Saturday, October 29, 2005

Jesus in Old Testament Law

I thought I would add a couple of posts briefly touching on a few examples from the Old Testament of why Christians see Jesus as the Messiah... both from the Law and the Prophets. This is because I was asked recently about it... and it only seems right to give some kind of answer

Firstly, lets look at the Law.

If you believe the Old Testament, all mankind fell... due to the actions of our ancestors. I'm not getting into a debate here as to whether that is a literal descent from Adam and Eve, or an allegorical descent... you come to your own conclusion... the Gospel message is more important than theology. The only thing I will say is that everyone on Earth today is descended from one woman... our mitochondrial DNA proves it.

So, we fell... we are in a sinful state. Fast forward a few generations. God decides to literally set in stone the actions that separate us from Him... and ways of making up for those actions, through sacrifice. The levitical Law is written. There is only one problem, our actions are borne out of our motivations and our motivations come from within us... our hearts. The Law does not fix us. Lets take a look at two big ones:

Passover Lamb:

Passover recalls how God called the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. They were told by Moses to select a lamb without defect and kill it, smearing the blood on the doorposts. God sent an angel of death to judge Egypt for not allowing Israel to leave. The angel was given permission to kill the firstborn of every household... unless it saw blood on the doorposts. The resulting loss of life moved Pharaoh to release Israel. They were free... no longer slaves.

We too are slaves, not to a nation but to our sinful nature.

The Day of Atonement:

Did you know that the word for atonement in Hebrew had no equivalent in English... at the time it was first translated? The word atonement was made up from three... to perform the job. At one ment. It literally means to return something to being in a state of oneness (with God). Trivia over, lets look at it.

Among the sacrifices that were made were two goats. The high priest had to slaughter one and present it's blood before God. Having done that he had to pray over the other goat, which would be released into the desert... alone. The idea was that the dead goat paid the price of the Israelite's sins... and the live goat carried them away. When the High Priest performed this ritual, he was to be alone. Nobody else was allowed to enter. I've been told that if the sacrifice wasn't accepted the High Priest would fall down dead. He wore a sash with bells. If he stopped moving about, the bells wouldn't ring and therefore he would be pulled out on a rope by assistants. therefore the High Priest was a living symbol of forgiveness. If he did not come out alive, the sins were not paid for.

This is why for Christians, a belief in the Resurrection of Jesus is important. How can he be our High Priest if there was no proof that our sins were paid for. His death was the payment for the price of our sins. His resurrection is our receipt... proof that God considered the debt paid... our atonement.

The pharisees and Sadducee's were Jewish religious sects at the time of Christ. They believed in the strict observance of the Law, but Jesus had this to say:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

The important thing to realise here, is that Jesus is saying that observance of the Law is not enough. Yes you can make amends for your actions... but it doesn't deal with the heart... the source of our sin, and therefore you will always be in a state of sin.

What mankind needed was something that represented him... to make amends for him. How could this be? The only thing that could adequately represent man was a man... but every man that was descended from Adam, bore Adam's broken nature. It's like when someone scratches a cd. Every copy you make of that cd will bear the damage on the soundtrack... even if it bears no physical damage. The only person good enough, would have to be someone untouched by Adam... someone who was not sinful.

That is why Christians believe Jesus was God's Son, fully human and fully God. He had to be a human... otherwise how could he intercede for us? He had to be God because otherwise how could he be free from Adam's curse? He had to be perfect and He had to die in order to fulfill the Law (which demanded sacrifice), he had to rise to prove that the legal requirements had been met.

Click here, if you want to read more about Passover.
Click here, if you want to read more about the Day of Atonement.
Click here, if you want to read about Jesus being made like us and interceding for us.

Man that was heavy... wasn't it?

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