The Old Covenant, with it’s perfect declaration of the Righteousness of God in the Law, even with the continual hedge of the Levitical Priesthood and it’s continual bloody, sacrifices of cleansing, many feasts and observances, could never clear the conscience of ever present sin! (Hebrews 10:1-3) God’s part of the covenant was perfect! It’s weakness was in the human part, for a covenant must have two parties. It’s weakness was manifested in Israel’s ignorant proclamation, as found in Exodus 19:8, “Then all the people ANSWERED TOGETHER (as one voice), ‘ALL that the LORD has spoken, WE WILL DO.” In their words, they showed that they neither knew their own hearts, nor did they know the LORD their God! Paul summarizes their failure and gives God’s solution (but more of that later) in Romans 8:3, “For what the LAW COULD NOT DO IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD DID BY SENDING HIS OWN SON....." Because of Israel’s continual confidence in their flesh which invariably leads to an arrogant, hardened heart, they refused the Righteousness of Faith peeking out of every nook and cranny of the Law! (Romans 10) And because of their “hardened & impenitent hearts, they treasured up unto theirselves wrath in the day of judgement”. (Romans 2:5) The fruit of such blindness is always a sliding scale of righteousness, a tithing “mint, anise & cumin” (Matthew 25:25) and/or “fasting twice in the week” (Luke 18:11-12) righteousness. “I may have a hang up or two, but I’m not as bad as this tax collector or this prostitute.” As with Israel, so with ourselves--If there is an iota of comparison in ourselves with any other created being, and not exclusively with the Holy God of Heaven and Earth, we have pharisaical self-righteousness lurking in our hearts.
And God’s solution to the “weak flesh” problem? The solution was in the very Law and all their heritage, right before their blind eyes. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:2-4 that Israel ate of the same spiritual food and drank of the same spiritual drink as we, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST.” When they grumbled about no water, they were grumbling about the Water of Life. When they grumbled about the manna, they were grumbling about the Bread of Life. When they wanted to go back to Egypt, they were saying that the Promise in Christ Jesus wasn’t worth it, Eternal Life isn’t worth the effort, they prefered the bad breath of Egypt, with its leeks & garlic! And Moses was hindered from going into the Promised Land because he struck the Rock twice, a blow that minimised the “Once Done” sacrifice of the Rock Christ Jesus.
And they daily ignored the testimony of the necessity of faith given to Abraham their father! Now this is a bit graphic, but it was an essential part of the witness of the Faith Righteousness Abraham passed down to all his descendants. Paul states in Romans 4:11, “And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal (think of the seal of a king on a royal document) of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.” So here is the graphic (warning) point, Israel should have been reminded of the Righteousness that God requires is only by faith, every time any male answered the call of their bladder or united with their wives in the glorious, God ordained holy union of sex, the one flesh blessing that testifies to the One God in three Persons! Every time they looked at their children, the offspring of that God image union, they should have been reminded that their existence as a nation was because their father Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for Righteousness! Genesis 15:6 (Consider how that seal of the righteousness of faith plays into God’s forbidding Israel’s mixing with pagan nations and their wives, or the severe penalties for adultery, etc.) But of course, in the hardness of their hearts, this very seal of the righteousness of faith became a thing of national pride and arrogance. They divided humanity into the circumsised and the “uncircumcised” which became an epithet of their arrogance. That arrogance Paul continually had to fight in the early church. His struggle against that religious arrogance is found overtly or implicitly in all his epistles. But he restates the truth of this faith sign for us, New Covenant believers, in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Jesus Christ, and HAVE NOOOOOO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.” May God place that three-fold seal in the depths of our hearts! May we not be characterized by the evil heart of unbelief! (Hebrews 4:12)
A more positive note next time!