The Value of the Old Testament
The late brother J.C. Roady made this observation of the Old Testament. “If every Christian were to study carefully the Old Law given to Israel beginning with their Exodus from Egypt through Deuteronomy (i.e., “the second law” meaning, the second time it was stated), every Christian would more fully appreciate the New Law of Christ Jesus.” Verification of this observation is a careful study of the book of Hebrews. There should be no question of the “better covenant established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). Further, the apostle Paul informed us, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) This statement includes both the law of Moses and the examples found regarding both its practice and its rejection. Without question, this is the reason we still have the Old Testament: it teaches us there is a reward for obedience and extreme punishment for rejection (Romans 2:5 – 16).
Let us focus on the LAW at this point, rather than the prophesy contained in the Old Testament. While most contend for “the ten commandments” (Exodus 20: 3 – 17), it is a matter of fact these are not the ONLY laws given to Israel. The book of Leviticus contains numerous LAWS regarding marriage, hygiene, sacrifice, hospitality, labor, personal conduct toward others including family members, conduct toward animals, sanitation requirements, etc. Exodus contains LAW for Aaron and his sons who were priests, as well as LAW concerning the construction of the tabernacle. Numbers contains LAW concerning the census of the people and, as we stated, Deuteronomy contains LAW spoken to the “second generation” of Israel (thus, “the second law”) which, frankly, is a repeating of what they were told from Exodus through Numbers.
If we examine just the “ten commandments” we find the following: The first four are commandments regarding Israel’s homage to God; the remaining six are commandments regarding Israel’s conduct with each other with family, neighbors, and self. Some have erroneously stated the New Testament includes these same commandments. It does not! However, if the Christian will examine the Old Law and learn from it, he will quickly note in the New Law of Christ, how these commandments are no longer require physical obedience but rather mental/spiritual obedience! For example, carefully read the context of Matthew 5:21 to the conclusion of the chapter. You will note six times in this chapter where the Lord states, “Ye have heard it said of old time …” or words to that effect. While Jesus quotes the Old Law, He then says, “but I say unto you …” His words clearly show that instead of physically rejecting one or more of the old commandments, it is now unlawful to even think about doing wrong regarding these commandments of our conduct!
The Law of Moses (i.e., the Old Law/Old Testament) teaches us via an example how serious worshippers much be when coming before God. We dare not think “our way” will please Him. (Leviticus 10:1-2). The Law of Moses teaches us we must lift ourselves above God and the leadership He establishes. (Numbers 16) The Old Law teaches us we must not seek to be like the world around us. (Leviticus 26: 1- 13)
Additionally, we find within the Law the fact God blesses His people with tremendously rich love and protection. Their clothes never wore out. (Deuteronomy 8:4) God fed them (Deuteronomy 8:3) while simultaneously teaching them to be humble (ibid.) He gave them meat when they complained (Numbers 11:32 - 33). He furnished water for them (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8). The examples are many; but if we use the Law as our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24), it is easy to find the NEW LAW OF CHRIST commanding our minds/souls to be strictly obedient to the Law of Jesus Christ, and thereby receive rich rewards. (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18)
The book of Romans is perhaps one of the stronger example of how a firm knowledge and understanding of the Law of Moses is helpful to our understanding of and obedience to the Law of Christ. Romans 6:8 seems to be the focal point of this truth. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” The Law of Moses controlled the physical, although some understood to obey God with all their heart, mind, and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5). The New Law of Christ is so much better (book of Hebrews) in that its law must dwell in us richly in all wisdom (Colossians 3:17). Under the Law of Christ, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). With faith coming by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and knowing that without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), it behooves Christians to become diligent students of the Law of Christ (2 Timothy 2:15) and to learn why His law is so much better than the Old Law (Hebrews 10: 1 – 10). One might also learn this is the purpose of our Lord’s coming: to redeem man from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
Just how strong a student of God’s word are you? It isn’t just a book … God’s word is the only truth able to save your soul! (Romans 1:16)