Part 3 - The Fall and the Restoration
The Place of Restoration
Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17-18). Although Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4), the ministry of Jesus as Mediator between a holy God and sinful man does not annul the law. Jesus took the burden of the requirements of the law upon Himself and fulfilled them. He has taken the burden off of those who come to Him so that it is not through the law but through Christ that one is reconciled to God. But the law is good and is summarized by something that will never be removed: love.
A scribe came to Jesus and asked what was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31).
An irony in religion is that those seeking the hardest to fulfill the law through works are oftentimes the most unloving people. Yet the fulfillment of the law is to love God and fellow man. The problem comes from the self-centered nature of fallen man. Those seeking righteousness through works are seeking self-righteousness. They are trying to establish themselves as being something contrary to Jesus' declaration that "the flesh profits nothing." A natural result of self-righteousness is to compare oneself with others. It is to set a relative scale and to despise those that one considers lower on that scale. It is to envy and to be threatened by those one considers to be higher on that scale. The result is opposite to that of love, self-centeredness.
The law was designed to show fallen man his actual place: the bottom of any scale. When the law does what it was intended for, it removes that which inhibits love by placing all at the same level. It causes one to look to God and to glory in who He is.
Glory in Yahweh
Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Cor. 1:30-31, "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.' " The restoration that Christ Jesus has brought to the redeemed is one that is totally His work. All praise and glory can only go to God. The cross of Christ puts an end to the natural man and his self-centeredness. Paul had the book of Jeremiah in mind when he wrote this passage.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 states: "Thus says the Lord: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord."
The first four of the Ten Commandments are a model of a restored relationship with God. The next six show the love for fellow man that results from a right relationship of love to God. The four essential elements of a right relationship with God are summarized in Jeremiah chapter nine, verses twenty three and twenty four. These elements are contained in Jesus' summary of the greatest commandment: