Reducing the Age of Humans

This entry is part 210 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Why don’t people live to 960 years of age any more, like they did back in the days of Methuselah and Noah?

Because of the wickedness of humanity on the earth during the time of Noah right before the flood, God reduced the age of humans to no more than 120 years (Genesis 6:3). This did not take effect immediately.

Gradually over time you see the numbers of human years being reduced throughout the genealogies and generations. The depravity of humanity has also produced sicknesses that lead to death faster. All of this is part of the sin condition in humanity.

God never rescinded his judgment of no more than 120 years. Even today people living to 100 years of age are the exception, not the rule. Because of the grasp sin has on us, this rule of 120 years maximum will stay in place.

Things aren’t getting better as far as our holiness level or our morality. God has no reason to give us the privilege to live longer. It doesn’t seem that living longer makes us any better. Even with the advances humans make in science and medicine, we still don’t see anything past 120.

The best hope for anyone is to share the gospel and to know Christ in this life. Because even after you pass away, God has promised resurrection of the body and soul. Christians live with Jesus forever in heaven even after physical death.

The second death, spiritual death, separation from God, can be avoided through receiving the gospel and serving Christ now. The time is short, so let us tell everyone about the cure for short life.

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Contradictions in the Bible

This entry is part 209 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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If the Bible is filled with contradictions, what else can we depend on to gain knowledge and guidance?

Such a general question as this is very hard to answer. What contradictions do you see in the Bible? You can’t just ask a general question about contradictions in the Bible. You have to give examples of where you see contradictions.

Unless specific contradictions are brought up, they cannot be examined. Until you can show contradictions in the Bible, I can’t answer this question. It’s like demanding information without asking a question. Because all other books and knowledge come from humanity, they all have contradictions.

Only God’s Word contains the knowledge that comes from heaven and from God. It is our best source of knowledge, wisdom, and guidance. Because God knows all things, he is our best resource.

Other books can be useful, though. The Bible does not speak to every possible thing in creation. It speaks to the story of how God has interacted with humanity throughout the ages. It does contain information on other topics, but it is not exhaustive. So books on other subjects can be useful for knowledge. But it may not be complete knowledge.

Wisdom from other people can be questionable. They may want to guide you in a way that is not agreeable with God’s guidance. I have found as I read books and talk to others that they may have helpful advice, but God’s counsel is best.

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Humanity before the Flood

This entry is part 208 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What was the condition of mankind during the time of Noah when God sent the great floods?

Genesis 6 describes the condition of humanity before God brought the flood. They were discovering new ways to sin and hurt God’s heart. Their daughters were marrying angels (Genesis 6:1-4), against God’s institution of one human man and one human woman (Genesis 2:24).

Even during this time God said that his Spirit would not strive with humans forever (Genesis 6:3). He reduced the number of years for a person to live to 120. Previously, humans were living even beyond 900 years of age.

The reason he did this is the same reason he kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden. Eating the food there probably kept them alive forever, just as Christians were live with God forever in heaven after the end of the age.

For those who were sinning and finding new ways to sin, he didn’t want them to live such a long time. Humans were becoming so depraved that every intention of their heart was evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). They dwelt on it and thought of nothing else.

As unbelievable as it may be to us today because of the sacrifice of Jesus, humanity was so depraved that it had no redeeming qualities. We can’t even put ourselves in the space of understanding what God says next, that he regretted making humans because of how far gone they became (Genesis 6:6).

This is the first time in the Scriptures God’s heart is so grieved at what he’s going to have to do (Genesis 6:7). Their sin was so bad that God had to not only blot out humans from the earth but even the creatures (Genesis 6:8). He had to get rid of everyone and everything if he was going to start over.

But what I love about the Bible is that even in the darkest times, it still holds out hope. The last thing this section of Scripture says is that Noah found favor in God’s sight. Even though everything and everyone was wicked and evil, God still found one man who was righteous. If there is any redeeming quality, God knows it and will use it.

The next time that the world will become so evil that it’s irredeemable is at the end of the age in the last days. The end times are coming and God’s wrath will once again visit the earth, except this time it will be in fire instead of flood.

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Divisions in the Church

This entry is part 207 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds

What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:10?

Paul begins First Corinthians by dealing with the divisions that are forming in the church. Of all the churches he founded, this one gave him the most headaches. They were constantly writing to him and asking him to answer questions that arose in their city and churches.

Before the letter of First Corinthians, the Corinthians sent Paul a letter asking him questions. Every so often you hear Paul move to a different subject in the book. He is answering questions from that letter that we do not have.

Perhaps the question for this section went something like, “Which apostle should we follow? Some of us think we follow you and others think they follow Apollos, an evangelist that visited Corinth regularly, or who else should we follow?”

Of course, the super spiritual Corinthians said that they didn’t follow anybody but Jesus. All of these different godly people involved in their foundations and growth had people following them. The church is not designed to follow human leaders. Christ is the head of the church.

So Paul wrote to them and told them to stop dividing themselves based on who to follow. The fact is that all of the godly people that were sent to the Corinthians had something to contribute to the church. But they’re so busy with squabbles and power struggles that they probably missed a lot of what God was trying to do among them.

So Paul wants them to stop dividing themselves over which Christian leader of the day is most popular among them. Instead they were to submit themselves to Christ. It wasn’t about their spiritual fathers, the people who brought them into the faith. The Christian faith has always been and will always be about unity in Christ.

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Humble Praise

This entry is part 21 of 21 in the series Prayer Models
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When something wonderful happens in our lives, we can’t contain our joy and happiness. We want to share it with the world, with everyone around us. We get excited about it. That’s no different from when our relationship with God is restored.

Sin comes in as a destructive force to break us up. But through confession, forgiveness, and restoration, the separation is broken. It’s not as easy to praise God in the hard times. When were going through trials, and he is silent, it’s hard to continue to praise him.

But we are really good at praising God when great things happen to us. And that’s exactly how David feels as he finishes out Psalm 51. God has restored relationship because of his sorrowful repentance and confession. God responded through forgiveness and restoration. David can once again enjoy the blessings of God’s presence and his relationship.

We’ve been discussing Psalm 51, David’s prayer of confession, and how we can use it as a template in our own prayers of confession. In the final part of our model prayer of confession, David shows us how to react to God’s forgiveness and restoration of his relationship.

Spread the Joy

Even in the middle of his mourning for a baby lost because of sin, David can rejoice because God is restoring him and his relationship with David. God is the best person to walk through pain with. Only he can fully understand the depths of sorrow.

He restores us little by little. He brings us out of the fog and the darkness. Because of David’s willingness to confess his sin before God, God forgives and restores him. David feels invigorated to become a full on evangelist for God (Psalm 51:13).

Because God has been so good to him in one of his lowest moments, David wants to share God’s ways with transgressors and sinners. He will be so zealous that sinners will return to the Lord. When we not only think about the depths of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness toward us, but experience it over and over, it fills us with joy.

Take this time in this part of your prayer of confession to thank God for his goodness to you. Don’t be afraid to share what you have not only known with your head but felt with your heart as you experience God’s goodness, love, and mercy. Shout it from the rooftops.

Praise the Lord

I know there are as many different styles of worship as there are people and personalities. But when you get what God has done for you deep down inside, you can’t help but use your voice and your mouth.

David may be referring to the loss of his baby when he asks God to deliver him from blood-guiltiness (Psalm 51:14). After all, he probably blames himself because his sin cost the baby its life. But even in this hurt, David felt the weight of his sinful decisions wash away in God’s presence.

Even in this deep sense of loss, David felt God’s presence and power in his life. He is the God who not only saves us once but continues to save us. His salvation power never stops. He is always the one to come in and rescue us. His salvation has staying power.

So David can’t resist to loose his tongue and sing to the heavens for joy (Psalm 51:15). He will sing to the Lord for the Lord is good. David declares God’s righteousness and worships him. He isn’t afraid to put his whole person and being into praising God.

Praise is a powerful medicine for the suffering soul. When we release our energy on praising God instead of thinking about our situation or the things that cause our sorrow, God fills our hearts with joy. He is worthy of our praise no matter our situation.

David understands a key truth about worship (Psalm 51:16-17). We can offer all the sacrifices in the world, but God isn’t looking for sacrifices alone. He’s looking at our hearts. He can tell if our actions don’t match the attitude of our hearts.

If worshiping God was as simple as following a three-step process, anyone could do it. But it takes the heart of brokenness that truly understands the rays of sunshine God can bring into your life that makes worship God loves to see from us.

The one who’s been through the fire and seeing the fourth man in it protecting him (Daniel 3:25) praises God for his salvation and deliverance. The person who is been through brokenness and come out on the other side, only because of God’s grace, mercy, and love praises him out of brokenness.

Enjoy God’s Favor

Our contrite heart and brokenness before the Lord send up a sweet fragrance before him. In God’s good pleasure, we see his blessings poured out. Because of our willingness to confess our sin before him with a contrite heart, godly sorrow over sin and its effects, he is pleased.

David asks God to bless Israel, and especially Jerusalem (Psalm 51:18). He asks God for his blessings to continue to flow upon his people. David reminds us that only when our hearts are right will our actions in our worship please the Lord (Psalm 51:19).

How can we apply this part of the prayer? Now that our relationship has been restored we enjoy God’s blessings in our lives. They are sweeter because of the trials we went through. We ask God to pour his blessing out on us and those around us. We seek the Lord in all of his goodness.

We’ve spent a while looking at David’s prayer of confession in Psalm 51 because it is an excellent prayer model to help us when we need to confess. We benefit from God’s grace and mercy. He’s always good to us, even if we sin against him.

David shows us how to approach God’s throne of grace in need of his mercy. And he always gives us his mercy and love in spades. Our God is good and though we know it in our heads in the good times, we feel it in our hearts in the midst of our bad times.

How has studying the prayer of confession from David helped you understand God’s goodness even when we let him down? Leave a comment and tell me how these prayer models are helping you.

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Closer to God

This entry is part 206 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds

How can I get closer with God? I’m really struggling with this. It feels like the only reason I follow him is to get everlasting life. Is this selfish or human nature?

There is so much more to knowing God then the promise of eternal life. Think of that as a fringe benefit or icing on top of the cake. We don’t become saved and serve God because he gives us things like eternal life.

It’s all about the relationship we have with God. But then, that’s the major part of your question. How do we feel closer to God in our relationship with him? I think one of the best ways is to read the Bible.

Some might say that praying helps us get closer to God. This is true as long as we are listening for his voice. It takes a lot of time and effort. It takes a commitment from us to do whatever it takes to listen to God. I set aside times of silence and solitude.

Reading the Bible shows us how God has been moving in other people’s lives. It shows us some of the ways that he speaks to others. Aside from that, the more we know God, his Person, attributes, and works, the more familiar we become with him.

Another way to draw close to God is through fasting. We don’t hear much of it anymore in our churches, but it’s one of the best ways to grow close to God. When we ignore our body’s impulses through food and drink, take that time and the effort of making food for ourselves and devote it to listening for God’s voice, it brings us to a new level in our walk with him.

Fasting brings God into focus. It also challenges us to ignore the world, our desires, and press in to hear from him. People hear God’s voice in different ways. But I assure you, he is speaking. The question is if we can clear our schedules, stop the busyness, and press in.

There are times in the Old Testament when God was hiding his face from his people. I believe the reason he did this was to test them and see if they were really interested in following hard after him or if they just expected him to do whatever they wanted.

There’s a part of Scripture where God tells us, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). It’s right after the promise that God has plans for his people to prosper them and do great things in their lives. But right after he gives this benefit, blessing, and promise, he reminds them that they must seek him.

The more we think on God and his good things (Philippians 4:8) the more he responds to us. When we take the time to prioritize our relationship with him above all other things in our lives, God responds. He wants to hear from us.

None of these things are recommended by our society. They require our time and effort. They require that we put God above the other things in our lives. I don’t know where you are at in your relationship with God.

But I can tell you that he responds when we spend more time with him. Even if you don’t feel his presence or hear his voice right away, the more time and effort you put into your relationship with God, the more you will get out of it. I have never been disappointed when I read more Scripture, prayed five more minutes, or fasted one more day. God always shows up.

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Repentance

This entry is part 205 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Is repentance necessary for salvation or is it considered a work? Please help, as I don’t know what to think anymore.

Repentance is part of salvation. We must have godly sorrow over the sin that we commit against God and how it hurts his heart. Repentance is the idea of turning away from our sin for good. Everyone from John the Baptist to Peter preached it.

In Acts 2:38, Peter tells the crowd that asks, “What should we do?” because of his sermon, to repent. If we don’t repent, turn away from our sin, then we cannot be saved. But repentance is not a work that we do. It is part of the process of salvation.

As we hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul says that we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart (Romans 10:9-10). By confessing that Jesus Christ is our Lord, we placed him above our desires and temptations. He becomes Lord of our hearts instead of the sin we used to commit.

Salvation is a two-way street. As we hear the gospel preached by others that God has sent to preach to us, we respond with confession and repentance, and God does the rest. He is the one who seals us with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) and adopts us as his children.

But if we don’t respond to the gospel, God doesn’t do any of this. So it is not a work that we do to be saved. We don’t save ourselves by turning away from sin. Turning away from sin is part of what we do as we respond to the gospel that God brings to us through others.

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Church and State

This entry is part 204 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What is the meaning of Romans 13 which is about submission to governing authorities, and states, “The authorities that exist have been established by God”? I thought church and state were separate.

The separation of church and state is an American concept foreign to Paul’s thinking. What he is discussing falls under the idea of Christians not needing to fear the law because they follow it. Paul says this because God is the ultimate authority and he either sets a person in place, like Jesus the Messiah, or allows someone to rule.

For instance, the devil is the Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2). At this moment in time, he rules the earth. But he only rules the earth as much as God allows him to. Even the devil is subject to God and required to present himself to God for evaluation (Job 1-2).

Even within our idea of the separation of church and state, God is sovereign. He decides these things and even works in the background. There are some rulers who think that God has ordained them to rule. But he does what he will do and doesn’t need to ask any human being.

So God allows every authority that is in place. And some he specifically puts in ruling positions. Everything is part of fulfilling his will. If God allows an evil ruler, it doesn’t mean that he put that person in place. It doesn’t mean he condones that person’s actions.

Think of all of the evil kings of Israel and Judah that God allowed to rule for a time. He was so angry with some of them that he killed them or had them killed. His justice ultimately will reign on the earth. But during this time certain parts of his will for the end times must allow evil rulers for a time.

We as believers in Jesus may suffer persecution during these times. Jesus doesn’t teach us to retaliate. If we suffer here, we will see God’s justice prevail. He will avenge the saints. No one knows how long it will take for the end times in the last days to be complete.

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Three Old Testament Laws

This entry is part 45 of 45 in the series Holiness Matters
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In our society, we have people who hate laws and violate them at every turn. And other people are by the book. They can get so legalistic it feels like they’re not even living life. These are two extremes and everyone falls between them.

But when it comes to reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, Christians ask me many questions about how to apply these laws to their lives. After all, the Old Testament takes up two thirds of our Bible. Without a solid foundation in the Torah, the first five books of the law for Israel, we can misunderstand much of the rest of the Bible.

It may help you to know that there are different kinds of Old Testament laws. And not every law is equal in the sense that we must obey them all carte blanche. In fact, Christ fulfilled the law for us (Matthew 5:17-20). As long as we are obedient to him and the Holy Spirit, we also fulfill the Old Testament law.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought that they could completely fulfill the entire law. The rich young ruler comes to Jesus and when Jesus begins quoting these laws, he says he has kept them from his youth (Luke 18:21).

How did they know they fulfilled all 613 laws in the Old Testament? Many of the Pharisees and rabbis build a “fence” around the law. So that people didn’t even get close to breaking a law of God, they built a number of “traditions,” or laws around that law to keep people from getting close to breaking it. The problem was, as Jesus pointed out on numerous occasions, there fence of laws tended to break other laws unintentionally.

So that still leaves us with the question of how Christians can interpret and apply the Old Testament laws in their Bibles. Let me explain three types of law in Israel and how we can use each type not only as we study Scripture but as we walk with Christ every day.

Moral Laws

There are many moral laws throughout the Old Testament. The most familiar are the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). They sum up the entire law. But littered throughout the Old Testament are moral standards from God.

Although they apply first to Israel, they apply to all human beings. They are God’s expectations for how we conduct ourselves in this world he created. Because he created the world he has the right to impose moral laws upon his creation.

Even a New Testament Christian must follow the moral laws found in the Old Testament. God doesn’t just expect these moral high standards from the nation of Israel. He expects them from every person. They transcend the culture of just one nation.

Throughout human history, some of these moral laws have been obeyed in many cultures. Laws like not stealing or murdering are found in all of the other ancient near Eastern law codes the whole way up to the present age.

Even people and nations that come to knowledge the God of the Bible follow these moral standards. They may give a different reason, like to keep society running and efficient, but the fact is that they are following moral laws given by God in the Old Testament.

Of the three types of laws in the Old Testament, these are the easiest for Christians to follow. They are black and white laws that need a little interpretation, but not much. Most of them can be taken at face value with little explanation. And the ones that need explained, most of the explanation comes from looking at the words in the original language.

It’s not that we have a problem with understanding what God’s moral laws entail or mean. We just have trouble following them. Many of them go against human nature, our own desires. We want to do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do. So while we can take most of the moral laws at face value, the harder thing is to put them into practice in our own lives.

Civic Laws

The second type of laws found in the Old Testament are civic laws. These laws do not apply to everyone, only to the nation of Israel. These dictate how the Israelites treated one another. Some of the famous ones include ox goring, handling accidental murders, and protecting widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor from being abused.

There are also laws about purity that make Israel different from the nations around them. There were laws about human behavior, such as clean and unclean laws, leaving the edges of your field for the poor, and how to treat your neighbor.

Some even went so far as to tell you you couldn’t have two types of fabric in your clothing. These laws are specific to Israel. They show the Israelites how to live differently than the nations around them.

But that doesn’t mean Christians can’t get a lot out of these laws. While we don’t have to follow them to the letter, they teach us about purity, God’s expectations for treating other human beings, and principles for situations without steadfast rules from God’s Word.

In such cases, we can rely on the principles we learn from Old Testament civic laws. For instance, having two fabrics in one piece of clothing is about being pure. Mixing God’s standards and principles with the standards of the world is the opposite of purity. God expects us to treat other people’s property as well, if not better, as our own.

Through following these principles as we study Old Testament laws, we can glorify God even when there isn’t a steadfast moral law to follow. These require discernment from Christians. But we can apply these principles in Israel’s civic laws to our lives today.

Ritual Laws

The third type of law in Israel was the ritual law. Most of these can be found in Leviticus and Numbers. There are a number of them in Deuteronomy. These all have to do with worship in the tabernacle and temple, how to perform sacrifices, and matters of the priesthood and Levites in Israel.

Many Christians who actually get through Leviticus asked me why there is so much repetition with the laws. Many of the sacrifices have the same procedures in place. But when we read through these laws, we begin to realize how perfect the animals had to be just to be considered for sacrifice.

Christians today do not perform animal sacrifices in any of their churches. In fact, we don’t perform animal sacrifices anywhere. So how can these laws about sacrifices, the priesthood, and Levites matter to us at all?

The key to understanding how to apply ritual laws of Israel to Christian life today is to understand the fulfillment of these laws. Jesus came as the perfect, sinless sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15). He was also the ultimate priest who gave his life in place of animal sacrifices.

We don’t need to sacrifice animals today because Jesus gave himself as the once for all sacrifice. No matter how blameless and without blemish is those animals were, the Israelites had to continue offering them. But Jesus offered himself once for all so that we don’t have to offer animal sacrifices today.

The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament didn’t get rid of guilt. The people continued to feel guilt for their sin even after the animal sacrifice was complete. But Jesus was the ultimate guilt/sin offering. Christians today don’t need to feel guilty because Jesus has covered over all of our sins. When we think we feel guilt, we actually fill the separation sin causes from God.

With all of the stringent laws about animal sacrifices, the qualifications of the priesthood and the Levites who served in the temple, and the ways that Israel could worship God correctly, every Christian should be thankful for Jesus. He fulfilled all of these things in his perfect way.

So when you read through Leviticus and next time, notice all of the laws about the purity and blamelessness, having no blemishes and needing to be absolutely perfect, all of the sacrifices had to be. The people brought their best to the Lord, and nothing less.

Jesus fulfills these laws. But the principles of them are still applied to us today. We bring our best to the Lord in our worship. We don’t settle for second best, and neither will he. He knows our hearts and he knows when we are distracted in our worship, bringing in the world’s standards with us, are not being completely upfront and genuine with him.

A Helpful Principle

One of the ways I distinguish what Jesus requires of me as far as Old Testament laws comes in the form of a principle I use when I study the Bible. If I see an Old Testament law repeated or explained in the New Testament, I take it as a law for New Testament Christians today.

The Ten Commandments, the basis for moral law, are repeated in the New Testament. There are explanations and principles based on Old Testament laws. A large part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount internalizes Old Testament laws.

So when you see something repeated in the New Testament from the Old Testament as you read and study God’s Word, these are laws and information we as Christians are required to follow. But do not forget that Jesus fulfilled all of the law and the Old Testament.

We’re under his banner of grace, not the law. But his grace includes obeying the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will help us to fulfill God’s laws through our walk with Jesus. It’s amazing what Jesus has done for us so that we don’t have to worry about the 613 laws God gave Israel.

How does this understanding of Old Testament laws help you in your walk with Christ? Leave a comment and let me know how you interpret Old Testament laws.

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Old Testament Rules

This entry is part 203 of 210 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Why did some rules from the Old Testament cease to exist? Why are things included in the Old Testament that do not pertain to us today?

Old Testament laws are still in place today. But Christians don’t follow all 613 Old Testament laws. The reason for this is that some of them were only meant for the nation of Israel. Paul makes clear throughout his writings in the New Testament that Christians are not required to follow all of the Law of Moses.

Especially Romans and Galatians speak to the issue of Jewish laws. Things like circumcision, observing festivals and feasts, and things like that, are only meant for the nation of Israel. Gentile Christians were not under the restraints of these laws.

Old Testament laws didn’t cease to exist. Every law in the Old Testament still helps Christians in some way today. If it’s a moral law, like the Ten Commandments, we are still required to follow them today.

If it is a civic law, like the laws about ox goring, leaving the edges of your fields for the poor and widows, and not wearing clothing with two types of fabric, Christians can learn principles for holy living from these. For instance, not wearing clothing with two types of fabric speaks to purity. Leaving the edges of the field for the poor and widows speaks to kindness to those less fortunate.

There were also ritual laws pertaining to how to prepare sacrifices and all of the rules about the priests and Levites. These show us how important Jesus is as the perfect sacrifice and the greatest high priest.

He offered himself without blemish and fulfilled all of these ritual laws. Plus, he was the once for all sacrifice so we don’t have to offer animals anymore. And as the high priest, he perfectly fulfilled the mission of restoring our relationship with God.

So there is much to help us and teach us from the Old Testament. It is the basis for the entire New Testament. Without the Old Testament, we would not be able to understand the New Testament.

To say that the Old Testament laws, as part of the old covenant, are obsolete may be more accurate. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-20). And he is the end of the law. So the Old Testament pertains to us very much today. Everything in the Old Testament points to Christ in some way or another.

It’s not necessarily that he is on every page, but everything points to him. And the more we understand the Old Testament, the greater the depth of our appreciation and gratitude to Jesus as we read and study the New Testament.

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