Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Covenant (11) Fit for Purpose

God had a purpose for the Mosaic covenant, and it was fit-for-purpose. However, it’s purpose was not to do what the new covenant would do, so it is foolish to say it failed, because it did not achieve what the new covenant would do. Like everything he does, the covenant with Moses was fit-for-purpose. It had seven main purposes.

Purpose 1: Solution for Theft and Violence
God gave them a set of simple laws (against theft, violence and adultery) and solutions for when they were broken, so that unregenerate people could live close together in their new land. They did not need these when living as slaves, as any slave who stole or used violence was beaten or killed by their taskmasters. God gave Israel a remedy for theft and violence, before they even knew that they needed one. This was grace.

The solution was premised on the fact that the people would continue to steal and be violent, but provided a way to minimize the damage (restitution). These sins could destroy a community, but God gave them a way or preventing that from happening. Applying God’s solution brought serious economic blessing, and most other primitive societies were constantly destroyed by theft and violence.

This is why the mosaic covenant was not given until the Israelites were going into the land, 3000 years after Adam had sinned. It was for unregenerate people living in close proximity. The growing population of the world, made it necessary. We still have unregenerate people living in close proximity, so we still need God’s solution for this problem, but we choose human concoctions instead.

The law could not resolve all problems between people, but it restrained the worst behaviours that would divide and destroy the community. That is all that law can do. No system of laws is capable of perfecting people. Even perfect laws cannot make people perfect. Only the cross and the gospel have that power.

God did not give the law in attempt to turn his people into better people, because that would have failed, and he does not do failure. He gave the law to restrain the very worst sins of theft and violence. He gave a set of laws that would allow a diverse group of people to live together in relative harmony. That was all that could be done before the cross, and that was all he intended.

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