After a recent Bible study, Amanda, my 21 year old daughter, and I had a long discussion about the role of the Old Testament Mosaic Law and today’s culture. After the discussion and prayer, I went to bed. The next morning I woke up with a clear message. I rushed to write it down and do further research on the internet. The following is what I was led to write.
Why are there so many rules, why are they so diverse and why are they so archaic when viewed from our perspective?
There are so many because they are a set of guidelines to show how far short we fall to God’s ideal. If the list was short and simple, many of us would simply say. “I follow those rules so I am OK.”
The rules are to show us what we lack, not as a measure of our goodness and self-righteousness. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convince us of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.
Romans 7:7 But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork.
Galatians 3:23-24 Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.
God is outside time, He is eternal, He knows the future, so why do so many of the rules not reflect our present day standards. Clearly, because He didn’t want them to or need them to. They were intended as a snapshot. They reflected a specific time and culture. They were a specific message to a specific people in a specific place and time. We are not intended to use them as a strict guideline for us today. Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to obey God (the Ten Commandments,), others were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for their sin (the sacrificial system) and other laws were to make sure the Israelites saw themselves as separate and distinct from others in the same region (the food and clothing rules). None of these Old Testament law is mandatory for us today. Christ fulfilled all the demands of the Mosaic law. We don’t sacrifice animals today because it is understood that Jesus fulfilled the law of the sacrifice. Yet, we sometimes ignore that Jesus fulfilled all aspects of the Mosaic Law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. We are no longer bound by its standards. Does that mean we have no standards. Of course not. We are now under a new set of standards, those centered on Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said: “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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”
Romans 10:4-10 The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story…The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"
Ephesians 2:14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we're now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).
The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us. Everything else are requirements that fall outside our relationship with Jesus and can be looked on as attempts to cause us to judge each other or place barriers between us.
(Disclaimer: To be fair, everything here was what I was led to write, however, several items are copied form sources on the internet that I didn’t think to note. I will try to do a better job of crediting other sources in the future.)