So this seems more like the first post I should have made, but I really wanted to just go with my gut and post my most recent study first. This post, however, is the study that led to the name of this blog…and it’s a good one.
Over the years I’ve had many a debate about whether or not the old law (the law of the Old Testament) is done away with or not. In my mind, it’s not a debate. The law is absolutely still relevant and important and crucial to understanding the mind of God and it 100% still applies today and this is the study that led me to why. It’s a study of the ten commandments in a way that you may not have ever heard before… I have about a million more scriptures on “law” in general, but this post needed to be condensed a bit or it would have been super long!
So, let’s get started! Sin is defined three ways biblically. First, transgression of the law (1 John 3:4 – sin is lawlessness). Second, to know what is right and then choose not to do it (James 4:17). Third, not having faith (Romans 14:23). If there is no law, how do we know what sin is? If there is no law, how do we know what is right? I think many people take the words of Jesus in the New Testament and twist them to mean something else. Jesus gave two commands in the New Testament: LOVE God and LOVE your neighbor as yourself, but these are not NEW commands. They are simply a summation of the commands already in effect. Here is the broader context of that statement in Matthew 22:36-40:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
In fact, just a few chapters prior, Jesus tells them exactly what the expectations are in Matthew 19:16-19:
16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher,[a] what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that to me. In fact, the assumption that Jesus has simplified the law is actually quite comical to me because Jesus asks that we go ABOVE and BEYOND the law. In His teachings, it is not only adultery if you commit adultery; it is adultery if you THINK about committing adultery. So Jesus has actually made the law more complex, not more simplistic. He makes that idea even more clear here in Matthew 5: 17-20:
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
So there’s two major things in that passage that stand out to me. The first is that Jesus says he did not come to destroy the law, but to FULFILL the law. Many people mistranslate “fulfill” in this passage to mean “finish,” but the actual translation means to “carry out” or “make full.” In other words, he did not come to destroy the law, but to CARRY OUT the law. He came to LIVE the law for us so that we would have a living example of the kind of behavior we should strive for. The second thing that stands out to me is that he says our righteousness must EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. EXCEED!! That does not sound like “just do what you want and ask for forgiveness and all will be well!” That sounds like the law has been expanded upon. Why? Because the expectation is that our WHOLE HEART aims to serve the Lord. He doesn’t want us to look at the law like a check list. We aren’t just trying to check things off our list to say that we did everything that was asked of us. We are expected to go above and beyond because we LOVE God with everything in us.
**Don’t worry!! I’m getting to the name of the blog. Just hang in there!**
So, a little bit of background for you. The law given to Moses by God was so important in the Old Testament that the stone tablets of the law were put into the Ark of the Covenant (the place where God dwelt among the people) and the ark was put into the temple (the place of worship and making atonement). The Ark was made to be portable so that God could travel with his people wherever they went. The Ark had very specific instructions for how it should be built and those who misused the Ark were dealt with extremely harshly, even to death. Once the Ark became a permanent fixture in the temple, only the High Priest was allowed to enter into the presence of the Ark and ask forgiveness over himself and over the people of Israel. The purpose of the Ark was an archive for sacred items that would remind the Israelites of the covenant, or agreement, that God had made with them at Mount Sinai.
Now, this is my favorite part of studying scripture. There is ALWAYS a spiritual translation of absolutely everything in the Old Testament. God gave us LOTS of physical things to help ground spiritual principles and ideas so that they made sense to us in our human state. The one thing I hadn’t heard a spiritual connection to was the Ark of the Covenant…but I think I found one.
A NEW covenant was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and then reiterated here in the New Testament in Hebrews 8:7-12.
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said[b]:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”[c]
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete;and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
Now, we’re not talking about a new LAW here. We’re talking about a new COVENANT. A new AGREEMENT regarding the same laws. This new covenant allows for forgiveness and grace because Jesus came to pay the price for all of our sins. Jesus paying the price for us does not NEGATE the law. It pays the penalty and allows us ACCESS to eternal life through HIM. So, when we accept Him into our lives, when we choose to live as Jesus did and live intentionally, our striving to follow His example in observance of the law is the part that matters. Our HEART is what matters. If our HEART is for God, the New Covenant allows for the forgiveness of our sins through the acceptance of Jesus Christ, our new High Priest.
Which leads me then to the name of this blog. What is the NEW Ark of the Covenant? What is the spiritual connection to this physical thing that God created for the people of Israel? The place in which the law now resides is the HEART of the people who love God. The temple the ark is in is US. We are now LIVING TEMPLES for God (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our hearts are the new sacred place where the Spirit of God dwells. The Ark of the Covenant is now the HEART of the Covenant. And that is how this blog got its name. This is what I am striving to do with this blog… to connect us to the Heart of the Covenant with our Lord and Savior.
I look forward to many more study adventures with you as this blog progresses!