Jesus offers the same shalom as with the Covenant of Moses, but it still requires covenant faithfulness. Jesus is the Lord of His covenant household. He promises all the blessings Israel could have had, and much more, but we must take up our crosses and actually follow Him to where those blessings await us.
It is important to understand that even the New Testament uses a lot of symbolic language. When you see words translated into English as “law” in the Old Testament, it almost invariably represents the Covenant of Moses. Jesus personified the implications of that covenant. His miracles were a restoration of the blessings those people should have had under Moses. Every healing and demon expulsion was under the Law of Moses; it was a part of the shalom promised under that covenant.
But the Jewish scholars had perverted their understanding of that covenant to mean legalism. They used the word “law” to refer to their imaginary legalistic strictures. Thus, in the New Testament, the word “law” seldom means the actual Covenant of Moses. It must be read in context, where it often means “Talmud,” which was technically the laws applied to Jewish people. In those cases it is not a reference to the mystical revelation of God to guide fallen souls back to Eden. Sometimes it simply refers to the wider system by which the Jewish leadership justified the oppression of their own people, and the contempt they had for anyone who wasn’t one of their number.
Jesus gave us a shortcut past the law covenants, directly to a faith covenant, but that covenant offers the same blessings as every miraculous gift Israel received throughout her history. In order to actually claim those blessings requires a change in lifestyle, a reliance on the heart of convictions to lead our choices, to reign superior over fallen reason and sensory perception. That’s what “faith” means; it’s a synonym for commitment and obedience to our feudal Master, Jesus Christ. This is the covenant of adoption He offers to all.
We are allowed to see above the level of law covenant, to see the full depth of loving obedience that had always been implied by the Law Covenants of the Bible. In this, we can discover a heart-led power of conviction that brings us to Biblical Law as a single continuum leading all the way up to faith. We are permitted to receive the power and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit into our hearts and sense the divine joy of moral truth. We are reunited to ultimate reality, and not forced to rely on what our senses and logic can tell us. We are permitted to see the fingerprints and genius of our Creator in how things work.
Thus, Biblical Law as that sense of awareness of God’s divine moral character in reality, is its own reward. We don’t just grab our spiritual birth and run off to live by our own wits; that is not faith by any definition. We devote the remainder of our earthly existence to learning and growing in grace, transforming the mind and flesh into instruments of holiness, shining the glory of our God into this fallen world. We participate in His glory; we promote His agenda by our visibly restored life of obedience to the Covenant of Christ. We have the full power of the old Law Covenants fully demonstrated and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
When the New Testament talks about “free from the law,” that is a reference to the drudgery of Jewish legal mythology cooked up by rabbis deeply poisoned by Hellenism. That was a barrier, a hindrance to God’s revelation. It was not the blessed “word of truth” and revelation David so richly promotes in the Psalms. In Christ, we are free to actually enter the eternal Biblical Law of God’s divine moral character, which is the Gate of Eden. In Christ, we no longer need to strive under law covenants toward a self-death; we can seize self-death as a free offer up front.
We can then harvest the blessings of the Covenant through a life consistent with God’s eternal design. We can restore the intimate relations Adam and Eve had with the natural world in Garden of Eden, in the same way that Adam didn’t need to gain his food by the sweat of his brow. The ground is no longer cursed against us, a symbolic image that points to a restored communion with Creation. We can now rediscover how Creation actually works again. We can hear the song of celebration and praise from nature in our hearts.
This is the shalom of our Covenant in Christ. It means the natural world now regards us as VIPs, and we stand in the same place as Christ who commanded the storms to be still, who dispatched whole legions of demons, and was fully at peace when He faced the Cross. It’s not that we long to leave this natural world, but we can’t wait to be restored to the resurrected life of our Lord. This world is doomed, and we seek progressive freedom from its chains. But we keep in mind that “this world” means the fallen outlook, the moral blindness of Adam and Eve who hid from God.
The privileges of the Covenant pull us out of this world and into Eden, where we belong.