Some days I’m minding my own business reading the Old Testament and “BAM” I run into a command like. “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” – Leviticus 19:19
Am I really supposed to obey this command?
The answer is “No.”
But you may be thinking, “I thought God doesn’t change and HIs Word is eternal.” That is true, but God has given two different kinds of Laws in the Old Testament; Moral and Ceremonial laws.
– Moral laws were commands that were given as a reflection of God’s character (i.e. “thou shalt not lie” exists because it is a reflection of God’s truthful character). Moral laws are always repeated in the New Testament and will never change (i.e. there will never be a time when it will honor God for us to lie).
– Ceremonial laws were commands given in the OT as images that would to point toward the coming Messiah. These laws were fulfilled with Christ’s coming.
Jesus said specifically that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it:
17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter of stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
On the other hand we do not need to keep the ceremonial laws that are just “shadows” of the reality that would come in Christ.
16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
Keeping the Sabbath (the 4th of The Ten Commandments) is unique in that it is both moral and ceremonial. The ceremonial part of the Sabbath has been fulfilled by Christ and we have no need to follow. However, all of The Ten Commandments are moral and a reflection of God’s character, and so the example of God in creation to disconnect for 24 hours each week from our primary vocation is a part of the moral law.
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
So here’s a quick pop quiz:
Which of the below are ceremonial and which are moral laws? Please do not let your eyes stray to the answer key below the double line and violate the commandment “Thou shalt not cheat” (which I believe is the third cousin of the “Thou shalt not lie” commandment).
a. Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards. (Lev. 19:27)
b. Do not mark your skin with tattoos (Lev. 19:28)
c. Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute (Lev. 19:29)
d. Keep my Sabbath days of rest (Lev. 19:30)
a. ceremonial law
b. ceremonial law
c. moral law
d. ceremonial & moral law
If the law is the moral… it’s for you!
If the law is ceremonial… you’re off the hook.