Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Are the Old Testament Laws Still In Force Today?
What parts of the Old Testament Law are obligatory upon YEHOVAH's people Israel, today? Is any of the law of YEHOVAH God "done away" or really "abolished"? What about "animal sacrifices"? Have parts of the Law been temporarily suspended? Why does YEHOVAH God condemn those who are "partial in the law"? What is the real difference between the Old and New Covenants? Many are in the process of being deceived concerning YEHOVAH God's Law, and the Old and New Covenants, and are in danger of losing out on their salvation, and losing their crown of eternal life! Let's explore these questions, once and for all!
by HOIM Staff
In the Worldwide News published by the Worldwide Church of God, a "Personal" from the editor addressed the subject, "Are Old Testament laws still binding on Christians?" In his article he has an interesting, if not correct, approach and answer to the riddle posed by the question in his title. He writes:
"Most of the doctrinal questions revolve around one central question: Are the Old Testament laws still in force?
"The New Testament gives two basic answers to this question: Yes, and no [now isn't that a quaint method of "double-talk"?]. Some verses indicate continuity, and others indicate change. Some verses maintain the validity of the law; others describe it as having been superseded by Christ.
"If we look at one group of verses, we might conclude that we have to keep all OT (Old Testament) laws. If we look at another group of verses, we might conclude that they are all done away. Both answers have scriptural support and validity. We need to look at both sides of the question" (Worldwide News, Dec.5, 1995).
This is certainly "double talk." To say that the answer to the question, "Are the Old Testament laws still in force?" is both "yes and no" is both fatuous and pointless, adding to the confusion over YEHOVAH God's Law in the eyes of millions. It implies that the New Testament contradicts itself by providing contradictory answers. A good scholar, rather than assume certain passages are contradictory, will explore deeper into the question to resolve any superficial evidence or indication of possible contradiction, and not just make a lame "assumption" or whimsical statement which amounts to specious "double-talk."
The editor continues his approach as follows:
"Let's start with the emphasis on continuity. A passage like Matthew 5:17-19 can be used to argue that all OT laws are still in force [notice -- he does not bother to quote the passage, but merely alludes to it -- a typical approach of those who don't really want to face the issues squarely but only tangentially]. Jesus didn't do away with any of God's laws. Rather, he emphasized that we ought to obey God not only in our actions, but also in our hearts. We have to keep every OT law in the spirit, in its attitude and purpose" (ibid.).
What? Did you ever know a "law" that had an "attitude"? I never met one with an "attitude"! This statement sounds like careless writing and thinking on the part of its author. Obviously, no law can have an "attitude," because only living beings can have "attitudes"! But let's go on.
In one line he says "Jesus didn't do away with any of God's laws," and that we "ought to obey God not only in our actions, but also in our hearts." This is absolutely true, of course. But then he goes on to misconstrue and misinterpret what he has just stated, saying, "We have to keep every OT law in the spirit, in its attitude and purpose." What does that mean? He implies, as we shall see later, that the laws are done away with, literally, but now we just keep them "in spirit" -- that is, spiritualize them away, and no longer have to obey them explicitly or in actual fact.
Is this what Yeshua meant? the editor merely alludes to Yeshua's words in Matthew 5:17, but lets read them completely. Let's read the actual verses, and let them speak for themselves, before we attempt to "pass judgment" on this matter:
A Closer Look at the Law of God
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, ONE JOT OR ONE TITTLE WILL BY NO MEANS PASS FROM THE LAW till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17-18, NKJV).
How do you "spiritualize" away such a plain and obvious statement? In effect, the editor is saying the Messiah did not come to destroy the Law, but only to abolish it! This amounts to nothing less than sheer nonsense -- "double speak" -- "double talk! According to his interpretation, Yeshua said not one jot or tittle of the Law will pass away but it will be "spiritualized away," in a cloud of smoke and mirrors.
This editor goes on to state the following:
"Hebrew 8:10 supports this -- the new covenant means that God's laws are written in our hearts and minds. The laws are internalized, so we, by our nature, want to keep them. Hebrews 8:10 is a quote of Jeremiah 31:31-33, we could argue, [by the way, that's a fact, not an argument -- look it up!] and the laws that Jeremiah meant were the laws that were valid in his day, the old covenant laws. They were all given by God, and if we love him, we will want to keep them.
"For example, our love for God will motivate us to be circumcised [wait a minute! has he forgotten the Paul clearly stated that circumcision is not required for adults upon conversion?], to keep the Jubilee year [what would be wrong with that? It was clearly a commandment -- see Leviticus 25] and sabbatical years [also plain commands of God which were never abrogated or abolished! same chapter]. We will be diligent to avoid all forms of uncleanness [of course! shouldn't we? see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, where God's laws of clean and unclean foods are spelled out! To disobey them is to invite sickness, disease, plague and ill-health into our lives and pollute the temple of our bodies which God gave us], and we will wear phylacteries..."
What about "Phylacteries"?
"Phylacteries"? Where is this commanded in the Scriptures? This man appears to believe that YEHOVAH commanded His people to wear phylacteries in the Old Testament. But did He?
Wearing phylacteries was a custom of the Jews, but never a clear command in the Scriptures at all! The custom was based on Jewish halakah or rules which were motivated by a particularly stringent interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:8 -- "You shall bind them" -- YEHOVAH God's commandments -- as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." According to the Jewish custom, this verse was used to justify and indeed as evidence that Jewish men were to wear a little box containing certain verses of Scripture between their eyes, on their foreheads, and on their hands. The verses so contained were those immediately preceding this verse -- Deuteronomy 6:4-7. But is this really what YEHOVAH commanded? This verse says we are to bind ALL YEHOVAH's commandments AS signs on our right hands, and AS frontlets between our eyes. Verse 6 reads, "And these words which I command you THIS DAY shall be IN YOUR HEART. You shall teach them diligently to your children..." That "day" YEHOVAH reiterated the entire book of Deuteronomy, called the "repetition of the law," to the generation that was going into the Promised Land. Those commandments included ALL of the Ten Commandments (see Deuteronomy 5:5-22). They also included the laws of unclean meats (Deuteronomy 14), the annual Festivals (Deuteronomy 16), and the statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God.
Is it therefore humanly possible to write down all these laws, which YEHOVAH commanded them that day, and put them in a "box" to wear on the back of their hands, and between their eyes? Of course not! Nor could they literally put these commands "in their heart," in a physical sense -- or else they would have had to surgically operate, remove the tissues surrounding their "heart," and indelibly inscribe all these commands there!
YEHOVAH God is not speaking in this verse of "phylacteries" -- not at all. He is speaking of ALL the Law of YEHOVAH being bound up in our hearts and minds, mentally and spiritually, and of them being with us in all our work and activities -- all that our "hand" does -- and between our "eyes" as being always before us, in our line of vision, and never allowed to depart from our sight. We are to understand this command metaphorically, for the command is that the commandments are to be bound as a sign -- not literally -- and as frontlets -- not like a literal horse's blinders. The word "AS" in this verse qualifies the meaning as being metaphorical, and not literal. The little boxes called "phylacteries" do not begin to fulfill this command of YEHOVAH -- they do not contain all the words of the Law YEHOVAH gave Israel that day!
However, the editor is trying to make a point. He is trying to ridicule the concept that all the law of YEHOVAH God is in force, today, so he picks on "phylacteries" to show how dubious such a proposition would be. Unfortunately for him, the whole issue of phylacteries is a moot point, because they were not part of the Mosaic law, but an added halakah of the rabbis from a much later period. Yeshua himself, who kept the laws of YEHOVAH God perfectly, rebuked the Pharisees, who, he said, "make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments" (Matthew 23:5). Yeshua did not necessarily condemn the wearing of the phylacteries, but he did condemn their being made "broad" or large and conspicuous. However, they were not commanded in the Law, but were a "tradition of the elders" during the time of the Messiah -- one which had obviously gotten out of hand.
What about Animal Sacrifices?
Let's go on. The editor continues:
"...we will wear...only pure fabrics [a good practice even today, for health and vitality reasons as well as the lesson of "purity" that it teaches]. We will offer sacrifices, not only for sin but also for fellowship offerings and thank offerings" (ibid.).
Now is this really true? Does anybody teach -- even those of us who believe Yeshua the Messiah meant precisely what he said, that not a jot or a tittle of the Law has been abolished -- that Christian Israelites are therefore to offer animal sacrifices today? This kind of "put down" and exaggeration is not helpful in meaningful spiritual dialogue. However, this statement brings up an interesting issue: What if there were a Jewish Temple to be rebuilt? Would it be wrong to offer animal sacrifices, as YEHOVAH commanded in Old Testament times?
The truth is, no sacrifices have been offered by the Jewish people since 70 A.D., when the Temple of YEHOVAH in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under Titus and Vespasian! In order for animal sacrifices to be offered, there must exist an altar of sacrifice, and a sanctuary or holy place. Since these conditions are not fulfilled at the present time, it is pure ludicrous nonsense for anyone to insist that Christian Israelites must offer animal sacrifices! Where has the editor's understanding gone wrong? Where did he go astray in his thinking?
On the other hand, if a Temple of YEHOVAH God did exist, would it be wrong for a Christian Israelite to offer a sacrifice? What do the Scriptures say about this possibility? Some people point to Acts 21 and when the apostle Paul came to Jerusalem in 60 A.D., and met with the headquarters' church leaders -- including James the brother of the Messiah. James told him:
"You see, brother, how many myriads [tens of thousands] of Jews there are who have believed, and they are ZEALOUS FOR THE LAW [notice -- this was 29 years after the crucifixion! If the Law had been abolished by the Messiah's death, they certainly should have realized it by then! But no -- they were zealous for the Law of God -- they knew it had not been destroyed or annulled!] . . ." (Acts 21:20).
James encouraged Paul to go to the Temple, with others in the church who had taken a vow, apparently a Nazarite vow, and who were ending their vow. They were going to the Temple to shave their heads and offer the prescribed sacrifices (see Numbers 6). Paul went with them. Many rumors had been circulating about Paul, and some of the brethren thought he was against YEHOVAH's Law. So James encouraged Paul to go with the brethren who had taken the vow: "Take them and be purified with them, and PAY THEIR EXPENSES so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law" (Acts 21:24).
"Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered into the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them" (verse 26).
Notice, now, how this compares with the Nazarite vow, a voluntary vow which was part of the laws of YEHOVAH God given in the days of Moses:
"Now this is the law of the Nazirite; When the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall present his offering to the LORD; one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a burnt offering, one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as a peace offering, a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offerings....This is the law of the Nazarite who vows to the LORD the offering for his separation..." (Numbers 6:13-21).
Has this law of YEHOVAH God (which included sacrifices) been abolished by the Messiah's death? If so, then it would appear that the apostle Paul and those with him in 60 A.D., twenty-nine years after the crucifixion, SINNED! The fact is, however -- there is no mention of Paul ever offering sacrifices in Acts 21!
Paying the expenses for terminating the vow of these four men certainly did NOT equate to Paul also taking the vow. Acts 21:23-24 recounts how Paul was charged by James to take four men who were taking a Nazarite vow and purify himself with them. Acts 21 doesn't use the word "Nazarite," but does say they had "taken a vow," so we can conclude they were Nazarites. Paul himself was NOT a Nazarite though, and had not been defiled by a dead body, so he was not in the same situation as the other four. Paul's part was to be IN CHARGE of the four men, since a man who was CLEAN had to sprinkle the "water of separation" on them (see Numbers 19:11) and take a bath, wash his clothes and bring the four men to the door of the Temple to make their offering at the end of the days of separation.
In Numbers 6, verses 1 through 8, are the instructions for what the Nazarite is supposed to do and not do during the days of the vow. Verses 9 through 12 are for the Nazarite that gets defiled BEFORE his days are fulfilled; and verses 13 through 21 pertain to the Nazarite that fulfills his days without being defiled, and who needs no cleansing from defilement. The undefiled Nazarite does NOT have to spend seven days in cleansing. The defiled Nazarite LOSES the days of his separation before his defilement but is given the consolation of the seven days special separation before his head is shaven.
The water was to be sprinkled on the 3rd and 7th days of the defiled Nazarite's special days of separation, and they were to shave their hair on the seventh day, and then on the EIGHTH DAY was when the offerings were to be made. Paul apparently became involved just before the 7th day, and clearly he was captured "when the seven days were almost ended," and therefore was removed from the Temple BEFORE the sacrifices were scheduled to be made on the eighth day. Therefore, the apostle Paul did NOT participate in sacrifices but only assisted with cleansing as the "clean man" in charge of the four taking the vow.
Now notice verse 30: "And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; AND IMMEDIATELY THE DOORS WERE SHUT." Why were the doors to the Temple shut? The people knew better than to violate the Temple in any manner, and the Romans would have a war on their hands if they attempted to enter the Temple grounds. With the Temple doors shut NO SACRIFICES COULD BE MADE! This was clearly a sign from YEHOVAH God to the Jerusalem church that the sacrificial system was indeed ended with the Messiah's death. The four men in Paul's charge never got to complete their vow.
According to Vincent's Word Studies, "The person who paid the expenses for the poor devotees who could not afford the necessary charges 'shared' the vow in so far as that he was required to stay with the Nazarites until the time the vow had expired." According to Acts 21:26-27 however, Paul was only with the four men for the last few days of their separation. If he had stayed with them the entire time, "Paul...would have to live with the four paupers in the chamber of the temple which was set apart for this purpose; and then to pay for the sixteen sacrificial animals and the accompanying meat offerings. He must also stand among the Nazarites during the offering of the sacrifices, and look on while their heads were shaved, and while they took their hair to burn it under the cauldron of the peace offerings, and while the priest took four sodden shoulders of rams, and four unleavened cakes out of the four baskets, and four unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and put them on the hands of the Nazarites and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD."
Paul avoided most of this by being seized by the Jews and arrested by the Romans BEFORE the seven days were ended (Acts 21:27-33).
The bottom line is that Paul was not supposed to be in Jerusalem to begin with! He was in error to go to Jerusalem after it was said to him through the spirit that he should NOT go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-12). And even while Paul was in the Temple after arriving in Jerusalem, the Messiah himself appeared to him and told him -- in no uncertain terms -- to "make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly" (Acts 22:18), but Paul delayed in obeying the Messiah and, as a result, the Jews captured him and physically abused him. The Roman soldiers had to come to his rescue and lift him up in their hands above the crowd, to protect him from "the violence of the mob."
"Applied in a spiritual way"?
Here is more "double-talk" from the master of "double-speak":
"These laws are still valid -- but, as we know, they are applied in a spiritual way. The application of the law has been transformed by the coming of Jesus Christ" (Worldwide News, ibid.).
Here the editor admits that the Laws of YEHOVAH God are "still valid" -- that is, the laws of purity, clean and unclean meats, Jubilee years, Sabbatical years, Sabbaths, Holy Days, sacrifices, etc. -- but he goes on to assert with astonishing nonchalance, that they are applied today "in a spiritual way" -- whatever that means!
This is dumfounding! How do you apply laws against mixing fabrics "spiritually"? Have you ever seen a spiritual "fabric"? How do you apply the laws against eating pork, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and other unclean things "spiritually"? Do you avoid eating "spiritual pigs," "spiritual crabs," "spiritual shrimp," "spiritual oysters," etc.?
How would one apply the plain spoken seventh year land rest "spiritually"? Have you ever seen or owned any "spiritual land"? And how do you offer "spiritual animal sacrifices"? Ever see a flock of spiritual sheep, or a herd of spiritual cattle? I've heard of "ghost riders in the sky," but that's merely a cowboy western song.
But the editor says all the Old Testament Laws are done away and now we are only to apply them "spiritually" -- that is, "spiritualize them."
Paul knew the Law of YEHOVAH God was still in force, and nothing could change it! Paul knew that YEHOVAH's Law is not abolished -- it will last FOREVER! He wrote, "Wherefore the law IS HOLY, and the commandment HOLY, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12). He also wrote: "Do we then make void the law through faith? GOD FORBID; yea, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31).
This editor certainly shows a strange and hostile attitude toward the laws of YEHOVAH God. One can only wonder what his true motivation is. However, David wrote of the Law of YEHOVAH, and of those who denigrate it and despise it and who depart from it, in these words:
"I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law...Depart from me you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God!...You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood...It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as VOID. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore ALL your precepts concerning ALL things I consider to be right; I hate every false way...I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments...Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law" (Psalm 119:113-136).
How different, and how refreshing, David's attitude toward YEHOVAH's Law was, compared to that of modern nay-sayers and critics. But David's attitude was amazingly pure and sincere, of whom YEHOVAH said, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22).
The editor goes on, later in his article:
"If we are always forgiving debts and liberating people from bondage, we do not have to do anything different on sabbatical years. If we are treating our livestock and farmland properly, we do not have to do anything different on sabbatical years.
"If we examine our hearts for corruption and are being cleansed by Jesus Christ, then we do not have to be fanatical about destroying houses that have mildew. If our thoughts are pure, we don't have to worry about our fabrics...The laws are VALID, but the way in which we obey them has been TRANSFORMED by the coming of Jesus Christ" (ibid.).
What a gargantuan lack of understanding is revealed in these biting words! People are not always forgiving others financial debts -- it very seldom happens. These laws are codified by YEHOVAH God to cause society to function with the knowledge that all debts will be automatically either paid off -- or forgiven -- within seven years. Similarly, farm animals (and land) do not need rest every year -- they need a year's rest every seventh year! By saying farmers can rest their animals and crops a little every year this editor shows his gross ignorance of the purpose of this commandment!
The editor also implies that ancient Israelites were "fanatical" about destroying houses that have mildew. But the Old Testament laws about destroying unclean houses that could not be otherwise rehabilitated merely underscores the seriousness of severe pollution -- the ineradicable kind. YEHOVAH God never commanded men to destroy houses with a slight "mildew" problem in the walls. Is this editor implying here that it is FANATICAL for human beings to simply want to obey YEHOVAH?
These words from the pen of the editor are gobble-de-gook double-talk clap-trap from the puny, scrawny, sorry-looking pugnacious pounder of YEHOVAH God's Law! He says the laws of YEHOVAH are "valid, BUT..."
There is "no but about it"! YEHOVAH's laws are valid, PERIOD! Exclamation point!
But the editor insists, "But the way in which we obey them has been TRANSFORMED..." That is, we no longer obey them in the letter, or according to the plain and simple printed word -- he says it is all "TRANSFORMED" in some way -- that is, "spiritualized" somehow.
Strange. How do you "spiritualize" a law against murder? Isn't it meant to be taken literally? How do you "spiritualize" a law against stealing? Does that make it all right to steal? How do you "spiritualize" a law against adultery? Does that make literal adultery all right?
YEHOVAH God wrote these laws for a purpose. He knew that His people Israel simply would not forgive debts, properly, unless there was a LAW specifying how and when debts would be automatically forgiven, and lands redeemed, if people did not forgive them on their own! YEHOVAH knew farmers, who can also be greedy and guilty of abusing their land and crops and livestock, would need to give the land and animals a rest every seven years -- for their own good, as a sabbath rest. YEHOVAH knew, also, that certain houses, where the walls are infested with plague, would be best torn down and destroyed, to stop the progress of the plague!
If your house had rottenness in the walls, and termites have destroyed the foundations and underpinnings, YOU HAD BETTER TEAR IT DOWN physically, or REPAIR THE DAMAGE, IF POSSIBLE, and not assume that you can take care of the problem by "thinking pure thoughts" about it!
In one sense, though, it is true, that the Messiah has "transformed" the way in which we are to obey the laws and commandments of YEHOVAH God. How is this? It is not by "spiritualizing" it away!
"He Will EXALT the Law"
Isaiah the prophet wrote of the coming Messiah, "The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will EXALT THE LAW and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). To "exalt" the law does not mean to shoot holes through it, or to destroy it, or to torpedo it, or to weaken, vicerate, vilify, or collapse the law. It means to MAGNIFY, highly esteem, raise to a higher level, EMPOWER, strengthen, and GLORIFY the law!
Yeshua raised the Law of YEHOVAH to a higher level. He didn't spiritualize it away, but made its observance a matter of the heart and spirit, and even made it "tougher" to keep, than the mere "letter." For Yeshua said:
"You have heard that is was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. . . .
"Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery . . .
"Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all . . .
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an ye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile with him, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:27-45, NKJV).
Clearly, Yeshua did "exalt" and "magnify" the Law of YEHOVAH God. He brought out the Law's original intent. He went beyond the letter of the Law, and in effect made it far more binding -- even in the heart, intent, and mind!
"TRANSFERRED INTO THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION"
The following quotation is incredible. It is so bad that only a very ignorant person, or an easily duped individual, would believe it. Notice!
"The point is that some OT laws are, in Christian application, spiritualized. They are REMOVED FROM THE DIMENSIONS OF SPACE AND TIME and transferred into the SPIRITUAL DIMENSION of attitude and interpersonal relationships."
Thus the editor removes the laws of YEHOVAH God away from the human dimension, including space and time, and relegates them to some other "dimension" -- another "reality" -- which he calls a "spiritual dimension." His meaning is, therefore, that we no longer need to observe any of these laws in actual fact, but just be sort of "mentally aware" of them! He puts them in a "box" in some sort of "fourth dimension" where we never need be concerned about them ever again! A neat trick, if he can get away with it! That is just what the devil would like to do -- put YEHOVAH's Laws in a box, and jettison them into another reality, so he can escape divine judgment! Isolate them in some "black hole" in outer space, where he never need fear their awesome retribution for disobedience!
"Some people fight against spiritualizations. I've heard of one former minister who advocates old covenant customs even to the point that he says Christians should offer animal sacrifices if the temple were still standing! And yet, as far as I know, he does not wear phylacteries or blue threads in tassels on his garments . . .
"...My main point is that some OT laws are spiritualized....However, there are all sorts of opinions out there concerning which laws may be spiritualized and which cannot. Some people want physical circumcision. some want land sabbaths...Some want weekly Sabbaths but not annual. Some want new moons. Many different doctrinal packages exist; each person thinks his own is the biblical one and that the others are inconsistent" (ibid.).
No doubt there is much controversy over these issues. Whole churches exist, devoted to different interpretations of these matters! Nevertheless, the truth stands secure and firm, and cannot be dislodged. This editor clearly is of the opinion that some laws are "spiritualized," or done away, and some (like the laws against murder, theft, idolatry, I suppose) are still valid and binding, physically. He then gets to the nitty gritty of his argument:
"The OT clearly commanded the Israelites to wear blue threads in tassels on their garments (Numbers 15:38-39). Was this law inspired by God, or not? Answer: It was. Who has the authority to declare a God-given law obsolete? Answer: Only God.
"Does the New Testament specifically rescind this law? Answer: No. It says nothing about this specific law. Then how can we prove, with divine authority, that it is obsolete? Answer: Because the New Testament declares the entire old covenant obsolete (Heb. 8:13). As a law code, as a source of laws, it is not valid" (ibid.).
Is that the correct answer? Can we prove that "tassels" on our garments, as the Jews wear today on prayer shawls, are obsolete and done away, "because the New Testament declares the entire old covenant obsolete"? Is that what Hebrew 8:13 really says? Let's find out.
"Old Covenant" Versus the "New Covenant"
We read in Hebrews 8:13:
"In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13, NKJV).
This verse doesn't say anything about tassels or fringes on garments! In fact, all it says is what we already know -- that the Old Covenant as such is obsolete and ready to vanish away. That statement proves nothing insofar as the laws contained in the Old Covenant are concerned. Lets go back a few verses, and see what was REALLY changed, by the introduction of the New Covenant! Was it the "Laws of God," or something else? Notice!
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because, FINDING FAULT WITH THEM [that is, the PEOPLE!], He says: 'Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah [that is the people of the two nations comprising the tribes of Israel] -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant [they were rebellious and disobedient, just like many people today!], and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 'For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put MY LAWS in their mind and WRITE THEM on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people" (Heb. 8:7-10).
Do we see the point? There was nothing wrong with the Laws of the Old Covenant, that YEHOVAH God would abolish any of them! Rather, the fault was with the people! They refused to obey YEHOVAH's laws, just like some churches and ministers do, today! The rebellious, carnal human heart has not changed! As Paul wrote to the Romans, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Romans 8:7). As Jeremiah wrote: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The fault was in the people, not the Law of YEHOVAH God!
Notice! Jeremiah the prophet wrote:
"For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, OBEY MY VOICE, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.' Yet they did NOT OBEY or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward" (Jer. 7:22-23).
Obviously, the Old Covenant, at first did not include the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices. These came later and were made part of the Old Covenant, as "amendments" to the constitution, as it were. But when Israel came out of Egypt, YEHOVAH gave them His laws and commandments -- including the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, and statutes and judgments. But He did not command them regarding the sacrificial system of sin offerings, and the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood. These were added later, because of the disobedience of the people, to teach them the lesson and habit of obedience! They were added after the children of Israel demonstrated their penchant and proclivity for gross disobedience in the golden calf episode in the wilderness of Sinai!
While the Israelites were still coming out of Egypt, and YEHOVAH had just given them the knowledge of His holy Sabbath day, exactly one month after they left Egypt, YEHOVAH gave them manna from heaven for six days, and then on the weekly Sabbath He gave them none, having provided a double portion on the sixth day. Yet some of the people disobeyed YEHOVAH, and went out to gather on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:25-27). Therefore the LORD said to Moses of the children of Israel, "How long do you REFUSE TO KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS AND MY LAWS?" (verse 28). Disobedience was ingrained in the people. They were carnal-minded and naturally hostile towards YEHOVAH God's Law. What would the solution to this dilemma be?
The solution, as Paul pointed out in the book of Hebrews, was not a change of the laws, but rather a CHANGE IN THE HEART OF THE PEOPLE! YEHOVAH did not do away with His Laws; He instead made available more of His holy spirit, and gave it in measure to those who repented of their sins, so it would empower them to OBEY Him (Acts 2:38; 5:32). As Paul wrote, "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are IN Christ Jesus, now walk NOT after the flesh, but AFTER THE SPIRIT. For the LAW of the SPIRIT OF LIFE in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2). The holy spirit writes the Laws of YEHOVAH God in our hearts and minds. As Paul said, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND" (II Timothy 1:7).
Therefore, in truth, NONE of the "eternal" laws of YEHOVAH God are done away. The laws dealing with animal sacrifices have been ended since Yeshua is the fulfillment of the animal sacrifices. All the animal sacrifices pointed to Him, who was our true "sin offering" (II Corinthians 5:21), our true "peace offering" (Romans 5:1-2), our true "burnt offering" who gave up His all for us (Hebrews 10:8-10).
Old Testament Laws a "Temporary Package"?
As if this editor had not gotten into deep enough hot water, he then goes on to argue for what must be his real purpose and belief -- that ALL the Old Testament laws, found in the Old Covenant, are done away, superseded, abolished, replaced by new laws. He asserts:
"This brings us to our second approach to OT law: None of it is valid. Christians do not have to keep the law of Moses, because those laws were a temporary package designed only to be in force until the Messiah came."
Go back and read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, " "Honor thy father and thy mother," "Thou shalt not murder," "Thou shalt not commit adultery," "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," "Thou shalt not covet." Do any of those laws sound "TEMPORARY"? Do any of them sound as if they constituted a "temporary package designed only to be in force until the Messiah came"? Falderol and balderdash!
Of course, I left out the fourth commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." That one, of course, he would surely say was "temporary"! Yet the God who gave the weekly Sabbath command, says that the Sabbath is commanded to be observed "throughout your generations" (Exodus 31:13), and was instituted as a "sign" between YEHOVAH God and His people Israel to be observed "as a PERPETUAL [eternal] COVENANT" (Exodus 31:16-17)!
As for the annual Sabbaths, or Holy Days, the editor would surely say these were temporary, only lasting till the Messiah came. But again we read in the Scriptures YEHOVAH God's answer to this Protestant gibberish and heretical malarkey: The Passover was commanded to be observed "as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an EVERLASTING ORDINANCE" (Exodus 12:14). The Days of Unleavened Bread were commanded "throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance" (verse 17), "as an ordinance for you and your sons FOREVER" (v. 24).
Does any of this sound as if it were instituted as a "temporary package"?
What part of the word "FOREVER" does this editor not understand?
The other holy days, too, were ordained forever -- Pentecost (Leviticus 23:21), Atonement ("a statute forever," verse 31), Tabernacles ("a statute forever in your generations," v. 41). The editor's reasoning falls flat.
The editor adds:
"If we are abiding by the spirit of the law, do we automatically (without any need of a written law) look to a calculated Jewish calendar, based on the agricultural seasons of Palestine, and observe a specific seven days of the year...? This is not automatic at all. Rather, it is based exclusively on the written old covenant."
Thus by the editor's reasoning, the New Covenant does away with the need of all holy days (they are mysteriously "internalized" by being spiritualized and therefore disregarded and ignored). The calculated (by the moon) sacred calendar which YEHOVAH God gave His people (Exodus 12:1) becomes unnecessary and obsolete. Who needs a calendar, or priests to determine it, if the whole process and entity is "abolished"? Who needs a "calendar" if there are no longer any holy days, "appointed times," weekly Sabbaths, etc.? Apparently to this editor all days are the same, and there is no such thing as "holy time." In fact, in his eyes the very concept of a calendar appears superfluous and unnecessary!
Since the holy days of YEHOVAH God are statutes to be observed forever, they are NOT abolished, even though the Old Covenant is in the process of vanishing away. The holy days of YEHOVAH God are perpetuated and observed forever because they are also part of the NEW COVENANT, written in our hearts and minds! The fact that they were instituted "forever," as "everlasting" ordinances, and "perpetual statutes" should prove this to us, once and for all!
The Oldest, Dirtiest Little Trick in the Book
"Spiritualizing" everything away is the oldest trick in the book. Satan the devil used it in the first century, to lead the early church followers into apostasy, which began and was full blown by the days of the apostle Paul (II Thessalonians 2:1-10). It is happening all over again, today, in our generation, before our very eyes. The apostle Paul wrote in warning to our end-time generation, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but, after their own lusts, will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).
Paul also warned, "Now the spirit speaketh expressly that, in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:1-2). Satanic deception will characterize the end of this age. That deception has begun. With a vengeance.
YEHOVAH God warns, "This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits; Get out of the way, turn aside out of the path" (Isaiah 30:9-11). Many false prophets and teachers today are doing just that -- to their eternal shame and torment! May YEHOVAH God help each one of us to learn the TRUTH about His holy, inviolate, immutable and eternal Law -- and to love it with all our heart!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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