Extraordinary Times: Galatians 3:19
“19) Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” Galatians‬ ‭3:19
It is a valid question; “If justification is by faith, what was the purpose of the Law?” Actually, it was given for several reasons. For example, the Law defined and established the holiness of God. It also demonstrated the sinfulness of man, because all have fallen short of keeping the Law. As such, the Law was a restraining force for evil. It put boundaries around good and bad and held fallen human nature in check.
But in this verse Paul explains another purpose of the Law, it pointed to the promise of a Savior. It kept the nation of Israel looking expectantly for the time of the Messiah. It was there until “the seed” should come to the promised One.
Because the line of the Messiah was through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Jewish nation had to be set aside and preserved. The Law was intended for that purpose. Paul dives into this deeper in the next chapter.
So, what did Paul mean by “ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator?” Let me try to unpack an important concept about God confirming both the Old and New Covenants.
The Angel of the Lord was abundantly involved in the giving of the Law. He appeared to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3 and throughout their wanderings in the wilderness. He was there as a cloud by day and fire by night.
No period of time in Old Testament history was accompanied by more “signs and wonders” than surrounding the Exodus and the giving of the Law. (See Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:16; *Acts 7:36) God was supernaturally confirming that He was setting Israel free from slavery and giving them the Law.
Now let’s fast forward to the New Testament. It is not surprising that the ministry of the Messiah and the gospel of of grace was accompanied by equally abundant “signs and wonders.” (See Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6;; 2 Corinthians 12:12) God was bearing witness of a change from the Law to the Gospel of Grace. It was accompanied by another time of abundant signs and wonders. He then used signs and wonders to confirm the Apostleship of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:12), and that the Gentiles were included in Gods plan of Redemption. (Acts 14:3; 15:12; Romans 15:18-19)
Let me make a biblical observation; two periods of time in biblical history were accompanied by extraordinary amounts of signs and wonders: 1) the giving of the Law through Moses, and 2) the giving of the gospel of grace through Jesus Christ and the early Apostles. Why? Because God was stepping up to the plate and confirming that He was the One at work! (See Hebrews 2:4). These were special times that called for extraordinary confirmation by God. These two periods stand out way beyond the ordinary working of God.
So, does God still do miracles today? Of course He does just as He did through Elijah, Elisha and others in the Old Testament. But it does not rise to the same level as inaugurating the Law through Moses, confirming the identity of Jesus Christ as the Messiah or the signs and wonders done through the Apostles to confirm the Gospel and the church age.
I have seen numerous miracles over the years and they often came to confirm the preaching of the gospel, but honestly, they are not as abundant today as in the book of Acts. This has nothing to do with a lack of faith among God’s people. It is solely connected to the timing and plan of God as the Mediator of the Old and New Covenants. These two extraordinary events called for extraordinary confirmation by God.
This does not minimize the power of the Holy Spirit in the daily life of the believer. We live and walk in Divine grace, power and favor. This is the church age accompanied by the ministry of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. We are commanded to walk by the Spirit in this present age. (See Galatians 5:16-26)
Before we leave this subject, I need to briefly mention 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12. As we approach the end times, Paul warns that Satan is going to attempt a false period of abundant signs and wonders to establish his reign and new world order.
Make sure that you build on truth and not the sensationalism of signs and wonders. Abide “in Christ” and His Word even though persecution and difficult times come and it appears as if the god of this world is in control. He will be granted a brief time of power and deception to mislead many. Do not be deceived! Test the spirits and examine the Word of God for truth! As John 15 says, “abide in the true vine.”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global