In defending obedience to Yahweh’s Torah, I run into some very interesting excuses or ‘dodges’ for those who don’t want to outright say, ‘It has been done away with.’
One such dodge I have heard a few times recently, particularly prevalent in the Reformed community, is, ‘But, Pete, the application has changed.’ This statement of seeming wisdom is then followed by some conclusion, whether stated or implied that says something like, ‘therefore we don’t have to do it anymore,’ or, ‘only the principles apply.’
So let’s take a look at this ‘application issue’ and see if it holds water.
In order to understand the burden of proof requirement for changing the law or its application, we need to be reminded of what Yahweh said about His law.
How blessed are those whose way is [a]blameless,
Who walk in the torah of the Lord.
So I will keep Your torah continually,
Forever and ever.
45 And I will walk [q]at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your torah is truth.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.
We see in these several verses a message that is repeated over and over in Scripture. Yahweh’s Word, which includes all of the Law and the Prophets will last forever. Yeshua upheld that when He said,
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [a]the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
So we agree that the Law, the Torah, stands. The question is in the application. Do we have to DO it, or just learn principles from it?
Let’s look at a few commandments that are declared to be everlasting and see what the original application was.
24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. Exodus 12:24
There are more such verses concerning the annual Passover Feast, but these two demonstrate the case: The reason for celebration is to remember being brought out of Egypt, and it is declared unequivocally, ‘a permanent ordinance.’
Now, has the death of Messiah ON Passover, changed the application? No! It has deepened it as we now have a second and more important reason to celebrate our redemption, but it is STILL a memorial feast!
In fact, Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) says,
8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I Cor. 5:8
He is talking Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread!! He is saying, KEEP the feast, but now we have another, more significant, reason for this annual memorial! The application has not changed, it has been deepened or heightened!
Here is another commandment with ‘throughout your generations,’ an oft used equivalent for ‘forever,’
37 The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, 38 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. 39 It shall be a tassel for you [a]to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not [b]follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. Numbers 15:37-40
Tassels, or tzitziot, are given to Israel to be a physical reminder of the commandments of Yah. In a way, it is like tying a ribbon on your finger (or, in Roger’s case, a bow in his beard…LOL!).
Does the coming of Yeshua reduce our need to be reminded of ‘what the Lord doth require of us?’ NO! Through the giving of the Ruach/Spirit it is deepened, as we are further led on ‘paths of righteousness’ (a euphemism for walking Torah) for His name’s sake, but we still need reminders, and we need to have our hearts tested.
Term? Throughout your generations.
In fact, the DOING of these things is a physical reminder of things in the early history of Israel and a reminder of Yeshua’s past or future fulfillment. Each is a manipulative.
The Feast of First-fruits? Resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, THE First-fruits! Rav Shaul refers to this on many occasions.
The Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost? Reminds and celebrates the giving of the Torah and later the giving of the Ruach (in greater measure).
Similar cases are made for the celebration of all the UNfulfilled Fall Feasts. All point to and remind us of Yeshua’s future fulfillment ON the specific dates of the next steps in the progress of redemption.
How about another that Christendom loves to do away with!
12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to [a]celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:12-17
The application is two fold; it is a sign that you belong to Yahweh, and it is that we may know that HE sanctifies us. In other words, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath is a means of sanctification, and a sign of His ownership.
The term? Forever!
Some might balk and say, ‘Wasn’t Messiah raised on the first day of the week (Sunday)?’ Technically, no. He was first seen on the first day of the week, but was raised at/near sunset the previous day. (See: Pastor can’t count to three??) He was Lord of the Sabbath, and still is! The day He was first seen has nothing to do with what day of the week and EVERYTHING to do with the Feast of Firstfruits. (Further Sabbath Study and links.)
Hebrews 4:9 tells us,
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
This verse is near the end of a long midrash/discussion about entering in by faith and remaining obedient, unlike our fathers in the wilderness. (Compare to I Cor. 10:1-11) Yeshua brings this rest to its fulness, its pinnacle, but in no way changes or eliminated the commandment given as a ‘perpetual covenant.’ (See the previously linked Sabbath article to understand more about who changed the day of worship and why!!) Just as previously demonstrated, the physical application of the law doesn’t change. It is heightened in fulness. Not changed.
Perhaps a different way to explain this would be a personal story.
For the first three or four years of marriage to my bride, I could not figure out why she always got really upset with me two days before her birthday! I’d be excited about some special plans and then, BOOM! She’s all mad!
Now, I could have used the tried, but not so true, line from Christendom and simply said, “Baby. Can’t I just pick the day to celebrate? I mean, the date has been fulfilled and done away with!”
Yeah…. all the married guys are laughing right now.
Or, here’s another illustration:
We celebrated our 22 wedding anniversary last week. (She stayed with me, despite the metal plate in my forehead…) The anniversary date of our wedding is a ‘fulfilled’ date that I do NOT forget.
SHE receives my remembrance as ‘love.’ (Even if it is just a flower and undies arrangement assembled on the Return Counter at Wally-World… with an audience of ooh-ing and ahh-ing employees… LOL!)
Hmmm… My ‘obedience’ to ‘do’ a ‘statute’ in our family ‘covenant’ is ‘love?’ Sounds familiar!
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15
When we keep his commandments, His feasts, His statutes and ordinances that he says are ‘forever,’ He sees, or accepts our obedience as ‘love!’
And, while I have the illustrations flowing, another strikes me as relevant. (You’ll have my whole marriage history by the time we are through. LOL!)
My wife-to-be and I decided on a Wednesday to get married. That Friday afternoon, she and I, along with two friends, went to see the Justice of the Peace at the Cumberland County Court House. Two days later, I left for a four month training exercise.
While I was gone, she planned and arranged a wedding ceremony that our families could witness which was held on a brilliant June afternoon under the oaks at Lebanon Presbyterian Church. Did the second ceremony abolish or overwrite the first? No, it only renewed or confirmed a covenant already in existence. Did the terms change? Or, the application of those terms? Nope.
In fact, we sometimes remember that date, but generally do nothing special. The date we celebrate is the first making of the covenant.
With Yeshua, He placed the second date on top of the first, and perfectly pictured the second in the memorial commandments of the first such that every year when we celebrate Passover, we remember BOTH and see in the second the greater fulfillment of the first!!
Honestly, our Father’s plan and His Torah are so amazing and absolutely intertwined that we can’t even begin to understand and drink in the depth until we fully embrace Torah. No wonder He will write it on our hearts!
I think in the examples we’ve seen from Scripture that the application of the laws reviewed does bring change in the application of those laws in the sense that the heightened, or intensified, nature of what Messiah has done is pictured, remembered and obeyed as an act of love. We have NOT seen that there is a substantive change in how the law is applied in the sense that anything is ‘done away with’ or no longer practiced.
A couple closing details.
There are two places most will go, to argue with this information. 1. The Priesthood of Aaron, and 2. Sacrifices.
I may address these further in the future, but for now, I will provide enough fodder for you to study this out and be prepared to give an answer for the hope within.
1. Aaron and his sons were ordained by a perpetual priesthood. (Ex. 29:9) Has that been done away with? Some would say, ‘Yes.’ Corso says, ‘Not so fast, my friend!’
Ezekiel 44, in a larger passage detailing the Millennial Temple and statutes thereof, explains that even some of the Levitical priests who ‘went astray’ will serve in the Temple, but they will be denied certain privileges. Near the end of Isaiah 66, in a passage that is definitely unfulfilled, Yahweh declares that there will be priests, some Levites and some not. Also, Ezekiel 44:15 alludes to the Zadokites, a select order of ‘perpetual priests’ descending from Pinchas (Numbers 25:13, see in context).
Hebrews confirms the superiority of Yeshua according to Melchitzedek, but the shadow of the Levites is not done away with. Rather, they continue to point to HIM, just as the other statutes and ordinances do! Forever, particularly a ‘forever covenant’ (Pinchas) cannot be overturned.
This study could go much further, but this is plenty of meat to chew for now.
I pray this has been a blessing, if challenging. Please share and discuss!