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THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NEW: IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE?

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THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NEW: IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE?

Post  Admin on Sun 23 Nov 2008, 7:38 pm

THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NEW: IS THERE REALLY A
DIFFERENCE? *
It can be quite a shock to jump from reading the Old
Testament to reading the New. If you read through the books of Moses, you
will discover rules--very specific rules!--for everything. Take Deuteronomy
10, for example. Here you will find specific rules for where and how to
worship God. You are not allowed to make sacrifices to God just anywhere.
You must do so in a very specific spot, one specified by God Himself. You
also discover that God's people were not supposed to associate with the
people of the land, but were to separate themselves from them as completely
and thoroughly as possible.

Yet when you get to the New Testament, you see Jesus speaking to a Samaritan
woman. You see Him saying, and I quote, /". . . A time is coming when you
will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . A
time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
seeks."/ (John 4:21,23)

Why the obvious contradiction?

And this isn't the only example. In the Old Testament, only certain
sacrifices are acceptable, and they must be offered and eaten in a very
specific way. Yet in the New Testament, we see an end to animal sacrifices:
/"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your
bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your
spiritual act of worship."/ (Rom. 12:1) Now we see that the sacrifices
become--ourselves!

And then there are the food laws. Again, the books of Moses are full of what
you may and may not eat, how you eat it, when you eat it, how you eat your
Tithe offerings, etc. We then come to the New Testament, and Paul tells us
that /"Everything is permissible"/ (Col 10:23) and /"do not let
anyone judge you by what you eat or drink," /(Col 2:16)

I could likely fill a volume on specific examples of inconsistencies between
the testaments, but before you begin to doubt the Bible, accusing it of
being inconsistent, remember the words of Jesus: /"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." /(Matt. 5:17).

Okay, this is all sounding pretty theological, and I, for one, was having a
hard time making sense out of the idea this morning. But God, in His grace,
will never leave a hungering mind to wonder for long. Here's what He
revealed to me:

Throughout history, God has been raising up a church. And He has been doing
so in much the same way as we raise up our children.

When a child is very young, it becomes necessary for a parent to establish
boundaries. In order to do so, the parent must set rules. Very specific
rules. Things like: "Don't touch the hot stove!", "Don't pull the cat's
tail!", and "Don't wake up the baby!" But if you think about it, what are
the principles we are trying to teach with these very specific rules? We're
trying to teach our children to: a) Don't take risks, but think first about
your own safety; b) Be kind to animals; and c) Be respectful of the needs of
others.

Let's take this a step farther. When God told Israel to only worship Him in
a certain place, with a certain kind of sacrifice, and to not mix with the
people of the land, He was really trying to teach some very broad
principles: a) Honor God; b) Let God lead in your decisions; and c) Don't
allow yourselves to become influenced by others.

Not bad principles, really! But because the church was so young, it wouldn't
have been able to understand such broad principles. Just like a young baby
can't comprehend the concept of being kind to animals, yet can learn to not
pull the dog's ear, the baby church couldn't understand the concept of not
being influenced by those around you. They needed to first learn that there
was a difference in themselves and those around them. The people needed very
specific rules in order for them to embrace and understand the principles.
The rules were meant to teach us principles to live our lives by.

As the church became older, around the time when Jesus came to this Earth,
He did away with the specific rules. In their place, He gave us principles
to live by. And if you think about it, the ideas to be taught by the
specific rules were not in anyway different from the principles of the
general ones. For example: "/You have heard that it was said to the people
long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to
judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be
subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is
answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' Will be in
danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the
altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave
your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your
brother; then come and offer your gift."/ (Matt 5:21-24)

The Sermon on the Mount contains many such examples, and the point is this:
Do not Murder was to teach us the principle of love and brotherly respect
for mankind. When the law was done away with, "Do Not Murder" became "Love
your neighbour", and it began to encompass so much more.

So what do we do with the Old Testament and its apparent inconsistencies?
You ask yourself this: "What is the principle that God is trying to teach
the people here?" Once you have the answer, you will find that this same
principle is not only preached in the New Testament, but is expanded far
beyond the specific rule of the Old.

In His love, Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for
The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems,
www.scripturalnuggets.org
, with Answers2Prayer Ministries,
www.Answers2Prayer.org
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