Thursday, February 21, 2008

"God's laws were made to be broken"

That controversial statement above was made in the sermon I listened to on the train today (on my iPod, it wasn't broadcast on the train or anything like that...).

The sermon "Snakes on a Plain" [mp3|notes|quotes] was another from the Meeting House in Canada, preached by Bruxy Cavey, part of the 'Unbelievable' series. It was based on Numbers 21v4-9, the incident with the bronze snake.

To deal with the problem of an infestation of poisonous snakes, God commanded Moses to "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." - So, in essence, only a relatively short time after the 10 commandments were given, God commanded Moses to break the 2nd commandment "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." (Exodus 20v4)

Huh? God commanded Moses to break one of the main commandments? What's going on?

What about the others? Well, it can be seen that Jesus himself breaks the 4th and the 5th commandments at points in the Gospels (he heals folk on the sabbath, breaking the command not to work on the sabbath and he completely ignores his mother when he was teaching and folk come and say 'your mother and brothers are here').

Does that mean I can covet my neighbour's ox and commit adultery then?

Well, no. But the point is that it is not the laws and the actions they prohibit which are important, but rather the message behind the laws and how you 'internalise' it - so that your heart is changed and becomes more in tune with God's heart.... y'see?

Thought provoking stuff.

1 comment:

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...


First question is whether you see Ex 20:4-5 as one commandment or two. i.e. is the commandment against making graven images, or against making graven images as idols to worship them?

As for Jesus breaking the commandments. It was clear that he took a very dim view of those who dishonoured their father and mother. Mk 7:9-13. So could he really have been so hypocritical to have been guilty of the same thing himself? I don't believe Jesus disrespected Mary (even on the cross she was in his thoughts) but he was expanding the sphere of people to whom he had a family duty.

Jesus certainly did break the commandment on the Sabbath - at least the way it was generally understood. But here Jesus said that the Sabbath was instituted for a reason and a purpose that his ministry was actually fulfilling.

However, I do agree that the commandments were made to be broken... In the sense that Romans describes - that no-one is justified by observing the law. God knew that we would be unable to keep them and so "he has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all."

Thus the true purpose of the law, and its brokenness, is to point us to the realities in Christ. This is what the snake on the pole was really about - John 3:14