LOVE AND OBEY
I have been thinking about The Law (first five books of the Old Testament) and the Prophets (minor and major) lately. I have asked myself and asked The Lord - are they relevant today? The Holy Spirit answers, "Yes." I respond, How Lord?
What the Lord showed or reminded me is "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18)
This accomplishment has been realized. The Perfect Life, also known as The Law is satisfied and accomplished at The Cross when Jesus said, "It is Finished." The Word of God in flesh, Christ Jesus, has appeared to us, lived a perfect life and substituted Himself for us on The Cross. All the punishment and wrath that we deserved from The Law for not being able to live a perfect life was placed upon and paid for by Jesus.
The Lord showed me that each rule and regulation is not only a foreshadow of Christ - the only person who could fulfill every part of The Law - but every attempt at obeying The Law was and is a love expression to God. Father God gave His perfect love gift, Christ Jesus, to humanity for the redemption of our souls. In that gift, Father God also fulfilled all The Law was pointing towards and ever tried to teach - love for everyone. He confirms this for us today through Paul when Paul wrote the believers in Rome and Galatia. In Romans 13:8 it says, "...for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." Then in Galatians 5:14 it states, "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
It is hard to think of all the minutia of God's Law as being a love expression. There were bloody sacrificial requirements. Cleanliness requirements were demanded. Disease control rules were set down. And the list goes on and on. Then you have 1 Samuel 15:22 that says, "But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.'" A kind of confusing verse. If it was me hearing this from Samuel, I would have responded - "Well, was it not God's voice that called us to obey in following His commands about sacrifice?"
I personally believe that this verse was God working with His people to start them looking toward a future time when One Sacrifice, His Son, would take care of all sacrifices, so obedience and submission would be better. The key phrase is "more pleasing". What does Samuel equate "more pleasing" with? Obedience and submission. Not that the rest of The Law was negated, just what is your focus. If you have more of obedience and submission to God in every area of your life then everything else will fall into place. Jesus said later when He visited - "If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)
Well, is The Law still good? By all means. Paul devotes an entire chapter to this viewpoint in Romans 7. The mindset that was encouraged in 1 Samuel 15:22 is finally, fully realized in the life and death of Christ. The concern for the whole Law being performed by us can be put to rest because of Jesus. That blessing is followed by another - that certain laws are still excellent to show our love by obeying them (i.e. following the The Ten Commandments). So, for those of us trying to live a perfect life for the Lord, always attempting to dot the i's and cross the t's - Jesus did that for us. Is that not liberating? People will know us by our love one for another. Father God will know us by our love through obedience, submission and worship. Now, as the song goes we must Love And Obey.