Summary: In the design of God, Israel has a unique position. It was Israel with whom God made His covenant by the call of Abraham. It was Israel to whom God reveals His Name and gave His law. It was to Israel that He sent His prophets.....
“Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with you, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.” [Deut.4: 40 KJV]
“It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” [Psalm 119: 126, 127 KJV]
In this teaching you will learn to read your Bible which is the Living Word of God, not with the eyes of a Gentile Jesus, not with the eyes of a Protestant Jesus or a Catholic Jesus, but with the eyes of a Jewish Jesus. You will realize that Jesus and His disciples weren’t converted Jews but rather were practicing Jews - keepers of the Law [or Torah] of God.
Some mistakenly believe that the 10 Commandments are the curse and that one is in danger of coming under that curse if he or she obeys God’s laws.
Instead of being harmful, obedience to God’s holy law yields many benefits. The 10 Commandments are really guidelines for an abundantly happy life. Our Heavenly Father has given these instructions to us—His children—because He loves us and wants what is best for us. God’s commandments are analogous to guidelines that wise parents in human families give to their children. Keeping God’s law can only bring benefits.
Let me explain. When we disobey God’s instructions to us no matter how hard we try to justify ourselves it brings consequences no one wants! As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, they were barred from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17, 22-24). Due to repeated disobedience and rejection of God’s laws, the nations of Israel and Judah were conquered by enemy nations and carried captive out of the Promised Land.
Naturally, we want the benefits our Father would like to give us and not the punishments that come from disobedience. The ultimate consequence of disobeying God’s law could not be more serious. “Disobeying the law” is just another way of saying, “sin” (see 1 John 3:4). The eventual consequence of rejecting God’s law is death forever—a death from which there is no resurrection (Romans 6:23).
Since Paul said that God’s law is holy, just and good (Romans 7:12), what did he mean by “the curse of the law”? To accurately understand any verse of the Bible, we must read it in its immediate context as well as the context of the rest of the Bible. That is the only way we can be “rightly dividing the word of truth,” as Paul admonished Timothy to do (2 Timothy 2:15).
That the letter of Galatians was written to deal with serious problems is evident from its beginning: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).
This is not a gentle pastoral letter of encouragement; it is obviously dealing with a doctrinal issue—a heretical teaching!
The error infiltrated the Church over several decades through ex-Jewish members who rejected the Church’s policy to allow gentiles to become members of the Church without undergoing physical male circumcision. Even after the Church had formally adopted this policy, these ex-Jewish troublemakers were agitating for the Church to reverse its approach. The agitators possessed a truly legalistic mentality, urging the Church to model itself after Judaism instead of accepting Christ’s leadership.
The fact that it was necessary for the apostle Paul to write this forceful letter demonstrates that those pushing the heresy had achieved a foothold in Galatia.
Their argument centered upon circumcision, which is evident from this emphatic statement: “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Galatians 5:12).
The original language is quite graphic, sarcastically implying that those who are so insistent on circumcision might as well go all the way and emasculate (or mutilate) themselves (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Word Biblical Commentary, “Galatians” by Richard Longenecker).
Lest anyone miss the actual meaning, circumcision involves surgical cutting. Paul is saying he wishes that these people who are so obsessed with that kind of cutting would cut themselves off, of the Body of Christ entirely because their thinking has no place in the Church of God!
Therefore, the book of Galatians counters the mistaken thinking that salvation could be earned through some legalistic formula. It was not an argument against whether a believer was required to keep God’s law.
There is a world of difference between thinking that salvation can be earned by keeping a set of rules, and the fact that those who receive salvation must live by God’s rules. This distinction is repeated throughout the book.