And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
The disciples wanted to call fire down from heaven just like Elijah had done. Under the Old Covenant this would have been justified. Jesus rebuked them for suggesting such a thing.
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
Jesus rebuked His disciples for wanting to do what Elijah did in 2 Kings 1. This tells us that He probably would have rebuked Elijah if He had been on earth at the time.
Jesus is the bridge between the Old and New Covenants. It was not wrong for Elijah to call down fire because Jesus had not come yet. God had to deal harshly with sin until Jesus arrived.
God deals with us in a totally different manner today then He dealt with humanity in the Old Testament.
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19
God dealt with humanity differently in the Old Covenant. Their sin was imputed to them. This is different today!
We have been reconciled to God in Christ Jesus. Jesus became sin so that we could become righteous.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus is our substitute. He became sin in my place. This required Him to take the punishment of our sin upon Himself. By doing so He opened the door for us to be clothed in God’s righteousness!
Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
For almost two thousand years God did not count man’s sin agains him. We have seen in a previous post that the word “impute” is an accounting term. Man’s sin was not place on his account before the Law came!
People sinned prior to the Law. God did not judge them for this.
People have an image that a Holy God cannot fellowship with unholy man. The truth is that there will never be a single person who deserves God’s love.
God began to hold man accountable for sin when the Law was given. This brought the wrath and judgement we read about in the Old Testament.
We serve a loving God. He did not drive Adam and Eve out of the Garden because of their sin.
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
God forced Adam and Eve out of the Garden as an act of mercy. He knew that they would live forever in their sinful condition if allowed to eat from the Tree of Life. That would have resulted in mankind living for eternity in a fallen state.
Imagine what it would be like to live in a fallen corrupted state for eternity. What if people like Hitler or Jack the Ripper lived for eternity? In a sense it seems that death is an act of mercy in a fallen world. It limits the spread of evil and it provides Christians hope of a glorious eternity.
God did not separate Himself from man after the fall. In Genesis chapter four we see Him talking with Cain in regards to His offering. He used Abraham and his descendants. We can find tremendous grace and mercy displayed until the Law was given.
When the Law arrived mankind began to be held accountable for sin. This was the point where we begin to see judgment and the wrath of God pouring out. I believe the reason for this was that people were using the lack of punishment for sin as approval for their sin.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Under the Law God would have put Cain to death. Because the Law was not given when Abel was killed this is not what happened. God put a mark on Cain that protected him.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
God extended mercy to Cain when he committed the first murder. He is a merciful and gracious God.
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
This is the first recorded violation of the Law. It involves a man discovered gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. His punishment was death by stoning. This was a great contrast from the mercy shown to Cain.
There was a stark difference in how sin was treated in the time before the Law was given and afterwards. The Law released the wrath of God.
We are going to pick up at this point in the next post for this series. Thank you for stopping by today. If this post has been a blessing please share our blog with your friends and family.
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