If Righteousness Could Be Gained Through the Law, Christ Died For Nothing!

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ISAIAH 22:1-24:23 | GALATIANS 2:17-3:9 | PSALM 60:1-12 | PROVERBS 23:15-16

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Isaiah continues with his prophecies, and employs great imagery to deliver it.  Jerusalem is not spared either, and he says this of its impending ruin: 25 “In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.

Of the ancient city of Tyre, modern Lebanon, these are the prophets words: 17 At the end of seventy years, the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her lucrative prostitution and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. 18 Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the LORD; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the LORD, for abundant food and fine clothes.

And if all this sounds quite dismal, there is an even more terrifying prophecy against the entire earth about its impending devastation.  This is what Isaiah says:

19 The earth is broken up,
the earth is split asunder,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth reels like a drunkard,
it sways like a hut in the wind;
so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion
that it falls—never to rise again.

Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we find Paul saying what he has said many times already:  he is vehement about the fact that Christ’s work on the cross is a full and complete one that offers redemption of all sins, and this cannot be equaled by the Law or the observance of it. 

Paul says: 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

There is almost a palpable measure of frustration in Paul’s words even as he tries to explain how futile it is to wish to go back to practicing the Law after having received by faith the righteousness of God. 

He says2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

And yet, Paul is careful not to completely discount the value and calling of the Jewish people, and in these words, he so tactfully points out to all the Law-loving people God’s greater purpose and mission for the children of Israel. 

He says, 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find David’s great confidence in the saving power of the Almighty.  Like him, may it be that we also recognize that the power of the aid and comfort received from God is far superior to that received from mere humans.  David puts it like this:

11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs that are timeless in that the sentiment that is conveyed through them is one that every parent would wish to speak out to their child.  Solomon, the wise king of Israel, says this:

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

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