“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. Luke 16:16-17
Are Christians still under the Law as handed down by God to Moses and recorded in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus? What if I said yes and no. Kind of a weasely answer isn’t it. But let’s dive a bit further into God’s Word and see what I mean by my yes and no answer.
We are no longer under the dietary laws of the Old Testament. How do we know this? We can look to Peter’s vision in Acts to find our answer.
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (Acts 10:9-16 ESV)
Now we can debate until the cows come home why God told Peter this but I think it is because the apostles were now taking the Good News to the Gentiles. God gave these dietary laws to the Jews in order to set them apart from the rest of the people. Just as He did many other Laws. So I believe that many of the Laws of the Old Testament were given to set apart God’s Chosen People. Now that the Gospel was being taken to the world per Jesus’ command in Matthew, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
Let’s take a moment to look at who Jesus was talking to. He was not addressing Gentiles or Christians, Jesus was talking to Jews. Now when Christians think of the Law we often think only of the Ten Commandments and the various rules in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. But to find out what the Jewish people would have understood to Law to mean we need to look at how they looked at God’s Word. To the Jew to Law was the first five books of their Bible. So to them the Law was not just a bunch of rules but the Word of God as written down by Moses. God’s Word will never go away.
We can clarify this if we look at the parallel verses in Matthew where Matthew relates that Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV) From Matthew we see that Jesus is talking about more than a set of rules He is speaking of God’s Word in its entirety.
So, that is the answer to the “no” above but what about the “yes”? For that we need to distill the Law down to its core message and we can find that in Luke 10 when Jesus was talking to the young lawyer who asked Jesus “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Jesus came to deliver us from the burden of the Law but not from its core meanings nor did He come to replace the Scriptures as they had been given to the Old Testament writers. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word. Today we are set apart by our commitment to Jesus. It is our salvation that sets us apart from the rest of the world. But Jesus did not come to release us from the command to Love God or the command to love others. These two commands are the basis for the entire Word of God. Without them the Bible would just be another holy book. I have often heard the Bible described as a love letter from God to us. I firmly believe this to be true. The Bible is a book of love sent from a loving God to His children whom he loves in order to bring each and every one of us back to Him. But more than Just a love letter it is also a GPS directing us back to our home. All we need do is believe and accept.
Have a blessed day,
PS I am finishing this after an eye appointment and my eyes are still dilated so I apologize in advance if there are more typos than normal.