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Did People In Old Testament Times Live By Faith Or By The Law?

There is a popular misconception that people in New Testament times live by faith and those in Old Testament days lived by the Law of Moses. I can certainly understand while people would think this was the case. It is clear that Israel was told to obey the Law and by doing so they would be temporarily made righteous in the eyes of their God. So the Law did play an extremely important part in the life of the Jew concerning their salvation. Thereís no debate over that.

Then why do many theologians say that acceptance by God is by faith, both now and also in Old Testament days. Iíve heard some teachers say that our faith today is directed back to the cross while those in Old Testaments times directed their faith forward to the cross. This is partly true, but let me suggest another reason why the Jews of old lived by faith.

My reasoning is simple. God gave Israel the Law to live by for various reasons. But before they could even consider looking at the Law as being something to obey, they had to first trust the God who gave them the Law. Remember, the simple definition of faith is trust. Why would anyone want to obey someone without first trusting that person. Blind obedience is foolish. In this sense of the word, Israel first had to trust in God before they could obey the Law He gave them. So underneath obedience to the Law was trust in God. Now can you see that in both New and Old Testament times trust (faith) in God was fundamental to live by.

To conclude, the reason why Israel kept wondering away from God and the Law He gave them was because they lost their trust in Him, and put their trust elsewhere. As the book of Hebrews clearly teaches, the Jews of old did not find acceptance with God because of their unbelief, because of their lack of trust. (Heb. 4) Faith in God is the bottom line, whether you lived in Old Testament days or today.

 

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