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What was the purpose of the Law?

The Law was a list of rules God gave to Moses for the Israelites to follow. It said – among other things – to honor your father and mother and to not steal or kill. And there weren’t just 10 commandments – there were actually hundreds of parts to the Law.

But because everyone is imperfect and sinful, no one could actually follow every single rule perfectly except for Jesus, who WAS perfect and would live much later. God gave the Law to help the people realize they were sinful and imperfect and therefore needed a Savior – Jesus. In fact, the Law is spoken of in Galatians 3:24 as, “…our tutor to lead us to Christ.” 

His ministry showed everyone a new way to live. He shortened the meaning of the Law when he was asked, 

“Teacher, which command in the Law is the most important?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself. All of the Law and the writings of the prophets take their meanings from these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 

Jesus kept the Law perfectly, proving that he was the Savior everyone had been waiting for. As for us, we become humbler and more teachable when we realize how much we need Jesus to help us overcome sin and become closer to God. We know the only way to God is through Jesus. 

John 14:6 records Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Another reason for the Law was to keep the people of Israel separate and pure from other nations because the promised Messiah, Jesus, would come from their family line, generations later. The Law made them different on purpose. It helped the people focus on God and living a righteous life.

So, what was the purpose of the Law? To show the Israelites they were sinners and to lead them to Jesus. Only he could keep the Law perfectly, proving that he was the promised Messiah. Eventually, some Jewish people realized this and followed Jesus’ teachings based on love. The Law also kept the people separate from other nations, helping them focus on God and living a godly life.

To learn more about what the law means for Christians listen to, “Does the Old Testament Law Apply to Me?”