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Christ – The Atonement Sacrifice – Allusions in Luke 4

It is a little known fact that Luke’s record of our Messiah’s ministry starts with an allusion to the Atonement Sacrifice. Luke alone gives an account of the timing of this event, and also shows how the people themselves unwittingly declared how Yeshua would take the sin of the nation upon Himself.

Knowing about the Day of Atonement is paramount to understand the story behind the story that Luke gives witness to. Considered the most important of the Appointed Days in God’s Calendar, The Day of Atonement is the only day of the year with a command for Fasting. In fact, since the Day of Atonement is intricately connected to Judgement, most Jews engage in a partial fast for a full 40 days before the Day of Atonement. The 40 Days start with the 6th month of God’s Calendar (known as Elul) and end with the Day of Atonement, which is the 10th day of the 7th Month, equalling to a full 40 days of Repentance. It is a time for Repentance and preparation of one’s life to stand before God. While it is not clear whether this tradition of Fasting existed back in 1st Century times, is it not wonderous that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) fasted 40 days in the same season of Elul and The Day of Atonement?

How do we know that His Ministry started in the time of the Day of Atonement? There are several hints given to us by Luke. Let us review his account in Chapters 3 & 4.

1.John preaches repentance –
Not only does John preach Repentance, a key aspect of meditation as it dawns toward The Day of Atonement, he also speaks of the coming Judgement as seen below.

Luk 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
Luk 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luk 3:9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Luk 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

2.Yeshua’s 40 day Fast –
Yeshua is baptized by John(Luk 3:22,23) and proceeds directly into the Wilderness of Judea(Luk 4:1) and remains there fasting for forty days(Luk 4:2). After being tempted of the Devil, He teaches in Galilee, and then comes to Nazareth – His hometown and steps into the Synagogue.

3.The Reading in the Synagogue –
Traditionally on the Sabbath, people meet in the Synagogue and read a Portion of the Torah (5 Books of Moses) & the Prophets which is done in a planned manner. Isaiah is read in close proximity to The Day of Atonement, and it just so happened that Yeshua was delivered the scroll of Isaiah on this particular Sabbath Day.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

4. Isaiah 61, Judgement & the Jubilee
Yeshua reads the following passage, stopping abruptly without reading everything proceeding “The Day of Vengeance”. “Proclamation of Liberty” is intricately connected to the “Year of Jubilee” which is announced on The Day of Atonement. The Day of Vengeance or His Second Coming, was yet to come. So it makes sense that He stopped before this part, but reading the full verse, we see that He consoles everyone who repents and is in Ashes, mourning & heaviness – which are central themes of The Day of Atonement.

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Lev 25:9,10 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

5. The Sacrificial Goat which took all the Sin of the Nation upon itself –
On The Day of Atonement, the High Priest enacted a sacrifice to atone the sins of the nation. This twin sacrifice had two goats, one of which was taken before the High Priest, who then proclaimed all of the Sins of the nation on its head, and was then led away to the wilderness.

Lev 16:8-10  And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Lev 16:21,22  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

It is traditionally known that this goat was pushed off a cliff by the person who led it away signifying the complete erasure of the sins of the people.

The Rabbis, interpreting “Azazel” as “Azaz” (rugged), and “el” (strong), refer it to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down (Yoma 67b; Sifra, Aḥare, ii. 2; Targ. Yer. Lev. xiv. 10, and most medieval commentators)  Jewish Encyclopedia

The Sages taught: The word Azazel indicates that the cliff the goat is pushed from should be rough and hard. I might have thought that it may be located in a settled area. Therefore, the verse states: “In the wilderness.” And from where does one derive that the goat is pushed from a cliff? The verse states “gezeira,” indicating an area that is sharp, like a cliff. Yoma 67b – Talmud

Now read what happens after Yeshua reads the Scripture in Isaiah and has a dispute with the people in the Synagogue. The crowd unwittingly proclaims that Yeshua will be the sacrifice which takes away the sin of the nation, by trying to take Him to a hill and thrusting Him down from it.

Luk 4:28,29 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

6. The High Priest & the Atonement Sacrifice –
As the author of Hebrews make mention, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies only once a year – on the Day of Atonement(Exo 30:10), and he would also take the blood of the second goat which was applied inside. Hebrews clearly connects the Blood of the Atonement Sacrifice to Yeshua’s blood. He would be the High Priest of the Nation and the Sacrifice for the Sins of the Nation.

Heb 9:6,7  Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 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:

Heb 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Conclusion
It is very likely that Luke knew of the Atonement Sacrifice and the connection of Messiah to the redemption of the Nation as seen in the Scriptures. When Luke heard this account from witnesses before he wrote his gospel(Luk 1:2), he would have immediately connected the dots of the Goat which was led to the cliff with Yeshua who was almost thrust down in the same way, in the days of Repentance – The Day of Atonement. I am in no way saying that Christ was almost thrust down the cliff exactly on the Day of Atonement, but it was definitely close in proximity to this all important day, and the event itself definitely alluded to Him being the Atonement Sacrifice for all of us. As we repent for our own sins through fasting, let us remember the sacrifice that was made for our iniquities, transgressions and sins – our Saviour and Lord – Yeshua Ha Maschiach (Jesus the Messiah).

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Can we eat all meats? Food sacrificed to idols and misunderstandings regarding 1Cor 10:25

As most of Paul’s words, another common misunderstanding of his writings is the fact that he gave permission to eat anything and everything – effectively making void God’s decree of what is to be eaten and not, written down in Leviticus Chapter 11.

So was he making the law void? If so, why does he say “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law“(Rom 3:3). Is he contradicting himself, or have we misunderstood his words; as Peter wrote “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction”(2Pe 3:15,16). Let us see whether Paul was telling the believers to “eat all meats” or whether we have misunderstood his writings.

The below study is broken down into 7 sections for your ease.
1. A personal connection to this misunderstood verse
2. What happened in Corinth after Paul left?
3. A historical background of Corinth and the environment Paul lived in
4. Examination of Paul’s words: where to start
5. A brief look at 1Cor 8:1 to 10:33 as one topic/theme
6. Now we finally come upon the verse in question 1Cor 10:25-33
7. Conclusion

1. A personal connection to this misunderstood verse
I was brought up in a traditional Christian family background where we were free to eat anything we liked. “Paul had given specific instructions that Christians could eat anything”. “We were free”. “Christ had died so that we could have these freedoms”. These were the doctrines I had learned at sunday school.

When I first understood the Scriptures in their entirety, many of my earlier beliefs were questioned. I struggled within myself to look at things afresh, without preconceived ideas or notions. Putting things into context, both historically and textually, I was met with one question after the other. As I progressed in my studies, proving myself wrong, and coming to the understanding that I had believed in un-scriptural teachings for so long –  one of the questions that kept coming up was “can I eat what I have been eating all this time? Bacon, prawns, cuttlefish, crab and the like?” Instantly, the answer would pop into my mind – Paul said “Whatsoever is sold in the meat market, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake”1Co 10:25. It couldn’t get clearer than that – Paul said we could eat anything! Right? I had to make sure I was right.

In my studies, I learned something obvious. Paul was writing “letters” to specific congregations. These letters were targeted at particular groups in history, with specific problems and questions. You can’t read a line off an epistle such as this, separate! It’s a letter which is meant to be read from beginning to end. Paul did not mark verse numbers and break his letter down into chapters. These were done much later in time, to make reference easier. So now I had to read each of these letters in one go. And that is what I did.

To further understand the Historical context of the Corinthian congregation, I turned to an expert. Namely Dr. Bruce Winter, who has written a book named “After Paul left Corinth”, which as the name suggests, explores the historical atmosphere of Corinth after Paul left the congregation following his stay with them for one and half years (Act 18:11). I would highly recommend every Christian who wants to know the true meaning of Paul’s words, to read this book.

2. What happened in Corinth after Paul left?
It is important to understand the historical context of the Roman Colony named Corinth, at the time Paul wrote this letter. Without understanding what they went through and what circumstances they lived in, how can we, who live 2000 years after them, hope to understand the true context of Paul’s words?

We know that Paul stayed at Corinth for one and a half years(Act 18:11), which would have been enough time to train and teach the believers in the ways of God. He also commends the congregation for still “following the traditions” that he passed on to them(1Cor 11:2). So the question we should be asking now is, why does Paul suddenly have to explain about eating food from the market? Did he not teach them about food for 1½yrs? Why hadn’t he passed on a tradition on what to do in this regard? Or had circumstances changed in Corinth, so that he needed to give them new instructions?

Even though Paul’s letter to Corinth has been preserved, we do not have the letter which the Corinth congregation sent to Paul. The believers had written to Paul about at least six main matters which they needed answers on, which were addressed by Paul in this letter(7:1, 7:25, 8:1, 14:1, 16:1, 16:12) as we see, Paul himself writing “Now concerning the things you wrote about”(1Co 7:1). Furthermore, Paul had received reports of the issues at Corinth, from other sources as well(1:11, 5:1). It is also important to note that this was not the first time he had written on such issues to Corinth, as he says “I wrote to you in my letter….”(1Co 5:9), which they had misunderstood previously(1Cor 5:10)

3. A historical background of Corinth and the environment Paul lived in
1. Jews had been expelled from Rome under the order of Claudius around 49AD (Act 18:2)

2. The imperial cult where emperors and dignitaries were deified, and regarded, as well as, worshiped to as gods were also on the rise[A]. The “gods on earth” mentioned by Paul, in reference to “so-called gods and lords” could be speaking of such worship (1Cor 8:5)

3. The Isthmian games, a festival of athletic and musical competitions in honour of the sea god poseidon, was also held in Isthmus of Corinth[B]. The president of the Games, was known to have given multiple civic dinners to all who had Roman citizenship [C]. The “right” mentioned in 1Cor 8:9, could very well be the right to eat at Poseidon’s sanctuary at Isthmia, which was open to all who had Roman Citizenship at Corinth.

sanctuary-students working

The Santuary of Poseidon at Isthmia (Click to learn about the excavations done by the Ohio State University

“Archeological evidence suggests that the games did not return to Isthmia until about 50 AD. At that time, the temple and the facilities for the games were repaired, and in 67 AD the Emperor Nero took part in the panhellenic games.” (It is more than possible that the Isthmian Games and the dinners at poseidon’s temple started after Paul left Corinth, requiring him to write to them on how to act accordingly in these changed circumstances.)

4. The city authorities controlled the marketplaces, and special provisions were made for Jews to obtain meats which were slaughtered according to their standards[D]. (The Corinthian congregation would have also had to buy the meat separated for the Jews as per regulations made in Acts 15:20,29).

5. There was no such religion called Christianity at the time of Paul. In fact, the name “Christian”, mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament (Act 11:26, 26:28, 1Pet 4:16) would have been a derogatory term, at the time, as we see it’s use being connected to shame by Peter (1Pet 4:16).

6. Even-though believers in Christ, had significant theological differences with Jews who did not believe in Christ, they were all regarded as part of Jews and one belief system, being called a sect (Act 24:5,14, 28:22).

4. Examination of Paul’s words: where to start
As I have mentioned above, it is important to read the whole of the 1st letter to the Corinthian congregation in one go, to really understand the instructions Paul is providing the Church of Corinth. But, as such a study might not be possible in a short post such as this, we will focus our attention to the the particular part of the letter in concern. Even though the verse in question is 1Cor 10:25, Paul starts addressing this single topic in 1Cor 8:1 and goes upto 10:33. As such, this whole part of the letter needs to be read without interruption, to understand the context of 1Cor 10:25.

5. A brief look at 1Cor 8:1 to 10:33 as one topic/theme
As we will see in this study, from 1Cor 8:1 onwards till 10:33, Paul addresses only one topic. And this topic is none other than, “food offered/sacrificed to idols”. In 1Cor 8:1, Paul starts by saying “Now concerning food offered to idols and this theme continues on till the end of chapter 10(besides a deviation in chapter 9) where he is still speaking on the same topic when he writes “But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it”(1Cor 10:28). Following is a summarized version of the 3 Chapters in concern: (Although reading through the complete section is advisable, the main/important sections are marked in red for quick reference) 

1Cor 8:1-3 Paul enters into the topic saying that we all have knowledge regarding things offered to idols. It is important to note that “abstaining from meat offered to idols” was one of the four key judgements that was commanded by the Jerusalem Council to be adhered by all believers (Acts 15:20,29). [please read this study for an in-depth understanding of these four main rulings made by James]. Paul reproves the Corinthians not to be puffed up by the things they know, but to act in love.

1Cor 8:4-5 Paul says that everyone of you know that an idol is nothing, as there are no other gods but ONE. He then goes onto mention that there are many who are known to be gods and lords on earth as well as heaven, possibly making reference to the “imperial cult” which worshiped the emperors as divine beings alongside the other idols which were worshiped, such as apollo, poseidon and aphrodite in Corinth.

1Cor 8:6-8 He then explains that there are no other gods other than the Father, and no other lords other than Christ for them. And that some do not possess this knowledge, being accustomed to idol worship and offering sacrifices in the past, still think eating meat at such a place would be equal to idol worship. (This was exactly what was happening at the Isthmian Games mentioned above in section 3. The President of the Isthmian Games was hosting large dinners at the temple complex of poseidon for the Roman citizens of Corinth. Even-though the food at these dinners were not offered to poseidon, eating at such a place could be seen as idol worship by new Christians because of their “conscience being weak” as per Paul’s words.)
1Cor 8:9 The “Liberty” or “Right” spoken in this verse, would have been the right Christians with Roman Citizenship at Corinth, received to participate at the civic dinners held in honor of the Isthmian Games. Participating at such an occasion would have been a highest honor one could receive in Corinth. Paul advises the people who had this right to be careful that they do not put other believers at risk.
1Cor 8:10 Paul speaks to the ones who had the “right” to participate at the civic dinners to be careful, as a new believer could easily see them at these idol temples, and think that participation in eating of meats offered to idols is an acceptable thing to do. We should especially note that Paul is not approving anyone of eating “meat offered to idols” as this goes against the ruling made by the Jerusalem Council in Act 15:20,29. He was simply saying that the Corinthians who had Roman citizenship should think twice before they participated at the Isthmian Game dinners (which were hosted at the idol temple of poseidon) as new believers could see them dining there, and think that it is acceptable to eat things that were offered to idols. The ones who had this “civic right” knew that the dinners hosted at the temple of poseidon did not have food offered to poseidon, but an outsider would not know this, and could be tempted to think participating in idol worship was acceptable.
1Cor 8:11-13 Paul ends the first part of his argument saying, that just because a seasoned believer understands what is right from wrong, he/she should be careful in how they guide their actions, as they could lead another to sin by what they do and how they act. He furthermore argues that if he is making a brother sin through his actions, he would rather eat nothing at all.
1Cor 9:1-27 Paul diverts for a moment from the subject at hand, to answer the ones who questions his authority (1Cor 9:3) explaining the service he is involved in, expecting nothing in return.
1Cor 10:1-11 Paul returns to the subject on hand, by giving a host of examples from the Old Testament Scriptures. He explains how God was with the children of Israel in the wilderness, the same way He is with them now. And how God was not pleased with many of the israelites because of their lusts, idolatry, fornication, provocation and murmuring. He explains that all of these situations came to pass as examples for them. 
1Cor 10:12,13 Paul advises the Corinthians to be careful of being arrogant to the extent where one thinks that they cannot fall into temptation. And that with temptation, God provides a path of escape.
1Cor 10:14 Paul makes a clear statement, coming back to the topic on hand “flee from idolatry”! basically have nothing to do with idolatry.
1Cor 10:15-18 Paul asks the Corinthians to judge his words, and see whether it is right, explaining how partakers of the wine and the bread become part of Christ. Similarly partakers of the sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple become partakers of that Altar.
1Cor 10:19-21 He explains that an idol is nothing. And that the “sacrifices offered to such idols” are also nothing of concern. But the sacrifices made to these idols by Gentiles are done towards demons, and that a person cannot be a partaker of the body of Christ and also be a partaker of such, done towards demonic beings. 
1Cor 10:22 He points back at the example he gave earlier about the Children of Israel, by asking whether we are trying to provoke God, and attain the same fate as them?
1Cor 10:23-24 He points back at 1Cor 8:9 here, saying things that are “lawful” or received as a “right” (speaking of the right of dining at the Isthmian Games) are not always profitable or edifying in regards to the congregation and other believers. He appeals to the Corinthians asking them to do whatever they do, for the good of their brothers and sisters in the congregation.

6. Now we finally come upon the verse in question 1Cor 10:25-33

1Cor 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles(meat market), that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 

In this study so far, we have seen that the topic in concern still remains “meat offered to idols”. As per section 3- point 4, we know that special provisions for meats were made at the markets of Corinth, as the Jews were known to not eat meat offered to idols, meat with blood or animals which were strangled to death. These were the exact requirements set forth by the Jerusalem Council in Act 15:20,29 for all gentile believers to follow. So it is safe to presume that believers in Christ would have also purchased meat from the same vendors who provided meat for the Jews. The Corinthian congregation would have had to buy meats which were specially separated and prepared for the Jews, as eating anything else would have been going against the words of James and the Jerusalem Council.

The fact that Paul who was with the Corinth congregation for 1½ yrs, and had given them many traditions that they were still adhering to(1Cor 11:2), had to now write to them saying “eat anything sold at the market, without question” can lead us to conclude that some circumstances had changed in Corinth. It is possible that the special provision for meat made for the Jews would have been revoked as the Romans were becoming agitated with them. Claudius had deported all Jews from Rome(Acts 18:2) and Gallio the deputy of Achaea was more than hostile towards Jews(Acts 18:16,17). From 40AD onwards there were tension building against the Jews, with uprisings happening in Judea in 46-48AD which were put down by the Roman authorities. All of these factors would have pushed authorities to draw back special provisions provided to the Jews such as what was provided in the meat markets.

If the special meat provision was revoked, the Corinthian Congregation would now need to have questioned Paul whether it would be acceptable to eat from the meat market, as they were unsure of the quality and origins of the meat they bought. The meat could have been brought to the meat markets from the temples, as we see such a case in 1Cor 10:28, where meat offered to idols were served at dinners.

Paul’s judgement was “to eat from the meat market, as their was no way to clearly know what was offered to idols or not”. But then he continues his discussion quoting Psalm 24:1 “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof”, known to have been a blessing which was recited before meals by all Jews[E]. Then in 10:27,28 he asks the congregation to eat what is set before them if they go for a function hosted by a non-believer, but to not partake if the non-believer informs them that the food is in fact, what is offered to idols as a sacrifice. Paul writes to them saying, not to partake for the sake of the non-believer (possibly to also showcase to the non-believer that Christians do not partake in idol worship, thereby gaining a chance to speak to them about the gospel) and also partly because eating what is sacrificed to idols, knowingly, is a sinful act as per the Jerusalem Council judgement. He further explains in 10:29-33 that the refusal to consume meat that is offered to idols, is not only a personal issue, but something that effects other believers as discussed above under 1Cor 8:10. He ends his words saying whatever you do, to do it for the glory of God, not offending Jew, Gentile or the Church, seeking to save others in all that they do.

7. Conclusion
The letter written by Paul to the Corinthians, like any other letter, needs to be read from beginning to end without pause. Plucking a verse out of context, such as 1Cor 10:25 could be used to argue that eating any food is permissible – but this would not be the reality behind the words of Paul. Like many of his writings which are misunderstood, this verse needs to be examined in its historical and textual context, for us to know its true meaning. The historical background of the Isthmian Games and its dinners hosted at the temple of poseidon as well as the special meat market provisions made for the Jews, shed light on the background of the questions the Corinthians would have written to Paul about. Paul in return explains why believers should not engage themselves in idolatry and eating sacrifices made to idols, and how they should act upon the discontinuation of the specially separated meat in the Corinthian Market. Nowhere does the topic of “eating against God’s instructions” come to play, in this epistle to the Corinthians. The written instructions of Lev 11 was never revoked by Paul; he simply said to eat the meats at the Corinth Market, as there was no way to know whether a particular meat was offered to idols or not. If a believer got to know that a meat was in fact offered to an idol as a sacrifice, he/she was not to partake in such a thing, as per the ruling of the Jerusalem council.

References ———————————————————————————————
[A] Pseudo Julian Letters 198, 407Bff. Also read ‘Achaean Federal Imperial Cult, Part II; The Corinthian Church’, TynB 46.1 (1995) 169-78
[B] E.R. Gebhard, ‘The Isthmian Games and the Sanctuary of Poseidon in the Early Empire’, in T.E. Gregory ed., The Corinthia in the Roman Period, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supp.8 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1994), pp.78-94
[C] Plutarch Moralia 723A
[D] P.R. Trebilco, Jewish Communities in Asia Minor, SNTSMS 69 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p.17. See also Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews Book 14, Ch 10.24
[E] T. Ber. 4.1.

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!