LAW COVENANT
All Bible quotes are from the World English Bible, unless otherwise noted.

 

What is the Jewish Law Covenant?

According to the Bible the Law Covenant was a strict set of rules that God gave to Moses to relay to the Israelites, who were God's Holy Nation. (Exodus 19:3-8, Exodus 24:1-8, 12 and Deuteronomy 5:1-2). The Law Covenant is also known as the “Law of Moses” the “Jewish Law” and the “Mosiac Law”. The Law Covenant was an extensive piece of writing spanning several chapters of the Bible (Exodus chapters 19- 24:8, Deuteronomy chapters 5-29). According to Scripture the Israelites agreed to live by these God-given laws as shown in the book of Exodus :

Exodus 24:1-8

    (1) He said to Moses, “Come up to Yahweh, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship from a distance. (2) Moses alone shall come near to Yahweh, but they shall not come near, neither shall the people go up with him.” (3) Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do.” (4) Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. (5) He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of cattle to Yahweh. (6) Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. (7) He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, “All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient.” (8) Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words.”

PURPOSE FOR THE LAW

According to Scripture the Law Covenant was for making our trespasses/sins known to us until the Seed arrived (Galatians 3:19); with Christ being The Seed that was to arrive (Galatians 3:16).

THE LAW COVENANT TODAY

So are we, as true worshipers of Almighty God, still obligated to follow the Jewish Law Covenant today? Many people believe that we are, citing Christ's words at Matthew 5:17-20 which states:

(17)“Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. (18) For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished. (19) Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall becalled least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (20) For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Many believe this passage is saying the Jewish Law is as permanent as Heaven and Earth and thus all are obligated to continue living under that law even today. Let's take a close look at this passage to determine the validity of this belief:

  1. Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Many take this to mean that since Christ didn't actually destroy the law, then it is still in effect. Such ones get stuck on the part where He said “I didn't come to destroy”, forgetting to see the remainder of what he said, which was “but to fulfill”. Let me illustrate the difference between “destroy” and “fulfill” :

Let's imagine you owe your friend a sum of money and you promise to repay that money in two weeks. One of two things can happen:

    (A) You don't repay the money, meaning you broke (or destroyed) your promise.

    (B) You DO pay the money on time, meaning you have fulfilled your promise.

If you broke, or destroyed, your promise, you would continue to remain under obligation to repay the debt. If, instead, you actually fulfilled your promise, then you are no longer kept under obligation because the vow was accomplished, or finished. Likewise, Jesus Christ did not come to destroy, but to fulfill the law, and by fulfilling the law he ended all our obligation to it.

Now for the next part of the passage:

  1. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.

Some versions use the word "accomplished" (American Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New American Standard Version, New International Version, etc.), others use the synonym "fulfilled" (King James Version, New King James Version, etc.). Either way, this plainly states a vow by Heaven and Earth that the Law will remain valid until all is finished, or done. Note that He did NOT say that the Law would never change; instead He said that the Law won't change until the point of accomplishment, or the fulfillment of it. Since Jesus Christ Christ is the Seed that fulfilled the Law (Galatians 3:16-19), (which is why He said “It is finished” just before He died – John 19:30), all indications point to this as being the juncture of the Law's fulfillment, thus ending any obligation towards it.

  1. Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the time Christ spoke these words the Law hadn't yet been fulfilled by Him because he hadn't yet died (and only His death could fulfill it). Since Christ hadn't yet fulfilled the law when he spoke these words, the Law remained in effect. Therefore, at the time of his saying this, it was still a sin to go against the Law Covenant. If you notice, after Christ fulfilled the Law, there was no more mention of compulsory Law Covenant adherence for believers. In fact, the Apostle Paul himself confirms that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law:

Romans 10:4

For Christ is the fulfillment of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Galatians 3:24-25

(24) So that the law has become our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Plainly, Christ fulfilled the Law, thus ending the obligation of the Law for all.

THE LAW 'S FULFILLMENT

Since Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, what exactly was the Law's “fulfillment”?

According to Scripture, Love is the Law's fulfillment (Romans 13:8-10). And, since the greatest love is that of surrendering one's life on behalf of others (John 15:11-13). Christ lived up to this greatest love by surrendering himself for all of us (John 3:16). Our release from the Law through Christ's death is confirmed in Scriptures such as Galatians 3:13, Ephesians 2:15-16, and Romans 7:4-6 .

 

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

The Law Covenant was the old covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14), and Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, which releases us from that Old Covenant (Hebrews 9:15-22). This replacement of the old covenant was foretold at Jeremiah 31:31-33 and confirmed at Hebrews 8:7-13. Therefore, adherence to the old Law Covenant is no longer obligatory. The Apostle Paul reminds us:

Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s.“ (Colossians 2:16-17)

...which I take to mean that we shouldn''t take it personally when adherents to the Jewish Law judge us for not holding to the Jewish Law. The Apostle Paul further informs us that keeping the Jewish Law is contrary to “dying with Christ”, and that the continuation of the Jewish Law is worthless:

Colossians 2:20-23

(20) If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, (21) “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch” (22) (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? (23) Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren’t of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Thus it is clear that the keeping of the Old Jewish Law is no longer an obligation for one's Salvation.

 


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