Saturday, February 5, 2011
Laying Down the Law - The Missing Pieces
One aspect of the Law of Moses that many Christians have failed to properly examine today is the unique setting in which the Law was intended to be carried out. The Law was given to a peculiar people, at a specific time, under a unique government, and carried out by a priesthood especially ordained to oversee its implementation.
According to the Jewish Rabbi Maimonides, there are 613 Laws found in the five books of Moses. Maimonides listed 365 negative Laws (prohibitions), one to correspond with every day of the year. Additionally, he listed 248 positive Laws.
In 1990 Chofetz Chaim published the book “Sefer HaMitzvot HaKatzar.” In this book he determined that it was only possible to observe 77 of the 365 negative commandments of the Law today, and 194 of the 248 positive commandments. Of this number, 26 of the Laws could only be carried out by those who reside in Israel.
If one does the math, only 21% of the Laws of Moses stated as negative commands can be observed today. Only 44% of the entire body of commandments can be observed, and this number drops to 40% if a person resides outside of Israel.
What this reveals is that Yahweh intended the Law to exist in a very specific environment. When Moses presented the Law to the children of Israel in the wilderness, it was possible for them to observe 100% of the commandments of God. One of the chief requirements for this to occur was that the people receiving the Law had to belong to a nation that adopted the Mosaic Law as its legal code. The nation’s rulers had to provide an environment where the Law’s commandments could legally be observed, while also enforcing the penalties of the Law.
A priesthood also had to exist in order for many of the requirements of the Law to be fulfilled. Tithes and offerings were to be delivered into the hands of the priesthood. Sacrifices were to be performed by them. A vast array of Laws required the involvement of the priesthood. For example, Yahweh declared it to be the priests’ role to inspect houses where mold was present to determine whether the mold could be eradicated, or whether the house must be torn down. Another example of priestly responsibility was determining whether a woman accused of adultery was guilty, or not. This is observed in the following unusual procedure.
And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before Yahweh. The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. Then the priest shall stand the woman before Yahweh, uncover the woman's head, and put the offering for remembering in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that brings a curse. And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, "If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband's authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you" - then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman - "Yahweh make you a curse and an oath among your people, when Yahweh makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot." 'Then the woman shall say, "Amen, so be it."
Because there does not exist on the earth today a nation that has adopted the Law of Moses as their legal code, and there is no longer a functioning priesthood, nor even a Temple with an altar, the majority of the Law’s requirements CANNOT be fulfilled. This presents the person who desires to be “Torah Observant” with an insurmountable obstacle. James, the brother of the Messiah, wrote the following:
Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Under the covenant delivered to Moses, Yahweh could only be satisfied when a man kept the entirety of the Law.
'Cursed is the one who does not confirm ALL the words of this law by doing them.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'
The Law required a very specific environment in which to function. The situation was very different from the days of Moses to Christ. However, in A.D. 70, the Roman Emperor ended a rebellion of the Jewish people by burning the city, tearing down the temple, and abolishing the priesthood. To this date the temple has not been rebuilt, nor the priesthood restored. Neither is there a government in place that has adopted the Law of Moses as its legal code.
Was it merely coincidental that the ability to observe the Law’s commandments ended shortly after the death of Christ, and this condition has continued to this day? It is no more a coincidence than the curtain barring entrance to the Holy of Holies being torn asunder from top to bottom at the moment Christ breathed His last on the cross of Calvary. Yahweh had irreversibly altered the manner through which mankind could approach Him. Man had gone from shadow to substance.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yahshua, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh...
The plan of Yahweh for the redemption of mankind is ever moving forward. The types of the Law find their antitypes in Christ and His body. As the shadows of the Law are fulfilled, they pass away for something more substantial has come.
I have had a number of people write to me over the years, arguing that the Law continues to this day, citing the following passage from Zechariah as evidence.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
This prophetic passage looks forward to the Millennian reign of Christ. Of that day we are told that a firstfruit group of sons will attain to the first resurrection. These sons will rule and reign over the nations.
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations - He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' as I also have received from My Father... He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
One might wonder why the nations will only be required to go up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles each year. The Law of Moses required that God’s people go up to Jerusalem three times a year.
"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles...”
I believe the reason is that once the types and shadows of the Law have been fulfilled and their substance has come, it is no longer required for the people to observe the shadows.
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Passover was required to be observed annually by the people of God UNTIL it found its fulfillment in Christ.
I Corinthians 5:7
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Fifty days later Pentecost found its fulfillment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. The only feast remaining to be fulfilled is Tabernacles. Tabernacles represents God and man dwelling together in fulness. This only occurs when a man has laid aside his earthly dwelling and receives a glorified body. This is symbolized at the feast, for men are required to build booths outside their homes and to dwell in them during the feast of tabernacles. They exit one dwelling place to enter another.
During the Millennial period, those saints who attained to the first resurrection will have entered into the substance of Tabernacles. However, the nations they are ruling over will not yet have entered in. The next resurrection does not occur until the thousand years is up (Revelation 20:5). Yahweh, wanting to foreshadow that which is to come, will require the nations to observe the feast annually until the substance has come.
It is error to conclude from this passage in Zechariah, that Christians are to continue to observe the Law. The apostles gave no instruction regarding such things. Indeed, Paul wrote that new moons, Sabbaths, feast days and laws pertaining to food and drink were given to God’s people as shadows to point them to the substance that is found in Christ.
Consider for a moment that the apostles’ behavior reveals that they were not bound to the observance of the Law. Although Paul continued to observe the feasts on occasion, he did not do so out of obligation. We have the record of his missionary journeys. Some of these journeys lasted for years. We have detailed accounts of his whereabouts. Paul did not leave the mission field to which God had sent him to travel to Jerusalem three times a year to keep the feasts. If he believed that Christians were under obligation to keep the Law, then he surely would have made the journey.
People of God, what I am declaring is that the Law was temporal. Yahweh provided a special environment for a season in which it could be observed. This environment no longer exists.
Some Christians have adopted what is termed by some as “replacement theology.” They believe that Christians, who are the spiritual seed of Abraham, have replaced the natural seed of Abraham. Therefore the covenant of the Law, and the priesthood now belong to them. The Bible clearly refutes such a view.
The Law of Moses was served by the Levitical priesthood. It is great error to suggest that Christians have taken up this priesthood. The Law, and by extension the Levitical Priesthood, could make nothing perfect. We have examined this carefully in earlier chapters. Therefore, it was necessary to put away that which is imperfect and to usher in something better. Christ was not, and is not, a Levitical priest. Yahshua was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi.
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
Nevertheless, Yahshua is a priest. Indeed He is a High Priest, but of a different order, a perfect order. And He is priest of a different Law.
Hebrews 7:11-13, 18-19
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law... For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
People of God, do you not see that those who are teaching the Law of Moses as a code of conduct for the body of Christ are acting as Levitical Priests? Christians are not called to be ministers of the Old Covenant, but of the New.
II Corinthians 3:6
[It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive.
The apostle Peter proclaimed that Christians are a nation of priests. They are not Levitical priests administering the Law of Moses. They are priests of the order of Melchizedek. They have been entrusted with a new covenant, based upon far surpassing promises. That which was imperfect has given way to that which is perfect.
Hebrews 8:1-7, 13
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second... In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete.
Let us not look back to that work which has been. Rather, let us look to that which now is. Christ is the High Priest of a new priestly order. Perfection was not to be found in the Levitical Priesthood (for under it the people received the Law, and the Law made nothing perfect). Christ has come to make men perfect.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God..., to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Yahshua the Mediator of the new covenant...
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