Why So Many “Weird” Old Testament Laws?

It is written:

“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 23:19)

It doesn’t take long reading in the Old Testament before you begin to see some challenging laws and regulations.

For example, why wold there be a law against boiling a goat in its’ mother’s milk?

Some have looked upon these “strange” laws and concluded that the Old Testament Scriptures are not truly from God.

What people often forget is that the Old Testament laws were never designed to be perfect or lasting. Instead, God worked with the Jewish people and began to gradually prepare them for the New Law His Messiah would bring to the world.

Paul Copan has well written:

“Acts 17: 30: Previously, God “overlooked the times of ignorance” and is “now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” • Romans 3: 25: God has now “demonstrate[ d] His righteousness” in Christ, though “in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.” Like two sides of the same coin, we have human hard-heartedness and divine forbearance. God put up with many aspects of human fallenness and adjusted accordingly. (More on this below.) So Christopher Hitchens’s reaction to Mosaic laws (“ we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human animals”) actually points us in the right direction in two ways. First, the Mosaic law was temporary and, as a whole, isn’t universal and binding upon all humans or all cultures. Second, Mosaic times were indeed “crude” and “uncultured” in many ways. So Sinai legislation makes a number of moral improvements without completely overhauling ancient Near Eastern social structures and assumptions. God “works with” Israel as he finds her. He meets his people where they are while seeking to show them a higher ideal in the context of ancient Near Eastern life. As one writer puts it, “If human beings are to be treated as real human beings who possess the power of choice, then the ‘better way’ must come gradually. Otherwise, they will exercise their freedom of choice and turn away from what they do not understand.” 4 Given certain fixed assumptions in the ancient Near East, God didn’t impose legislation that Israel wasn’t ready for. He moved incrementally. As stated repeatedly in the Old Testament and reinforced in the New Testament, the law of Moses was far from ideal. Being the practical God he is, Yahweh (the Old Testament title for the covenant-making God) met his people where they were, but he didn’t want to leave them there. God didn’t banish all fallen, flawed, ingrained social structures when Israel wasn’t ready to handle the ideals. Taking into account the actual, God encoded more feasible laws, though he directed his people toward moral improvement. He condescended by giving Israel a jumping-off place, pointing them to a better path. As we move through the Scriptures, we witness a moral advance—or, in many ways, a movement toward restoring the Genesis ideals. In fact, Israel’s laws reveal dramatic moral improvements over the practices of the other ancient Near Eastern peoples. God’s act of incrementally “humanizing” ancient Near Eastern structures for Israel meant diminished harshness and an elevated status of debt-servants, even if certain negative customs weren’t fully eliminated.” (Paul Copan, Is God A Moral Monster? Making Sense Of The Old Testament God, 60-61 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

The God of Creation meets His creatures where they are and works with them. Why not submit to God and let Him teach you His New Law that can bring true peace, being the perfect law of liberty (Matthew 11:28-30; James 1:25)? As a believer in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), repent of your sins and be baptized into Christ today (Acts 2:37-47). If you are a Christian who has left the Lord and is living in sin, why not repent today and return to Him (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?

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