records that Jehovah God worked among men in the form of the Spirit in the Age of Law and that God personally became flesh on earth, and worked among men using the identity of the Christ in the Age of Grace. They are both God’s work, but why did God work in two entirely different ways? How can I know the significance of the work of God incarnate and the work of the Spirit?
We all know that the Old and New Testaments are the records of God’s work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. In these two different ages, God used two completely different methods of working. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God worked among men through the means of the Spirit, issued the law and commandments and led men to live on earth; in the Age of Grace, God personally incarnated on earth to do His work using the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and finally He completed the redemption of all mankind. But few people know why God did His work in two totally different ways in the two ages. Regarding the truth and mysteries about this, I want to share the following three aspects of knowledge.
1. The Characteristic of the Work of Spirit
The Bible records, “And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Jehovah before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:18-20). “And all the people saw the thunder, and the lightning, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said to Moses, Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19). From these verses, we can see: God is Spirit and He is too holy. We humans are too filthy and corrupt, so we are not worthy of seeing His face. If we saw His face, we would be smitten; besides, God is very lofty and His Spirit is not of the same kind as us humans, so when God’s Spirit spoke, the voice people of that age heard was like the thunder, and they would feel afraid and fearful.
In the Age of Law, God worked among men through the means of the Spirit. Such as, when the Israelites walked forward in the wilderness, God used a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to lead them. Sometimes the cloud fell upon the tabernacle, or the pillar of cloud fell at the door of the tent of meeting, and then God called Moses to enter into the tabernacle and let him convey His will. At that time, God’s Spirit, glorious and majestic, appeared to the Israelites, replete with righteous disposition that allows no offense, which made men feel that God seemed unfathomably mysterious and unapproachable, so that they came to revere and fear God. God’s Spirit is formless, unseeable and untouchable, and His working in the Spirit is elusive and unfathomable, so in the Old Testament Age of Law, God raised up some people among man to pass on His words, so that He could lead His people to live on earth. For example, God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and promulgate laws and commandments, used prophets to convey His words, etc. In this way, the Israelites could know God’s will and requirements. But in the process of believing in and worshiping God, man’s knowledge of God was still full of vague imaginations at that time because they couldn’t come into direct contact with God.
2. The Characteristic of the Work of God Incarnate
When the Age of Grace arrived, God became flesh and assumed the form of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth to do work among men. This fulfilled the promise that Jehovah God told the Israelites through the prophet, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). When we talk about the flesh, Son of man or Son, they refer to a person born to a human, and refer to God’s Spirit realizing in the flesh. The flesh is very ordinary and normal, and can be seen and touched by man; He can engage with man face to face, live together with man, and express the words Himself to lead and supply man. What’s more, the flesh can be nailed to the cross and take on the sins of all mankind; He can suffer pain, shed His precious blood and do the work of redemption. The incarnate Lord Jesus lived among men for more than 30 years, and He personally experienced and understood the life of us humans. With the intention of helping men better know the truth and God’s will, the Lord Jesus used the matters of life that people were familiar to as analogies, so that we can understand the truth expressed by Him easily. This is the advantage the work of God incarnate has. For instance, when the Lord Jesus preached to His disciples and those people who followed Him on the mountain, He used many analogies: the parable of the tares, the parable of the treasure, the parable of the pearl, and so on. From these analogies, men can easily understand the truth within God’s words. These results can’t be achieved by the work of the Spirit. Moreover, when the Lord Jesus worked among men in the image of a flesh, His disciples often sat with Him, listening to His teachings and having heart-to-heart discussions with Him. Therefore, there was no distance between them and the Lord, and they didn’t have the feeling of strangeness. Besides, they could directly turn to the Lord in pursuit of the truth, receive His watering and shepherding and understand God’s intentions. As a result, people’s life could receive practical watering and life supply. As the Bible records, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). From the Lord Jesus’ words, Peter could clearly know God’s will and requirements. These are the advantages of God working in the flesh, and this kind of results cannot be achieved by God’s Spirit.
3. Why did God work in different ways during different ages?
Actually, no matter whether God chooses to work in the flesh or in the Spirit, it is owing to the needs of the work and of corrupt mankind. God does the work in whatever way that can achieve the results. Such as, in the Age of Law, God only did the work of leading men to live on earth, which didn’t involve changing men’s corrupt disposition and could totally be carried out by using men. So Jehovah God worked in the Spirit to lead people then. In contrast, in the Age of Grace, the human race had become more and more deeply corrupted by Satan, and men were not able to abide by the laws and faced the danger of being put to death by these laws. Thus, according to the need of mankind, God did a stage of work of redeeming mankind through crucifixion and became mankind’s eternal sin offering. As long as we humans confess and repent before the Lord, we will be forgiven. Moreover, the Lord Jesus preached the way of, which only could be expressed by the flesh. The incarnate Lord Jesus expressed God’s demands and intention in language we humans could understand. For example, He warned us men to worship God in spirit and in truth, to seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and to become as little children so that we men could enter into the kingdom of heaven. And He also instructed us to practice forgiveness and tolerance, love others as we love ourselves, love our enemies, and so on. The way of God was directly expressed by the flesh to provide for and lead men. Only in this way can we precisely understand God’s will and find the way to practice. So the work of redeeming mankind was done by God incarnate, for it was impossible for the Spirit to be crucified and redeem mankind, nor could the Spirit preach the way of repentance. Therefore, whether God does His work in the flesh or in the Spirit depends on the needs of His work and the extent of man’s corruption. As for the deeply corrupted mankind, we are more in need of the salvation of the incarnate God. No matter whether we receive redemption from the Lord Jesus and the sin offering, receive His abundant grace and blessings, or have the direction ahead in a new age, all of this must be done by God incarnate in person. From this we can see: God’s coming to do His work in the flesh has such great importance for the salvation of us humans. Especially in the last days, we humans are all deeply corrupted. Though the Lord Jesus has done the work of redemption and absolved us of sin, our sinful nature is still ingrained in us and we are often bound by our own sin. We live under the situation of sinning and repenting in a constant cycle, unable to escape it. So, in accordance with the extent of our corruption, we may need the incarnate God to come to do His work and save us even more.
You might be interested in reading more on our topic page about Second Coming of Jesus Christ, or in the following articles:
- Does the Lord Come to Do Work in the Flesh or in a Spiritual Body?
- “Salvation” – Do You Know 2 Myths About Salvation?
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