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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, November 23 2023

Who gave the Law?

Scripture repeatedly tells us no one has seen God the Father: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).

The Apostle John had just explained in John chapter 1 that he was a personal eyewitness of “the Word” who became flesh as Jesus Christ, so verse 18 cannot be referring to Jesus Christ. The “God” whom no one has ever seen at any time has to be referring to God the Father, and John repeats this statement in 1 John 4:12: “No one has seen God at any time.”

Jesus Christ also made two very explicit statements concerning this matter: “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form” (John 5:37) and “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

Jesus tells us that no one human being has seen the Father except the One who is from God—referring to Himself. Yet in the books of the Old Testament period we’re told that a number of people did see God. They include Abraham (Genesis 12:7; 15:1 and 18:1), Isaac (Genesis 26:2 and verse 24), Jacob (Genesis 28:13; 32:30 and 35:9-10), Moses (Exodus 3:6; 33:11 and verses 21-23), Aaron and the 70 elders of Israel (Exodus 24:9-11), Joshua (Joshua 6:2) and Gideon (Judges 6:14).

The only way we can make sense of this is to understand that no man had seen God the Father at any time. What they saw as recorded in these many passages, and at other times when God appeared to individuals, was the Word who was with God and was God (John 1:1), the One who was born in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14).

The “I AM” who spoke to Moses, and others as God during Old Testament times was the One who became Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself clearly said this, and the people who heard Him knew that was what He meant: “Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’” (John 8:57-58).

When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and told Moses He would deliver the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt, He revealed who He was: “Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:13-14).

Fifteen centuries later, Jesus said who He was in John 8:58, “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” then those who heard Him, “...took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). They knew what Jesus meant and accused Him of blasphemy.

These Scriptures make it clear that Israel’s Lawgiver who spoke to Moses, gave him the tablets of the Ten Commandments written with His own finger and ate a covenant meal with the elders of Israel (Exodus 24:9-12; 31:18 and 34:28-35.) was none other than the One who became Jesus Christ— the same God who gave the law at Mt. Sinai.

Jesus has not changed (Hebrews 13:8). He did not reveal God’s law to Israel only to come in the flesh 15 centuries later to do away with that law. John, the last remaining of the 12 apostles, wrote near the end of his life: “... we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him…Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6).

Jesus didn’t come to end the law, but to show us by His perfect example how to live that law to its full spiritual intent: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3). He also tells us in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” The Greek word translated “fulfill” here is pleroo, meaning “to make full,” “to make complete in every particular,” “to render perfect” or “to carry through to the end” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 2005).

Obviously Jesus did not come to do away with the law that He Himself had given in the first place. He came to pay the death penalty for all of us breaking the law, taking on Himself the penalty we deserved and giving us the opportunity for eternal life. In doing so, He upheld the law He had given as a vital part of God’s wonderful gift of grace.