Limits of the Old Testament

by Terry Wane Benton

The Old Testament was the inspired, God-given rule of law for the nation of Israel. It was not given to all people. "The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us" (Deuteronomy 5:2-3). Nehemiah spoke to God about the history of Israel: "You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant" (Nehemiah 9:13-14). The Sabbath (7th day rest day) was not known to the Israelites as God's holy Sabbath until God made it known when the children of Israel got to Mount Sinai with Moses. God did not make it known to all nations. It was known only to the Israelites at this particular point in time.

Moses wrote Genesis from Mount Sinai. He wrote Genesis at that time to give knowledge of God and His plan in building the nation of Israel for the greater goal of blessing "all nations" (Genesis 12:1-4). The Sabbath law was not a law for all people and was not a law even for Israel until God revealed and began enforcing it at Mount Sinai after Israel had been delivered from Egyptian bondage. It was a law for purposes of guiding and controlling Israel till the Messiah would fulfill it and take it out of the way (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:13-16).

After Jesus died on the cross, the law of Moses was fulfilled and satisfied in Jesus. The rules guiding Israel often included types or shadow forms that were "imposed until the time of reformation" (Hebrews 9:10). The shadow form was cast by Jesus, the substance (Colossians 2:13-16). Jesus is the substance or reality that cast the shadow forms all over the Old Testament. The Sabbath was but a shadow form of the "rest" God would give us in Christ. God was not interested in the Sabbath being a day of rest for all men for all time. He was interested in illustrating the real rest that was far more important. It was coming in Christ. Seventh-day Baptists and Adventists are judging us by the Law of Moses, and their big issue is that they think we blindly changed the Sabbath to Sunday. No! God tells us not to let men judge us in regard to Sabbaths (Colossians 2:13-16) because those rules were "shadows" and the substance is in Christ. We don't do the animal sacrifices, sabbaths, festivals, food and drink laws of the Old Testament because they served their purpose of leading us to the substance, Christ. After the law did the tutoring to bring us to Christ we are "no longer under the tutor" (Galatians 3:23-25). Now Christ has all authority (Matthew 28:19; Colossians 2:10).

He gives us the true Sabbath rest. He gives us the true sacrifice. People are not "handling the scriptures aright" (II Timothy 2:15) when they try to bind Israel's law with its shadows upon us. The New Testament is the covenant we are under, and it does not bind the food laws, circumcision, sabbaths, festivals, the priesthood of Levi, etc., upon us. Confusion exists, creating the multiple denominations today because people fail to "handle aright the word of truth." The only remedy is to make sure that you are careful to know the scriptures and know when men are handling the word of God deceitfully (II Corinthians 4:2). Your soul depends on it!

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