Sunday, May 09, 2010

What Old Testament Laws Carry Through Into The New?

Someone asked, What did Jesus mean by His statements in defense of the Law?

I think He literally meant exactly what He said. Keep in mind however that Jesus was speaking to those who were still under the Old Covenant. He wasn't speaking to Jews or Gentiles under the New Covenant because the New Covenant hadn't been ratified yet.

One example of this is when Jesus told the lepers to "go show yourselves to the priests," and as they went they were healed. Under the New Covenant, especially in Gentile nations, there was no Levitical priesthood, so Jesus' command to the lepers only had relevance to Jews who were still under the Old Covenant. There are several such instances in the Gospels.

Jesus never abolished the Law - rather, He demanded a more sincere obedience to the Law than the Pharisees. But, keep in mind that at that time Jesus' ministry was strictly to Jews who were under the Old Covenant. His statements need to be understood first of all in that light, and then after that, we shall see in what way they carry over into the New Covenant, for Gentile believers also.

2. I think many in the Church today have a wrong understanding of what Pharaseeism consisted of. Phariseeism consisted of twisting the Law in order to justify immorality - immorality such as adultery, extortion and murder. Jesus denounced that wrong use of the Law - but He never denounced law-keeping as it was intended by Moses. In fact, He demanded it. But remember again, Jesus was speaking to Jews who were still under the Law.

John the Baptist preached repentance. Jesus never rebuked John for legalism - because John had the true heart of the Law in mind and was himself trying to live a godly life.

The Pharisees on the other hand completely misrepresented what the Law itself meant, deliberately so. That's what Jesus was against. But He was never against the Law itself. Again, keep in mind this was for Old Covenant Jews.

There is no exact equivalent of Phariseeism today because we are no longer under the Law. However, if there was anything like it today, it would not be the person who is trying to live godly and who invites others to do so as well. That's not Phariseeism.

Something similar to Phariseeism today might be the sexually immoral theocratic leader who deliberately looks for dubious takes on Scripture so that he can practise all manner of sexual immorality, extortion and murder - and yet hypocritically demand better of his followers. And there have been incidences of this throughout Church history.

Just like the Pharisees demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, there have been Church leaders throughout church history who demanded the deaths of some of God's true servants in the Church.

That's more like the spirit of Phariseeism. It has nothing to do with someone who honestly believes that repentance is still a requirement for everyone who seeks to enter God's Kingdom. But keep in mind, Jesus was speaking to those who were still under the Old Law.

3. The two commandments of loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself weren't intended as a replacement of the remainder of the Law - rather, the rest of the Law hung on those two commandments.

In other words, all the other points of Law were really just case-studies, or extensions, of those two commandments. It didn't mean Jesus was saying, "Well as long as you do these two, it's okay to break the rest." No, He meant that obedience to all the other laws should bring a person to the place of obeying these two suprememe commandments - and vice versa. But keep in mind, He was speaking to people who were still required to keep the Law.

4. Someone asked about food laws and capital punishment for delinquent youth. Moses' Laws about delinquent youth were designed to prevent the very thing which many people mistakenly think they were designed to cause. In the cultures of Moses' world, honour killings by family members took place almost in epidemic proportions, and sometimes still do today in some cultures in that part of the world. This Law forbade that, because it required that the parents had to bring the person to the Elders. It prevented parents acting in a rage of wounded pride.

It was required that parents testify that their son had not responded to attempts at rehabilitation. This means a period of time had to have elapsed. Again, it prevented heated reactions.

It also meant that the family problem would become even more publicly known than before. So once again, family pride is eliminated as a cause of killing one's son.

Also, the types of problems mentioned included drunkenness, gluttony and rebellion. I don't get the impression it's talking about a mere thirteen or fourteen year old boy - do you?

In the whole of Bible history, there is not one recorded incident of any parent ever bringing their son to Law under this point of Law. So the Law worked - it prevented the very thing which many today mistakenly think it was encouraging. It actually caused families to work things out at home instead of doing honour killings.

The real intent of the food laws wasn't about certain types of meat being physically unclean or clean. The food laws were a requirement placed upon Old Covenant Jews in order to serve as a reminder that God distinguishes between profane and holy.

It was the same with circumcision. Circumcision wasn't about physical health primarily - the ritual served as a reminder of their covenant with God. That was the real point.

Same with the laws forbidding mixed fabrics. God didn't have anything against mixed fabrics per se - it was another illustration that God requires unblemished devotion and holiness. It was only for God's covenant people, the Jews, while under the Old Testament.

5. So what carries over into the New Covenant? EVERYTHING carries through without exception - but not the outward ritual - what carries through is the true, deeper intent and purpose of the points of law.

Things like circumcision, food-laws, sabbath-keeping, mixed fabrics, not cutting the corner of your beard, animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood etc don't carry through - because those were outward expressions which only had relevance as vehicles of expressing certain morals and ethics, under the Old Covenant.

But the true moral, the ethic, the spiritual reality, the real point which all those things illustrated, carries through, and is fulfilled by our actions when we are led by the Spirit and walk in love. Without exception!

We now have the true holiness and the true spiritual blessing which every point of Moses' Law either illustrated or clearly taught, whichever the case may have been.

But this is not achieved by human effort - rather, it is achieved by the Spirit who is given to us. He poured God's nature of love into our born-again spirit. Therefore we have been made partakers of God's own nature. We can now walk in love, and love fulfills the true intent of every point of Law. Hallelujah! Receive it today.

1 comment:

Jamiedavid said...

Your points on how the physical keeping of the laws worked as spiritual reminders or indicators, was very helpful. I haven't heard this expressed in any way that made adequate sense. But your thoughts have been a tremendous help. Thank the Lord for using you! Blog on!