Ben Witherington III blogs about the way Christians should read and interpret the teaching of the Old Testament.
If God, in his graciousness condescends to teach us in ways and at the level which we can receive it, and if there is a major difference between what is the case once Jesus and the Spirit have come compared to what was the case before those two things happened when it comes to human ability to receive, believe, and live by God’s always intended highest and best for his people, then this changes entirely how we should view ever so many things in the OT.
In Matthew and Mark when Jesus discusses why Moses allowed divorce, he gave us a key to understanding the Old Testament law. He told us why they were given, and he gave us a key to reading the other parts of the OT witness.
Witherington’s thesis is that much of the OT teaching was aimed at people who were going to keep sinning no matter what. Many of God’s negative commands were aimed at restraining and limiting the harm and evil that a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people would do.
With the advent of Christ, the in-breaking of the kingdom, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit changes the equation. By the grace of God, our hard hearts can be softened. By God’s grace we can receive and obey teachings now that we could not before Jesus Christ.