Bible Society of South Africa
Gerhard Lindeque

Jesus in the Old Testament - Day 6

God’s laws

Bible text(s)

1“If you see a fellow-Israelite's cow or sheep running loose, do not ignore it; take it back to him. 2But if its owner lives a long way off or if you don't know who owns it, then take it home with you. When its owner comes looking for it, give it to him. 3Do the same thing if you find a donkey, a piece of clothing, or anything else that your fellow-Israelite may have lost.

4“If a fellow-Israelite's donkey or cow has fallen down, don't ignore it; help him to get the animal to its feet again.

5“Women are not to wear men's clothing, and men are not to wear women's clothing; the LORD your God hates people who do such things.

6“If you happen to find a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground with the mother bird sitting either on the eggs or with her young, you are not to take the mother bird. 7You may take the young birds, but you must let the mother bird go, so that you will live a long and prosperous life.

8“When you build a new house, be sure to put a railing round the edge of the roof. Then you will not be responsible if someone falls off and is killed.

Deuteronomy 22:1-8GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jesus Christ knew the Old Testament laws very well. It was his Bible at the time. Yet, he was accused of not strictly adhering to the law of Moses. However, Jesus emphasises that he does not want to declare the precepts of the law invalid, but rather that he wants to give them their true meaning.

On the face of it, some of the provisions in the Old Testament have little to do with our relationship with God. Deuteronomy 22 is a good example of this. It contains various laws on matters such as clothing, animals, building codes and stray cattle. One could say, at best, that this is about municipal laws and rules to maintain an orderly society.

Some passages in the Old Testament deal with physical cleanliness that relate to people who found themselves in a primitive society. What is striking is that these precepts are presented to us alongside provisions about sacrifice, feast days and other religious laws. The compilers of the Old Testament assigned it the same authority. In addition, we must bear in mind that in the time of Israel’s exile, when large parts of the Old Testament were compiled, the intention was precisely to serve God as carefully as possible, in order to try to prevent a repetition of the exile.

When we now start reading the Bible from Genesis and we come to books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it can make us discouraged. We are overwhelmed by all the laws. This is exactly what happened to the people during the time when Jesus Christ was on earth. They felt as if they would never be able to obey or follow it. That is why Jesus summarises the law in two commandments: love God and love your neighbour.

God is part of our everyday life. We don’t just live in God’s presence on Sundays at church. He is present everywhere. Jesus’ interpretation of the law also applies to us when we drive our vehicles, for example.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.15
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