Friday, March 8, 2013

The Law

The Lord wanted relationship, the Israelites wanted something else.

This is what I have been reading in my quest to read the entire Bible in a year. Obviously I'm in the Old Testament, but I'm finding it so, so interesting.

After experiencing the Lord when He came down on Mount Sinai to speak directly with the people of Israel, they asked Moses to speak for them with the Lord ever after. They didn't want to be in relationship with such a powerful, unpredictable God. They wanted something that was perhaps more manageable? More tame, I suppose?

They got the Law.

Now, having grown up in the church, I have heard a lot of bad talk about the Law, and I still hear a lot of other people say that Jesus did away with the Law when He came. Well, I disagree with both of those ideas to some extent. Here's why.

Even Jesus Himself says: "Do not think that I have come to do away with the law and the prophets; I have not come to do away with them, but to fulfill them."

To FULFILL means to achieve or realize (something desired, promised or predicted); to bring to completion or reality

Now lets look at the Law, the real point I want to focus on. What did Jesus fulfill?

All those animals sacrificed.  Those animal sacrifices were part of the instructions of how the people could make themselves presentable to the Lord. There had to be blood paid for their sins, for them to be acceptable in the sight of a Holy God.

Thankfully, Jesus did fulfill that part of the Law for sure. He came as that perfect, sinless Lamb, who paid the price for all of our sins. So now the blood part is taken care of.  Jesus fulfilled that requirement in the Law.

What about the rest of the Law though? All those rules about how to be ceremonially clean, how to tithe to the Levites, how to deal with contagious skin diseases? How were those fulfilled by Jesus coming.

Well, before we go there, lets look at what the book of Matthew says about the Law & the Prophets:
Matthew 22:37-40

"You must Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets are based on these two commandments."

There it is. The point of the Law.

To help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I learned about that in Sunday school when I was 8 years old, but now, at the age of almost 30, I am asking myself, how does the Law really point to that conclusion.

Here is what I have come up with so far.
The Law was a set of rules, and the prophets carried the message, that pointed to this ultimate desire of the Lord: that His people would love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds, and that they would love everyone else the way they loved themselves. The Law wasn't a big rule book for the sake of having rules. It was a guide for the people of Israel, to lead them into a loving relationship with the Lord.

However, they didn't see it as such. They missed the Lord's heart behind the message. Only a select few really got it. Moses got it. Joshua, son of Nun got it. David got it. Even Solomon got it, well for a while. Yet even those who got it, somehow that message would get lost from one generation to the next so that the people never remained faithful to their relationship with the Lord.

Even still.

What about all the other stuff that the Law contains. Some of it is still good stuff that was not made null and void when Jesus died on the cross. Or at least, I think it would still apply to today.

Things like laws about "forbidden sexual practices" and "holiness in personal conduct" and ideas about "redemption of property, the poor, and enslaved". Those sound like good things to me, even now that Jesus has come.

Sure, there are certainly a few things in the Law that I don't understand why the Lord included it, but I do know this. The Lord is not careless in His ways. If He put it in the Bible, then it has a deeper meaning, and therefore we should trust and respect that.

When I hear people say that the Law has been done away with, I typically wonder if those people who are saying that are really just looking for a way to show more tolerance to the sin in their own lives (or the lives of friends). Just being real here people. Like those people who have sexual sins in their life. It would be really easy to excuse a lot of sins by throwing out the Law, and saying it no longer applies.

If the Law no longer applies, then maybe those things contained in the Law are no longer sins? Interesting idea. Yet God is still the God of the Old Testament. The person of Jesus is not a contradiction to the Old Testament expression of the Lord. They are one and the same. So doesn't it also make sense then, that if the Law was a list of rules and ideas that the Lord established to help the Israelites to live rightly before Him, that they would still have some application for today.

People who preach a lot of freedom in Christ are probably not liking where I'm going with this.

So am I saying we are still bound by the Law?

To be continued in........The Law Part 2.

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