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Lesson 4 ~ Christian Ethics ~ The Covenant ~ The Law and The Prophets Part 2 ~ Essay

By:  Rev. Trent Murman


As stated in Lesson III, give three (3) reasons we turn to certain basic ideas in the Old Testament. 

The first is the light that the Old Testament can throw upon Jesus as we note what he retained, consciously or unconsciously from his heritage and what he set aside in response to higher insights.

The second is the need to understand the Old Testament as a whole and to see it in perspective, since it too is the Christian's Bible and grave errors of ethical interpretation have often resulted from lack of such perspective.

The third arises from the fact that the social teachings of the prophets supply a degree of concreteness and of social application to specific circumstances which appears only marginally in the teachings of Jesus.

Prior to the sixth century B.C., Was Israel's faith fully monotheistic?  It is now commonly believed that Israel's faith was not fully monotheistic before the sixth century B.C. and that a watershed is marked by the great declaration of the Second Isaiah in Isa. 44:6 where Yahweh is represented as saying: I am the first, I am the last, besides me there is no god.

In the Old Testament, Yahweh's covenant with Israel was not a covenant of merit. What WAS it a covenant of?  A covenant is often described as "An agreement between two or more parties outlining mutual rights and responsibilities." 

What were the two basic tests of being a Jew?  There were two basic tests of being a Jew. One was circumcision; the other was the more general requirement of the keeping of the law.

Name the code in the Old Testament which is probably the most primitive and state the book and lesson of the OT in which it is located.  The Covenant Code (Exod. 20:23-23:33), the code embedded in the book of Deuteronomy, and the Holiness Code (Lev. 17-26) — specifications for ritualistic and ceremonial observance stand side by side with those indicating humaneness and moral insight.

The Covenant Code illustrates admirable the blend of which two considerations?

The Covenant Code, which is affixed to the Exodus Decalogue, illustrates admirably the blending of moral with religious considerations, and within religion the mixture of adoration and gratitude with ceremonial observance, which characterizes Israel's faith as a whole.


State the name, lesson and verse of the book of the bible, where we can find the following statement: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." 

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. (Mark 2:27.)
There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him. (Mark 7:15.)
If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24.)

State three (3) observations which can be gleaned from Israel's course with reference to the law. 

The first is that the law was by no means the barren and external thing that the legalists of Jesus' time or the literalists of ours have too often made it.

Second, as the God of the Hebrews was too small, so was their moral outlook. Reference has been made to the humaneness of the codes. 

The third deduction we must draw is in regard to what Jesus did with the law. Both of the foregoing elements must be taken into account to understand his attitude.


State five (5) deductions which can drawn from the general structure of thought of the insights of the prophets from Amos through the Second Isaiah.

The first observation to make is that the prophets, like the compilers of the law, proceeded from the assumptions of the covenant. This made their messages both religious and ethical, with an intertwining which makes it impossible to withdraw either element without losing the heart of their message.

Second, the prophets must be understood in both an individual and a social context. This is true whether what is being considered is the source or the object of their message.

Third, though explicit monotheism and universalism were a late development, their nucleus is implicit in all prophetic preaching. The ceremonialism of Israel, though understood by the people as the mark of Israel's particularity, had actually much in common with other primitive religious rites.

Fourth, the prophets saw with utter clarity the persistent fact of sin, and saw it not as maladjustment or even as failure to "hit the mark" of some objective human standard, but as sin against God.

And fifth, in everything the prophets said, they spoke to the current situation. They spoke from a perspective that was more than "current," but they never spoke in abstractions.


State three (3) concepts Jesus took from the Old Testament.

First, Jesus shared with Old Testament thought the general structure of God-centered moral living.

Second, his ethical principles were those of Judaism, yet with a difference in emphasis which makes their impact new.

Thirdly, Jesus took the eschatology like the ethics of his time and made it into something different. His inheritance from the prophets moralized his expectancy of divine intervention; his own sense of relationship to God gave a new turn to both eschatology and ethics.

Go In Peace

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