So as I continue to go through the Old Testament, I have been quite amazed at just how much God has to say, and how easily it can be missed if you are not looking for it. And so while reading it, especially the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses, can be immensely dull, it is definitely not something that should skipped. So this post is going to be about one of the biggest things that God has been showing me.
So the first five books of the Bible tell the story of how God created the world and man and made Israel His chosen people. It tells everything that happened from when the Israelites were enslaved and released, their forty years in the wilderness, and their preparation to enter the Promised Land. However, this narrative is but a small portion of these books, as much of the text is simply laws, rules, and regulations that God has given the people to give them a way to worship Him and only Him. These laws govern pretty much every aspect of life: tithes, sacrifices, atonement for sin, government, family, and so much more.
But what I find awesome is the simple fact that the Jews before Jesus needed to follow these laws, yet we do not. There is plenty of New Testament Scripture to support the fact that we do not need to follow all the OT laws so rigorously: John 1:16-17 - "Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."; Acts 13:39 - "Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses."; Romans 8:1-4 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
So why don't we have to follow the OT Law so strictly anymore? Why was Moses given ten commandments when we were given only two? Well, this is what God has been teaching me lately in my quiet times. The simplest answer I can give for this question begins with a brief description of the Israelite people when they were released from slavery in Egypt. They were a people prone to wander, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to worship the one true God and only Him; when Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments from God, he was only gone forty days, and in that time they had already created for themselves a golden calf to worship, which would make their worship similar to the other people in the area who also worshipped bull-like gods. These people needed a constant reminder of the how God had freed them from the chains of slavery in Egypt, and God's response to this was to give them so many laws that every aspect of their lives were governed by law, thus making everything they did remind them of God. But what was designed to help people grow closer to God was again corrupted by sin, and it the law became empty worship, with no heart behind it, no love for God. Isaiah 1 describes just how much the religion of the Jews angered God, because it was done without love for Him. So in comes Jesus.
Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), and he came to release us from our captivity to sin. I really like the New Living translation of Romans 6:14, "Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace." The law that was designed to get us closer to God actually became sin in the way that it made worship empty, but with Jesus, we have been freed from that sin, from that law. And now what remains? We have been given life, and freedom, and forgiveness for our sins. And with this, it means that God trusts us more than he trusted the Israelites; He trusts that we will choose to follow only God, and that we do not need laws governing every aspect of our lives to continue to do so. The free gift of Christ's love is so great that anyone who believes in it truly wants to be freed from sin and follow Jesus completely. God trusts that we will make this decision and stick to it our whole lives. There is no sin and no temptation so great that it will pull us away from our love for Jesus, if in fact we truly have Jesus living within us.
And now only these things remains: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And after that, love your neighbor as yourself, because love covers over a multitude of sins.