It doesn’t take long in one’s reading through the Old Testament to realise that God has given different customised laws for different people at different times. The commandments to Adam and Eve are in some ways different to those given to Moses, which in turn are different to the ones given to the Church in the New Testament. Not to mention the laws given to Cain and Abel, Abraham, Noah, Melchizedek and countless others who were all faithful believers, and expressed some understanding of what is acceptable to God and what is not, yet we have no record of the laws given to them. Not to mention those like Daniel, and the Ninevites in the days of Jonah, who didn’t keep the law of Moses in the way it was given to Moses.
And yet, in all these different customisations of God’s Law, there are striking similarities. That is because they all proceed from the same Law-giver. Just like a parent will forbid a child from touching a knife, only years later to require of that child a frequent use of a knife, so God has customised His Law for mankind based on our weaknesses, circumstances, and needs. But God still remains the same. His customised laws still reflect the same timeless Law that proceeds from His holiness.
This timeless Law from which all the various customisations have been given, is revealed to us many times in the Scriptures. But it is in the New Testament where the timeless Law of God is revealed most clearly.
Jesus put it in these words,
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.Matthew 22:37-40
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
When an Old Testament expert repeated the same two commandments as an answer to a question about the Law of God, Jesus replied saying
You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.Luke 10:28
Paul and James look at faith and obedience from very different angles, but they both agree that as far as the inter-human laws from God are concerned, then it is all obeyed if we love our neighbour as ourselves.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.Romans 13:8
If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing well.James 2:8
There are many customisations of these two laws for us as Christians. All the commandments in the New Testament require of us specific applications of these two laws. The same was true of those under the Law of Moses in their day and country, the same was true for Adam and Eve in the Garden. Let us faithfully obey the Lord, knowing that His Law is perfect, timeless, and customised for us so we need not wonder how to live in our times.