I find it amazing how many people try to discount the Old Testament even though it is the foundation for our faith in the New Testament. The most alarming thing is when people try to discount the Law that God revealed to the Israelites.
In the book of Exodus from chapter 20 on God is revealing Himself to the people of Israel who have been living in a land devoted to worship of idols and living there as slaves. God begins to teach former slaves how to interact with Him, with each other, and with foreigners who don’t know Him or them. To accomplish this God introduces the Law. In the same way we educate our children today, God begins educating the Israelites. God reveals several aspects of the law:
– The Ceremonial portions of the Law: These are the feasts and celebrations that point to Jesus Christ and are now fulfilled in Him. They are all about worshipping God and living in His presence. These laws are eternal, not bound by time. Jesus did not do away with these laws, He fulfilled them.
-The Moral portions of the Law are grounded in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. They reveal the nature and will of God for His people and all of humanity. They stress how we interact with each other (those of similar belief), others, and even our enemies. These laws are the epitome of what is good and right and still apply today and exist for all time. For example, since the beginning of time and until the end of time murder will always be considered wrong.
– The Civil/Cultural portions of the Law were instructions on how to live with each other, with others, and with God in that particular day. Although some were based on solid morals and can be applied today others were only applicable for that particular time and season (with the introduction of indoor plumbing it is no longer required to build latrines away from where one lives…still a great idea for camping though). The consequences for failing to fulfill these portions of the law were also for a particular time and season. To put this in perspective think of keeping a child safe. You tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street. If you see them dart out into the street and you don’t see them look both ways you may reprimand or punish them. If this occurs with your teenager or young adult, although the same desire to keep them safe applies, you may be less likely to reprimand or punish them as you might deem them to be more aware of their surroundings.
One of the best examples of this is seen in the latter part of Exodus 23: 19. Many people use this verse to claim how irrelevant or invalid the Old Testament is to the Church today. However, God has a very valid reason for advising the people of Israel not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. The Egyptians did this and then used the broth to sprinkle on their gardens and fields as a magic potion they hoped would bring a good harvest. However, most of chapter 23 is God telling the people of Israel that He would provide a bountiful harvest for them. So although God is saying don’t cook a goat in its mothers milk, He is telling the Isralites then and us today, don’t depend upon false tricks or magic for your resources. He is able to provide all we need. Although the civil law does not apply today, the moral principle upon which it is based, God is able to provide for His people, is still applicable today.
As you read through the Old Testament don’t just write off things that don’t seem to make sense in today’s culture. Pull out a commentary (or bring up the app) and read the why and how of each thing. Also ask your pastor about it or even start a Bible study around a list of questions you and others have. God’s desire is not to confuse or mislead us, but to provide substantial written documentation that reveals His timeless love for us.