The Law and Grace. Day thirty-four...
In my early twenties I worked on a construction crew building a new subdivision in central Illinois. (The homes were being built for members of a “New Age” commune. But that is a story for another time.)
I was a trim carpenter and a painter on the crew. And if you've ever done any of this type of work, you know that your finger tips and finger nails collect a lot of paint and stain by the end of the day.
While us guys took a tough brush and some strong solvent to our dirty hands, a young woman on the crew had her own solution: “Just wash your hair three or four times when you get home, and your fingernails will come clean.”
I pooh‐poohed her advice at first. What possible connection could washing my hair have to do with cleaning my fingernails? But then I gave her suggestion a try. And much to my surprise it worked pretty well. Not only that, the skin on my fingers appreciated the break from the strong solvents and the scrubbing.
Christians who have no background in Judaism have an equally tough time in making a connection with the Abraham of the Bible.
What possible connection could an old‐covenant character like Abraham have to do with us today?
But imagine the difficulty Abraham must have had in making the connection between God's promise to give him offspring and God's command to sacrifice that offspring—his son Isaac.
God first makes this promise to Abram (Abraham):
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (Genesis 17:1–7 KJV)
Then God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Genesis 22:1–2 KJV)
But God stops Abraham in the middle of the sacrifice and makes this promise:
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15–18 KJV)
Please don't consider this as just interesting story in the Old Testament.
As we find out in the New Testament, the seed God speaks of in these passages has a double meaning. It is not just referring to the Jewish people. The Seed is Jesus.
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:16–18 NKJV)
And while the seed of Abraham is a direct reference to Christ and an indirect reference to the Jewish people, the seed of Abraham also refers to you and I, as well.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NKJV)
As new‐covenant believers, we are not supposed to get caught up in living under the law. But we also cannot just ignore the law as if it had no bearing on us in the new covenant.
Because we have a connection with Abraham, we have a connection with all that follows Abraham—even if it appears as unrelated to our lives today as washing your hair appears unrelated to cleaning your nails.
If every Christian can trace his or her spiritual lineage back to Abraham, as the Bible teaches, then the law is an integral part of our family (spiritual family) history. And if we are ever going to experience the wonder of God's grace, we must also understand the intent of God's law.
a good day,