Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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The law of the Old Testament was God’s law. It made God’s requirements clear for the lifestyle, worship, and justice system of Israel. The law was a revelation of how God viewed right living, right worship, and good government. And God still thinks what He has always thought! What God thought was righteous conduct in Moses’ day, He still thinks is righteous conduct. And what God thought was righteous judgment then, He still thinks is righteous judgment. If God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is “the same today, yesterday, and forever,” then what is the Father? If you know God at all, then you know this:
God has never learned anything!
God has never had to go back and correct anything He has ever said or done!
The principal reason God gave His law to Israel was to point them to the coming Messiah, His Son. Paul described the law as Israel’s guardian until Christ (Gal. 3:24). And that same law, written on our hearts by the Spirit, is now doing for us what it once did for Israel. It is pointing us to Jesus Christ, preparing us for his coming, but this time it is his second coming, not his first.
A very great benefit of studying the law of Moses is that the kind of judgments found in the law are God’s kind of judgments; therefore, they are the kind of judgments that Jesus will render when he rules the earth for a thousand years. The law is not a dead, worthless relic of the past; it is telling us what kind of government to expect from Jesus when he sets up his kingdom on earth. Jesus will rule over the wicked, “with a rod of iron”, and the “iron” judgments he will execute are the kinds of judgments found in Moses’ law! The law is still pointing to Christ and preparing God’s children to reign with him.
To prepare to reign with Christ Jesus means to learn to agree with him in judgment! We certainly are not prepared to reign with Christ if we disagree with his judgments. We are supposed to be in the process of developing the mind of Christ so that we judge as he judges, and feel as he feels about everything. We are in training. That is why God sends trials and temptations our way.
Consider this description of the millennial reign of Jesus, from Zechariah 14:
16. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will come up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, to make pilgrimage for the Feast of Tabernacles.
17. And it shall come to pass that there will be no rain on those from among the families of the earth who do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts.
18. If the family of Egypt does not go up, and does not come, then on them will there be none. This is the plague with which Jehovah will strike the nations who do not come up to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.
19. This will be the punishment for Egypt’s sin, and the punishment for all the nations that do not come up to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.
At the present time, believers are given no authority to physically punish the wicked. For that, we must wait for the return of Jesus. It is sin for a believer today to become entangled in the political or military affairs of this world. We are citizens of a heavenly country, and we are here as ambassadors of Christ. This world’s social ills and political controversies are none of our business. Our King is coming to conquer and replace every government in every place. His kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit, and we who believe are in the critical process of learning to walk in the Spirit, judge in the Spirit, and stand in the Spirit against strong opposition. We are kings and priests to God, but not yet with earthly civil authority. That will come, though. Are you prepared to judge the world with Christ?
The Son of God occupies his position as well as he does only because he completely agrees with everything his Father thinks. How well we occupy our places in the kingdom of God will be determined by the same standard. Do we think what God thinks? Do we feel what He feels? I am only as good a pastor as I agree with Jesus. I am harmful to the body of Christ unless I judge as he judges. Any time I think one thing when Jesus is thinking another, I am wrong, and I have become a stumbling block to every saint under my care.
Because Jesus always thinks the way the Father thinks, Jesus is always right. The fundamental issue of life for every child of God is, Do we think the way our heavenly Father thinks? Jesus has the mind of his Father, but do we have the mind of Christ? The value of the law of Moses is that it gives us a glimpse into the Father’s mind. Moses’ law was the most precious insight into the heart of God ever known until the Spirit of God was poured out on the day of Pentecost. But what kind of thinking, what kind of judgments, did the Spirit bring into men’s hearts when it came, if not God’s kind of thinking and God’s kind of judgments? That was, after all, what God promised:
31. “Behold, days are coming, says Jehovah, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32. not the kind of covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, even though I was their Husband, says Jehovah.
33. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Jehovah: I will put my law within them, and I will engrave it on their heart. And I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34. And they will no longer teach, each his fellow and each his brother, saying, ‘Know Jehovah!’ For they will all know me, from the least of them even to the greatest, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
That promise, that the law would be put into believers’ hearts, was fulfilled when Christ ascended into heaven and the Spirit of God was sent to dwell within us and to give us the knowledge of God.
We are all familiar with God’s moral commandments that are in the law, laws such as “love your neighbor as yourself”, “thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not bear false witness”, “thou shalt not covet”, etc. Everyone agrees that God’s moral commandments are “holy, and just, and good.” But what about the other judgments of God revealed in the law, the ones that reveal what God considers to be perfect justice? What about His commandments for the judges and rulers of Israel, the criminal judgments (perfect because the Giver was perfect) such as public whippings for wicked transgressors, or the execution of murderers, adulterers, and harlots, or the forced double or quadruple repayment of stolen property?
The law of Moses is telling us about the future reign of Christ! It is not a useless ancient document. It came from God and served a purpose to point people to Christ – and it still does, though now it points to his future reign instead of his suffering and death.
David offered the following descriptions of the law and the judgments of God:
7. The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true; they are altogether righteous.
10. They are more to be desired than gold, even than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Do we feel as David felt about the law and judgments of God? To the extent that we do, we have the mind of Christ and are prepared to reign with him. To the extent that we do not, we are carnally minded and unprepared to reign with Christ, and we will doubtless be a stumbling block to some child of God while we live.
God’s ways are not our ways, but they are right. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, but they are perfect and true. And only those who think as He thinks will reign with His Son when he returns to this earth.