Following is the beginning of a terrific article by friend and fellow blogger, Peter Vest, about Wheaton College Professor of Old Testament, Daniel I. Block’s essay entitled “Preaching Old Testament Law to New Testament Christians.”
Stop the Press! Mainline Christian Scholars Beginning to Promote the Torah of Moses
What follows are my notes on Daniel I. Block’s essay entitled “Preaching Old Testament Law to New Testament Christians.” I just read this today and was astounded that a Christian would be promoting the Torah of Moses to fellow Christians. And not just any Christian but he happens to be a professor of the Old Testament at Wheaton College. Friends, this is G-d at work in Christendom, changing it into something new. Enjoy:
Block claims to have figured out why Christians believe the Torah is not relevant. They think it’s a bunch of boring rituals made obsolete by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, laws that are hopelessly out of date and inapplicable to modern times, unduly harsh laws that are grossly inferior to the “law of love” announced by Jesus, encrypted in an antiquated literary form that would be impossible to understand in our modern age, and representing a view of G-d that is objectionable to modern sensitivities.
But, he says, these misconceptions about the law arise from fundamental ideological and theological prejudices against Old Testament law. He first traces these prejudices to the 2nd century heretic Marcion proclaimed a radical discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments, Israel and the Church, the G-d of the Old Testament and the G-d of the New. Then he identifies three current streams of prejudice: the antipathy resulting from the Lutherian law-gospel contrast, the dispensational idea that the church age with its dispensation of grace is fundamentally different from the Israel age with its dispensation of law, and, finally, the New Covenant Theology rooted in Reformed Theolgoy which says that Mosaic Covenant ended when Christ instituted the New Covenant.
Because of these misconceptions and interpretive traditions, most preachers don’t preach from the Old Testament but if they do they say that the Law is irrelevant for three reasons: (1) the atoning work of Jesus Christ liberated us from the “curse of the law” (Rom. 3:21; 6:14; 7:4; 10:4; Gal. 2:19-21; 3:23-26; 4:21-31; Heb. 7:12); (2) the word telos in Rom 10:4 is taken to mean “termination” of the law; (3) Christians pick and choose the laws they feel they should keep by differentiating between ceremonial, civil, and moral laws. Block points out that no attention is given to the option of theonomy which views the Old Testament law as fundamentally in force even for the church.
These interpretive traditions he considers remarkable given that Jesus declared the permanent validity of the Law in Matthew 5:17-20 and in light of His declaration that love for Him is demonstrated first and foremost by keeping His commands (John 14:15; 15:10). Also by Paul’s assertion that it’s the doers of the law who will be justified (Rom. 2:13).
Next, he questions how Christians can read “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17) as an assertion that Mosaic law is not a requirement but rather as an “optional sourcebook for optional lessons.”
So then Block attempts to dispel the misconceptions and antipathy by examining the nature of the Law, the literary context of it, and what the law meant to the “Old Testament Saints.”
How did the genuinely pious in Israel, the “Old Testament Saints”, understand the Law? He provides several answers: (1) they perceived obedience to the laws, not as a precondition to salvation but rather as the grateful response of those who had already been saved; (2) they perceived obedience to the law as an expression of covenant relationship–obey the voice of G-d; (3) they perceived obedience to the law as a precondition to achieving the mission to which they’d been called and the precondition to receiving blessing. The first point he says is highlighted in Exodus 19:5-6: if Israel will keep G-d’s covenant and obey His voice then she will be G-d’s special treasure, His kingdom of priests, His holy nation (Deut. 26:16-19). The second point is spelled out in Lev. 26:1-13 and Deut. 28:1-4; (4) being able to hear what the G-d of Israel wanted was considered a unique privilege compared to the gods of the nations who didn’t speak. They were thankful to know with clarity and confidence what G-d wanted for their lives; (5) they perceived true obedience to the law to be the external expression of an inward disposition of fear and faith in G-d and love for G-d; (6) they perceived the laws holistically, viewing all of life as under the authority of the divine suzerain. Whereas many Christians think of the Torah as divisible according to moral, civil, and ceremonial, this classification fails to appreciate the nature and organization of the laws themselves. Thus, they never questioned “which” laws to keep but rather “how” to keep the laws;
My thoughts after reading the whole article:
I am not in the least surprised that a scholar of this magnitude is ‘getting it.’ It is very clear to me that we are on the edge of a major paradigm shift that will radically divide Christendom into those who walk as the Messiah did/does and those who turn to apostasy. There will be a VERY clear division with the former being persecuted unto death by the latter.
All around me I find over and over people who know that they are missing something in the church and the Father, by His Spirit, has led them to the Torah and the ancient paths. I fully expect this trend to accelerate, though the ones who truly take the plunge will still remain as only a remnant.
These are the Days of Elijah… (Do you know what that means?)
Happy to have found your blog. I look forward to more posts!
Good evening, Pete,
This is something that I was happy to see some time ago although not in the US. It has already reached several dissertations in the UK which have been accepted and proceeded to publication.
One looks at the Book of Romans and Paul’s use of the Greater Exodus theme as a skeleton around which the book is built by examining the quotes Paul uses in chronological order from the Book of Isaiah. Another looks at the same theme in Ephesians and still a third looks at the impact of that theme on the Gospel of John chapters 5-10.
I am pleased to see that the Hebraic perspective which I believe began worldwide as a “grassroots” development and inspiration, has now reached the academy. This is so contrary to what has happened historically because God is bringing this phenomenal surge of Biblical interest globally, at the same time and in diverse places, not in some closed academic faculty.
We thank and praise Him for this empowering, this enlightening, this searching and examining and that His Spirit has shown the path to follow back to the beginning!
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Enjoyed the blog. I live in Kansas City MO. I was on staff at a world wide ministry that has a 24 hour a day prayer room. I was fasting and praying in 2010 when suddenly I was seeing a vision. In this experience I saw 2 tables with a pair of glasses on top of each table. Then in front of each table was a sign. One said Rome and the other said Jerusalem. I then heard a booming voice say “put on the glasses of Jerusalem and you will see me rightly”. This along with other revelations has brought me into obedience of the Torah. I say this to you as encouragement. God is confirming this message by His Spirit. Blessing as I to am saved by Grace by a loving Savior, the Messiah of Israel Yeshua (Jesus). When people say to me you don’t know Grace, I simply remind them how I was a 24 year crack addict who had felony charges of grand larceny against him who was actually saved when in May of 2005 Jesus came into a crack house and spoke to me. I was completely delivered and never used again. I deserved prison and Hell but the grace of God delivered me from those sentences. I desire to obey my Messiah because I love him! I didn’t earn this righteousness it was a gift.
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Shalom and welcome. I’ve heard the ‘ grace’ line, too. I consider it great grace that He has shown me how to properly love Him.
Shalom v’shavua tov.
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We have a great friend who graduated from Wheaton a few years ago. (I plan to share this blg entry with him). What a difference this article portrays of the college. Yes, more recently, I’ve come to believe that the Torah observant believers may very well be persecuted by the protestant ‘church.’ Maybe that brings more meaning to Luke 12:53 and Matthew 10:35?
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Christians today don’t need to keep the Torah, Paul makes it clear in many places on this. Galatians is a book dedicated to this issue.
I live in Israel and worked for a Christian zionist group for 4 years, and went to a Jerusalem congregation. I’m a gentile Christian in my 30s from the UK with a love for Jewish people and Israel.
Israeli Messianic Jewish believers are completely different to the mostly US based Hebrew Roots groups.
Actually, all three unsupported assertions you make are false. More than 300 of the 700 posts on this blog deal with the universal standard of righteousness that God has for all mankind as revealed on Mt. Sinai. Some of the highlights are linked above under the ‘Apologetics‘ tab. I especially recommend the video series I have done on Galatians (the last eight videos in the Baptist Sunday School series) and how Christendom has completely misrepresented Paul…
Two more false assertions. I just got back from Israel and spent time with Jewish Messianics who absolutely believe in One Torah and would wholeheartedly agree with the quoted essay. There are many Israeli Messianics who believe in bilateral ecclesiology, addressed multiple times on this blog, but like Christians waking to the Torah, Israelis are waking both to Yeshua and to One Torah. A further note is that ‘Hebrew roots’ is not a US based phenomenon…. My stats have hits from more than 120 countries, including Israel.
I would strongly recommend a book titled Christianity Reconsidered.
Be willing to go back to the beginning and study this thing out.
For the person who stated Paul had dispensed with the law in his letter to the Galations: you should read D.
Thomas Lancaster’s book on Galations.
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Thanks, Mike! Very interesting article.
Great article! He is not the only Professor from Wheaton whose teachings support this either, I quote John H. Walton, Professor of Old Testament, in one of my articles, see this link on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/notes/truth-ignited/the-key-to-divine-health/464932873668151
All of my articles can be found at:
Good to know. Shalom and welcome. Maybe there is a quiet revival and turning of the ship going on there…. That would be HUGE news….
Well, I can’t say with absolute certainty if Professor Walton actually gets it, the quote if from the NIV Commentary for Genesis that he was chosen to author and supports a huge point I make regarding post-flood Noah and Genesis 9:3, which many people use to claim Noah could eat unclean animals. Not only would that make no sense, as the moment Noah at an unclean animal the species would be extinct (do the math, clean animals taken by sevens, unclean by two, a male and his female). Walton’s points further clarify this by showing the real meaning of the original Hebrew that English translates, “every creeping thing” in the text. I sense you will enjoy many of my articles that touch on this topic, I have several of them linked to a study on Isaiah: https://www.facebook.com/notes/truth-ignited/the-isaiah-factor/464949856999786
Feel free to re-publish anything you like, just please give credit and direct people back to my page.
I definitely agree with your assessment of the article. I found the original and will read it when I get a chance. Like you, I believe many people are leaving our modern churches in search of scriptural truth – following the ancient paths. Thankful to have found this blog. Thanks for posting.
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Shalom and welcome.
I study the torah as well as the bible and teach most christians I know (because I am a christian) (led by the love and compassion and kindness of my Lord Jesus, Yeshua, ) I also teach of what most over look. The book of Jasher, the book of Nathan, the visions of Iddo, the book of Enoch and many more…… I believe that those truly seeking God will seek all words that are related to God…… I believe in all 613 laws of moses and many other facts to many different books in the bible and am trying my best to learn hebrew so I can read it myself not having to rely on any man or his interpretation of what it means……….. but this is just what I need to do for more growth…….. everyone is called to do many different things but we all should walk what we talk……. meaning teach and be the example of what we teach…… I strive to show the love, kindness, and compassion that Jesus showed this world in all my actions…….
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• Romans 7:12, “…is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good…”
• Can never do anything than to convince us of our need for Christ. Romans 9:31, “…but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal…”.
• Is a Schoolmaster. Galatians 3:23-25, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
• Love is a more excellent way. Paul wrote about a more excellent way…that of Love, 1 Cor 12:31, ” But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way”. 2 Cor 3:6-18, “…for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Gal 5:6, “…faith…worketh by love”. Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. 1 Tim 1:5-7, ” Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.”
• Grace reigns. Romans 5:20-21, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
• Galatians 3:2-3, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”.
• Romans 2:17-29, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”.
• 2 Cor 3:7-18, “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 and not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
• Romans 7:2-4, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God”.
• Romans 8:3-9, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”.
• Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”.
Acts 15:5-20, “…there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood”.
Shalom and welcome.
I wish you would do more than cut and paste some Scripture you have missed quite a few important verses that disagree with what you have posted.
First, Paul said that faith does not nullify the Law, rather we thereby establish it!! (Rom. 3:31)
Second, you quote Romans 7:12, but do not seem to understand what ‘holy and righteous and good’ mean.
Third, you mention Galatians 3 and the schoolmaster, but I’m guessing when you graduated from highschool you did not immediately forget everything you learned, nor did you stop using it. Same here. ‘Righteousness’ is unchanging. We just have in Yeshua payment for when we fail, not a ticket to do as we darn well please.
Without addressing each other verse, point by point, I’ll offer two more:
You quote Acts 15:5-20 but mysteriously leave off verse 21? I suspect it is because James goes on to say that he expects the Gentile believers to a) learn Moses (Torah), b) in the synagogue, c) on the Sabbath. Please look that up.
and, Peter, in 2 Pe. 3:14-17, tells us that Paul is hard to understand and easily twisted by the unlearned into lawlessness. If your understanding of the Gospel is lawLESS, then you may be unlearned and unstable. Peter said that.
May I humbly suggest you set tradition aside and start from the beginning instead of following the antisemitic traditions of our fathers?