Think of the relationship between law and grace as you would a cup filled with refreshing cool water. The law is like a container for God’s grace through Christ. The law provides a structural framework to hold the water of life, but in itself it cannot produce life. A cup will do you no good in the desert unless it is filled with water. You can clutch the cup all day long, but until it is filled with water your thirst will not be satisfied. Jesus is the water of life. He is the substance inside of the cup.
The corruption of the Pharisees dirtied the cup of the law making whatever life God tried to pour into it undrinkable. God’s desire was not to destroy the cup (law), but to clean it and fill it with the life of Christ so it could be used for drinking by all.
You may ask, why do we need the cup if we have the water?
Do you remember when the dams broke with Katrina? New Orleans had been a beautiful city, but when the levees gave way the gorgeous waterways became destructive. In the same way, having only grace without the structure of the law can be destructive as well.
We may say that the law is no longer valid, but if we think it is wrong to lie, steal, or kill, the law is functioning positively within us. The law is like money. It is valuable, but it can be used for good or for evil just like a cup can hold water or poison. The law can be used to serve God and others or it can be used selfishly as in the case of the corrupt Pharisees. The healthy boundaries of the law are good when they are used to hold the water of life and to serve others, but they are not good when they are turned into a prison of bondage.
Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. NKJV
Colossians 2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. NKJV
The heart of Jesus was to reform the corrupt legalistic system that had been developed around God’s beautiful, holy law which gives freedom. When you take time to learn the Jewish culture and context of scripture a lot of grey areas can be made clear.
Read the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) translation…
Matthew 5:17 – Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, that so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah until everything that must happen has happened. (CJB)
The Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible. It’s content includes the Feasts, the Tabernacle, the Mitzvot, etc. The prophets are found in the Tanakh (rest of the OT).
Earlier in this article, the various types of Hebrew law were laid out. Now, I am about to show you the difference this understanding makes in your Bible reading.
Galatians 2:19 (New King James) For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
What type of sense does that make? Through the law I died to the law?
Now read the same scripture again with the law being represented with its correct context.
Galatians 2:19 (Complete Jewish Bible) For it was through letting the Torah speak for itself that I died to its traditional legalistic misinterpretation so that I might live in direct relation to God.
Remember, the Torah is the first five books of the Bible. The legalistic interpretations are the man-made laws around the Torah. All law is not the same. All law is not bad!
Legalism is the problem, not the law of God.
James 1:25 – But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty…will be blessed in what he does. (NKJ)
James 1:25 – But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah (teaching), which gives freedom… he will be blessed in what he does. (CJB)
God’s heart is to see his people living free!
Exodus 20:2 declares, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”. (NKJ)
The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means “house of bondage”. During Passover, God’s people were set free from the house of bondage when the angel of death passed over the homes who had the blood of the lamb on their door posts.
In John 8:34,36 – 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin… 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (NKJ)
Passover, outlined in the Torah, is a type and shadow of our Messiah, who set us free from the slavery of sin, by His blood. This is a perfect case in point of the law (Torah) teaching freedom. It is also clear to see how Jesus fulfills this aspect of the law by being our Passover Lamb. This is just one example out of many that can be found when connecting the law with Christ. The Feasts are overflowing with insights on Christ and his fulfillment of the law.
Luke 24:27 – Then, starting with Moses and all of the prophets, he (Jesus) explained to them the things that can be found throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament) concerning himself. Luke 24:44-49 continues…”Jesus said to them, “This is what I meant when I was still with you and told you that everything written about me in the Torah of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms has to be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds, so that they could understand the Tanakh (Old Testament scriptures).
As I started studying the feasts, the law and Christ’s fulfillment of it, it was a very eye opening experience! It was mind blowing to see how God took care of every little detail of the law through Christ. After I saw how meticulously God laid out the plan of salvation throughout the Old Testament long before Christ was born, I knew that I could never worry again. He has all things covered! I have no doubt that you will also be blessed and strengthened in your faith as you pursue learning Christ from Genesis to Revelation. As you open your heart to learn about the Jewishness of your Messiah and the amazing part that plays in your inheritance, you will find an empty place in your heart being filled… for you serve the one who fulfills!!
Alison Crawford has over 20 years of ministry experience, including women’s events, teaching Hebrew Roots for adult and children’s education, ministering on college campuses, and co-pastoring with her husband Isaac. She absolutely loves her soul mate Isaac and their awesome teenage sons, David and Daniel. www.IACrawfordMinistries.com