As part of my readathon, over this sabbatical period that I have, I have begun to read the bible from start to finish. There is much of the Old Testament that I have never read, and if I'm honest I haven't been all that enthusiastic about. However I have been pleasantly surprised! It has been challenging at times it's fair to say, but that has been great. I love a challenge.
I think I have always had this view that the OT is just for Jews. That it isn't very relevant in the 21st Century. but recently obviously, I have reviewed that! Reading it is giving me clarity about much of the New Testament too. But the thing I still struggle with is how much of it do we just 'discount', if you like, as being pre-Christ? As in, oh well we don't have to sacrifice stuff anymore, Christ died so we don't have to do that. But what about all the rules and regulations? what constitutes a rule that should be obeyed and one that is ok to ignore? I mean the 10 commandments are a pretty good moral standard regardless of Gods instruction. so most people, Christian or otherwise, would probably not have a problem with them. And there are other laws too that actually could just be part of a general common sense approach to life. In fact some of the stuff in Leviticus about people with boils/skin diseases etc being put into isolation is surely just a simple and sensible approach to inefectious diseases, especially in an era where there was a very different approach to medicine! In a way the priests took a similar role to a modern day Doctor.
But what about the more contraversial stuff? What about where it says adulterers should be stoned to death and so on. Ok so this doesn't sit terribly well with our 21st C lives ;) , but what makes that decision for us? I'm not trying to be either flippant or dense, I just want to know. A good example, which jews obviously do stick to, is what the OT suggest we should and shouldn't eat. Why is it ok to eat a cow but not a pig? for example and why do Jews stick to this but Christians don't? (personally I am a veggie so I'm not bothered either way...) And indeed there are obviously bits of the laws that even Jews don't keep, I mean you can hardly stone someone in the middle of Stamford Hill can you?
What I'm trying to say I think, is that where do we draw the line? I, as a Christian, accept that the bible is the Word of God, so who am I to say, well ok, I accept but perhaps I'll ignore that bit, or just leave that section out...?
I used to think that the bible was like a guidebook that we had to interpret for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. I don't completely disagree with that now, but I would struggle with what conclusions I should draw from all those OT laws that we don't keep....
As always comments appreciated - I am trying to broaden my horizons!!