For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:1-4
When God gave Israel the Law through Moses He knew that Israel would not be able to keep the law and that there was no salvation unless the law was kept in its entirety. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul also writes that now we see in part as if we were looking at a reflection in a mirror. Eventually we will see what is real and what God designed us for. So why if God knew that the law would not save Israel let alone the rest of the world did God not just send Jesus in the first place?
First would it have made a difference to Israel when Jesus came to earth? Would Israel have followed Jesus? Even after His life, death and resurrection many still refuse to accept the free gift of salvation. This after the Bible has been distributed all over the world and we have had almost two millennia of evangelism. Some will always not believe. Being given free will by God means we can chose to either accept or reject God. God will never force anyone to follow Him
What about the rest of the world? Would Jesus’ message have spread as far and wide as it did coming in the first century AD? We can look at the Jewish religion to see what might have happened had Jesus come earlier than He did. There are about 14 million Jews in the world today compared to about 2.1 billion Christians. Judaism has always been a minority religion without many adherents outside the descendants of Abraham. For much of its history it remained a religion of Palestine with a few spread in other areas of the Middle East especially after the Babylonian exile.
Of course Jesus came at just the right time. Rome ruled most of the known world. But so had the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Greeks. What was different about Roman rule? Both the Assyrian and Babylonian empires were relegated to mostly what we now know as the Middle East. While the empire of Alexander equaled and may have even surpassed Rome in some areas it was short lived. The Romans built road and trade routes. They introduced a common language throughout the empire. It is doubtful that Paul could have made his travels at another time in history.
So even though the law was but a shadow of what would come in Jesus it was necessary to lay the foundation for Jesus’ teaching and work. We had to know that we could not reach God on our own. For centuries the Jews had seen how they came up short of God’s standards. They looked forward to the coming of the Messiah to bring them back to God. When Jesus came there were many on whom the teachings of Jesus found fertile ground. They were seeking a closer relationship to God and Jesus showed them and us the way.
In the law God taught us we needed more. In Jesus He supplied what we needed. Jesus showed us the way back to God. All we need do is follow.
Have a blessed day,