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Approaching the Old Testament Law

Jessup Think
Jessup Think
Approaching the Old Testament Law
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Dr. Libby Backfish joins Mark and Rex to discuss another area of the Old Testament that we often misread: the Law. Dr. Backfish encourages us to look at the Law through a covanental lens.


TRANSCRIPT

0:01
Welcome to Jessup think I’m your host Mark Moore and your co host Rex Gurney. And today on the show, we have friend of the show returning Dr. Libby backfish. This is third fourth time she has been here a third time I think Tommy’s third time and she’s going to be carrying on the conversation that we started with Cynthia, on how ways that we misread the Old Testament and particularly the law in our Yammer essentially, today, she’s gonna she’s gonna focus on I think an area that we wildly screen right. And that is the law, how the Israelites viewed it, and how it applies to us today. So hope you enjoy this. This episode and I just warn you have your dictionary ready, because we’re gonna be using some multisyllabic word syllabic words so hope you enjoy the show.

0:55
Well, I’m so excited for this episode. I woke up today, just full disclosure, before we start into the episode, I woke up just excited about life. Jazz ready to go live? He is a true friend of the show. She is Yeah, this is third time on the show. Very friendly. Very friendly. You. You definitely get the T shirt. Yes. After the show. If that ever happened to me, it’s gonna happen. For a long time more I say it on air, the more it will happen. Are you somebody was just someone created? Yeah, that’s right. Positive confinement. And it will happen. That’s actually probably a good a good topic for a future pod. Yeah, that will be but today, I think the reason why I’m so excited is we’re kind of continuing a conversation that we had. So we’ve had a first part of this conversation with Cynthia just just about ways that we misread the Old Testament. And I mean, there’s so there’s so many ways that we approach scripture, both Old and New Testament, that just maybe a subtle misreading can really move you in the wrong direction. Right. And, and there are a lot of things just I mean, the longer you spend with Scripture, that when you kind of take a closer reading, you’re like, oh, that actually maybe doesn’t say what I thought it did. And so we want to kind of, again, help our listeners and help Rex and I. And that’s why we brought you in Libya as the expert to kind of help us understand what are some of the ways that we’ve been maybe misreading the Old Testament or the Old Testament experience. And one of the ways that we want to focus on today is the law. How the law is, is viewed by the Israelite people, and then we’ll eventually get to maybe how that carries into the New Testament era. Right? And how,

2:45
how long it’s in. But I’m always excited about this, because that’s, I think, a part of the Bible that for 21st century now Christians are always like, yeah, how do we approach the Old Testament off after nine years of every Sunday preaching a sermon, and doing buku sermon series? And, you know, I would dip into the Old Testament, you know, everybody has the Canon within the canon. My cameras in the Canon actually did not include a sermon series on the law just didn’t forgive you. There’s forgiveness in the law. Yeah. So I need some tutelage.

3:22
So I think a good place to maybe start here is that is that initial understanding of and maybe a misunderstanding that we’ve had of how Israel viewed the law, to be kind of to begin with something sometimes from a New Testament perspective, and then especially a post reformation perspective, we can view the law and maybe their experience of the law as somehow they were using it to earn salvation, or using it to earn God’s favor. And and the more I dip into it, and the more we’ve kind of talked, that doesn’t seem to be Israel’s view of the law. So would you want to kind of start there, let me

4:04
Yeah, sure. So this topic is really interesting to me, because I find a lot of my students don’t understand just how much Israel loved the law, because they kind of approach it with this attitude that the law was bad. It was maybe there as punishment, or it was there as a means of salvation like it was how they were justified back then. And now we’re justified by grace through faith, or it was just seen as something irrelevant to us. Jesus came from Psalm 119, which says emphatically I love the love of law and long for the law. Right, right. So that’s something I really tried to help my students get their head around that the law was a good thing. It was seen as a gift and it’s not antithetical to grace. It’s actually a means of grace. Yeah, one of the things I like to unpack with them, and that seems I mean, I

4:53
think maybe two part of it is any of our approaches to law. I mean, most people aren’t like I love laws, right? Like I love the speeding limit. It’s amazing. It keeps us safe. It’s a gift of the state, right, I think, mostly approach laws, maybe maybe specifically coming from an American mindset, right? Well,

5:11
we’ve been exposed to some bad laws, some really unfair laws. Yeah. And so we have this kind of negative understanding of law, whereas law in Israel’s context was seen as a good thing, because they needed that guidance. And that law came directly from a good God. So those were good laws. And if you look at the historical context in which Israel was receiving the law, at least in the literary perspective, they’re right on the verge of entering the promised land, they’ve just come out of Egypt, they don’t really know much about this God, who he is or what he expects them to do or be. So they need that guidance. So it was seen as a good thing. And then it also reveals who God is so that they can reflect him. There’s this idea in the Old Testament that men and women were made to reflect God’s image. Well, how do we do that? Well, we have to reflect His holy character. Hmm. So Leviticus 19 this refrain throughout a be holy for I am holy?

6:08
Yeah. I think maybe some of the some of the antinomianism that we struggle with is in its contemporary Christianity comes from, you know, our individualistic culture where, you know, it is really all about us. And Ryan tends to be very, very different from from the the people of Israel, the the community of Israel, and I think in some ways, law makes more sense, or is more easily approachable that way. Right? It’s definitely different than what most of us

6:42
Yeah, because the law was definitely the terms of the covenant and the covenant was a communal thing with

6:49
with God. Right, right. And I think in that I did hear sirens, it was clear. It’s a big word siren like sirens, whoo, big word, big word. So I want to circle back to antinomianism. Because it’s a good word. And we want to be a part of education here.

7:03
If you wish to converse with us, you have to define your terms.

7:05
Right. So we want to just Yeah, antinomian suspicion of the law, anti law, anti law. And it seems like maybe we do, on a surface level get that a little. Our could be misread even to from Paul, when we feel we feel we have some warrant for Yeah, so there’s with Miss reading. Yeah. Right. But this suspicion of the law, right. But I think that is such a revelation, in a sense. To hear someone say, No, Israel loved the law, like, I think because we think, Hey, we don’t have to follow those laws. We don’t have to eat kosher. We don’t have to do some of these things. And we feel maybe freedom from that. And we don’t realize, for the Israelite people, no, it was something they received from God gratefully. And it’s something that shaped their identity.

7:58
And what would it mean to love the law? I’m all confused as to how exactly that would play out. And, you know, their attitude towards it. Yeah,

8:07
I think it’s gratitude for receiving guidance from your way, knowing what to do. Like if you think about kids, kids generally like some kind of good rules that give their life structure, because it protects them, it shows them this is what we want you to do, you’ll be appreciated for this. And so Israel saw those laws, as, you know, just good guidance that they needed. And it was been a context of salvation and in the context of their relationship with your way.

8:37
Yeah, and is interesting, over over the Christmas time, I was reading a book as a biography of a, of a famous rock star. He may be a bass player for a certain band, who remain nameless. But I was reading I’m a sucker for like rock documentaries, and biographies. Sort of Stanley play bass. And, and he talked, he grew up in a very unstructured home in, in East Hollywood. And it’s kind of funny as interesting reflecting him reflecting on that he kind of said, actually, like, it may have been nice to have structure and rules and food on the table at dinner time. Like it was funny, he could look back on that in his life, and say, you know, I did all these crazy things from age 13 on and that kind of shaped me to become this rock star. But looking back, man, I kind of as a 13 year old and 10 year old I kind of wanted my parents to be more involved and to be more so I like what you’re saying like to have a view of of the law as this is God being involved in our lives and saying, Hey, I care about you and and giving those giving that structure

9:56
and there’s even a freedom in that like your story, just remind me of Thomas He was a monk who lived in Abbey and Kentucky, and he got to his monastery after this crazy, awesome life. And he’s finally where he wants to be. And he says in there, I was enclosed in my four walls of freedom. Because there’s these definitely rigid rules in a monastery, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. But he felt so free because he was where he wanted to be doing what he wanted to do. And so I think Israel, and Christians feel a freedom when we’re doing what God wants us to do. There’s a freedom in that obedience, because we’re,

10:28
we’re acting as God created. Yeah, that’s really good. I think that’s a really good perspective. And something else you said that I think we can explore more, because this may be the main, I think, one of the main Miss readings of the law. And that is that the law for the Israelites was not a means of salvation. And and in other conversations with May, you’ve described this as it has more to do with sanctification. So right, like the spiritual life and life in the spirit versus justification. Yeah, and I think that’s really helpful for, for, for maybe primarily New Testament readers, to note that they weren’t Yeah, trying to like I’m trying to eat kosher and follow Sabbath, so that God will accept me, but rather, so that I can be a part of his kingdom maybe and, and, and,

11:18
and receive covenant blessings and yet be shaped just as Christians are shaped in sanctification when we try to obey God in the New Covenant. And we see this clearly in the exodus event. So the exodus event is that paradigmatic Old Testament event of salvation, Israel did not receive their salvation because they had obeyed the law, they hadn’t even received the law, right? It’s not like Moses was standing there by the Red Sea. Okay, gotta sign off to this before I let you through, right? I know, God had that act as you submit to these 300, some 638. They were saved out of grace. And then they were given the law. Yeah, as a means of, like you said, being shaped into God’s people and who he wanted them to be.

12:01
I kind of like, I think it’s john Walton, who says it’s it was God’s speaking, order into chaos. Given the law, he’s because, and yeah, trying to help students and ourselves realize that at this time period, I mean, it is it is crazy lawless, and you’re literally into human history is speaking in, like, hey, maybe you shouldn’t just go around and kill whoever you want to, like, maybe there should be some really good reasons for that.

12:28
Right? And how are we to worship you your way? Are you going to require child sacrifice, like some of these other routes around in the area? So they needed that?

12:36
So that’s a contemporary Christian, who was kind of raised in a church that did not talk about the law much. And when he did, it was pretty much, you know, compared unfavorably to grace and a new dispensation in the New Covenant. Yeah. How would a re appreciation of the law and a love of the law even help help better shape? I’ll just use myself as a contemporary Christian.

13:03
Well, let’s look at some of these New Testament passages, because I think that’ll help us because sometimes we just look at Paul’s negative statements about the law, but sometimes he’s talking about a different law, the rabbinic law, perhaps, sometimes he’s talking about a misuse of the law, and those things are bad. But a lot of times when he’s talking about the law of the Old Testament, which Jesus also upholds, right, Matthew five, he says good things about it. So Romans 331, he’s talking about he says, do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means? On the contrary, we uphold the law, Romans 712 and 13 laws holy, it’s righteous, it’s good. What was the problem? He says, The problem was sin. We couldn’t write the law, right? There was nothing wrong with the law in itself, there was something wrong with our inability to keep it, which is why Jeremiah 31, the prophets are saying this new covenant is going to be characterized by a transformation of people, you’re going to have the law written on your hearts. And that was the major change, not the law itself. And then Galatians 310 11. And all in all of these places, Paul is also using Old Testament scripture to substantiate his his answers to he’s looking at Genesis 15, four or 15, six, Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. Habakkuk, two for the righteous shall live by faith. So he’s using the Old Testaments to support his arguments, he’s certainly not going to say we’re going to throw that stuff out, right?

14:24
It’s so true. And and, again, is important to to recognize how he’s approaching it versus those other things like in that that’s always been interesting to me, like the rabbinic law. And then elsewhere, you kind of see specifically in the gospels, there’s a couple references they call the tradition of the elders and it seems to separate and Jesus even when when he uses that, traditionally elders he also then says the tradition of men, so he kind of separates it from the law, right from God’s law from Torah. And then I think that’s maybe the work of us today reading the New Testament, we have to be able to kind of separate like, which what law is Paul talking about? and housing? How is he approaching it? And how is he showing that, hey, this isn’t the laws fault, but this was actually our fault. And the law did its job by exposing that within us. And we’ve talked about that on this show before that, that as human beings, right, when someone tells you, you can’t do something, then that becomes the one thing you want to do. Right? And it wasn’t the laws fault. It just it just awoken in you. Maybe your awareness that Oh, yeah, I want to kind of rebel and, and that seems to be maybe a little bit of Paul’s perspective to hear of, yeah, the law did its job. Now the law wasn’t then capable of removing that from you. But it did awaken that in you that recognition that, that And so again, wasn’t the loss fault, but it was sin within us.

16:02
Because even that is a good thing. If it awakens our recognition, then we recognize our desperate need for forgiveness and repentance. So even that, I think that’s second use of the law and the reformed tradition is a good thing.

16:16
Yeah. And it seems like Jesus goes on to then intensify the law. Right? He doesn’t remove the law, he. And that’s one thing that I mean, the Beatitudes are obviously a beautiful piece of literature to write and like, and, but I love in this whole sermon on the mount, that he always he the way he phrases It is so well done, because he’s always like, you’ve heard that it was said. And then he says, But I say to you, and it’s always I taking that law, right? You’ve heard that it was said do not murder. But I say to you, yeah, and he intensifies it, he doesn’t get rid of it. He actually makes it even harder to follow.

16:59
Yeah, he’s looking at the spirit of the law, which I think is one of the main differences between what Jesus is doing there. And that intensification and what the traditional the elders were doing when they were building a fence around the law, that was legalism, right. So they weren’t intensifying the law. They were restricting. They were building more letters around the law. They were not paying attention to the heart of the law, whereas Jesus was saying, Okay, look at this commandment on adultery. Yeah, let’s look deeper and say, what’s the spirit of that law? Not just the physical act of adultery, but even lusting that’s included? And that’s not building a fence around it. That’s saying that’s what’s at the heart of it. Yeah. And I think it takes wisdom to recognize how do you look for the spirit of the law versus how do you, you know, avoid getting just building a fence around it? Yeah. Which brings me to the fact that this Old Testament law literature, which we think of as kind of sometimes drab and boring, might better be understood as wisdom literature.

17:58
Right? I like, oh, whoa, like that. Because usually, you know, Bible in a year, you get to come out and try again next year. Yeah. But yeah, approaching it, as with so so by.

18:15
What I mean by that is, we have 613 laws, right? In the Old Testament, they’re not exhaustive. They are not telling us everything we need to know now. And they weren’t even telling Israel everything they needed to know, that wasn’t the purpose. But if the Israelites would meditate on the Law Day and night, and Psalm 119, Psalm one, then they would know how to approach issues that work directly addressed in the law. And that’s where the wisdom comes in. And we see that same thing happen in other ancient Near Eastern cultures where the law wasn’t necessarily meant to be followed to a tee, it was more hypothetical, showing the wisdom of the king, because the king would write the law. And supposedly, that law would come directly from the God. And that would be the God stamp of approval on that King. See, look, this king is righteous and ruling in my stead as evidenced by this great law. And so I think if that’s the way that Israel was approaching the law, I mean, yes, they were supposed to follow the law. But more importantly than that, they were supposed to let the laws shape them by meditating on it just like they were to let wisdom literature shape them. I think that might be a helpful way of understanding how Jesus is looking at the law is the spirit of the law.

19:24
Yeah, that’s so because I’m one of the things I love about Jesus’s approach to the Pharisees and the different kinds of keepers of the law at the time, is when they’re like, pressing him on issues of Sabbath and pressing him on issues of healing on the Sabbath and those things. He specifically in Matthew, He seems to come back to this saying and he and he says it Allah, He says, I wish that you would have understood what was said, when it says, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Yeah. And it’s kind of like I wish you would have ruminated on the Law not just looked for the letter like, hey, can’t carry this much weight, you know, so we’ll just make everything one pound showing, you know, shy of that, or one. You can only walk this far. So you know, we’ll make some work arounds to be able to, to walk further on the Sabbath. But I wish you would have understood I desire mercy, you know, which would have taken wisdom in order to take and spending time with the law to capture god, he’s

20:24
not saying here, I’ve got a new way to interpret it. Right, this is how you always should have been interpreting it.

20:29
Yeah, this is what it has always said. Which which, again, maybe highlights like you were kind of saying at the beginning that that is not the strict dichotomy of law versus grace, that the law had wrapped up in it. Grace, and, and, and even laws of grace and laws of reaching out and things like that, but it was often missed, was often missed by the Israelites, and then obviously missed by us. As they missed it, you know, we kind of missed the importance as well. And we can easily kind of translate that into our own experience of of law versus grace, or like legalism versus grace. And we’re missing that spirit versus letter.

21:13
So I guess I have a historical question, I guess. One thing that perhaps not unique in the annals of human history, but I don’t know many other examples of it was the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay, actually tried to legally Enshrine the first table of the Decalogue, not just the second, everybody sort of does the second in one way or another, but they didn’t first.

21:42
Okay. And, and those are the ones that could be summarized as loving God. Right.

21:46
Right. But it ended up being some some places that many of us would be really uncomfortable with right now with what ended up actually in the statute books because of that. And I think that that a fear some people have is that if one pays too much attention to that, that that would end up being a well, there’s no way out of a rampid, legalism, and then a sort of a society or politically enforced legalism, which, obviously, the Puritans thought was a really good thing. But yeah, yeah, most of us, most of us, not all of us, but most of us actually think was not quite the good thing they thought it was. And so how, how does a correct appreciation of an approach to the law mitigate against that kind of thing?

22:38
I think one comes back to what we’re just talking about the spirit of the law and viewing it as wisdom. And so it’s not such a rigid document that can that must always be carried out in certain ways. But that there’s flexibility within it, that it’s supposed to be a guide in most circumstances, and that it takes wisdom to know when and how to apply it to our lives.

22:59
Yeah. And one thing, I think, that I’ve really appreciated about, like, understanding the Gospels, and just really getting into Jesus and how he’s approaching, I feel like and it’s beginning to take more shape and my my mind and thoughts, the more I spend that time, but it seems like Jesus never uses the law to to control others or to exclude others. Like, it seemed like the first sometimes were like, Oh, they don’t follow this law, therefore, they are not. And and it seemed like, that’s where he came up for air and said, No, don’t use laws to exclude people from my kingdom. And, and, and perhaps maybe where, you know, the Puritans misstep was, was taking laws, or or is forcing them on forcing him on?

23:56
Because the law only makes sense in in the context of Covenant. Hmm, yeah. You know, yeah. And that’s really actually thought of themselves as the covenantal people. But yet, you know, since there is a legal state entity that right then suddenly, you have things like, you know, laws against I mean, Jesuits are Catholics, you got one chance, if you show up there, again, you would be executed those kinds of things. Now, whether they actually did that or not, so another thing, but the laws are on the books and right, we’re simply very serious people. And there’s something to be somebody admirable about that. But some of those sensibilities may may strike us right now as to legalising.

24:37
Well, even now, there are the optimists who think that all of the laws should except for the sacramental law should be applicable today. Even the civil laws, right, right. Right. Apparently, I mean, bacon. Nobody will want that would mean if you disrespect your parents, you should be stoned. Oh, goodness. Right. Right. If it was good enough for Israel, it’s good enough for you one left, so we no one left. So and I think maybe one thing that helps clarify this whole, you know what’s applicable to us now, it’s a little simplified, but I think it’s helpful as an entry point is that a lot of people will distinguish three different categories of law, right? So you have the sacrificial law, which all Christians will say Christ abrogated those those have been perfectly fulfilled in him through his sacrifice in his role as a priest. There’s the civil laws that some would say, still are binding, we should still be a Christian government. We’re still a theocracy. And then there are the moral laws, summarized in the 10 commandments that everyone would agree is still applicable. Some people disagree on the Sabbath. So it’s the theory animists. It’s the Puritans who would say, Oh, those civil laws, we should still be living by those, why aren’t we living by those anymore? Whereas other Christians would say, No, we aren’t a theocracy anymore. Things have changed in the New Covenant under Christ. We’re not accountable to those laws. But I think maybe a more helpful paradigm rather than those three categories, because our tendency is to just disregard anything that’s no more applicable to us is to look at each individual law and recognize that each law is fulfilled in Christ and then ask how is it fulfilled in Christ? And what that means now? And what does it mean for us now? Yeah, so for us, so the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16, obviously, it’s been fulfilled in Christ. Do we not study it anymore? No, we study it because when we study it, we recognize just what His Atonement means. It’s so multifaceted. It has to do with cleansing, it has to do with expiation, propitiation, substitute ransom, like all these categories are right there in the Old Testament shadow, the civil laws can we learn from them? Absolutely. My favorite example is in Leviticus 19, the gleaning laws were it was a law on the books that you do not harvest all your crops right up to the edge, you’ve got to leave that for the poor, for the widows for the sojourners right now, I am not a farmer. So I’m just going to disregard that law, right? Wrong. I can still learn from that, right, because that should shape the way I think about the poor and immigrants and sojourners and widows and so forth. It’s going to look different in the way I practice that generosity and so forth, but, and then the moral law to adultery, and all of its issues looks maybe different in my context, we have pornography to deal with, we have all sorts of other contemporary issues that that law can be applied to. So I think maybe that’s a more helpful way for Christians to appreciate the law and apply it to our lives under New Covenant.

27:31
Yeah, so it almost takes one instant, though. But that’s Yeah, that’s why I think that point was so good that it does take wisdom. And and so I guess, God, kind of my hearing I know, and I like this, instead of not reading the laws, instead of just being like, yep, doesn’t apply to us, you’re good to go. Rather, we should spend more of that time of, hey, let’s read these. And let’s examine these and let’s let’s in wisdom, ruminate on them and say, Yeah, why? Why would God be giving this? How is it fulfilled in Christ? And what does that mean now? And yeah, there’s so much to learn from those. That is much better approach than disregarding it. Or having some simple dichotomy that that was law versus grace, we’re under grace. So So let freedom ring,

28:26
it helps, it shapes us. It helps us appreciate to know what to do. But it all in it convicts us of our own sin and our inability to do it perfectly. But then it also makes us should make us more grateful for Jesus who perfectly obeyed the law too. That’s another element I forgot to throw in there. And one maybe on a moment and says, okay, you’re an Old Testament professor. Yeah, you can forget about ever.

28:51
As you as we kind of land the plane, I don’t want to throw another huge topic out here. But there is something that I think comes up when when we talk about the law that might be helpful just to say a few words on what do we do with I think you’ve called them the weird laws. I like to call them the funky, funky little James Brown kind of Mojo. Okay, I like that. Yeah, cuz there are some laws that we read, especially in the 21st century. Whether they maybe have to do with deal with slavery or deal with like, what to do with the the woman you’ve just captured from another country and how you treat them or like, Whoa, should I wear a COTTON BLEND now? Like what what do I do with that? What are just Yeah, what so yeah, we can maybe approach those that?

29:41
Yeah, so I’ll start with the funky laws because I think those are easier. So we’ve got like things like dietary laws, clothes, you don’t you’re not supposed to blend certain clothing together fabrics together. We know we’re tassels on your clothing, Deuteronomy 22. I think some of those laws were to set Israel apart from the nations around them to remind them on a day level. I mean, you eat everyday you eat clothes every day. So it’s a daily reminder kind of like wearing a cross or something right of who they are, that they’re different from these other nations Don’t act like those other nations. Yeah, there’s also really practical implications for some of these laws. So I was telling some of my students that I was gonna do this podcast, because I always feel so famous when I come on. Yeah. And I said, What do you all want to hear about the law? And they said, Oh, talk about that one lot. And it’s in a few places, Exodus 2334, Deuteronomy 44, that says, Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. Yeah. And that law just kind of sometimes dropped right into the text. And you’re like, what is that mean? And so it was asking someone wiser, the nice, Cynthia Schaffer Elliot about this. And she said, there’s a practical reason because the milk bacteria would soak into their porous pottery, and it would the fresh meat, it would spoil the meat. So there’s a very practical reason on cross stitch in a kitchen. That’s so charming. The Stove Company you with us there? Yeah. So sad to go on vacation. Yeah, there’s practical implications. A lot of the implications are to remind them that they are holy, that they are literally set apart. And it’s a daily reminder of that, and I could talk about that forever. Like the skin disease ones, too, because those ones always kind of jumped out to me as like, man. What? Well, I think some of that’s practical, too. Yeah, exactly. That’s contagious. A lot of that is contagious, or it would need to be anything like Shouldn’t you show them compassion? They

31:20
have a skin disease, but it’s like, Hey, you shouldn’t be in this. Yeah, cuz you

31:24
end the mold. You know, a lot of those are you gonna we can kind of figure out what that what that was for. Right? But then the uncomfortable laws, those questionable laws, slavery, what do you do with female captives, things like that. And I was just looking at my text, Exodus 21. Everybody reads Exodus 20. That’s the 10 commandments, then you get to Exodus 21. And it’s the law for Hebrew servants is what my nav says. But it’s also the same word for slaves. And when you’re talking about buying and selling servants, let’s just call it like it is right? Right. So this is the way I understand those uncomfortable laws. In the context of the ancient Near East, God revealed his law to his people in ways that they would understand in ways that wouldn’t be earth shattering. But in ways that would be a beacon of grace and light in that context. So I tell my students, that the law in some places, was not ideal. But it was perfect for that time and place. And we see this progressive infiltration of grace and God’s will and in the law, and then you know, you get to the Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus is really escalating that and he’s actually saying, yep, no more divorce. That was an accommodation for you, because we’re too weak. So I think some of these laws that are really uncomfortable for us are accommodations, but even if you compare the slave laws in Exodus 21, with slave laws of Hammurabi, code and other places, right, right, there’s a lot is a huge difference. Yeah. So I think that’s important to

32:48
know, that is really important. And that’s actually something that Rob Bell said in his book, more we talked about when we talk about God, he talks about that God is before us. And he kind of used some of those laws as an example that for us, those laws seem like steps back, right. But he said for them at that time, it was miles forward of where they were, it was calling them into a new place of like, Oh, hey, this, these are especially maybe the women captors, one, you can’t just do whatever you want. Or marry your rapist. Yeah. Like they were lausitz to us seem steps back. But at the time, there were steps forward. Yeah. And yeah, and we’re a form of accommodation for that time. That which again, highlights that as we approach law, it has to be approached with wisdom, and has to be approached with not just reading the letter of the law, but understanding the spirit behind and what guys doing with the Israelites and what

33:52
and doing the hard work of looking at the historical context. So we could see what these other laws were. Right.

33:58
Yeah, right. Yeah. Cuz when you compare them to the other engineering culture,

34:03
I was just looking at some I’m studying Ancient Near Eastern families right now. And I was looking at some primary documents about different pagan pantheons. And their stories of Gods and Goddesses killing each other. Right? There are stories of Gods and Goddesses raping each other. Right? Talk about rape culture that is normalized by the very Godhead. Yeah. I mean, how radically different was Yahweh? So I mean, this law that he’s giving to them, even though it’s uncomfortable by our standards, and by New Testament standards, it’s it’s radically gracious in the context.

34:36
Yeah. Well, this has been such a helpful conversation. And I know that we could just keep going, so maybe we’ll have to have you back on the show. Sometime. I would love to be a BFF again, there we go. Yeah, you we will. By the end, you do actually get something the fourth time we will have something I want a T shirt t shirts will happen is gonna happen. But thank you so much for coming on the show again. Thank you. And that is that is so helpful because it is, it is a way that we that we misread the law. And that affects how we read or don’t read the Old Testament. And it affects how we read the New Testament affects how we read Jesus. And then especially how we read play,

35:17
it just calls us to engagement, which we’re supposed to be doing anyway. Right. So it’s how do we live as good Christians? That includes the law? Yeah, right application of it.

35:25
Okay, let’s see if our listeners want to learn maybe a little more about this. And because this conversation has been so helpful, they want to dive deeper. Do you have some resources that will kind of help them get into this question of law and how it applies now?

35:39
I certainly do. Alright, so one resource is by Carmen Joy eims. She teaches at Prairie college, it’s the book called bearing God’s name. Why Sinai still matters. Okay. It was just published last year by IVP. foreword by Christopher Wright. It’s awesome. Wonderful. Sandra Richter wrote something about 10 years ago called The Epic of Eden, a Christian entry in the Old Testament. Very good. And it gets into she’s a specialist in why the Old Testament and how the law specifically applies to Christians. So that’s in there. And then an older resource, but I think this whole series of resources is very helpful is five views on law and gospel. It’s part of zonder vins counterpoint series. Yeah. Talking about that with the students today. Not that particular volume, but the whole series, right, the whole series. Yeah, the format is great. They have five different scholars who give their view on the law and how it relates to the gospel and to Christians. And then what’s great, they respond, they respond to each other. So it’s kind of like you’re privy to this debate, this dialogue, and it helps me get my head around the issues in a more nuanced way. So that’s where I would start.

36:37
That’s perfect. Those are great resources. Thanks for bringing those. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for listening to Jessup. Think Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Jessup think we would love to hear your thoughts on the episode and engage with any questions you have. Our aim is to provide a framework for further reflection and deeper exploration of these important topics. You can also help the show by leaving a review on iTunes these reviews help the podcast reach new listeners. Until next time, I’m Mark Moore and this is Jessup.

37:08
If you’re interested in learning more about Jessup, please visit us at jessup.edu. William Jessup is the premier fully accredited four year Christian University in the Sacramento area offering over 60 academic programs in undergraduate and graduate studies designed to see every student equipped and transformed into the leader they are called to be as you go, don’t forget to hit subscribe and share so you never miss an episode. Thanks for joining us for Jessup think.

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