Summing up the Law
Jun 21, 2007
I was asked to provide an overall statement about the divine law and its purpose, and I thought that I would share it with those of you who might be interested in seeing the result. Here it is:
In its broadest context, the law is the foundational revelation of the mind of God that we currently have on record. It is the Word of God as given to Moses. The Ten Commandments provide a moral guideline that summarizes and categorizes the rest of the laws and statutes.
In addition to the moral laws, we find certain penalties for sin (law breaking) which are called "judgments." Normally, these take the form of restitution payment to the victims of injustice, and the death penalty for such sins as cannot be paid by restitution--such as premeditated murder, kidnapping, bestiality, and rape of a married woman.
There are also forms and rituals by which sinners (law breakers) were to find justification and reconciliation with God. These sacrifices were the Old Covenant method of justification, and they served as types and shadows of a greater Sacrifice which was yet to come in the Person of Jesus Christ. When He came, the old forms became obsolete.
Finally, the law reveals the moral code by which God relates to mankind and judges the people of all nations, taking into account their level of knowledge. This gives the law a prophetic tone, for all the types and shadows prophesy of something greater to come. The Sacrifices all speak of Christ and His death on the cross, the feast days prophesy of His first and second comings, and laws of redemption and Jubilee speak of the process by which God judges and saves mankind.
In the New Testament, while the forms of the law changed, as spelled out in the book of Hebrews, the moral code remained the same, for in the matter of morality and character, God changes not. God had two ways of saving mankind. He could have put away the law and legalized sin, which would have made it impossible to prosecute sinners, simply because there was no law to make sin sinful. But He chose instead to uphold the law and pay its full penalty for the sin of the world, thus retaining the law as the standard of righteousness and character--the ultimate goal of what we will attain by faith in Him.