Just something going through my head this morning:
CHRISTIANS AND THE LAW
In this electronic age of communication, with the internet, hence the world at our fingertips, it gives one a view into the minds and lives, often more than we might prefer, of many others who, before this, we might now little to nothing about.
One thing that always amazes me, is the great lack of biblical understanding of so many who claim the name of Christ-and today, again in this age of information, there is no lack of information about Him, though there is also a lot of garbage to wade through, as well, which is why a good, Bible-believing church is still such a requirement.
But as I look at the many ideas out there, the one that never ceases to amaze, is how many believers so desperately cling to the laws of Sinai, ostensibly born-again believers in Jesus Christ, who believe that it is the duty of all believers to maintain the Mosaic laws and commandments given upon Sinai to the children of Israel, and what it tells me, is that there is little actual training and studying going on by these people, and their teachers of the entire word of God, or they would know that this just isn’t so.
Understand of course, this is not me, not my opinion-the Bible is the word of God, and our ONLY authority in all areas of life, worship and obedience, but one must KNOW the Bible, one must STUDY the Bible, to know HOW to follow it. So, in this vein, I wish to broach this subject on Christians and the Law.
To go over the law as a whole would be treading ground most of us already know well, but in brief, after Moses had led the children of Israel out of the land of Goshen in Egypt, the Lord having punished Egypt with ten plagues and passed judgement upon all the gods of Egypt, they found themselves at Mt. Sinai, and here the Lord gave them His laws, consisting of ten commandments, graven upon stones, and many other ordinances, concerning all aspects of life, to include the treatment of such illnesses as leprosy, punishments for sin, sacrifices, offerings, relationships between spouses, neighbors and the nations, care of the poor and the priests and Levites, and so on. All aspects of life were covered under the law.
In Exodus 24, we read of the official covenant being made between God and Israel, concerning the keeping of the law: “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.” (Ex 24:3-8)
Now, here is where we begin to understand what, if any, relationship the believer has with the Law of Moses:
1-The Blood Covenant.
A blood covenant is an agreement made between two parties, rather like a contract, except instead of the parties involved signing on the dotted line, there is blood shed to seal the agreement. In the case of Israel, the blood of clean animals was used, rather than the participants cutting themselves, or drinking any blood. In such a covenant, the parties who will be involved are agreed upon by both parties, and often a blood covenant would remain in effect as long as one party was still alive, and would apply to the family of the both parties, as long as at least one participant lived. For instance, when David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul, made a covenant between them, after Jonathan died and David was king, David sought for any children of Jonathan, to show him kindness for the sake of the covenant they made, and when he found Mephibosheth, he brought him to his house and fed him from his own food from that time on. This is the strength of the covenant.
So, the covenant made at Sinai, the parties involved were YHWH God, as seen when the blood was sprinkled on the altar, and the children of Israel, as seen when they agreed to obey all the Lord told them, and they were sprinkled by the blood of the covenant. This means the parties that were responsible to keep the covenant, as long as one party remained, were Israel and their PHYSICAL descendants, and God, and of course, since God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, it would be in force forever. OR, until one part broke the covenant, and then the other would be free. So from the beginning, the only parties who were ever under the law were Israel and their descendants, and the Lord God. The only exceptions to this were servants of those of Israel, and those strangers (Gentiles) who sojourned within their walls-they were expected to keep the law as well, while they were in the borders of Israel. (Ex 20:10, which actually only applies to the Sabbath). So clearly, only those who were a part of the initial covenant are answerable to that covenant. Gentiles, believers or otherwise, are not, and never were.
2-The Covenant Broken
When the covenant was made in Ex 24, as we read above, both parties made certain promises as part of the covenant: Israel promised to be in obedience to all the Lord commanded them, and the Lord promised something as well: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.” (Ex 23: 20-31)
Here is the Lord’s part of the covenant: IF the children of Israel keep their covenant in obedience, then the Lord will do all these things-they will be established in the land, all their enemies run out before them, they will have peace and safety and health and good flocks and crops. But here’s the rub-Israel has to obey the covenant as well, lest the covenant be broken and the Lord is not held to keep His part, and of course it isn’t all that long after they arrive in Canaan that they continually break the covenant and fall into gross disobedience: they refuse to fight against all the inhabitants of the land, as they are commanded, so the Lord allows some to remain as a snare to them. After they settle into the land, they quickly fall away and begin to serve the gods of those other people in Canaan, and to intermarry with them. So Israel quickly breaks the covenant, meaning the Lord is not held to fulfil all He has promised, and as a result the history of Israel is rarely a happy and comfortable one. The Lord allows them to be in bondage to their enemies time and again, though He rescues them when they cry out to Him, and he gives the judges to rescue them-but once that judge is dead, they fall away again. Lather, rinse, repeat. So the covenant has been broken and it only holds at all because the Lord, in His mercy, maintains it, though by choice, not compulsion.
3-The Broken Covenant Replaced
When Jesus came to earth as a man, and lived the law perfectly, and taught the Jews the true law, of the Spirit, not the letter, He was accused of trying to destroy the law. He responded, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Some have looked at this and said, ‘See, the law will remain as long as heaven and earth remain.’ But is this what Jesus said? Read it again-“I am not come to destroy, but to FULFIL. Jesus’ job was to fulfil the law-to destroy it would mean to end the law before its time and in an improper manner; but to FULFIL it would mean to end it in the manner it was meant to be ended, the proper, planned end. In reality, the Jews had all but destroyed the law in their disobedience, hundreds of years earlier, and it only remained because the Lord kept it intact-however, because it was a broken law, it needed to be replaced with a new covenant-the only proper manner to replace this covenant was through a new covenant. And this was why Jesus had come-to fulfil the old covenant by replacing it with a new one, thus fulfilling the old. And what He said in the above statement was, even if it took til the end of all things for a new covenant to be made and to fulfil the old, the old would remain in force until the new took its place. The old HAD to be fulfilled, not destroyed, though both effectively would end it-one properly, one improperly. So Jesus DID come to end the law, but through fulfillment, not through destruction.
When Jesus hung upon the cross on Golgotha, as He died, He cried out, “It is finished!”, and gave up the ghost. When this happened, a telling event took place: the veil of the temple, which separated the holy place from the holiest place, the Holy of Holies, where dwelt the Ark of the Covenant, (though missing at that time) was rent in two, from top to bottom. The veil symbolized the separation between God and His creation because of sin-when Jesus died, He paid the ultimate price for the sin of the world, and this ended that separation. The law was in place because of the separation between God and man, because man could not attain to the righteousness of God, and had to keep the laws and sacrifices, but could never cross that veil, even through the law, save for the High Priest only, one time each year to make atonement for Israel. Once Jesus Christ paid the price for sin, the way was opened, and His blood became the blood of the new covenant. The old had passed, a covenant made with the blood of bulls and goats, and the new began, made by the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom 10:4).
4-We Can’t Keep the Law If We Tried
A funny thing about the law: there are certain requirements to keeping it-like, ALL the law must be kept, or else one is guilty of the WHOLE law, IF one wishes to try to keep it. (Gal 3:10). So, keeping only a part of the law is actually breaking the entire law. And an aspect of the law, a necessary part of the law, was the Temple, or before that, the tabernacle. Sacrifices and offerings were made, by command, at the temple, which was built where the Lord commanded it to be. Sacrifices and offerings were not acceptable anywhere else. (Deut 12:13, 14) Each first-born male was redeemed at the temple for money, and the firstborn of each clean animal was taken to the temple as an offering of the Lord, as were the firstfruits of one’s crops. This was law. Whenever a woman gave birth, she was to go to the temple or tabernacle and give an offering (Lev 12:6). The priesthood of Aaron and the Levites was a part of the law. Simply-without a temple, without the priests and Levites, the law cannot be kept. In 70AD, Titus and the army of Rome came to Jerusalem and razed it and destroyed the temple-since that time, the Law actually has not been able to be kept by anyone, neither Jew nor Christian, because the temple is integral to the keeping of the law! This is why, at Sinai, the Lord God made sure they had the Tabernacle, and it was always the center of the tribes when they camped, and at the head of the tribes as they travelled in the wilderness-so for almost 2,000 years no one can keep the laws of Sinai if they tried.
In vain, Christians today try to keep the law. They declare that we must maintain the dietary laws, keep the Sabbath, and various other aspects, thinking it is a right thing to do, but they are deluded because, even as it was written in Gal 3:10, so it is now-if we want to keep the law, we MUST keep the WHOLE law, every bit, or else we are guilty of the whole law, even if we offend in but one part-and without the temple, we are automatically guilty of the law. And there is a reason for that: because Christ as fulfilled the law and has made a new covenant that superseded the old, which had been broken many times by Israel. It was a yoke the Jews could not bear! THIS is the whole reason Jesus came! To release us from the law which only brought death, because no man, until Jesus, could keep it perfectly. The law was made as a covenant relationship between YHWH and Israel, His nation. It was not made with the Gentiles, believers or otherwise, and to try to keep it is futile in many ways.
Today, Christians seek to keep aspects of the law, yet they seem to forget aspects of it. Let’s look at the dietary laws: Clean: Cattle, goats, sheep, deer, antelope, elk, those which are cloven-hooved AND chew cud. No rabbit, no pork. Fish: only those with scales. No shark, ray, eel, squid, octopus, shellfish, crabs, shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, catfish. Birds: No eagles, ossifrage, osprey, vulture, kite, raven, owl, night hawk, cuckow, hawk, cormorant, swan, pelican, gier eagle, stork, heron, lapwing, and bat. (Would you know an ossifrage or a lapwing if it was served to you?) And fowl that creep, going on all four. Which are those? Creeping things: locust, beetle, grasshopper, weasel, mouse, tortoise, ferret, chameleon, lizard, snail and mole. Snakes? No problem! They’re clean! So be sure to keep all these.
And don’t forget, it is wrong to sow a field with diverse seeds, or to wear anything with mixed fabrics, (Lev 19:19). Men are not to cut the corners of their beards. Your garments must have a fringe with a ribband of blue, as a continual reminder of the law, (Num 15:38). Building a new house? Better build a battlement on the roof so no one falls off! (Deu 22:8). I could go on, but these are ALL parts of the LAW and to disdain to keep any of these is to break the law, and thus, to be guilty of the whole law.
Christians, study the Word-see the covenants, discern the truth and let Jesus Christ set you free from the bondage of the law-this is why Jesus came to earth! This is why He died on the cross and resurrected! There is no salvation in the law, only death, only bondage. Leave it behind and follow the commandments of the New Covenant, which are plenty.
God never commanded anyone in His Word to tithe money to Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue or Church. Yet, so many In churches around the world today are lied to every time the offering plate is passed. “God requires you to tithe your money” is spoken from the pulpit. “If you don’t tithe, you are a God-robber! You are cursed!” Is often shouted to put the laity in a state of guilt and condemnation. Relax Saints of God… Fear not. God never authorized that pastor to speak those deceitful and unkind words to your ears.
Let’s examine the Scriptures and see what they say concerning
God’s commanded tithe, shall we? But first, let us visit two sons of Aaron at the Tabernacle…
Leviticus 10:1-2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
In the above text, two of Aaron’s sons were struck dead because they offered “strange fire” to God upon the altar of the Lord. What exactly was this “strange fire” that they offered that so displeased the Lord? We are not told. But we are given a special insight as to how precise God wants our offerings to Him be. Nadab and Abihu had offered something that God had not commanded.
Now, one would think, “Hey, at least they were offering something to God. What wrong can be in that?” But God said they offered something that was not commanded.
A lesson should be learned by all from the reading of the account of Nadab and Abihu. That lesson is, “Do It By The Book”.
God has given us His Word as an instruction manual. This “manual” tells us what God expects of us as His dear children. If we are disobedient, God’s chastening hand will be upon us. It surely was upon Nadab and Abihu when they offered strange fire upon the altar. The manner in which we are to live is laid out for us in the New Testament section of the Holy Bible.
Now, please don’t go off on a tangent, saying I don’t like the Old Testament. I do. I cherish both the Old and the New. I read them both and learn from them both.
But the fact is, the New contains the pattern by which God wants us to live today. Hebrews 8, written in AD 66, reveals to us that the Old Covenant was ready to pass away and that God was bringing us into a New Covenant. We cannot live in the Old Covenant promises, curses, edicts, laws, statutes, and ordinances. God doesn’t expect us to.
In AD 51, the Apostles met in Jerusalem with the religious leaders of the day. Their order of meeting was to discuss Gentiles who had been recently converted to faith in Christ. The religious leaders of Jerusalem were insisting that the Gentiles had to keep the Law of Moses or they could not be saved.
The Apostle Peter spoke before them all, rebuking them for placing a yoke upon the Gentile Brethren that neither the Jews of that day, nor their ancestors could keep themselves. Peter told them they were tempting God in their demands. The Apostle James said the religious leaders were overthrowing the souls of the Gentiles.
At the close of the meeting, James wrote a letter to the Gentile Believers and sent it to them by the hands of Paul and Barnabas, telling the Gentiles that the Apostles had given no such command that they keep the Law. He also sent Judas and Silas with the same words, but not written… they were to speak to the Gentiles, telling them that they were not commanded to keep the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was part of an Old Covenant that was soon to pass away.
In many Churches around the world today, there is a doctrine being taught that could be called “strange fire”. That doctrine is the monetary tithe requirement doctrine.
Pastors will stand in their pulpits and preach from the Old Covenant the command to tithe that was given to Israel. But, they preach it by their own opinions. They replace the tithe God commanded, an agricultural tithe, with a tithe consisting of money. It no longer is the tithe that God required of Israel,... it has become “strange fire.”
No longer the agricultural tithe that was commanded by God for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai, (Leviticus 27:30-34) it is now a monetary tithe.
No longer a tithe that was to be given to Levites, to widows, to orphans, to strangers in Israel, (Numbers18:21,24,26,28; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Nehemiah 10:37-38) it is now given to pastors of Churches around the world.
The “tithes” were good when God had control of them, but modern-day Nadab’s, modern-day Abihu’s have turned them into a “strange fire” which God never commanded. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His Word is forever settled in Heaven, but rejected in the hearts of these preachers.
Many pastors today are tempting God and putting a yoke upon their congregations that God never authorized them to do.
Search the Scriptures. When you do, you will find that God’s holy tithe was never commanded for the New Testament Church, never carried to the New Testament Church, never collected in the New Testament Church, and never controlled by the New Testament Church.
Pastors would do well to set aside this sin of preaching a strange fire and offering it to God in the Sunday prayers. Seek out what the New Covenant says concerning the saved and their giving. They are not to be coerced into giving, they are not to be made to fear a curse from God. Rather, they should be taught to give simply because “they love Jesus.”
Teach them as the Apostle Paul taught the saints and brethren at the Church in Corinth… as they purpose in their hearts to give, give cheerfully and willingly God will be honored more by a loving offering than by “strange fire”
Do it by the Book
People, If you insist that God requires you to tithe, that you are being obedient to God and His Holy Word, at least have the decency and respect for God and His Holy Word to do it in accordance to what He has written in His Holy Word.
When you tithe, don’t take it to a Church in a Gentile land. God never commanded such. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and take it to the Promised Land. ( Deut. 12:1,10-11)
When you tithe, don’t give it to a Gentile preacher. God never commanded that. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and take it to the Levite, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner (which would include yourself) in the Promised Land. ( Deut 14:22-29 )
When you tithe, don’t tithe money. God never commanded such a tithe. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and tithe agricultural products that are grown in the Promised Land. (Leviticus 27:30-33)
If you insist on tithing, don’t tithe that which comes from Gentile hands on Gentile soil. God never commanded it. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and move to the Promised land Israel so you can cultivate the land and have the tithe that God required in the Mosaic Law.
.Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
If you are not going to “Do It By The Book”, don’t try to convince me that you are being obedient to God in tithing. It is just the opposite… you are being rebellious to what He decreed concerning how His holy tithe was to be observed and kept.
The Apostle James wrote in his epistle that if you keep the whole Law, yet offend in one point, you are guilty of all. Maybe it’s best you stop offending in that point of the Law and just submit to God’s will concerning your giving today.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
God does not require tithe of your money. Instead, He wants you to give simply out of your love for Him.
Not as others dictate, but as you choose in your heart. Give with a willing heart; not because you have to, but because you want to… and He will be pleased.
In the last half century, an increasing number of professing Christians have been teaching and embracing a doctrine that is not supported by the Word of God. That doctrine is the teaching that one does not have to repent of one’s sins in order to receive Salvation. The fact is, the Word of God does teach repentance of sin. In the book of Ezekiel, we read:
Ezekiel 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 33:14-16 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had rOBbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
Ezekiel 18:30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
The Hebrew word “shuwb”, is used for both the word “repent” and the word “turn” in the above verses. In other words, the two words are interchangeable. Repentance from sin is taught and encouraged by the prophet Ezekiel. One must repent of (turn away from) one’s sin.
Jesus told the Jews in Luke 13:3,5 “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Jesus Christ Himself taught a turning away from sin.
One might argue, “But Ezekiel was before the cross, Jesus told the Jews to repent prior to His crucifixion; now we need only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to receive Salvation; repentance is not necessary.”
Again, that one would be wrong. The Apostle Paul taught the Church at Corinth:
2 Corinthians 12:21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
The fact is, one must repent of one’s iniquities. Paul told the Church at Galatia that the works of the flesh would cause man to miss out on being in the kingdom of God. And the Apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation that those who do not repent of their abominations will have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone.
The doctrine that tells one they do not have to turn away from one’s sin is a doctrine of devils. Repentance from sin is necessary if one hopes to live eternally in Christ Jesus. Those who teach and preach that repentance from sin is not necessary are deceiving those who believe their false doctrine.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
In Revelation 2, we see how Jesus (God) gave Jezebel time to repent of her sins, but she would not. And because she would not repent, God’s wrath was upon her… and still is to this day.
Now, some would say, “O, but God repented many times in the Old Testament. Are you trying to tell me that God sinned and had to repent? You are accusing God of being a sinner!” No, that is not what I am saying at all.
The Hebrew word used for when God repents is an entirely different word. When God repents of something, He is not repenting of sin. The Hebrew word used for when God repents is the word “nacham”. While “nacham” does mean to “turn”, it is not used in conjunction with “from sin” when relating to God.
1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
Paul admonished the Church at Corinth, telling them to turn from their sins. He reminds them that they cannot serve both God and the flesh. Like Paul, I encourage all to turn from their sins and turn to God.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: