“Is The Law of Moses Still Relevant?”
By Nicholas Butler
Ojibway Correctional, Marenisco, MI
I hear a lot of discussion about whether or not the Old Testament law is still relevant today. First, any discussion of the law must entail describing what constitutes the Law. Typically, the law has been divided into four different divisions, ceremonial; religious; moral; and social compact. However, let us consider how the Bible specifies God’s law, His commandments (miswah), judgments (mispat), covenants (berit), laws (Torah), and His testimony (edut) (Deut.6:17). God revealed His law to Moses at Mt. Sinai (Ex.19) and elaborated upon these commandments in Exodus 20, also in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
God gave His law to Moses in the form of a covenant where He commanded obedience (Ex.24:12, 34:28 & Deut.4:13-14). This covenant was conditional on obedience, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (Ex.15:26). Moses revealed to us that intentional sin and breaking God’s commands will result in cutting that person off and him bearing his own guilt (Num.15:31).
Clearly then, the law was not made for the righteous, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners (1Tim.1:9). The purpose of the law was to bring about the knowledge of what sin is (Rom.3:20). Still, the law was ineffective (Rom.8:3) in that man continued to sin (4:15).
Despite the ineffectiveness of the law, God still had a plan, in 2Chron. 33:7, God told David and Solomon, “In this house (meaning their house / the house of Judah – my insertion) and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever.” We know that Solomon met the conditional “if,” and that God did establish his name forever, but through whom?
Taking a look at Jesus in the New Testament reveals just who David and Solomon’s kingdom would continue through. Jesus stated,”…all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me” (Lk.24:44). What does this mean? Well, look at Gal.4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law…” Redeem us from what? And how? Specifically from all things the Law of Moses could not redeem us from (Acts13:39), our sinful nature (Rom.3:23). How? Being justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom.3:24). Additionally, the law was only our tutor to bring us to Christ, so we could be justified by faith (Gal.3:23-24). Jesus condemned sin in the flesh because the law was weak through the flesh (Rom.8:3). Now, we are not under the law but under grace (Rom.6:14).
The law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17). Matthew told us that the law was prophesied until John (Mt.11:13). Why did the law stop there? Furthermore, we hear Jesus tell His disciples, “keep the commandments” (Mt.19:17). Even Paul stated, “keeping the commandments” matter (1Cor.7:19).
During Christ’s crucifixion, He abolished the struggle of the flesh the law made known to us – sin – to create in Himself one new man from the Old Testament law (Eph.2:15) and the new law to make peace. What new law? “He obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Heb.8:6). Jesus told us,” Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mt.22:37-40), these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
The law was fulfilled (Mt.5:17) and subsumed in Christ Jesus through love (Gal.5:14). God is love (1Jn.4:7) and Christ Jesus is God (Jn.1:1-4, 14). The law as only the standard for the administration of justice, it served to restrain our evil tendencies in this physical body. But through faith we please God (Heb.11:6), and our faith is in Christ, therefore, the law of love fulfills the Law of Moses, making its ceremonies void, but morals and ethics still relevant.