Deuteronomy narrates Moses’ final instructions to Israel before Joshua led them across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. The generation that had followed him out of Egypt all died in the wilderness (except for Joshua and Caleb) because of their unbelief and rebellion, making it necessary for Moses to administer God’s Law a second time. Moses would die on Mount Horeb, but not before equipping Israel to live lives of holiness in the land God gave them.
I say all that to give you context for a passage I read the other day.
24 When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, 25 Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, 26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death! 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” ~~Deuteronomy 31:24-29 (ESV)
As we said yesterday, God’s Word often brings us discomfort, if not outright pain, by testifying to our innate sinfulness. Verse 26 especially makes this point. The Lord had just shown Moses that Israel would ultimately rebel so badly that heathen nations would take them into captivity (see Deuteronomy 29:22-28), giving Moses a desire to warn then that God’s Law would convict them when they rebelled.
Perhaps I’m strange, but I see God’s grace in verse 26. Yes, God’s Law bears witness to our sinfulness, but in so doing it also enables us to understand our need for Christ. As the apostle Paul explains in his letter to the Galatians, the Law functioned as a tutor, or manager, guarding until the grace of God would appear.
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~~Galatians 4:1-7 (ESV)
The harsh conviction of the Law causes us to welcome the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although it indeed stands as a condemning witness against us, it allows us to rejoice that He generously redeemed us from its curse.
Reading Deuteronomy 31:26 earlier this week reminded me that, despite how greatly God’s Law witnesses to my sinfulness, the Lord declares me righteous because Jesus died as my substitute, bearing the penalty for my sin. For that reason I love the very Law that would, left by itself, damn me to hell, knowing that God used it to bring me to Himself.