We’ve always heard that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus said it himself.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
But what exactly does it mean to fulfill the Law? To answer this question, we must start from the very beginning of the Old Testament, to the section on Laws, also known as the Torah in Hebrew. In the book of Exodus, God first gave Israelites their commandments on Mount Sinai. Yet, before Moses had even carried the Commandments down the mountain, the Israelites already disobeyed rule number one and two by making and bowing down to a golden calf. Yet, God was gracious and chose not to wipe them out. Soon, He gave them more rules just to make it a little more clear what it is He wanted, ya know, just in case there was any confusion. A total of 613 commandments were given. Not surprisingly, the Israelites broke those too. This is a cycle that continues through the books of the law and the prophets. God gives a command, and the Israelites break them. Finally, God has enough of it all and sends them to exile under the Babylonians. During this time, God uses a man named Jeremiah to tell them that not all hope is lost.
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.”
We’ve all heard this verse, whether it be on our graduation cards, or when we’re going through a really hard time, or even said to those who are on their death beds. But if we actually see it in its context, this verse has been widely taken out of context. If we study the verses above it, we see God telling this to people in exile. God tells them that during these 70 years in captivity, they are to grow food and eat of it. They are to continue to increase as a people and not to decrease. Because soon, they will be taken out of exile and back to the land God promised them, hence this “hope and a future”. God’s basically telling them to not worry, they won’t die out as a people!
So can we use this verse in today’s society? Are any of us exiled? I’m going to guess no for the majority of us. Keep this question in the back of your mind; I’ll come back to it later.
Finally, after generations of people breaking the law for thousands of years, a man who gets it all appears. This man is Jesus. He fulfilled the law by doing what no other man could do, by obeying every single one. If anyone can obey all of God’s commands, He is holy as God. Yet, as a man, only Jesus could do this. He is the final piece to this.
Okay, so He probably figured out that 613 commandments was too many, a little overwhelming, personally. So He narrows it down to just two: Love God, and Love People. But have you noticed that it’s impossible to even follow just two? That’s because our hearts are at a default to not follow these commands. For example, it’s easier to hate someone than to forgive them. So really, the new solution is simple. We need a new heart. And only Jesus can give that. With a transplant of our hearts, we are able to do this, and to have a hope and a future.
So is Jeremiah 29:11 wrongly used when we say it to a dying cancer patient? Well, it depends what our hope and a future is. If our longing is for the presence of Christ in heaven, then that absolutely is the ultimate hope we can yearn for and which God promises.
The apostle Paul said it best.
“To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
If we have given everything to Christ, surrendered it all to the One who can truly fulfill the law, then we are, in a way, exiled here on this Earth. God tells us that we are not to decrease but to marry, to seek peace and prosperity, to grow and eat (Jer. 29:4-7). But let us not get too comfortable in our average life span of 70 years here on this Earth, this isn’t all of it, and most certainly not our home.
This quote concludes best.
“We don’t plant flowers in Motel 6. This is a temporary place.”
A Question for Reflection:
If heaven was all you imagined, with all your friends, with all your pleasures, with no pain and death, no tears or blood, but with no Christ, will you still be satisfied?