The Old Testament. Older than television and sliced bread. Ancient. Like the grandpa who needs hearing aids to hear a jackhammer, but will beat you with his cane if you neglect to show respect. He may not have a clue what an Ipod is, but his wisdom electrifies his flowing silver beard. Several of the rituals and cultural references he grew up with are no longer relevant, but they still hold valuable lessons.
The Old Testament begins with God declaring creation to be good. Things quickly go south when Eve and Adam eat the forbidden fruit. From then on, we see a consistent pattern of making and breaking promises. God faithfully upholds His promises (in the Old Covenant/Testament) made with His people. Israel faithfully fails to follow their portion of this covenant. These responses to the covenant are a recipe for God’s loving, purifying discipline.
The Israelites could have attempted to follow the law with every fiber of their being. They could have sacrificed cattle and goats to the point of extinction. But no amount of blood from bulls and goats could have purified the consciences of the Israelites. Their guilt was constantly before them. Their spiritual death spilled red from the necks of innocent animals. The law was not capable of perfecting them. It could only serve its purpose to demonstrate the magnitude of their sinfulness; only highlight their need for a Savior and predict His appearance.
So Jesus arrives on scene: Blind and zealous teachers bent on imposing the heavy yoke of the law. People calloused toward orphans and widows. Prostitutes and tax collectors miserable with the weight of their sin. Scheming vipers plotting the death of Jesus.
We see Jesus opening their eyes to the spirit of the law. He reveals its true meaning, the height of its standard and the depth of sin. The law demands inward conformation. The deepest level of our being (thoughts), must reflect God’s perfect standard. New commands are added. We must love others the same way Jesus has loved us. And through His death, a New Covenant is born.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) Jesus made the final, perfect sacrifice for our sin as our High Priest. By accepting Him as Lord and Savior, our guilt is erased. Our debt is paid. We are now free to focus completely on God’s love and grace. His love and grace are the only catalysts powerful enough to eliminate the cycle of guilt and sin.
The Old Covenant is now obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Christians are absolved of the obligation to observe the Old Covenant laws. Jewish societal and civil laws are superseded by the superior Law of Grace. And under this Law of Grace, fear, guilt and shame are exiled from the hearts of believers, freeing them from slavedom to sin. Freeing them to fulfill God’s unchanging moral standard in a deeper way (Mat. chapters 5-7).
God’s unchanging moral character is evident in both testaments. However, Christians would fail to fathom the full form of the infinite, fragrant wisdom and love that flow from God if they neglect the Old Testament. The Law of Grace cannot be fully appreciated without the Law of Laws (Old Testament). Both Testaments were masterfully dictated by the King of Kings, demanding respect and careful study.