Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Law fulfilled...

"Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." Luke 24:26-27

The 39 books of the Old Testament are a baffling subject for most who are under the new covenant that Jesus established. Due to a lack of teaching in the church most of us are either unfamiliar with the purpose of the laws and rituals established in the Old Testament or at best disenchanted with them. But this must not be the case. The purpose of the law was given that Israel would have established rules and boundaries that would lead them into a deeper reality of life.

No one, Christian or not would say that “adultery” is a good idea. Thus all of the laws were given so that they would have a clearer understanding of the order of how things are, and the fact that they were articulated so clearly gave understanding to the fact that although man knows at some level that there are certain things man knows are wrong (gentiles…. show the work of the law is written on there hearts, even though they do not have the law”-Romans 2:15), he still given to his own devices will trespass these laws. That being said what do you do with the hundreds of rituals that exist and are commanded but are not celebrated in the new covenant. Why???

It would give the appearance that we have simply done the proverbial “thrown the baby out with the bath water”. But this is not the case. In the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke Jesus teaches his disciples that all of the Old Testament was given to point to him.

Now we take this along with Jesus’ teaching that “I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” So Jesus does not abandon the law but fulfills it and furthermore he explains it. To ask the question well then “Should we celebrate the traditions of the Old Testament?”

Well…maybe but understand that the 613 laws given in the old testament were given with a purpose. Primarily to point the fact that man is incapable of keeping the law and was in need of a savior. The New Testament states that Jesus has “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins”-Hebrews 10:!2. So all people are justified before God through faith, but by the grace extended in God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. Old Testament Jew of New Testament Gentile. All saved are saved through faith and saved by Jesus. Ok so the Old Testament Law, throw it all out if it was accomplished in Jesus right???

Well…no. The purpose of the law was to help man find life, and point to Jesus. That does not negate the truth that they contain. Many of them no longer apply since they have been fulfilled in Jesus but many of them were true then and still prove true today. It is comparable to me graduating from high school. While I was still in high school I was given certain rules that applied to my conduct as a student. That by following these rule I would be led to a life free from “detention, failed tests, etc… I was told not to hit other people because I would get in trouble and cause disruption, as well as told to make a point to close my locker because leaving it open was untidy, irresponsible, and left me subject to having my things stolen.

So when I graduated from high school I also graduated from all of the rules that of high school right? Well kind of… but not entirely. You see many of them apply not only then but now. It is still a bad idea to hit people, or run around with scissors, even if I have graduated from High school. But I no longer have a locker and am not bound to buy one and make sure I keep it closed in my apartment, but rather am to look at the principle of why I was told to “keep it closed” while in High school. I have graduated from the rules of High school, but some of them remain true today, while others are to be understood in light of the principle they were meant to convey while I was under the “law of high school”.

This is the story we see in the Old Testament, although we have graduated and “moved to a new covenant”, this does not abolish the old rules. But allows us to look at those that clearly still apply. For example we are not bound to keep Yom Kippur (The day our sins are atoned for where a sacrifice was made for God’s people), but to look at why we were told to keep this command. In this example the day of atonement is fulfilled in Jesus who has made everyday a “day of atonement”, he provide a sacrifice for all days where God’s peoples sins are forgiven.. But just as it is still a bad idea for me to run with scissors and hit people now and in high school, so there are still laws in the Old Testament that apply today. Look at the Ten Commandments, all of them are still applicable, and to be observed not out of a bond of slavery, but because they lead us to life. (Not murdering, Not committing adultery, worshipping $$, lying, stealing…etc, no one debates these things as less than “ideal”. But we also see other laws that no longer are to be observed but understood. I.e. the sacrificial system is not to be practiced but understood in light of the principle it was meant to convey. Jesus was the sacrifice.

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