09 November 2021
How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart. (Psalm 119:1-2 NASB)
Ask David; he could tell you that the Covenant is a divine privilege, not a hindrance to good living. The Lord grants us the power over our own fleshly nature, to keep it in line with His Word, if we seek Him with full commitment. Until you see the boundaries as a gift of grace, you'll never understand what Jesus taught.
There is a continuity between the Old and New Testaments. For far too long people have used the excuse of misunderstanding Romans 6:14 to suggest that David was lying in Psalm 119. They mistake the Jewish legalism for the Hebrew mystical Covenant of Moses. They don't want to obey 2 Timothy 2:15, only quote it -- it's a reference to the Old Testament. Everything Jesus taught was the Old Testament; He said He was the embodiment of that Scripture. Every argument He had with the Jewish leadership rested entirely on His determination to restore the ancient Hebrew understanding of the Old Testament.
He gathered up all the loose ends of unfinished business and became in Himself the New Covenant, the fulfillment of the Old. Since the written record was rejected by His nation, God came in person to make sure everyone understood what He intended. A cookbook makes a lot more sense when you get to know the chef who wrote it. You don't throw out the cookbook, but you use it to remind you of what the chef taught you. So it is with Christ; we use the whole Bible to remind us what He taught us.
The New Testament churches were nothing more than synagogues of Christ. The Apostles planted churches that met in the same fashion as any Jewish synagogue, but with a few changes to match the New Covenant in Christ's Blood. The symbolism had changed. The people of God used to wear headgear in His Presence, to symbolize the need of covering. They needed the blood sacrifices to cover for their fleshly nature. They dared not expose their sin to the Lord. In the New Covenant, we remove our headgear, because God Himself is our covering. His Son was the final sacrifice for our sinful nature. The Temple Veil is gone; we come directly into His Presence.
But the boundaries of the Law still mean something to us. They point out the moral character of our Father in one context. It is upon us to dig into that written covenant so we can extrapolate what His character demands of us in our context today.
The New Testament is loaded with fresh new examples. We discard most of the old ritual law, not because it means nothing, but because it no longer fits. The Seder became the Lord's Supper, because He fulfilled all the promises inherent in the Seder. Now we celebrate that sacrifice and redemption through a much simpler version of the Seder ritual. Baptism is no longer a ritual bath repeated every time we go to worship in the Temple; it's a one-time ritual for those who embrace Christ as their Lord, and then become His Temple.
But by the same token, a great deal of Old Testament code still applies, because it was universal in the first place. We avoid killing humans, we don't steal, we don't lie, and we avoid pagan idolatry. We do not tolerate generational conflict within the body. We will not tolerate sexual promiscuity -- one man with one woman for life. We still dress modestly; we still don't allow female ritual leadership. We still need, now more than ever, a congregation of spiritual family that lives in close communion daily, with a tribal-feudal feel to the whole thing. There is still a great concern over defilement. We are complete aliens from outside this world.
That is, those things stand if you take the Cross and the New Testament seriously.
If we do not cling to the Covenant in its fullness, if we keep short-cutting the obligations, then we have no covering from Christ, and no shalom and no witness. And if we have no witness, there is no reason at all for God to keep us here in this world. We would have betrayed the Covenant and His name. It's not enough to conform your actions to the code; the code must live in your heart. It must represent in your mind the character of the Father. You should desire the boundaries of the Covenant just like David did in his long Psalm 119 about it.
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