by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 November 26, 2017 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(013)Thesis: Paul's focus on "The Legislation", "The Service", and "The Promises" is a reiteration of the prior trilogy as he focused upon the foundational processes of "bringing many sons to glory".
Introduction: In our last three studies we looked into "The Adoption" as the ultimate fulfillment of God's Life Plan for those who believe; "The Glory" as the underlying foundation for our participation in the inheritance; and "The Covenants" as those particular "excesses" of God in attempting to get men to actually walk in the faith.
I call "The Covenants" God's "excesses" because the author of Hebrews said in Hebrews 6:17 that God added "oath" to promises in order to get men to actually buy into what He had promised.
In the last set of three in Paul's list of issues to which the Israelites had been subjected in exposure for blessing, we find "The Giving of Law", "The Service (of the sanctuary)", and "The Promises". Because he moves from Law to Promise and because Law is the tutor to bring us the Adoption, I think I see a deliberate reiteration of three major theses, but with a specific focus upon the divine methodology in view of the inheritance over which we are going to be given authority.
I. The Giving of Law.
A. The giving of the covenant of the Law at Horeb had two distinctive purposes.
1. According to Psalm 119, the Law was an extraordinary revelation of the Truth about God as He is.
a. There are 176 verses (eight for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet) of significant enthusiasm for the enormous benefits that can be derived from the knowledge that the Law reveals.
b. There is this, however: the Psalm begins with the declaration of the blessedness of those who "walk in the law of the Lord", but it ends with the plaintive admission, "I have gone astray like a sheep..."
2. According to Paul's theology of the Law, revealed in places like Romans3:20-23 (where that Law pealed back the covers that hide man's bondage to Sin and exposed his utter failure to "walk" in the Law of the Lord") and Romans 7:9 (where the Law has an extremely detrimental effect upon fallen man in goading him into rebellion) and 1 Corinthians 15:56 (where Law is actually used by Sin to bring its dominion over men to completion), God's purpose for "Law" was to school men in terms of their absolute incapacity to live in harmony with God as He is as long as they do not begin in the right place.
a. Man's typical "place" of beginning with God is rooted in his confidence in himself as an independent actor in God's creation (Exodus 19:8, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do").
b. The only really workable "place" of beginning with God is "believing" in Him as the One Who promises and brings it to pass.
3. Thus, the Law was a revelation of the perfections of the God of the Inheritance and a revelation of the utter need of men to somehow be transformed into those who can take up residence and authority in that Inheritance.
B. Thus, there is a link in Paul's list that puts "The Adoption" in parallel with "The Legislation" as the "Objective" and a "Part of the Means".
II. The Service of The Sanctuary.
A. This "service" was all that The Law specified as to how the Tabernacle and Temple was to function.
B. The priesthood of the Temple was to function as the mediators for the Israelites as they both taught the people and implemented all of the various functions of Temple worship.
1. The author of Hebrews teaches in chapter nine that this "Service" was both "type" and "pattern", pointing to a greater reality in the heavens (in other words, a shadow of the good things of the heavens).
2. As a matter of "Israelite" blessedness, the forms of "The Service" made more explicit what the words of divine revelation declared (everyone knows humans learn better by being involved in precise guided activity than by "reading the instructions").
3. Thus, "The Glory" was made far more explicit in "The Service" than the verbal revelation of The Law was able to do.
C. Thus, there is a link in Paul's list that puts "The Service" in parallel with "The Glory" as the objective reality and the most fundamental "Part of the Means".
III. The Promises.
A. The promises are directly connected to the covenants in both Ephesians 2:12 and Hebrews 6:11-17 and the point is that man must turn from self-confidence to complete dependence upon the God of the promises Who, having made them, will bring them to pass.
B. The problem is man's penchant for unbelief, so God interposed with "oaths" to address this weakness.
C. The covenants are the promises in codified form.
IV. Paul's Point.
A. His sorrow and grief in regard to apostate Israelites is driven by his recognition that the only thing that stands between Israel and the blessedness of Life is their stiffnecked refusal to accept the messages of both Law and Promise.
B. The messages are, ultimately, the same: "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"; or any other human capacity for that matter.