Living by Laws or Principles? — Life Lessons from Leviticus

When studying the Old Testament, many say, “The law does not apply to us anymore; I don’t need to do that,” and then they tend to disregard studying the many laws in the Old Testament. Granted the ceremonial laws do not apply anymore; for example, we no longer have a tabernacle or animal sacrifices, so the Old Testament ceremonial laws for the most part can no longer be complied with or applied.

The other laws in the Old Testament are moral laws. Jesus taught that these moral laws are summed up as love for God and others, and He expected His followers to love God and others. In the Law of Love, Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments and He demonstrated how to live according to the Ten Commandments. The moral laws, the Law of Love, will never be abolished and therefore we do not disregard them; or if we do, we will suffer some consequences. God may not punish us directly, but there are consequences built-in to our bodies, minds, and souls as God created us; thus, when we break a moral law we will suffer directly or indirectly, and others may suffer directly from our actions. God gave the Law of Love for the benefit of everyone; therefore, God expects us to obey it.

When studying the ceremonial laws; such as those in Leviticus 23, we can look for principles for living. For example, “the offering of firstfruits” — can lead us to follow the principle of thanking God for every material blessing He gives us before we use it — you can probably draw other principles from “the offering of firstfruits.” This is a holy principle for living that will enrich our lives and make God happy.

Or, we cannot and do not need to “sacrifice a lamb without defect” but that old law can lead us to follow the principle of giving God the best of our time, talent, and treasure; rather than giving to the work of the Lord whatever is leftover or not needed or lacks value to us. It can lead us to follow the principle of giving to God and others what costs us something which can bring them and us true happiness.

Or, “proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work” could lead us to follow the principle of taking some vacation time from work to gather with other believers for mental, physical, and spiritual refreshment and reflection.

Or, finally, “leave gleanings for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you” could lead us to follow the principle of giving gifts and doing works of charity for the needy among us or in other parts of the world. In so doing, we love our neighbors as ourselves.

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