Old Interpretation

If you read Scripture Context, you may have finished a little confused on how to view Old Testament. After all, the New Testament makes clear that we are no longer under the Old Law.

Before we get into how to interpret Old Testament Law, we need to understand that there is more than one “Law”. In the last study we learned that the first five books of the Bible are called “Law”; yet Christ said these are not gone (Matt 17:18). This Law is not reference in New Testament. The most common belief of “Law” is the Ten Commandments but the purpose of these laws were to show sin. There was nothing about the Ten Commandments that were for the atonement of sin. There’s the Talmud Law. This law is not referenced in the letters but is eluded to with the stories of Christ. Any time He was coming against the pharisees for keeping the “laws of man” (Mark 7:8) He is talking about the Talmud law. Then there’s the law of Moses, also known as the Mosaic Law. These laws are actually two different sets of laws. One law is the Temple Laws that had to be done for salvation. The other set was the civil laws for Israel; must like any civil law upheld by the courts in this land.

The only way to know what SPECIFIC laws are gone and which stayed is to look in the context of the instruction that states “Law”. For example, there are text’s that state the law is gone (Romans 6:14), some that state Abraham was not justified by works (Rom 2:1-4), some that state Abraham WAS justified by works (James 2:21-24), and the likes. One must look at the surrounding text, sometimes a chapter or two back, and see why they made the statement. In most cases of the law being gone, the author is coming against the act of circumcision, the feasts, festivals, holidays, and such that were for the PURPOSE of Salvation. These can only be understood with a reading and understanding of Old Testament Law.

So, if the teachings of the New Testament were actually from the Old Testament, and there are laws we are no longer under, then how do we know how to relate to the Old Testament Law?

Never write off the Law of the Old Testament - NEVER. Also, do not look at individual laws. Instead look at groups of laws and look for their purpose. While many of the laws ARE gone, the purpose of those laws are still binding. For the most extreme example let’s look at the laws surrounding the Tabernacle system. The purpose of these laws were for salvation. While the law to sacrifice a lamb for sin is gone, the purpose is still there in Christ.

Now, I’m going to give a couple examples that are highly debated in the church. Some people are not going to like what I show and are going to call me legalistic and judgment. First, no where will I say a person is going to hell for not following these laws. I do believe we put ourselves in danger for not following the principles. Second, the more a person is obedient to God, the more legalistic that person looks to the religious institution. If you’re going to be obedient to God, even the New Testament instructions, you will be called legalistic.

There’s a contesting about tattoos. Before we get into the Bible on this subject I want to make this clear point. Religious people act like God forgives sin, but not all sin apparently. Even if the New Testament forbade tattoos, there are things people done when they were sinners that permanently mark the rest of their life. Sometimes those marks are physically seen and sometimes not. David’s sin cast a “permanent mark” on his life in that the sword never left his house. Just because there’s a permanent mark of our past, that does not mean God does not forgive them. Now to the purpose of Old Testament law; because this law is listed in the Old Testament (Lev 19:28). When you look at the group of laws listed around the law on tattoo’s you see a bunch of overwhelming instruction on grooming, and dress, and eating, and such. The purpose is, God just pulled His people out of Egypt where they practiced all these things for different rituals; many times to their pagan gods. The purpose of the laws was to separate His people from the people in Egypt. While the individual laws are not eternal truths; in other words, they do not cross time and culture, the purpose of those laws ARE eternal truth. Since the purpose is eternal, we now we bring this purpose to the New Testament and the twenty-first century.

We have been rescued from this world by the Grace of a Glorious God. Therefore, we need to separate ourselves from the idolatry of the world that surrounds us. We are not to conform to the world but be transformed (Romans 12:2). We are to be a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9); different from those around us. This does not mean we get weird per-say, but we don’t practice in the same things the world practices in, we don’t spend our time the same, we don’t spend our money the same. This would mean that while there is a world filled with hurt and lonely sinners, while the world is full of people not knowing where their next meal is coming from, then why would we spend our time sitting in a tattoo chair spending God’s money on painting our bodies to improve the image we want, to look cooler, prettier, and look more like the world?

Like the laws, there are more than one Sabbath in the Bible. There was a weekly Sabbath set up by God on the seventh day of each week, but then there were annual Sabbath that revolved around feasts and festivals set up for Salvation (Lev 23:5-7 is one example). What is the purpose of the weekly Sabbath that is so contested?

The purpose of the weekly Sabbath is for rest of the body and for uninterrupted communion with God. God is with us 24/7 but just as a marriage needs uninterrupted communion, so does our relationship with God. I actually find it funny that this principle is so fought against. So many complaining about not enough time, not enough rest, and yet we busy ourselves with the things of this world, useless things with no eternal value; we say we don’t have time to study Scripture or engage in meaningful Kingdom work, but we fight against the principle of what God gave. See also Hebrews 4:1-13