Reading the Mosaic Law with the Faith of Abraham

Modern-day readers are often shocked by the brutality of the Mosaic Law. We read of stonings and sacrifices coupled with regulations that even dictated clothing and hair styles. If God became president of the United States, we would quickly vote Him out of office unless congress managed to impeach Him first. Were we present during Israel’s rebellions, we would certainly be among the rioters. Aside from a few crazies, nobody today seriously wants to live under the Mosaic Law in its entirety. Even Orthodox Jews would presumably take issue with a government that stoned their unruly children to death for disobedience.

When Christians read the Mosaic Law, they tend to skim and smirk. They skim so they can check the chapters off their reading plan and smirk at the distasteful commands thankfully now expired. While many Christians attest to the value of every word of Scripture, few find more than marginal worth in the Mosaic Law. Even the most conservative branches of Christendom tend to approach the Law with unspoken disdain, usually expressed in joyful relief concerning our very different covenant or dispensation. Although Jesus Christ came to fulfill (not destroy) the Mosaic Law, our take-home truths tend to center around our joy over the fact that it is no longer in effect.

Christians can easily foster a spirit of rebelliousness in their approach to the Mosaic Law. Believers cannot afford to approach any portion of Scripture being unwilling to obey. No, I’m not arguing that we should try to re-institute the theocracy of the Old Testament. However, we must not read the Old Testament thinking, “I’m glad this stuff no longer applies because I would rather be stoned.” Although Christians today need not obey the Mosaic Law, they still must submit to every word with the faith of Abraham.

Abraham submitted to the ultimate abhorrent command: Go and sacrifice your only child. As Abraham lifted the knife contemplating how to give Isaac a clean death, Abraham proved his faith in his willingness to do whatever God required. In this instance, God required submission rather than obedience, and Isaac (and Abraham) was spared.

Like Abraham, Christians today have page after page of commands that God does not expect us to obey, but this is not to say that we can be unwilling to obey those commands. The Mosaic Law was once the only way for people to approach God, and God was wonderfully gracious for providing His people a means for pleasing Him. Christians now enjoy much more freedom under the law of liberty. However, Christians must approach the Mosaic Law in Abrahamic faith, being willing to obey had the Messiah not yet come. Christians today must submit to the Mosaic Law in spirit even though they are not bound to obey it in action.

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8 thoughts on “Reading the Mosaic Law with the Faith of Abraham

    • Hypothetical situations are inherently problematic. God doesn’t speak to anyone directly anymore (Hebrews 1:1-2). So if I for some reason “believed” God told me to kill my child, I would be crazy, and well, there’s no telling what an insane person would do. However, I do teach my children to obey the Bible’s instructions even if causes them harm. For instance, they should tell the truth even if it means they will be disadvantaged/punished. Of course, this is a far cry from killing them, but we live in different times.

      • Let me put it another way. You worship the same God as Abraham, don’t you? And you believe that Abraham was not crazy in thinking that God ordered him to kill his own son and burn his dead body as a sacrifice, correct? And you believe Abraham did the right thing by being willing to do so, and that he would have been wrong to refuse.

        So what about you? Are you “willing to obey had the Messiah not yet come”? Think about your own kids. Standing in Abraham’s sandals, do you raise the knife?

  1. That whole story would’ve conveyed a more meaningful lesson if it read something like this…

    God: Abraham, KILL YOUR SON!

    Abraham: No… I will not.

    God: Good man.

    • The “more meaningful lesson” that you propose is that man is the measure of all things. You have removed all faith from the story.

      • You can put all the faith into it you want… it’s *just* a story.

        A ridiculous story.

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