Monday, October 26, 2015

Interpreting Old Testament law, coercion and violence through the lens of the cross (part 2)

Another example is a different passage also from Paul on the same topic:
'Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.' (Gal 3:19-25)

Again we see the reason for the law was because of transgressions -- although the concept of increase of transgressions is not at first visible. But the law could not impart life, and the Scriptures locked up everything under the control of sin. So there are two aspects of this:
  1. The locked up aspect -- the Scriptures are encrypted and require faith in Jesus Christ to decipher (i.e. the face value of the text does not necessarily carry the true significance), and
  2. The control of sin -- the Scriptures under the control of sin and are in need of liberation from the face value that involves what we see through faith in Jesus Christ as sin. 

The Scriptures being referred to are, in this context, the law. The law itself, holds us in slavery. 

However, the bondage of the law is broken by new revelation. The new revelation is the key to unlocking the control of sin and unlocking the Scriptures themselves, and this new revelation is in the teaching, example and death of Jesus on the cross. 

The guardian concept also suggests something of a progressive revelation approach: the Old Testament is a vehicle not just for sin and death, but also a vehicle to bring us to the source of life, and ultimate freedom from coercion and sin and death. 

Our task, as Christian interpreters of the Old Testament, based on this example of Paul, is to have been brought to and to have faith in Jesus Christ, and to use the faith of Jesus Christ to break it free from its shackles, its slavery, its death, its condemnation, its retribution, its violence, its coercion, its sin. 

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