AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
February 5, 2006
WHERE THE MEDIATOR IS GOD - Galatians 3:15 - 4:7
To Abraham was the promise given, from Moses was the sinfulness of sin make apparent; in Christ the promise is fulfilled, the horror is remedied and the Spirit seals the hearts of those who know where their Father is, and how to reach Him in Christ. Indeed, He is available no less than with Abraham, and the more so in that there is direct, purchased access through the Mediator who, being God Himself as man, has assured entry to and for all who receive Him by faith. It is not with angels that we deal, but with the direct expression of God, from His heart to ours, from eternity to time. What confidence this gives, and what results!
I THE INCONTESTABLE COVENANT 3:I5-18
Covenants, even among men, are complete when signed, and when the covenant is confirmed by God, as in Genesis 12, 15, 17, then who is he who would imagine he could mar it! The promise at the outset through Abraham and his SEED, was that in him all nations would be blessed. This was sent, indeed conveyed personally by God to an Abraham who BELIEVED, and was justified even in the very aura of faith in the coming Christ (Galatians 3:8), for God focussed on ONE SEED. You see that from Genesis 3:15 in the beginning, where the 'seed' is HE who will BRUISE 'your head' - said to Satan, of the seed to be duly promised to Abraham.
Paul makes the Gentiles realise that the LAW, so famous and impactive, enshrined in the TEMPLE and the whole sacrificial system which stressed sins of this and that kind with precision, and the sacrificial necessities for each one of them, came 430 years after Abraham. The law, however, with its X-ray purpose, for sin, was NO annulment of the grace of the gift of the SEED, the ONE seed who would bruise the serpent's head, that is, smash the Satanic centre, while bruising His own heel, one who as man and yet beyond man's sinful servitude, could account both for sin, as God, and for Satan, and in doing so, act as Judge. Yet what a judge to fight the oppressor which rebellion into sin brought, and win immunity and renewed communing in the peace of God's own presence, for those who came to accept His freedom, freely (Ephesians 2:18).
Of interest is the 430 years (Galatians 3:17). It is not actually stated that all this time was spent in Egypt, though it may have been, but that it elapsed from the giving of the promise to the patriarchs, to the giving of the law to the people. In Exodus 12:39-40, we find that the time of SOJOURNING, for those who had lived in Egypt, was 430 years. This of course amply fulfils the round 400 years which God promised in Genesis 15:13, which assuredly occurred; but it may be that the extra thirty from promise to law came before the 400 actually began in Egypt.
Thus, it is entirely possible that it was 30 years from the last promise to the patriarchs (recorded, that is, as in Genesis 32:22ff.) to the advent of Joseph in Egypt, who was assuredly oppressed and was their representative before God (cf. Genesis 45:7-8), followed by the arrival of Jacob, thus beginning the Egyptian time for all. In that case, ISRAEL itself would have come 30 years after the famous promise to Jacob, at Bethel (Genesis 35:1-18).
Let us consider this. Joseph was 17 when sold, and the promise was made about the time of his younger brother's birth, so that it COULD be that some 15 years after Bethel, he was sold; and with a possible 3 years with the Egyptian officer, as new, then as ruler, as prisoner, then as prison superintendent, then 2 more as awaiting the butler's remembering him, amounting to 5 years, together with the 7 'good' years and 2 'bad' or lean ones - Genesis 45:6, following his appointment to Pharaoh, with time for ‘Israel’ to come with all his people: this would all sum at 30.
Either view is possible both fit; but the exercise helps us to understand how the Lord can use an apparently long period (say 30 years) in preparation for a vast epoch, with massive meaning and results. With Moses it was 40, as with Joshua, as we have seen before. This time in Egypt shows one of the greatest divine interventions in human history, perhaps as archeologically confirmed in the Ipuwer papyrus, noted by Dr Immanuel Velikovsky and much spoken of since then; and this input of the people, and output or exodus, formed a basis in symbol for the coming of Christ, the 'passover lamb', while showing the unlimited power of God to redeem, to deliver and to direct, for all time also (cf. Matthew 2:15 and The Exodus Escape).
The papyrus account, so like that in the Bible, is discussed in Archeological Diggings, November 2004, August-September 2005.
II THE EYE-OPENING CHILDREN'S TUTOR 3:19 - 4:3
Very well: Paul is telling us that the law coming 430 years after the promise, does nothing to ANNUL the promise to Abraham. It merely MEASURES the time from its giving to the giving of the LAW.
The promise being given by the ETERNAL GOD being UNCONDITIONAL, continued to apply; and of course DAVID knew its provisions for his own personal life as in Psalm 32, Psalm 51, and 17. When the SEED, Christ, came, then all the past symbolism in Egypt and the Temple, was fulfilled. LAW is not promise, but premiss (Gal. 3:21); but at that, it shuts up to the promise, leaving no way for meanders of self-made religion! The promise remained as seen in David (Ps. 32, 51, 17), a gift by grace, its preciousness made the more obvious by the law: the gift was priceless, but the debt which preceded it was in Moses, summed up! and what summary disaster its sums depicted … (Gal. 3:19).
The law, Paul proceeds, came through a Mediator, and this implies more than one; but the gift of God in Christ is of ONE God by a Mediator who is HIMSELF, a direct gift, without merely human intervention, as to the agent; and thus it is a far greater thing (as in Hebrews 3, making the preparatory portions of the law obsolescent – but not of course, the law itself, the principles and desires of the Lord – Romans 3:31, Matthew 5:17-23, Romans 11:18). ALL God says in His covenants to man is either fulfilled, or going to be.
The Law was thus a teacher of many things, its principles remaining, but its stringent instructions to be fulfilled in their central theme: now Paul indicates, they ARE fulfilled. The principles of the tutor remain, but the school time is surpassed by the fulfilment of liberty when one comes of age: in Christ, we are indeed of age!
III THE SPIRIT FROM CHRIST TO ROUSE HEIRS TO LIFE 4:4- 4:7
Just as in the 430 years, the Law came and the Egyptian time finished, so also in the fulness of times (in fact the 'sevens' of Daniel 9, fulfilled to the dot in the date of Christ's death), Christ came (Galatians 4:4 cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). Everything is regulated, announced (cf. Amos 3:7), showing the programmatic part of things, the scenes, scenario, for the grand opening of the gates, direct in Christ. Children no more, we become sons and daughters of God, crying by the Spirit, lodged in our hearts, 'Abba', FATHER! (as in Romans 8:16), the Spirit also leading us in the paths of righteousness (cf. Psalm 143:10).
As a child directly under God, you are now an heir, through Christ (Galatians 3:29), who has gone to prepare a place for you (John 14:1ff.). If YOU are under HIS rule and salvation, and IN His care as your Lord and Saviour, not in mere outward show but inward reality, then this is for you. For all such, that too will come in its time, at your passing to paradise, or at His return, whichever comes sooner. The grandeur of God is ALWAYS TIMELY, as are His deliverances from evil, and no less His power of grace and mercy, and His provision for good in the lives of those who are willing like Joseph, to be patient and endure, to be faithful and proceed in Him, the glory of God the cloud about, and the fire within.