Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’

Hot News

One of the hot news items in California is literally hot: wildfires. I had been jealous of those who had homes in beautiful wilderness areas. But seeing TV pictures of homes that have been reduced to ashes, I’m glad I live in a city. The same is true of the floods that have hit the Midwest. Beautiful river views have been replaced by raging torrents of destruction right through some houses and businesses and I find myself thankful that I don’t live on a river.

I’m not insensitive to the plight of folks who live there. Even though I do wonder in the back of my mind if some of these problems should have been realized and avoided. My dad chose my childhood home’s placement carefully, because he grew up on a hillside above a river and saw the families washed out below. He would mention this when the creek on the other side of town overflowed its banks every five years or so. I don’t know if the likelihood of wildfires in the mountains where they now are raging was well known before so many people started building there; but if it was, then they took quite a chance by going ahead with building plans.

Our daily lives have the same need for care. We should be careful to check out “the lay of the land” so we can avoid the spiritual flood waters. Our Lord illustrated this through the story of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. His life was nearly destroyed by moving to the region of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19; compare 2nd Peter 2:7).

More than the geographic choice, though, one’s moral/political choice influences the way life develops. If I choose to live alongside the banks of immorality, I open myself to the possibility of being overwhelmed by it. if I build my house among the stands of political correctness that have grown up in this society, I run the risk of being consumed by the conflagration. While we do have to live in this world physically, we need to be sure we are not choosing to live within its mindset.

It is likely that all Christians would give verbal assent to the preceding paragraph. But we often don’t look closely at what we are doing to see if our practices fit with our stated beliefs. Do you have friends who live in immoral ways? Do they know you disapprove or do they think you go along with it? Do your business partners use unethical practices or act without concern for who will be hurt by their choices? Do you speak up for doing what is right?

Jesus called for us to be a changing influence on society (salt and light, Matthew 5:13-16). Peter noted that true Christians are different from the society surrounding them, so much so that they think us strange (1st Peter 4:4). We cannot follow these teachings and at the same time be a friend to the world (1st John 2:15-16).

These principles must affect one’s decisions on what and how much to buy, what to say and how to say it, how to vote, how to perform one’s job, who to “hang out” with, how much of one’s life to devote to “playtime,” what we do with our playtime, etc.

Let’s be careful where we choose to live. Will it be in the Spirit or in the flesh?

Answering questions

I was asked, “How do we explain that we are no longer bound by the Old Testament, or are we?” After I had sent my answer to the querist, I thought I would share it with you as well:

The Old Testament is certainly a good source of study for any who wish to know and follow God. The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 10 used the Israelites as an example and explained in verse 6: “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (American Standard Version). Many other examples exist in the Old Testament with many of them referenced in the New Testament.

The Old Testament also helps us understand God as the rightful ruler of all men. That certainly is still true today and God establishes his rule in the New Testament as well as the Old.

But there is, as your question suggests, a difference in the application of that rule. In the Old Testament, God used a physical kingdom to display his righteousness and power. We are informed that his work with Israel throughout that time was “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5; also 10:1), heavenly things that Jesus has now made open to us (Hebrews 10:19-20; see also 9:11,12,24). In the context of these passages (the last half of Hebrews 7 through Hebrews 10), the Lord shows us how the Mosaic Law given to Israel would be of no use to us who know the priesthood and saving sacrifice of Jesus.

So you’re correct in surmising that the Old Testament is no longer our guide for relating to God. He had even prophesied during the old covenant that a new covenant would be established (Jeremiah 31:31-34). This prophecy is quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 and other passages in the New Testament also refer to this change.

  • Jesus spoke of fulfilling the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17-18) and that they would only be abolished when all fulfilled.
  • Jesus also spoke of building his church (Matthew 16:16). Even the power of death could not stop him from fulfilling this desire. The church is definitely not part of the Old Testament structure.
  • Paul dealt with those who would reinstate the practice of Old Testament rituals on many occasions: parts of the letters to the Romans and Ephesians, almost all of Galatians and especially Colossians 2:8-23:
  • Paul made certain that the Colossians knew they were not required to practice circumcision, dietary restrictions, or observe feasts, new moons or Sabbath.
  • “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).

If the Law of Moses is out, what will we go by? The new covenant established in the blood of Christ. It was promised by God even during the time of the old covenant. We know that we can follow it today by reading those things commanded by Jesus and his apostles.