"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, March 18, 2011

Did God Mean Forever?

This is post number eight in the series: Why I Am Not A Christian.

In my studies and teaching of Biblical apologetics, I was always troubled by the fact that I couldn't reconcile a couple of ideas.  Why did Adonai give these all of these commandments to the Children of Israel and anyone who desired to become a God-fearer, and tell them that they are permanent and eternal?  Why didn't Adonai explain when He gave the Law that these things would only be necessary until Messiah showed up?  Over and over in Scripture we find that when we make a serious error about doctrine, it is because we did not pay careful attention to the wording that God used.  Let's look at some of these verses.

Exodus 12:14  "Now this day [Passover] will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance."

Exodus 12:17  "You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance."

Exodus 12:24  "And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever."

Exodus 27:21  "In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel."

Exodus 28:43  "And they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister  in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him."

Exodus 29:28  "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons as their portion forever from the sons of Israel, for it is a heave offering; . . ."

Exodus 30:21  "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they may not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations."

Exodus 31:16,17  "So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.  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."

Leviticus 10:15  ". . . so it shall be a thing perpetually due you and your sons with you, just as the LORD has commanded."

Leviticus 16:29 - 31  "And this shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls, and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; . . . It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute."

Leviticus 23:21  "On this same day [Shavuot/Pentecost] you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations."

Deuteronomy 5:29  "Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!"

Deuteronomy 11:1  "You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments."

Psalm 119:160  "The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting."

Do you notice the words, "eternal; permanent; perpetual; everlasting; forever; always?"  Do we mortal human beings somehow think that we understand better than God Himself?  Was poor old God confused about the meaning of those words?  Did He not think that it might seem inconsistent to say one thing now and then later say something else?  Was Jesus confused about His own mission and about the Law that God had given through Moses?  If God meant for us to disregard all of His laws, commandments, statutes, and ordinances as stated in the Torah once Messiah came, why didn't He just put that little addendum in all of those statements?  Why not say, "This is what you are to do until Messiah comes"?

Even after the first destruction of the Temple and the displacement of the Jews, none of the prophets or people of God believed that God's Laws had changed or become void.  God had actually foretold that punishment would come for disobeying His commnands.  When the people repented and returned to Torah, the blessings returned.  But it wasn't complete repentence, at least not on a national scale, and so God did exactly what He said He would and multiplied the same punishment sevenfold, which is why Israel did not become a nation again until May 18, 1948; the exact day that God said it would happen. (You have to do the math and convert from God's calendar to our present Gregorian calendar, but it works out exactly.)  Thus proving that He never changed His mind about anything He said in the Torah.

 When Yeshua (Jesus) chastized the religious leaders, it was because they had either created themselves, or learned to use traditions from the Oral Law to get around obeying the clear cut teachings of the Torah.  They had not stopped to question their own motivations and thought carefully about the very thing they recited every day in the "Sh'mah":  "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength."   Yeshua admonished the Jews for ostensibly, and outwardly obeying certain laws in the Torah for the express purpose of violating the spirit of the Law which first and foremost is about loving God and by extension, loving other people.  Let me give you an example.

It's Saturday morning.  I'm doing my best to be a Torah observant believer, so I'm resting on Shabbat, the sabbath.  My unbelieving neighbor knocks on my door and informs me that his wife needs to get to the airport, but his car won't start for some reason and if they can't leave in the next few minutes, she's going to miss her flight. Should I allow some heathen to interfere with my observance of God's Holy day of rest?  Some might say I should politely and lovingly explain to my neighbor that it is Shabbat and I can't be traveling that far and that acting as a taxi service constitutes work; that  I would be sinning against God by breaking His Holy sabbath.  In actuality, I would be committing a greater sin to do such a thing.  My neighbor is in need.  I can fulfill that need, which is a greater good than merely breaking the sabbath.  This was just part of the lesson that Yeshua was teaching in his parable of the "Good Samaritan."

All of the other laws of Torah were given by God to be a framework and edifice to support the two main purposes of the Law:  Love the Lord, and love your neighbor as yourself.  But how does it make sense to tear down the whole structure that was designed to support the centerpiece?  That would be like tearing down a cathedral and then pointing to the cross that used to stand behind the altar, but is now lying on a heap of rubble and talk about how nice it is that the stupid cathedral is no longer in the way of us seeing the cross.  I will readily admit that I simply kicked my mental incongruities to the curb in order to go along with the common "Christian" understanding of the Law versus Grace, until God backed me into a corner and demanded that I simply read His Word and dismiss human commentary on the matter and let the Holy Spirit guide me.  There is one iron-clad rule.  No verses of Scripture can be in contradiction to any other verses of Scripture.  What eliminated apparent contradictions was to dismiss interpretations that originated from Roman Catholic and Protestant anti-Jewish thought.  You cannot understand properly the words of Yeshua, or Peter, or Rabbi Paul by ignoring thousands of years of Jewish understanding and then reading their words through the lenses of men who had no history or training in Judaism or the Oral Law.  When these men spoke or wrote, they did so under the assumption that their audience had basic understanding and context.

One more thing.  Lest you be inclined to make the claim that those verses above only applied to the Jews, think again.  Paul makes the point in Ephesians 4:4-6:  "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one LORD, on faith, one baptism, on God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."  You don't get to claim that because you weren't born Jewish  the Torah doesn't apply to you.  God doesn't have two distinct flocks with two different sets of rules.  If you want to hold to such an idea, you have no claim to be a disciple of the God of the Bible.

I will be further buttressing this point when I pick up with a study of the 21st chapter of Acts, where I start by asking: "Was Paul Crazy?"

1 comment:

  1. >>>until May 18, 1948; the exact day that God said it would happen

    I didn't know it worked out so precisely. It actually gave me a little chill to just think for a second how awesome God is and all the things He had to do to bring Israel back right on time.


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