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:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::

Meditations on the Judiac Law

A while back on the Evangelical-Orthodox discussion group, the following was posted by one of the Orthodox participants. I thought it was an interesting set of thoughts on the Law of the OT. In many ways, the way the OT is understood, especially the Law itself, is very differently from the Orthodox POV as compared with the run of the mill American evangelical.

"It's that relationship, walking and talking together in the cool of the
evening, that was lost in Eden, when our First Parents not only
disobeyed, but then hid from God; not only failed to repent, but sought
to cast the blame elsewhere, even upon God Himself: �The woman **You
gave me**, she gave me of the tree...�

After Eden, mankind began going downhill fast. Fewer and fewer people
were able to walk with God, to have personal, loving relationships with
Him. And even those relationships were always flawed. Even our
physical lifespans were getting shorter and shorter. (After Noah, each
generation lived a couple of centuries less than he had.)

Enter the Law. I was thinking I�d say 3 or 4 things concerning it, but
unfortunately, when I listed them, they turned into 7. These are not conclusive in any sense, but here they are:

1.) The Law served as a curb or brake on sin and its lethal effects.
There were built in incentives to obey (promise of blessings) and
disincentives to disobey (curses). Man's downward spiral was slowed.

2.) The Law stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the broken personal
relationship (the restoration of which was the true goal, but that had
to wait until Mankind had been prepared). For those who no longer had
any bond at all to God, the Law served as a preliminary, temporary, and
provisional one. It gave a framework in which some relationship was

3.) The Law was an icon of true righteousness. While it is impossible
to codify every single facet of a personal relationship, nevertheless,
the Law gave a good overall image of what such a relationship would look
like. By following the Law, you could simulate true righteousness. In
this way, it tutored people.

4.) The Law could never provide true righteousness itself, only a
simulation thereof. Under the law, there were indeed some righteous,
like King David, but their righteousness, like Noah's or Abraham's, was
due to their loving faith in God, because they walked with Him. (In the
course of that love, they also tried hard to obey the Law, but that's
secondary to, and an effect of, their love and trust in Him.) The Law
was an icon of righteousness, but ineffectual in providing it. The
sacrifices were likewise icons, patterns and shadows of the real, which
was yet to come, but in themselves, ineffectual, unable to restore the
heart (Heb. 9:9) and so unable to please God (Heb. 10:1-10) As St. Paul
observes, it is not possible for the blood of goats and bulls to cure
sin (re-establish a walk with God). That blood wasn't magic. Rather,
the sacrifices were established so that when Christ came and died,
people would recognize what was happening: mercy was being shown to the
world. (Much more on this later.) In this sense, too, the Law was our
tutor to bring us to Christ.

5.) The Law convicts of sin (Rom. 3:19-20) In this sense again it is
our schoolmaster, pointing us to Christ, Who alone is capable of
fulfilling it.

6.) The Law is perfect (Psalm 19:7). Of course. God doesn't do
anything imperfectly! The Law being perfect, there can be no
improvements upon it. Improvements to our relationship with God were
certainly not only possible, but necessary. But improvements upon God's
already perfect Law were never possible. There can be no new and better
legal system. The Law of Moses takes a legal relationship with God as
far is it can go. That's as good as it gets. Its the last word--and
it's ineffectual. An improved relationship will have to be something

7.) The Law, though it stands forever as icon and tutor, comes to an end
as the basis of our relationship with God, that a different kind of
relationship may be inaugurated. (See all of Romans 7 and 8, but
especially 7:1-6) Christ, by His perfect obedience, fulfills the Law,
puts �Paid� to the account, closes the books on it, ushers in an
entirely New Covenant in which the relationship lost in Eden is
recovered. It was not the Law lost or broken in Eden! It was people.
It was their relationship with God. Now Man can once again walk with God
in innocence, righteousness, and immortality."

:: Karl :: 8:25:00 AM [Link] ::

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