The Law of
an Unspeakable Blessing to Israel
by Philip Mauro
the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
And now as regards
the character of God's dealings with those who were under the Law and
the character of the Law itself, it is difficult indeed to account for
and more difficult to speak calmly of, the terms of disparagement and
strong repugnance in which the leaders of the dispensationalists express
themselves when speaking of the Law of God. Of our Lord it was
prophesied that He should "magnify the law and make it
honorable," but the aim of many of His ministers in these days
seems to be to belittle the law and make it detestable.
Take a few
specimens from the writings of prominent dispensationalists: "The
Law is a ministry of condemnation, death, and the divine curse." So
says the Scofield Bible (notes to Gal 3:24). But does God's Bible speak
that way? We shall see. And another leading dispensationalist declares
that, "The law was the instrument of condemnation, and only
that." In fact, the leaders among the dispensationalists seem to
take a delight - not as did the Psalmists, "in the Law of the
Lord" Ps. 1:2, but - in inveighing in terms of strongest
reprobation against it.
In support of this
view of the Law, reference is commonly made to certain passages in
Galatians, and also to the seventh Chapter of Romans, which are
misinterpreted in such a way as to cause them to render a semblance of
support to that view. But before we examine those passages let us get
the Scripture, which is clear and unequivocal, as to what the character
of the Law actually is.
We have already
cited the testimony of Moses that the Law delivered at Sinai was God's
love-gift to the people (Deut. 33:3). It is further stated in that
inspired record of "the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God
blessed the children of Israel before his death," that "they
sat down at Thy feet; every one shall receive of Thy words" (v. 3).
And he goes on to say: "Moses commanded us a law," and that
that law is "the inheritance of Jacob" V. 4.
A number of
passages earlier in the Books of Moses reveal that the law was given as
a means of life. Thus, in Deuteronomy 4:1, Moses exhorts Israel to
hearken to the statutes and judgments which (he says) "I teach you
for to do them, that ye may live." (And to the same effect
see Leviticus 18:5.) And concerning God's law he says: "For this
is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which
shall hear these statutes and say, Surely this great nation is a wise
and understanding people. . . . For what nation is so great, that hath
statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law" Deut- 4:6-8.
Thus the Law of God was given the people of Israel to be their life; and
it constituted their wisdom, their understanding, and their greatness in
the sight of all other nations. And a little farther on Moses says: "And
the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our
God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive . . . . And it
shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these
commandments." Deut. 6:24, 25. And he tells them that it was
because the Lord loved them that He had redeemed them out of Egypt; and
that "He is the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy
with them that love Him and keep his commandments" Deut 6:8,9.
Thus, were to love Him, because He first loved them; and they were to
manifest their love by keeping his commandments. And is it any different
now? Is it not written, "We love Him, because He first loved us,
I John 4:19? And does not our Lord say to us, even as he said to
them "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" John 14:15?
leaving Moses, we call attention to Deuteronomy 30:11-20, where he tells
the people that the commandment which was to be their life, was not
hidden from them (for God had revealed it to them) nor was it far off.
It was not in heaven, neither was it beyond the sea; but it had been
brought very nigh to them that they might hear it and do it. "And
His commandments are not grievous, now (I John 5:3); nor were they
grievous then. For on that occasion Moses gave as the great commandment
of the law, "to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and
to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments"
(cf. Matt. 22:37). And he repeats in verse 20 the exhortation that they
would "love the Lord," and "obey His
voice"; and for the reason that "He is thy life, and
the length of thy days."
According to Paul,
the word which Moses had said was "nigh" into them, not afar
off (in heaven or across the sea) was the very same "word of
faith which we preach" Rom. 10:8-13; citing in proof thereof
two 0.T. passages: "Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be
ashamed" Isa. 28:16; and "Whosoever shall call upon the
Name of the Lord shall be saved" Joel 2:32.
testifies that the things ministered by the prophets during the era of
the Law are the same that are now proclaimed by those who preach the
Gospel (I Pet. 1:12).
We are not saying,
of course, that it is not a far better thing to be under Grace than
under Law; for truly God has "provided some better thing for
us" Heb. 11 :40, but we are seeking the testimony of God's
Bible as to the character of His law, which the "Scofield
Bible" grievously maligns; and its testimony as to just what it
meant to the Israelites to be under the law of God instead of being left
to their own ways, as were the heathen all around them. And we have seen
that Moses, the mediator of that Old Covenant, declared to them
repeatedly that, in the possession of the law of God they were
unspeakably blessed, and chiefly in that it provided a way of life for
all who set their hearts to obey it.
Looking a little
further we note that the Book of Psalms opens with a glowing reference
to the blessedness of the man whose "delight is in the law of
the Lord," and who meditates in it "day and night"
Ps. 1:2. And there are other passages, not a few, which testify that
the law of God was a thing in which the heart of man could (and
therefore should) find delight, and find also profitable meditations
continuously (Job 23:12; Ps 119:70,77,92,174).
Now as to the
effects of the law, so far from it being true that it was "the
instrument of condemnation and only that," or "a ministry of
condemnation, death, and the divine curse," (as Dispensalists have
declared [Ed.]) the testimony of the Holy Spirit is that "the
law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul"; and that "the
commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" Ps. 19:7,8.
And the same Psalm declares as to the value of the commandments and
judgments of the Lord, that they are "More to be desired than
gold. Yea, than much fine gold" - more intrinsically valuable
than great quantities of the richest treasures of earth - and that, so
far from being distasteful and obnoxious, they are "sweeter also
than honey and the droppings of honeycombs" (v. 10, marg.).
The writer of
Psalm 119 adds his testimony that there are wondrous things to be seen
in the law (v. 18) ; that it was better to him "than thousands
of gold and silver" v. 72 that he loved it beyond his power to
express (v. 97) that by its precepts he got understanding, and learned
thereby to hate every false way (v. 104) ; and that "great peace
have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them" (v.
Solomon too bears
witness that "the commandment is a lamp, and the law is
light" Prov. 6:23 ; and that "the law of the wise is a
fountain of life" Prov. 13:14. Light and life were surely there
for all who sought them; and many sought and found. Solomon also records
the words, "Keep My commandments and live, and my law as the
apple of thine eye" Prov. 7:2.
foretelling some of the glorious things that Christ (whom God designates
in that passage as "My Servant") should accomplish,
says that God had given Him "for a light of the Gentiles";
and that "He will magnify the law and make it honorable"
Is. 42:6,21. Is not this a rebuke to those who traduce the law and
make it despicable?
the Babylonian captivity God, in recounting the great things He had
wrought for Israel and His many acts of mercy on their behalf,
emphasizes the giving of the law as one of the chief of them, saying: "And
I gave them my statutes and showed them my judgments, which if a man do,
he shall even live in them" Ezek. 20:11.
Hosea, God, in recounting the offences of Israel, said: "I have
written to him the great things of My law; but they were counted as a
strange thing" Hos. 8:12. And through the very last of the
prophets of Israel, and in almost the last words of his message, God
calls to them: "REMEMBER YE THE LAW OF MOSES MY SERVANT, WHICH I
COMMANDED UNTO HIM IN HOREB FOR ALL ISRAEL, WITH THE STATUTES AND
JUDGMENTS" Mal. 4:4.
Is it possible in
the face of these testimonies to maintain that the law was
"imposed" upon Israel because of their own improvident choice?
that "At Sinai they exchanged Grace for Law; they rashly accepted
the law"? or that "The Law is a ministry of condemnation,
death, and the divine curse," an instrument of "pitiless
severity"? If not, shall we allow these false and derogatory things
concerning the holy, life-giving and soul-enlightening law of our God to
be any longer preached and taught amongst us without earnest protest on
This is a serious
matter indeed; and therefore I trust that my readers may be moved to
join in a solemn protest against the further publication and sale of a
book that many unwary children of God accept as a "Bible," and
which contains so grievous a misrepresentation - amounting to a
vilification - of the holy Law of God.