The Purpose of God’s Law

I have heard many people say, “the reason God gave us his law was so that we would fail in keeping it, thus needing a savior”. (Some might use Romans 5:20-21 to say this. Go here: for the explanation of these verses) That sounds good on the surface, but does the logic of God setting us up for failure so he can save us really make sense? Plus, where does it say that in the scriptures?

I am going to show you God’s purpose for the law. God did not hide his purpose from us. God tells us plainly the reasons for the law.

The reason why every government (including the government that God set up) has laws is to keep order and punish the people who break the law. Not only would God’s laws keep order, but it was also set up for punishing the people who transgress the law. The criminal might have to pay a fine of a goat or, depending on the seriousness of the crime, a much harsher penalty. God also set up the death penalty for very serious crimes. Most governments have adopted many of God’s laws like, “thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not commit adultery”. It is actually still against the law in the United States to commit adultery. Also, all governments have penalties for breaking the laws. Most governments use the death penalty for serious crimes like murder. Another reason why governments have laws is for economic growth. The United States wants to be a prosperous nation. This influences the passage of drug laws, traffic laws, etc. When people are sick or injured, not only are they not productive, but many times they are a drain on other people’s productivity. A nation can not be prosperous if too many non productive people are supported by productive people.

God set his nation up with very wise laws. If Israel obeyed God’s laws, other nations would look at their health and prosperity and know that Israel is following the true God.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

God’s laws were also set up as a “shadow of good things to come”. God’s feast were set up as shadow of Christ’s first and second coming, and the weekly Sabbath was set up to show God’s seven thousand year plan for the earth.

Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow of good things to come...

Col 2:16-17
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come…

The Purpose for the Sacrifices

I have heard statements like, “God required animal sacrifices for forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament, but now we have Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our forgiveness of sin”.

This statement is mostly wrong. Christ’s sacrifice was for everyone’s sin (who has repented), including for the people who died before his death. The other thing wrong with the above statement is the fact that animal sacrifices never forgave anyone for any sin!

Hebrews 10:4
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The sacrifices were for many reasons. They were set up as shadows (Hebrews 10:1), (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), (John 1:29), for celebrating the feasts* (which actually falls under the "shadow of good things to come"), for feeding the Levites (Joshua 13:14), and lastly, they were set up so we can reflect on our own sins.

Hebrews 10:1-3
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Many people ask God for forgiveness, and then just totally forget about their sins. God wants you to remember your sins for a few reasons. By remembering your sins you can have more appreciation for God’s grace, and it would be much harder to become self righteous. Also, by remembering your sins, it would help you in learning from your mistakes.

To sum it up, God’s purposes for the law was to run His government (to keep law and order, punish criminals, fund the welfare program, support the government officials, maintenance for government buildings, etc.), for health and prosperity (personal and national), for shadows of good things to come, and for remembrance of sin. The law was never designed to forgive anyone for their sins (Thank God for His Son!).

*God set these feasts up so we can celebrate Christ's redemption plan for His people. It would be a pretty lame feast if there was not any good food at the party. One of the reasons why it was a law to sacrifice the young animals for the feasts is because their meat is more tender (If you were going to throw a feast, wouldn't you bring out your best food?). Most people consider the meat from young animals a delicacy. These feasts were not meant to be a burden, but a celebration that everyone would look forward to.

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