Imagine taking a survival training class as you prepare for an extended outing into the arctic wilderness. Being a novice, you need and want all the help you can get to prepare for and survive such an awesome and hazardous venture. The course description says that the class is based on the training manual and everyone taking the class must purchase a copy and learn it.
You are bewildered, however, when on the first day of class your instructor announces that although he will teach from the training manual, actually following it could prove harmful. He tells his class that they don’t really need to learn any-thing about the wilderness. He says faith is all they need to exist in the wild, and no survival knowledge or training is necessary. He then spends the remainder of the course telling cute stories and cracking jokes.
This is incredible! If survival skills are not needed and training for the wilderness is useless, then why am I taking this course? you wonder.
Retire the Old Testament?
For the purpose of illustration, the “training manual” compares to the Bible, particularly the foundational Old Testament. The Scriptures are Yahweh’s Handbook for survival and overcoming in the wilderness of this world.
Your past Bible “instructors” probably taught that two-thirds of Scripture – the Old Testament – was only for ancient Israel and no longer applies to us in the “New Testament dispensation.” Most ministers believe and teach this.
Paradoxically, countless clerics have no qualms about illustrating their sermons using the books of the Old Testament. They don’t hesitate to refer to the Ten Commandments on occasion, quote the Psalms, Proverbs, and Prophetic writings or show the lives of the patriarchs as examples of right and proper behavior. When it comes to highlighting sermons most freely quote a pertinent passage from the Old Testament and see no contradiction in doing so.
But ask them whether it is necessary to apply the statutes and truths found in the Old Testament and you are promptly told that the Old Testament is no longer valid. It has completely been replaced by the New. So what is the point of having it?
Going hand-in-glove with the demise of Old Testament teachings is one that says that the Old Testament is the Bible for Jews, while only the New Testament is for Christians. Nothing is further from reality.
This notion that we need not apply
any Old Testament teachings to life is fundamental to why churchianity has deviated widely from the “faith once delivered,” prophesied in Jude 3 of our day. It is the basic reason an originally Hebrew-Biblical faith has been replaced by a blend of Greco-Roman concepts, practices, beliefs, and even iconology that play a central role in most modern worship.
The original faith as practiced by Hebrew Israelites has taken on an entirely different feel and flavor imposed by the culture and the nonBiblical practices that many in the infant faith soon accommodated. After the death of Yahshua, dramatic differences started to developed between what He taught and what would be observed a century later.
A simple example of cultural influence on perception can be found in Renaissance paintings of biblical scenes reproduced in some contemporary Bibles. These illu-strations show the Savior and His disciples dressed in Middle Age garb, or they depict ancient, Middle East soldiers attired in uniforms resembling 15th century Europe. How easily culture corrupts truth. But far more serious, societal influence and pressure have also transformed moral beliefs among those in the pews.
The teachings of fundamental Scripture underwent a dramatic trans-formation. What had deep meaning in a Hebrew setting began a shift to embrace pagan ideologies as gentiles were allowed to bring in their religious baggage unchecked. Add to this the anti-Semitic leanings of the early church leaders and you have a recipe for radical transformation.
The greatest influence for change, however, came with the doctrine that the modern church has replaced Israel. This notion led to the complete overhaul and elimination of beliefs and practices of the Old Testament.
Ignorance of the overarching covenant-salvation design of the Bible is what breeds so much doctrinal misunderstanding today: What is sin? Is the law abolished? Which day is the Sabbath? Are we under grace or obedience? What about faith alone, is it enough?
The answers to these and other fundamental questions are found in Yahweh’s salvation plan first revealed in the Old Testament and brought to full reality in the New. With the correct view of exactly how both Old and New testaments harmonize, these and many more issues can be resolved easily. In fact, a proper understanding of how the two testaments complement each other holds the key to True Worship itself. Only when we look at the Bible as a completely unified work – as Yahweh intended – do we realize how far popular worship has deviated from reality.
A Peculiar Treasure
Did the Messiah Yahshua come to advance a whole new religion based on grace without obedience? Did He fulfill the law so that we don’t need to? Let’s allow Him to respond to this crucial issue Himself: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5: 17). That seems clear enough. The law and prophets are found in the Old Testament. The basic meaning of “fulfill” is to carry out or bring to fullness. If He didn’t destroy the law then it is still in effect – brought to full light and understanding through the example of His life. If it is brought to fullness then it is still intact and complete.
If a soldier fulfills his duties he does everything required of him, leaving nothing undone or incomplete. By fulfilling the law, Yahshua obeyed it all and left nothing out. The same Greek word translated fulfill is used in Matthew 3:15, where Yahshua requested John the Immerser to baptize Him: “And Yahshua answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.” If fulfill means to abolish, then Yahshua and John the Immerser did away with all righteousness when the Savior was baptized!
Of course, what it really means is that Yahshua obediently complied with the mandate for immersion, as He did in all points of the law. He fulfilled His mission by being law observant and completely compliant. He tells us to follow in His steps. “If you keep my commandments,” He said in John 15:10, “you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” And what were His commandments? The same as His Father’s, except that He magnified them. He said in Matthew 5 that just having sinful thoughts is enough to break them (vv. 22, 28).
Law Produces Peace and Happiness
What should be obvious to anyone is the simple fact that if moral law is disregarded then our society will self-destruct. Secular values lack the power to stand alone. Only moral law gives a society stability, structure, and order.
Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under G-d is acknowledged.”
The only reason that police forces are able to keep the peace is that the majority of the population is law-abiding. But take away the law or the desire to obey it and chaos quickly takes over. Consider what happens in a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake when the population is in a frenzy and uncontrollable. Violence spreads. Anarchy rules. Without law society crumbles into madness.
Almighty Yahweh provided the answer to happiness when He gave man His laws. He put limits on man’s behavior in order to protect him. By our Savior’s own admission He came to confirm and establish the law. Why do so many go to Paul and try to disprove what was spoken from the Messiah’s own lips? Simply put, rebellion. Humans are born with a natural disdain for authority and rules.
Did Paul write against the spiritual law and the moral code laid down in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy? Let’s see what he actually said. In his trial before Felix, the Apostle made an unmistakable statement that has been nearly ignored for 2,000 years. “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14).
What Paul believed and taught was the Old Testament, which is what he referred to when he said “law and prophets.” The New Testament was not yet written. What he did was adhered to the precepts, commands and truths found in the Old Testament. Paul later was to proclaim: “Men [and] brethren though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,” Acts 28:17. And in verse 23 of this chapter we read, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of Elohim persuading them concerning Yahshua, both out of the law of Moses from morning till evening.”
Far from deserting Old Testament teachings Paul bases his writings about Yahshua on the Old Testament!
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31) Why do modern teachers teach that Paul taught against the law of the Old Testament? Either Paul lied or they ignore what he said!
In the preface to Paul’s writings in the New Jerusalem Bible we find this revealing statement: “It is important to remember that Paul’s letters were not meant as theological treatises: most of them represent his response to a particular situation in a particular assembly. Paul’s letters presuppose the oral teachings which preceded them and enlarge and comment only upon certain points of that.”
The oral teachings include the Old Testament and its laws. Simply put, Paul was not setting forth new doctrine. He was merely applying the precepts he learned from Old Testament Scripture to the assemblies in the New Testament.
Become of Israel
Writing years after the Savior had resurrected, Paul knew that the law Moses received on Sinai was meant for more than just the 2-3 million Israelites camped there. He wrote, “This is he [Moses], that was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” “Lively oracles” in the Greek is idioma logion meaning living utterances.” They are the law Yahweh gave to Israel through Moses.
Another fundamental truth you likely were never taught is that one of the purposes of the Savior’s death was to provide a way for those outside Israel to join in the promise first given exclusively to Israel.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the Covenant promise was given to any peoples but Israel. Gentiles must be grafted into that one promise, as one grafts a branch from one tree into another tree. The tree and its roots provide the support and nourishment the transplanted branch must have.
Paul explains all of this thoroughly in Romans chapters 9 and 11. In Romans 9:4 he addresses the true ones called Israelites: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law and the service of Elohim, and the promises.” As participants in the promise to Israel, Gentiles must follow the terms and dictates of that promise because the “tree” that supports them is rooted in the Covenant. Therefore the person seeking True Worship must become a part of the congregation of Israel. Yahshua said He did not come but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24.
With our foundation established in Yahweh’s commands to Israel, the next obvious questions are: who was Israel’s Mighty One and what did He call Himself? How was He to be worshiped? How was Israel to live? What observances were they commanded to keep and on which days? To be set apart from the world, what were ancient and now modern Israelites to eat and not eat? Touch and not touch? Do and not do?
The True Worshiper – today’s spiritual Israelite – must conform to all points of the renewed Covenant in his worship of Yahweh, the Mighty One of Israel. Malachi 3:6 tells us, “For I am Yahweh, I CHANGE NOT; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” He has not changed His mind, nor has He changed His mandate for man’s obedience. We read about Yahshua in the New Testament, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY him,” Hebrews 5:9.
Even under the Old Covenant Yahweh told Israel that He expected obedience over sacrifices, 1Samuel 15:22. Obedience was always the foremost desire of our Creator for His people even as they were sacrificing bulls and goats daily.
If the Covenant promise was given exclusively to Israel, and we wish to have a part in it, then we need to look closely at its terms. What was Israel’s obligation? We find in Exodus, before Yahweh gave the law, that the Israelites agreed completely to Yahweh’s mandates. Notice: “And Moses went up unto Elohim, and Yahweh called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which Yahweh commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that Yahweh has spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto Yahweh” (Ex. 19:3-8).
Israel had promised, “All that Yahweh has spoken we will do.” By this pledge they were committed to the Covenant. Everything Yahweh expected of them they agreed to do. Yahweh’s part of the compact was a promise to make Israel a special kingdom of priests (Isa. 61:6) – the same promise he makes to us if we are obedient to His laws.
Notice: “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne,” Revelation 3:21.
Overcome what? Sin! Sin is defined as lawbreaking, 1John 3:4.
Yahshua said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Through obedience we overcome sin. By obeying Yahweh’s Word we come to know what He is all about and who He is. What is important to Him becomes important to us. Hebrews 5:9 makes it clear: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
Feasts Part of the Covenant
Nowhere did Yahweh make a covenant with anyone not of the Abrahamic line. But notice. He told Israel in Deuteronomy 29:14-15: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that stands here with us this day before Yahweh our Elohim, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” Anyone outside of Israel could be included in the promise if they agreed to the same covenant terms Yahweh gave to Israel. That includes us who came later.
Israel promised Yahweh that they would do what He said. “And he [Moses] took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that Yahweh has said WILL WE DO, and be obedient,” Exodus 24:7.
Again, notice how Yahshua demands the same obedience to what He taught, the same obedience mandated from Yahweh for Israel: “And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:26-27).
Yahweh called Moses to Mt. Sinai and proclaimed the terms of the Covenant. We can read about these not only in Exodus 20, where we find the Ten Commandments, but also in the succeeding chapters of Exodus, where the Feast days (chapter 23), statutes, and judgments are included in the Sinai Covenant with the True Worshipers – the chosen of Yahweh.
A New High Priest
Does this mean that everything Israel was commanded to do and practice now becomes incumbent on us? No. With the coming of the Savior a change was made in the administration of the law. No more are animal sacrifices needed for sin. Yahshua’s sacrifice now atones for sin.
Similarly, the temple ritual has been replaced with the acts of Yahshua, our High Priest and Mediator of a New Covenant. Our High Priest Yahshua is the priestly order of Melchizedec and not Levi.
Under His priestly administration we and ancient Israel are offered blessings far greater than the earthly advantages ancient Israel was promised for obedience. Now we can have eternal blessings (see Heb. 9). Paul tells us, “Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Messiah ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living Elohim; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart,” 2Corinthians 3:3. As the law is now written on our hearts (Heb. 8), so we make it a part of us and live it.
A few verses later the Apostle writes, “Who [Elohim] also made us able ministers of the new [Greek kainos—renewed] testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit …”
The Covenant is reintroduced in the New Testament through the blood of the Savior, not the blood of animal sacrifices. His is a higher priesthood. Being that the Covenant is now magnified and placed on a far higher plane, it is incumbent on True Worshipers to be even more careful about their obedience, not less.
Notice how Paul compares submission in the Old Testament to obedience today: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:28-30.
By deliberately disobeying the law now, we risk not the death of a mere animal, as anciently, but the actual impalement of our very Savior all over again! Hebrews 6:6.
Far from abolishing the law, Yahweh today instills it within us, and we obey out of the sincere desire of a willing heart that loves Him.
Confessing Our Own Error
You may have been led all your life to believe that certain teachings were fundamental truth. But did you confirm them in Scripture? Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
All his life Paul had been ignorantly persecuting the True Worshipers as heretics. When he was knocked down on the road to Damascus, he didn’t defend his error but listened to what the celestial Being (Yahshua) told him, and humbly submitted himself to Yahweh.
From then on Yahweh used Paul as one of the premier teachers of the Faith. When presented with the truth many of us were not that virtuous, but instead defended what we had always been led to believe was true. How could these great churches be wrong? we reasoned. But as we became convicted of real truth, we had to humbly repent before our Father for our error. We came to the understanding that the majority is misled, as it has been throughout history.
Yahshua confirmed that the masses are on the broad road leading to destruction. He said His people would be a “little flock,” and only few would be given the Kingdom, Luke 12:32. True Worshipers are not labeled the “called out” for no reason.
May you find the way to life and may you not be hesitant to walk in all the light you are given.