Monday, June 25, 2007

The Grace of the OT Purity Laws

Maybe this is a "the-glass-is-half-full" type of comment, but it seems to me that the OT purity laws signaled the manifestation of grace to Israel.

The critical question is -- what do we use as the baseline to determine if the purity laws are good news or bad news.

It seems to me that many Christians read the OT using our current NT experience as the baseline. In that case, yes, OT Israel had highly restricted access to God. And so that's bad news.

But I'd argue it's not proper to evaluate the purity laws by using the NT experience as the baseline (or at least, not as the only baseline). Rather, I'd argue that the proper baseline is the experience of the OT Gentiles, all of whom were unclean before God as a result of sin.

Compared to that baseline, OT Israel had an amazing amount of access to God, "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?" (Dt 4.7).

Israel floated as an island of life and light in the midst of an otherwise entirely dead world. God showed grace to OT Israel, and through OT Israel showed grace to the OT world. That Israel's light appears dim in comparison to the brilliant sunlight of Israel's messiah should not invite us to conclude that, on balance, OT Israel's experience with God was a bad thing for her and the world rather than a good thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home