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WHAT'S HAPPENED TO THE LAW OF MOSES? PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 17 November 2004

Many Christians today think the Law of Moses was superceeded by Christ. But Christ said He came, not to destroy, but to fulfil the Law. What did He mean, and how does His teaching find expression in modern life? 

 

by Jim Jordal

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For truly I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Matt. 5:17-20 (NASB)

"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord. "I will put My Law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying ‘know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Jer. 31:33-34 (NASB)

It’s a common fable among some Christians that Old Testament Law brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses is no longer in effect now that Christ has come. And in one way that’s true. Christ did end something, but it was the sacrificial and ceremonial ordinances, not God’s Law for the nation. His death and resurrection ended the need to shed animal blood for sin, since, as Hthe apostle Paul so clearly details, Christ Himself became the sacrifice for sin once and for all (see Heb. 9).

So we no longer need ritual blood sacrifices and all the associated ceremonial ordinances. We now have a better way in Christ. But to abolish along with sacrificial and ceremonial ordinances all the remainder of God’s economic, familial, social and political law for national welfare is a misreading of God’s intent.

As Jesus made clear on several occasions, He came not to destroy, but to fulfill the Law. What He meant was that the requirements of the Law for justice, mercy, truth, righteousness and love would be fulfilled by the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah and paid for by His death. When God’s Law becomes written in our very hearts, then, and only then, will Mosaic Law for persons and nations no longer be needed. But it will still be in effect, only in a different way, since it will now be written in our hearts.

So you might say, "Well, that surely hasn’t happened yet!" No, it hasn’t, and that’s why we still need Old Testament Law. All you need do to understand that the Law of Love has not yet replaced Mosaic Law is to open your newspaper or watch almost any TV program. With rampant sin in the land, we still need the Law of God, and we disobey this Law at our peril, both personal and national.

One reason some people have so much difficulty with the Law is that they persist in claiming the Bible applies only to individuals. One comment I often hear is that since individuals make up the nation, individual behavior is all that matters. But we need only return to our introductory government and political science courses to remember that nations have unique identities apart from their individual members.

God’s Law handed down to Moses had the ability to create a prosperous, peaceful society with little or no economic or political oppression. Yes, there would be differences in human ability, diligence, and family prominence; and these differences would lead to income, wealth, and status differentials. But exploitation, manipulation, and chicanery would be lacking, so the basic oppressions arising from human greed and arrogance would be minimized. What little dishonesty and subterfuge did arise would be severely proscribed by law and custom, resulting in a society embracing righteousness, justice, mercy, truth, and love.

So why didn’t this happen? Unbelief and apostasy! Only for short periods was Israel ever able to avoid the falling away so prevalent in their history. We live in a time when Satan and his minions have power in the earth. The only thing standing between the present world and a new Dark Age is the word and power of God expressed through His Law, His Son, and His people.

As Jesus said, true righteousness finds expression, not in ritual and tradition, but in obedience to Christ’s commands for acts of genuine justice, truth, and mercy. Today this true righteousness is exhibited by those who follow Christ in modeling the Law through its fulfillment in love. Someday soon it will become a part of our deepest natures as the New Covenant becomes operative across the earth. Meanwhile, do not disparage the Law of God;without it we descend into anarchy and dissolution.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 12 November 2005 )