A Change in Law
Text: Hebrews 8:7-13
I. Among those calling themselves Christian, many have a difficult time understanding the place the Old Testament has in God’s scheme of redemption
A. A few cling to the laws regarding the Sabbath and so modify the New Testament teaching of worship on the first day of the week to match their conviction that the Sabbath laws remain in effect.
B. Many cling to the Ten Commandments, believing them to be applicable to the Christian. When they get to the Sabbath law, they claim that the first day of the week has become the Christian’s Sabbath. In doing so, they add the rules of no work from the Old Testament to the New Testament while changing the day of the week.
C. When you point out that the Old Testament has come to an end, people are confused:
1. I thought God doesn’t change, so how can His laws change?
2. How can murder, lying, adultery, stealing, etc. still be wrong but keeping the Sabbath day is no longer right?
II. If God doesn’t change, how can the law change?
A. That God does not change is found in Malachi 3:5-6
1. The point is that God isn’t like fickle humans to change His mind based on His mood.
2. God doesn’t declare something wrong and then give exceptions later.
3. He is consistent.
B. What is overlooked is that God planned the saving of the world before He created it - Ephesians 1:3-6
1. The law given to Israel was a step along that plan. It wasn’t the end. It was a temporary measure - Jeremiah 31:31-32
C. The Old Testament was given to just Israel
1. No other nation had laws like theirs - Deuteronomy 4:7-8
2. Their laws did not exist before - Deuteronomy 5:1-3
D. But God wasn’t interested in just saving Israel - Isaiah 49:6
1. To save the world, a change in law was needed to encompass the world.
2. That change didn’t mean God changed His mind, but that He took the next step in His plan.
3. Referring back to Jeremiah 31:31-32, the writer of Hebrews said - Hebrews 8:13
III. A change in law, means some things won’t be the same
A. Such should be obvious. It wouldn’t be a new law if everything was exactly the same. Some terms would have to change.
B. The Old Law was filled with sacrifices - Leviticus 4:32-35
1. To not sacrifice would be a sin because it was disobeying God.
2. Most will object and point out that Christ is our sacrifice today - Hebrews 9:28
3. That is precisely the point. The sacrifices changed and thus what once was a sin is no longer sinful - Hebrews 10:1-9
C. It was sinful for an Israelite not be circumcised - Genesis 17:14
1. But under the law of Christ is was a sin to require it - Galatians 5:2-4
2. The reason is that physical circumcision was replaced - Colossians 2:11-12
3. To require circumcision would be to deny the change
D. The Old Law could not save Israel without Christ - Hebrews 9:15
1. But the coming of Christ by necessity required changes to bring salvation to the Jews and the Gentiles - Ephesians 2:11-16
IV. A change in law doesn’t mean everything changed
A. Many sins remain sinful because the very nature of the action is wrong.
B. Murder, lying, stealing, adultery, greed, etc. are wrong because they harm other people - Romans 13:9-10
C. Yet some things under the Old Law were sin simply because God issued a command
1. Eating isn’t a sin, but it became a sin for Adam and Eve when they ate of the one tree that God said not to eat from.
2. Striking a rock isn’t a sin, but it became a sin for Moses because God didn’t authorize him to do so to bring forth water.
3. God often allowed Israel to take spoils of the nations they conquered, but it became a sin for Achan because God reserved Jericho for Himself.
D. There are similar things in the New Testament
1. Not eating something isn’t necessarily a sin, but not eating of the Lord’s Supper is a sin - John 6:53
2. Yet the Israelites never sins because they didn’t eat the Lord’s Supper. It wasn’t commanded of them.
V. What about the Sabbath?
A. There is nothing intrinsically sinful about working on Saturday
1. Prior to the law, people did it all the time.
B. The Sabbath day was selected to remind the Israelites that God freed them from slavery - Deuteronomy 5:15
1. To remind them that once they were forced to work all the time, God required a day in which they had to rest.
2. He selected the same day He rested during the Creation
C. But this memorial doesn’t apply to the Gentiles. We didn’t have ancestors in slavery whom God freed.
D. However, Christians do remember their freedom from the slavery of sin - Colossians 2:13-17
1. The feasts and regulations from the Old Law were just a shadow of reality.
2. Why seek shadows when we have the real thing?