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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Some Further Observations About the Law

In my last post, I pointed out the differences between prohibitions and principles. However, although a majority of the commandments listed in the Torah or Law could be classified as prohibitions (as in 8 of the big 10), Dr. Maurice Mizrahi observed that there are Three Types of Commandments back in 2019. According to him, "There are three types of injunctions in the Torah: 1. You must not do this, 2. You may do this, within limits," and "3. You must do this." In other words, there are prohibitions, allowances, and requirements.

In terms of the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were prohibited from: having any other gods before the Almighty, making any graven images or worshipping them, taking God's name in vain, murdering, being unfaithful, stealing, bearing false witness, or coveting. In addition to these prohibitions, they were also required to "remember the Sabbath day" by keeping it holy and honor their parents. Interestingly, however, even the Sabbath command included a prohibition against working on that day!

Even so, Dr. Mizrahi went on to point out a number of regulations surrounding practices that were ALLOWED by the Law (a distinct category apart from those prohibitions and requirements already mentioned) which many of us rarely even think about these days. In this category, we would place things like slavery, polygamy, Nazarite vows, and divorce. Once again, think of this category as activities that the Israelites were permitted to engage in (with some restrictions).

Now, although understanding these distinctions between the different kinds of commandments in the Torah is important, it is arguably even more important to underscore what all of them had in common. All three types of commandments were focused on regulating the activities of the Israelites (those that were required, allowed, and prohibited).

In terms of the New Covenant/Testament, we know that Jesus Christ fulfilled all of the various kinds of commandments and distilled the entire Torah into two great principles (Love for God and love for each other). Indeed, Christ went on to command his own followers to love each other, and he told them that this requirement would identify them as his disciples. Going forward, there wouldn't be any elaborate codes delineating what was or wasn't considered an acceptable activity.

Under the terms of the New Covenant, there wouldn't be any prohibitions or allowances - ONLY the requirement to LOVE (because this would effectively satisfy all of the dos and don'ts of the Torah. In other words, this principle of love would govern the attitudes and behaviors of Christ's followers. Moreover, Christians wouldn't be loving each other to receive forgiveness and salvation - They would be doing so to demonstrate that they had accepted Christ's work on their behalf (and to demonstrate their love and appreciation for God). In other words, Christ was more concerned with what was going on in the hearts/minds of his disciples than in their physical activities.

The Torah is a written code that provided a very physical framework for the Israelites who were expected to conform to its provisions. Christ's Law of Love, on the other hand, was meant to change the motivation and outlook of his followers going forward. He had paid the penalty for their sins, and their lives would be expected to reflect the new and righteous person which HIS work had created!

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