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How the Old Testament laws are still relevant today

So often, when people hear "Old Testament", we hear oldddd. For many of us, the Old Testament feels very old and outdated, inapplicable and irrelevant. The genealogies and rules and laws and more rules feel so far away from our lives. It's hard to understand, let alone apply to modern-day life. It feels much easier to study the New Testament because it's giving us what we need to do right now, in simpler terms, and it's filled with good news of forgiveness and grace and hope. There's not as much bloodshed and animal sacrifices and hard-to-understand stories in the New Testament.

But this year I started at the front of the Bible, determined to read the entire thing with no timeline. I've done "Bible in a year" plans before, but they never worked for me because I want to dive deep and know why this matters to me, and I simply couldn't do that reading eight chapters a day. I'm currently in Exodus, taking my sweet time understanding how to apply this and where Jesus is in what sometimes feels like Sunday school stories and nothing more. I'm starting to find where Jesus is in all the rules and festivals and laws. And that's what I want to share with you today.

There is one simple, reoccurring theme that God has used to help the Old Testament make a little bit more sense to me. It at least explains why God was asking them to do so much. That theme is this:

Remember and share.

It seems too easy. Too simple. Let me explain.

In Exodus 12 and 13, when God is laying out the rules for Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread and the consecration of the firstborn, it is repeatedly stated that these things were meant to remind them of how God had delivered them from Egypt. These annual events were supposed to be a wake-up call, inviting them to appreciate and reflect on how God had performed miracles in His power on their behalf. And not only that, God is telling these people that when their kids ask questions about why they are doing this, they can respond by sharing the story of how He redeemed and freed them from captivity in Egypt. This calling is repeated throughout the entire Bible, not just the Old Testament.

"And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day." - Deuteronomy 5:15

"In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'” - 1 Corinthians 11:25

“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." - Exodus 13:14

Sometimes when you look at all the rules in the Old Testament, it's easy to think of God as legalistic and harsh. I mean, He is asking a lot of the Israelites. He is asking for a lot of sacrifices (literally). But I believe that those rules are so much more than God demanding obedience.

God wanted His people to participate in these festivals and sacrifices so that they could refocus on who He is. In the busyness of life, isn't it easy to forget who God is? This was God's way of intentionally inviting the Israelites back into this passionate laying-down-of-self way of life. Back into heartfelt worship that revives the soul.

If you've read the Old Testament at all, have you noticed that this group of people are usually feared by surrounding nations? Or at least well known for one thing? It's because they are known for this surrendered, set apart way of life. I mean, they worship a singular God, which is unique for this time. Oftentimes, this left their enemies shaking in fear because they experienced how God works on behalf of His people. They saw God part the Red Sea and make the walls of Jericho fall down. They saw how David killed Goliath and how Daniel survived a night in the lion's den. The Israelites were set apart because of how they lived with God and how God did miraculous things through them and for them.

When you look at the OT as God continually drawing His people back into Himself and calling them to be set apart, it's not that much different from the New Testament. It makes it feel a little bit more understandable, right? I think this new perspective also invites us to re-evaluate our lives a bit.

The Israelites, though imperfect, had a system in place for remembering God. It certainly didn't prevent them from sinning, but I think that our world today needs to work on remembering God. Not just on Sundays remembering God, but every day remembering God. Not just during rushed, impersonal devo times but during intentional, prayerful meetings with the Lord. Not just going-through-the-motions remembering but passionate, "I know what God's done in my life" remembering.

And although the Israelites' obedience was definitely not perfect (in fact, it was usually inconsistent at best), they kind of remind me of our world today but better. They wandered from God often (like us) but they weren't afraid to go back to God. They didn't let their sin stop them from going back to the Lord and it might have moved them to obey more passionately because of God's grace. We need to work on that. On returning to God fearlessly after we fail because we can have hope that He will forgive us. On obeying Him joyfully even though we aren't perfect.

Maybe the Old Testament isn't as complicated as it appears. Maybe it's just about walking with God, remembering who He is, what He's done, and sharing that with the world by being different.

"And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not." - Deuteronomy 8:2

"My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone." - Psalm 71:15-16



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