Why Aren't Christians Obeying the Law of Moses?
As I have been writing on Sharia law and the contrasts between Islam and Christianity, critics inevitably throw out the objection: "Why are you pointing out all the harsh sayings of the Quran and Sharia Law? The Bible has just as many 'barbaric' commands! If you really believe the Bible, why don't you obey all the 600 plus statutes and commandments of the Law of Moses in the Old Testament?" And then they go right on listing a multitude of laws that seem very harsh or intolerant or just downright weird (especially by our 21st century standards).
Although I have addressed a few of the problem passages and issues in previous articles, space and time prevent me from explaining each and every rule and ritual in Moses' Law. However, if you are interested in a good readable study of the Old Testament, I highly recommend Paul Copan's book, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God.
Each of the book's chapters addresses some of the critics' sharpest attacks: "Barbarisms, Crude Laws, and Other Imaginary Crimes? Punishments and Other Harsh Realities in Perspective" and "Misogynistic? Women in Israel." He also spends several chapters on the issue of slavery in the Old Testament and the "genocide" against the Canaanites.
What is his overall take on the Law of Moses? Here's a sample (from page 59):
God raised up a covenant nation for them. In doing so, he adapted his ideals to a people whose attitudes and actions were influenced by deeply flawed structures. As we'll see with regard to servitude, punishments, and other structures, a range of regulations and statutes in Israel reveals a God who accommodates. Yet contrary to the common Neo-atheists' caricatures, these laws weren't the permanent, divine ideal for all persons everywhere. God informed his people that a new, enduring covenant would be necessary (Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 36). By the Old Testament's own admission, the Mosaic law was inferior and future looking.
Get Copan's book. Many of your questions will be answered.
But what is the main reason that Christians no longer sacrifice animals, or keep a kosher kitchen, or wear a border of blue around their garments (all commanded in the Law)? The New Testament teaches that the Law (which was temporary and only for Israel) culminated in the death of Christ. To culminate means to reach the climax, to reach the final result, the fulfillment.
The Bible says that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). The Law reached its complete fulfillment, its terminal point, in the sacrifice of Jesus. It is now inoperative and has no more authority over believers today (Romans 7:1-6). Please note verse 6 which says, "But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter."
The author of Hebrews tells us that the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood which operated the rituals and sacrifices of Tabernacle and Temple worship has been eradicated (Hebrews 7:11-12, 18). "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:12). And the Levitical priesthood has been replaced entirely with a new priest, Jesus the great High Priest.
Next Page: What does it mean for Jesus to fulfill the law? Why do Christians still believe in and follow the Ten Commandments?