This really does take time to sink in: God has given us – himself.
In the account of Exodus, we can read how God tried to give himself to the people. He saved them from Egypt, and then he was with them day and night; he wanted to give them the gift of himself; an intimate, personal relationship based on his nature of grace.
The problem was that the people were so convinced they didn’t need God himself, they were convinced that they only needed the knowledge of good and evil. The had the mindset that if they were simply given a written code to live by, then that would be enough; their confidence was not in God’s grace, but in their own ability to live righteously.
It’s a sad story: God desired to lead them by his Spirit, but they desired to lead themselves with the knowledge of good and evil.
In the end God gave them what they wanted. God withdrew, and from a distance gave the people two stone tablets with a list of rules to keep. It was the beginning of what we know refer to as the ‘old covenant’ with God. They were in a relationship with him through this old covenant, but it wasn’t a personal, intimate relationship that God ultimately desired. It caused separation; the people feared God, they longed for a mediator so that they didn’t have to deal with God directly.
They now had the knowledge of good and evil written on two stone tablets, but they soon realised that they didn’t have the power within them to actually live them out. The result was that they were trapped; imprisoned by the law, for they longed to do what the law said was good, but continued, to their dismay, to do the opposite.
God gave them two stone tablets with some rules for living, because they truly believed that was all they needed in order to live right. They were convinced they only needed to know what God wanted them to do, and they fully believed that they were capable, in their own strength, to do it. God however, knew they needed more than the knowledge of right and wrong.
Nonetheless, He gave them the knowledge of good and evil, written on two stone tablets, but his ultimate plan was to give his people something more powerful than stone tablets. He longed to give them himself, and that is exactly what he gave us, by his grace, when he established the new covenant for us all.
He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
God took the old covenant written code, and nailed it to the cross! That is a radical thing to do, and we could ask: Why did he do that? I think he did it so we would now live with assurance that the law has been perfectly fulfilled through the death of Christ. Through Jesus, the old covenant of law was fulfilled, and subsequently nailed to the cross; and the new covenant of the Spirit has been established through the resurrection of Christ!
So now, through Jesus establishing the new covenant for us, God has put away the stone tablets, nailing them to the cross, and instead he has given us his very own Spirit to abide in us, to comfort us, to walk with us, and to lead us into all truth. It is his Spirit living in us, who now empowers us to live a life of love; the life that God has always desired for us to live.
We can praise God that where the law written on stone tablets failed, God’s own Son, who now lives in us, succeeded!
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man. Romans 8:2-3
The truth is we need something more powerful than stone tablets with the instructions listed down to help us live in the light of God’s ways. That’s what the good news is: the good news is that God has now given us the very gift that makes it possible to live and walk in his ways: God has given us – himself.
Written by Mick Mooney