"If a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law" (Galatians 3:21).
There are passages here and there where we have to read between the lines to see God's heart. Like a person grieving but self-restrained in grief, God holds back from divulging the full extent of His pain.
Genesis 22:2: "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." See how he lingers longingly over the words that we will see echoed centuries later: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . ." (John 3:16).
In Jeremiah 45, God is doing emergency counseling of a prophet's secretary in the middle of a slow motion imploding of Israel. He takes time to comfort a guy who is whining "woe is me" (v.3) because his dreams of career are going up in smoke. The Lord replies, "Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up-that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not . . ." (vv.3-5). If Baruch had not been sulking, and the Lord had not needed to do this intervention, we might not have been privy to this view of God's emotional turmoil over the holy destruction of all that He had painstakingly built up for centuries.
What of Galatians 3:21? What an odd thing to say-that if there had been a law that could have done the job of saving us, salvation would have come that way. And why, pray tell, would our righteousness have come through law if it had been at all possible? Well, consider what our righteousness cost Jesus. How restrained God is in the telling of it:
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears . . ." (Hebrews 5:7).
"My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. . . . My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. . . . My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" (Matthew 26:38-42).
How much more He could have said. Isn't it just like the Lord, who himself teaches us humility, gentleness, discretion, and self-control, to exhibit all of these qualities in the disclosing of His own breaking heart?
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