Hello folks, I was in the shower the other day, and a thought struck me. I haven’t thought long and hard on this at all, so its a young thought that would invite your input if you have a minute. In a nut shell, I was thinking about the relationship between Religion and State (See my earlier post on Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the Medieval World and you might understand why that was on my mind), particularly thinking about the Old Testament Theocratic ordinances for Israel and their use for today. I know a ton has been written on this, and I’ve only read a couple books on OT Ethics, though I’ve read a good deal on the use of the law for the believer, but most of those books just throw the civic laws in the bucket of “fulfilled by Christ laws” and move on.
I don’t know if someone has already suggested what I’ve started thinking, but it seems to make initial sense to me. Let me know what you think.
It seems that instead of some laws becoming null and void due to the fulfillment of Christ in the past, that they actual are to be fulfilled in the future by Christ. It seems that most folks are saying that the Civic laws are no longer active because Israel is no longer the people of God and the Church isn’t a Theocracy, but a people throughout all the nations, therefore there is no place for the laws to be active and fulfilled…besides, Jesus brought the Kingdom of God, and the laws of the Kingdom of God cancel the Laws of the OT Theocracy. I’m sure this is a little simplistic summary of a complex argument. Sorry, but it’s all I got right now.
After reflection, I think it makes more sense to say that the Civic laws are enforced…only retroactively. For instance, in the OT, a homosexual would have been put to death should they have been found guilty of practicing that lifestyle; however, who now enforces the civic laws of God on the earth? It would seem – no one. But the Bible is clear that at His second coming, Jesus will judge men and women according to their deeds, and homosexuality is one offense listed through OT and NT as being under the judgment of God, so we can safely say that there is no room in the Kingdom for one who practices such things.
We know that God has postponed His immediate judgment against sin, otherwise the world would be empty of living for who could stand before God is He chose to judge us as we deserve? Another related point, in my mind is the idea of circumcision. It was practiced in the OT, but even throughout the OT, we find that it should have pointed to a interior reality. If you are to be God’s people, you need a circumcised heart. The foreskin was merely a place holder for the time that God would grant the New Covenant, circumcising the hearts of His people.
It may seem flimsy at the moment, but I want to argue, tentatively, that in the OT, OUTWARD action was God’s modus operandi. Outward action that should/would point to an ultimate INWARD reality. So, the Israelites circumcised their foreskins, an outward act, looking forward to the inward fulfillment, and homosexuals were put to death right then, in a physical judgment that pointed to the spiritual judgment to come.
But the NT reality is not the same…au contraire, God declares the INWARD reality in the present, right now. We now have circumcised hearts already! This inward NOW-reality points to the day when God will give us full new bodies and declare outright that we are free from outward judgment. Similarly, the NT declares that those who are living in sin are already under the non-outward judgment of God. The wrath of God is already being revealed, inwardly, against these men and women, while the actual sentencing and outward punishment awaits for the moment. One could argue that there is still outward manifestations of judgment as I guess you could argue that those who are being saved have some outward manifestations of their status as well, however, the throne room declaration of non-guilty and entering into the presence of God as a redeemed child and the throne room declaration of guilty and eternal judgment are things that will be very much manifested in the future. Another example of this is Church discipline where the Church declares about a person spiritual what will later be confirmed by God outwarding. What they loose has been loosed and what they bind has already been bound! They are voicing a spiritual reality that has been declared by God and about which, He will eventual take action.
So, since Jesus, there has been a reversal from the OT pattern of immediate outward action pointing to or confirming ultimate and eventual spiritual action (and eventual the final physical action at the second coming) to the NT pattern of immediate and ultimate spiritual action to be later confirmed by God’s physical action. Now, the question is why this seems to be the case? My first thought is that it has to do with God’s hidden mystery of the ages that the gentiles would become the children of God. God preferred this take place not through the growing of a single government and people who would incorporate conquered foes, but through men and women who would be conquered by Christ and put his sufferings on display to the world, preaching and illustrating the Cross through word and deed. I’m sure much more could be said regarding Jesus in all this, because He has constituted a whole new reality! It revolves around his work, I just haven’t parsed all that out yet.
But, first check my thinking here. Thanks.