Several of our lessons this week will require us to spend time in the Old Testament. Some feel that since the Old Testament was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14), taken out of the way (Col. 2:14) and made obsolete (Heb. 8:13) that it should not be studied like the New Testament should be studied. Others, believe that the Old Testament is still binding upon us today. As we study through many of these books, we need to be certain that we understand why we should be studying them in the 1st place.
To begin, we need to understand that while the Jews did separate the Old Testament into different sections (The Torah, The Prophets, Wisdom Literature, etc) they would never have thought that meant some was less binding than others. In fact, the Hebrew word for law (Torah) was actually used to describe all of God’s commandments (Micah 4:2; Gen. 26:5). Furthermore, Christ seemed to use Law to refer to all that was written throughout the sermon on the mount (See Matt. 5:17-18).
Next, we need to understand to whom this message was given. Simply put, the message was given unto the Jews (Deut. 5:2-3). When this covenant was initiated, those that were sprinkled with the blood of the covenant were bound by it. Ex. 24:3-8 clearly shows that the 12 tribes of Israel were sprinkled with the blood of the covenant. Not one Gentile was present this day. As such, not one Gentile is bound to live by the Old Law. Now, this does not exempt Gentiles from living righteously. Nor did it mean that some of the statutes in the Law were not universal. For instance God’s standard for marriage, murder, stealing, lying, etc were universal laws. Murder was and is always wrong. Stealing was and is always wrong. Lying was and is always wrong. But, just because these statutes are universal it does not mean that we are bound by the Law of Moses.
Next, we need to realize why God gave the Law in the 1st place. Based upon Paul’s teaching in the book of Galatians, this was something that even the Jews misunderstood. It seems that they were convinced it would be a permanent fixture. This is perplexing, because God informed Israel of the days in which another covenant would be established (Jer. 31:31). Nonetheless, Paul explains clearly the purpose of the Law. It was added because of sin (Gal. 3:19). This itself has a two fold purpose. One was to help Israel identify what sin was (Rom. 7:14-25). The other was to offer a means to atone for sin until the one that could truly take away the sins of the world would come. All the animal sacrifices offered rolled the sins over, it never took them away (Heb. 10:4). Paul also taught that the Law was added to be a school master to lead us to Christ. It taught us in three ways. It should have prepared the heart for the coming of the Messiah. It showed through types and shadows the good things to come (Heb. 10:1). And as we will learn this week, it should through prophecy who, when, what, etc we were to be looking for.
Now, the Law was not given as it is often used for today. It was not given to save us. Gal. 3:10 teaches that the Law of Moses actually cursed man because he could not live by it perfectly. Gal. 4:21-31 teaches us that the Law enslaves us. It cannot, nor has it ever given man freedom. And finally, God’s grace is not associated with it. Gal. 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” If we seek to use the Law of Moses as a standard of living today, we have separated ourselves from the very grace that brought us to God in the 1st place.
Since all these things are true, why should we study the Law today? What good does the Law serve 2000 years after it was made obsolete. It can still teach us. Rom. 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” But, it was not just written to teach us. By reading the Law we can learn how seriously God takes sin as we read of the stories of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3), Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3), or Uzzah (II Sam. 6). It can teach us the accuracy of the scriptures as we read of fulfilled prophecy, sometimes hundred and even thousands of years before they even happen. It can teach us about our creator. And as his creation how he expects us to react to his message. And finally, it was written to give us hope. Even as we read of the damaging effects of sin, we can have hope for we read of the grace of God that was coming (See Gen. 3). While this is one of the most tragic stories of the bible, it also introduces the greatest story ever told - the story of Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman who would redeem mankind. ~WTK
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Why Study the Old Testament?
Volume 3 Issue 44 October 7, 2012