liver me from the body of this death ? " if the Law of God has not, like a two-edged sword, pierced and broken your heart, you do not know the full sweet- ness and preciousness, and the life-giving power of the Gospel.
" And the Giving of the Law " and the greatness and beauty
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of this wonderful "gift," which constitutes part of Israel's high calling, will not be fully mani- fest till, in the millennial period, the Law is put in their inward parts, and written on their hearts when the final end, which God had in the " Law -giving " namely, that His people may be holy, because He is holy shall be accomplished, and the earth shall see, for the first time in its history, a whole nation upon whose life, and conduct, and possessions, shall be written, " Holiness to Jehovah."
Together with " the Giving of the Law," the Apostle names <; the Service of God" as the next step in the gradation of Israel's special privileges. This refers
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to the Divine institutions of their Tabernacle and Temple ; the Di- vinely-appointed ritual of which I cannot describe here, but which so beautifully and in such a variety of ways sets forth the blessed Person and redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This richly symbolical and beautiful "Service of God" may be said to constitute "the Gospel in the Law," for it already pointed the way how a man who stood condemned and separated from God by the moral law, could yet draw near to Him namely, on the ground of shed blood, and by the ministry and intercessions of the high priest ; and in reference to the future it is probable that, by the temporary restoration of a
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modified form of this Divinely- appointed " Service of God," which is forecast in the prophetic Scriptures, Israel shall yet teach the spared of the nations the deep significance of their ancient types, and open to them the ful- ness and manifoldness of the atoning work of their Messiah. "The Service of God": I would only add that it is not re- corded in the Mosaic writings, and described with such minute- ness of detail for our imitation now, as some ignorantly think, who seek to set up an unautho- rised human mimicry of Israel's Divinely-appointed ritual in the Tabernacle and Temple, and thereby pervert the simplicity of the Gospel and of Christian
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worship ; but it is recorded for our study, that we may perceive the spiritual significance of these types and shadows, and learn more and more the fulness which dwells in Christ for us.