Isaiah 22:1-24:23, Galatians 2:17-3:9, Psalms 60:1-12, Proverbs 23:15-16
Today is the 16th day of the month of September. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian, and it is a joy to be here right now with you as we all just kind of come in around the global campfire, exhale, and, yeah, we’re moving into a new workweek, lots of stuff’s gonna happen, but we have this time every day to just step away from it all and let God speak through his Word. So that’s we’ll do. We’re reading from the New English Translation this week and we will continue our journey through the book of Isaiah today. Chapters 22 through 24.
Okay. So, what we’re reading as we read through the letter to the Galatians today brought us back some of the things that we were exploring as we journeyed through the letter to the Romans. But now we’ve got the benefit of a little bit of context. We’ve come some miles since then, so we’re beginning to get completely familiar with the struggle that was happening in the early church. And even in today’s reading we can see pretty clearly…I mean…we can look at the apostle Paul and revere him, but we can see pretty clearly why he was hated so badly by the religious Jews and why this even spilled over into conflict between the Jewish people and the Gentile believers - so, like Hebrew believers in Jesus and Gentile believers in Jesus, which is the reason for this letter. So, Paul said something very, very famous today, very quoted, one of the most famous verses in the Bible. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” And it’s famous because it succinctly declares our reality as believers and that’s what we’re living into. But why did he say that? Like, it’s a pretty audacious thing…like…you don’t just walk up to somebody and go, “hey, I’ve been crucified with Christ. I don’t live anymore. Actually, I’m not living. This is Christ living in me.” Right? Like, is a pretty audacious thing to say. We say it all the time and it’s famous and we understand it, but why did he say it? This is Paul’s disassembly of the Mosaic law as a means to be justified before God. And that kind of language was the very thing that had so many people literally wanting Paul dead. So, we look around at the religious wars and theological debates and…that are happening today, and we realize, “oh, this kind of things been going on all along.” So, Paul’s argument was that the law only could lead to death, right, that it could only reveal how you failed. So, there’s a rule and you can obey that rule and obey that rule and obey that rule until you break that rule. But once you broke that rule you failed the law. And nobody had been able to just like live into the law and never break the law and therefore be able to declare themselves righteous before God outside of Jesus. So, the law shows your failures and condemns you. So, for Paul, the only…the only way to respond then was to die to the law so that he could find a way to actually live for God and this was accomplished by completely releasing, letting go of everything that he thought that he was, all that he was without Christ, to die to that, surrendering to the life of Christ within by faith. Now, like I seriously understand that this is kinda like Christianity 101. Like, these are fundamental things, but you gotta zoom back, like step away, or zoom up and get a birds eye view, just step back for a second from all of the tradition and all of the theology and all that you think that you know and just put yourself in the position of hearing Paul but not having been raised in this tradition, right? So, let’s say you’re a Hebrew person and your entire life you have been told to obey the Mosaic law. Like, that’s the purpose of your life, it’s to try to obey the Mosaic law. This is how you will find right standing before God. And, so, you will go through all of the rituals and sacrifices and traditions so that you can…so that you can be right with God and have a sense of community. And somebody from your group…and this is Paul…like..so a pharisee…like a leading person in your group that teaches people comes along and says, “it's…it’s different than this, we’re never gonna get there from here. None of us can fulfill the law.” And He’s simply speaking to a frustration that’s bubbling under the culture. Like, everybody knows that. And, so, Paul’s like, “we’re never gonna get there but somebody did, and that was Jesus, and you crucified him. You could…he was right in front of your face fulfilling the law right before your eyes and you killed him. But God raised him from the dead. And, so, now we don’t have to obey the law anymore. We don’t have to do that stuff anymore. We’re dying to that because all it was ever intended to do was to show us that we couldn’t live up to it. Its purpose was to show us that in our own strength we could only ever fail at becoming righteous before God. But then Jesus came and obeyed. The son of God came and died for the sins of the world. And now, if you are willing to let go of who you were and believe in Jesus then you will have fulfilled the law.” This is a bit of a tough sell for people who never heard this before. And, so…and because Paul had been a religious Pharisee, like he’s considered an apostate, like a heretic. And, so, the other religious leaders who are trying to live into and live up to this law, they think what he’s saying is absolutely off the rails because, I mean, because Paul’s basically subverting a belief system that he was raised in and suggesting that it was replaced by a new covenant that could only be found in Jesus and this covenant wasn’t a covenant of judgment, but one of grace and faith rather than trying to obey a set of rules and regulations and traditions and customs, which…I mean…this unnerved the Hebrew people that are listening to Paul. You can only imagine how this would unnerve you. So, most of us…I mean…the Daily Audio Bible is a vast community around the world. Most of us would say that we are following Christ, we are Christian people, we are following Jesus. So, what…what would it take…like…who would that person have to be the come along and go like, “it’s not the way you think it is, it’s a completely different way.” I mean, who could sit down and actually have a rational conversation and explain this to you without you getting angry, unnerved, upset, upside down, calling all your friends, having these conversations, posting all this stuff on social media. Like, Paul was a lightning rod and he wasn’t trying to invite people into a new religion. The bridge that was so hard for people to cross with Paul was that Paul was trying to say, “this has always been the Hebrew story. Like…like we just missed some key, really important factors. So, we’ve been living toward certain things and trying to use them in ways that they were never going to work. And, so God in His kindness, sent His Son to show us what life is supposed to look like and to reinterpret what is…what is become nothing more than a cage for us.” But that was a pretty, pretty, pretty far bridge for people to cross. And, so, the Gentiles had a much easier time of understanding this, whereas Jewish people…even Hebrew people who believed in Jesus, but believed they were to continue to practice what they had all always practiced as a Jewish person. They had a hard time wrapping their minds…like this is why the Jerusalem Council came to be. They had a hard time wrapping their minds around what my…what life might even look like without the law, because the Mosaic law was like the centerpiece of it all. It’s their Bible, it’s the Torah, it’s how they’re supposed to live. So, for Paul to kinda come along and say, “all that was supposed to do is to show you that you cannot achieve righteousness on your own.” Like, they had never lived any other way. And, so, this is a really hard thing for them to get their minds around or even how to live it. But Paul believed that Jesus had revealed this to him personally and that’s what he said and that’s why he wouldn’t back down. God had done too many things to reveal this to him, too many Gentiles were receiving the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives with no…with no prior understanding whatsoever of the law, right? So, Paul could look at this and go, “God is doing something here and it’s outside the law, it’s happening, I’m witnessing it, I’m seeing it. So, the way to righteousness can’t be through the law. The law can’t have anything to do with it. These people have never even heard of the law.” And, so, that’s why Paul’s like…I'm…I’m quoting Paul here, “The only thing I want to learn from you is this, did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort. Have you suffered so many things for nothing if indeed it was for nothing? Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?” Again…I mean…this is stuff…like we could take it as an encouragement. Like…we wouldn’t…we wouldn’t take those words necessarily as some kind of confrontation because we believe. But…and…I mean…the reason that I’m spending so much time here right now is this…this is Paul’s theological position, this is his argument, everything that he’s talking about hinges on this. And for Paul to begin to unpack and unravel his own faith he had to go back to the beginning, not Moses but Abraham, which…which put people in theological dilemma when they began to argue against Paul in favor of the law because Abraham didn’t have any law to believe in or obey either. There was nothing he was supposed to follow and obey to be made right with God. God viewed Abraham’s faith and saw him as righteous because of it. And, so for Paul, he’s saying to his fellow Hebrew brothers and sisters and for that matter to all Gentiles, “look there is a way and does make sense. We forgot the plot. Like…we’ve been in this law thing for so long that we forgot that things were happening before God ever gave the law and people were being made righteousness before God because…because of their faith. And, so…and so there must be a way through faith to be made right with God instead of us trying to spend our whole lives trying to obey these rules that we cannot obey. There must be a way. And there is. It’s through Christ our Savior, who came here in plain sight and lived this out in front of us and we killed him.” So, for Paul, the religious leaders of which he was one had transformed the covenantal relationship God offered into a set of rules that controlled the people. And since everything boiled down to whether or not one was obeying the law than there was no freedom to be in any kind of relationship with God. The law was this constant reminder that they could never be righteous. So, we have plenty, plenty of ground to cover in the book of Galatians. But this gives us again, a good chance to get the back story to…to really live into what’s really going on here when we read these letters and understand how unsettling and disruptive, and for that matter how massive the gospel of Jesus, the Good News is, and was.
Father, we invite You into that as we continue to make the journey through Your word this year. We invite Your Holy Spirit as we explore all these avenues all these little trails that we get to go down all the things we could talk about begin to understand in in our Bibles. So, as always, we invite Your Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, and we pray that expectantly, that’s what You’ve promised You would do, and we open ourselves to You. In the same way that the apostle Paul was inviting his Hebrew brothers and sisters to set aside what they thought that they knew, we do the same and invite Your Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.