This Sunday I plan to preach my final sermon on the book of Leviticus. I hope it will be a fitting summary to end the series, The Grace of God Through the Lens of Leviticus, by emphasizing how good God’s law is for our wellbeing and study. Why else would the psalmist write, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:97)?
But honestly it can become a bit difficult when you read laws that restrict what fabrics to wear together in your clothing, how to cut your hair and beard, worshipping on Saturday instead of Sunday. Obviously we should obey some laws like, “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not lie.” And we really need to figure out if it’s ok to eat barbequed pork, catfish, and shrimp. So which laws do we obey and which not? Pay close attention to #3 & #4 in the list below.
Dr. George Guthrie, Bible professor at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee, offers 5 Practical Guidelines for Reading the Old Testament Laws over at his blog. The five guidelines are listed below but I would encourage you to go read the entire article here.
1. Ask, “Where does this law fit in the developing Story?”
2. Ask, “How does this law relate to God’s covenant?”
3. Ask, “Is this a direct command that is reiterated in the New Testament?”
4. Ask, “Has the New Testament demonstrated that this law is no longer applicable?”
5. Read the laws as God’s Word for you, even though most of them are no longer law (commands) for you.
We can know with certainty which laws apply today and which ones don’t. The Bible tells us. In the New Testament the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles include instructions that uphold some laws and set aside others. In general, here’s what we find. The moral law is upheld for Christians to observe while the civil and temple laws are set aside. One a bit more complicated is tithing which is clearly not set aside by Jesus but affirmed in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. More study is required, however, to get the full biblical teaching on generous giving which extends beyond the practice of tithing.
May we study all of the Bible and grow to love it like this…
“You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. Psalm 119:4-6