The Mosaic Law, also known as the Torah or Pentateuch, refers to the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books contain God’s laws and instructions given to the people of Israel through Moses. While Christians are not bound by the Old Testament law in the same way as ancient Israel, there is still much to learn from studying the Mosaic Law.
Here are some key things Christians can learn from the Mosaic Law:
1. The Mosaic Law reveals God’s holy and righteous character.
The laws given to Israel highlighted God’s perfection, justice, and holiness. Even though we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, God’s character has not changed. He still hates sin and requires perfect righteousness from His people (Matthew 5:48). Studying the Law reminds us of God’s unwavering standards.
“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).
2. The Law exposes human sinfulness and need for a Savior.
The Law’s demands were impossible for sinful people to fully obey. The sacrificial system also showed that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). As the New Testament explains, the Law was given to show people their sin and need for a perfect Savior – Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:19-29). It directs us to Christ.
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
3. The Law provides a standard of conduct for believers.
Although Christians are not saved by following the Law, God’s moral commands show how He wants His people to live. The timeless principles in the Law – like love, justice, and holiness – reflect God’s character and can help instruct Christian conduct and values.
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
4. The Law foreshadowed Christ and elements of the New Covenant.
Beyond moral principles, the Law contains shadows and symbols that point to Christ. For example, the sacrificial system foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice for sins once for all (Hebrews 10:1-10). God’s presence dwelling in the tabernacle foreshadowed His indwelling of believers through the Holy Spirit.
“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).
5. God’s faithfulness to keep His covenants.
The Mosaic Law contains the conditional covenant God made with Israel at Sinai. While Israel failed to uphold their covenantal obligations, God remained faithful. This shows that while humans are unfaithful, God keeps His promises. His faithfulness endures.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
6. Blessings come through obedience.
The Law promised many blessings – prosperity, health, victory over enemies, God’s favor – for Israel’s obedience. This reflects the spiritual blessings and benefits that come from obeying God’s word. Holiness and obedience bring blessings.
“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18).
7. Consequences come from disobedience.
The Law’s punishments, curses and judgments for disobedience convey an important spiritual principle: willful sin brings consequences. Israel experienced exile, loss and judgment because of disobedience. We reap what we sow when we sin and rebel against God.
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15).
8. God’s grace and forgiveness.
Though containing strict punishments, the Law provided means of grace, forgiveness and atonement. It showed that God does not desire to punish sinners, but provide ways of forgiveness and restoration to those who repent. This reflects the amazing grace of God.
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…'” (Exodus 34:6).
9. All people are equal before God.
The Law given to Israel made no racial or class distinctions. All people – women, slaves, foreigners – were held to the same standard. This reflects God’s impartiality – He made no distinction between Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, male or female (Romans 10:12).
“You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 24:22).
10. Love God and love your neighbor.
When asked which commandment was most important, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 – the commands to love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). These reflect the heart of God’s law and what He desires from His people.
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Galatians 5:14).
In summary, while Christians are not under the Mosaic Law in the same way as Old Testament Israel, it is still part of God’s Word that reveals His character and righteousness. There are timeless moral principles to follow and it points ahead to Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sins. Studying the Law helps us understand God’s holiness, human sinfulness, the blessings of obedience, and the grace found in Christ.
Most importantly, the Law reiterates principles of loving God fully and loving others selflessly. When we obey from the heart these two greatest commandments, we fulfill God’s law through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
“…God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4).
The Law shows us our great need for Christ – His righteousness, His sacrifice for sins, His empowering Spirit – to redeem us and help us walk in obedience to God. It points to the Savior and His work of writing His desires on the hearts of those who believe in Him.
Through Christ, the requirements of God’s Law are fulfilled in us by the enabling of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to love God and neighbor from the heart. By God’s grace, we can please Him through faith and Spirit-empowered obedience.