Our Lord doesn’t gives instructions or commandments to his people before he saves his people. God always rescues first, then lays out the conditions second. God saves, then his people obey. God speaks, then his people respond. God reaches out in mercy and grace, then his people rejoice and give him praise. That’s the way it works. God acts in kindness toward his people, then his people act in kindness to one another.
God creates man, gives him a loving and equal partner, puts them in charge of everything in the beautiful garden, provides for their every need, and then gives them instructions regarding the trees.
God rescues Noah, he saves Noah’s whole family through the un-creation of the flood, and then he establishes the covenant with its commands.
God delivers Israel from Egyptian bondage, he walks them through the Red Sea on dry ground, he destroys all their enemies, and then he gives them the Law on Mount Sinai.
It’s always grace first, then law second.
Jesus first heals the leper, then he says, “Now go offer the gift.” Jesus cleanses the demon-possessed man, then he says, “Now go tell your family how much the Lord has done for you, how he has had mercy on you.” Jesus rescues an adulterous woman from her executioners, he saves her, and then he says, “Go and leave your life of sin.”
It’s a formula. It’s a pattern. It’s a rule for the way things are. It’s the divine order.
The Christmas trees don’t go up in Walmart until after Halloween. The kids don’t spill red Kool-Aid until after you’ve got new carpet. Jerry Jones doesn’t sign a player until after that player’s committed a felony. And our gracious heavenly Father doesn’t give rules and commands until after he saves us.
It’s just the opposite of Santa Claus. If you’re good, Santa gives you a great gift. With God in Christ, we’re good because we’ve been given such a great gift.