Law

Does Paul tell us if all the Old Covenant has passed away or if only part of the Old Covenant has passed away? Paul says:

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13).

According to Paul the entire Old Covenant has become obsolete, not just the ceremonial part! For a Sabbatarian/ Messianic to be biblical, whatever he believes, he must deal honestly with this verse. What does it say? “…he(Jesus) has made the first one obsolete…” This verse is very clear: the first or Old Covenant is obsolete or has passed away.

In Galatians 5:1, Jesus has freed all believers from something Paul calls “a yoke of slavery”. In context this verse is the culmination of Paul’s allegory on Christian freedom (4:21-31). In Paul’s allegory the yoke of slavery is the burden of the whole Old Covenant.

“Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?” (4:21).

What “law” is Paul referring to? He continues, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman” (v.22). Where is this written? In one of the five books of Moses that contains all the law. This story is not from some ceremonial section of the law of the Old Covenant. It is found in the book of Genesis chapter 16. In Galatians 4:24 it is as clear as crystal that Hagar represents the Old Covenant established at Mt. Sinai which covenant means slavery for its children. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” In v. 28 Paul says that his fellow believers are not children of this Old Covenant yoke of slavery, but are the children of New Covenant freedom. In v. 30 Paul tells Christians to “cast out” Hagar who represents the Old Covenant of slavery. What does this accomplish? “Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (v. 31). Christians are free from all the laws of the Old Covenant not just the ceremonial ones. The “yoke of slavery” referred to in 5:1 must be the same yoke of slavery that Paul has been referring to in 4:21-31 and that is the whole Old Covenant. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” Were only the ceremonial commandments from Mount Sinai? No, the Ten Commandments and all the other commandments were from Mount Sinai. Hagar represents the entire Old Covenant and Christians are to cast out that entire covenant in order to become children of freedom.

According to the New Testament, the purpose of the Law was to reveal God’s standard of righteousness and man’s sinfulness. This in turn teaches man that he needs a substitutionary atonement—a savior. According to the New Testament, the Law of Moses was also a monitor over one immature in faith. When one moves to a mature faith, characterized by accepting the finished work of Jesus, that person is no longer in the monitor’s charge (see Galatians 3:23-25). Therefore, the monitor has reached its goal and is dismissed. The entire Mosaic Law becomes obsolete and the Christian comes under the Law of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2).

Modern day 7th day Sabbatarians, want to enforce mandatory 7th day Sabbath on Christians. Even the Sabbatarians realize that the vast majority of the Mosaic Covenant laws are obsolete in the New Covenant [circumcision for example]. In the hope of salvaging their Sabbath keeping, sabbatarians try to force distinctions on the Mosaic Laws. The usual distinctions invented are to call some moral laws (the Ten Commandments), some ceremonial, and some legal or civil. The reason for these unbiblical categories is so that they can claim that Christians are not under the ceremonial or civil laws, but are still under the Ten Commandments.

In Scripture, the Law of Moses is always spoken of as one unit comprised of 613 commandments. It is crucial for the serious student of the Bible to understand that the Mosaic Laws, all 613 commands, are viewed as one unit in the Bible. The Bible nowhere gives us permission to separate the laws of the Mosaic Covenant. The word “law” (Torah in Hebrew & Nomos in the Greek) when applied to the Mosaic Law is always singular even though it contains 613 separate commandments. For example;

“This is the law which Moses set before the Israelites. These are the ordinances, statutes, and decrees which he proclaimed to them when they came out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 4:44-45).

Clearly “the law” here is all 613 laws not just the Decalogue.

“Then were read aloud all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, exactly as written in the book of the law. Every single word that Moses had commanded, Joshua read aloud…” (Joshua 8:34-35).

Again all the law without separation is referred to.

“Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the Law of Moses…” (1 Kings 2:3).

All the requirements are the Law. One final example of many:

“Many nations will come and say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths’.

The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:2).

Other passages showing that the Law of the Mosaic Covenant is one unit include Leviticus 18:5; 24:22; Deuteronomy 4:1, 5, 8; 6:25; 31:12-13; 2 Kings 17:3; 21:8; 23:25; 1 Chronicles 16:40; Ezra 7:6; Psalm 78:5; 119:1, 55, 108, 137, 174; 147:20; Proverbs 31:4-5; Isaiah 5:24; Jeremiah 18:18; Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Hosea 4:6; Amos 2:4; Habakkuk 1:4; Zephaniah 3:4; Zechariah 7:12; Malachi 2:9; Mark 15:31; John 1:17; Acts 13:39; Galatians 3:10; Ephesians 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 1:7-8; Titus 3:9; Hebrews 10:28; James 2:10. The idea that the Law of the Lord equals the Ten Commandments and that the Law of Moses equals the now obsolete ceremonial law is not supported by Scripture. The ceremonial law is called “the Law of the Lord” numerous times in Scripture. “From his own wealth the king allotted a portion for holocausts, those of morning and evening and those on Sabbaths, new moons and festivals, as prescribed in the law of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 31:3). This obvious reference to the ceremonial laws (weekly, monthly, yearly sequence) is called the Law of the Lord and not that of Moses as the Sabbatarian/ Messianic thesis requires. In Nehemiah 8 we have the example of the “Law of Moses” and the “Law of the Lord” being used to refer to the same books. “…they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses…” (v.1). “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God…” (v. 8). In a clear reference to the ceremonial law we read, “They found it written in the law prescribed by the Lord through Moses that the Israelites must dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month” (v. 14; see Leviticus 23:33-36). From what book was this read? “Ezra read from the book of the law of God…” (v.18). This passage from Nehemiah 8 uses the two terms in question interchangeably. Other passages where the ceremonial law is called the Law of the Lord are Exodus 13:7-9; 1 Chronicles 16:40; 2 Chronicles 31:3-4.

In the New Testament we read from the lips of Jesus; “Have you not read in the Law how the priests on temple duty break the Sabbath rest without incurring guilt?” (Matthew 12:5). This is a clear reference to the ceremonial law called by Jesus “the Law”. This indicates that Jesus considered the Mosaic Law to be one inseparable unit—the Law. When Jesus was asked which of the commandments of the Law was the greatest he quoted two commandments neither of which was from the so-called moral law, that is the Ten Commandments (see Matthew 22:34-40). Instead he quoted from the so-called ceremonial or civil law (see Deuteronomy 6:5 & Leviticus 19:18). Again it seems that Jesus understood the Mosaic Law to be one inseparable unit. One final New Testament example, “When the day came to purify them according to the law of Moses, the couple brought him up to Jerusalem so that he could be presented to the Lord, for it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every first born male shall be consecrated to the Lord’. They came to offer in sacrifice ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons’, in accord with the dictates in the law of the Lord (Luke 2:22-24). Here we see once again the Law of Moses and the Law of the Lord equated. The ceremonial law is clearly in view, as also can be seen in Luke 2:39, and is referred to as the “Law of the Lord.”

The obvious truth is that the Bible never even once makes any distinction in terms of the Law between one moral and one ceremonial. On the contrary the 613 laws of the Mosaic Covenant are always viewed as one unit. This helps to explain why we read, “Cursed be he who fails to fulfill any of the provisions of this law!” (Deuteronomy 27:26). “It is written, ‘Cursed is he who does not abide by everything written in the book of the law and carry it out’” (Galatians 3:10). “Whoever falls into sin on one point of the Law, even though he keeps the entire remainder, he has become guilty on all counts” (James 2:10). These Scripture makes perfect sense if the Law is one inseparable unit.

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