Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Review Quarter 3 Lesson 6
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 6 Friday
Galatians 3:15 To give a human example, brethren: no one annuls even a man’s will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. (There are lots of interesting things that have been said about that because the greek could have been collective plural, and this was the sort of things that the rabbis love to do. Well no matter, the point is very clear. Much blessing came through many of the descendants of Abraham, but of course the seed. The all Important one was the Messiah, so the point was clear.) 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
How to understand those words? In imagination looking back in the days of Genesis, can you see Abraham and God talking together about the future? Ellen White fills this in perfectly in Patriarchs and Prophets; she describes God talking with Abraham. as with a friend, about all the things to come, and he had the gospel preached to him there, by the Lord Himself. He saw all down through the years, and he looked for a city whose builder was God, just as God did with Moses, the other person described in the bible as God’s special friend. On Mt Nebo God gave Moses visions, pictures of the whole plan unfolding right down to the end.
Moses was even shown the privilege that he would have in opening the gates to the city when Christ came back on resurrection Sunday to ask the heavenly council if what He had done was enough, and no angel opened the gates, Moses did. These two men who were such trusting friends of God enjoyed the privileges of friendship, and you know prayer is conversation with God as with a friend and conversation works both ways.
God talks to His friends as well his friends talking to Him. Because Moses and Abraham showed themselves as such trustworthy friends, though it is true they let God down didn’t they from time to time? God was able to tell them things that He hasn’t been able to tell the rest of us and maybe if we were better friends at least we could read the Bible with a bit more understanding and God could tell us a bit more clearly of the things to come. He loves to tell His friends what He is going to do.
Remember the word about His prophets, God will tell His prophets in advance? He said to Abraham, “I want to tell you Abraham what I’m going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah” Think what that says about how God wishes to relay Himself to us. So God talked to Abraham about what He really wanted, and about the great controversy and how it would be necessary for His Son to come the Messiah. How He would be rejected and He recounted this to Abraham and He said to Abraham “I want you to be the Father of the nations through whom I will speak to the world and of you will be born this Messiah” Must have been unbelievable to Abraham. Well Abraham trusted God about the birth of Isaac, then he trusted God about the birth of a Divine Human Son, some day in the future, in his linage.
As God talked with Abraham about these promises and the SDA BIBLE Commentary lists the text involved, it’s a long collection. The treatment of this chapter in the commentary is very good, making uses of so many verses there is time to mention now. But God seems to be saying to Abraham. “How wonderful it is for us to talk like this, if you can trust Me, and be My friend, and spread the good news,(remember the good news was spread in old testament times) we can work this all out together, (as if God needed us at all, He just likes to do it with the members of the family, just as He likes to use angels as ministering spirits) if we can just trust each other and stay together, we shall triumph together in the end.” (Abraham looked forward to this triumph, God initiating it all)
God wasn’t talking about law and behavior and so forth, He was talking about all the good things He could do and would like to do through Abraham, if only Abraham could trust Him, if only he would trust Him, everything else would work out in its way.
Then a little later Paul says, “The law came” is this a detour, is this a new plan? Has the emphasis shifted from this trusting relationship to obedience and ceremony. Well he answers that;
Galatians 3:19 Why then the law? (if God would rather emphasize trust and faith) It was added (because of an emergency) because of transgressions, till the offspring should come (what offspring? isn’t it the one that God and Abraham had talked about until the Messiah would come the law was added) to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one.
Why Paul digressed to say this and it’s interesting that in the SDA BIBLE commentary it says “There are some 250 different explanations of part of this (they didn’t list the 250 they just suggested) that some uncertainty that why Paul went so far as to add that an intermediary implies more than one but God is One.” If anyone has a definite, certain explanation as to why Paul said this, perhaps you can leave your suggestions in the comments box. He wouldn’t waste time, it wasn’t so easy to write these things out. He had someone taking this by dictation, he wouldn’t waste time, effort nor space.
Is he trying to suggest, if Moses is to be seen as the intermediary, and thats generally agreed to. That were as that initial relationship between Abraham and God, was initiated by God and came directly by God, face to face to Abraham. The promise came right from God. Whereas, the law that was added because of the emergency, came through an intermediary. Is this a way of suggesting, this that came later was a stop-gap measure, what God really wants is what He gave directly. He’s just saying something that His audience might have understood to mean, not to minimize the importance of law, we needed it. But that was just an emergency measure along the way.
What God always wanted is trust, even before sin came along all that He wanted was trust. He talked to Abraham about the ideal. But then because of transgression and misbehavior, He resorted to law. It was added because of transgressions this law that was ordained through angels through and intermediary, then He says “Now an intermediary implies more than one; but (may i remind you that) God is one.” Why does he say that, that God is One? Is it because maybe he thought that his audience would misunderstand about this intermediary.
Well there isn’t a final statement in the SDA BIBLE commentary there is an invitation to consider possible meanings, but maybe we should read on because he is trying to suggest that what came later is not to annul what God personally said Himself to Abraham. I would see some light in the one interpretation that the commentary leans toward the one they choose to present, i think it’s very attractive it makes good sense.
But Paul’s main point now is to answer the question “Why then the law, it was added because of transgressions until the offspring should come” Galatians 3:21 “Is the law then against the promises of God? (Does it cancel those out, all that talk about trust and the Messiah to come) Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.”
Now earlier Paul had said what makes “alive” he said “The man who is righteous by faith, he is the one who will live, it’s only by trusting God that we can be healed and have life, there is no law that can do this” In fact he has already said very clearly in Romans that the law had the opposite effect on him even though he agreed the law was right the law tended to provoke him to rebelliousness, the law doesn’t heal the law is exact in it’s description of the ideal, but it doesn’t tell us how to do it and it certainly doesn’t heal us when we fail. So there is no life by means of law.
22 But the scripture consigned all things to sin, (remember Romans 3?) that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who have faith and all who trust him. 23 Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. (When was that?) 24 So that the law was our custodian (schoolmaster, guardian, lets compare bible version on that next week) until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Let’s consider what this might mean? Perhaps the first question we should ask of ourselves, “What law it was that was added?” because that would influence all the rest of our discussion wouldn’t it? “What law was added because of our transgressions”? Would it be agreeable that this is the same law that was our custodian? Paul isn’t changing to another law is he? The law that was added was our custodian, so let’s ask the question of both.
What law was added because of the emergency to be our custodian.The Greek for custodian, I’m sure you’ve heard discussed so many times, is paidagogos, made up of two parts. Paid, as a child, as in pediatrician, pedodontics, and so forth. And the second part, agogos, appears in synagogue; “syn” means together, as in synthetic. “Ago” means to lead, to bring, to go. Synagogue is where people are brought together; the Latin would be “congregation”, gathered together. So a paidagog, pedagogue is one who leads, brings children. And this was the name for a trusted servant or slave whose duty it was to guard the children, particularly to take them to school. He was not their teacher; he was their protector, because they needed it.
Now, if the parents could trust the children to go straight to school and not head off to the woods to climb trees and steal green apples, if the parents could trust the children to go to school, arrive on time, behave all the way through, come home afterwards without wandering around and splashing through puddles, and so on, there’d be no need for this pedagogue, no need at all. But you know how it is with children. Can’t you remember doing this? So, because of the emergency, there needed to be this pedagogue.
Do the versions in any way seem to identify which law this is, by capitalizing it, by calling it the Law of Moses, and so on? And what translation do they have for the pedagogue, the custodian? What do you have on those two things in the versions in front of you? Do any of them indicate what law it was, and what do they choose for the translation of paidagogos? What do you have that’s different? “Strict governess” is one used by Phillips Bible version and growing up in England you can see why he might use that term. “The law is our strict governess.” Some others state “The law has been our ATTENDANT to lead us to Christ” If you have something different perhaps you can leave them in the comments section?
They all give us the same basic points don’t they? So much more important for us is to identify the law that was added, and remember the debate that we have been discussing in this additional commentary in 1888 the books by Elder Butler and by Dr Waggoner. Elder Butler wrote “That’s the ceremonial law and i don’t know how anybody could ever suggest that this is the moral law” and Dr Waggoner replied “That’s the moral law and I know how anybody could ever suggest that this is the ceremonial law” and Ellen White says “Well you’re both wrong, it’s both the laws, but if it’s one above the other it is the moral law” and you can imagine the effect at the time and this is now available in Selected Messages volume 1 pages 233-235;
“I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments. 1st Select Messages page 233.1
“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. (Dr Waggoner must have been especially pleased but I’m sure he was gracious enough not to write “I told you so”, feelings ran so high those days that in fact Mrs White wrote that the spirit of Satan was dominant in that General Conference in Minneapolis in 1888. She went on to say that “If Christ had appeared the one that wanted to set us right and keep us right by revealing the truth about His heavenly Father, many of the delegates would have rejected Him with all the stubbornness with which He was rejected when He came 1900 years before” It’s incredible isn’t it?) The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 1st Select Messages page 234.5
Mrs white was suggesting that law has a function, but which law reveals sin to us?
An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, (on this subject) and to accept this truth, (about the law, which law it was and what the function of law is) lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren [E.J.] Waggoner and [A.T.] Jones. (Very serious to do such a thing, the Lord’s message was resisted and opposed, what is His message about the law) By exciting that opposition (to this truth which is the explanation about the moral and the ceremonial laws by exciting that opposition) Satan succeeded (one more time) 1SM 234.6 in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. (And we pray for the latter rain, if we can’t accept this truth, how can we have the latter rain?) The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, (what truth?) as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted,
(what is the light that is the lighten the whole earth with it’s glory? Apparently it’s this truth about God’s law. For a misunderstanding of God’s use of law is the thing most readily used by Satan to support his charges that God is remember as Satan accused, “God is remember arbitrary, unforgiving and severe.” The question over law is at the heart of it, i’ve often heard it said “The central issue in the great controversy is over the law, now what does that mean? Well for many it means whether of not you’re going to obey the law, you see the good ones obey the law and the bad ones don’t. The controversy is are you going to obey it or not. Remember the people who appeared to obey the law crucified Christ. I don’t believe the controversy is over whether or not you’re going to obey the law as such, the controversy is over what kind of a God would use law they way that He has, and what kind of obedience is acceptable to this kind of a God? It’s the quality of obedience that is the issue in the great controversy, and that all depends on what kind of person we believe our God to be? The light that is the lighten the whole earth with it’s glory I would understand is the good news about God that would explain why he has made so heavy use of law, all through scripture, not to deprive us of our freedom, for He said “If only you could know the truth, then the truth could set you free.” Then the truth about God and His law, is the message about our freedom. How can you talk about law and freedom at the same time, ah thats tying the good news and the law together and Ellen White says “Too long we’ve preached the law, the law, the law until our sermons are as dry as the hills of Gilboa” you will remember. Not only it’s just dry, its damaging, it’s disastrous. To just preach the law alone and encourage people to impersonal blind obedience in recognition of the sovereignty of the creator God, just leads them into the very picture of God that Satan wishes them to have. It will destroy them, it’s very dangerous to talk about law and obedience, we must but always in the light of the good news. )
The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world. 1st Select Messages page 234.6
Immediately Mrs White goes on to describe the function of the law;
The law of ten commandments is not to be looked upon as much from the prohibitory side, as from the mercy side. (Now you would expect that to read “The law of ten commandments is not to be looked upon as much from the prohibitory side, as from the positive side” where is the mercy in this, the ten commandments?) Its prohibitions are the sure guarantee of happiness in obedience. As received in Christ, (that is the law in the light of what we know the truth about Christ who came to set us right on these matters) it works in us the purity of character that will bring joy to us through eternal ages. To the obedient it is a wall of protection. We behold in it the goodness of God, who by revealing to men the immutable principles of righteousness, seeks to shield them from the evils that result from transgression. 1st Select Messages page 235.1 (shame on us to having to need this)
We are not to regard God as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin. (Does God punish people who smoke five packets of cigarettes a day with lung cancer, is that true or is lung cancer a consequence of choosing to lead a disorderly life, here is her explanation) The sinner brings the punishment upon himself. His own actions start a train of circumstances that bring the sure result. Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner, works in him a change of character, and makes it more easy for him to transgress again. By choosing to sin, men separate themselves from God, cut themselves off from the channel of blessing, and the sure result is ruin and death. 1st Select Messages page 235.2
Remember Romans 1? If we insist on going our own way God will give us up to the consequences, His Son was given up as if He had been a sinner, and He died the consequences, the result was death but it wasn’t execution was it? He died as if He was a sinner, He made Himself to be sin, and He died as if he were a sinner.
The law is an expression of God’s idea. When we receive it in Christ, it becomes our idea. (We like it, it makes sense) 1st Select Messages page 235.3
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