I was in a stickam chatroom last night, and the same, tired, old question was asked by an atheist. It goes something like this:
“Since Matthew 5 has Jesus saying that he did not come to change the law and that not one letter or iota shall be struck from the law, why do Christians ignore Old Testament law like that which requires stoning homosexuals to death?”
Certainly, this is a good question, but it ignores the entirety of Matthew 5:17-18.
“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. I tell you the truth, 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., emphasis mine
When Jesus died on the cross, everything was accomplished. The fulfillment had come.
John 19:28-30, “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Does this mean we throw out the law? Certainly not. BUT, many of the Levitical rules lose their application because the Word, itself, has come alive on earth in the form of Jesus.
My Pastor, Dana, expressed it once to me like this, when I asked about Levitical law (specifically the stoning of the disobedient)… some of the Levitical law was directed specifically at God’s people of Israel in order to preserve the line of David so that there would be no impediment of the line that led to the Messiah, Jesus, being born.
When all was finished, these more severe laws, necessary for the preservation of the line of David were no longer necessary.
This brings up another question.
Then, why the law at all? If God is all-knowing, he would’ve known we would fail. Why would God allow this to happen?
Well, Paul tells us that there is a purpose to the law. Certainly, we are to try and live up to the law… but we will always fail.
So, why the law at all?
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Romans 3:19-20