Devotion – Exodus 23

In the last devotion blog, you began reading about why God gave His Law to the Hebrew people.   Like most religious people, the Jews have always believed that eternal life came through the keeping of the Law.  Be a good person, keep the rules, and God will be OK with you.  The Bible teaches something completely different.  We have already learned that the Law was given to remind God’s people that they are different and to protect them.  The Law also points to God’s holiness and hatred for sin.  But God’s Word gives us some more important reasons for the Law of God.

In Romans 3:20, Paul has stated that nobody can have eternal life by keeping the Law.  The Law was given to show us that we are all sinners.  This means that God gave His Law to show us it is not possible to keep it.   When we read the Law of God, we should compare ourselves to the expectations that God has set out and realize that there are so many ways that I have already failed.  Even if I believe that a person can have eternal life by keeping the Law, I need to realize that I am doomed, because there are so many ways that I have broken the Law of God.  So what the Law ultimately does for me is helps me begin to see the totality of my sinfulness.  The first step in realizing that I need a Savior comes when I understand that I cannot please God on my own.  When a person reads and understand the Law, he or she should come to the conclusion that they are unable to live up to the standard God has set.

When a person comes to this realization, the next thing the Law does is to demonstrate the incredible consequences of sin.  This is demonstrated through the sacrifices.  For the Hebrew people, when they realized that they were unable to live by the principles that God’s Law had commanded, an animal is killed in a sacrifice.  The sacrifices are not given because God is crazy about the blood of animals.  Sacrifices were God’s way of showing the people that they should have died, but something else (and eventually Someone else) took their place.  The animal gave his life to pay the price for the sins of God’s people, and the proper response for the people is to look at the sacrifice and know, “That should have been me.”  After coming to the understanding that I am unable to please God on my own, the next step in salvation is to realize that my sin cost Jesus Christ His life as He paid the penalty for my sin.

The Law then points us to Jesus.  I am unable to keep the Law, but Jesus Christ lived on this earth as a man, and completely fulfilled the law.  Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy, but fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) When I read the pages of the Law, I should be reminded that there was only one man who completely and totally obeyed every jot and tittle of God’s commands.   After I realize that I cannot keep the Law on my own, and that Jesus paid the price for my failure, I can then understand that the only way I can please God is by my faith in Christ.  Paul calls the Law a tutor that brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).  Like a teacher, the law teaches our absolute need for Jesus to do in and for us what we cannot do ourselves.  The Law points us to absolute need for grace.

Finally, God gave the Law so that all men stand guilty before God.  One day people will stand before God and tell Him that they should go to heaven because they tried to keep the Law.  But in the end, their attempts at righteousness fall horribly short, and all men will stand before God as guilty.  No one will be in the Kingdom of God because they kept the Law.  Nobody, other than Jesus has ever done it, and nobody will.  It is not the good people, but the forgiven people who experience eternal life.  Only those who realized their guilt and turned to Christ as their only hope for Salvation will be saved.

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