Over the last year, I’ve studied a lot more of Christian history, especially the Old Testament times. It made me appreciate just how incredible God’s grace is.
In the Old Testament, we have a nation, a group of people that God picked out to be His, and for around 4000 years, they are subject to civil, ceremonial and moral laws, under a covenant of works. They are subjected to slavery, war, conquests and God’s wrath in many cases. They have no country of their own for long stretches of time, they wander through some of the most inhospitable landscape on earth, where it is dry, dusty and bleak.
So how much did they have to look forward to a Messiah? A king, a prophet and a high priest, all rolled into one, to free them from those afflictions and hardships. Not only would they be free from the wrath of God, living under the savior king, but they would also be living in relative peace and freedom. The gap between the Old and New Testaments is about 400 years. 400 years! For that whole time they did not give up hope, despite the lack of God-appointed prophets or new revelation.
Until Jesus was born.
The King of all Kings, the Prophet of all Prophets and the High Priest from heaven was here. Looking back at the history of the covenants, I stand amazed at how indifferent we stand towards the wonder of God’s grace. Without the covenant of grace, fulfilled by the birth, life and death of Jesus, we would also still be under a covenant of works. Would we have had the courage and conviction in the face of modernist philosophies to keep hoping as ancient Israel did? Do we comprehend how hard it was for them to keep hoping for that single event that would free them?
Grace, that which God gave, that which God committed to, that which He fulfilled, is what saves us. Without grace, it would up to us to keep that which Moses committed to, that what God demanded, and for which we stand way too weak in our sinfulness. God knew that what He demanded under the covenant of works would serve only to show our weakness, our helplessness, and point us to His grace.
This Christmas, celebrate being freed from the demands of your perfection by God’s standard. Know that without the birth, life and death of Jesus, we would still be waiting for the fulfillment of grace. Jesus came to meet the impossible demands on our behalf. Through grace alone, faith by and in that grace and the sanctification from the Spirit, we share in the salvation of those whom God picked out for Him.