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One may assume when reading the OT laws that all the laws had God’s stamp of approval. Ancient near eastern cultures assumed it was sacrilegious to not always appease an all-powerful, all-controlling God, which many of the OT laws seem geared toward. Does God really desire self-glorification for egotistical reasons, or does God seek to influence all for their own good?

How would it work that God controlled all the OT laws established?

All OT laws were not audibly dictated by God but often originated from the minds of Moses and leadership in getting to understand God. It is not God’s nature to somehow magically control writers’ views of God, even if views were influenced more by culture than reality.  God doesn’t abandon us when we are wrong but seeks to persuade us over time what a loving God is truly like. God accepts us where we are at while encouraging us closer to the ideal for our own good.

If OT laws were God’s ideal, they would still be applicable today or at least during NT era.

If it was good to execute adulterers or those who cursed their parents back then (Lev. 20:9, 10), why wouldn’t it still be good law? Jesus instead encouraged a woman to change her lifestyle for her own good and any who have done no wrong can throw the first stone (Jn. 8:1-11). OT laws advise to retaliate eye for an eye when wronged (Deut. 19:21), possibly as a way to control the less fortunate being taken advantage of, but Jesus implies not retaliating and forgiving may be possible in certain situations (Mt. 5:38-42).

God’s gradual influence may begin to show in writings such as OT views on animal sacrifice.

Writers after the OT laws wrote that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). These passages seem to directly contradict the need for elaborate animal sacrifices in the OT laws, so God was making headway. God surely hated the idea of animal sacrifice rather than one simply taking responsibility for their actions. Confession, contriteness, and amends are what lead to healing in relationships.

One could speculate the Ten Commandments reveal God more direct involvement, than the others laws, in guiding a nation initially. The Commandments are said to be written by the “finger of God,” but this is likely a figure of speech than a physical act by God (Ex. 31:18). Worship against idols was cultural, but few disagree that idols such as materialism destroy relationships which God considers paramount. No one argues against the wisdom of “you shall no murder, steal, lie about your neighbor.” But, many of the other OT laws weren’t necessarily God’s ideal.

God is a lover of freedom. Not even God can force genuine, heart-felt change.

God used the nation of Israel, the Bible, and Jesus to come into our world in hopes to influence and persuade us, not control or coerce, toward a life without regrets. The OT laws were God beginning a relationship with a nation and bringing them along. Many of the Laws were at least a step up from surrounding cultures. Jesus’ teachings surely are more God’s ideal. The wisdom of Jesus relationally is undeniable, even to those that don’t believe in God.



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