What can Christians learn from the Mosaic law?

It is tempting to brush aside the Mosaic law as unimportant. Its long descriptions of the temple and sacrifices are fit for historical study, but has seemingly little significance in the average Christian's life. However, this attitude is harmful because it causes people to ignore a whole portion of Scripture rather than learn from the whole counsel of God's Word. The Law, being a part of the Bible, is truth—truth about God, truth about His standards, truth about our sin, and truth about our need for redemption. As such, studying the Law can enrich Christians' understanding of God and the New Testament. There is much we can learn from the Mosaic law.

The first and perhaps most important thing we can learn from the Mosaic law is God's character. The Law shows that God is good. He desires to have a relationship with His people which He demonstrated by creating a government, religious system, and culture that allowed Him to live in communion with His people. God protects and brings blessing on those who follow Him faithfully. God called for justice and fair reparation when someone is wronged (Deuteronomy 19:21). God built a system that took care of widows, orphans, and foreigners who are more vulnerable. Knowing that people are sinful in their nature, God promised redemption for those who return to Him in repentance after rebelling against God (Deuteronomy 30:1–10).

Another principle we can learn from the Mosaic law is the seriousness of our sin. The Law lays out specifically for us what sin is, and without the Law, we would not know our sin or be convicted of it (Romans 7:7). We learn from the Mosaic law that God takes sin seriously. Sins like adultery and idol worship were punishable by death, which seems like an extreme sentence to modern readers. Our view of sin is so light compared to God's view of sin. Reading the Law shows us how serious it truly is and how much sin separates us from God.

This sinful nature that separates us from God is the reason we needed a savior. Jesus said, "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). The Israelites were expected to keep the Law perfectly, and each sacrificial lamb reminded them that that standard was impossible for them to fulfill; they saw the price for their sin was a life. They were not enough. Knowing that we could not keep the Law perfectly and that animal sacrifices would never be enough, God provided a substitute. God the Son took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. He rose back to life proving that He is who He says He is and that His payment is sufficient. God did this so that we might be cleansed and live in communion with Him through faith (Galatians 2:16). The Mosaic law revealed that the people needed a high priest, a mediator between them and God to make intercession on their behalf. Jesus is now our High Priest standing at the right hand of God, speaking on our behalf (1 Timothy 2:5). The Law, the sacrifices, and the temple were all "copies of the heavenly things" so that we would understand our need for Christ and the significance of His death and resurrection (Hebrews 9:23). Hebrews 10:1 explains, "the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near." But "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law and became the once-for-all sacrifice on our behalf. We learn from the Mosaic law the meaning of redemption in Jesus Christ.

We are no longer bound by the Mosaic law, but the Law teaches us about our God and reveals the beauty of Christ's sacrifice. In Psalm 19 David calls the Law perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. It revives the soul, makes us wise, rejoices our hearts, enlightens us, and endures. It is more to be desired than gold and sweeter than honey. Christians have much to learn from the Mosaic law and do well to study it.

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