Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Understanding the Law to Appreciate the PromiseGalatians 3:15-22
10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord.
Today’s passage may initially feel challenging to understand because references to the law and distinctions between singular and plural forms of a word are not our usual topics of conversation. However, Paul also repeats the word “promise” throughout the passage, so it seems like he is trying to drive home a message. Promises can be either conditional, based on upholding an agreement, or unconditional. I remember making many conditional promises to God when I was younger, which often happened during times of trouble. My condition was usually to read my Bible more regularly or pray more fervently in exchange for God providing a good test score. Unfortunately, I would inevitably revert to my old habits despite all my best intentions to fulfill my promise. As an adult, I am more cautious of making promises because I am aware of my tendencies, but it is important to remember that God upholds promises in a way that we do not.
The first half of the passage sets the groundwork for the question raised in verse 19. If Jesus is revealed in the New Testament, what is the purpose of all the Old Testament laws? I believe Paul is implying that we cannot truly appreciate the significance of Jesus’ ministry if we do not understand the covenantal promise that Jesus came to fulfill. Humanity has repeatedly turned away from the relationship that God established in the Garden of Eden, but God has still remained faithful and true. A philosopher once said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” so our challenge in light of the whole letter to the Galatians is to reevaluate whether or not we are living the gospel that Jesus proclaimed. The last verse is a strong encouragement that we can rely on Christ’s faithfulness amidst all our shortcomings. May we uphold the dual pillars of internalizing the law while also living as an embodiment of God’s gracious promises.
Dear God, show us how your word can transform our faith and practices so that we are constantly being renewed. As we prepare for Advent, remind us of your promises and let us experience the good news of how the kingdom of heaven can be manifested in our lives.
Thought for the Day
Just as Paul taught the Galatians to form connections between the Old Testament law and the promise fulfilled through Jesus, what Old Testament passages can we revisit to form a deeper appreciation of the gospel message?
Pushpa Samuel, Horeb Mar Thoma Church, CA
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church