Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blessings of the Old Law

Romans 10:4
Matthew 5:17-20
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Sometimes we can get the impression from the New Testament that the Law of the Old Testament is obsolete and bad. Yet in verses like these we see that it is more like the prophesies of the Old Testament: those that have been fulfilled were wholly and completely accurate but their fulfillment turned out to be entirely different from what people expected to take place. When God speaks, whether a prophesy or a commandment, what we understand from His words may not be what actually takes place, yet having seen the fulfillment we realize that the prophesy was entirely and completely accurate, down to details we didn't notice beforehand. It was our understanding that was incomplete, not the prophesy or commandment. When Jesus came to this earth, He brought new light and new understanding to the old Law. He didn't replace it but He transformed it, or transformed our understanding of it.
When I read the Old Testament now through Christ Jesus, including the Law, I see in it a relationship, a reaching out from God to us out of His love for us and His desire for us to know Him. Rather than a bunch of rules we could never even hope to obey completely I see a design for a right relationship with the Lord and with other humans. Now, Jesus gave us much more than simply a new understanding of an old set of rules; including He gave us a way to restore our relationship with God when we break those rules. Nor do I live in a way that attempts (let alone succeeds) at obeying all aspects of the Old Testament Law. But as I read it I can see the character of God shining through and I can gain understanding in how to love Him better. I can read, for example, in the law that the owner of an ox who has shown aggressive behavior in the past should give full compensation to a man injured by that ox (Ex 21:28-32), I see God's justice and His desire that we take care how our choices and lack of responsibility might affect others.
Have you ever read through the Old Testament, including the Law? If you haven't, I wouldn't recommend that you make it your only Bible study, particularly if you haven't read the New Testament all the way through either. But neither would I recommend that anyone ignore it. Rather a focus on the New Testament with portions of the Old read daily or a system of study that takes you all the way through the Bible can be so helpful in growing in a deeper relationship with the Lord. Because He is the same Lord, in the Old Testament and the New, yesterday, today, and forever. Anything we can do to build our relationship with Him is always a good choice.

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