Galations 3:10 says:
“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse.”
Is this at odds with so much of what the psalmist says? What about, for example:
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Psalm 119:13-14 (ESV)
The key word there is “relying”.
The trick here is what are you relying on the law for? Anything? If you are relying on your observance of the law to save you, to redeem you from death, then indeed, you are under a curse.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, etc.” from Psalm 1. What does he do? His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
This must be an OBSERVANCE of the law of sorts. But if he is RELYING on this to save his life, then he is under a curse – an impossible burden on his back that he cannot lift. Observing the whole law will crush you. It is as heavy as the weight of the entire earth. For the earth to hold you to the ground, it needs to have a certain mass and gravity. The only way to exert this is by being impossibly large and crushing. The law describes nature as the Lord created it. Jesus saves us from the death that naturally occurs to us due to our corruption and rebellion.
The Sabbath rest in time and space is naturally healthy to our bodies, the environment, and society. But it cannot save us. To put a burden on people to observe the Sabbath is to put a heavy weight upon their neck that they cannot bear. They may be able to bear it, on the surface, while reaping some benefits, but this is only cosmetic. The only one who has done the law justice is the judge himself, Jesus Christ. The fascinating thing about Christ is that we are told he is our judge, AND our intercessor. What charm do you use to ward off the wrath of God? You’re works? You’re prayers? You’re petitions to the saints?
Michael Card, when singing about Christ as Jubilee, describes what it it will be like, “To look into your judges face and see your savior there.” Jesus Christ is the only thing that can satisfy the law – the whole shmere. And he did. His life on earth is the fullfillment of the Sabbath. It is a perfect sabbath. We rest in Christ because the burden has been lifted. Before that, how could we really rest?
Can you really rest on a Saturday if the roof on the house is leaking? When there is water dripping on your bed? The furnace is broken and the pipes in the bathroom has frozen hard? Can you just chill out and take it easy? That is no rest. The same is true of our sinful lives. Can we rest when we have been nasty and hateful to our family members in recent memory? We still feel dirty – and angry – about our lies and lust, even if not all of it is immediately obvious to outside observers. Can you rest in this? No. But with Christ, you can. He IS the jubilee. Your bank account is empty and your credit card maxed out on raucous living, just like that of the Prodigal son. But you get it all back – you are returned to your place of sonship in the house of God. This is a real Sabbath rest. The Grace of Jesus Christ is the sole enabler of this. He IS the real Sabbath. Like nearly everything we see in God’s relation to OT Israel, Jesus is the fulfillment. The old was a shadow – a signpost pointing to the new. The new is here.