Seen in the Old Covenant laws and commandments
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 3/29/09
Lesson Text: Psalm 119:1-24
There have been some who have said that the God of the Old Testament is a hatful, wrathful, unloving God but the God of the New Testament is a God of forgiveness and Love.
Without getting into all the passages that one might sight in favor of this view I would like us to think about one area that gets brought up, the laws and commandments found in the first five books of the Bible spec icily Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.
Last week we saw that God is holy and we are not and we saw that the Old Covenant laws and commandments showed us that fact. We talked about how a holy and just God cannot dwell with wickedness and sinners but that God took action on our behalf and made us pure and holy by the blood of Christ.
This week I want us to consider that the laws and commandments tell us something else about our God that he is a God of love. The commandments and laws show us that God is a God of love and wants what is best for his people.
1. God of commandment / God of Love
a. Often we don’t think of God‘s laws as showing his love for us rather people think of God restricting us and not wanting us to have fun. The truth is that God gives commandments and laws because he does love not because he hates. That is what we will explore thins morning but let me make one thing clear we are not under that Old Covenant laws today. The Old Covenant system of things has gone away and we are under a new covenant in Christ’s blood.
i. Hebrews 8:7-12 talks about a new covenant that will be made and in vs. 13 the Hebrew writer says “Hebrews 8:13 in speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
b. Hebrews makes it clear that the old system of things has been done away with and we are under a new system, the covenant in Christ’s blood.
a. The Old Covenant laws and commandments were not burdensome the Psalmists said
a. Psalm 119:127 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
b. Psalm 119:97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
c. Psalm 119:20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
d. Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
2. Consider the first of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me. This command shows us God’s love. But how? There is only one God and when people left of followed other nonexistent gods they began to devalue human life. You might remember how some nations and peoples worshipped Molech and they would burn their children in worship to that false god. Others practiced homosexuality, prostitution, and adultery. They devaluing of human life is a result of not following the one true and living God. You shall have no other gods’ shows us that God cares and loves us not that he is egotistical, megalomaniac. Sure God is to be worshipped because he is that creator and sustainer and we should have no other gods because he is the only true one and god deserves this worship and demands this worship but it also shows us his love.
3. Dietary laws
a. Think about the dietary laws that God gave the wondering nation of Israel. He tells them that there are clean and unclean animals. God was not arbitrary in his commands concerning food, he certainly has that right but think with me about some of the unclean foods, foods that the nation was not to eat.
i. Lobsters and shrimp were unclean, why, because they are the cockroaches of the sea and they concentrate poison in their flesh. Some people are allergic to shell fish because their bodies can’t deal with the poison in the shell fish. If you are not allergic to shell fish it just means that you can handle for a while the poison. God said to the Israelites don’t eat them.
ii. Most of the animals that God said were unclean for food was because their meet spoiled quickly or because when it did spoil it was hard to tell that it had gone bad. God is showing his love by giving the nation, this wandering nation these laws.
a. Consider the washings that God commanded the Israelites. The nation was considered to be full of crazies and their God was nuts because they washed so often. George Washington was considered a fanatic because he took a bath twice a year. At that time they though if you got the filth and smell it would keep away the evil spirits and things like that. At one time in Victorian England parents around November would lather their children up in goose fat and sow them in their long under garments till spring in order to keep them from getting sick and dying and there was a 55% mortality rate. The Israelites were told to wash for all kinds of reasons.
i. If a person came across a dead animal in the wilderness and touched it they were unclean and had to wash their clothing. If a person touched a dead body same thing had to wash and wash their clothing. Why? Because they could get bacteria and different germs and infect themselves and others. God was showing his love.
ii. There was a time in our recent past when giving birth was considered a risky thing. This was when were started to have hospitals and such. There was an alarming rate of women dying while giving birth or shortly after. They found out later that what was going on in most of these cases was that earlier in the day the doctors were in the morgue and dealing with, touching dead bodies and then later on they were helping to deliver babies and they were passing along these germs and women were getting infections and dying but God knew and told the nation when you touch a dead body you are unclean and must wash yourself and your clothing.
iii. God was showing his love.
a. God commanded that if something died inside a clay pot the stuff inside had to be thrown out and the clay pot destroyed but if something died in a metal pot the stuff inside was to be thrown out but you could wash the metal pot, why, because the clay pot was porous and the germs could get into the pot and infect whatever else you put in there. Just like if you took a trip to Mexico and bought a clay pot that was unglazed and then used it at home you would most likely be in the bathroom for a few days. The metal pot is not porous and can be cleaned.
b. All of this the nation of Israel and the other nations didn’t understand at this time only recently have we begun to understand these things but God knew and was showing his love by giving these commands and laws. Even when we don’t understand why God commands something we can know that God is commanding it because he loves us. The laws show us God’s love.
6. God’s love to the world
a. Ultimately God was showing his love for the whole world by taking the nation of Israel as his special people, not that God didn’t love the other nations and people even back then, remember there were people who followed God who were not direct descendants of Abraham. Melchizadek was said to be a priest of God most high and he was not a descendant of Abraham. Rahab was not from the nation of Israel, Ruth and others but God was using the nation of Israel to bring about the new creation because through that nation came the Messiah, the Christ, the savior of the world.
i. Jesus was born an Israelite, from the nation came one who blessed the whole world.
ii. Another thing to consider is that all of the Levitical sacrifices and the system as a whole God commanded the Israelites to offer and do all were there to point them and us to Jesus. God gave the law to point people to Jesus the Christ. The law Paul says was a school teacher pointing the way to Jesus.
iii. The laws of God are not burdensome but show us God’s love for man.
Today Christians we are not under the law of sin and death. We are not under the Old Covenant laws. We are under the law of the Spirit and life. We are under the law of Christ, the law of love.
Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart souls mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. This sums up the Ten Commandments. Jesus said a new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you.
God never once gave a law or commandment that didn’t show his love even if we might not be able to understand how his love is seen in it we can be confident that it’s there because he loves those he is giving it to.
Remember we are no longer under the Old Covenant system of things but when you read these laws remember that this is showing us something about our God, it is showing us that God is a God of love. Ultimately these laws point to God’s final revelation of himself and of his love for all mankind in Jesus.
Let’s rejoice together as we remember that our God who is holy and righteous and just is also full of love, mercy, grace and truth.