“Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come but the substance is of Christ” (Col. Ch. 2:17)
In the last blog we looked at the law of sacrifice in the Old Testament/Covenant as it relates to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and Him crucified in the New Testament/Covenant. Today, we will take a look at other Old Testament/Covenant laws and regulations shadowing the substance of the New Testament/Covenant—the better covenant.
The Exodus was spectacular! I absolutely love reading that book. Almighty God is portrayed there as the strict, no-nonsense Father, Absolute Redeemer, Faithful Provider, Only Saviour, the True and Living Almighty God. Now the children of Israel knew of Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and some even held a reverential fear of Him, even though they spent over four hundred years in Egypt and was exposed to Egyptian culture. The problem was that some of them became acculturated into Egyptian ideologies as depicted in their active desire to worship the image of a calf during their desert sojourn.
Let us first revisit the issue of the law of (blood) sacrifice in the shadow of the Old Testament/Covenant: The Israelites were asked to do something unusual with the blood of the calves or goats. As you may recall, they were asked to apply it to the doorposts and lintels of their houses. So that Almighty God, when passing over that household, would see the blood and thus spare the firstborn from death. In essence, the blood bore witness to the legality of the firstborn of that household as one called to be sanctified unto the LORD. In contrast, the households of the Egyptians did not bear the blood of the sacrificial lambs so their firstborns, whether man or beast, were not spared the wrath of God.
Everything about the preparation for the Passover was purposefully detailed. The unblemished lamb had to be sacrificed on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month of Abib (the month, declared by Almighty God as their first month; ergo, a new beginning for the Israelites). Therefore, the ceremony of the Passover was instituted. Many preachers have taught that Egypt represented a corrupt world system and Almighty God was rescuing the Israelites from that system of governance which was mired in idol worship.
In the New Testament/Covenant, during the Passover Feast before His betrayal and subsequent crucifixion, Jesus made a declaration to His disciples that the unleavened bread they were about to eat was His body and the contents in the cup was His blood which would be shed for all. The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke bear witness to the preceding which was dubbed, The Lord’s Supper. A sign of the end to the centuries old practice of animal sacrifice which only served to cover sins. The Christ was the sacrificial Lamb, whose blood would be shed for the salvation and redemption and justification of many. That is to say, many who would believe in His Lordship.
After instituting the Passover and consecrating the firstborn unto Himself, Almighty God gave His called-out-ones some laws by which they should live. These laws are known as The Ten Commandments.
When you read the Ten Commandments, they appear easy to follow and uphold. However, man’s undeniable sin nature with its corrupted mind, renders man as extremely weak and evil. Incidentally, that was the purpose of The Ten Commandments. They were not given to assist the Israelites in becoming good people but to highlight, through them, the true nature of man in general. A nature which had to be crucified, be pronounced dead and be buried in Christ Jesus in the New Testament/Covenant. As Paul declared to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” I thank Almighty God for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
In the shadow of the Old Testament/Covenant, the ultimate judgment of The Ten Commandments was clear; if any were broken, the sinner had to die. In fact, Paul referred to The Law as the ministry of death in his second letter to the Corinthian believers. He said, “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious…how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious” (Ch. 3 vv 7-8)?
However, even then, Almighty God in His justness and mercy made provision for certain mishaps like accidental death, saying, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee” (Ex. Ch. 21 vv 12-13). Therefore, six cities were appointed for refuge.
The Law required consistent obedience. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament/Covenant Law. He was the author of the Law and pointed out, during His discourse in Matthew Chapter 5, that the desire to sin begins in the heart and once sin has been conceived in the heart, it has already been committed. Furthermore, in the New/Testament Covenant, Jesus spoke of one law, the Law of Love.
During another one of His discourses with the Pharisees, in Matt Ch. 22, vv 36-39, one of them asked Him, 36“…which is the great commandment in the law?” To which Jesus replied, 37“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38“This is the first and great commandment. 39“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
The first four commandments of the Old Testament/Covenant were exhortations on how the Israelites were expected to relate to God. However, the final six were directly related to their interactions with each other as they were commanded to, 12“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 13You shall not murder. 14You shall not commit adultery. 15You shall not steal. 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. 17You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s” (Ex. Ch. 20).
Governments all over the world have used the Ten Commandments as a template for enacting their own laws. All of which has a corresponding punishment. Therefore, certain aspects of the law still exist and unsurprisingly, man still has difficulty upholding them. Why? Because, “Every person is…drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desires (lust and passions)” (James Ch. 1 v 14). Yet, the various legislations of today are no match for God’s perfect Law as many provisions were made for different groups in the name of democracy and human rights.
In the New Testament/Covenant we are no longer under the law with its feasts and ceremonies and daily sacrifices and sabbaths. We are thankfully saved from all the preceding by grace. The death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ heralded the introduction of grace. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines grace as kindness, favour, mercy among other definitions. However, the definition that stood out the most and pulled at my heart strings was, “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior.”
Christ left his glorious position in heaven and came to earth to give His life to save us and make us righteous in Him before Almighty God.
Jesus continued to say in Matt Ch. 22, v 40 that, loving Almighty God and our neighbours as ourselves are the two commandments on which hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Thereby, emphasizing the importance of love. Not as a mere emotional feeling but as an active, maintained attitude, joyfully and purposely embedded in our hearts, our souls and our minds. Not the human type of love of which we are accustomed with its myriads of jagged edges and unwarranted conditions. Emphatically no! But the Agapẻ type of love; the love that is demonstrated by Almighty God, the love that is God, which can only come to maturity in us by the power of the resurrection by the Holy Spirit.
By Gail Reid
All scripture was taken from New King James Version (NKJV) Amplified Parallel Bible.