Tag Archives: laws

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”

Sinning in ignorance : How long can we hide behind “God sees my heart”

heart-shaped-pages-wallpapers_28398_1920x1200A deep rooted belief in Christianity today, is that “God sees one’s heart”. “If I’m doing something with a clear conscience to please God – wouldn’t He accept it?” This is a good question. And there is no doubt that God sees the Hearts of us all.

But the real question that needs pondering on, is whether a person can do something,  which is wrong in God’s eyes, thinking it is the right thing to do in his/her own heart, and still be deemed obedient to God, in His sight. The essence of the question is whether we look at things through our eyes, or try our best to look through the viewpoint of God Almighty.

God sees my heart
Many of us know the following verses of Scripture which prove God sees and understands the intentions of our hearts and our deepest thoughts.

  • 1Sa 16:7  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
  • 1Ki 8:39  Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
  • 1Ch 28:9  And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
  • Eze 11:5  And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

We cannot put our trust on our own thoughts and feelings or our hearts!
Just because God sees our Hearts, does not mean that everything we do, will be in accordance with His thoughts and ways. Everyone who believes in God, do what they do, thinking they do the right thing. This does not mean everyone who believes God, will be deemed perfect by God.

  • Pro 16:2  All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
  • Pro 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
  • Jer 17:9,10  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

So how can we know what is right in His eyes?
There needs to be a measuring stick which we can use to discern between right and wrong in God’s eyes. And the complete “Word of God” is that instrument that weighs all things, showing us right from wrong.

  • Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

What will we be Judged on?
It is important to note that, when we stand before the judgement seat of God (as everyone will), we will be not judged on what is in our hearts, but on all the works we have done – on whether we have obeyed Him, or disobeyed.

  • Rev 2:23  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
  • Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
  • Rev 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city
  • Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 

Ignorance is not bliss
Some are under the impression, that if you “sin” not knowing that God regards that act a sin, you are exempt from judgement. The word of God has a different view on this. Sinning through ignorance is still regarded sin. While you would have to answer for “sinning knowingly”, “sinning through ignorance” would also have its consequences.

  • Num 15:29  Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
  • Lev 4:27  And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;
  • Act 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
  • Hos 4:6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

There are so many people around the world doing things their own way, to please God. One of the reasons this is prevalent is because of the belief that God’s Law is no more. If that was the case, we could not know what “Sin” is anymore, as “Sin” is the “breaking of God’s Law” (1Joh 3:4). God’s Law sets the parameters for knowing what “Sin” is (Rom 7:7). And when we know what “sin” is, in the sight of our Heavenly Father, we know how to please Him.

So what does the Law got to do with what is in someone’s heart?
God has expressly said that His Laws/Commandments should be in one’s heart. And this was part of the new covenant where, God would write His laws in our hearts. If what we do is all of his commandments/laws/will, then we have nothing to be worried about.

  • Deu 6:6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
  • Pro 3:1  My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments
  • Heb 8:10  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 
  • Deu 8:2  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Examples from the Scriptures
Following are a few examples in which people did things for God, which was right in their hearts, but were considered “sin” in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

  1. The Molten Calf
    Many presume that the Children of Israel were worshiping the molten calf, when they created it at the base of Mount Sinai. But in reality, they were worshiping “YHVH” through the manmade idol.
    Exo 32:4,5 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
    Neh 9:18  Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
    The simple truth is, that they were trying to have a feast to God. In God’s eyes, what was in their hearts were irrelevant, as they had broken His commandment of bowing down to idols, even if it was in His name.
  2. Nadab & Abihu’s offering
    When Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who had accompanied Moses up the mountain and seen God in His majesty(Exo 24:9-11), offered a sacrifice which was not prescribed by God, they were consumed in an instant.
    Lev 10:1,2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
    As per Exo 30:9, nothing other than the prescribed offerings could be made to God. Even-though Nadab and Abihu were rightful priests who were making and offering to God, it was rejected with sore punishment because it went against His Law/Commandment/will.
  3. Saul’s victory over the Amalekites
    In 1Sam chapter 15, we read how Saul was ordered to kill every living thing in the land of the Amalekites. Saul who is victorious over the Amalekites bring home animals as an offering to God, which is rejected by God because he disobeyed God’s instructions
    1Sa 15:15  And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
    1Sa 15:20  And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 
    Even-though Saul was obedient to God in his own heart, and was bringing these sacrifices to please God, the situation was not the same in God’s eyes. And for what Saul saw as a sacrifice, God saw as disobedience – rejecting him as king altogether(1Sam 15:26)
  4. Uzza touches the Ark of the covenant
    In 1Chr chapter 13 we read that the Ark was to be transported from Kirjathjearim, under David’s orders. Two men named Uzza and Ahio transported the Ark on a cart, when the oxen stumbled, Uzza touched the Ark, to keep it from toppling. For this, God struck Uzza dead. Now most people would see this as an unjust death, and for certain – we read that even David was displeased for what had happened. But later He understood, as we read below
    1Ch 15:2  Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. 
    1Ch 15:13  For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
    Even though Uzza was doing a good thing by trying to save the Ark from toppling, the Ark was never supposed to be carried by anyone else other than Levites, specifically the family of Kohath. Even then they could not touch the Ark, on the punishment of death (Num 4:15). This is why David asked the Levites to carry the Ark, after Uzza’s death, as he recognised, any other way was wrong in the eyes of God.
  5. Paul’s transformation
    On several occasions, Paul made speeches to mobs who attacked him, proclaiming that he persecuted believers in Christ, because of the zeal he had towards God. This does not mean, all that he did was accounted as good before God. Paul understood that he had been wrong, even-though he was doing all of it for God.
    Act 22:3,4  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (Also read Act 26:9-11, Php 3:6, 1Tim 1:13, 1Cor 15:9)
    When Paul understood his fault, he asked for repentance for all that he had done in God’s name, as he knew it was not right in God’s eyes, even-though he had thought it was right in his own heart.
  6. Christ’s words
    The apostles were forewarned by Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) that people would attack them, thinking they were doing God a service.
    Joh 16:2  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
    This shows us that a certain person could do something thinking he/she is serving God, when that person is disobeying God in reality.

God’s grace towards sinners who turn towards Him
It must be specially mentioned, that God shows mercy to people who have been disobedient, but have turned towards Him, and are trying to learn His ways. This was the case at the time of King Hezekiah. When King Hezekiah learned about God’s law regarding Passover, he gathered everyone to celebrate this appointment of God. As we see in 2Chr chapter 30, many people heeded this call, and Hezekiah prayed for the people who had not sanctified themselves properly to celebrate this occasion, as they were still learning the ways of God and how to be obedient towards Him.

2Ch 30:18-20 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one
That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

A similar occasion arose in the book of Acts, when James made the proclamation that the new believers should keep away from four critical sins, as they would learn the rest, as they go. (Please read “Gentiles have to obey only 4 Commandments? Misunderstandings regarding Acts 15″ for more information on this topic)

Act 15:19-21 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

God is patient with us, showing Grace towards us, when we start our walk in obedience. We may slip, we may fall. But we need to stand up and keep walking, not repeating those mistakes over and over again. This can only be done through learning His Word, and what He sees as Sin & Righteousness.

Conclusion
The point I would like to make is, that it does not matter what is in our hearts. What matters is whether our hearts are acceptable to God. Even if we do things to please God, if those things are not right in His eyes – they will not be accepted. We cannot disobey His Words, and hope that he accepts the disobedience done in all sincerity. God will, and does, have much Grace towards us and the ones who sin in ignorance. But it is not an eternal Grace. It is not a Grace that will keep us completely unaccounted for. We will all have to give account for what we have done, whether it be done knowingly or unknowingly – as all of it is written down in the Book of Works(Rev 20:12). The ones who disobey in ignorance will have fewer stripes, but they will receive stripes nonetheless (Luk 12:48).

God sees all of our hearts, including persons who live life contrary to what God has proclaimed in His Word. He will show grace towards everyone, so that everyone comes in repentance to Him. After we repent and turn towards Him, through the matchless blood of Messiah, we need to lead a sinless life. We cannot afford to keep sinning in ignorance. We need to learn what “sin” is, and what “righteousness” is in God’s eyes – not our own. He will not change His word till heaven and earth pass. We, on the other hand must change our hearts to be an acceptable offering before God. And when He does look at our hearts, He should see His Laws written on them as per the New Covenant(Heb 8:10).

The middle wall of partition – Misunderstandings regarding Eph 2:14-16

Ephesians 2:14-16 is one of the many verses used to say that God’s Commandments/Law written down in the Old Testament has now been abolished, in Christ. It is popularly taught that the “middle wall” that separated us from God, is God’s Commandments/Laws, and that they were taken down through Christ’s sacrifice, because they were hostile towards us.

Today, we will test this theory, taking archaeological evidence alongside historical context, to understand the true meaning of Paul’s words. It is this authors belief that this verse, like countless other statements made by Paul, has been misunderstood by mainstream Christianity today. And now let’s move on to the verse in question.

Eph 2:14-16 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition (between us); Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, (even) the law of commandments (contained) in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

In this study, we will break down this verse and research into what Paul is describing, to better understand what he is trying to teach the Ephesians. This study will focus on the following:
1. Context and background of the verse
2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
6. Conclusion

1. Context and background of the verse
Starting at the beginning of chapter 2, we see Paul making these following points:-
Eph 2:1-3 We were all living in sin and disobedience as Gentiles
Eph 2:4-7 But God who loved us, showed us mercy, by saving us through His grace
Eph 2:8-10 And through grace alone, are we saved – and not by anything that we do
Eph 2:11-14 You were all gentiles, called “uncircumcised” by the “circumcised” (Jews), without God and Christ, aliens to the citizenship of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise – but now have been brought close to God through Christ.

Note that Paul makes a clear statement that the Ephesians were gentiles without hope, living in Sin, till God saved them through His Grace. He says that they had no part in the citizenship of Israel and the covenants of promise, till they were brought near by Christ. In other words, through Christ and God’s Grace, they have been given citizenship of Israel and also ability to partake in the covenants of promise. This is the background and context of the verse in question.

2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
Even though most Christians believe that the “middle wall” mentioned in this verse is a metaphorical expression used to speak of God’s Law, this is far from the truth. The context of this verse, lets us know that Paul was speaking of the division of Gentiles and Jews(uncircumcised & circumcised), and how gentiles had no part in Israel before Messiah.

The interesting fact that many Christians are unaware of, is that there was a physical barrier(a middle wall) that separated gentiles and Jews in the days of Paul, at the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the “soreg”, this partition prohibited gentiles from entering into the temple courts. We will look at a few pieces of evidence on this fact below.

It is important to note at this point, that “Jews” are only a part of Israel – and hence, all Israel cannot be called Jews. Please read the articles, “The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel” , “Defining the terms Jew & Gentile” & “Defining the term Israel” for a better understanding on the above statement.

ESV-temple

Archaeological Evidence
The soreg was a low wall surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem, which served as a boundary/partition wall.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) - Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 - Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) – Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 – Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Beyond this point, entry was permitted only to Jews who were not impure through exposure to death.

The soreg featured signs, in a number of languages, that warned these unauthorized people against entering the area of the Holy Temple.

Some of the signs which were placed on the “soreg” have been discovered, of which one is pictured to the left. The inscription says “No outsider shall enter the protective enclosure around the sanctuary. And whoever is caught will only have himself to blame for the ensuing death” – (Translated by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman)

Biblical Evidence
A) It is a known fact, that there were Gentiles who went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to Worship God.
Joh 12:20  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

B) The fact that the Gentiles were kept separate from the Jews is also apparent
Act 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Historical Evidence
In the “Wars of the Jews” written by the scholar Josephus Flavius around 75AD, he says the following:
When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple,
there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, that “no foreigner should go within that sanctuary” for that second [court of the] temple was called “the Sanctuary,” and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. (A description of the temple – Book 5, Chapter 5, Verse 2)

Considering all of the above facts, it is safe to say, that Paul was referring to this “partitioning wall” in his letter to the Ephesians, as it was a prominent feature of the Jerusalem Temple at that time, which restrained gentiles from entering in. It is also important to note that this wall was not part of the design God had given, but was a later addition made by the Jews in authority, to keep gentiles from entering the temple precinct. Nowhere in the Old Testament would you be able to find of such a structure that separates people into two groups. But this had become the norm in the 2nd Temple times, and no Gentile could enter into the Temple precinct because of it. As such, this was a man made barrier, and a man made commandment which kept Gentiles from coming to God’s Temple.

3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
Most Christians would jump to the conclusion that the “law of commandments in ordinances” mentioned by Paul, is none other than the Law which was given through Moses, in the Old Testament by our Heavenly Father. What most of us fail to see is that this term is completely different to “The Law of God” and “The Commandments of God”. To understand this difference, we must look into the meaning of the word translated as “Ordinances”.

In the Original Greek Manuscripts, the English word translated as “Ordinances”, comes from the following : G1378 – δόγμα – dogma – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance. This word is seen only 5 times in the New Testament in the following verses:
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Col 2:14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances(G1378) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Looking at the above verses, one thing should become apparent to you. The word “ordinance”, means and can even be translated as “Decree” – which means “an official order that has the force of law”. While God had given Commandments and His Law, Decrees were laws that were man-made. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree” in his letter. Paul could have only been referring to man-made orders, in this verse through the term “Ordinance”. These “ordinances” were indeed hostile, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12)

4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”
It is a clear fact that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, spoke of the broken down “middle wall of partition” to be connected solely to the “law of commandments in ordinances”. As we have seen above, if Paul was speaking of the physical wall of partition at the temple, and man-made decrees that enforced such separations, this makes perfect sense, as the partition wall was a man-made decree which separated the Jew from the Gentile. In other words, the Jews in authority at the time of Paul, had made a decree that was regarded as official Law and a Commandment, that Gentiles could not enter into God’s sanctuary, even though it was allowed for Jews. Paul was merely saying that this separation that men had imposed on people was now no more because of Messiah. To understand more about the decrees (which were regarded as Law) imposed on the 1st century people by the ruling Jews such as the pharisees, please watch the this teaching.

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
What puts this argument completely in place, is the idea Paul speaks about in connection with the broken down wall of partition. Paul says that Christ has “made both one” and again, that “twain one new man”. What or who are these two parties which are made one?

Let’s review the facts that we know already
1. The context of the Chapter speaks about how, gentiles had no part in the covenants of promise and they were excluded from the citizenship of Israel, before they were saved through God’s Grace and sacrifice of Christ.
2. History proves that there was indeed, a physical partitioning wall at the Temple which kept Gentiles separate from Jews. Paul spoke of this wall to have been broken down through Christ’s sacrifice.
3. The original Greek wording seen in the verse in question, is specifically speaking of man-made decrees, and not God’s Law. There were many such laws/decrees imposed on people by the ruling parties, such as the pharisees.

If Paul is speaking of this partitioning of Gentiles and Jews, and that this “man-made” partitioning or “middle wall” was not in effect because of Messiah, what are these 2 parties he is referring to? Is he not saying that there is no more division? there are no more jews & gentiles? that no one can keep the covenants of promise from the gentiles? that gentiles are now fellow citizens of Israel?

Consider the following:
1. Christ came to gather Jews & Gentiles into one nation
Joh 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

2. Christ said there would be one flock under one shepherd
Joh 10:16  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

3. Paul says Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the promises given to Israel
Eph 3:6  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

4. Paul says that the gentiles are grafted into the Olive tree which is Israel
Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, (Please read the whole of Chapter 11)

5. Paul says that there are no more divisions such as Jew & Gentile – we are all one in Christ
Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In short, this is what Paul is trying to say:
As sinful gentiles, we had no part in the covenants of promise, and were also excluded from the citizenship of Israel. But when Christ came and saved us through God’s Grace, the partitioning wall that kept us outside, was broken down. No man-made decree can keep us away from enjoying the covenants of promise or the Citizenship of Israel, as all who believe in God are now made into one people. We were once hostile to God, but now through the blood of Messiah, we have been drawn into His sanctuary, not to be separated ever again.

6. Conclusion
Even though Eph 2:14-16, is usually used as a proof text for “the Law of God being done away”, we have made every effort in the above study to understand this passage in its original historical and biblical context. This has led us to the conclusion that Paul was speaking of a separation of God’s People, rather than an abolishing of God’s Law. Paul used a physical wall of separation to show how Gentiles had no part with God, before Christ. He further showed the Ephesian congregation, that the man-made decrees of separation were no more in power, because of God’s grace, as he had drawn believers, both Jew & Gentile unto Him, to make both one in Him. There are no more gentile. No more Jew. No separate flocks or peoples. Only His people “Israel”. If we consider ourselves His people, we are “Israel” – let us not separate, what God has made one, through the sacrifice of Yeshua.

Essential Reading:
The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the terms Jew & Gentile
Defining the term Israel
The betrothal, Divorce & Re-Betrothal of God’s People through Messiah

Is the “mark of the beast” a microchip?

Microchip-Mark-of-the-BeastLike many other Christians, I was also taught that the “mark of the beast” mentioned in Rev 13:16, could most probably be a microchip which gets inserted to someones forehead or hand. Not only do many Christians believe in this story, there are so many articles and emails that fly around on this subject today, that it is unlikely for you to have not heard or received such an email from a friend or fellow believer.

Rev 13:16  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,

While I do not completely discard the idea of the “mark” being a “microchip”, I would like to provide you with some clarifications using the Scriptures itself. Could it be that this mark is not a physical mark? Could it be, that John was writing about a metaphorical “mark”? Let us see what the Scriptures reveal on the matter.

Exo 13:9  And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
Exo 13:16  It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
Deu 6:8  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
Deu 11:18  “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

The above verses speak of God’s Commandments/Laws and how they should be marked on our hands and bound on our foreheads. In other words, God expects us to keep His Commandments/Laws in our mind (between our eyes) and act accordingly (bound on our hands). Binding them as a sign on our hands and as a memorial between our eyes, was not a physical act, but a metaphorical way of saying that we should keep them in remembrance and that our actions should follow suit.

Coming back to the verse in concern, Rev 13:16 speaks of the “image of the beast” which makes all humans have a “mark” on the hand or forehead. The resemblances between this verse and the ones given above are quite interesting. In both cases, a “mark/sign” is mentioned. In both cases, the “hand & forehead” are mentioned.

Just as the mark of God set upon the “hands” & “in between the eyes” are “God’s Commandments/Laws”, it could very well be that the “image of the beast” also sets its “Commandments/Laws” as a mark on the “forehead” or “hands” of all who worships it. In other words, just as whoever obeys God’s commandments have placed His Word as a mark on his/her hand or forehead, whoever obeys the “beast” will carry its mark on his/her hand or forehead.

While most Christians look for a “microchip”, it is possible that people will be taken by surprise if no such thing comes to pass. It is necessary to keep our eyes open as well as our spirits, and diligently read God’s Word seeking out interpretation using Scripture itself. Not every news item on the web is true.chip2 There are many hoaxes spread (such as the image on the right) by unwitting people, as they themselves believe things without clarification. We must remember that we need to interpret Scripture with Scripture. As I mention in many of the posts on this blog, you are not to believe any interpretation of any person including what is written here, without testing it against God’s Word.

May God’s Word, His Commandments and laws be a “mark” on your hand and your forehead! Pro 7:2,3  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part II – Does the Book of Hebrews prove that the Old Covenant is no more

In the 1st Part of this study, we studied all the Covenants mentioned in the Bible and checked what is commonly known as the “Old Covenant” & “New Covenant” as well. We saw that their was evidence in the Scriptures to say that these Covenants were Everlasting. (If you have not read the 1st Part of this study, please start there for a better understanding of this complex subject we are trying to address).

This post is dedicated to studying the book of Hebrews. Specifically, the claim that some make, saying that the book of Hebrews is clear proof that the “Old Covenant” is done away with and that it is decaying and vanishing away, as seen in Heb 8:13.

Before we proceed any further, I would like to ask you to keep an open mind. Do not approach this article thinking “here’s another person trying to get us to follow traditions and Laws”. You are more than welcome to disagree with me. But I humbly ask you, not to disagree with Scripture. Test everything written in this article. See whether everything falls into place. Remember that there can be no disagreements between the Biblical Authors. There can be no conflict between two verses in the Bible, when taken in CONTEXT.

All of the pieces in the puzzle needs to fit perfectly. We cannot force pieces of the puzzle to fit where we want it to. It needs to be in perfect harmony to all the pieces around it, giving us a complete picture. We have all been taught by someone or the other where these pieces of the puzzle fit. Personally, for a long time, I did not question the placement. I knew some of the pieces and their placements did not make sense. But I thought, others knew best. I thought who am I to question the placement which has been this way for centuries, approved and taught by great men and women of God. But some of the time, you can come across verses that go against your beliefs and doctrines. Now, some people, like I was before, have the ability to just read over these lines and not even notice them. I was like Paul (but not even 1% as knowledgeable as he was), on my way to Damascus, with my understanding and belief of the Word. All of us need Yeshua to open our eyes. All of us need the guidance of God’s Spirit. No one person, including me, has the whole puzzle figured out. All of us are learning. If you have and open mind to look at the puzzle again, let us proceed.

The Book of Hebrews has caused a lot of misunderstandings and confusion in Christianity.(Actually, it is not the fault of the Book or the Author of Hebrews. It is our fault for not reading it carefully, in complete synchrony with all of the other Scriptures and not giving heed to Peter’s warning in 2Peter 3:16 about taking Scripture out of context). As I was studying this complex Subject myself, I came across an Article, that is clearly in alignment with God’s Word. I believe that I could not do a better job of my own regarding the Book of Hebrews, without losing out on key points mentioned in this article. Given below, is this Article written by Jon Sherman from 119 Ministries.

Hebrews 7:12-18; 8:6-13 – Does the Better Covenant Equal a New High Priesthood or God Abolishing His Law?
by Jon Sherman
Hb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hb 7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

Hb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Hb 8:13 In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

So what do these verses mean? Can we take four verses out of this letter and build a solid doctrine? Does this mean that God did away with His own law that scripture stated to be perfect, good, and just (Psalm 19:7, James 1:25, Proverbs 4:2, Romans 7:12, Romans 7:16, 1 Timothy 1:8)? Are we to abolish the Law of God in our faith (Romans 3:31)? Did God somehow make an already perfect law according to His own standards even better by changing the commandments, or as some say, by abolishing them?

Or perhaps did He improve the covenant by simply removing the imperfect human element from the priestly system and inserted Yeshua (Jesus) as the new perfect High Priest thus leaving all of God’s perfect law completely intact? Those are our only two choices. Both positions can not co-exist without conflict. We must test all of this to Scripture, to determine if Hebrews teaches that God took His perfect law and made perfect better, or if God simply replaced an imperfect High Priesthood with a perfect High Priesthood to improve the covenant.

Hebrews is a letter, and as with any letter, it serves a specific point and purpose by answering a specific issue to the intended audience. To properly answer the questions outlined above it seems to make sense to start at the beginning of the letter (instead of the middle) to build context as we arrive to the verses of contention.

Every letter ever written in the history of man was written to be read from beginning to the end. No letter in the history of man was ever written with the assumption that someone will read the letter a couple of translations and hundreds of years later and then decide to pull a few sentences out of it to build a theological doctrine. Obviously that would be quite absurd. Yet is that not what we do? The following will extract the main points out of each chapter to begin forming the foundation and context of the letter. Please consider reading the whole chapters and ensure that you agree to the summary points being made below.

Chapter Main Points

Chapter 1
1) We learn that Yeshua (Jesus) is now better than the angels. Thus the context already seems to be built around our Lord and Savior.

Chapter 2
1) Yeshua (Jesus), was initially made lower than the angels and He then prevailed over sin and death.

Chapter 3
1) Yeshua (Jesus) is now our High Priest. He was worthy, whereas the previous human priestly administration (Levitical Priesthood) was disobedient and imperfect. The context is forming quickly and is becoming clearer.

Chapter 4
1) The author of Hebrews begins to cite examples of how men were imperfect in the Levitical priesthood and then details the resulting consequences. Like those coming out of Egypt (3:11), disobedience could forfeit our still pending rest in Him(4:6, 11). Some confuse chapter 4 and conclude that we are already in God’s rest. If all of chapter 3 and 4 are read it is quickly understood that we enter God’s rest at the end of the race and we should strive to enter it in obedience and faithfulness. Thus the case is built for a perfect High Priesthood that will lead us in the straight and narrow and not fall into the problems that plagued the priesthoods of the past.

2) Yeshua (Jesus), our new High Priest, can sympathize with our weakness.

3) Hebrews 4:9 declares that there is still a “Sabbath keeping” for the people of God (sabbatismos = Literally means “Sabbath keeping” in the Greek; Derivative from G4521, sabbaton, or Sabbath)

Note: The context so far is completely about Yeshua (Jesus) and His worthiness to be our High Priest and the established need to change out the current imperfect priesthood administration to a perfect administration. Note that the author of Hebrews has not yet offered anything negative about the Law of God. As the problem statement or issue is more clearly defined, we should expect that the solution should be directly related to the problem statement. We need to continuously ask if the problem is with the Law of God, and thus needed to be changed, as that is the point of contention and answer we seek.

Chapter 5
1) Yeshua (Jesus), our new High Priest, unlike men as High Priests, will not have compassion with those who are ignorant or deviating from His ways. Imperfect men in the priesthood allowed God’s people to deviate from God’s ways. This is a problem. In chapter 4, the author already stated that Yeshua (Jesus) as our High Priest would not sympathize with our weakness (we are accountable) but He still affords us grace (forgiven). Again, the solution is being foreshadowed as the problem statement is solidified.

2) The author of Hebrews establishes that Jesus is scripturally and rightfully called to be the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. The context is set. The author has defined the problem (imperfect priesthood) and is strongly hinting at the solution.

3) After establishing that the change in the High Priesthood has been prophetically foretold in the Law and Prophets, the author expresses concern that his audience needs to invest more focus in the oracles of God (God’s law in other scriptural references). The author of Hebrews declares God’s law as the milk that is necessary to discern both good and evil. We need to move past milk (understand God’s law) before we can eat meat (deeper teachings of God’s Word). The author now takes a break and actually rebukes his audience for not being able to figure this out in their study as it is all written in God’s Word.

Question: Why is it important for the author of Hebrews to reference scriptural support in his suggestion that (Yeshua) Jesus is now our High Priest, meaning a change in the law and covenant has occurred?

Answer: Amos 3:7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

The author of Hebrews knows full well that nothing in the law can change or will ever change unless God told us before hand that it was going to change and exactly how it was to change. That is an important scriptural truth to understand in the context of many teachings that suggest that many of God’s laws have been abolished. God never told us beforehand that He would ever abolish His law in any capacity. In fact, the opposite is true in which the Law of God is stated to be perpetual, continual, and forever.

Chapter 6
1) The author of Hebrews appeals to his audience to move beyond the elementary and simple matters of Christ and the gospel and begin understanding the more complicated matters.

2) Yeshua (Jesus) has entered into the Heavenly sanctuary and is making constant intercessions on our behalf as our High Priest.

Note: A High Priest necessitates a priestly system. That is simply how it works and how it is established in the Law of God. If we state that the priestly system has been discarded or abolished, then by default, as an unfortunate yet profound consequence, we have then also discarded (Yeshua) Jesus as our High Priest. We cannot have one without the other. What this simply means is that if anyone teaches that the sacrificial system is abolished, then they are in essence firing their High Priest in their own theological doctrine. Which of course would mean that we would not have a High Priest making continuous intercession for us on our behalf and are all still under curse of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).

It is not that the sacrificial system has been abolished, it just now operates perfectly in the Heavens instead of imperfectly on Earth.

Therefore, by now, we are starting to understand that the priestly system has not been abolished, just transferred to a new administration, as prophecy foretold in the order of Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews will now begin discussing the detail behind such change, as apparently the author of Hebrews is highly disappointed in their initial inability to grasp this concept without his help.

Chapter 7
1) Melchizedek is a priestly order that is forever, and even Abraham gave tithes to him (therefore the point is established that he is greater than Abraham)

2) The Levitical priesthood system was not perfect. That in of itself was a serious problem, and now the problem at hand has been well established.

3) The former was set aside, as the law could not make us perfect/righteous. Because of this, imperfect beings were in administration of the High Priest duties and another solution was obviously necessary. The problem at hand has been clarified more.

4) The author of Hebrews establishes that the Lord does not change His mind, and Yeshua (Jesus), being worthy, as established earlier, can be the perfect SOLUTION to the “imperfect man” priesthood PROBLEM. This in fact means that there is not a problem with the law, as some imply, but the problem is directly related to the “who” is in administration as the High Priest, which was imperfect man. The context is sealed in cement here.

5) This is a permanent solution, as He continuously makes intercession for us in the eternal priestly system. From this point on, we will always have a perfect priestly administration system and will never revert back to a priestly system operated by imperfect man.

6) This was always the plan, and it is established again that Yeshua (Jesus) is perfect, and man was not, thus the logic behind the change that has been foretold at least since the law was written.

Some commentary is warranted regarding verse 12
Hb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Some also confuse this verse and mistakenly offer it as clear evidence that the law has been abolished, simply because Jesus Christ is now our High Priest. This confusion is hard to understand, because it specifically states that the law is changed, not abolished. In fact, this same author uses this same Greek word, G3346 – metatithemi, in chapter 11 verse 5:

Hb 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated (metatithemi) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated (metatithemi) him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Here, the translators translate the same word as “translated.” Obviously Enoch was not abolished or deleted. He was simply transferred or translated into the Heavenly realms without seeing death.

Strong’s defines the word to literally mean to translate or carry over something. As one incorporates this into the overall teaching that the letter to the Hebrews is offering us, it is quickly apparent that all verse 12 is stating is that the priestly laws that were once laws for the Levitical (imperfect) priesthood, are now transferred in responsibility to our perfect High Priest Jesus Christ (Yeshua), thereby removed from the Levitical priesthood and established with Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as our new High Priest.

This understanding leads into verses 18:
Hb 7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

Note that it states that there is a disannulling of a commandment, not commandments. If it was the whole law of Moses being cancelled then we would be dealing with more than one commandment. We know that the law is not weak and unprofitable, however the author does not clarify yet at this point what is weak and unprofitable. Later we discover it is the “sinful man administration of the priesthood” that is causing the weakness, which is the root cause of the problem at hand.

We do not want to ignore what we learned in verse 12 when reading verse 18. We know that the commandment was not erased, but translated, or transferred from the Levitical Priesthood to Yeshua (Jesus) in the order of Melchizedek.

The Greek word for disannulling (G115 – athetesis) helps clarify exactly what is occurring here. Athetesis means “to set aside something, to refuse to recognize its validity, or the complete removal of something“

To the Levitical Priesthood, the commandment that placed them in charge of the High Priesthood, it was “set aside”, and “removed,” and “they were no longer recognized” as the administers of the Priesthood, but in fact, as verse 12 already clearly stated, the law was not thrown out the window, but handed off, or transferred, to the perfect administrator, Yeshua (Jesus). He, unlike the Levites, was without sin.

Hebrews is simply a teaching on the well orchestrated solution to a well articulated problem. What often sadly occurs at this point is many teachers mistakenly claim that the law was the problem and therefore the law was abolished. So far, we can see in using context and the words used, that interpretation is failing. In chapter 8, the root problem is even more clearly established, warranting the “transfer of High Priesthood” solution that God implemented.

Isn’t it quite simple when we take the verses before a verse to discover meaning, instead of bringing our own bias into the text?

Now that verses 12 and 18 have been beaten into the ground, let’s examine the more complicated matters.

Note: The context so far is completely about Yeshua (Jesus) and His worthiness to be our High Priest, the reason for it, and the scriptural method on how it was accomplished. Note the context is still not about the abolishing of the Law of God.

Chapter 8
1) Verse 2, specifically states that even the tabernacle in which Yeshua (Jesus) is now High Priest is the eternal, heavenly tabernacle, not made by corrupted and polluted man.

2) The Earthly tabernacle was built as a foreshadowing of the Heavenly tabernacle with Yeshua (Jesus) as the High Priest.

3) Verse 6, specifically states that Yeshua (Jesus) as a mediator of this covenant is superior (because Yeshua (Jesus) is a perfect High Priest).

Hb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

The focus of verse 6 is the “ministry” that Yeshua has obtained. The Greek word being used here is “G3009 – leitourgia” which means a “public function such as a priest” according to Strongs Greek Concordance. This should not be a surprise to us, as that has been the whole point of Hebrews so far. Yeshua was given a new office as our new High Priest. It is BECAUSE Yeshua (Jesus) is the new High Priest (“by how much also he…”) that the covenant was made better. Some propose the covenant was made better because God abolished some of His commandments. That teaching is found nowhere in the letter to the Hebrews. The covenant was made better because of the new office/ministry/priesthood of Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah.

To prove it, all we need to do is simply read the following two verses. The author of Hebrews explains this to us! Watch.

4) Verse 7, specifically states that something was WRONG with the covenant, again establishing the need for Yeshua (Jesus) as the High Priest for this improvement in the covenant. This again begs the question, what was so wrong with the covenant, God’s commandments or God’s people?

Hb 8:7 For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Verse 7 says that the first had been faultless. Notice how “covenant” is in brackets. It is in brackets because it is not in the original Greek. This is a literary tool called an “ellipsis” which we will cover in more detail shortly. The point is this, the translators placed “covenant” after “first” to hopefully offer more clarity for the reader. Unfortunately, as we already read in verse 6, the subject is the new “leitourgia” (public office as High Priest) of Yeshua (Jesus), thus the translators have shown their own bias. It was not the first covenant at fault, but the first priesthood of Israel that was at fault.

Can we prove this? Yes!
Once again all we have to do is read the next verse to discover who or what was at fault.

5) Verse 8, specifically states that God found fault with the PEOPLE, which is the root cause of what was wrong with the covenant.

Hb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

The covenant built on God’s law, as established earlier, is just, holy, perfect, and good.

Question: If we adopt the dominant teaching on Hebrews that states that God’s law was replaced by a better law, then how can we answer the following question considering the totality of scripture? If God’s covenant and law was already perfect, how did God make it better? Can you make perfect even more perfect? Of course not, that is absurd. There is another answer.

Answer: The author of Hebrews has simply stated this: Yeshua (Jesus) is perfect and man is not. It is not good for an imperfect man to be the administrator of a perfect law and covenant system specific to the component of the priestly system. Yeshua (Jesus) was the perfect solution and is now our perfect High Priest, thus solving the problem. This is not a problem with God’s law or covenant. The administration of the High Priesthood, as a component of God’s law and covenant is what was made better, by transferring from an imperfect administration, to a now perfect administration. This is all amazing yet profoundly simple.

The most important thing to consider is that God fixes what was broken. Does this not make sense? Would we expect God to “fix” what was not broken?

God found “fault with them,” not His own law. Thus God fixed the priestly system (them) and made it perfect (through Yeshua), just like His already perfect law.

6) Verses 9-12 specifically references the Old Testament prophecy indicating that this change has all been foretold. Notice that the prophecy speaks of the High Priesthood, not the whole Law of God as written by Moses. Notice that the New Covenant is made with the House of Israel (northern Kingdom) and the House of Judah (southern kingdom), which is collectively Israel as a whole. This is why Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 declares all believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as Israel, which should bring a new perspective to the commands in the Bible that were given to Israel and stated to be perpetual, lasting, and forever. These are the same commands that are stated to be supposedly abolished as a result of a serious misunderstanding of the letter to the Hebrews. Also note that the law is written on our heart, which means that we want to obey out of love. If the law has been abolished as some teach, then what law is being written on our heart? Do a search on commandments and love in scripture, and relationship to love and the commandments will be very clear.

In verses 8-12 (which is quoting Jeremiah 31:31-33) we learn that the whole point of the New Covenant is for us to actually walk in God’s law. Remember, the problem outlined before is that the priests consistently failed in teaching God’s law to the people. We now have a perfect High Priest who taught and walked God’s law perfectly. He demonstrated to us perfect obedience which is the same image we are to conform to. Where we fail in applying the perfect law we are covered by His grace. His grace is His manifestation of His love for us. Because of His love for us we are to love Him back (1 John 4:19). Loving God is defined as keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3).

The irony is that mainstream doctrine tries to teach us that the new covenant solution was to abolish God’s law or commandments in God’s law. They fail to recognize that Yeshua (Jesus) was to be our example in how to practice and observe God’s law and that He is now established as our High Priest, not replacing God’s law, but replacing the imperfect priestly administration.

And now we should be well equipped to understand this verse:

Hb 8:13 In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Note: In the actual manuscripts, “covenant” does not actually exist, but is inserted by translators to attempt to clarify, and the same applies to verse 7 as already briefly mentioned. This is why many translations either put “covenant” in brackets or italics to let the reader know that it is not really God’s Word, but man’s commentary inserted into God’s Word. This is an honest attempt that translators used to help. However, in this case, it only confuses and leads others in the wrong direction as we will see.

Question: What has the whole context of Hebrews been about? What went away? Was it God’s law and covenant, or the simply the imperfect Levitical priestly administration to be replaced by Yeshua (Jesus) as our new High Priest in the order of Melchizedek? If you have read the letter to the Hebrews up to this point, and did not just start reading in chapter 8, then answering this question is quite simple and not complicated at all.

Let’s just review the next few verses to let the context to continue to speak for itself:

Hb 9:1 Then verily the first had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. (What is the subject? The answer is the priestly system and the Tabernacle, thus the “first” is defined for us)

Hb 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

Hb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Hb 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

Hb 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hb 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God].

Hb 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Isn’t it simply evident that the focus at hand is the priestly system, the problem it had, and the solution that was provided? That is the “first” (ellipsis) that is in context. The “first” is not the covenant as presumed in the ellipsis. The letter to the Hebrews never leaves that subject alone for one second. Embarrassingly, the scripture supporting the abolishing of the Sabbath or God’s Holy Feast days is completely lacking.

Hb 8:13 In that he saith, A new (PERFECT HIGH PRIEST ADMINISTRATION THROUGH YESHUA) he hath made the first (HIGH PRIEST ADMINISTRATION THROUGH LEVITICAL PRIESTS) old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old (LEVITICAL PRIESTLY SYSTEM) is ready to vanish away. (And it did by 70 A.D. with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem)

Goodbye human administration priesthood and enter in the Yeshua (Jesus) High Priesthood in the order of Melchizedek.

This is a clear example of the type of confusion that can happen if we start in the middle of a letter, or enter into scripture with a preconceived idea of what we believe it is going to reveal to us by relying on doctrines to teach us instead of God’s Word. These same methodological mistakes, which Peter even warns us about (2 Peter 3:15-17), are also evident in Paul’s letters, and are often even more doctrinally embarrassing than in this demonstration. Yet they all can be simply addressed just as the letter to the Hebrews.

There are still some more chapters to cover in Hebrews, so let’s continue. The context, of course, continues as expected.

Chapter 9
The author of Hebrews begins diving into the detail of the problems with the Earthly tabernacle and associated priestly processes. These laws associated with the priestly system have not been abolished, but transferred to our new and perfect High Priest operating in a perfect tabernacle, making continuous intercession for us.

Chapter 10
Consistent with all of the other problems with an Earthly priestly system, even the sacrifices were imperfect. This should be of no surprise to anyone that understands the gospel. Yeshua (Jesus) died for our sins as the perfect Passover Lamb, and death can now pass over us. His sacrifice is eternally sufficient and given to us by grace from the Father as we accept it in faith and trust in Him.

Chapter 11
The author of Hebrews then begins to lay a historical foundation that our faith is our hope and it is evidenced visibly by our actions and works.

Chapter 12
Therefore, we need to remove any sin that ensnares us, look to Christ as our example and establisher of our faith, and also recognize that the Father will chasten us and correct us, making us better, producing even better fruit. Pursue holiness (being set apart) and straight paths for our feet (His ways).

Chapter 13
Continue to love others (which is defined in scripture as keeping God’s commandments), do not be carried away with strange doctrines, and live honorably.

Note: It should be fairly evident, that unwarranted claims that the letter of Hebrews offers scriptural support that God’s law or parts of God’s law has been abolished are just simply unsubstantiated. There is certainly more that can be said on the letter to the Hebrews, but this should certainly be sufficient in addressing the confusion that is often unaddressed or ignored.

Why did translators find it necessary to insert “covenant” in the first place? Why did it make sense to insert anything into the text?

Answer: Ellipsis

Hebrews 8 – What is an “ellipsis?”

A literary device known as an ellipsis is apparent in Hebrews 8, which means that “covenant” is indeed not in the Original Manuscripts. This ellipsis forces the reader to fill in the context following the word “first.” Ellipses occur in verses 8:7; 8:13; 9:1; & 9:18. Most translations have filled in the gap left by the ellipses for us by incorrectly inserting “covenant” instead of “High Priest administration.”

If one examines the context, inserting “covenant” to fill the hole created by the ellipses instead of “High Priest administration” is an error as it conflicts with the overall theme of Hebrews and immediate surrounding text.

Definition of an ellipsis:
ellipsis or ellipse, the omission from a sentence of a word or words that would be required for complete clarity but which can usually be understood from the context. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellipsis)

The critical question is what is the context? If the author of Hebrews felt comfortable using ellipses in these verses (8:7;8:13;9:1;9:18), you would think he would have set the context so clearly that we would not even be capable of misinterpreting him. Is the context of Hebrews abolishing or annulling the whole covenant as supposed, or just the Levitical High Priesthood? How about even the surrounding text? Believe it or not, the author of Hebrews clearly tells us just only a few verses earlier his main point of his whole letter:

Hb 8:28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

Hb 8:1 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, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

Scripture defines the main point or context of Hebrews to be a new High Priest administration. It is clear that it states that the men are weak and that they are the problem, which needed replacing, not the law. We clearly have the context for the ellipsis.

Everything prior to this “main point” statement sets up the foundation, problem statement, and solution for the main point, and everything following offers additional support of that “main point” and then leads into specifics about Tabernacle conversion resulting from our new High Priest that happens to be residing in Heaven. The Tabernacle conversion, by intended consequence, also satisfied another problem, which was a tabernacle built by imperfect man, which could not house a perfect administration or mediator (Yeshua/Jesus).

Because it supports the law abolishing paradigm, many maintain that the quote from Jer. 31 establishes brand new context, when in reality, the author citing Jer. 31 is just supporting the continuation of what the author already clearly established as the root cause problem. Thus the Jer. 31 quote is just supporting the overall solution as the context and main point. Not only does the context continue through chapter 8, but chapter 9 begins to discuss in detail the priestly system, not the nature of the whole covenant that is supposedly being made obsolete instead of just the Levitical Priesthood administration.

It is quite clear that Priesthood remains the “main point” throughout the Book of Hebrews and does not temporarily leave the overall teaching just to focus on quickly deleting a covenant just to immediately leave that subject and begin talking about the priesthood again.

The root problem was men as high priests instead of Yeshua (Jesus), therefore the solution is Yeshua (Jesus) as the High Priest. Another related problem is that men built the tabernacle instead of a Heavenly tabernacle. The law that assigns a high priest is not even deleted or abolished. It has just changed assignment to Yeshua through the order of Melchizedek (7:21)(5:6)(5:10), as was foretold.

Another problem was man’s disobedience and we refused to want to obey. All of these problems and solutions have nothing to do with deleting a covenant or God’s law. Yet we want to state that the entire covenant was deleted and replaced, as being made obsolete and fading away. Men’s flesh might want that to be true, but those after the Spirit want God’s law. We will cover more of that later.

Because we were not supposed to conclude that we were to delete the Law of God, no one can clearly figure out exactly which commandments we are supposed to be obedient to anymore. This is always the debate and the source of so much confusion.

Are we only supposed to obey the commands Yeshua (Jesus) specifically stated? Well, He told us to obey the whole Law of Moses when it is read from the Seat of Moses (Matthew 23:1-3).

Are we only supposed to obey the commandments in the New Testament as if commandments in the Old Testament are not part of the Bible? Where is the third commandment in the NT, can we now take the Lord’s name in vain? Can we now marry our brother and sister? Something does not seem right.

The only thing the whole letter of Hebrews mentions as being made obsolete is the Levitical priesthood, which is not a law, but “who” is administering the priestly laws.

Is the main point the removal of God’s law or laws by removing the whole Mosaic covenant? No. Then how can we make it such? More importantly, why do we want to?

By mistakenly inserting “covenant” after “first” in verses 8:7;8:13 & 9:1 one changes the main point of Hebrews to be about the covenant instead of what the author of Hebrews clearly stated as the subject as defined in 8:1 and evidenced throughout the whole letter. This would even be against the whole “main point” that the author is trying to teach in Hebrews. Perhaps we should again remind ourselves that the author of Hebrews even specifically told us the whole main point of the letter in Hebrews 8:1 which is ironically right in the middle of all of the verses that are commonly confused!

The brief mention of the word covenant is simply just citing Jer. 31. It is necessary for the author of Hebrews to cite this verse to establish scriptural support for the change or transfer that the author of Hebrews is trying to prove (3:1). He is proving to his audience that the problem was with THEM (8:7) (not the law) and the fact that they did not remain faithful to the covenant (8:9)(Jer. 31) was indeed the problem. This means that they broke the covenant. They broke the law. They were sinners. Every man is a sinner. Therefore the solution can not be men, or even making a covenant obsolete. Consider this, how could making a covenant obsolete solve a problem with the imperfect nature of man and the High Priesthood? What could we even be logically proposing the relationship would be between the clearly stated problem (them) and the abolishing of a covenant? It simply would not make any sense.

The real solution was for Yeshua (Jesus) to replace THEM the PEOPLE (8:7,8:9) not replace the covenant. Therefore, the only thing that can be old and fading away is the commandment (singular)(7:18) that previously assigned THEM (8:7), the PEOPLE to the High Priest system, and instead the commandment changed/transferred (7:18) to Yeshua (Jesus) as our current perfect High Priest (6:20)(7:28). Yeshua (Jesus) was worthy and man was not (7:26-27).

Why in the world are we suggesting that He abolished a previous covenant, when scripture declares that he refreshes it or makes it new in freshness (G2537 – kainos)? He refreshed the covenant by taking men out of the High Priest system and replacing it with himself. This is one central reason the covenant was made better, because of a perfect High Priest. The other reason it was made better is because God’s law (which was not abolished) was written on the hearts of Israel (us).

If we are stating that the whole covenant is abolished and obsolete (instead of the human High Priest administration), then we have numerous problems that are impossible to reconcile.

For example:
1) Hebrews 7:12 makes it clear that it was a transferring/change of the priesthood that occurred, not a deleting of a supposed obsolete covenant. There happens to be a difference between a covenant with God and the performance of a priesthood.

2) Hebrews 7:18 makes it clear that it was a commandment that changed, not commandments. If the Sabbath and Feast days were removed as part of the changes that Hebrews is teaching, which is what many want to do, the focus would be on commandments, not a commandment (singular). The author would have also specifically mentioned those changes, which he did not. He mentioned countless times how the High Priesthood changed, yet mentioned no other specific change as it relates to the covenant. Was he leaving the Hebrews in the dark? Hebrews even tells us which commandment was transferred. The commandment that was transferred was the one that assigned the High Priesthood from the imperfect man (Levites) to Yeshua (Jesus). (Ex. 29:44; Ex. 30:30; Ex. 31:30; Ex; 38:31 etc.)

3) Hebrews 8:7 makes it clear that the problem that existed was the people, not the covenant. The covenant was made better because man was no longer the High Priest, but Yeshua (Jesus) is now the perfect high priest. The covenant was not made better because it was made obsolete. At no point in all of scripture is it ever mentioned that God’s Feast days or Sabbaths were ever a problem and needed to be deleted or changed in any capacity. Men who do not like God’s law decided those commandments were a problem, so they were deleted through doctrine’s of men, not by divine decree. God simply never does anything without telling us through His prophets first. In addition, if He was going delete His most special holy days He would have at least told us why. We are often told that the reason why is because God’s law was not perfect, but we know that God’s law was perfect. We are also often told that the reason why is because God’s law was bondage, but God’s Word says His law is easy and freedom.

4) The author of Hebrews’ focus is on the Levitical High Priesthood being abolished and obsolete for man and reassigned to Jesus Christ in the order of Melchizedek. There is no such context established with the whole covenant. There is no prophecy that stated that the Mosaic covenant would be made obsolete and replaced, just made new or refreshed, improved, or made better.

5) The MAIN POINT as stated in 7:28-8:1 is about the change in the High Priesthood and thus establishes the context required by the ellipsis. This main point does not mention a covenant made obsolete.

6) The author’s point of citing Jer. 31, is to show that the problem with man was already prophesied in advance and the solution was to be part of the refreshing of the covenant. This is keeping in context of what he is already discussing. The author wants to prove what he just said in 8:7-8 by testing it to scripture (Jer. 31)

How do we address the above if we were to make the covenant obsolete?

What does it state in verse 9 when the author of Hebrews cites Jer. 31?

Hb 8:9 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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

….hence a problem with THEM, the PEOPLE, the administration of the covenant, which is not the covenant itself.

So now the author has shown in scripture that the problem was foretold and the solution as Yeshua (Jesus) in the order of Melchizedek was also foretold.

Notice what was not foretold was the making of covenant obsolete. As something as important as deleting a covenant from God, you would expect it to be mentioned by God somewhere instead of saying it was going to be there forever.

7) 9:14-15 clearly states that the Christ’s sacrifice of himself enabled Him to the mediator (intercessor) of the covenant, it does not state that Christ’s sacrifice enabled the annulling of the covenant and that had anything to do with helping anything.

8) 7:22-8:1 makes it clear that the covenant was made better by Yeshua (Jesus) replacing imperfect man High Priesthood administration with His perfect High priesthood administration.

9) The last ellipsis, the same as all of the others (first…) also clearly demonstrates that the subject is the High Priest administration as the context describes the covenant blood that is spilled and dedicated to the priestly administration, tabernacle, and vessels. It was through Christ’s blood that the perfect High Priest administration was dedicated (9:19-26)

10) How can we erase the very covenant that supports the High Priesthood?

11) How can we erase laws that are part of the covenant when this contradicts the statements of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19?

The bottom line is this. The context of the ellipsis is either the covenant or a human high priest administration. It is really simple.

Let’s explore the usage of the ellipsis literary tool in detail and once again apply the surrounding context to properly utilize the ellipsis.

Here is verse 7, the first ellipsis.

Hb 8:7 For if that first (ellipsis) had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Whatever is not faultless is the subject and context of what is defined as the “first”. What exactly had fault might I ask? I really need to know, so that I can then know the precise context of the ellipses. Is the context the covenant or is it the human high priest administration? Whatever the answer is, that is what the “first” is in 8:7.

Watch. What is not faultless?
Hb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

What was at fault, and therefore is the context of the ellipses was THEM and therefore verse 8:7 (as defined by verse 8:8) is understood as:

Hb 8:7 For if that first [high priesthood administration] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

It was the high priesthood administration that was NOT faultless (thus we needed a second), which is exactly what 8:7 describes as “first.”

So then, what is the “first” and old?
Answer: The human imperfect High Priesthood administration.

What is the “second” and new?
Answer: The perfect High Priesthood (Yeshua/Jesus) administration.

So every time going forward the author of Hebrews uses the “first” and the “second” we KNOW that he is talking about what was replaced, because the first (High Priesthood administration) of Israel was indeed NOT faultless (they had fault).

Then the author continues with citing Jer. 31 to prove from scripture that they were indeed at fault:

Hb 8:9 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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

So the solution is exactly what the author of Hebrews proposed as the main point and WHOLE THEME of Hebrews, which is Jesus as a High Priest, not the abolishing and making obsolete of a whole covenant.

The author uses the same exact linguistic structure of the ellipses from 8:7 in 8:13, continuing the same context and then supporting his point that the fault was with man (not the covenant) and the solution Yeshua (Jesus) as the new High Priest administration:

Hb 8:13 In that he saith, A new [high priesthood administration], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

One last point
If 8:13 is speaking of God’s covenant and law, then why does 13 state that it is now ready to vanish away and that it is in the process of decaying? How does a covenant gradually decay and fade away after it has already been made obsolete? Why is it still ready to vanish away instead of having already vanished away? Isn’t this a difficult question to answer? If the covenant is made obsolete, is it made ready to vanish and decay away, or is it in fact already gone? How do we answer this? Why is 8:13 in present tense and still progressing?

Well, when we realize that 8:13 is NOT about God’s covenant but the Levitical High Priesthood then it makes complete sense. When Yeshua (Jesus) became the High Priest there were still those of the Levitical priesthood that were playing out their roles. Is this what Hebrews specifically states?

Let’s go back to verse 8:4 and it will make what seems complex very simple.

Hb 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

Nowhere does the author of Hebrews suggest that the priests offering these sacrifices (long after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and the Feast of Pentecost when God’s Spirit was given to the Church in Acts 2), were doing so illegitimately. On the contrary Hebrews asserts that Jesus Christ Himself can’t offer sacrifices even if He was on Earth while the Levitical priesthood exists!

This is because the Levitical Priesthood, though obsolete, was still fading and decaying away!

The Heavenly High Priest administration (Yeshua/Jesus) was perfect and operational, yet the Earthly Levitical based administration, though obsolete, was still functioning and playing out their role until it faded away when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD.

This verse comes at the conclusion of two whole chapters devoted to showing the superiority of Jesus’ “Melchizedek’ priesthood to that of our earthly Levitical priesthood. So what is ‘ready to vanish’ must be taken in the context of what has just been discussed. It is the earthly temple and the earthly priesthood ready to vanish, to be rendered eventually inoperable (as did occur a few years later in 70 CE).

We have a choice to make. Either the Word of God is indeed eternal, or it can in fact slowly vanish away.

Either God contradicts Himself in the Bible or the problem is with MAN’S UNDERSTANDING of what he reads.

I would like to submit that the problem is with MAN’S UNDERSTANDING of what he reads.

Does any of the new covenant prophecies mention abolishing God’s law? No. In fact, it states the exact opposite. The whole point of the new covenant is that it is written on our heart and we want to do His law. We are given a new heart, and our old heart is taken away.

Ezekiel 36:26 A NEW HEART also will I give you, and a NEW SPIRIT will I PUT WITHIN YOU: and I will TAKE AWAY the STONY HEART out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be THE COVENANT that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put MY LAW in their INWARD PARTS, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

NEW = NEW HEART that WANTS to follow God’s law
God says that He gave the Holy Spirit to give us the desire to KEEP His law.

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, and cause you
to WALK in my STATUTES, and ye shall KEEP my JUDGMENTS, and DO THEM.

Zechariah 7:11 But they REFUSED to HEARKEN, and PULLED AWAY the SHOULDER, and STOPPED their EARS, that they should NOT HEAR.

Zechariah 7:12 Yea, they made their HEARTS as an adamant STONE …

OLD = STONY HEART that will NOT follow God’s law

When we read all of Hebrews, or even just simply focus on the main point clearly established by the author, we find not one mention, of the covenant being made obsolete.

The only way we can build such a doctrine is to ignore the blatant context given and misuse the ellipse in Hebrews by trying to slide in “covenant” in 8:13 and then ignore the contradictions that result.

It makes no sense to force the covenant to be the root problem statement and the solution to be the making of the covenant obsolete. Clearly the letter to the Hebrews as a whole and in the immediate surrounding text establishes that the problem statement was imperfect man as the High Priest administration and mediator, and the solution was reassigning Yeshua (Jesus) as the perfect High Priest to a perfect Heavenly tabernacle by the means of the eternal order of Melchizedek in the transferring of one commandment.

We do not want to confuse why Jer. 31 was cited by the author in the first place, and thus pull out the incorrect context for the ellipses evident in 8:13 that would destroy the overall theme of Hebrews, and even violates the exact same ellipses in 8:7. It simply makes no sense, unless one has an interest in preserving a paradigm that is dependent upon forcing the discarding of the Law of God as written by Moses.

If anyone teaches that Hebrews states something beyond a simple foretold transferring of the priestly system to Yeshua (Jesus), Yeshua (Jesus) being the perfect sacrifice, and a transferring of the man made tabernacle to the Heavenly tabernacle, then their conclusions are already highly suspect, as Hebrews does not deviate from such in the slightest capacity. The problem stated simply is that imperfect man is operating in an imperfect tabernacle, the offering of imperfect sacrifices was corrected by Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as a perfect High Priest, as a perfect sacrifice, now in the perfect Heavenly tabernacle.

Anyone stating anything more than that, has a bias to attempt to prove.

As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to take all of the above seriously, since these things are relating to our awesome God YHWH, who deserves every bit of our attention and our sincere desire to understand His Word and His ways.

Test everything I have said to scripture. Never take a man’s word for Truth, but test it to the only established Truth we have, God’s Word. This is what we are accountable to at the end of the race. Show yourself approved, and study the scriptures. Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. Seek out His ways and His path. Test your heart and ensure that it desires God’s ways and not the ways of the world, doctrines of men, or traditions of our fathers. As Jesus (Yeshua) stated, we can do many things in God’s name, but if we were not doing it out of pure love and obedience to Him, then it matters not. In fact, our heart can still be so far from Him, that He could state, “Depart from me. I never knew you, you who works lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21)

It is our faith in Jesus (Yeshua) that matters, but if there is no evidence of faith in your life that is demonstrated by a sincere interest in the keeping of God’s commandments, then begin asking yourself why you do not trust God’s ways, but instead rely on man’s ways and your ways. We need to humble ourselves and see Truth in the place where Truth is written. We cannot pretend to invent Truth, but only have it delivered to us through His established Word.

I pray that this study has blessed you. I also pray that as you test the above to scripture, that you bring to my attention any part that might be in error as defined by scripture. Do not allow me to reside in any understanding that could be false, but reach out to me in love and discuss God’s Holy Word with me, and I will make every attempt to do the same with you. In the end, only the Truth matters. In the end, only Truth can end the division in His body and restore unity.

How does scripture describe God’s law?
1. The Law blesses (obey) and curses (disobey). (Deut 11:26-27)(Ps 112:1)(Ps 119:1-2)(Ps 128:1)(Prov 8:32)(Is 56:2)(Mat 5:6)(Mat 5:10)(Luke 11:28)(Jam 1:25)(1 Pe 3:14)(Rev 22:14)

2. The Law defines sin. (Jer 44:23)(Ez 18:21)(Dan 9:11)(Ro 3:20)(Ro 7:7)(1 Jo 3:4)

3. The Law is perfect. (Ps 19:7)(Jam 1:25)

4. The Law is liberty. (Ps 119:45)(Jam 1:25, 2:12)

5. The Law is the way. (Ex 18:20)(Deut 10:12)(Josh 22:5)(1 King 2:3)(Ps 119:1)(Prov 6:23)(Is 2:3)(Mal 2:8)(Mark 12:14)(Ac 24:14)

6. The Law is the truth. (Ps 119:142)(Mal 2:6)(Ro 2:20)(Gal 5:7)(Ps 43:2-4)(Jo 8:31-32)

7. The Law is life. (Job 33:30)(Ps 36:9)(Prov 6:23)(Rev 22:14)

8. The Law is light. (Job 24:13)(Job 29:3)(Ps 36:9)(Ps 43:2-4)(Ps 119:105)(Prov 6:23)(Is 2:5) (Is 8:20)(Is 51:4)(2 Cor 6:14)(1 John 1:7)

9. The Law is Jesus, the Word made flesh. (PERFECT-LIBERTY-WAY-TRUTH-LIFE-LIGHT). (Ps 27:1)(Jo 1:1-14)(Jo 14:5-11)(1 Jo 1:7)

10. The Law is also for the Gentiles (foreigner/alien) who are grafted in. (Ex 12:19) (Ex 12:38) (Ex 12:49) (Lev 19:34) (Lev 24:22) (Num 9:14) (Num 15:15-16) (Num 15:29) (ie: Ruth) (Is 42:6) (Is 60:3) (Mat 5:14) (Eph 2:10-13) (Ac 13:47) (Ro 11:16-27) (Jer31:31-34) (Ez 37) (1 Jo 2:10) (1 Jo 1:7)

11. The Law is God’s instructions on how to love God, how to love others, and how to not love yourself. (Ex 20:6)(Deut 5:10)(Deut 7:10)(Deut 11:13)(Deut 11:22)(Deut 30:16)(Deut 6:5)(Lev 19:18)(Neh 1:5)(Dan 9:4)(Mat 22:35-37)(Matthew 10:39)(Mat 16:25)(Jo 14:15)(Jo 14:21)(Ro 13:9)(1 Jo 5:2-3)(2 Jo 1:6)

Proverbs 28:9 “He who turns away his ear from hearing the Law, Even his prayer is an abomination.”

We are to seek unity in the seeking of Truth (Ephesians 4) and desire to see the 33,000 denominations in 258 countries contend for the faith that was once delivered to all of the saints…(Jude 1:20)

Only when God’s people start doing Bible things in Bible ways, believing and doing all things according to His Word will we finally see unity in the Body.

119 Ministries

www.TestEverything.net

I’m back! I hope the above study done by 119 Ministries, has opened your eyes to see the Book of Hebrews in new light. The true and perfect light which is Yeshua. May your eyes be like Paul’s, as he could see perfectly while on his way to Damascus, but was blind to the truth. His eyes actually opened only when he got blinded to the light of Yeshua and came out a new man. May our new perfect High Priest in heaven be praised for all that He has done for us!

Who were the Pharisees?

One of the recurring main characters throughout the New testament is the group called “Pharisees“. Common misconceptions regarding this sect of Judaism has led to a lot of confusion in Christianity.  The so called “Vipers” or “Hypocrites” according to Yeshua (Hebrew name of Jesus), represent the Old Testament and God’s “so-called” archaic Laws in lots of Christian minds. If you believe that the Pharisees were the ones who kept God’s Commandments perfectly, and Yeshua came and loosened these archaic Laws, I would like to showcase some “irrefutable evidence” from the Word of God to suggest otherwise.

Let’s start by asking a few questions about the pharisees? Who were they? Were they the ones who obeyed God’s Commandments & Laws in Yeshua’s time? Did Yeshua really condemn them because they were keeping God’s Commandments? Was Yeshua getting rid of the Commandments of God along with the Pharisees who kept them?

Let’s review some facts about the pharisees first, using the Bible as our guide

  • The Pharisees were a sect of Judaism – Acts 26:5
  • The Romans had given them the power and place/authority that they held – John 11:48
  • They had power over the Synagogues – John 12:42
  • They had their own officers and guard – John 7:32; 18:3 / Mat 26:65,66
  • Some pharisees wanted to protect Yeshua – Luke 13:31
  • Some pharisees were waiting to accuse Yeshua – Luke 11:53,54
  • They had disciples of their own – Mark 2:18
  • They traveled to make disciples  – Mat 23:15
  • They did not keep God’s total Law – Mat 23:23
  • They had their own law/doctrine/teaching – Mat 16:12, Mar 7:8, John 7:51
  • Their disciples had power to cast out evil spirits – Mat 12:27
  • They had many customs/traditions like washing of hands – Mark 7:3,5, Luke 11:38
  • Paul was a pharisee – Philip 3:5, Acts 23:6; 26:5
  • There was a division amongst them about Yeshua being righteous or sinful – John 9:16
  • The 1st century church contained believers who were from this sect – Acts 15:5

Looking at the above scriptures, a few things should become clear to you:

  1. Not all Pharisees were hypocrites. Some even believed Yeshua was Messiah(Acts 15:5)
  2. Pharisees obeyed something other than God’s Law/Commandments, often called “Traditions of the elders” or “Traditions of men” (Mat 15:2,3,6/ Mar 7:3,5,8,9,13/ Gal 1:14/ 1Pet 1:18)

What proof is there to say that they did not keep God’s Commandments?
Let’s read Mat 15:1-20. The pharisees questioned why Jesus’ disciples did not eat with washed hands(Mat 15:1,2). Jesus replied by how they were breaking GOD’S LAW, by keeping the TRADITIONS OF MEN(Mat 15:3) and adding to God’s Law. This whole event revolved around the washing of Hands, and whether or not it makes you unclean(Mat 15:20). Mar 7 talks about the same event. The Pharisees asked why Jesus’ disciple are not keeping the “traditions of the elders“(Mar 7:5). They laid aside the COMMANDMENTS OF GOD to keep the TRADITIONS OF MEN(Mar 7:8,9). They broke GOD’S COMMANDMENTS because of their TRADITIONS(Mar 7:13). Paul kept these traditions before he beleived in Yeshua(Gal 1:14)

The Pharisees believed in another Law, other than the written Law of Moses, called the “Oral Law”. They believed that the “Oral Law” was passed down from Moses to Joshua, and to the Judges after them, and that the Pharisees were the keepers of this extra Law. This “Oral Law” is what was called “The Tradition of the elders” at that time, mainly because each Rabbi/Teacher of the Sect of Pharisees would teach the Oral Law to his students “Orally”, and these Teachers of the Law could add to this Law. This “Oral Law” has now been written down, and is available as a book called the “Talmud”. You can read more about the “Talmud” in any Encyclopedia. The Orthodox Jews, who you see clad in black with hats and beards, live by this “Oral Law” additionally to the “Written Law of Moses”. Even today, they do not eat unless they keep the tradition of washing the hands.(The “washing of the hands” is not in the Old Testament. It is not part of God’s Law). And their are many traditions like this, that I will not go into. If you want to learn more about the Pharisees and their traditions, I recommend that you watch this video. The Orthodox Jews could be called the Pharisees of the modern era, because they are keeping the same traditions. A Rabbi or teacher of the sect of the pharisees could make a law that would be added onto the “Oral Law”, making it a tradition or what they would call a “Law”. They believed that they had the authority to make and change Laws as they pleased, and that not even God or Prophets like Elijah could stand up against them. (I highly recommend that you watch the video linked above, to understand more about this Oral Law and who the Pharisees really were).

Did they really teach something different or in addition to God’s Commandments?
They taught doctrines of men INSTEAD OF the commandments of God (Mat 15:6,9, Mar 7:7)

But did they break and teach to break God’s Commandments?
Let us go back to Matthew 15 to see how they added to God’s Commandments.
In Mat 15:3-6 and Mar 7:10-13  Yeshua asked the Pharisees, Why do you disobey the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses his father or mother, let him die. But you say, Whoever that says to his father or his mother, It is a gift/Corban(Meaning an Offering), by which you profit, he does not have to honor his father or his mother, he is free. In this way, you have made the commandment of God “of none effect by” your tradition. What was Yeshua trying to explain here? He said that God’s Commandment was clear. We have to honor our parents. How do you honor your parents? By taking care of them and bringing honor to them by who you are. But what were the Pharisees tradition saying? A person could tell their parents, that whatever he uses to take care of the parents, is a gift/offering to God, and not have to take care of his parents. Has God ever said that we should give offerings to Him while our parents suffer? Does giving to God free us of taking care of our parents? The Pharisees had said that the offering was more important than taking care of your own parents. This is how they broke God’s Law. By adding to it and taking away from it. Which God specifically said not to do(Deut 4:2, 12:32, Prov 30:6). This is how they made God’s Commandments “of none effect” or worthless. By putting “Traditions of Men” above “God’s Commandments”.

The main thing to understand, is that the teachings of the Pharisees, was not the Commandments of God.

Yeshua taught to obey God’s Commandments.(Mat 5:19, 19:17, Joh 12:50). He also taught His disciples to beware of the Doctrines/teachings of the Pharisees.(Mat 16:11,12)

Some think that the “Washing of hands” is in the Old Testament. And Yeshua is abolishing those Old Laws. I would ask such a person to find exactly where the “Washing of hands” is mentioned in the Old Testament before you make up your mind.

Note:
I have purposely kept the argument between Yeshua and the Pharisees about the Sabbath (Luke 6, Mat 12, Mar 2:23), out of this study. (This will be covered in a Study that is done solely on the Sabbath, in the near future) Though, I would like to point out, that just like the “washing of hands”, another one of the Laws written in the “Talmud”, the “Oral Law” of the Pharisees, is specifically how one should not even pluck corn on the Sabbath Day.

In conclusion, I hope you have adequately understood the following:
The pharisees did not adhere to God’s Commandments.
They did not represent the Old Testament or God’s Laws.
Yeshua’s arguments with the pharisees does not mean He was going against Gods’ Law.
The pharisees had a Law of their own.
They broke God’s Commandments through keeping their own Laws

Even though the objective of today’s study is not to find answers to whether Yeshua freed us from the Old Testament Laws or whether He upheld God’s Law, I would note, learning who The Pharisees were, is one of the keys to getting rid of a lot of misunderstandings about Yeshua, His Teachings & God’s Commandments.

God’s Commandments, Laws & Statutes. Before or After Moses?

Many Christians tend to believe that God’s Commandments were not there(not available, not adhered to, not instituted) before Moses and the Covenant God made at Sinai. This is what I also used to believe, as this was what was taught to me, all my life.

Reading the Bible though, gives a completely different picture to this story. There are so many instances, we see the patriarchs keeping God’s Commandments, way before it was ever written down and passed down through Moses.

Today, we will try to get to the bottom of this subject and iron out some of the misconceptions it carries.

Cain & Abel
When did God require sacrificial offerings? Apparently, Long before Moses, Both Cain & Abel brought offerings to God Almighty. And it is a known fact that Cain’s offering was rejected while Abel’s offering was accepted. This story teaches us two important things. Firstly, There are offerings that are accepted and there are offerings that are rejected. And secondly, why was Abel’s offering accepted while Cain’s rejected? The reason “most probably” was that even though The commandments were not written down, Abel’s offering was in accordance with the Offering written down in chapter 3 in the Book of Leviticus by Moses and later adhered to, by all(1King 8:63,64). The Commandment was to offer the animal and it’s “Fat”.

Noah
We have all been taught that Noah took Animals of each kind into the Ark, two by two. Most people teach this to their kids, We even sing songs to that extent in our gatherings. But what is the truth? I would have read this passage a dozen times, but I never noticed this fact, till recently. In Gen 7:2 God tells Noah, “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female”. When I first “saw” this verse, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had read this chapter a dozen times, but I failed to see that God’s classification of “Clean” and “Unclean” animals, written down in Leviticus 11 had been there even at Noah’s time.

Furthermore, what’s interesting is that, in Gen 8:20,21, Noah built an altar an offered “Clean” animals to God. Again, where was it ever commanded to offer animal sacrifices to God before it was communicated through Moses?

Abraham
Gen 26:5, Highlights an amazing point. God promises Isaac to multiply his seed, “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”. For Abraham to know God’s Ordinances, Commandments, Customs and Precepts, someone would have had to teach it to him. He did not only know them, this verse says Abraham kept all of it, a long time before Moses.

Abraham, in Gen 14:20, also gave tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, the priest of God Almighty. This was also long before Moses wrote down the laws of tithing.

In Gen 22, Abraham is asked to offer a Burnt Sacrifice by God, as well.

Jacob
In Gen 28:22, Jacob also makes a promise to God, to give a tenth of all that God gives him.

Walking with God, and being Perfect
In Gen 5:22, 24, It is said that Enoch walked with God. And similarly, in Gen 17:1, Abraham was asked to Walk before God and be Perfect. In Gen 6:9, Noah was called a just and Perfect person. Might there be a connection between obeying God(His Commandments, His Words) and Walking with Him and being perfect? (This is a study for another day)

So what does all of this mean?
Looking at the evidence in Genesis and the fact that God and His Word does not change
(Mal 3:6, Isa 44:6, Heb 13:8, Luke 16:17) Could it be, that the patriarchs kept God’s Commandments, His statutes & His Laws, even though it is not specifically mentioned? We know that Abraham definitely did. As Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus) said in John 10:35, If something is written in the Bible, “the Scripture cannot be broken”. In reference to Gen 26:5, no one can say that Abraham did not keep God’s Commandments, proving that Commandments were there long before Moses was even born.

I believe the Commandments would have been passed down from Father to Son. From Adam to Seth, and so on. God did instruct people to teach His words to their sons and the sons of their sons(Deut 4:9)

In conclusion, I believe, according to what we have read, what God did at Sinai through Moses, was to write down the Commandments, Statutes & Laws – The Word of God – so no one could say, that we do not know the ways of God Almighty. (Deut 30:11-13) His ways have always been known by His children from Creation.