Short Answers: What about Christ being
the End of the Law?
The Apostle Paul’s desire was that his people, Israel,
might be saved, for they had zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom
10:1-2). However, Paul cites Isaiah: “‘Though the number of the
sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,
for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without
delay’” (Rom 9:27-28 – from Isa 10:22-23) … the prophet
Isaiah continues, adding that Israel is not to fear the Assyrians who have
taken them captive, for in a little while God will “wield against them a
whip, as he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb” (Isa 10:26). But the house of Israel never returned from Assyria.
Although Sennacherib fled from Jerusalem as the Midianites had before Gideon, the Apostle Paul assigns an
endtime application to Israel’s
prophecy by equating returning to the
Promised Land with salvation. Plus, God
has not carried out His foresworn wrath against Israel (Ezek 20:8, 33). So either
God has delayed in fully carrying out His wrath upon the earth, or
Isaiah’s prophecies had a physical application and have a
spiritual application in which Assyria is a euphemism for death as Egypt is a
representation of sin.
The subject under discussion in
Romans chapters 9–11 is the salvation of Israel:
writes that although Israel will be many, only a remnant will be saved, for God
will carry out His sentence of death upon the earth (Rom 9:28-29). Then Paul
asks, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue
righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by
faith” (Rom 9:30). So salvation comes by righteousness—“a
righteousness that is by faith.” Israel pursued a law that would
have led to righteousness, and here is where understanding is required:
The lawyer correctly answered
Jesus’ question about how to read the Law:
A lawyer sought to
test Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25). When
Jesus asked the lawyer how he read the Law, the lawyer said that a person was
to love God fully and love neighbor as self. The lawyer quotes from
Deuteronomy. And Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered correctly, that he
was to go out and do. So Jesus’ testimony is that righteousness can come
by the Law, which is what Paul affirms.
But for righteousness
to come by the Law, the nation would need to turn to God and begin to love God
with heart and mind, keeping His commandments and His statutes when the nation
was in a far land (Deut 30:1-2). God would then bring Israel back to the Promised Land which the
Psalmist calls God’s rest (Ps 95:10-11), where God would give Israel
circumcised hearts (Deut 30:6). Turning to God in a far land requires faith.
And it is this turning to God when Israel is in a land of foreign gods
that equates to a person of the nations
turning to God by faith.
What is required when
turning to God?
Paul tells the saints
at Philippi to imitate him (3:17), and in his
defense to Festus, he said that he had committed no offense against the law of
the Jews or against the temple (Acts 25:8).
On the plains of Moab, a second covenant is made with Israel and
mediated by Moses (Deut 29:1). This second covenant requires Israel to choose
life or death (Deut 30:15-20) — and choosing life is to love God and
neighbor, keeping His commandments and statutes, and doing all that is written
in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut 30:10). This second covenant is ratified by a
song (Deut chap 32), so this covenant is not an earthly thing that is a copy of
a heavenly thing as was the covenant ratified by blood at Sinai (Heb 9:22-23).
This covenant is a heavenly thing, and this is the covenant to which better
promises were added [better promises are not added to a covenant that has been
abolished] when its mediator became the glorified Christ Jesus.
The righteousness that
comes by faith:
and prayer is that Israel
may be saved. He bears witness that Israel has a zeal for God, but the nation
is ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God … as Abraham’s
faith was counted unto him as righteousness (Rom 4:22), the faith of disciples
who believe in the One who raised Jesus from the dead will be counted to them
as righteousness (v. 24). The man
Jesus is the righteousness that has come from God (John 1:1-14); thus, the
disciple who hears the words of Jesus and believes the One who sent Him (John
5:24) acknowledges that Jesus is the righteousness that comes from God.
Therefore, Christ is—by way of a disciple’s belief that comes by faith—the
end of the Law by being the righteousness that has come from God.
The above, however, is
not the end of the matter, for Paul continues, “But the righteousness
based on faith says—” and Paul cites Deuteronomy 30:11-14.
Gentiles are not under
The Israelite who,
when in a far land, turns to God by faith and returns to loving God and keeping
His commandments chooses life. Since Calvary,
however, to turn to God by faith requires the profession with the mouth that
Jesus is Lord and belief in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom
10:9). And for the Observant Jew to make such a profession requires the Jew to
undertake a mental or spiritual journey of a distance equivalent to the
physical distance of Abraham’s journey of faith from Ur to the Promised Land.
What was physical
becomes spiritual: the geographical territories of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon
form the visible shadows of the mental topography of sin, death, and the
kingdom of this world (see Rev 11:15) … as only a remnant of Israel
returned from geographical Babylon, only a remnant of spiritually circumcised
Israel will leave this world and journey to the plains of Moab where life and
death is set before this spiritual nation. Those that choose life will
figuratively cross the Jordan
and enter into God’s rest (cf.
Ps 95:10-11; Heb 3:16-4:11). Those who choose death will remain in Moab.
Israel goes from being the
physically circumcised nation to being the nation whose circumcision is of the
heart, by Spirit, and not by hands (Rom 2:28-29; Col 2:11).
“There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of
all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For
‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’”
(Rom 10:12-13). And the righteousness that comes by faith (v. 6-8) will have every Israelite with a
circumcised heart keeping all that is written in Deuteronomy, where Moses
writes of Jesus (John 5:46)
Calling on the name of
If Paul would have
written nothing more about the subject after writing, “For
‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’”
(Rom 10:13), then those who teach lawlessness would have scriptural support for
salvation coming from a mumbled sinners’
prayer. But Paul adds, “But how are they to call on him in whom they
have not believed” (Rom 10:14).
Jesus said that He did
not come to accuse Israel,
for the nation already has one who accuses the nation: Moses. And Moses accuses
of rebellion against God in Deuteronomy (Deut 31:25-27), the book Moses
commanded to be placed to the side of the Ark of the Covenant. Whereas the two
tablets of stone on which were inscribed by the finger of God the ten living
words lay inside the ark—and was analogous to the laws of God being
written on two tablets of flesh, the heart and the mind of a disciple—the
book of Deuteronomy was outside the Ark and placed there as a witness against
Israel. It remains the accuser of Israel.
The person who
believes in the Lord and who hears the words of Jesus will be the one who keeps
the commandments and teaches others to do likewise (Matt 5:19). This is the
person who will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. And this is the
person who will be heard when the person calls on the name of the Lord (see
Ezek 20: 2-3). The lawless will not be heard (Matt 7:21-23).
* * * * *
quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright
©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by
permission. All rights reserved."