Why don’t we need to animal sacrifice, get circumcised, ignore our neighbor’s sheep going astray, or any of those Old Testament Laws anymore?
There are many Old Testament Laws, also called Mosaic Law, after the author Moses, that were required of Israelites and Jews up until the coming of Jesus of Nazareth. Such laws include sacrificing first-born livestock (Deuteronomy 15:19-23), appointing Judges (Deuteronomy 16:18), releasing debt every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1-11), and caring for brother’s widows (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). This was the world of expectations that Israelites and Jews were inclined to follow in the footsteps of, but as for modern day Christians, there is a new covenant and a new law.
The old Mosaic Law was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5:17-18) in his words:
“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.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The Mosaic Law was set up as a legal system and more importantly, as a scale of righteousness, for Israelites, Hebrews, and even Christians. Therefore it is natural that the most righteous and most lawful person to ever walk the Earth was Jesus of Nazareth. He fulfilled all of the laws that were passed down by generations. Generally speaking, Jesus of Nazareth, as Christ, is the end of the law for everyone that seeks to attain righteousness (Romans 10:4). He is the final law; he is the final authority; he is the last, holiest, and most righteous example of lawfulness that Christians can hope to attain.
This does not abolish the Mosaic Law, as shown, but sets a new Law for Christians and for all human beings, overriding the authority of the old Mosaic Law. There are further specific examples where old Mosaic Law is specifically fulfilled:
- The Law of animal sacrifice was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth being the last and final sacrifice needed to atone for sins (Hebrews 9:12).
- The Law that governed the anointing and final authority of priests was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth being the final intercession between God and man (Hebrews 7:23-24).
- The Law regarding the building of God’s temple on Earth was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth becoming the last temple of worship for Christians (Matthew 18:20).
- All of the food laws on clean and unclean foods were fulfilled by the spreading of the Holy Spirit (Mark 7:18-19).
- The Law of setting up authoritative sources to govern the people was shifted greatly, setting up a line of authority from God to sovereign nations and men (Romans 13:1).
Christians live by a new Law that is separate from the Law of Moses, and it is one that is written on the hearts of every single human being. It is the Law of God. Dissecting the Law of God takes measures of the heart and putting in place traditions that are worthy of God’s own righteousness. For example, it is revealed to us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as if he were yourself (Matthew 22:35-40). These are similarly fulfillments of Old Testament Law, namely Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:17-18.
It should be noted that Law and Purpose, though related, are not explicitly synonymous with each other. Though we are all called to obey the Law of the Lord that is written on our hearts, all of us have different callings for different purposes. The Law is not a purpose.
In measuring righteousness it is, however, the scales of choice, and the reason that we are no longer subject to mere Old Testament or Mosaic Law in modern times.