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Understanding Ancient Law

Dr. Carissa Quinn
What’s the point of reading Old Testament laws today?

How can we understand the ancient laws written in the Old Testament? And what’s the point of reading them today? In this week’s Bible study, we practice how to read biblical law and reflect on how it relates to our daily choices. Join in! Listen to the message, watch the video, open your Bible, and interact with the questions below.


Listen to a short message from Carissa on reading ancient laws. You can listen to this on your own or with a group. If you are leading a small group or family, feel free to listen to the message and contextualize it for your needs.
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Carissa's Message on Deuteronomy
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Listen to the whole audio on the Reflections Podcast

Read and Discuss


Video Question
What image stood out to you in the video and why?

Message Question
How did Carissa’s message challenge or encourage you today?

God gave instructions to ancient Israel to teach them how to relate to him and how to relate to one another as a community. These two categories—loving to God and loving others—can be broken down into laws about holiness, sacrifice, sacred time, and social justice. But how does this relate to modern readers? These categories can help us better understand what a particular law reveals about the character of God and his desire for humans. And as we study, we can also learn how the law points to Jesus, who completed its requirements and called his followers to love God and others just as he does. With this in mind, let’s practice reading biblical law, starting with Leviticus 5:2, 5-6.

Reflection 1:

What do these laws communicate key aspects of God’s character and desires to ancient Israel? How are these aspects still true today?

Reflection 2:

What needed to be addressed before the people could approach God? How did God provide a way for Israel to approach him?

Reflection 3:

Read Hebrews 10:10-14 and 10:19-22. According to this passage, how did God provide a way for all people to approach him through Jesus? How is this similar to Leviticus 5:6? How is it different?

God wants what’s best for his people, so he gives commands that lead to life. Israel had a choice about whether or not to trust and follow God’s counsel to experience that life. And while followers of Jesus today aren’t called to obey the law the same way as the Israelites, they are called to the same trust. God gives his life-giving-Spirit to empower those who trust Jesus. And with his power, followers of Jesus can choose life by loving God and others just like him.

Reflection 1:

What is one specific choice you can make to love God and others this week?

Reflection 2:

How do you think that choice could bring life to those around you?

Reflection 3:

What is the first step you can take with God to carry out that choice today?

Reflection 4:

Turn your reflections into a prayer. Thank God for how he’s provided a way for you to experience and participate in his life and love. Be honest about the ways you have neglected to choose life. Receive forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit for help to make life-giving choices to love God and others today.

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