Christians have this view that the New Testament is about love and the Old Testament is about law. They seem them as opposites. The words commonly used to describe the Old Testament law include harsh, cruel, severe and merciless.
Jesus had a different view of the law. When asked what is the greatest law, he said,
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
The first part of his response is well known, but the final sentence is fascinating. Jesus says that the law hangs on the command to love your neighbour as yourself. How can harsh laws hang on a command to love your neighbour? Jesus saw the law as being about love, so how can it be harsh and cruel.
Paul was even blunter in his statement about the law.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:14).
The law is summed up by the word love. How can a law that is harsh and cruel be summed up by the word love? This does not make sense.
Only one conclusion can follow from these two messages. Those who believe the law is harsh and cruel have misunderstood it. If we read the law in the way that Jesus read it, we would see God’s love and the love of man, not harshness and cruelty. If we are not seeing love when we read the law, then we may need to read it again through the eyes of Jesus.
I believe that Christians who want to understand political systems need to seriously study of the Old Testament law. However, we need a radically different approach. We need to approach the law in the same way as Jesus and Paul, looking for love of God and love of neighbour. We might be surprised at what we find.