W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health 07-14-2021
It’s taken a long time for us to get to the law. And, we’re not going to spend much time on it. There are MANY chapters of the law in the Bible that cover the 613 laws. Within the five books of the Torah or Pentateuch, the laws are repeated; so it’s long and a bit redundant. I’ve met people who told me they tried to read through the entire Bible in one year, but after Genesis and Exodus, they stopped. It’s tough reading Leviticus. The laws are strange to us, and they are somewhat irrelevant.
Most of the 613 laws of the Old Testament simply do not apply to us. Prohibitions on eating pork, shrimp, lobster, etc.. Prohibitions on tattoos, wearing clothing made of two kinds of fabric, planting two different crops in the same field, body piercings (including earrings), drinking milk (or eating dairy products) at the same meal that you eat the meat of the animal – irrelevant. How we treat slaves, requiring the offending rapist to marry your daughter to preserve her honor (Dt. 22:28-29, yikes), how we should cut our hair, detailed rules on how to treat for mildew in your home – are all irrelevant. And so are the punishments. Did you know if you profane the Sabbath day you can be killed? (Exodus 31:14). Gay people can be killed? (Lev. 20:13). Children who disrespect their parents can be killed? (Lev. 20:9). Scholars doubt that those punishments were ever widely enforced; they were deterrents. King David wasn’t stoned for adultery in the Old Testament, and Jesus didn’t advocate stoning the woman caught in adultery in the New Testament.
Importantly, Bible scholar William Barclay makes the point that the phrase “The Law” was used in three different ways. When the Bible refers to “the law” we have to know which definition is being used: 1) The Law = The 10 Commandments. 2) Law = all 613 laws, including those mentioned above. 3) Law = All 613 laws, plus the extensive commentary, explanation, and detailed clarification of those 613 laws by centuries of rabbinical teaching called the Mishna and the Talmud.
Christians don’t live under “the law” as defined by #3. Most Christians don’t understand which of the 613 laws still apply to us. All Christians accept the 10 Commandments. Does this leave you a bit uncertain about the role of the law for our faith? It should, truly. But remember: we are saved by grace, not by the law.
Pastor Rob Nystrom