The Old Testament Law Is Not For Today, Or Is It?
The Old Testament Law is a confusing topic for many people. I first learned about it as a boy going to Sunday School. The main emphasis was on the Ten Commandments but it wasn’t limited to that. It’s funny how things stick out in your memory. I remember how odd it seemed that God wouldn’t let His people eat bacon or ham. Also, the whole idea of sacrificing animals conjured up some incredible images in my young mind.
Most of us understand the Ten Commandments but other than that we don’t know what to do with the Old Testament Law. I put a poll question on Twitter and Facebook about the Law. Even though the results aren’t scientific I think they’re accurate. The question was, “Is the Old Testament Law for us today?” Here are the results
These results look like some polls I’ve seen for how people feel about different presidential candidates! I think one reason for the wide variety of opinions is that we aren’t sure what’s meant by Old Testament Law. Let’s try to clear that up.
Defining The Term “Old Testament Law”
- The word “law” in our English Bibles is the translation of the Hebrew word “torah.” Torah has a general range of meaning including direction, teaching or law. In fact, the idea of “law” isn’t the primary meaning of the Hebrew term. It has developed as a specialized meaning, however, and that’s what we’re interested in understanding.
- One specialized use of the word Law or Torah is to refer to the first five books of the Bible. These five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are called the Law or Torah because that’s where you’ll find the Old Testament Law.
- Another specialized use of the term is to refer to the 613 different commandments that collectively make up the Old Testament Law. If you’re curious, here’s a list of all 613 different commandments.
- Finally, the term Old Testament Law is used to describe the two-way agreement between God and the people of Israel. That agreement is sometimes called a covenant. When the Jews kept the Law they were keeping their covenant with God. When they didn’t follow the Law they were breaking their agreement with God. God promised to bless them when they kept the Law. He also promised to curse them if they broke the Law. They agreed to these terms!
It’s easy to see that the answers to the poll will differ greatly depending upon what aspect of the term Old Testament Law you have in mind. In our next post we’ll talk about the different kinds of laws that make up the Old Testament Law.
Here’s something to think about today. The Law was about obedience. God cares about and rewards obedience. The odds are you’ll face a moment today when you’ll have to choose if you’re going to obey God or not. Think about it wisely. God still blesses those who obey Him!
What do you think? Please leave a comment or question below. I’d love to hear from you.