Lesson 8 - Why Don't You Believe in the Old Testament?

The history of time has included three distinct periods. These periods of time are defined by how God has dealt with man and how He delivered His will at that time. The first two of these periods are contained in the Old Testament.

In the Patriarchal Age God spoke directly to the father in each family to communicate His will and instructions. During this time God spoke directly to men like Adam, Noah and Abraham. Although this system of understanding God's Will seems effective, hearing directly from Him, it was dependent on men faithful relaying what God told them. If they did not their families would not be exposed God.

The next period of time was the Mosaic Age. During this time God gave His Will to Moses who wrote the law down for the people to follow. This law began with the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 but extends through all of the Law and was specifically given to the Jewish nation. Once the Law was written God no longer spoke directly to the fathers as He did in the previous Age so that system was set aside and was no longer in effect. The Law given during this Age had the express purpose of preparing a path and people from which a Savior would come to bring redemption to all mankind.

The Christian Age
Jesus Christ, God Himself, came to earth to bring the redemption promised in the Mosaic Age. He is the Savior for whom the Jewish nation was waiting and is the hope for all mankind. His Will was established through the words He spoke and taught throughout the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This Will was made effective after His death, burial and resurrection.

Jesus' Teaching
Fulfillment - Jesus boldly declared His purpose was to set the Old Law aside and replace it with His Will. This, of course, was not a popular notion among the Jews of the day, especially those who held positions of authority in that system. In Matthew 5:19, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made His intentions clear. He was going to fulfill the Law and by extension set it aside. It is interesting to note that He made this statement at the beginning of His first large public gathering, as if He wanted everyone present to know He was about to begin His teaching and it would bring the Mosaic Law to a close.

New Covenant - Mankind has never been without a way in which to understand God and His Will. For this reason, Jesus could not fulfill the Law without having a suitable replacement. We can see this replacement in Matthew 26:28 where our Lord says that His blood will be foundation of a "new covenant."

It is clear Jesus intended to fulfill the Mosaic Law and replace it with a new covenant based on His blood. His teaching, and the teachings of those men who were inspired, is delivered to us in the form of the New Testament. With these writings we can fashion our lives in such a way to bring honor and glory to God and find redemption for our sins.

The Temptation
Both the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages give us a glimpse into the character and makeup of God. There are also many commandments in these ages that are repeated in the New Testament and therefore are still in effect. No one who understands the grace delivered by the sacrifice of Jesus would want to return to living under the Old Law. Our temptation, however, is the desire to go back into the Old Law and "cherry pick" commandments, ideas or concepts we want and make those binding on mankind today. There are specific warnings and teachings about avoiding this temptation through the New Testament; however, the book of Galatians offers some of the most pointed. A carefully study of this entire book reveals a complete warning, but we will look at a few specific verses here.

Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")

Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Perhaps the most compelling way to teach a point is to compare it to a story. Paul does this very clearly in Galatians 4:21-31. This table breaks down Paul's comparison of the Old Law versus the New Law by comparing them to Abraham's relationship with his sons.

Old TestamentNew Testament
Refers to Hagar and her son Ishmael (Genesis 16:15)Refers to Sarah and her son Isaac (Genesis 17:19)
Law (v.21) 
the one by a bondmaid - Hagar (v.22)the other by a freewoman - Sarah (v.22)
born after the flesh (v.23)was by promise (v.23)
Two covenants (v.24)
and answers to Jerusalem/and is in bondage (v.25)Jerusalem which is above and free (v.26)
was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit - Ishmael (v.29)as Isaac was, we are the children of promise (v.28)
Cast out the bondwoman and her son (v.30)we (Christians) are children of the free (v.31)
Genesis 21:9-12

The Old Law Became Obsolete
The passage in Galatians contrasts the Old and New Testament and makes it clear that as Christians today we are under the authority and direction of the New Testament and that the Old Testament law has been "cast out" since it had fulfilled its purpose. Hebrews 8:7 says the Law was replaced because it had faults. It dealt with one nation of people, and was very difficult to keep. The writer continues in Hebrews 8:13 and plainly declares the Old Law is obsolete (no longer needed) and ready to vanish away.

The 27 books of the New Testament contain God's Will for mankind today. The Old Testament was in place until the Savior came (Galatians 3:19) and served as a "tutor" to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25) that is no longer needed since Jesus came. We MUST resist the temptation to look into the Old Testament and attempt to find commandments to bind on men today. We can't follow any part of the Old Law and be Christians. Of course this will allow us to focus carefully on what God wants for us and delivered to us in the New Testament.
"And God spake all these words, saying," "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Thou shalt have no other gods before me. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;" "And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:" "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:" "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman." But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. "Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar." "For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." "For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband." "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
"And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking." "Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."
"In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second."
"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."