Old Testament – Law (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy [Exodus 20 through Deut. 33])

Meaning of OT covenants and laws in light of new covenant of today under Jesus. It is not appropriate to oppose the old and new covenants, even though it is easy for people today to do (since believers in the Old Testament seem to have been saved by their works of sacrifice and obeying the strict law, while believers in the New Testament are above that law, saved by the sacrifice God sent in His Son Jesus Christ). But rather, the two complement each other. People were never saved by works – they expressed their faith through actions, but those actions were not the means of their salvation, just as is true today. In the OT allowances were made for disobedience, similar to the grace we walk in today – they had sacrifices, since people then were imperfect as we are today. The way we live in faith is by living in accord with the New Covenant, while this is not the means of our salvation.

So … is the Mosaic Law binding for us today? Nope, at least not the whole law. While it is still revelatory, it is not regulatory. It is clear in the NT that the law as a covenant has ended. It was a law made on Mt. Sinai for Moses and Israel – it was Israel’s covenant – and a new covenant has been inaugurated. Yet we don’t need to throw it away, it still gives us much insight into God’s character and what He thinks of certain things (e.g. He still hates the things He said He hates in the OT). Christ was the fulfillment of the law, so that when we believe in Him, the law is fulfilled in us. Christ says in Matthew 5 that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. He does this in a few ways: by keeping its demands perfectly in His person (and not annulling it, as the Pharisees did), as well as by ultimately dying and receiving the punishment of the Law on Himself. Thus when we believe He fulfilled them for us, the Law is fulfilled in us as well. Rom. 10:4 says that Christ is the telos (or end/goal) of the Law.

Primary Contribution: To explain how God relates to us within a covenantal relationship and how His holiness and Israel's sin could be reconciled through Israel's obedience to the covenant (Law). Within this covenantal relationship, the Law also demonstrates the concrete, practical, and multi-faceted areas in which God's people should obey and be transformed.

Therefore, ask: What does this passage tell us about God and His holiness, about Israel and her sin, and about how Israel needed to obey in order to maintain her covenant relationship with God? Also ask, What specific areas of life does God expect holiness and transformation within His people?

Secondary Contribution: To give us ethical and moral illustrations of godly responses to a wide variety of life's situations.

Therefore ask: Are these areas still relevant under the new covenant as areas I should be concerned about and areas in which I should be seeking to obey God?

(*Primary/secondary contributions and helpful interpretive questions for each genre excerpted from Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul by Walt Russell, copyright 2000. Used by permission of NavPress - www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.)