Learning from Old Testament Laws
Continuance from previous post …
Penalty of death for breaking the Sabbath Exodus 35:2
Because most of us struggle with sanctification without works, God designed a potent instruction tool, the Sabbath. God established the law of the Sabbath as a picture and foreshadowing of entering into His ultimate rest in Christ. On the Sabbath His people were ordered not to do any work. The consequences of not honoring this day were severe. In Numbers 15:32-36, on the Sabbath, a man was gathering sticks in the wilderness; a seemingly low effort and harmless task. His penalty? Death. The Sabbath law was not to be taken lightly. Exodus 31:14
The day was established to remind us that God sanctifies us and not our efforts. Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ezekiel 20:12) If we try even with the smallest effort, like picking up sticks, we are going against the will of God. Christ fulfilled the entire law including the Sabbath. The requirement of rest pointed to Christ who would be our eternal rest and free us from having to earn our righteousness by obeying the law. He became our rest and we became holy. We are no longer bound to any law because He perfectly filled each one. There is nothing we add to it and it is to our determent if we try to. We are to accept what He has done and rest in grace. We all fall into the performance trap, but the question is in what race are we trying to run, of works or grace?
From the severity of the consequences of the Sabbath Law, we can see how important learning and abiding by this truth is to God. It’s critical to our spiritual survival to rest from attempting to earn our righteousness. If we try to live by the law then that is how we will be judged. If we break one iota then we have broken it altogether and we are accountable. The man who picked up sticks that one afternoon was put to death. It is all or nothing. And no one can fulfill the whole law. We are human and we will fall short. This path, which the majority of the world attempts to walk, has one end, death. Conversely, if we live by grace then we are judged by grace, and we abide in freedom and perfect assurance of our salvation and sanctification.
Christ saves and sanctifies. Most of us trust Him with saving our souls but when it comes to sanctification we intervene. If the core motivation to give to the poor, tithe, go to church, say a prayer, go to a Bible study, work for a ministry, and help with the homeless is to earn a high ranking in His kingdom or make us more worthy then our trust is in the wrong place. It’s clear by the consequences of breaking the law that God doesn’t tolerate us attempting to sanctify ourselves. It’s critical that we know this truth deep in our souls. Resting means we trust God to sanctify us alone. A good way to test if you are resting in Him is to stop doing those things for awhile and see what you feel in your soul. If you feel guilt, you are trusting in the wrong thing.
Restrictions on eating certain foods Lev. 11:10
Eating represented eternalizing certain spiritual doctrines. Foods were symbolic of what was unclean, the philosophies contrary to God’s truth and ways and the ones those other beliefs come from. The restrictions on food were a constant reminder that what we take in (other philosophies) affects our bodies, minds, and spirits. If it is tainted then we are tainted.
The Israelites were commanded not to mingle with other nations because their philosophies and beliefs would influence them and lead them astray from God, which they did. Abstaining from certain foods was a constant reminder of this truth.
At the coming of Christ, life was able to go to all men so that all could enter God’s presence not just the Israelites. Anyone God purifies is pure. Acts 10:12-16 There are no more divisions in Christ, all can come to God through Christ. However, it is still critical for us not to mingle the truth of God with other philosophies. Matthew 16:6, 12.
Touching unclean animals Lev 11:8
Again this addresses staying away from other philosophies that aren’t of God because of our ability to be influenced by them. Without the Holy Spirit people had to stay completely separate from these other nations and ideas. They lacked discernment, wisdom and counsel. They easily gave into those ideas. The restrictions on animals represented that separation and served as a constant reminder.
To be continued …