#302 – THE TIMELESS AND PURPOSEFUL LAW (9/3/21)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, 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.” (Matthew 5:18)
The Old Testament contains 613 Commandments; 248 do's and 365 don’ts. All of these, according to Jesus, remain in force. Every single letter, word, story, teaching… is God-breathed and is to be valued by Christians. The Old Testament is timeless. It remains as long as the universe endures.
As we saw yesterday, Jesus has ‘fulfilled’ all of the Law. He is what it pointed to, but that does not negate it! We now have to read it and obey it in light of Jesus and what He has achieved.
The Old Testament is also purposeful. let’s remember that there are still ‘live’ promises in God’s word, promises which are being fulfilled. The good news is that it is Jesus who is fulfilling and achieving all that is promised.
Here is a ‘live’ prophecy regarding this New Covenant. God is working in your life and is continuing to work throughout the world,
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:15-17)
Here is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled that speaks of the coming Kingdom of God.
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - OBEY AND TEACH THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What are you most looking forward to when the lockdown restrictions have ended?
Introduction - please share in your group
This week we are continuing in our series on The Sermon on the Mount by looking at Matthew 5:17-20. Here, Jesus is teaching that if we are to be 'salt and light', we must obey and teach the whole of the Old Testament. However, as those in the New Covenant - a new way of relating to God in Christ - we are to obey in light of Jesus and His work.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, 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. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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 5:17-20)
Jesus has not abolished but has fulfilled the Old Testament. To fulfil means ’that to which something or someone points’. The ‘law and prophets’ (the whole Old Testament) point to Jesus. As Christians, we read it and apply it in the light of how Christ has fulfilled it.
For example, the Ceremonial laws - those that directed worship in Israel; the priesthood, sacrifices, temple design, festivals… were directed in great detail. All of these laws were fulfilled in Christ. The true intent of these laws is obeyed by us as we put our faith in Christ who is our priest and sacrifice and he makes us His temple. We are now in a ‘new order’.
‘Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary… They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.’ (Hebrews 9:1,10)
Until Jesus comes again, the Old Testament, in all its detail, is to be obeyed in light of Jesus. It's our attitude in this regard that marks us as either great or least in the Kingdom of God.
Finally, as we obey the Old Testament (in light of how Jesus has fulfilled it), Our righteousness will surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers. Their devotion was for a show, for their own reputation. On top of this, they rejected Jesus, the one to whom the Law and prophets pointed. As Christians, our heart devotion to God and our honouring of Jesus marks us out as having greater righteousness in God's eyes.
1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?
(You may want to read Matthew 5:17-20 again)
2. Hebrews 10:1 makes a very important point in regard to how we obey the Law and prophets (the Old Testament).
'The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.'
What are the various 'shadows' that Jesus fulfils?
An example is the Sabbath. It’s very important to note that you will find no teaching on keeping the Sabbath in the New Testament. So how are we as Christians to obey this Law? There are differences of view but I believe that Jesus has fulfilled what the Sabbath foreshadowed by giving us His ‘rest’. In Christ, we rest from our works.
‘There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.’ (Hebrews 4:9-10).