The prophet Malachi identifies “righteous” people in God’s Day of Judgment not as those who profess a particular creed or repeat religious slogans but as those who “serve God,” while the “wicked” are those who “don’t serve him” (Malachi 3:18). Noah wasn’t born “a righteous man, perfect in his generation,” but he became this by loving and serving God (Genesis 6:9). God directed Abraham to attain the same perfection (Genesis 17:1). Those who knew God anciently didn’t know him all at once, but God revealed himself to them to the degree that they sought him. As it was in the past so it is in the future: “You will seek me and find [me] when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Living a higher law, then, may not mean just more or greater blessings from God. It could be the path that literally brings us into God’s presence, enabling us to interact directly with God. We see in the Bible that specifics of this higher law were the privilege of prophets and others to whom God appeared and gave instructions. It makes sense that much of the time such a law would follow a personalized script, not written down but rather revealed by God through his holy Spirit. Thus, Abraham didn’t see God until he had acted on faith and followed God’s word to him personally (Genesis 12:1–7). Moses didn’t see God until he had valiantly defended the rights of the oppressed (Exodus 2:11–3:6).
We often pass by the Old Testament as if it doesn’t relate to us, as if its “sacred history” is no longer sacred. And yet, who today can match the spiritual heights those ancients attained? The law they kept went beyond not sinning. Their lives were models of love and service. In comparison to the higher law, the lesser law centers around becoming clean of sin and spiritually pure. The higher law puts us on a path to attaining perfection by loving others as God loves us, so that we can enjoy the company of God and angels. Those who loved God and neighbor so as to attain this perfection also truly loved themselves, as we do justice to ourselves only when we love God first and foremost.
The fact that Israel’s God Jehovah met with people anciently shows that a higher law existed before New Testament times. Keeping that law led to the extraordinary blessings those persons received, as God called them to be patriarchs, prophets, and kings to his people. Some of those “men of God” wrote down the things God revealed in words and visions, which became the Bible. Like Moses, they may have hidden in their writings things they considered sacred or ahead of their time—knowing that people exposed to the higher law who rejected it would come under condemnation. But to their disciples, and to all willing to search their writings for deeper meanings, they left a profound spiritual legacy.
(From Isaiah Decoded, pp 10–11)