When most people get into the books of Old Testament Laws, especially in Leviticus and Numbers, with all the odd and obscure laws and regulations, they bail out.
And why shouldn’t they?
What do these laws and regulations have to do with us today?
We will answer all these questions and more in this lesson as we consider the importance of the messages in them and deal honestly with the reality that anything that is worth learning often involves challenging times to do that well.
We will then look at the topic of Typology and how the foreshadowing of lessons in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. Plus you will get a clear explanation of the confusion between “type” and “antitype” which will help you understand this vital topic.
Below are links to a PDF of a handout that includes, notes, questions, the chart of God’s view of time, and a frameable image of Micah 6:8, the podcast, and a video of the lesson.
When most people get into the books of Old Testament Law
• Especially in Leviticus and Numbers, with all the odd and obscure laws and regulations, they bail out.
• And why shouldn’t they?
• What do these laws and regulations have to do with us today?
• We will answer all these questions and more in our lesson today ….
The Old Testament Laws
Why read them, how to understand them, and apply them today
Why not bail out, why not skip the outdated laws and odd ceremonies?
• We’re all very busy today. We know reading the Bible is good for us, but this section of Bible reading about building the Tabernacle and all the laws and regulations, what does it have to do with us?
• Why are we taking time to read it?
• That’s a valid question and the answers are important to understand.
First, our topic is worthy of it
• The Christian faith, and the Bible that is the source of our knowledge of it, is the most important topic we can study.
• It is about life or death, heaven or hell in this life and the next—though you wouldn’t know that from much Christian messaging today.
• Christianity is not simply an alternative philosophical system to help you live your best life now.
• It’s more than tips on how to have happy relationships and spend your money wisely (though it does talk about those things).
• Ultimately, it is about salvation from eternal separation from God by the means of the death and resurrection of Jesus and NOTHING is more important than a correct understanding of it.
• (See lessons on Salvation and Discipleship on Bible805.com for more)
Second, anything you want to learn of value takes time and effort to understand and master it
• Whether it is learning a sport, how to play an instrument, mastering a topic of study or career, or learning to cook or sew.
• Learning the Bible, getting to know our God, our Savior and learning to live a life pleasing to Him requires similar, if not even more effort because what you learn influences not only your life now but how you will spend eternity.
• And part of that is taking the time to read and learn about the challenging parts of the Bible—God put them there for a reason and to understand the entire Bible you need to understand these parts.
• But they are difficult! And these lessons will help you understand and apply them.
What we will cover in this lesson about the laws of the Old Testament
• What was the purpose of these laws? And then based on that…
• What is valid and what isn’t for us to follow today and what do we primarily learn from.
• Historical context of the laws—why the specifics of many of them which will make more sense when you understand the setting of them.
• Typology (foreshadowing) of the Old Testament Tabernacle, festivals, and sacrifices—a important theological concept that will help you understand how the Old and New Testaments fit together.
• APPLICATION—the exciting application God has for us based on these passages.
Underlying all, understand God’s view of time
• To review, this is to be expected as God is the author of the ENTIRE Bible as he is God who exists outside of time and sees all from beginning to end.
• It’s incredibly important to keep God’s view of time and the reality that God is the author of the entire Bible to keep in mind.
• For example: “Typology is based on the assumption that there is a pattern in God’s work throughout salvation history.”
• Henry A. Virkler, Hermeneutics
Purpose of the Old Testament Laws
• The Paul in the New Testament clarifies it in the book of Galatians:
• So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. Gal.3:24, ESV
• The Jewish laws were our teacher and guide until Christ came to give us right standing with God through our faith. Gal.3:24, TLB
• The law was a guardian, a teacher, guide, other translations call it a tutor.
Why it was needed, what it needed to teach people
• God called Israel out of Egypt to be His people, his representatives on earth, as God said:
• Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus 19:5-6
• The challenge is, How to do that?
• They wouldn’t learn it from Egypt, its customs or religions, or any of the surrounding nations.
• And following God, knowing what He wants doesn’t come naturally to us in our day either.
They needed detailed instructions
• In every part of life for how to live because God both cares about every part and wants us to acknowledge Him in every part.
• Also, they were like young children in the ways of living as God wanted as Warren Wiersbe talks about often in his commentaries and that is a reason why the laws are as detailed as they are and the punishments as strict as they are.
Does that mean we need to follow all the laws today?
• The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and many other organizing documents of various churches divides the Mosaic laws into three categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial. Though there is some discussion of the exact division and application of each category, overall:
• Only the Moral Laws of the Mosaic Law, which include the Ten Commandments and the commands repeated in the New Testament, directly apply to Christians today.
• Ceremonial Laws, many of which pointed to the coming Messiah were fulfilled with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
• The Civil Laws, which had to do with how the nation of Israel conducted itself in its daily life it formed into a nation and obviously most of them are no longer applicable today, though many of their underlying principles are still useful and many modern law codes are based on them. (expectation of equality before the law, foundation of truth in courts, in addition to lesser things like laws of redemption).
How understanding the Historical Context helps
• When you understand the historical setting, the actions people take in it make much more sense.
• When you understand the historical context, you will be able to answer critics of the Bible—because quite a bit of the misunderstanding of these books is because they are pulled out of context.
Misunderstanding of an “Eye for an Eye”
• Many of the laws seem extremely harsh—until you look at this historical context of them.
• For example, “Eye for an eye” from Exodus 21:23–27 though reflective of some current laws of the time was revolutionary:
• Hammurabi’s Code illustrates this point: “If a man has destroyed the eye of a man of the gentleman class, they shall destroy his eye …. If he has destroyed the eye of a commoner … he shall pay one mina of silver. If he has destroyed the eye of a gentleman’s slave … he shall pay half the slave’s price.” The Babylonians [and other ancient people] clearly did not live under a social system that treated all people equally. http://www.ushistory.org/civ/4c.asp
• It must have sounded astonishing to this group of former slaves that their justice or punishment would be the same no matter what their social status. And it was a limitation only an “eye for an eye.” Principle important, no instance of it carried out.
• As God’s people, wealth and status has no meaning in justice.
Second Historical context example
• There are many laws on sexual purity. In addition to showing us God’s standards for how to conduct our sexual lives, many of the laws make more sense when seen in a historical context.
• For example, in Egypt marriage between brothers and sisters and between other family members was common. God clearly shows in His laws that this was not acceptable for His people.
• Also, during that time and into New Testament times, pagan worship that often involved sexual rites.
• God clearly defined how His people were to worship Him and sexual practices in the temple and sexual prostitutes, the exploitation of both young men and women was forbidden.
Why sacrifices of any kind?
• Animal sacrifices foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
• Hebrews tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
• Why that is, we don’t know any more than we know why God separates our time into day and night, why there are four seasons, or why all people worship—it has simply been that way from the earliest days of earth.
• When Adam and Eve sinned, God killed an animal, shed its blood for the skins that covered them.
• When Cain and Abel made a sacrifice to God, only the animal sacrifice was acceptable.
• After Noah left the ark, he made an animal sacrifice.
• Job sacrificed for the sins of his children.
• It also seems to be a universal religious practice throughout the earth, HOWEVER…..
Israel’s sacrifices were unique
• In the surrounding pagan societies, when the Israelites moved into the land, there was widespread sacrifice of children.
• The worship of Molech required a live child be placed in the arms of a huge idol and burned as a sacrifice.
• Only animals were sacrificed by the Jews.
• And there was a specific way to sacrifice animals, a very humane way of killing them where the jugular vein of the animal was quickly severed and they would not feel pain (the blood is immediately cut off to the brain).
• We’ll talk more about the meaning of sacrifices later and in coming lessons, but the important thing now is that in the historical context, the sacrifices of the Jewish people were very different and more tightly regulated than those of the surrounding peoples.
The sacrifices are also a primary example of Typology, a key to understanding the relationship between the Old & New Testament
• Typology is based on the assumption that there is a pattern in God’s work throughout salvation history.
• God prefigured his redemptive work in the Old Testament and fulfilled it in the New; in the Old Testament are shadows of things to be more fully revealed in the New. The ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, for example, demonstrated to Old Testament believers the necessity of atonement for their sins; these ceremonies pointed forward to the perfect atonement to be made in Christ. The prefigurement is called the type; the corresponding figure is called the antitype. Virkler, Hermeneutics
HERE IS WHERE IT GETS CONFUSING
• Because when you read many Biblical commentaries, they will talk about something being a “type” in the Old Testament, for example, the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament was a “type” of Christ’s future death on the cross.
• So far, that makes sense, but then many commentaries go on to say that Christ’s death was the antitype.
• What??? Doesn’t antitype mean something that is the total opposite?
• That is what it means in common usage, but the Greek definition, (and I don’t know who started using this first, because it is really confusing) of the word “antitype” in this usage is actually the word Antitupos which means “corresponding as an impression to the die.”
• When I read that, it made sense to me! (bear with me)…….
One of the many jobs I’ve had in my long work life is that of a publication designer
• Part of being a publication designer is an understanding of typography.
• The term antitupos “corresponding as an impression to the die.” makes perfect sense, when you think of it in terms of setting type.
• When type is set, to the typesetter, it is often upside down and backwards, it is all there, but the type not easy to read.
• But when the impression, the print is made of the type, the antitupos, the meaning is clear. Two illustrations of this follow.
• When printed the plate says –
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and feels as if he were in the seventh heaven of typography together with Hermann Zapf,”
• Again, the original type is hard to read, though the content is there. Once printed (the impression, the antitype) the words become clear.
Now some specific examples of how typology relates to the passages we are reading now
• The Jewish Tabernacle and all associated with it is commonly seen as a series of types of Jesus Christ. In other words, images that he will later specifically fulfill.
• Jesus describes himself as “the door” and the only “way” to God, there was only one day to get into the Tabernacle court.
• Many other parts of the Tabernacle represent other aspects of the coming Messiah, e.g. the bread and Jesus as the coming “bread of life.”
The sacrificial lambs
• Are the most significant type of the coming sacrifice of Jesus.
• In the New Testament, when John sees Jesus coming to be baptized, he says, “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”
• If you haven’t read the story of the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament you have no idea what he is talking about.
• But if you’ve read about it, when you hear John say those words the power of their meaning will come alive to you.
• You’ll read about the veil that blocked the Holy of Holies from everyone in the Old Testament
• Only the High Priest was allowed behind it once a year to make the sacrifice for sins.
• In Jesus day, the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem was 60 feet long, 30 feet high and 4 inches thick—massive, impressive, intimidating, blocking man from God until…
• Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. Matt. 27:50-53
• Access to God was now free and open.
• What had been a symbol, a type of separation, now became one of free access.
Expansion of the importance of Types
• . . .biblical typology, as evidenced in the writings of the New Testament, always involves a heightening of the type in the antitype.
• It is not simply that Jesus replaces the temple as a new but otherwise equal substitute. No, Jesus is far greater than the temple! It is not as though Jesus is simply another in the line of prophets with Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. No, Jesus is much greater than the ￼prophets!
• NOTE: this is also known as progressive revelation—God doesn’t tell us the whole salvation story at once, but part by part throughout history.
• I’ve wondered if part of that is a test to see if we are paying attention—it is very exciting when we see the parts fit together, and worth the effort to see these things.
Future Purpose of Types
• Article continues:
• Finally, it is important to point out that antitypes themselves may also function as types of future realities. Communion, for example, is the antitype (future fulfillment) of the Passover meal. (see Luke 22; cf. Exodus 11-12).
• Jesus’ celebration of the Passover meal with his disciples on the night of his arrest symbolically points to the fact that he is the ultimate Passover Lamb “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). . . . .
• Though the Last Supper and the corresponding sacrament of communion serve as the antitype [NT fulfillment] of the Passover meal, they also point forward to their ultimate fulfillment in “the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9; cf. Luke 22:15-18).
• On that glorious day [in heaven] the purified bride–true Israel–will be united with her Bridegroom in the new heaven and the new earth. (Revelation 21:1-2).
Some practical reading suggestions
• Though I trust this explanation of the purpose of the Laws, Historical Context, and Typology is useful, here is some additional advice:
• Don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed by them—read even if you don’t understand as you go along.
• Fully understanding them is a LONG-TERM project and much of the Bible will make more and more sense as you read and get to know ALL the Bible and as you read through it again and again.
• Again, never just for knowledge, but for application as WE are to be living sacrifices and a people of priests to represent our God in our world today—in many ways, YOU are the fulfillment of these OT pictures, as we are told….
Living sacrifices in response to God’s Salvation
• Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:1,2
• 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Rom. 12: 1,2, MSG
And then to represent our Lord to the World
• But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. I Peter 2:9-10
• To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Rev. 1:5b-6
• We are His representatives—here is an idea how to get started doing it……
Like any challenging goal, you can’t accomplish it all at once
• In weight loss, you lose changing one habit at a time, implementing it one day at a time—it’s the same with learning to be a representative of Jesus.
• Focus on one thing at a time and an excellent verse as a challenge is Micah 6:8,ESV
• He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Suggestions to apply Micah 6:8
• Do justice—of course obedience to all laws, pay taxes properly, treat all equally if you are in a position of authority.
• Love kindness—simply be kind, it makes a HUGE difference, speak kindly, softly, pause before speaking, do not mimic the snarky, mean, constantly taking offense stance of our world
• Walk humbly—“not thinking less of yourself, but of yourself less.” You don’t have to correct everyone, promote yourself, your views—God is in control. Meditate on Philippians 2, “In humility value others above yourselves.”
• If you do these things prayerfully and consistently, it will take sacrifice and you will be a representative, a royal priesthood for our God.
• And knowing you give our Lord joy as you do that will be worth all the work you put into it!
For more information, links to additional formats and materials that will help you know, trust, and apply the Bible, go to: www.Bible805.com