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Sunday, November 15, 2009

(29) The Old Covenant

We follow Jesus Christ but does that mean the part of scripture we call the "Old Testament" is no longer valid? What should we do with all of the laws and ceremonies of Moses? Do we throw away those verses or can we use them?

The main problem is that Christians try and down play the importance of the Old Testament, or the Old Covenant. What they do not realize or forget is that Christianity has its roots in Judaism and the Covenant of Moses. Before the main part of this lesson gets started, here are the results of last months poll: "What do we do with Old Testament Laws?" .
  • 27% said, Keep the ones on morality but ditch the ones on ceremonies.
  • 27% said, Practice some of the ceremonies except the ones Jesus himself became.
  • 22% said,  Listen to all of them, Jesus did not change them only became part of them.
  • 11% said, Do away with all of them, Jesus changed/fulfilled them.
  • 11% said, I have no clue.
Jesus did say that He came to fulfill the law. And many will argue that since He said this the laws of the Old Covenant are no longer valid. And they way that we should look at all the old laws is by "filtering it through the cross". Such as if Jesus changed it then we no longer listen to it. But if He did not mention it then we are still held to it. One example of this would be, "do not murder". Since the Old Covenant said not to do it should we have to follow it? Well Jesus not only mentioned it, He added to it. He gave it a higher standard. Murder in the Old was the taking of a human life by intention. But Jesus said murder goes beyond that. Murder is when you destroy human life in any way, shape, or form. Hating your brother is a form of murder. So we are somehow supposed to listen to some of the Old Testament. But how much?
Should we listen to all of it? Should we do all of the offerings that Jews from long ago had to do? No. Sacrifice are no longer needed. Romans 6:10a says:
  • The death He died, He died to sin once for all
All of the ceremonies that involve some sort of sacrifice is no longer valid. When Jesus laid His life down on the cross for us, giving up His own physical life and pouring out His own blood, He paid the ultimate sacrifice. Man no longer needs a spotless lamb each year to cover his sin. Jesus did it once and He did it for all. So some are valid and some aren't. Which ones?

Let's go back then to the first point. Even though Jesus fulfilled the law and some He changed, it also says He did not abolish the law in the same verse. Jesus Himself even got involved with some of His Jewish roots. The night He was betrayed and was led to His trial and eventually His crucifixion, He took part of the Passover Meal (Pesach). He was raised in Jewish customs. He read from the Laws of Moses (Torah). He went to the synagogues and learned (and of course taught as well). He used Jewish teachings to explain His own ministry and His parables. He quoted the Prophets (Nevi'im) and the Writings (Ketuvim). He used the whole thing (TaNahK).

The point is, there was more to Jesus' ministry and life than just His teachings on morality. There are practices that allow us to become closer to God the Father. They were written down for us to use. Psalms was written for us to use as a worship book. The Ten Commandments were written so we would know how to treat each other. The history in Genesis was for us to know our beginnings and purpose. These were not meant to be thrown away just because Jesus came to earth. He is the bridge.

But the thing we can do with most of the laws of Moses is teach with it. Every law that passed down to him to give to the Israelites had its purpose and its significance. All of the offerings and sacrifices were about giving up the things that are deemed important in this life so that we can share even better things in the next life. All of the ceremonies were fore shadows of the one to come who would be the "end all" ceremony. All of the prophecies are of course there to give authenticity to the Messiah and as a sign for what to look for when needed.

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