Law
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 1:

Hebrews 9

1Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

This sentence, “then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary,” is a reference to Old Testament worship. The “first covenant” is just another phrase to describe the worship of the Old Testament. It had its ordinances; it also had an earthly sanctuary, a sanctuary related to this world–the earth. It is that sanctuary that we are studying at the present time. In verse 2, the Apostle Paul describes that earthly sanctuary with the words:

Hebrews 9

2For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary [the holy place].
3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
6Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Notice this verse particularly:

Hebrews 9

9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

Let us pause for a moment and notice verse 9, particularly the word “figure.” Elsewhere in the Bible the word is translated by the word “type.” We learn here that the Tabernacle as it was constructed and used in the Old Testament was a type for the particular day. It was never intended to be permanent, never fully intended to comply with all of the requirements of God in a complete way. Notice in verse 10:

Hebrews 9

10Which [the Tabernacle] stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

This word “carnal” does not have a connotation of evil as it does today. It has a connotation of the earth or the flesh or human nature.

Notice the word “reformation.” It is not a reference to the Reformation which started with Martin Luther. It is a reference to the Age of Grace in which we now live.

Hebrews 9

11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

This is as far as we shall read. We are not interested in a detailed discussion of this passage of Scripture. We have asked you to turn to it that we might have a basis for our study of the Tabernacle. Verse 9 tells us that the Tabernacle as it is portrayed here was a type or a figure or a picture. Verse 11 tells what the Tabernacle was a picture of. It was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who tabernacled in a building not made with hands, as was this tabernacle, but a building of flesh and bone.

Review of the Building

In the introductory studies of the Tabernacle which we have conducted so far, the Tabernacle is presented in a threefold way. It is important for us to refresh our minds about that so that we will be able to understand this present study. Without going into much detail, you will remember that the Tabernacle is presented in the Scriptures as a material building; it is presented as a type or a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before we look at the Tabernacle from any symbolic standpoint, I would like for us to get it firmly fixed in our minds as a material building. Keep in mind that this building was set upon a lot 75'x 100', a lot just about the size of the lot that this building, Abilene Bible Church, sits on. The building itself was 16 feet wide and 45 feet long. If you were to approach the Tabernacle from some distance, you would see a fence on golden pillars set in sockets, with a linen covering around. You would have to come to the end of the Tabernacle and enter through the veil which is in the courtyard in order to get into the Tabernacle.

This building was not constructed as we construct buildings today, with the idea of filling it up with a congregation. If you were a worshiper in the Tabernacle, you would get no further than the brazen altar. You would bring your offering to the priest. He would sacrifice it on the brazen altar, and then he would perform the rest of the worship himself, in your place. He would go to the brazen laver which is in front of the gate of the Tabernacle, and there he would wash his hands and perform an ablution of cleansing. Then he would go into the Tabernacle proper. But as you approached the Tabernacle, you would see a building with the coverings of skins.

First of all, there is the outer covering of badgers' skin, which has special significance, as we shall see. Then there is the rams' skin dyed red; then the goats' hair which, of course, was black; then the linen covering which was embroidered with purple, blue, and scarlet, and also embroidered with cherubim, which are on top. These coverings were not made from one large piece of material. They were made from individual curtains stitched together. That in itself has a significance that we will see by and by.

The walls of the Tabernacle itself were made of individual planks of shittim wood, with which we will become familiar, upon a foundation of silver. These walls of the Tabernacle were held together with rods. Each one of those things had a very definite significance.

Furniture Reviewed

When we were reading the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, there was a reference to two tabernacles. For purposes of clarification, it would have been better to say two rooms. The first Tabernacle, as it is described in the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, is the Holy Place. It was the larger room. It was designated “the Holy Place” because any of the priestly family (the Levites) could come into this part of the Tabernacle; they could go no further. They could not go into the second room of the Tabernacle at all. So if you were looking into the Tabernacle from its entrance, you would go through the veil; and the first thing that you would notice would be a seven-branched candlestick, which lighted up this entire room. Directly across from it, you would find a table of shewbread, a table upon which was placed loaves of bread. Directly in front of the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place you would see an altar upon which incense was burned continually; there was never a time when it was not burning.

When the high priest–not just an ordinary priest–went into the Most Holy Place, he cast some incense upon this altar in a way that caused a great cloud of smoke to arise so that no one could see him go into the Most Holy Place. This was the place that was dedicated to the worship of God, and the only individual who would come into that place and return alive was Aaron, the high priest. He could only go and come again as he bore blood which he brought from the altar as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. When he got into the Most Holy Place, he saw another piece of furniture. It was the Ark of the Covenant. On top of the Ark of the Covenant was what we refer to as “the Mercy Seat.” Sometimes the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat are spoken of as one piece of furniture. Yet if you look at the detailed discussion that is given to you in the Word of God, you will realize that the Ark of the Covenant was one piece of furniture, and the Mercy Seat was another piece of furniture. Thus there were seven pieces of furniture which were inside the Tabernacle, seven being the perfect number for the approach of man to God and God to man.

We are going to begin our study of the Tabernacle in a way different from what is usually done in the study of the Tabernacle. Some Bible scholars begin a discussion of the Tabernacle with the fence that is around the outside of the courtyard. Others begin a discussion of the Tabernacle with the foundation of the walls of the Tabernacle itself–the foundation of silver–the curtains, the various veils, and then the pieces of furniture inside the Tabernacle. Others begin with the furniture of the Tabernacle, describing the brazen altar and each piece of furniture until they reach the Mercy Seat, and then they talk about the building. Others begin in the very innermost part of the Tabernacle with the Mercy Seat and go outward past every piece of furniture and then deal with the construction of the Tabernacle itself. We are going to begin with the Ark of the Covenant. The reason for that is that we are studying not primarily the Tabernacle, though that is the subject at the present time. We are studying the book of Exodus, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, on the basis of the key verse of the book which is found in chapter 15, verse 13. This is where Moses is singing about God and says:

Exodus 15

13Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

This verse divides the book into three parts. Chapters 1-15 develop the statement, “thou hast led forth thy people which thou hast redeemed.” Those first 15 chapters tell of how God led the children of Israel out of Egypt. The second statement, “thou hast guided them in thy strength,” embraces chapters 16-24, for that statement describes the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel. The last phrase of the verse, “unto thy holy habitation,” describes the building of the Tabernacle and the significance thereof, in chapters 25-40.

Open your Bibles now to Exodus, chapter 25, because we are going to discuss the Tabernacle on the basis of its orderly presentation. That means that we are going to take up our discussion of the Tabernacle with chapter 25, verse 10. We have already considered the selection of the architect and the stockpiling of materials as it is presented in the first nine verses of chapter 25.

Two Accounts Compared

As we told you, there are two accounts of the Tabernacle and its furniture. One of them is presented to us in chapters 25-31; the other account, in chapters 35-40. From chapters 32-34, there is the sad, dark story of Israel's sin in between the time that God gave to Moses the pattern for the Tabernacle and the time that Bezaleel actually began the construction of the same. If we are properly to understand the Tabernacle, we will have to compare and contrast both accounts in order that all the material will be before us. So, in Exodus, chapter 25, verse 10:

Exodus 25

10And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
11And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
12And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
15The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
16And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
17And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

If we examine the book of Exodus, chapter 35, we notice the beginning of the construction of the Tabernacle as such. We find that Bezaleel does not begin the account of his work on the Tabernacle with a description of the buildings of the ark such as we have read. He begins, rather, with the outside curtains of the courtyard. If we wonder why, I think the answer is found in the inspiration of the Word of God. When the pattern was given to Moses, Israel had not sinned. So God could approach to man from the Most holy Place, the Ark of the Covenant. But in between the time that the pattern was given and the building was built, Israel had sinned. As Adam after the transgression could not get back to God without a blood sacrifice, so now the only way that Israel could get in touch with God was by way of the brazen altar on the outside, where the sacrifice was made.

Construction of the Ark of the Covenant

We proceed, then, to the description of the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, which is found in Exodus, chapter 37, beginning with verse 1:

Exodus 37

1And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:

Bezaleel's construction of the Ark was according to the pattern God gave Moses, with one exception of detail, and this will be of interest when we come to the typical interpretation:

Exodus 37

7And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;

We are told in verse 7 that the Mercy Seat–cherubim and all–was made out of one slab of pure gold.

Now, as we start our promised study of the typical meaning of the Ark of the Covenant, I want to remind you that while the Israelites themselves may not have seen this typical significance in the Tabernacle, we are able to do so. The best commentary on any portion of the Word of God is the commentary which the Holy Spirit makes, and the Holy Spirit has been pleased to make a commentary on the Tabernacle by telling us that it and the furniture contained therein is a picture or a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. So in studying the construction of the Ark, we can expect immediately a picture of the Lord Jesus; and we do find it in an unusual way. You will find, as we go through our study of the Tabernacle, that the Ark is the only piece of furniture which speaks of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in preference to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The other pieces of furniture will be talking about His work; this piece of furniture will be talking about His person.

A Literal Chest for Storage

To understand what the Ark of the Covenant means, we will have to understand, first, what it is materially. We have to deal first in facts. The piece of furniture we are talking about is in the second room of the Tabernacle. The question which is very naturally asked is, “What is an Ark?” The simplest answer can be found by comparing Scripture with Scripture; so turn, please, to II Chronicles, chapter 24, where there is the story of how Joash became concerned because the people were not bringing the offerings prescribed by Moses for the worship of the Tabernacle. Something had to be done about it. In verse 7, we read what the problem was:

II Chronicles 24

7For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.
8And at the king's commandment they made a chest, and set it without at the gate of the house of the LORD.
9And they made a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem, to bring in to the LORD the collection that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness.
10And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end.

If you were to read the rest of that paragraph, you would find the word “chest” repeated again. Circle it in your minds, if not in your Bibles, because the word “chest” is a translation of the Hebrew word which is the word that is used for “ark” in Exodus, chapter 35. So when we want to know literally what an ark is, we recognize immediately that it is a chest and nothing more than that. Do not look for some superstitious idea in relation to it. It was a chest of a size reasonable for carrying and of a size suitable for containing the things which were in it. If you translate the dimensions of the chest (you will remember from our reading it was two and a half cubits long, two and a half cubits high, and one and a half cubits broad) from cubits to inches, using the 18 inch cubit as a basis for your figuring, you will find that the chest was 45 inches long, 45 inches high, and 27 inches broad. This is not much more than an oblong box in which you might store some valuable things even today.

Construction Material of the Ark

As we continue pursuing the simple basic facts about the chest, we find that this 45 inch chest was made of shittim wood. If you have a marginal reference Bible or one of the modern versions, you will find that the word “shittim” has been changed to “acacia.” The word “acacia” is more practical for our understanding, because the shittim tree, from which the chest was made, is known today in that part of the world as the acacia tree. This makes it easier for us to identify it.

The box made out of shittim wood was overlaid with gold on the outside and on the inside, so that you could not see any of the wood of which it was made at all. It was overlaid without and within with gold. Right around the top of the chest there was a crown of gold, a rim on the top of the chest. The height of the rim is not given in the Word, but later, when we are talking about the Mercy Seat which formed the lid of this chest, we will find that the crown was as thick as the Mercy Seat and it was intended to keep the Mercy Seat from sliding off the top of the chest.

This chest had rings of gold at each end of it, and through these rings of gold were staves–carrying rods–made out of shittim wood and overlaid with gold. During the wilderness wanderings those staves were never taken out of the rings. They always remained there ready for the Ark to be carried, because the children of Israel never moved in any of their journeys without the Ark preceding them.

You will remember that in Hebrews, chapter 9, we are told that there were three things placed in this chest. One of them was the law. It is thrice referred to here in chapter 25 as the “testament.” Another thing that was placed in the chest was Aaron's rod that budded, and another thing that was placed in the chest was a golden pot of manna. Those three things are significant.

The Mercy Seat, to which I referred a moment ago, which we will consider first as a material piece of furniture, not at present in its typical significance, was a slab of pure gold. Get that fixed in your minds. We have been talking about the chest of wood overlaid with gold, but when we come to the Mercy Seat, we are talking not about a piece of wood overlaid with gold; we are talking about a slab of pure gold which was so beaten by the craftsman that the cherubim also on each side of it were made out of that one piece of gold. The cherubim, one on each end of the Mercy Seat, faced each other, but they were not looking at each other; they were looking down at the Mercy Seat itself. Their wings overspread the Mercy Seat, as though they might be protecting it in some fashion.

This that I have presented to you up to this point is a simple, literal description of a wooden chest covered with gold, in which there were some historical objects related to the history of the nation of Israel.

Typical Significance of the Ark

We are interested not primarily in this, but in the typical significance of what we have already noticed. Since we have Scriptural reason to think about the typical significance of the Tabernacle and the pieces of furniture contained therein, we want to do that now with the Ark of the Covenant, or the Ark of the Testimony. Whenever you see a type in the Word of God, before you ascertain its meaning, you need to find the first place in the Word of God that it is mentioned. When you discover the first place that it is mentioned in the Bible, you will have a clear idea as to what it is going to mean throughout. So turn to Genesis, chapter 6. We will read a few verses about the first ark which was mentioned in the Bible. This ark was the ark which God instructed Noah to build for the preservation of those of the human race who found grace in His sight. We read in Genesis, chapter 6, verse 17:

Genesis 6

17And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
18But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
19And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

That is as far as we will read, because the phrase in which we are interested is in verse 19. The purpose of the ark was to keep Noah and his family and these animals alive. The purpose of the ark was to sustain life. That is the first mention of an ark in the Bible. For the purpose of clarification, let us say that that is not the same Hebrew word as is used to describe this particular ark here, but it does show the significance of an ark. Turn to Exodus, chapter 2, where you find the second mention of an ark in the Bible. This second mention also of the ark is related to the sustenance of life. In Exodus, chapter 2, we read:

Exodus 2

1And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
4And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

You are familiar with the story. Moses' sister saw what was accomplished. The ark was the means of saving her brother's life. Incidentally, since we are in the book of Exodus, it is interesting to notice the the word for “ark” in Exodus, chapter 2, and the word for “ark” in Exodus, chapter 25, are one and the same. Since we recognize that the typical significance of an ark in the Bible is that it is used to sustain life, we can consider that the Ark of the Covenant was used for exactly the same thing. Perhaps you are wondering how that could possibly be. When we learn how the Ark of the Covenant saved lives, we will have a perfect illustration of how the Ark is typical of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May I remind you of what we learned a few seconds ago? In the Ark there were the two tables of stone–the law of God. You remember the history of that. Moses went up on the mountain and God wrote upon tables of stone the law of God, and when Moses came down from the mountain he saw the children of Israel worshiping a calf at the foot of the mountain. In his disappointment and anguish, he cast down the tables of stone. He was not angry. He did not do it in a fit of temper. God did not rebuke him for it. He did it as a prophet of God because he knew, and it needed to be pinpointed, that the people had broken God's law. After Moses had interceded for the people, God gave again on two tables of stone the law of God. This time it was put in the Ark.

Mercy Seat Covers the Law of God

The law of God in the Ark was covered by the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was the place where blood was applied–not offered, but applied. No man could go into the Holy Place without shed blood. There is only one instance in the Scripture when the Mercy Seat was ever taken off the Ark of the Covenant. When it was, those who took off the Mercy Seat (the lid) were stricken dead.

Let us turn to I Samuel, chapter 6, and notice the incident. God is teaching us that man, if he stands in the light of the law, is condemned. Man cannot keep God's law. That is the reason the Mercy Seat had to cover it. In I Samuel, chapter 6, the children of Israel were bringing the Ark back from the land of the Philistines. They were concerned about how the Philistines might have treated it, so they lifted the Mercy Seat to see if anything had been disturbed in the Ark. The record of what happened is found in verse 19:

I Samuel 6

19And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
20And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

They asked the question expecting a negative answer, because God's law had been broken. No one is able to stand in the presence of a holy God without something to protect him from the wrath of God. The Mercy Seat (or the lid) of the Ark covered those two tables of stone, and men were perfectly safe as long as it remained there. But when the Mercy Seat was lifted and they took the full brunt of the law upon themselves, there was nothing but death as a result.

Christ Fulfilled the Law

We are all aware that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One Who fulfilled the law of God, and the Ark becomes a perfect symbol of that. When you have that to spark your interest, it is amazing how many Scriptures there are which indicate that very thing. Think with me. What was in the very center of the Ark? The law of God, is that not true? Turn to Psalm 40 and notice the testimony which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself gave concerning His tenure of time upon the earth. Psalm 40 is a record of the conversation that was carried on in the council chambers of Heaven before the Lord Jesus Christ actually came to this earth.

Psalms 40

6Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

Let us stop for a moment to consider what we have read. The Psalmist is speaking prophetically in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. What He is saying here is that there came a time in the program of Christ when animal sacrifices were not sufficient. There came a time in the program of God when some other sacrifice had to be made. Using human terms for the purpose of understanding, to describe a very sacred scene, let us visualize that between verses 6 and 7 God looked for a volunteer, someone who was willing to be the sacrifice that was needed. The Lord Jesus Christ responded, in verse 7, with the words:

Psalms 40

7Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,

The book mentioned here is the book of destiny. In that book, before the foundation of the world, was written the fact that Jesus Christ would someday be the person Who would die for the sins of the world. So He said:

Psalms 40

7…in the volume of the book it is written of me,
8I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Where were the two tables of stone? Where was the law of God? Was it not in the very heart of the Ark? Here the Lord Jesus Christ, in full compliance with that type, says, “thy law is within my heart.” Turn now to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5. Remember, when the Lord Jesus Christ did come to earth and because His message was so different from the empty religion of the Pharisees, many took issue with Him. The Pharisees had added to the law of God provisions which provided misery for every one who tried to adhere to them but eased their own consciences; therefore, they were jealous that the Lord Jesus Christ might change their way of doing things. They said of Him that He was trying to disannul or destroy the law of God. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 5, verse 17:

Matthew 5

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

That was one purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ in coming to the earth–to fulfil the law. What do we mean by His fulfilling the law? Let me say, as I ask you to turn to the book of Romans, chapter 8, that when we speak of the Lord Jesus Christ's fulfilling the law, we are speaking of His fulfilling the righteous demands of the law. As long as the tables of stone in the Ark of the Covenant were covered by the Mercy Seat, no one died; but as soon as the Mercy Seat was lifted, thousands of people died, because the law was uncovered. In Romans, chapter 8, verse 1:

Romans 8

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…

The text in the original language stops right there. The rest of verse 1 is not in the original. Your freedom from condemnation is not because you walk after the Spirit instead of after the flesh; your freedom from condemnation, if you enjoy such, is because you are in the Lord Jesus Christ. How can this freedom from condemnation be, when every individual in the world has broken God's law? If it has been broken in one point, it is broken in all. How can His law, which we have broken, not demand our death for the breaking of the law? Your answer is found in verse 2:

Romans 8

2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Let us consider what we have read. This does not mean that because you are a Christian you can go out and shoot the first man you see; it does not mean that because you are free from the law, you may do whatever you want to do. It simply means that one higher law has superseded another law. Sometimes, when a law cannot be changed any other way, a new law is passed which abrogates the first law. That is the suggestion of verse 2.

Accepting the Finished Work of Christ

Paul, how could that be? We want an explanation. He gives it in verse 3:

Romans 8

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…

Think for a moment. This does not suggest that the law was weak. Paul tells us in chapter 7 and then later on in the book of Romans that the law was perfect and just and good. There was nothing wrong with the law. When he said it was weak through the flesh, he was talking not about the weakness of the law, but about the weakness of the flesh. You are familiar with that, are you not? I would be very distressed if any of you told me you are not familiar with the weakness of the flesh. I would be inclined to think that you were lying about it. The weakness of the flesh is such, in all of us, that none of us can keep the law perfectly. Because of that, we are condemned to death and would die were it not for the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and took care of the situation. Look at verse 3:

Romans 8

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

He did not take upon Himself the form of angels; He took upon Himself the form of human flesh. That is the significance of the acacia wood of which the Ark is made.

Romans 8

4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We are reminded here in Romans, chapter 8, that the Lord Jesus Christ took the law and the penalty of the law upon Himself. He surrounded it, so to speak, so that all the just demands of the law were met in His flesh. We would remind you of the truth that is recorded in Romans, chapter 10, verse 4:

Romans 10

4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

You are no longer under condemnation for a broken law, because the law has been fulfilled in Christ. That is the message of the Ark of the Covenant, in part. Notice what I said–only in part. As long as the Mercy Seat covered the two tables of stone, men lived. When the law was not covered by God's Mercy Seat, men died. Thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ has met the full requirements of the law and we live if we are willing to accept the work He has done.


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