The first area of Israel’s worship wiring under examination this week is the giving of the Law: Israel was wired for worship because they had been given the law. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises”(Romans 9:4 ESV). There are two parts of this phrase that need development:
1. Giving of the Law: In the giving of the law to Israel, God revealed his saving intentions for Israel. Sinai in central in Israel’s experience. Exodus 19:5-6, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Exodus 29:45-46, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.”
2. Stewardship of the Law: The stewardship of the law is principally Israel’s responsibility. The law is the basis for God’s relationship to the world and it was given only to Israel. Deuteronomy 4:5-8, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”
An illustration of this idea is seen clearly in how David’s kingdom was guided and guarded by the Bible. Psalm 19:7-12; Psalm 119: 9-16. Or how Josiah, when beginning his reforms of Israel, began them because of the discovery of the law. Also, when the children of Israel returned from Babylonian exile they began their reestablished nation by the all-day reading and expositing of the law of God. Their nation and their people were to be guarded and guided by the law of God.
Israel was given the law and as a part of their worship wiring, they came to God in a particular relationship. The question for us is does that law still apply to us? Is the law a good thing or a bad thing for Christians? Well, the law is a good thing for Christians. There are three areas of law that are critical to grasp:
- Ceremonial Laws: These laws referred to the priesthood, sacrifices, temple, cleanness, etc.,and these were fulfilled in Jesus and therefore are no longer binding. The book of Hebrews is again very instructive for us on this issue because Jesus is our priest, temple, sacrifice, cleanser, etc.
- Civil Laws: These pertain to the governing of Israel as a nation ruled by God. These laws are also no longer binding as we are no longer governed in an Old Testament system of governance. Romans 13 is particularly instructive to this issue as Paul encourages Christians to be submissive to the pagan government over them because it was instituted by God for their good.
- Moral Laws: These laws are specific commands pertaining to the life of God’s people such as worship of the one true God, honoring father and mother, laws agains murder, etc. Even though Christ fulfilled these commands by his righteous life, they are still morally binding upon us. Galatians 3:16-4:7.