"Her priests do violence to My Law and profane My holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of My Sabbaths, so that I (God) am profaned among them." Ezekiel 22:26 NIVSo, awhile back, I was having a little debate with a blog commenter by the name of David. We ended up touching on God's Law, but never really resolved it the matter.
I encouraged him for more study on the matter, because I had a sense that his perspective may be incomplete or inaccurate. He was kindly putting forth a viewpoint which I had heard many times before; the mantra of the Pauline view of the Law.
I hadn't studied Paul's writings in any real detail myself yet, so I reckoned that I should do just that. I studied Romans, which David was pointing to in defense of his position.
I also got some time to review what I had learned about the Law from the Old Testament (OT), and put that together in a post on the Law on my other blog. In summary of that post:
"God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites for eternity, but they can only stay there, and kings can only rule there, while they obey the entirety of God's Law. God established the Law forever, perfect, and unchanging, just like Him. It is possible to obey the Law, and obedience does not need to be perfect in order to please God as long as you are truly repentant for your sins. Such obedience will be rewarded with long life and abundant prosperity, which will in turn lead others around you to seek God."The funny thing is that after reading Romans and reviewing the OT, you start to realize by just how Paul's theology misses the mark. If you read the words for what they are and what they mean, you wonder just how Paul could have been successful with this rift from Scripture, but you stop wondering why the majority of Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. And that circles back to the comments which David had made. David had said:
"Your issue is solely with Mosaic Law and the implication of Mosaic Law as it relates to God's character. Is Mosaic Law a valid representation of God's character? I think you have demonstrated it is not. I maintain it was not intended for that purpose (please re-read my comments)."David concedes that God's Law in the Old Testament is not exactly morally perfect. You can see I have proved that point well enough to him, but David gives God a pass because it was not the intent of the Law to show God's character. However, that is more allowance than God permits Himself. God made the Law to be followed eternally, completely, and "as is" without any changes. If the temporary work of my mortal hands demonstrates my character, surely such a permanent creation by God demonstrates His character, just like the charge Paul makes in Romans 1 that all creation has revealed God.
Elsewhere, David asks some interesting questions from the Pauline perspective:
"The problem is you are trying to convict God based on the Law. If God exists, was He righteous before the law? Did the ideas of good and evil exist before the law? How did we understand the difference before the Law? What is its purpose?"Was God righteous before the Law was given? Events like the flood massacre (Genesis 5-10) and the worldwide famine (Genesis 41-47) make the case that God will make the innocent suffer along with the guilty, which certainly suggests that, no, God was not righteous before the Law. (But I guess that depends on your definition of righteous.)
Did the ideas of good and evil exist before the Law? Absolutely. Try searching for "sin" on Bible Gateway and you will find multiple Genesis entries (a.k.a. before the Law) on the matter. A great example is Genesis 39:9.
How did we understand the difference before the Law? Contrary to Paul's logic in Romans, people seemed to understand the difference without the Law, as noted above.
What is [the Law's] purpose? Why not go with the explicit purpose given in Deuteronomy 6:20-25?
The bottom line is that you can't take the words at face value and have everything be reconciled between Paul and God (OT). So believers must twist the definitions of the words to fit the square peg into a round whole.
Forever, eternal, and unchanging don't really mean forever, eternal, and unchanging, because the Law was just a shadow of what was to come or what was to be fulfilled (not obeying the Law) through Jesus. Sure. If believing that makes you feel better, go with it.