Hebrew Roots/The Law and the Covenants/Purpose
DEFINING THE LAW OF ALMIGHTY GOD
To understand the Law of Almighty God, we must first define what it is before we can see how it applies to our lives. A Dictionary definition says it is "a rule established among a community and enjoining or prohibiting certain action, the system made up of these rules, its controlling power, the order produced by it, its administration" etc. .. (The Australian Oxford Dictionary)
So we have the word defined as a rule or set of rules which prescribe or prohibit our actions to conform to a certain order or pattern of behaviour. Now, when considering the Law of God, upon what are these rules based? What is the purpose of them and what pattern of behaviour do they establish?
Yahweh God has constructed the whole creation to function on set laws or principles. Science is a study of how and why these principles operate from the smallest atom to the galaxies out in space. If the laws of the universe were not constant, there would be chaos. Because they are constant, time, days, months, years and seasons can be relied upon to be constant and form a structure for society. Likewise, because the laws of physics remains constant we can harness these forces for our use.
There are many natural laws which govern our behaviour, things like gravity, atmospheric pressure, condensation, chemical changes of matter, photo-synthesis, light rays and sound waves; all these things influence our lives and limit our activities on this earth. If we break these laws, we reap the consequences. Whether we violate them ignorantly or intentionally, we will still be subject to the same effects from so doing.
When Yahweh God made man, He also established principles upon which we would be constructed in His likeness and image. We were made to be a living soul in a physical body with the interconnecting link between the two carried in our blood-stream - "the life of the soul (flesh) is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11) He made us to function physically by breathing air, eating fruits and herb-bearing seeds and the drinking of water. All these are basic bodily needs (Genesis 2:7-10).
Then we come to the part which concerns us, the moral laws of God. Those principles which were meant to govern us. To use an allegory here, when an inventor makes something, it functions according to the way it is made and the only time an inventory needs to be consulted, is when something malfunctions in its operation. And so it was with Adam. Adam functioned according to the way he had been made in the image and likeness of God. That is, he naturally acted in the holy, righteous pattern in which he had been made, reflecting Yahweh God's likeness. Therefore a code of ethics was unnecessary because he was living according to God's laws for him. The law of God was functioning in and through him and therefore it could be said, that he was living within the boundaries of the law or, abiding in the law. Because he was abiding in the law of God, he was also in harmony with and synchronised to the One who made him and abode in the relationship of His love.
He was not a violator of the law until he wilfully disobeyed and stepped outside of the confines of the law. He then became a law-breaker and the relationship with Yahweh God was broken and the union severed. As a result his operating mechanism malfunctioned and was in need of repair.
The standard of moral lifestyle and behaviour was passed down generation to generation in the godly line until the flood and thereafter through the patriarchs who maintain the worship of God. it only became necessary to make a codified written law after the descendants of Abraham's lineage went into captivity in Egypt. Under the suppression of the taskmasters of Egypt the Israelites were not able to keep the traditions and they became superseded and/or overlooked and they were living in transgression of the laws of Almighty God. And so, "the law was added because of transgression." (Galatians 3:19) All of the laws given at Sinai became a national constitution for a people who needed to be taught right from wrong on God's standard. Among the group who came out in the exodus, were slaves from other nations who had responded to the reality of the God of Israel as demonstrated through the ten plagues, and chose to identify themselves with the people of God and place themselves under the blood of the lamb.
The codified, written laws were in the form of an outline of the outward behaviour of righteousness for mankind who were now in their fallen state since Adam, without the corresponding nature within which would naturally overflow into that lifestyle. It was like a two-dimensional picture of a three dimensional reality - a list of "do's" and "don'ts", to serve as a guideline, parameters for man's behaviour according to the original image in which Adam the head of the human race was created.
THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW
As Paul said, the law was given as a "schoolmaster", a term which was used for a type of guardian/instructor that would teach, train and oversee a youth in their formative years until they were mature and their character was formed. This is the stated purpose of the Law, to provide guidelines until Yeshua the Messiah should come who would exemplify the Law in Himself as a living reality, a three-dimensional image of man functioning in the image and likeness of God (Galatians 3:19-25).
Now, through faith His "life", or nature, is imparted to us, so that we might once again as a redeemed people, have the internal reality of the image and likeness of God, from which to live. Through that impartation of His life, we have been made new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17), however, there is a transformation process which is necessary from the old nature with which we were born physically, to the new nature from which we are born spiritually. The scripture repeats the "do not's" of the Law to us, as well, which is necessary for our guidance, until Christ is formed in us, by fully "putting on" the new nature (Colossians 3:5-10).
Once we are mature in Messiah and have been conformed to His image, we no longer need the constant reminders of the Law; the Law having already trained us in righteousness through our submission and obedience to the instructions given through it.
He, as a loving Father has given His instructions to us to lead us back to 'life' as compared to the spiritual death which results from going our own way. If left to ourselves, we not only become lawless, we self-destruct. Selfishness and self-indulgence is the root of all the conflict and trouble in the world, on an individual and a corporate level, and the only solution for the corrupt state of mankind is the Cross of our Saviour, Yeshua the Messiah. The change must come first from within each person and then, by them learning to walk in His ways, i.e. His laws, His principles for living, into their lifestyle.
This is the combination of His Word and His Spirit in our lives. Although the living Word (Messiah) has been imparted into our lives through faith, the scriptures as the Written Word are necessary to correct the old, fallen nature which is still resident within us. Although it has been put out of operation, it can still be activated through areas of our personalities which have not been transformed to be Christ-like. The impartation of His life, as a deposit of His Spirit within us, is nurtured to grow through feeding upon the Word of God which is through the scriptures. When there is a reference to the scriptures in the new covenant writings, it is the Law that was made known for the previous covenant that is referred to and was being used.
As Paul said to Timothy, "All scripture (laws previously given) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine; for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete (mature), thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16). Note that the gospels and letters were not regarded as scripture at that time and these were not compiled as we have them today. Each assembly may have had one gospel and a few letters which were finally collected to be made into a new covenant canon of scripture, so the 'scriptures' here being referred to, are the scriptures of the old covenant - the law and the prophets which Yeshua said would not be done away with until everything in them was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-19).