In today’s reading, Ezekiel 36:25-27, when God promised to give the Israelites a new heart, He added that it was so they could sincerely obey God’s laws and observances. Every time I read this I think about how we use that passage to refer to the new Covenant, but we aren’t keeping the Mosaic Law or God’s observances as the Jews in Ezekiel’s Day understood it (and Jewish converts were actively discouraged to observe the law of Moses in church history). It always causes a cognitive dissonance when I read about the new covenenant when I read it, and I was wondering if anyone who has studied the covenants might help me with understanding this?
Any time I have heard about the old covenant being fulfilled, it makes me wonder if there were any prophecies that clearly pointed to God’s law being observed in a new way in the future (whereas with the Prophets, it was more like they were saying that in the future, the Jews would be what was changed rather than their observance of the law).
I’m not quite sure I understand the question but the most important New Covenant Prophecy was Jer 31:33-34, quoted in Heb 8 & 10, which also speaks of the heart, and about God changing man, making him righteous/justifying him. The Church considers herself to be the New Israel, where the fulfillment of God’s promises are finally realized for the whole world. Verse 34 is crucial, “they will all know me”. This knowledge speaks of faith, the reconciliation of man and God whereby a direct relationship, or communion, is established. From there God can do a work in us.
If the Old Covenant was a matter of our proving our righteousness first in order to be worthy of God, the New Covenant is about coming to *God *first in order for Him to make us worthy. Adam broke relationship with God by his act of disobedience; we’re called by His grace to return to relationship again so that He may cause us to be who He created us to be. “Apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5.
By this means can we fulfill the Law-and this is the only right or authentic way to fulfill it in fact. And the Church teaches that we’re still bound to keep the Ten Commandments.
Perhaps when its says “a new heart” for the observance of the Law, it is referring, not so much to the ceremonial parts of the Law, such as circumcision, observance of the Sabbath, new moons and festivals, keeping “kosher” food laws, the offering of incense and various sacrifices, etc., but rather to the moral parts of the Law, “the weightier matters of the Law, [namely,] justice and mercy and faith.” (Matt 23:23) This idea is supported when the Lord elsewhere said,
What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats
I find no pleasure.
When you come to appear before me,
who asks these things of you?
Trample my courts no more!
To bring offerings is useless;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling assemblies—
festive convocations with wickedness—
these I cannot bear.
Your new moons and festivals I detest;
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
When you spread out your hands,
I will close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil;
learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. (Isaiah 1:11-17)
Yes, and Hebrews 10 also quotes Psalms 40:6-8:
**“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’ ” **
Echoing Hosea 6:6:
**“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” **
And Jesus in Matt 9:13: "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The fulfillment of the Law is accomplished in the Greatest Commandments, as we cooperate with God in Him ‘putting them in our minds and writing them on our hearts’, transforming us into His image, the* image* of love, because “love fulfills the Law”: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Rom 13:8-10
Much of Mosaic Law was concerned with historical realities and circumstances, as well as compromises due to the hardness of Israel’s heart. With Christ’s Life, death, and resurrection, these circumstances changed, as what they foreshadowed came to be, and so we no longer observe them.
For example, dietary laws are no longer necessary, because the reason the Jewish people were set apart from the nations was because they are privileged to be the culture and family to which Christ would spring and grow in.
However, there is the moral law, which is concerned with the nature and principles of human happiness abstracted from historical particulars circumstances: this is usually what Christians are concerned about. There are also the binding and loosing of the Church, which are circumstantial and particular laws similar to ones in Mosaic law. These would be like the requirement to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays: we are taught to fast, but Christ doesn’t bind us to fast on any particular day, the Church however does bind us for practical reasons.
The “ritual” part of the law is moral!! For two reasons: First because God commands it and that’s what morality means following the commandments, anything else is idolatry. Second, the ritual observances are man’s expression of love of God and tools used to develop proper virtues and to seek God’s help thru prayer in living righteousnessly.
I’m not Christian so we may have to agree to disagree. You stated a common Christian position.
But this is how things seem to me. First off we are saved (rescued from death and hell) by God alone. The Law, Judaism, Christianity, works all don’t save us. Only God in His mercy and love saves us. You would say Christ/the Word/the Risen Jesus saves us, but again that’s God.
Because we are saved, it now becomes a matter of sanctification. We work in faith to be close to God and follow His will daily. This is the commandments, love God and love neighbor. There’s no being under or not under this call. I don’t think any Christian would say they don’t need to try to be a good person as a fruit of their faith. So Jesus gave us the true teaching of the law of the two commandments (as did the prophets, Hillel, Rabbi Akiva, Maimonides and many other wise Jews over time).
Now why shouldn’t we eat pork then if there are really only 2 commandments? Because tha purpose of the full 613 given by the Rabbis is to be “fences” around the true Law. Not eating pork, saying prayers three times a day and wearing fringes on your clothing are ways to practice love of God. Not murdering, stealing nor lending at exploitative interest rates are ways to love neighbor. Do you have to do it the way the Rabbis say, can you show your love in other ways? Yes, probably. But for me, the “old” law is an excellent place to start.
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, ‘Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
So was God lying earlier when told Noah (who wasn’t a Jew) about clean and unclean animals? Did he just make up laws about unclean animals at Sinai if He didn’t real mean it or plan to repeal it later? Obviously not.
Jesus doesn’t also atone for pigs and crabs, he doesn’t somehow make the unclean clean. What does say is two fold. One that being compassionate is greater than being ritually pure (the commandment to love your neighbor takes precedence over dietary rules but doesn’t negate them). Two, that Jesus, and Paul especially, expand the old convenant to a new one that includes the gentiles. You can still serve God without being an observant Jew. Doesn’t mean there is no value in being observant anymore.
For me to submit to the Law would be saying that Jesus’s sacrifice doesn’t save at all. The Law is good in that it was a tutor for Israel until Christ, but Christ has come so now we are no longer under a tutor.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
…I can’t recall a single passage where the New Covenant Economy is spelled out; however, there are plenty of passages warning against Israel’s adulterous heart and stubbornness; there are passages that warn that Israel shall no longer be called “my people” and that the pagans/gentiles would be His “new people.”
Here’s one particular passage that hits on this issue:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]13 Yahweh has said: Because this people approaches me only in words, honours me only with lip-service while its heart is far from me, and my religion, as far as it is concerned, is nothing but human commandment, a lesson memorised, 14 very well, I shall have to go on being prodigal of prodigious prodigies with this people. The wisdom of its sages shall decay, the intelligence of its intelligent men shall be shrouded.
…consider this in the light of:
30 Monstrous, horrible things are happening in the land: 31 the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests teach whatever they please. And my people love it! But when the end comes, what will you do?
…which brings us to:
1 ‘Console my people, console them’ says your God. 2 ‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of Yahweh double punishment for all her crimes.’ 3 A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. 4 Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; 5 then the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.’
…which then takes us to Jesus’ Revelation:
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read 17 and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: 18 The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, 19 to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour. 20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’.
Well argued. I haven’t gotten around to rereading Galatians yet and I definitely had missed that Paul has said that. He is more strong against the Law in Galatians 2. It is a bit more ambiguous in Romans and in Hebrews. But here in Galatians (which is commonly seen as authentically written by him) Paul abandons his observance and in essence Judaism.
For a while I was hoping to maintain some sort of Christian messianic Judaism theology, but the incarnation was tripping me up. Now it’s clear that my views and Pauline Christianity are incompatible. that’s okay, I don’t like the gospel of John either.
…as you’ve explained, that is your understanding since you are not a Christian. However, for the Christian Converts, Gentile as well as Jew, the New Covenant takes precedence over the Old Covenant:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. 2 It is I, Paul, who tell you this: if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all. 3 With all solemnity I repeat my warning: Everyone who accepts circumcision is obliged to keep the whole Law. 4 But if you do look to the Law to make you justified, then you have separated yourselves from Christ, and have fallen from grace. 5 Christians are told by the Spirit to look to faith for those rewards that righteousness hopes for, 6 since in Christ Jesus whether you are circumcised or not makes no difference – what matters is faith that makes its power felt through love.
23 Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the Law; we were being looked after till faith was revealed. 24 The Law was to be our guardian until the Christ came and we could be justified by faith. 25 Now that that time has come we are no longer under that guardian, 26 and you are, all of you, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, 28 and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised. (Galatians 3:23-29)
20 Where are the philosophers now? Where are the scribes?*c] Where are any of our thinkers today? Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? 21 If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message that we preach. 22 And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, 23 here are we preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, 24 but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:20-24)
…yeah; it is hard to understand and even harder to accept the New Covenant… here’s are a few passages to guide you:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]18 One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ 19 Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. 20 But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak
; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. 22 And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’ (St. Mark 2:19-22)
17 ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. 18 I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. (St. Matthew 5:17-18)
12 I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. 13 But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of the things to come. 14 He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine. 15 **Everything the Father has is mine; **that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine. (St. John 16:12-15)
30 The Father and I are one.’ 31 The Jews fetched stones to stone him, 32 so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ 33 The Jews answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’ (St. John 10:30-33)
Thanks. Yes I spent a while combing thru the gospels about the law and about Jesus’ teachings in general. I had a few debates on here about it.
Maybe there is room for practicing the “Judaism of Jesus”. It definitely has a certain appeal in trying to make everyone happy and being a bit edgy. But messanic Judaism gets itself into all kinds of theological tangles one of which is Paul. And Orthodox Jews pretty soundly reject Jesus as a total fraud, so there’s not much for compromise there.
I also think if you cut out Paul and the gospel of John you aren’t left with that much of the New Testament to work with. You end up with far more questions and holes than answers.
At the end of the day, it’s not about my theology or weither I agree with this or that. God doesn’t care what I think
In Matthew 4, the devil tries to trap Jesus. “If you are the Son of God, then…” he tries this trick several times. When I expect God to fit into my theological propositions, to demand He makes sense to me on my terms, I’m no better than the devil.
…yes, this is exactly our error–trying to make God fit into our construct instead of allowing His Revelation to Unfold in God’s Providence:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]11 so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
…and to remove St. Paul’s Writings and the Gospel of St. John would be an attempt to silence God! Sentence for this temerity has already been pronounced:
1 As there were false prophets in the past history of our people, so you too will have your false teachers, who will insinuate their own disruptive views and disown the Master who purchased their freedom. They will destroy themselves very quickly; 2 but there will be many who copy their shameful behaviour and the Way of Truth will be brought into disrepute on their account. 3 They will eagerly try to buy you for themselves with insidious speeches, but for them the Condemnation, pronounced so long ago, is at its work already, and Destruction is not asleep.
(2 St. Peter 2:1-3)
…if only we would be as wise as the devil–the second that Jesus Commanded him to leave His Presence he quickly obeyed!