The Law of Love
Deut. 7:7 and 8 says,
7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
God's love was expressed in Israel under Moses, but it began with Abraham. He was just one man, and at the time, he was “the fewest of all peoples.” Abraham's faith (not genetics) was the trait that God found attractive in this love relationship (Gen. 15:6). This love then was extended to the nation that came from him. When Israel lacked faith, they lost God's favor, and God brought judgment upon them.
Three Levels of Love
There are three distinct levels of love that we may observe, not only in our own lives but also in the manner in which God expresses His love. These three levels follow the three Greek words for love: eros, phileo, and agape. (Only the last two are actually used in the New Testament.) The first is eros, which is attraction. The second, phileo, is a more mature relationship that has evolved into a 50/50 relationship, for it is the love between siblings. The third, agape, is the fully mature relationship that expresses unconditional and unending love.
When we apply this to God, we see that He has a general love for creation by the law of attraction. He has phileo love for the Church (Israel in the OT), but which involves much discipline as long as the Church was yet a minor (Gal. 4:1). Finally, when faith is fully instilled and matured in the overcomers, God is able to express His full agape love upon them, for they are able to handle such favor without arrogance.
Understand, of course, that when we apply this to God, whose love is perfect in every way, we are really describing His level of expression, rather than the inherent quality of His love. The quality of His agape love compels Him to find a way to save all of creation. But because He saves most people by the discipline of judgments, His expression of love is not as evident to those being so disciplined. It is the same when we as parents discipline our children, for they too cannot yet understand that discipline is an outward manifestation of phileo love, but an expression of the agape love within the parent.
God’s Discipline Brings Maturity
When God redeemed Israel from Egypt, God purchased a slave nation. They were not yet ready to be set free into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21). In their collective spiritual immaturity, they were yet minors, as Paul tells us, and in need of tutors and governors (Gal. 4:2) to bring discipline to their manner of life.
It is the same with each of us individually. Just because we reach a point of faith in Christ where we can say that we are “saved,” it does not mean that we have suddenly reached spiritual maturity with no further need of discipline.
No, rather, our justification calls for the discipline necessary for sanctification. Our Passover experience is when we sign up for training toward Sanctification. That is why we yet need the law, for that is the agent of change to bring us fully into the mature Sonship necessary to receive and to become the full expression of God's agape love.
In other words, the promise of Sonship is a promise that God will lead us and discipline us as minors until we come to full maturity and are given “the adoption of sons” (Rom. 8:23). This comes at the time of the redemption of the body, i.e., the resurrection and/or “change.” This “adoption” was a practice in those days of giving the mature son power of attorney over the estate of the father. Such power was not given to the immature, lest they should squander the family's wealth.
On a collective or national level (as opposed to individual), Israel was redeemed from Egypt and then began their trek to Mount Horeb, where Israel was supposed to hear God's voice and receive the law in their hearts. If they had been able to hear at that time, their Pentecostal time of discipline would have been quite short—a mere 490 days—before entering the fullness of the Promise through the feast of Tabernacles.
However, this did not happen, and so their time was lengthened greatly. They entered Canaan at Passover 40 years later and remained stuck in the Passover Age until the fullness of time arrived and Jesus died on the cross. Then the Church entered into a Pentecostal Age, which has just recently ended (1993).
Because Pentecost was Israel's main wilderness training period, it is plain that the law was yet needed to discipline the Church as a whole. The overcomers among them, of course, also needed the law, but the difference is that their ability to hear the word meant that the law would be written on their hearts. They would actually learn obedience by hearing. The rest of the Church in the wilderness remained in rebellion, for their flesh resented the restrictions that the law of God imposed upon them.
Running from God’s Discipline
The Church even today has been as rebellious as the majority of the Israelites under Moses. For this reason, many teach that the law has been set aside, thus legalizing whatever sins we wish to do ourselves. The Church, of course, could not function without laws. If they tried to do so, the result would be chaos until it reached the state of absolute moral degeneracy.
Hence, what the Church really means when it says that the law has been put away is that we now are allowed to choose which laws we wish to obey, giving us the right to disobey whatever law that our flesh wants to violate.
For example, many Christians abhor abortions, yet they allow usury. They preach about loving your neighbor as yourself, and yet the Church has a long history of mistreating those of other races. They are eloquent in defending their constitutional liberties, but know nothing of the law of Jubilee that is the divine basis for all liberty.
When Christians deplore the law of God as an evil thing, they confess that they disagree with David, who said, “the law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). They disagree with Jesus, too, who deplored lawlessness (anomia) in Matt. 7:23. And while they claim to believe Paul’s writings as the basis of their antinomian views, they actually disagree with Paul, who emphatically stated that he did not nullify the law, but established it (Rom. 3:31)
In fact, Paul confessed that his carnal mind was at enmity with the law of God, but that the mind of Christ in him served the law of God (Rom. 7:25). Hence, if any man desires to serve the law of sin, he only follows in the footsteps of Paul’s carnal mind, which the apostle had put to death.
True Pentecost is to submit to the divine discipline of the law of God. That is the day God spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel to begin their time of discipline. But unfortunately, many have followed the example of those Israelites who ran away and refused to draw near to God (Ex. 20:18-21). Their hearts and ears were hardened, as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 95:7, quoted again in Hebrews 3:7, 15 and again in 4:7.
When we run from God’s discipline, thinking that we ought to be free just to bask in the good things that God gives His children, we stunt our spiritual growth. We ought to stop running and start submitting to the discipline of the Holy Spirit, known also as the baptism of fire. The Holy Spirit brings the same “fiery law” to us that was presented to Israel at the first Pentecost at Mount Horeb.
The Slavery of God leads to Freedom
It is important that we understand God's redemption as it relates to Israel's wilderness journey, for then we can understand how it also relates to the New Testament Church in the wilderness. The most misunderstood principle today is that redemption purchases a slave. Redeemed slaves are not free to do as they please, but are required to serve their redeemers.
So also with the Church that God redeemed from Egypt as well as the New Testament Church that was redeemed from the slavery of sin (Lev. 25:53; Rom. 6:18). In both cases, they had to learn the art of phileo love by obedience, for Jesus said in John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” In our phileo stage of development, we try to keep the commandments by fleshly discipline; but when we reach the true agape level, we keep the commandments by nature, because we are in full agreement with God.
Deut. 7:9-11 says,
9 Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 but repays those who hate Him to their faces, [paniym] to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. 11 Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
Here Moses employs a prophetic pun around the term paniym, “faces.” Judgment is in terms of something God does “to their faces.” To understand this, we must understand that God's reward at the feast of Tabernacles is the glorified body as seen in the “face” of Moses (Ex. 34:29). His reward was only a type, of course, and therefore it later faded. But Jesus was also transfigured in Matt. 17:2 to fulfill the earlier type.
Paul expounds upon this prophetic concept in 2 Cor. 3 and 4, telling us in 3:18 that we are destined to be transformed into the image of Christ in the same manner. In 4:6, he says further,
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In other words, as we come into the image of Christ, the glorified face of Christ is expressed in our face. In that way, “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord” (Hab. 2:14) will fill the earth. This is the glorious liberty of the children of God that all creation desires (Rom. 8:19-23).
But those who hate God—those who do not keep His commandments—will be judged with continuing darkness “in their face.”