This chapter is helpfully subtitled “Transcribing God’s Character in the World.” As Williams explains: “As in the garden of Eden, God calls Israel to image God, to represent his character and rule in the world” (149).
He rightly emphasizes the continuity between Abraham and Moses: “The great contribution of the Sinai covenant to the ongoing covenant story is the revelation of God’s demands for Israel’s obedience. The patriarchs knew that they were to obey the Lord (Gen. 17:9: ‘As for you, you must keep my covenant’; cf. Gen. 15:6; 22:1-11). Now at Sinai, however, the precise terms of Israel’s obedience are made plain” (150).
“Far from setting aside the promise of grace, the law was given to those who had been saved by grace in order to show them how to live in that grace. Thus Sinai does not bring fresh bondage but rather proof that the old bondage had been broken. In fact, we can speak of the law as a further act of grace, a gift to God’s people that serves his covenantal and gracious purposes. Thus the call of the law is to translate God’s grace into action” (151).
“Israel was to look upon the law as a gift, not a burden. The law was a delight because it aided the covenant relationship” (152).
“In the second generation of the Reformation, John Calvin insisted that the law plays a more positive role in the Christian life than Luther was willing to acknowledge” (155). Calvin agreed with Luther’s three uses, but with different emphases. He viewed the first and second as being positive (respectively: expressing common grace, and repeatedly pointing the believer to Christ), while emphasizing the third use in the life of the believer (an emphasis preserved in the Heidelberg Catechism, as Williams explicitly points out).
“Thus Calvin was able to integrate the genius of Old Testament piety into his understanding of the law far better than the Lutheran tradition did” (156).