Old Testament Law

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Old Testament Law – Does it still Apply?
When it comes to the Old Testament Law, you make the unwarranted assumption that many of the Old Testament laws continue to bind Christians today. If true, shouldn’t we have heard of instances where Christians acted upon these laws? Wouldn’t home schooling moms kill children frequently for talking back to them? Wouldn’t Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in Texas in 2001, have considered first an appeal to Leviticus rather than an insanity plea? The only place where these laws apply within today’s culture is within certain Jewish sects, who contend that the Halakha (Jewish religious law) along with its 613 Commandments, including many of the ones you cited, should still require strict obedience. Among the vast majority of modern American Jews a person only binds himself to the Halakha by his own volition, a choice few actually make. Even among Orthodox and Haredi Jews, the most conservative segments of Judaism, the death penalty has been done away with since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.

In describing these Old Testament laws and their penalties, ostensibly to affirm their validity in American Christianity, you make it a point to cite references to the New Testament as well. However your citations from Matthew 15:4-7 and Mark 7:9-13 refer only to instances when Jesus alludes to the same Old Testament laws. Both gospel writers explicated the same incident. Jesus spoke to a group of Jewish Pharisees who had already relaxed the penalties of the Old Testament law by rationalizing away the need to care for their parents in their old age. He showed them the hypocrisy of allowing their followers to ignore their obligations to their parents so as to contribute to the Temple. And yes, Jesus actually supported the Law by His words. You confirm this as well by quoting Matthew, which I will repeat here.

    I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:18-20
However, your quote failed to include the critical verse that preceded these words.
    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. - Matthew 5:17
Woven into this one verse we discover the sine qua non...the summum bonum of the Christian faith. Jesus’ purpose here on earth was to fulfill the law, not only by living in total obedience to the law, but also by paying the penalty incurred by everyone who has ever lived or will ever live, who are drawn to place their trust in Him. Paul wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”26 Jesus was the only person who could unequivocally make such a claim.

Keep Reading!

Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response.


Footnotes:
26 See 1 John 1:8.


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