The Letter of the Law pt 2
October 25, 2005 • By Ed Wrather07.25.05
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:17-18.
The letters of the Kurdish alphabet and the Turkish law have collided. In Turkey, it is against the law to use characters not used in the Turkish alphabet and during a Kurdish New Year celebration, 20 people had placards, which had the letters Q and W, which are not in the Turkish alphabet. A court in the city of Siirt fined all those who participated in using the unlawful letters 100 new lira.
It does appear somewhat severe to punish people for simply holding placards, which have letters on them! However, it is the law and the Turkish court has ruled according to the letter of the law. As a result, a penalty was imposed on the 20 people who disobeyed the law by holding up the unlawful letters.
Jesus is speaking in Matthew five of the Old Testament laws, and because of His use of the terms “the Law” and the “Prophets” we know he is talking about the whole of the Old Testament. In Luke 24:44 Jesus says, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
The letter of the Law contained in the Old Testament some would say is harsh. However, the Law is the Law, and there are penalties for disobedience to that Law even though it may appear small to us. Jesus says, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
What is the purpose of the Law? The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The “tutor (Greek: paidagogos)” that this word is based upon was usually an elderly and trustworthy slave that would be in charge of escorting the families’ children to school. The slave would stay at the school until the school was over, and then escorted the children home. Even though the tutor was a slave, the children would still call him “Master” and the slave had the authority to punish the child if necessary. In the same way, the “Law” is our “tutor”.
The apostle Paul in Galatians chapter three goes on to tell us how privileged we are if we know Christ as our Savior by saying, “But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This means that, in Christ, those who know Him as Savior are no longer in bondage but are free! Thank God! Praise God! Because Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23a tells us that the penalty for sin is death. The last part of Romans 6:23b tells us the good news: “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Have you received the gift?