Isaiah 27:1-28:13; Galatians 3:15-22; Psalms 62:1-8; Proverbs 16:19-20
NT: “Why, then, was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not just for one person alone, but God is one. Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise might be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe.” (Galatians 3:19-22 CSB)
If righteousness can only come by faith, that begs the question, “Why was the law given?” Paul answered that question for the Galatian believers, and for us. The law was never meant to be the permanent solution for humanity’s sin problem. The law was given as a temporary stop-gap measure until God’s promise of a Redeemer was allowed to come. The promise of global redemption and salvation was given by God directly to Abraham, the father of faith and the father of the Jewish people. Then, God gave the law to the Jewish people through Moses in order to keep the descendants of Abraham on the path of righteousness until the promise could be fulfilled. Once the promise was fulfilled through Christ, a descendant of Abraham and David, the law was no longer needed.
The law of God and the grace-based redemptive plan of God are not at odds with each other. They both work together to bring people to saving faith. The law was not intended to bring life. The law was intended to make humanity aware of their abject sinfulness and need for redemption. When a person is confronted with their sinfulness and their need for salvation, God’s grace is there to save by faith in Christ. The promise of salvation doesn’t come through the law. The law points to the fulfillment of the promise, which is received as a gift of grace through faith. Once a person is redeemed, made righteous, and made alive to God by the Spirit; God’s word, will and ways are then written on the person’s heart by the Spirit, and they are able to obey God’s word, will and ways by the flow of grace that they continue to receive by faith. Once we come to faith in Christ, all the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” in Him. The need for striving comes to an end and we are able to rest as we put on Christ’s yoke and receive all the grace we need to live a life of righteousness and holiness by faith.
Psalms: “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken… Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge. Selah” (Psalms 62:1-2, 5-8 CSB)
Rest is such a wonderful thing. Everyone, at some level, needs it and desires it. Many people find rest an impossibility. They become desperate for rest because of all the responsibilities and pressures of life. Then, because they are desperate for rest, they begin striving to get rest, which prevents actual rest all the more. The Hebrew word translated here as ‘rest’ actually means silence. David wasn’t talking about sleep. He was talking about an absence of stress, anxiety and strife – where his thoughts were silent and quietly trusting in the Lord. As much as we try to make or take rest, this kind of rest is impossible through our own efforts. That is why David declared that the only way he could find rest was in God. The Lord God was his rock. The Lord God was his salvation. The only place where he could find true satisfying rest and refuge was in the Lord.
To a people who were worn out and weary from striving to meet the over-bearing righteous requirements of the Law, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from Me… and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).” It seems odd that the way to receive rest is to put on a yoke – which is a symbol of labor. But when we come to faith in Christ, the heavy burden of the law is lifted from us, striving in our own strength ceases, we get partnered with Christ and are able to obey through His grace by faith.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that in You there is a promise of true and deeply satisfying rest. I know that the rest that You have for me is not possible if I continue trying to make and take my own rest. Your promises are only fulfilled in me by faith. Instead of striving to find rest, I place my faith fully in You, obey Your leading completely, and trust that you will give me the grace and rest that I need. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.