Christ and His Righteousness—
7. Christ the Lawgiver
We have now to consider Christ in another character, yet not another. It is one that naturally results from His position as Creator, for the One who creates must certainly have authority to guide and control. We read in John 5:22, 23 the words of Christ, that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” As Christ is the manifestation of the Father in creation, so is He the manifestation of the Father in giving and executing the law. A few texts of Scripture will suffice to prove this.
In Numbers 21:4-6 we have the partial record of an incident that took place while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Let us read it. “And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” The people spoke against God and against Moses, saying, Why have ye brought us up into the wilderness? They found fault with their Leader. This is why they were destroyed by serpents. Now read the words of the apostle Paul concerning this same event:
“Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” 1Cor. 10:9. What does this prove? That the Leader against whom they were murmuring was Christ. This is further proved by the fact that when Moses cast in his lot with Israel, refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Heb. 11:26. Read also 1Cor. 10:4, where Paul says that the fathers “did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.” So, then, Christ was the Leader of Israel from Egypt.
The third chapter of Hebrews makes clear this same fact. Here we are told to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful in all His house, not as a servant, but as a Son over His own house. Verses 1-6. Then we are told that we are His house if we hold fast our confidence to the end. Wherefore we are exhorted by the Holy Ghost to hear His voice and not to harden our hearts, as the fathers did in the wilderness. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear His [Christ’s] voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he [Christ] grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?” Verses 14-17. Here again Christ is set forth as the Leader and Commander of Israel in their forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness.
The same thing is shown in Josh. 5:13-15, where we are told that the man whom Joshua saw by Jericho, having a sword drawn in his hand, in response to Joshua’s question, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” said, “Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.” Indeed, no one will be found to dispute that Christ was the real Leader of Israel, although invisible. Moses, the visible leader of Israel, “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” It was Christ who commissioned Moses to go and deliver His people. Now read Ex. 20:1-3:
“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Who spoke these words? The One who brought them from Egypt. And who was the Leader of Israel from Egypt? It was Christ. Then who spoke the law from Mt. Sinai? It was Christ, the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His Person, who is the manifestation of God to man. It was the Creator of all created things and the One to whom all judgment has been committed.
This point may be proved in another way. When the Lord comes, it will be with a shout (1Thess. 4:16), which will pierce the tombs and arouse the dead (John 5:28, 29). “The Lord shall roar from on high and utter His voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations; he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord.” Jer. 25:30, 31. Comparing this with Revelation 19:11-21, where Christ as the Leader of the armies of heaven, the Word of God, King of kings, and Lord of lords, goes forth to tread the wine- press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, destroying all the wicked, we find that it is Christ who roars from His habitation against all the inhabitants of the earth, when He has His controversy with the nations. Joel adds another point, when he says, “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake.” Joel 3:16.
From these texts, to which others might be added, we learn that in connection with the coming of the Lord to deliver His people, He speaks with a voice that shakes the earth and the heavens—“the earth shall reel to and from like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage” (Isa. 24:20), and “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise” (2Peter 3:10). Now read Heb. 12:25, 26: “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth; but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”
The time when the Voice speaking on earth shook the earth was when the law was spoken from Sinai (Ex. 19:18-20; Heb. 12:18-20), an event that for awfulness has never had a parallel and never will have until the Lord comes with all the angels of heaven to save His people. But note: The same voice that then shook the earth will, in the coming time, shake not only earth, but heaven also, and we have seen that it is the voice of Christ that will sound with such volume as to shake heaven and earth when He has His controversy with the nations. Therefore it is demonstrated that it was the voice of Christ that was heard from Sinai, proclaiming the ten commandments. This is no more than would naturally be concluded from what we have learned concerning Christ as Creator and the Maker of the Sabbath.
Indeed, the fact that Christ is a part of the Godhead, possessing all the attributes of Divinity, being the equal of the Father in all respects, as Creator and Lawgiver, is the only force there is in the atonement. It is this alone which makes redemption a possibility. Christ died “that he might bring us to God” (1Peter 3:18), but if He lacked one iota of being equal to God, He could not bring us to Him. Divinity means having the attributes of Deity. If Christ were not Divine, then we should have only a human sacrifice. It matters not, even if it be granted that Christ was the highest created intelligence in the universe; in that case He would be a subject, owing allegiance to the law, without ability to do any more than His own duty. He could have no righteousness to impart to others. There is an infinite distance between the highest angel ever created and God; therefore, the highest angel could not lift fallen man up and make him partaker of the Divine nature. Angels can minister; God only can redeem. Thanks be to God that we are saved “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and who is, therefore, able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.
This truth helps to a more perfect understanding of the reason why Christ is called the Word of God. He is the One through whom the Divine will and the Divine power are made known to men. He is, so to speak, the mouth-piece of Divinity, the manifestation of the Godhead. He declares or makes God known to man. It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and therefore the Father is not relegated to a secondary position, as some imagine, when Christ is exalted as Creator and Lawgiver, for the glory of the Father shines through the Son. Since God is known only through Christ, it is evident that the Father cannot be honored as He ought to be honored, by those who do not exalt Christ. As Christ Himself said, “He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him.” John 5:23.
Is it asked how Christ could be the Mediator between God and man and also the Lawgiver? We have not to explain how it can be but only to accept the Scripture record that it is so. And the fact that it is so is that which gives strength to the doctrine of the atonement. The sinner’s surety of full and free pardon lies in the fact that the Lawgiver Himself, the One against whom he has rebelled and whom he has defied, is the One who gave Himself for us. How is it possible for anyone to doubt the honesty of God’s purpose or His perfect good-will to men, when He gave Himself for their redemption? for let it not be imagined that the Father and the Son were separated in this transaction. They were one in this, as in everything else. The counsel of peace was between them both (Zech. 6:12, 13), and even while here on earth the only-begotten Son was in the bosom of the Father.
What a wonderful manifestation of love! The Innocent suffered for the guilty; the Just for the unjust; the Creator for the creature; the Maker of the law for the transgressor against the law; the King for his rebellious subjects. Since God spared not His own Son but freely delivered Him up for us all—Since Christ voluntarily gave Himself for us—how shall He not with Him freely give us all things? Infinite Love could find no greater manifestation of itself. Well may the Lord say, “What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it?” [Isa. 5:4.]