The Law of Moses Through Christ

Pinnable image of magnifying glass to represent seeing the Law of Moses through the perspective of Christ

April 25-May 1

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We have entered into the days of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was a series of rules that helped the Israelites stay loyal to God. Though many of them probably feel restrictive, they were gifts to Israel. The Israelites had just gotten out of slavery, and their testimony of who Christ was remained limited. They needed a little extra support as they came along.

The Law of Moses was also a little intense. They didn’t mess around in Israel. Here’s just one example:

Exodus 31:14-15

14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Though I have a testimony of the Sabbath Day, I don’t know that I’d be willing to kill my neighbor for going swimming on Sunday. That’s probably a good thing since the Law of Moses was fulfilled, and I’d probably get in some trouble if I attempted to do that. 

So how can this be right? I feel like all of us would cringe to think about a theocratic nation stoning a person for breaking the Sabbath Day in modern times. How can this possibly be okay back then?

Through the testimony of Jesus

There is a commentary on the Law of Moses found in the Institute Manual for the Old Testament. It states, “The Law of Moses is understood through…a testimony of Jesus.” If you really want to understand what the Law of Moses was about, you have to look at it through the lens of Christ. And I’m not just talking about the symbolism; I’m talking about having a clear perspective about the less friendly portions of the Law of Moses – such as killing people for breaking the Sabbath Day.

To more fully illustrate what I’m trying to teach here, I want to look at the Sabbath Day specifically and then we’re going to apply this principle directly to us.

So executing someone for breaking the Sabbath. Let’s look at it through the lens of Christ; how do we look at it through the lens of Christ? We look at the truths He taught.

  1. Eternity is a long time, and death is simply a doorway to a new part of eternity.
  2. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.
  3. The spirit world allows for further repentance.
  4. The Savior can heal all pain.
  5. The Lord meets us where we’re at. Sometimes that means very strict boundaries.

These are just a few of the principles that can help us better understand the decision made by the Lord. Fairness in mortality was never promised. Though everything turns out alright in the end, the Lord never promised to make everything fair for us while we’re down here. What we do understand about the Lord is this: His choices revolve around helping His people return to Him. That’s the bottom line. And it’s good that this is a bottom line because eternity is much more important than mortal life.

When you look at how crucial the House of Israel was to the Plan of Salvation, it’s easy to understand why the Lord felt it was important to prevent nation-wide apostasy. These people would go on to set the stage for Christ and the atonement, and their ancestors would play a gigantic role in the latter days as well. The Lord could not afford to lose the Israelites completely; they had to learn to be His people, and He was working with some people who were very easily turned away from Him. 

I often feel a need to shy away from teaching this principle so forcefully because it can seem so cold. 

But it’s only cold when you don’t have a testimony of Christ or if you don’t fully understand Him. 

Death is nothing more than a door. Any Israelite that may have incurred a death penalty was not lost to the Lord. He or she was also not unloved by the Lord. The Lord knows exactly where they’re at. Their separation from their physical bodies is only a temporary one, and they are being taken care of in the most important sense: spiritually. 

No one is dispensable or superfluous in the Lord’s plan; He wants all of us to return to Him. He uses His power to influence great groups of people for His purposes, and He uses His power to help each individual to the extent that they will allow Him to. 

The threat of execution went a long way in helping the people stay loyal to the Lord, and any people who actually incurred the death penalty were not forgotten or hated. They simply passed through a doorway to the other side where they can continue in their progression if they choose to do so. Any pain that is experienced because of this penalty is likewise healed by the Savior.

Speaking of the Savior…

The Lord set out a severe punishment for breaking the Sabbath in order to protect His people. Let’s also not forget the fact that the Lord experienced these severe punishments too.

The Savior felt every death, every fear, every loss, including the ones suffered by the Israelites. Execution may bring up images of great and terrible gods who care little for human life, but our Lord is not that kind of god. He was willing to go to great lengths to protect His people from sin, and He was also willing to experience the pain of those great lengths personally. When He laid out the Law of Moses, He knew what He was going to have to go through if He chose that route, but He chose it because He loves us and wanted to save the Israelites from sin.

There are still small parts of me that are afraid of teaching this. However, I know it to be true. I also know that it won’t make sense to a grand majority of the world because the Law of Moses only makes sense through a testimony of Christ. If you don’t have a testimony of Christ and who He really is, I can fully understand why this would seem like a terrible thing. However, I believe in a loving and powerful Savior who knows exactly what He’s doing and who forgets no one. I don’t have to be afraid for my brothers and sisters because I know they are in the Lord’s hands.

Broader application

We looked at the idea of the Mosaic Sabbath Day through the lens of Christ, but let’s bring it forward into our day. 

There is so much unfairness in the world. There is so much needless suffering and contention and bitterness. There are so many things occurring that don’t make sense. I recently had a friend tell me about her conversion to Christianity. She told me that she had always struggled with an Omnipotent God who allowed such deep suffering. As she grew to know who the Savior was and why He allowed such things, the suffering was placed in context and became a gift instead of a burden.

However, what I’m talking about in this post is more than the Lord allowing suffering to occur on the earth. I’m talking about the Lord commanding difficult things that can often bring pain. 

I think of the spouse who is still asked to go and serve at the temple even though their marriage no longer looks eternal. The temple has become a painful place, but they are still being asked to go.

I think of the gay teenager who has been taught about eternal families from birth. I think of how they wonder if they will ever be able to experience a celestial marriage, a satisfying and joy-filled marriage.

I think of the abused child who is being asked to forgive an unrepentant parent.

How could a loving Savior command such cruel things? If He really is so wonderful and powerful, how could He ask such hard things?

I do not have answers for every single, personal experience that anyone has ever gone through. I look at my life, and I fully recognize that I do not comprehend the immense pain that some of my brothers and sisters have experienced. I simply can’t understand it.

But I testify of a Savior who does. I testify of a Savior who has asked hard things but walks through hard things with you. He waits with you. He aches with you. He wonders and worries and hopes and is disappointed with you. 

Christ’s atonement is real and valid. I do not teach this to invalidate pain; I teach it because I sincerely believe it can heal anyone. 

But it literally doesn’t matter what I have a testimony of. My testimony of Christ will never be enough for the healing that you need. Only your own testimony of Christ can do that. Only your own testimony of Christ can help you see mortal life clearly. The Law of Moses (and life in general) is to be understood through a testimony of Christ. 

Please note that finding a testimony of Christ is not easy. You have probably been given tools to know Him, but remember that some of those tools came from imperfect humans. Coming to know Christ means spending time with Him. You will have to let go of some misconceptions that have been taught to you, and that’s a painful process. You will have to learn new things about Him and how He feels about you, and that is a scary process. But if you come to know Him as He is, you will not be disappointed. You will be healed.

This earth, with all of its ups and downs and triumphs and tragedies, can only be seen clearly through a testimony of Christ. I believe that to be true.

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