Summary: Jesus had a great regard for the OT. So should we, but Jesus is looking deeper than a superficial "keeping of rules". He is looking for the character of the man
Story of competitors
A few years ago, a Swiss Pharmaceutical Company was looking for a new Marketing Director.
After much advertising, three candidates were selected for the final selection process.
A mathematician, a statistician and a lawyer.
The first to be invited in for the final interview was the mathematician and the MD asked him the question:
"What is 2+2."
The mathematician was surprised but simply answered 4.
The Board thanked him for coming, but he wasn’t the candidate they were looking for.
The statistician was the next in and was asked the same question. His reply was that statistically it was a number between 3 and 5.
The Board were quite impressed and asked him to wait outside as they had one other candidate.
The last candidate was a lawyer and the MD put the same question to him: "What is 2+2"
Without batting a eyelid he replied:
“What do you want it to be. “
And was promptly hired on the spot.
And Christians who have no regard to the Old Testament are like that lawyer
If you don’t know your Old Testament, God’s word becomes whatever you want it to be!
I am amazed how few Christians take much time to study the Old Testament – and how little we preach on it either.
Many Christians think that as Jesus came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets – that we can now ignore them.
I disagree - at least with regard to God’s Moral Law.
There are basically three types of OT LAW
1. THE MORAL LAW
2. THE CEREMONIAL LAW and
3. THE CIVIL LAW
The Moral Law
The Moral Law tells us about God’s character. These laws never change, just as God himself never changes
They tell us what God likes and dislikes.
The Ten Commandments for example are MORAL LAW.
Jesus summed up the requirements of God’s Moral Law by applying two great principles.
The first is from Deuteronomy 6:5
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
The second is from Leviticus 19:18
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
The Ceremonial laws all prefigured Jesus’ death on the Cross.
They related to the services of the sanctuary, the offering of sacrifices, and the priestly ministration.
Every sacred festival foreshadowed a saving event in the redemption of the world.
And they ceased to have effect when the perfect - whom they prefigured came. Jesus the Son of God.
Every country has a civil Law and Israel was no different
So to Israel as a nation were given laws in the OT governing how justice was administered.
They were for a place (Israel) and a time (and were the law of the land in those days)
Unlike the Ceremonial Laws, which were wholly symbolic in nature, the Civil Laws were not abolished by the death of Christ but rather do not apply to us as we are not in the Land of Israel.
We therefore no longer need to observe the CEREMONIAL LAW (as was settled in the First Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15) nor the CIVIL LAW (as we are not Jews living in Israel) but we do as Christians need to observe the MORAL LAW OF GOD.
St Paul the great Champion of grace himself says this about GOD’S MORAL LAW
He writes in Romans 6
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer
Paul goes on in the same Chapter of Romans to say
11 …. count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
The challenge that St Paul gives us this is.
If we are Christians we are to live according to GOD’S MORAL LAW in our lives.
We do NOT do this to become Christians but BECAUSE we ARE Christians.
Jesus took the Old Testament seriously and I think as Christians we need to do so too.
For in it we find GOD’S MORAL LAW
But how do we avoid simply getting bogged done in legalism
After all in order to avoid breaking the commandments, the Pharisees had fenced the Commandments around with more severe rules.