Do you know why God gave us the Law, early in the Old Testament? It might not be why you think.
It was never meant to be followed, step by step. Don't get me wrong - it is most definitely the yardstick by which God measures our righteousness. But there is no counting involved. No checkoff list. There's no need for God to even get that stick out. He can tell just by looking. Just like that little boy who desperately wants to ride the bumper cars at the amusement park before he is tall enough. The attendant doesn't need to get out the measurement stick - she knows there's no way Junior is going to clear it.
But the attendant gets that stick out anyway, doesn't she? Is she doing it just to double check, in case her eyes were wrong? No. This is her job. She has been eyeing the height of children long enough to know. Especially the ones who are nowhere close.
She gets out the stick to show the little boy, so HE knows. So there is no argument. You can't argue with the stick. That's just how it goes, and everyone knows. You don't reach the bottom of the stick's arm, you don't ride. Get out of line. (But come back next year, after you've grown a few inches!)
God doesn't need to look to see we don't measure up. He knew it long before any of us were born. He saw us coming. He's been doing this a while.
But He got the stick out anyway. He even made it pretty simple. At first, all the Israelites had were the 10 Commandments. Just ten. Really, could it be that hard? One of them even says not to murder. I mean, we could almost cut it down to 9, then, right? Because there's at least one that doesn't give us any trouble (until you look at it closely).
But, yes, it IS that hard.
So then, why bother? Why did God give us rules we could never follow?
If there were any one perfect/sinless person - even just one - there would be no need at all for a Savior. We would have no excuse for not being perfect. None. If any one person could do it, then any other person could do it too, and Jesus could just stay in heaven.
But we'd really be doomed. Because following the whole of the Law isn't just really, really hard. It's impossible. Not a single person can do it. And it is GOOD for us that no one can follow it, that we aren't judged on a scale of works. Heaven would be pretty empty.
We need a stick to see that we don't measure up, something to tell us we are too short to ride the bumper cars. Otherwise, we would just keep trying. The little boy could get on his tippy toes and hope that maybe the attendant would think he was tall enough. Once the stick comes out, though, he knows there's no hope. He knows he doesn't reach. No one can argue with the stick.
Without the Law, we might keep trying. We might keep thinking we're close enough and somehow we can fool God to think that we measure up. But there's no fooling God. God knows that, but the Law is the way for all to see.
For many of you, this is not news. But it still makes a good reminder. Go ahead and keep obeying, but when you fail, you can give thanks in knowing that you are not alone. No one else would be riding the bumper cars either.
People will say, "But God isn't that mean. Why would he make a measuring stick that no one can measure up to?"
Because He's perfect and can't abide with anything less than perfection in his Kingdom. To be honest, too, I don't want to serve a God who isn't perfect, who isn't going to be flawless in not letting me down.
Well, okay then. Where does that leave us? Stuck.
So, back to those people who said God isn't that mean. Well, they're right. He's NOT that mean. He is kind and loving (although just too). So He fashioned* a new measuring stick. His Son, Jesus. And while there is still no way to measure up to Him, He knelt down to meet us. So, while God looks at us with Jesus, we appear to meet the standard!
Should we hate the first Law God gave us, since it can't bring us life? No way. We should be thankful for it. Without the impossible standard of the law, we would have no need for Jesus. And following Jesus is SO MUCH more possible than following the law.
So now look at Psalm 119 from this perspective. David goes on and on about how he loves God's law and His commands. David failed at keeping the law as much anyone. He knew that. But maybe he was understanding what the law meant. The law meant he was in need of a Savior. He never got to see the Savior come, but he knew it would happen. And that's why God chose those thoughts to be in the Bible.
Even though I fail everyday, I am thankful for what God has given me. What He gave me through my failure was a free ride with Jesus. And riding with Jesus is better anyway.
*Note- God did not CREATE Jesus. What is meant by this sentence is that He formed a new standard of measurement.
Passion Under Grace,