Judging books by their covers

 How God Became Jesus or How Jesus Became God?

©By Menashe Dovid

BartThe saying goes that one should never judge a book by its cover. However, when one has two book covers to consider and where one book is in answer to the other, it is possible to make a judgement based on the titles of the books alone without getting into the details of both books. The book in question is “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee” by Bart D. Ehrman[1] (Mar 25, 2014) and the response to the book “How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature—A Response to Bart D. Ehrman” by Michael F. Bird (Author), Craig A. Evans (Author), Simon Gathercole (Author), Charles E. Hill (Author) and Chris Tilling  (Author). Questions are always a good place to start:

“How did ancient monotheism allow the One God to have a ‘son’? Bart Ehrman tells this story, introducing the reader to a Jewish world thick with angels, cosmic powers, and numberless semi-divinities. How Jesus Became God provides a lively overview of Nicea’s prequel.” (Paula Fredriksen, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and author of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews)

As those who are familiar with my blog know that have a tendency to state the obvious! To the initial part of the question: “How did ancient monotheism allow the One God to have a ‘son’? It is an actual fact very easy to answer this part of the question:

19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian: ‘Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead that sought thy life.’ 20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt; and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘When thou goest back into Egypt, see that thou do before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in thy hand; but I will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go. 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh: Thus saith the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 And I have said unto thee: Let My son go, that he may serve Me; and thou hast refused to let him go. Behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born. Exodus 4

The activities of G-d’s son Israel, is further explained in terms of Israel described collectively as a servant. Certain of the prophetic specifications, which Christians often view as pointing exclusively to Jesus, are in fact borrowed from biblical descriptions of Israel’s experience. For example, in Isaiah 53:7 the servant of the L-rd is said to be like a flock led to the slaughter. In Psalms 44:22 Israel is said to be like a flock led to the slaughter.

“For on your account we are killed all the day; we are considered as a flock for the slaughter.”

To give another example, Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous.” We have just such an expression in the Book of Daniel regarding Daniel’s people Israel. Daniel 12:1b-3.

“At that time your people will escape, everyone found written in the book. Many among those sleeping in the dust of the ground will awake, some to the life of eternity and others to shame and to the contempt of eternity. And the prudent will shine like the brilliance of the firmament, and those who make many righteous like the stars, for eternity and ever.”

To give another example, Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous and carry their iniquities.” This language comes from the operation of Israel’s sanctuary. It was the duty of Israel’s priests to carry[2] the iniquity of others. Leviticus 10:16-17.

“Concerning the goat of the sin-offering Moshe diligently inquired. There it was ― ablaze. He was angry with Elazar and with Itamar the surviving sons of Aaron. He said, ‘Why did you not eat the sin-offering in a sacred place, for it is most holy? And it was given you in order to carry the iniquity of the congregation, to make expiation on them before the L-rd.’”

Numbers 18:1 is also explicit in this connection.

“The L-rd said to Aaron, ‘You, your sons, and your father’s house with you shall carry the iniquity of the sanctuary; you and your sons with you shall carry the iniquity of your priesthood.’”

Carrying the iniquity of others is also a prophetic gesture. Ezekiel 4:4-6.

“And you shall lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it, the number of which you lie on it you will carry their iniquity. I have given you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of days, three hundred and ninety days. And you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Israel. And you shall finish these, then you shall lie on your right side, and you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Judah, forty days, a day for a year, one day per year I have imposed on you.”

During the exile, the children of Israel complain that their punishment is too severe, because they’re carrying the iniquity of previous generations.

“Our fathers sinned and they are no more, and we are carrying their iniquities.” [Lamentations 5:7]

In order to end the exile, the L-rd calls his righteous servant to resume Israel’s original mission task of carrying the iniquity of others. This is what priests do, and Israel is a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6).

It should be noted that in addition to the prophetic specifications borrowed from biblical descriptions of Israel, certain of the prophetic specifications do not seem applicable to Jesus at all. For example, Isaiah 53 verse 3 describes the servant of the L-rd as,

“A man of sufferings and familiar with sickness; like one who hides his face from us. He was despised, and we held him of no account. Yet it was our sickness he was bearing.”

Verse 10 adds,

“Yet the L-rd was pleased to crush him with sickness.”

The New Testament accounts relate numerous instances of Jesus healing people, but never is it told in the NT that he got sick in their place. If his work load and hiking itinerary is anything to go by, Jesus seems to have been a robustly healthy individual. If Jesus was characterized by sickness, the gospel writers do not note the fulfillment of prophecy.

Another particular which does not easily fit Jesus is in Isaiah 53:3,

“like one who hides his face from us.”

Hiding the face from others is the behavior proscribed by the Torah for a leper (Leviticus 13:45). We have no record of Jesus hiding his face. In fact, Christian teaching emphasizes the opposite: that Jesus is the disclosure of God; that in seeing Jesus’, God’s face is seen [2 Corinthians 4:6; John 14:9; 1:18].

Another particular which does not easily fit if the servant of the L-rd is Jesus comes in verse 8. It is evidently one of the astounded non-Jewish kings who confesses,

“On account of my people’s rebellion he plagued them.”

Within the framework of standard Jewish interpretation the statement makes good sense. If “my people” refers to the said king’s misbehaving subjects and “them” refers to the children of Israel, the prophecy is then saying that the L-rd plagued his servant Israel on account of these other people’s rebellion. But if, as Christians commonly claim, “my people” refers to Israel, who then can the antecedent of “them” be? Can Israel be both the referent of “my people” and the antecedent of “them?” Of course, it is a biblical truism that when God’s people Israel misbehave he punishes them, but why would the prophecy bring that up in connection with vicarious substitution? It is not vicarious substitution when people get what they deserve. Unless Jesus is the antecedent of “them,” it is difficult to construe this statement as referring to Jesus.

SOMThe activities of G-d’s son Israel and G-d’s servant Israel is further explained in terms of Israel described collectively as the son of man. In the 7th chapter of the book of Daniel, we learn of a prophetic vision granted to Daniel. He tells us of four great beasts rising out of the sea, one after another. After describing each of the four beasts Daniel sees “one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic) coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). Nearly all Christians do not entertain the slightest doubt that this verse is talking of their messiah Jesus! Indeed, they will even selectively quote that Jewish commentators like Rashi, who says that this verse is speaking of the King ‘moshiac’ (משיח Hebrew). To the Christian mindset ‘moshiac’ and ‘messiah’ are understood as interchangeable and are equivalent terms! A look at Daniel 7 shows that the Hebrew word ‘moshiac’ cannot appear anywhere in Daniel 7 because Daniel 7 is in Aramaic. The term ‘one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic)’ is found in Dan 7:13.

Dan 7:13 is one of the few passages in scripture that comes along with a commentary. The commentary is Daniel 7 itself and the commentary informs us who the “son of man” is in Daniel 7:13! The commentary informs us that after Daniel had seen the vision he approaches an angel and asks for a clarification of all that he had seen (7:16). The angel replies that the four beasts represented four kingdoms, and the final dominion will be given to the “holy ones of the most high” (7:18) – a reference to the nation of Israel. The angel elaborates further by telling us that the dominion under all of the heavens is given to “the nation of holy ones of the most high” (7:27) – again a clear reference to the nation of Israel. According to the angel, each of the beasts represents a different kingdom, while the son of man in Daniel’s vision represents Israel. Can a man represent a kingdom/ people? Speaking of Babylon; “and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man (כאנש), and a man’s (אנש) heart was given to it. (Dan 7:4, 5)

The history and account of the activities of G-d’s son Israel, G-d’s servant Israel and Israel as the son of man is the context of scripture in stark contrast to what comes later. What nicene-creedcomes later is the introduction of an idea of a world thick with angels, demons, a devil, cosmic powers, and numberless semi-divinities weaved into how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The idea further including the notion of God’s exclusive one and only Son and the singular son of man which eclipses and supersedes the context of scripture as summarized by the creed of Nicea[3]. The idea of how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus is so significant to Paul that he counts all things [his own cultural background and a pharisee] but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Phil 3:8. A recent blurb for a book “Divine Messiah” by Derek Leman readily admits the new innovation of the “Divine Messiah”:

In the early half of the first century, it happened so suddenly that there are no records of the way the innovation came about. The early community of Yeshua-followers started believing and practicing something beyond any previous concept. The Divine Messiah realization can be described from two perspectives, from below and from above. From below, it is the recognition that one who appeared to have been a teacher and miraculous messianic figure was actually someone much more exalted. From above, it is the realization that God and Messiah are different and yet utterly one in nature.

editingThe difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus makes for interesting reading, however, the context of scripture, i.e. Israel is unwittingly ignored and instead replaced by the innovation of the “Divine Messiah”. To add further to the confusion is Paul’s new thinking which includes the notion of an “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32). In contrast to Paul’s new thinking is the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations”. What divides Paul from the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” is his insistence that God’s justifying forgiveness is only extended to those who accept his Divine Christ faith. Paul’s insistence is regardless of the difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The stark contrast to Paul’s insistence are the parts of the New Testament attributed to Jesus whom Paul never met, which appear to have missed the efforts of the redactors of the New Testament. Jesus affirmed the oneness of G-d and upheld the commandments of the Torah as the way to eternal life:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10

Alternatively and in addition, the Christian before considering the issue of a divine messiah, may wish to consider the context prior to such an innovation as a divine messiah. The context is vital to understand that prior to such an innovation as proposed by the NT alone, the terms son of G-d, son of man, messiah and servant are plainly defined in the Jewish Scripture and are in no ways jettisoned in a single messiah (divine or otherwise) who eclipses/ replaces Israel and G-d forbid, G-d himself. Can a single human being in essence be the embodiment of all that Israel collectively is? Certainly as we have many contextual examples, at the very least we have King David, Yoseph and Moshe who are prime examples of G-d’s anointed ones [Messiahs]. After all is this why at least two of Israel’s messiahs in rabbinic thought are ben Yoseph and ben David for this very reason?

___________________________

[1] Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

[2] The goat [of the Day of Atonement] that was sent [into the wilderness] (Ley. xvi. 20, seq.) served as an atonement for all serious transgressions more than any other sin-offering of the congregation. As it thus seemed to carry off all sins, it was not accepted as an ordinary sacrifice to be slaughtered, burnt, or even brought near the Sanctuary; it was removed as far as possible, and sent forth into a waste, uncultivated, uninhabited land. There is no doubt that sins cannot be carried like a burden, and taken off the shoulder of one being to be laid on that of another being. But these ceremonies are of a symbolic character, and serve to impress men with a certain idea, and to induce them to repent; as if to say, we have freed ourselves of our previous deeds, have cast them behind our backs, and removed them from us as far as possible. CHAPTER XLVI, THE GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, BY MOSES MAIMONIDES.

[3] The Nicene Creed (Greek: Σύμβολον τῆς Νίκαιας, Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is the profession of faith or creed that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It forms the mainstream definition of Christianity for most Christians.

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A Prophet like Moses

©Menashe Dovid

13. Be wholehearted with the Lord, your God. (Deut 18)

יג. תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה עִם יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ

Messianics and Christians alike, insist that there are some 300 plus prophecies in the ‘Old’ Testament which find their ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua/ Jesus. A mediatorquestion posed by a Facebook missionary friend of mine challenged me with Deuteronomy Chapter 18 verses 15 and 18 which speak of a prophet to come who is like you [Moses]. The prophet is of course Yeshua/ Jesus according to my Facebook missionary friend. Now who would have expected that![1]? Quite apart from the fact that nowhere is it ever suggested in TaNaCh that any prophet, priest or messiah would be better to replace Moses or that THE sacrifice of Jesus/ Yeshua ends the sacrifices of animals[2].

At least another missionary friend admitted that he had never considered just how in general a prophet or very specifically how Yeshua/ Jesus is like Moses, Moses who is a prophet. In actual fact when we consider such a question as how a prophet is like Moses, we may well come up with a very strict criterion or even come to a realization that we really do not know what defines a prophet at all!

Immediate Context

Immediate context helps to get a grasp of a bigger picture. The bigger picture in the case of Deut 18 pivots on verses 13 and 14 which provide a ‘but’ or a contrast between verses 9-12 and verse 15 onwards.

13 You shall be whole-hearted with the LORD your God. 14 For these nations, that you are to dispossess, hearken to soothsayers, and to diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not suffered you to do so.

Verses 9-12 describe prohibitions for the Israelites against practicing divination, child sacrifice, sorcery, omen reading, animal charmers, ‘armpit’ witchcraft, necromancy and speaking/ prophesying with a bone in the mouth. Prohibitions for the Israelites actually served as methods of ‘guidance’ for the nations to run their affairs.

Instead and in complete contradistinction to the nations, Verse 13 tells the Israelites to wholeheartedly follow G-d and his guidance instead. The method of guidance collectively chosen by Israel was Moses the prophet and was with G-d’s approval:

“This is just what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb, on the day of the Assembly, saying, “Let me not hear the voice of the Lord my God any longer or see this wondrous fire any more, lest I die.” Whereupon the Lord said to me, “They have done well in speaking thus.” (Deut.18: 16-17)

However, as we know, Moses is not going to be around forever, eventually he will die and who will be a prophet in his place? After all the nation of Israel and its people still need a method which gives direction and guidance after Moses has gone. The method as scripture shows includes a prophet chosen by the Israelites whose choice is approved by G-d no less!

bettterAre we to assume based on Christian/ Messianic assertions that the Israelites are to wait around one and half thousand years for ‘Jesus’ the next ‘unique’, ‘one and only’, ‘ultimate’ and ‘better’ prophet than Moses? Does ‘a prophet’ really mean just one prophet after Moses? Are we to write off Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Joel, Ezekiel, Malachi, Habakkuk, Haggai, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Zechariah, Micah, and countless others as prophets? Are we to write off the lives and history of the Jewish people as insignificant or an unpleasant ‘blip’ which now has been corrected by Jesus? According to Christian/ Messianic assertions via the NT for support, the lives and history of the Jewish people as recorded in the ‘old’ testament serve to show that previously and presently the ‘sinfulness’ and ‘blindness’ of Jews by not believing in ‘THE PROPHET” Jesus, as portrayed in the ‘new’ testament! Here are a few examples in point:

I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. Mat 12:6….The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless. Heb 7:18….Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Ibid v 22….But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Ibid 8:6….to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Ibid 12:24….Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Phil 3:8….Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Mat 28:19

The ‘New’ Covenant is superior to the ‘Old’ Covenant because of Jesus/ Yeshua. So much superior that the NT likens the ‘old’ testament as weakuseless and dung[8]! Moreover that Jesus/ Yeshua / Paul positively encourage missionary activity to convert all nations to their superior revelation/ covenant.

Wider Context

The disciple of Moses was Joshua and surprise and the next book following chronologically after the Torah is the book of Joshua. What does it say of Joshua:

5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’….16 And they answered Joshua, saying: ‘All that thou hast commanded us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go. 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the LORD thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses. 18 Whosoever he be that shall rebel against thy commandment, and shall not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death; only be strong and of good courage.’ Johua 1

“Israel served Adonai throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything Adonai had done for Israel.” (Joshua 24: 31)

The above scriptures from Joshua firmly establishes in the TaNaCh that the prophet Moses spoke about was Joshua son of Nun, not a sole ‘exclusive individual’ as part of some cryptic ‘mystery’ that even Moses himself was blind too. Also, it is clear that the Israelites obeyed Joshua and the elders that lived after him. After Joshua came other prophets. There was a threat, though, that of false prophets. Hence G-d gave very detailed warnings in Deut 13 and a warning in Deut 18:

“Any prophet who presumes to speak in My name an oracle[3] that I did not command him to utter, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet shall die.” (Deut.18: 20)

Common Threads from A to Z

When it comes to prophets there can only be two types: true prophets of G-d or false prophets. When it comes to future prophets, we can recognize a number of opposing teachings between true prophets of G-d or false prophets. G-d acknowledges that any one can CLAIM to be a prophet and even perform miracles yet not be a true prophet of G-d. (Deut 13 & Deut 18.)

So, how did G-d expect the Israelites living in the time of the “prophet” to determine whether to kill the “prophet” for being a false prophet, or listen to the message of the prophet?

The answer is that G-d set in place a system where it would be the recognized leaders of the nation who would arbitrate such matters and they would be the ones to test the prophets.

The Torah describes the false prophet as one who attempts to “make you stray from the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to walk in.” (Deuteronomy 13:6 (5). Instead of listening to the false prophet we are commanded: “The Lord your God shall you follow and Him you shall fear; His commandments you shall observe and to His voice you shall hearken; Him you shall serve and to Him you shall cleave.”

The true prophet will encourage Israel to follow after God – “O House of Jacob: Come let us walk by the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). The true prophet encourages fear of the Creator of heaven and earth – “Will you not fear Me? says the Lord; Will you not tremble before Me? For I have set sand as a boundary for the sea, as a permanent law that cannot be broken.” (Jeremiah 5:22). The true prophet encourages observance of God’s commandments that were set down by Moses – “Remember the Torah of Moses My servant which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel – decrees and statutes” (Malachi 3:22 [4:4]). The true prophet speaks of hearkening to the voice of God – “…Thus said the Lord, God of Israel: Cursed is the man who will not listen to the words of this covenant that I commanded your forefathers on the day I took them out from the land of Egypt, form the iron crucible saying: Listen to My voice…” (Jeremiah 11:3,4). The true prophet encourages service of God – “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyous song” (Psalm 100:2). The true prophet speaks of cleaving to God as the highest ideal – My soul cleaves after You; Your right arm has supported me” (Psalm 63:9).

The true prophet knows that God has richly provided for our every need, both spiritual and material. The true prophet recognizes the blessing that is inherent in the law that God has granted to His people and all of the prophet’s words direct us towards the God of Israel and towards the path He set us on when He redeemed us from the house of bondage in a clear and unambiguous way.

The false prophet[4] concentrates his attention on the tendency of man that fails to appreciate God’s blessings and that sees God’s law as burdensome and impossible[5]. Instead of encouraging us to recognize the love, the life and the light that is inherent in God’s law; the false prophet claims to offer us a “better path”:

“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 the author of Hebrews the entire Old Covenant has become obsolete, not just the ceremonial part! 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 (Gal 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?” (Gal 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” (Gal 4:22). Where is this written? In one of the five books of Moses that contains all the law. It is found in the book of Genesis chapter 16.

In Galatians 4:24 it is as clear 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. The “yoke of slavery” referred to in Gal 5:1 must be the same yoke of slavery that Paul has been referring to in Gal 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.” 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). The nerve of the New Testament knows no bounds:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Rom 3:21

The way to resist the persuasions of the false prophet is to ask: Is there anything lacking in the path that God set before us when He took us out of Egypt? Did God not provide for our every need? Did He not shower us with every blessing?

By focusing on the blessings that God granted us we will learn to appreciate the holiness of His commandments and the life that is inherent in His law. When we appreciate His love towards us our hearts will be filled with love towards Him – and a heart that is filled with the love of God will not fall for the persuasions of the false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:4 (3)).

Conclusion

Moses like all the other prophets who followed him was born of a set of human parents, mother and father. None of the prophets were ever worshiped or considered divine.

Moses like all the other prophets who followed him never acted in a way that would indicate that they and they alone were the sole mediator[6] between G-d and man. The Creator does not have a mediator, nor does the Creator need a mediator. Furthermore, humanity does not need a mediator to have a relationship with the Creator. Jews pray only to the Creator. It is not proper to pray to anyone or anything else, nor is it permissible to pray through anyone else. And it will always be forbidden. It would be forbidden even if that thing or person had the ability to grant what you ask for.

Before the great and dreadful day of Adonai will come Elijah the prophet and we are to remember the law of G-d’s servant Moses, the decrees and laws G-d gave him at Horeb for all Israel. How interesting it is that at Horeb, where the law was given, G-d tells the Israelites to remember that they saw no form (Deut 4:12, 15, 23) so as not to make an idol! How telling it is that right after Malachi penned these words a man by the name of Jesus came along who claimed not only to be a prophet, a priest, a king but was G-d in the form of flesh[7]!

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of Adonai comes.” He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Mal.4: 4, 6)


[1] Chapter 1, of Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is better than everybody and everything. Chapter 2 says that Jesus Christ is better than angels. Chapter 3 says Jesus is better than Moses. In Chapter 4, Jesus is better than Joshua. And then Jesus is better than Aaron. Then Jesus is better than the old covenant. And Jesus is better than the Old Testament sacrifices, etc., etc. The whole point is to show that Jesus is superior, supreme, and sufficient, you need nothing else. That’s the key according to NT theology.

[2] A further point to consider is if sacrifices are finished why do sacrifices continue in the messianic age? According to New Testament teaching in Hebrews 10, sacrifices are no longer needed since Jesus’ once for all self sacrifice is forever and perfects forever those who accept it [Heb 10:8-14]. Hebrews 10 adds further, that the sacrifice of animals can never take away sins. The messianic age described in Jeremiah 33:14-18 has a messianic figure (David A Branch of Righteousness), a promise fulfilled to Israel and Judah who along with Jerusalem will dwell safely and a Levitical Priesthood offering the sacrifices prescribed by the Torah: ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgement and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. “For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; ‘nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ” Jer 33:14-18

[3] In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination. The word oracle comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction. In extended use, oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves, called khrēsmoi (χρησμοί) in Greek. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers (manteis, μάντεις) who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods

[4] Matthew 11:28-30 King James Version (KJV)

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

[5] Acts 15:7-11 King James Version (KJV) 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

[6] Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

[7] 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1

[8] Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (3:8) wrote ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω… If your Greek is a bit rusty, there’s no point in reaching for your English translation (straight from the culture that uses the euphemisms “going to the Rest Room” – I think it’s a pretty weird place to rest!, “going to the bathroom” – still looking for that bath there!…) Here’s what Saint Paul says: But indeed I also regard everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them shit so that I may gain Christ…Yep – σκύβαλα (skubala) = shit. Not the nice excrement, dung, or poop. In Saint Paul’s day σκύβαλα/shit was used in polite conversation about as much as we use it now. He is being very vulgar.