Religious Burdens

Isaiah 46:1 Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts.
2 They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.
3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb;
4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Luke 11:45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.”
46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The Law of the rulers of Israel (the truly good and perfect Torah) became an idol as heavy as Nebo and Bel that brings slavery to the Covenant people as if they were beasts of burden instead of the freedom of Yahweh for the people of Israel. For this reason Jesus came to release His people from the burden of the Law, itself an “elementary principle” delivered through angels. This is a principle work of our Lord in our redemption.

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    • Joseph Pollard
    • March 7th, 2011

    Will, I’m a little confused by that last comment, that the Law was delivered through angels. As I recall, God spoke with thunder on Mt. Sinai to his chosen people, giving them instructions on how to live. Or were you saying that the “burden” of the Law is delivered through angels?

    • Will Sprague
    • March 7th, 2011

    Yeah, I could specify that a bit better. Hebrews 2:1-4 is where I get that language. I think the author is contrasting the OT with the NT in this. But Galatians really seals the deal. 3:19 says “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.” The intermediary is Moses, but it was “put in place” by angels. This makes the Law itself part of the “elementary principles” when Christ comes.

    Of course, though, God did give the Law at Sinai, but He gave it through angels. But then Jesus comes and speaks directly. What I mean by that phrase is whatever Paul means… hahaha

    • Joseph Pollard
    • March 8th, 2011

    Sorry for the late post, I just thought you summed up my biggest questions.

    I’m still a little dubious about the angels comment. I don’t know much about angelogy/demonology (sp? You get the idea), but I try not to endorse the idea of an angel and a demon both fighting to influence my thoughts. That sort of thinking makes me think myself devoid of guilt and responsibility. I tend to consider it more as the Holy Spirit creating a new heart in me, while I violently struggle with the operational tools.

    Do you think that sanctification is what the talk of the Law being “put in place” and “spoken through angels” is referring to? Since angel means messenger, another take could be to understand these passages as– “For since the message spoken through angels was binding…” referring to the prophets, messengers of God, beginning with Moses and ending with Christ.

    • Will Sprague
    • March 8th, 2011

    I don’t go for the influencing thoughts thing either, so I am with you on that one! But I think Galatians is about actual angels, while Hebrews is possibly referring to something else. But angels are in the context quite important. “For to which of the angels…”

    The reason I tend towards angels in Galatians is that the “elementary principles” are a generally angelic/demonic issue. A mark of the “elementary principles” is laws such as “don’t taste, don’t touch” which is present even in the Garden, showing that Adam was under the “elementary principles” until he should “grow up” which is what happens to mankind in Christ, shedding the “tutors”. Israel was a “son of God” but was held under “angelic governance” until the Son comes and brings maturity to Israel, including transnational Christ-exalting unity in eschatological hope. In this way we “judge the angels” because we have been exalted in Christ above them and judge them with the gospel, challenge their governance “because God did not see fit to subject the world to come [which we bring by tearing down angelic strongholds] to angels, but to Him who was made ‘for a while lower than the angels’…”

    I am not a big fan of angelology, with you, but I think it is eschatologically and exegetically important to figure out how Paul uses “angels” in his theology of the Cross and the Church.

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