Psalm 19:8b (CSB) [...] the command of the LORD is radiant, making the eyes light up.
To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.
Let us talk Eschatology--the study of the End Times. You might be asking, "What does sundry judicial laws have anything to do with the end times?" Let me get to that in a moment.
Within the church today, and I think it is most prominent within all of Protestantism, is the Christian's view of the End Times--what Christ said will happen. From that, there are typically three schools of thought:
- Dispensationalism - This is a view that I call, "default" view of most Evangelical Christians. The underlying belief that God works with mankind in various graces and ages. They believe that Christ will come to take up his church before a Great Tribulation and then return to reign for a thousand years. So in a sense, Christ is coming twice.
- Historic Premillennialism - This is the view that Christ will return before the millennium.
- Post-millennialism - This is the view that Christ will return after the millennium.
- Amillennialism - This is the view that Christ will return after the millennium, but the millennium is not a literal thousand years.
With the exception of Amillennialism, the other three views are based on the belief and understanding that we should do whatever we can to becoming a Theonomist society--that is that earthy societies should be governed by divine law of the Almighty God. Some end time views take this to the extreme and state that the Old Testament laws should be the laws of the land and one day, we will return to the laws of the Old Testament--sacrifices and all.
Now, please forgive me because I speak in generalities. It is only recently that I have begun to unravel and step away from default Evangelical views of the end times which is primarily Dispensationalism / Historical Premillennialism. And I have stepped into the Amillennial belief which is simply stated: there is no rapture, we are in the end times now and Christ has been ruling and reigning since his ascension. I am not an expert in this area, but I am learning.
I say all of that to say this: the Confession is clear that the judicial laws of the Old Testament are no longer binding. They expired with the state of that people. However, their general equity is of moral use. The Confession is referring to the moral principles behind the laws. The moral principles are still binding. The laws themselves are not.
One of the best examples of God's sundry judicial laws is the straight-forward God's forbidding tattoos upon one's body.
Leviticus 19:28 (CSB) You are not to make gashes on your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves; I am the LORD.
I wanted to use this example because it is quite personal to me--I have tattoos. And before you can think that I had them before I was saved. No. All of my tattoos came after I was saved.
So was I in defiance against a holy God and have zero regard for his holy law. Well, that depends on how you read the Bible. If you read the Bible in such a way that every phrase within the Bible stands completely on its own and the rest of the Bible is not needed for context or understanding of what is in the Bible, then you would have to say, "Indeed, you, Joseph, willfully sinned against the holy God." And then, I would speculate you would then question my salvation.
But that is not how the church historically has read, taught, understood, and preached from the Scriptures. In the right context, we are not to be like the world around us that practices witchcraft and mark our bodies for the dead as to possess their conscience and soul.
Leviticus 19:26-28 (CSB) “You are not to eat anything with blood in it. You are not to practice divination or witchcraft. You are not to cut off the hair at the sides of your head or mar the edge of your beard. You are not to make gashes on your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves; I am the LORD.
I say that generally speaking we have not read it but you and I know that many in the church and in the world read the Bible as a series of one-liners. Throughout the history of the people of God, since Adam and Eve, people have the proclivity to read the Bible in as a series of unrelated phrases as though it is one long 11,000 task list of to-dos.
But the Bible is not a master Reminder app. Not a long shot. There are command and laws of God in the Bible but there are backgrounds and reasons why for those laws. They are not built on anything other than the holiness and love of God.
And I want to us to examine our hearts in this moment. If you see the Bible with its 11,000+ to-dos as something you can obtain if you just worked hard enough, then you are in desperate need of the gospel of Christ.
Christ has fulfilled the law for us. It is never "do this and live" but it is "believe the Christ and live!"
1 Corinthians 9:8–10 (CSB) Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain. Is God really concerned about oxen? Isn’t he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing the crop.
The Apostle Paul is clearly saying that the law of Moses is very relevant to us in the church today. That the Old Testament, fully Scripture, perfectly inspired and breathed out by the Holy Spirit from the mouth of God, still applies to us today--just not in the way that some theonomists apply it.
We have these various, different, sundry judacial laws that were used to govern the nation-state of Israel once upon ago. God was their Ruler--King, Prophet, and Priest. He was their God. He was their everything.
Deuteronomy 7:6–8 (CSB) For you are a holy people belonging to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth. “The LORD was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors, he brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you
God was in directly charge of them. He was their Law, King and Judge. He did not pick them because they were the biggest nor the best nor the strongest. They were picked, starting with Abraham, because they were littlest, weakest, tiniest, and the least. They were picked because God loved them. He was devoted to them. He was their God.
We can always speak of the rebellion of Israel. That God would send judges, priests, kings, and prophets to call them back to him. And they rebel and be cast out. And then God will bring them all home.
Do this. When you have an extended weekend of vacation or time for yourself, do yourself a favor and start reading at Isaiah. Just start and keep reading. No word studies, no looking up the Hebrew or Aramaic. Just read. What you do get a sense from the Prophets? God, over and over again, turns and calls out the sins of his people and the sins of the people around him but over and over again, he says, "I will make things right" just like he did in Genesis 3:15. I will make things right."
Why did God have to do it completely himself? Because we were born into sin and we keep sinning over and over again. And when it looks like we are obeying him, God sees the heart and he knows that we are simply going through the motions. In other words, we have failed to love him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Moreso than that, in that love for God, we have certainly not loved each other as we should.
Turn the page. Dive into the Lamentations. Listen to the cry of Jeremiah.
Turn the page. Look upon the chaos that Ezekiel saw, and the preaching of the law from chapters 12 to 35 but bookended by the sweetness of the gospel in chapters 11 and 36.
Keep turning the page. Feel the weight of our sin. When everything has fallen apart and we cry out, "WHO WILL SAVE ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH."
Then turn the page. Look at the blank pages in your Bible. Remember the 400 years of silence--a people of God not hearing from God.
Turn the page. Answer the questions.
What is the new covenant?
Who is going to sprinkle us clean?
Who is going to remove us from these back-breaking false sherherds?
Who is going to give us a new heart?
Who is going to give us a new spirit?
Who is going to finally, not just merely help or assist us in obeying God but rather somoeone needs to obey him perfectly for us because I can't do it! I can't. God demands perfection and I have failed every second of my existence.
Turn the page. God demands holiness and yet I am filled with sin and depravity! I am captured to sin. I am dead in my own sin.
Turn the page. Who is going to save me from this body of death?
Turn the page. See the answer to all of the Old Testament. To all the covenants and the promises of God. The culmination of all the Priests, Kings, and Prophets. To all the sacrifices and the feasts. To complete and finish all the commandments, the laws--both morally, ceremonally, and sundry judicially--laws.
Turn the page and believe the good news!
Matthew 1:1 (CSB) An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
This is the book of genealogy--the laws, the sacrifices, the family bloodline, the prophecies--all of the Old Testaments falls and is finally completed in God's only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ our only, only Savior!
Turn the page. We shall call his name Jesus for he has saved us From our sins!
Matthew 5:17-20 (CSB) “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we get to break the laws of God. But you miss the point if you think we are to fulfill the judicial laws of God for a people group that was not for us. The point is that Christ has fulfilled the law for us.
And since Christ is ruling and reigning over every nation and he has placed us in the times and boundaries of our dwelling (Acts 17:26), we are to obey the laws of the land so much as they do not violate the holiness of God and of our own conscience.
I speak for the United States because I am an American. Our land would not be better off, more holy, more righteous if we were ruled by divine law. "But if we were under divine laws, we would be a land pleasing onto the Lord." Would we? Or would we just have a land of people going through the motions of obeying God, rebelling against God, and then God exiling us into the hands of our enemies? It is as though I have heard that story before?
When it has dependent on us to obey God, we can for a little while and fall again. But what God does, he does completely, perfectly, definitely and forever--he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the law for us.
And all of the laws of the land will never soften the hearts of the people towards God. Because Christ has completed, the Father has given us his own heart, the Holy Spirit, to regenerate us, to renew our minds and give us life so that we will live to him.
Not outside in. But inside out. That was God's plan all along.