The Purpose Of The Law And Prophets.

The Purpose Of The Law And Prophets.

Basically, the law is the commandments which was given to human beings by God through the prophet Moses.

And in this sermon, we are going to look at the reason why God gave us the law and the prophets.

The purpose of the law and prophets.

The purpose of the law and prophets was to enable human beings chose what was good over what was evil. In essence, the law helps human beings to have the knowledge of good and evil while the prophets taught them how to choose the good over evil.

After God had created every other thing in the world, He began to look for special specie that will resemble Him, so He can confidently put everything that He had created under his care, and He found the first of its kind in a man named Adam, whom He placed in the garden where whatever he needed was available, and fearing he would be alone, He added a companion for him whom they will both join to reproduce multitude of their kind.

Next, God had to see if this man He made in His image and likeness would be capable of fulfilling His intention i.e. taking care of other things He created, and so came the test! He left something in man’s possession and told him not to touch it:

And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

But Adam and his wife proved themselves unworthy of taking care of God’s creatures when they allowed their selves to be deceived by the serpent to go against God’s command.

What pained God the most was the fact that they knew that He was the one that created them but allowed their selves to be misled by a mere serpent.

So God had no choice, the punishment for the offence ‘death’ was already established; so He passed the judgment and afterwards pursued them from the position He gave them, since He now has proven that they were not capable of achieving the goal He wanted them to.

However, God did not forsake human beings totally, since one of Adam’s son ‘Abel’ proved to God that He could still find confidence in man, when he willingly offered the best sheep he had to God, but still man again showed his darker side when his own brother – Cain – killed this righteous man.

But man was still to prove to God that some of them can and will be able to achieve the purpose He wanted from them – people like Enoch, Noah to father Abraham – pleased God through their obedience and thus He established a covenant with Abraham to give him a descendant as many as the sands and stars.

Now God fully understanding human nature, still had to follow the same old method of test called – the law – to spot out and select those who will walk in the steps of Abraham – the father of their generation; so that He can finally gather and return them back to the garden knowing that these are the people that will be able to take care of whatever He will leave in their possession.

So finally at Mount Sinai he gave the law to his chosen people – the Israelites. (Exodus 20 to 31).

But after the Israelites received the law, majority of them still proved themselves unworthy by disobeying and breaking the laws, and God perceiving that humans cannot remember something at all times, brought the prophets around to act as His spokesman or mouthpiece.

Now the duty of the prophets was to constantly remind the people of God’s law, so that in that way they will not say that they always forget.

So as we can see, the importance of the law is to help God select an obedient people, and finally gather them up to make a righteous nation in a kingdom that will never end. And the importance of the prophets was to remind the people of the need to obey the law in order to qualify for that eternal position.

But even with the prophets around the people couldn’t still keep the law.

What does Paul say about the law?

Paul, who was one of the new age prophets, came into the scene and his preaching always centered on the law, and from every indication, it shows that he was always against the law, because he even went to the extent of advising people not to obey the law anymore.

Below are the things Paul said about the law:

  1. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
  2. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound; (Romans 5:20)
  3. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith”. (Galatians 3:10-11)
  4. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
  5. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For this are the two covenants: the one from mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage which is Hagar – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “rejoice O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the scripture say? “cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. (Galatians 4:21-31)

Now if we are to interpret the last scripture precisely: the bondwoman and her son we must cast out is the law, and the freewoman and her son is grace.

This means that, as believers we should not obey all the law that God gave to the Israelites, because Jesus had through His death delivered us from the clutches of that law and saved us by grace which is also called a free gift.

Therefore we are now free to do whatever we like i.e. disobey the law because grace have abounded.

He even went as far as telling us that Jesus had abolished the law.

Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2:15)

This teaching of Paul in every way goes contrary to the teachings of Jesus:

“Do not think that I come to destroy the law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 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. ‘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. (Mathew 5:17-19)

Now here is Paul, who calls himself the servant of Christ about to lose the kingdom because he is teaching people not to observe the law again.

But going back to the scriptures, we see Paul trying to save himself (probably because he remembered that his teaching is trying to oppose that of his master) by telling people to obey the law:

What, then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law but under grace?  Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:15-16)

And so we ask: is obedience not the act of keeping the law which he had earlier told us not to keep?

Paul! Oh Paul! Why are you tossing us about?

Why can’t you for once say one thing and stick to it, rather than say it here and oppose it there?

Now because of this confusion on the issue of keeping the law, we see Paul during his lifetime; facing a death sentence for having the guts to tell the Jews not to obey the law again, and so when he got to Jerusalem, the elders had to advise him.

“But they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. (Acts 21:21).

From this passage we can now vividly understand how the Jews were observing the law, and the very reason Paul kicked against it.

Their manner of keeping the law was limited to circumcisions and observing customs/festivals. Even as he noted among the believers in Galatia:

You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Galatians 4:10-11)

And also among the Colossians:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. (Colossians 2:16)

And so in observing traditions and customs they failed to observe the main thing that the law wants; as Jesus clearly noted:

‘Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Mathew 23:23)

And even with these attitudes they still considered themselves righteous as we see in the example Jesus showed below.

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others; “two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. ‘the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to the heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)

Therefore, as Jesus Himself observed, everything about the Jewish law centered on humanity:

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

“You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. (John 8:15)

But in Christendom, since God will be the judge of mankind, we are therefore not expected to judge or regard anyone or thing by human standards.

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16)

Why Paul was against the law.

Aside from the Jews being unable to observe the weightier part of the law, the three most important point to note about why Paul was against the law is that

  1. The Jewish law had no forgiveness for an offender, because, once anyone is caught breaking it and two to three witnesses shows up to confirm him guilty, the person is immediately condemned to face whatever consequence is attached to the law he breaks as Paul wrote in his epistle to the Hebrews. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Hebrews 10:28)
  2. There was so much injustice and partiality in the Jewish Law, as people were wrongly judged on the turn up of false witnesses, as they even did to our Master: And the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. And some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘we heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’” But not even did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “do you answer nothing? What is these men testify against you?” but He kept silence and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed?” and Jesus said I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “what further need do we have of witnesses? “you have heard the blasphemy! What do you think? And they all condemned Him to be worthy of death. (Mark 14:55-65). While culprits were also released on the request of the people at every Passover Festival as was the custom in Judaism: Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barrabas, who was chained with his fellow insurrectionists; they had committed murder in the insurrection. Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. But Pilate answered them, saying, “do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” for he knew the chief priest had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priest stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barrabas to them. And Pilate answered and said to them, “why, what evil has He done?” and they cried out more exceedingly, crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barrabas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. (Mark 15:6-15). 
  3. Human beings, who themselves were imperfect i.e. guilty of one sin or the other, were the ones who bared witness and judged a fellow human being. A perfect example is the story recorded in John 8:3-11 where the Pharisees brought a woman guilty of adultery to Jesus and tried to use the Law of Moses to condemn her. But Jesus told them that whoever among them knows that he or she has not sinned should pick a stone and throw at the woman, but they all dropped their stones and leave one by one. And from that story we can all bear witness to the fact that each and every one of them, who tried to kill someone else for a sin they caught her committing, were themselves guilty of one sin or the other. That was why they were always offering endless sacrifices year after year hoping it will help them make peace with God which of course did not until Jesus came and made the final atonement, an because of that an old law was to pass away in order for a new one to be established as it is written: For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifice there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body you have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘behold, I have come-in the volume of book it is written of Me-to do your will O God. Previously saying, “sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin you did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law). Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)