Goodnews Christian Ministry
"Yes, certainly with stammering lips and in a foreign language, he will talk to this nation. ---Isaiah 28:11
"Then he told them, 'This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled'. He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures..."
When God gave Moses authority to write the Law (the Torah), He placed in his hands great control over the design of the framework of the covenant -- i.e., over the template of that covenant which Jesus would later follow with meticulous care.
Everything that would come later in Jesus had to be structured according to the architecture of the template which Moses and the prophets laid down. This is why Jesus, when He talked with His disciples, was so insistant that all of His actions adhere closely with those required of Him in the books of the Old Testament.
If He had not patterned His actions according to this framework, "...then", as Jesus asked His Apostles, "how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that this is the way it must be?" (Mt.26:54). "In the scroll of the book am I not commanded to obey your will?" (Ps.40:7-8).
True, He came to change the covenants, but the basic architecture between the two had to remain the same so that the patterns of the fulfillment of this change could be clearly seen.
This was established by a divine decree: "Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. 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. "
"Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt.5:17-19).
Great controversy has raged in Christian circles over the precise meaning of Christ's directives in these passages of Matthew's Gospel. Most Christians have joined the interpretation made by Paul and the Apostles that they (the 12 Apostles) had divine permission to alter the commandments of the Law, but not the template of that Law.
In other words, they could mold the tenants of the Law in a way that would harmonize with the directives Jesus brought down from heaven, but the superstructure which those tenants encircled had to remain intact.
This left in place such things as priesthoods and sacrifices, but changed the focus of the liturgy surrounding them from a human physical orientation to one based upon the true spirit of God.
Christ became the sacrifice required by the Law, and we have become the priesthood which takes His sacrifice into our hearts, transubstancing His Word into actions that lead to eternal life.
The meaning of the Law became the essence of the Law's interpretation, not its literal statement. In this interpretation, the Apostles were able to discard everything foreign to God's intent -- especially the bloody animal sacrifices that had overwhelmed the Jewish liturgy -- and to replace these with elements that mirrored the love of God.
"On the day of God's sacrifice, I will punish the ministers, the royal princes, and all those who dress themselves in foreign style. On that day I mean to punish all those who are near the throne, whose who fill the palace of their lord with violence and deceit." (Zeph.1:8-9).
That the Apostles had divine permission to make these changes was decreed in scripture: "I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven." (Mt.18:18).
Using this directive, the Apostles met in Jerusalem in a momentous gathering early in the history of the Church and erased the literal interpretation of virtually every injunction defined in the Old Testament. (Acts 15).
This left the developing Church free to remold the directives of the Law into a format consistent with the commandments of the Gospel.
This was accomplished by letters and treatises sent to the various churches by the major Apostles -- the bulk of them authored by Paul.
As soon as the Church defined which of these letters and treatises would be included in a set scripture, the binding was accomplished.
The template of Moses had already decreed that once scripture had been formed, it could not be altered or rejected. (John 10:34-35). For this reason, the New Testament, once it was formed, established for all eternity the divine articles of the new covenant.
For all who accepted the new covenant's replacement terms, the Old Testament regulations were immediately supersceded.
"We have seen that Jesus has been given a ministry of a far higher order, and to the same degree it is a better covenant of which he is the mediator, founded on better promises. If that first covenant had been without a fault, there would have been no need for a second one to replace it." (Heb.8:6-7).
Jeremiah had predicted this change of covenants in plain language.
"See the days are coming -- it is God who speaks -- when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant of mine, so I had to show them who was master." (Jer.31:31-34).
"By speaking of a new covenant, he (Jeremiah) implies that the first one is already old. Now anything old only gets more antiquated until in the end it disappears." (Heb.8:13).
It has not disappeared completely yet. The Old Testament is still with us today. As the contract between God and man regarding human civilization on earth, it houses the template for the final events of history.
That is why we have to study its terms in our search of prophecy. As the template of the Law, it tells us the future of man, and the future of the earth.
The new covenant, on the other hand, is not about the earth -- it is for the kingdom of heaven.
As citizens of that new kingdom, we have broken with this world and its covenant. That is why we can escape the terrible future that this world is bound to.
To show that God is the author of this change, He has given absolute power on earth to those who accept His offer of reconciliation:
"As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.' After saying this he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained." (John 20:22-23).
Although this directive gives great power to the Christian Church in its struggle with the secular world, Christians have only limited power to implement it against each other. God cannot be pitted against Himself.
Instead, it is a power that God has given His Church over all pagans, so that sin might be forgiven. It is the power of baptism. And it was given for a good purpose, not an evil purpose.
Thus it is an edict whose terms can be greatly temporized by obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ.
Moses, when he originally designed the template of the covenant, did so according to a vision he had received while on the mountain in Sinai.
As we have seen before, the Mosaic vision was not perfect, and it was made with the intent that it be replaced from the very beginning.
It had been formed in the aftermath of the Sinai compromise when the people of Israel balked at the idea of God coming to them to deliver the balance of His commandments in person.
Successfully begging Moses for an intermediary, the people got an interim covenant to keep them safe in holiness during the years between their request and the day that God's selected intermediary should appear.
From the very beginning, then, the Mosaic covenant was an alternate covenant (a guardian covenant) destined to be replaced when the true Father arrived.
Expectantly, the tribes waited for the coming Christ as they gathered themselves around the tenants of the interim covenant.
This covenant was built from the memory of Moses. It was his interpretation of the vision he had seen on Sinai; and because of this, like an impressionistic painting, it's design was not exact -- but it did follow a basic format decreed by God in heaven. It was good enough to keep the people righteous while they waited.
But the people rebelled and abandoned the Ten Commandments around which Moses had defined that first covenant. Mutinous and restive, the guardians of the first covenant set up a materialistic and ostentatious ritual revolving around their unholy love of money, power and violence.
To make all these changes in the Law legal, they defined a vast codicle to the Law called 'tradition'; and with its implementation, were able to run off with God's Law, taking it where God did not want it to go.
As a result, Jesus, when He appeared, came to a people in revolt.
God had no intention of honoring all this ritual of tradition because it was being used to worship the things of Satan. He instructed Jesus to discard it and to provide the people, instead with a blueprint describing the architecture of heaven.
Keeping the skeletal framework of Moses intact, Jesus implanted into the hearts of His disciples a design which had power to impart eternal life. As we have seen before, nothing in the Law of Moses could give such life.
With the formation of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit fulfilled the Mosaic instructions that this blueprint to eternal life be given to the people in writing. (Ez.43:10-11).
Everything in the Torah (the book of Moses) was about Jesus. "You place your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be your accuser...since it was I that he was writing about." (Jn.5:45-46).
When Cleopas and his friend were walking from Jerusalem toward the town of Emmaus (just after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus) they discussed the activities that had just occured in the holy city. Suddenly Jesus appeared and joined them. At first, they did not recognize Him.
He asked them about their conversation. Cleopus turned and said to Him, "You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days'. 'What things?' the stranger asked. 'All about Jesus of Nazareth' they answered 'the prophet...who was sentenced to death...we had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free...'
Jesus turned to them, 'You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?' Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself." (Lk.24:13-27).
All these passages in scripture formed a divine template upon which God defined the appearance and actions of His promised Messiah.
Everything in the Old Testament existed only to serve as the architecure upon which Jesus would structure God's true religion. None of it was created for itself. Nothing in the Old Testament can stand alone or sit apart from this holy template.
And neither can the world, for it was not just the passages in the Old Testament which God designed in the name of Jesus Christ, but the entire universe.
Everything that we see bears witness to this plan, from the tiniest particles of matter that dart around atoms all the way to the vast cosmic soup at the beginning of time that birthed the universe -- all were created so that God could raise up a human civilization that would have the opportunity of affirming or denying the message of the Gospel.
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