The number of people who still do not realize the difference or the reason behind the Old and New Testaments is astounding. It sometime appears that a huge majority of those who classify themselves as Christians, still do not understand what the Old Testament actually is.
Since the creation, God has been faced with differing circumstances, all of which were part of his eternal purpose for man. The plan briefly described, was just that he wished to create man with an eternal spirit, to worship and serve God, of his own free will, for his lifetime. As a reward for this obedience, man would receive eternal life in the spirit with God. As a punishment for those who refused to do so, was to be eternally separated from God and tormented forever.
God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that man would fail if there was no means of his receiving forgiveness of error and sins. So, he established a plan whereby a sinless life could be offered as a sacrifice for sin, and thus, Jesus became part of this plan.
In order to bring about the conditions to send his own son to be that sacrifice, three dispensations were built into the growth of the earthly population and bringing the proper conditions. The wisdom of God in this plan can be readily recognized once one has examined the reasons for them.
The first period has been referred to as the Patriarchal dispensation, since it was given orally to the heads of families, or tribes and was to be passed on to their progeny. Man strayed from God almost completely which resulted in flood which God sent to cleanse the earth of it’s evil and only 8 souls were saved. This same dispensation continued after the flood and remained in effect until Jesus gave his life on the cross to bring us his own perfect law of liberty.
However, in the plan of getting us to Jesus’ law and his spiritual kingdom, God chose Abraham to furnish the seed for the genealogy to Christ. Abraham’s seed through Isaac and Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) brought the 12 tribes of Israel forming the Jewish nation. God then, set them apart as his chosen people to bring the world to Christ. (Galatians 3:24)
Now, the confusion has been caused by a lack of understanding of these three laws. The first one (Patriarchal) was for all people from the beginning until the Law of Christ was established. With one exception…God gave the ten commandment law through Moses for one specific reason, to set the Jews apart from the rest of the world. They were given a covenant with earthly rewards, the land of Canaan, prosperity, safety from their enemies, victory over those enemies and contentment in this land…if they would obey his laws for them. If they did not follow them, he warned that the opposite would occur, their crops would fail, their enemies would overrun them and they would be taken captive, etc.
Observe, that this law was only given to the Jews. No one else. It is true that some were made proselytes into the law, but it was only for the Jews, “to bring us to Christ”.
When Jesus came, he spent much of his ministry attempting to convert the Jews to the coming of his church, his spiritual kingdom. He left the charge for establishing his kingdom to the apostles which was done on the first Pentecost after his death and is recorded in the second chapter of Acts.
Up until this point, there had been enmity between the Jews and Gentiles. But the law of Christ was designed to end that and all men then be one in him.
Follow us carefully here. Prophesy of the coming of the law of Christ is recorded in part, several times in the Old Testament. One of the best follows:
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34 KJV)
Notice that God here speaks through the prophet Jeremiah. This scripture is found also quoted in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament where the writer is explaining the exact thing which we are attempting to do here. Read carefully the 13 verses contained in Hebrews chapter 8. It is very plain what the writer is saying.
The Old Testament law was only for the Jews during the period before Christ. It is no longer binding upon any man. Only the law of Christ. Notice the apostle Paul as he attempts to explain these things to the church in Ephesus:
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:2-6 KJV)
So then, if the perfect law of liberty through Jesus Christ has replaced the law given to the Jews, why then are we encouraged to study it. Because, without studying it, we could not know or understand the things leading up to Jesus the Christ. We need to know these things because it clarifies the law given through Christ. It would be virtually impossible to understand all of the New Testament, if we had no knowledge of the old. It not only gives us the history of those who lived before Christ, but gives us numerous prophesies of his coming and his purpose, which verifies his being the Son of God.