by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2 April 29, 2012 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(169)Thesis:The Law actually distorts the "truth" about God and, thus, must not be the "defining" message.
Introduction:In our first study of this paragraph, we noted that the essence of "Law" is its identity as a revelation of the Justice of God and man's abysmal lack of conformity to it. The purpose of this identity was to force men to return to the ancient promise(s) so that a real relationship could exist between God and men.
This evening we are going to look into Paul's description of the origins of that "Law" and ask ourselves what his point may be. Clearly, it is Paul's intention to downplay "Law" as a handmaid to "Promise" and to make any use of "Law" for the purpose of enabling a healthy relationship between God and man a bad idea. But, the "Law" did have an extremely impressive beginning (thunder, darkness, lightning, and terror -- Hebrews 12:21) and a long run historically, while "Promise" obviously came off as weak and ineffective once the memories of Abraham's exploits as a believer dimmed.
Paul's argument is that inheritance in the Eternal Kingdom of the Great God of Glory is rooted exclusively in "Promise" and that "Law" not only strips one of such an inheritance, it positively destroys any who would seek to gain such by its means. So, how does he address the human default to "obedience" and "Law"?
I. Paul's Description of "Law" in Respect to Its "Establishment".
A. The term he used to indicate its origins refers to the act of laying out the operating principles of a given reality.
B. The reality to which he points has already been established as "late" and "temporary".
1. The "given reality" was the creation of a national entity that would function in the world as a mediated theocracy.
a. God would be the King.
b. The Israelites would be the inhabitants of the Kingdom.
c. The interactions of the King in respect to the inhabitants of all of the earth's kingdoms would be determined by "Law".
d. The applications of "Law" would be executed through tiered mediation with a combination of High Priest/priests and a "Prophet"/"Judge" who would determine the will of the King.
2. The agents of this "establishment" are identified as both "angels" and a "mediator".
a. The entire scenario of "Law" was wrapped up in this reality of a "mediated theocracy" so that not only was its on-going function dependent upon levels of mediation, its origins were also indirectly "divine".
b. The biblical record is unspecific about how many angels were involved and the emphasis in the Old Testament record upon "Law" being the King's instrument of rule was such that the fact that it was only indirectly divine was glossed over to a significant degree.
3. The New Testament record is clear that "Law" was a mediated reality.
a. Acts 7:38.
b. Acts 7:53.
c. Hebrews 2:2.
II. Paul's "Point".
A. Was not to diminish the resultant "authority": Hebrews 2:2.
B. Was not to directly attack the use of mediators by God: the entire scenario of God's dealings with men in respect to Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom involves "mediated" benefits.
1. The actual sharing of "Life" requires mediation wherein God allows other persons to participate in His doings.
2. The described nature of the past, present, and future organization of God's plans all involve using persons to bless persons.
C. Was to reveal that the imposition of Law was done in terms of "relational distance".
1. Paul's addition of the issue of "having been set in place through messengers" indicates that the Law came into being as a different covenant through God's use of "messengers".
a. The statement that the Law came into being through "angelic" agency is attested by both Acts 7:53 and Hebrews 2:2, but it does not have an "apparent" root in the Old Testament record.
b. The indisputable revelation here is the fact that the Law did not have an "immediate" character in respect to God's involvement.
c. This lack of immediacy automatically indicates "distance".
d. "Distance" in any relationship creates difficulties.
2. Paul's addition of "the hand of a mediator" also tends in the direction of "distance".
a. It is true that the issue of a "mediator" is highly involved also with Jesus as the Christ (1 Timothy 2:5 and Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; and 12:24), but the New Testament doctrine of the Christ is that He is deity and, thus, the issue of a mediator loses the "distance" issue because of that reality.
b. In the case of the Law, the "mediator" was Moses (Deuteronomy 5:5), a position from which he did not shrink (Exodus 32:32), but also for which he stood disqualified in the final sense.
3. Paul, by this issue of distance, deliberately made the Law inferior to Promise.
a. His very next comment regarding the essence of "mediators" and "God" puts everything in doubt because any reciprocity agreement that contains a "weak link" cannot be sure (Romans 4:16).
b. This inferiority does not mean that "Law" did not do its job; it just means that that "job" was different from that of "Promise".
4. Paul's doctrines of the continuation of "mediation" has one major difference between "Law" and the other elements of God's program: "Law" kept God in a tent, separated from the people of His mediation while "Promise" puts God into every man's "tent" so that no one is separated from His direct presence.