The Lord called Abram out of his homeland and later made a covenant with him (Genesis 12:1-3). The sign of this covenant was circumcision (Genesis 17). At this time, Abram became Abraham, the father of many nations.
This covenant was given before Jehovah ever gave the written Law to men. Abraham was counted as righteous because he believed God, thereby showing that the Law cannot save anyone.
The promise of a future redeemer that was laid out in the Garden could only be preserved by the Lord setting apart a society that would see their sinful ways and repent. They were to be a sign to other nations of who God Almighty was.
Four hundred years in Egypt had kept them in one place until they were grown into a nation. They lived in slavery and became numerous. The Holy One was ready to shape them into His representatives.
To set them apart, they needed to know what Heaven’s standard was. They had been surrounded by false gods in Egypt and would encounter more idols in the days ahead. They were to be holy. Israel would be the only nation on earth who served the living God.
Keeping the Law was so unattainable, the objective was to show people they couldn’t keep it. It was given so they would cry out to God for salvation.
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
We can see this in modern terms by looking at a speeding car. If there is no speed limit, there is no penalty for going too fast. However, going too fast can still kill a person. The car can exceed safe speeds without the driver being held accountable for it by getting a ticket or going to jail.
But the vehicle is still transgressing the laws of physics as the driver acts in ways that can get him or her killed or injured. Once a speed limit law is enacted, drivers will know if they transgress.
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