One of the more common questions I receive relates to the ceremonial commands in the Mosaic Law. People will ask, “Why did Israel have all those weird rules in the Old Testament?”
The simple answer is so Israel could be a holy people. Now the longer answer…
The Mosaic Law contains 613 commands divided into two categories:
The moral – or “common sense” – commands. You shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. These commands are based on God’s holy nature. God doesn’t change, so these commands are unchanging as well and carried into the New Testament. They are part of the Law of Christ and are still binding for Christians today.
The ceremonial commands are not obvious or common sense:
Killing a perfectly good animal for a sacrifice. All the sacrifices and offerings are ceremonial commands.
The feasts and festivals.
Abstaining from certain foods, such as pork and rabbit.
Farming a certain way.
Wearing – or not wearing –clothes a certain way, including not mixing certain fabrics together.
The purpose of the ceremonial commands causes the most confusion. Nobody wonders why God told Israel not to murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. But people wonder why Israel wasn’t supposed to eat certain foods or combine certain fabrics.
The ceremonial commands deal with holiness, not morality.
Miracle is one of my favorite movies, depicting the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team winning the gold medal by defeating the Soviet Union in one of the greatest upsets in history. The head coach, Herb Brooks, is very familiar with the players through coaching, scouting, and watching film. So he’s able to choose his team very quickly. The assistant coach, Craig Patrick, comes to talk to Herb on the first day of tryouts:
Herb: Take a look at this.
Craig: What’s this?
Herb: Twenty-six names. The tough part will be getting it down to twenty before the opening ceremonies.
Through a recent situation our family learned a valuable lesson. We think we want things until we get them. Well, a situation helped us learn this, but more importantly it was some examples in God’s Word.
Nothing against families with pets, but we’ve always sort of felt like animals belong outside. Houses are for people. With the exception of babies, houses aren’t for living things that can’t talk and don’t know where to go to the bathroom. Our kids have asked for pets before and you can probably guess how we responded.
Something happened this past week though: someone offered us a turtle. I might be wrong, but it seemed like there was some discussion about us having a turtle going on BEHIND MY BACK before this offer was made. So when someone said, “Hey, we have a turtle with all the supplies you need to care for it and we’d be happy to give it to you” some people (my wife, Katie) thought this was God’s way of blessing us. But others (me) thought this was not the case, so we had a family Bible study. Through our time together we could see that many times we think we want things until we get them.
Examples from Scripture showing we want things until we get them…