Tag Archive for Old Testament law

The Old Testament Law

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Read Leviticus 19:1-4, 9-18; Matthew 7:24-27

The Old Testament law, contained in portions of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, has a bad reputation among many modern Christians. To them, it seems strange and completely outdated.

Read it, and yes, some of the specific regulations will seem odd. They were written for a different time, place, and situation. But the more I study the law, the more amazed I am at its beauty and depth. It legislates compassion on the needy, even at the expense of private rights of ownership. It works to shape a people of justice, righteousness, and generosity, a people who consider all fellow citizens to be their brothers and sisters, a people who, above everything else, love God with all their heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).

This is the law God promised to write on the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31:33). This is the law Jesus came, not to destroy, but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17). This is the law whose essence is loving God and loving others (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

Whether the law was ever followed perfectly is not the point. It envisions a community of believers that will one day culminate in the Kingdom of God. For myself, I’m coming to think of the law, less as a set of specific rules tailored to a specific people in a specific cultural situation, and more as one step in God forming for Himself a holy people who are truly His own – a people of justice, mercy, faith, and love. The essence of the law is living at peace with God and thus at peace with each other.

The law also teaches another invaluable truth: God’s wisdom does us no good until we obey it. God’s wisdom demands trust. It demands response. It demands action. It demands change.

Remember Jesus’ parable about the wise man and the foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27). Both men had heard God’s wisdom. Both men knew His wisdom. The entire difference between a wise life and a foolish life, between blessing and destruction, was simple obedience. God’s wisdom cannot bless us until we obey it. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Is There Any Word from the Lord?
Printed Music & Lyrics

Undiscovered Blessings

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Deuteronomy 15:1-15, 18

God’s blessings are often dependent on our receiving them. To receive them, we must obey Him.

As God was forming the people of Israel into a holy nation – a nation to be His light to all the peoples of the earth – He laid out for them in great detail the blessings He would pour out on them if they obeyed, as well as the curses that would come if they disobeyed. Many of the laws they were called to obey concerned how they should treat each other. For example, consider these passages from Deuteronomy:

  • Every third year the Israelites should use their tithe to feed the needy in their town (14:28-29).
  • Every seven years creditors should release their debtors from what they owed (15:1-11). The exact details of this release are uncertain, but it is clear that creditors were to show mercy to those caught in the grip of debt.
  • Jewish slave owners were to release their Hebrew slaves in the seventh year (15:12-15, 18). They were not to send these slaves away empty-handed but were to freely share their own goods with them.
  • Israelites were forbidden to charge interest to their fellow Jews (23:20).
  • They were to leave part of their harvest in the fields and allow the poor to gather it free (24:19-22).

The rights of individual ownership were tempered with the absolute necessity of compassion and generosity toward the needy. God continually prodded them to treat their fellow Jews like family – like brothers. He reminded them that He had been generous and compassionate toward them, delivering them when they were in helpless bondage. He had never treated them with a tight-fisted, “This is Mine!” attitude, nor had He withheld His gifts because they didn’t deserve them. He now expected them to treat each other the same way.

God is still eager to bless His people in all our endeavors. He wants to lavish on us the many undiscovered blessings of love and unity. But we have to follow Him in treating His people with open hands and open heart.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Open Your Hand
Printed Music & Lyrics