Friday, January 31, 2014


As I continue to study the Old Testament Law,  and compare it to the Gospel accounts, I am struck by how much the teachings of Jesus are really the teaching of the Law.  Moses gave the letter of the Law but Jesus came and taught the spirit of the Law.  Ultimately, Jesus is the Lawgiver and Moses simply the writer and enforcer of the Law. God gave Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai and Moses gave it to the people.  Studying the teachings of Jesus, it becomes clear that Jesus, according to His own words, did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, and in so doing, He explains the intent and purpose of the Law.  Jesus simplified the Law, if you will, making it applicable and liberating rather than difficult and restrictive.  Even the model for prayer that Jesus taught the disciples, commonly known as The Lord's Prayer, is a simplified version of the Song of Moses found in chapter 32 of Deuteronomy.  Where Moses used many words, Jesus brought it down to a personal level, presenting it to us as something we could personalize and understand.

Before we look at the comparisons between the Song of Moses and the Lord's model for prayer (Jesus' intent was not that we recite His words like some kind of mantra) we must first understand the purpose and intent of the Law.  God gave the Law and preserved it for us to this day for multiple reasons.  The first reason God gave the Law was to create a separation between His people and the rest of the pagan world.  The Law and it's prescribed methods of worship identified, clearly, the people of God. The second reason the Law was given was to protect the people. Many of the dietary laws and others concerning mold and disease, were meant to keep the people healthy and safe.  The third and most important reason for the Law, was to make man aware of his sin and reinforce the knowledge that man needs God but his sin separates him from God.  The Law was meant to, in the end, bring man, humbly, to God.  The Law was not meant to, nor could it, justify man before God.

Man took the Law and built on, making it burdensome, falsely believing that by following the letter of the Law, he could somehow be justified in the eyes of God.  Part of the ministry of Christ, was to show the people of Israel, for whom the Law was originally given, what He really meant when He gave the Law to Moses in the first place.  Jesus sought to liberate the people from the unwieldy and restrictive monstrosity created by thousands of years of lawyers and scribes.  King David, in the Psalms, spoke of his delight in the Law of God, the version of the Law that was practiced in the days of Christ was anything but delightful.  Jesus' mission was to explain the Law, showing that it's main intent was that we Love God and Love others, not with an emotional feelings based love, but with an active, intentional love that actually impacts the world around us.  The second part of Christ's mission was to reveal the sin nature of man, his inability to keep the Law, even in it's simplified form, and then to pay man's debt for failing to keep the Law.  Jesus gave the Law, Jesus explained the Law, Jesus fulfilled the Law and Jesus paid man's debt to the Law.

It is foundationally imperative that the follower of Christ reads and studies the full counsel of God, this includes the Old Testament, and yes, even the books of the Law.  When we study the Bible as a whole, we realize that God truly is the same today yesterday and forever.  Looking at Deuteronomy 32, we find Moses, at the end of his life, where he sang a song to the people of Israel.  The song of Moses goes on for 43 verses but covers the same basic ideas that Jesus taught with very few words.

Jesus taught "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name"
Moses spends the first 3 verses proclaiming the name or God and ascribing greatness to Him.

Jesus taught "thy kingdom come thy will be done"
Moses, in verses 4 - 9 describes God's establishing of His people and the ordering of the nations according to His will.

Jesus taught "Give us this day our daily bread"
Moses expounds on the provisions and blessings of God in verses 10 - 14

Jesus taught "forgive us our debts(sin) as we forgive our debtors"
Moses points out the sins of man and the consequences of those sins in verses 15 - 38 focusing on God's forgiveness.

Jesus taught "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
Moses reveals that God is the only true deliverer

According to the King James Version Jesus said, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, amen.
Moses dedicated the end of his song to rejoicing in God demonstrating worship

Today, we, the followers of Christ, are not bound to the letter of the Law.  The letter of the Law was specifically given to Israel for a specific purpose.  James, the brother of Jesus demonstrates this at the Jerusalem council.  We are, however, required to live by the spirit of the Law, even as we are called to live according to the Spirit of God... Love God, love others.  Jesus made it very simple for us.

We must always remember that Jesus is the lawgiver as well as the one who gives us freedom from the Law by the blood He shed on the cross.  Acknowledge your sin, place your faith in Christ, love God, love others - Wow, Jesus really did make it simple!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


At church this Sunday, the message was about  Joshua leading the children of Israel into the promised land and conquering the city of Jericho.  This made me consider the method that God prescribed to the Israelites.  No strategist, general or commander of any army would ever dare order his troops to march around a city for 7 days and expect the city to fall.  Two things had to be at play, one, God had to have a supernatural hand in the matter and two, Joshua and the Israelite army had to have absolute faith in God.  The orders God gave to the Joshua would seem ludicrous to anyone who has even a fleeting understanding of warfare.  Interestingly, the Bible says that the ways of God seem foolish to those that do not know God.

 I Corinthians 2:14  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Oftentimes, the method God chooses to accomplish His will in our lives is not anywhere close to how we would plan or even imagine.  Personally, I have seen God creatively bring me to His will.  I remember when in the mid 1990's I thought I was too busy to go to Bible College.  First I suffered an injury at work which incapacitated me for a few weeks and when I did not get the message from that event, I suffered a hernia delivering food to homeless kids on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. After six weeks on my back, I realized I would have all the time I needed to work full time and attend college.  Amazingly, I managed to take on a full 13 credit hour load, work full time and serve in my church.  God showed me the way when I thought there was no way.

In the Jericho account, we see God providing a victory for His people in a most unconventional manner.  Only a people who totally trust God would ever dare to embark on such a method of warfare.  God called His people to trust Him and when they did, He brought down the walls.  Joshua did not make a plan and then ask God to bless it, Joshua listened to God and obeyed.

Many times, we have walls before us that seem impossible to bring down.  We plan, we strive, we worry, and all to no avail.  The most effective method for overcoming seemingly impossible situations is listening to God and obeying His direction.  Instead of making plans and asking God to bless them, we need to seek God's will and method.  As we submit to the will of God in our lives, we will see many strongholds broken and lives changed.  Remember, not only did God bring the walls down but He also brought Rahab the Harlot to salvation. Joshua's obedience to God led to a great victory and the salvation of a whole family.

When there are issues in life that seem to be continual struggles regardless of how much we attempt to overcome them, it is time to rely on the supernatural power of God.  What has God directed you to do to bring down the walls in your life.  What has God directed you to do in order to make disciples of those you interact with each day.  God's method may seem unconventional yet it is His supernatural involvement that changes our lives.

Joshua waited, listened and obeyed.  That is what we need to do as well.  Wait, listen, obey and let God bring down the walls.  When God brings down the walls, we can walk into victory and see the lives of others change through our obedience.