Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Response to SJS (Jack) [How Do We Know What Covenant We Are Keeping?]

Smilin’JackSprat,

My apologies; sometimes life just gets hectic and you can’t get things done as soon as you would like.

You said I answered incompletely with a partial quote from Hebrews 8:7 by not including V8. As I see it Verse eight says the same thing.

If there had been nothing wrong with the first, no place would have been sought for another
By saying ‘fault was found with the people’, it is saying there is fault with the OC. What I mean is, it shows what’s wrong with the OC, that it could not be kept perfectly, therefore condemning man; Gal 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
It is not mans fault that we are sinful. No man is without sin. We were sold as slaves to sin; Rom 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
Only by keeping the OC perfectly can one be found righteous, but since no man is without sin – it shows that no man can keep it flawlessly. If there was nothing wrong with the OC and the fault was solely that of the people, it would mean people are capable of being without sin, that is; perfect, and therefore, could be found righteous by flawless observance of the OC, but that simply is not possible.
With the OC one is responsible for his own salvation, and condemned for his sins, because under the OC there is no remission of sins, Christ does not pay our debt. If one gathered wood on the Sabbath, he was to be stoned to death, no mercy, no forgiveness, and now that he has sinned he is condemned [Nu. 15:32-36]. He will not inherit the kingdom.
Since it’s not possible to be without sin, if God is to have a family, there must be another way for the debt to be paid, which the perfect Christ Jesus paid in our stead.
With the NC there is mercy and forgiveness, remission of sins. If we confess our sins, he will forgive us from all unrighteousness. [1 Jn. 1:19].
The OC did its job, it revealed sin, and it led us to Christ, through whom salvation could be gained.
Rom 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
Rom 6:16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Rom 6:18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Rom 6:20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


430 years after Abraham
Abraham was pre-Moses, what law did he obey? The Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses, had not been given yet. What law did the fallen angels break? Any word from God’s mouth is law, but it is only law for the one(s) it is given. If he tells Moses & Aaron to deal with Pharaoh, then it is their law, no one else’s. If he tells the Israelites to do something(s), it is their law, no one else’s, unless God says so. If He tells Ezekiel to do some specific things with hair and cooking food with human excrement in the site of others, it is Ezekiel’s law and no one else’s.
Abraham’s law was whatever God told him to do, and God credited Abraham with righteousness by his faith. God had not given a contract of works; this did not come about until 430 years after Abraham. It went from Faith in Abraham’s day (earlier and later), to a law of Works at Sinai, and returned to Faith upon Christ’s sacrifice of his life on the cross, for the payment of the debt we incurred by our sins.
Again; Abraham was credited righteousness by faith. Then, with the out-of-control Israelites, he gave them rules to follow. It didn’t matter if their attitudes were undesirable - they just needed to do what they were told to do. After Christ came, it returned to faith.
The NC is heart and mind – inner law. The OC is hands – outer law, about doing, regardless of attitude.
Paul tells us that with God’s contract, as with a man’s contract, you cannot add to or take away. This tells us that the NC is NEW and not an altered OC or the same OC. If there is no NEW Covenant what was Jesus doing in Mt. 5?
He said, “You have heard [this thing] but I tell you [this other thing]. Was he undermining the OC or was he preparing them for the difference in the NC from that of the OC?
He was telling them that actions were not enough – that it was ONLY washing the outside and leaving the inside filthy. The OC did not require purity of heart and mind – only obedient actions. Of course the actions could not be done flawlessly – thus cursing those, who were subject to it, to eternal condemnation.

Jesus was showing the difference
He was showing that purity of heart and mind were of utmost importance – clean on the inside, also clean on the outside, unlike OC; clean on the outside only – filthy on the inside. Under the OC one is cut off from Christ and therefore there is no remission of sins. Only through the NC, through Christ, is there remission of sins; grace, mercy, forgiveness, cleansing.
So again, because the OC cursed man to eternal condemnation, the debt would have to be paid in a different way if God is to have a family. That is where Jesus came in. He would keep the OC law perfectly (impossible for anyone else – since no man is without sin) and thus be found pure, and therefore, worthy to pay man’s debt in full.
The OC proves we cannot save ourselves. All of this teaches us that we need God, that without him we are nothing, and can do nothing. We are saved ONLY by him; by his grace, mercy and forgiveness in the payment of our debt, by Christ Jesus.
The OC and NC are not the same covenant. God said it was a NEW covenant and he said the NC would not be like the old one. How can it be a NEW Covenant if the only thing that’s changed is that it is now written in the hearts and minds of the people? It can’t, not if it won’t be like the old one.
Our actions do not, and cannot, save us
But our belief, our faith produces actions. It is the belief, our faith that saves us.
Keeping Sabbath or a Saturday Sabbath, observing holy days – those don’t save us. Keeping TEN COMMANDMENTS don’t save us. There is NO action that can save us. Only by our belief and faith in Christ Jesus are we saved – because that means we acknowledge that our value is in his love for us, that without him we are nothing and can do nothing and that we accept HIS payment of OUR debt. No action can save us, because no man is without sin. The penalty for sin is death. There is NO way around it. The debt must be paid, so, either we pay it (eternal death), or Christ does (eternal life).
We all sin. If we fail in one single way, we are guilty. We are no less sinful than a murderer, or an adulterer or idolater. It doesn’t matter the sin – it all results in eternal death --- unless we believe in Christ Jesus, in which case, our debt is paid in full.
There are two different contracts
Jesus showed the difference in Mt.5, and we see that the Law of Moses has long been a stumbling block in; 2 Co. 3:1-18
V15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Were the Pharisees or teacher of the law on the path to the kingdom of God? No, MT. 5:20, 23:13.
Mt. 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The OC would have to be kept flawlessly –or- turn to Christ and the NC.
Mt. 23:13 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

9 comments:

xHWA said...

I like the article! Keep up the great help!

SmilinJackSprat said...

I understand your point of view, but it is based upon years of Christian momentum and deep misunderstanding of simple, fundamental concepts of Hebrew Torah. One must always be aware of Deut. 13. In some Christian Bibles Isaiah 8:20 states a similar point of view. No serious Jew, no matter who told him otherwise, would have dared to transgress Torah for the reasons stated in those two references as well as many others. Jesus would not have garnered a following if he had taught otherwise.

Torah is life; to abandon Torah is suicide. God says so, David said so, Jesus said so, and Christianity misunderstands, being too far removed from the Jewish perspective that saturated the minds of those who live in the the New Testament record.

Jewish thinking motivated Jesus and his students because they had been carefully trained, from early childhood to their bar mitzvahs, when at 13 they became personally responsible to God and Torah. Apart from understanding their Jewish orientation, it is all but impossible to grasp Jesus' teachings from his point of view and that of his disciples. They would not have followed him so much as to lunch, had he suggested a lifestyle even slightly contrary to the delightful perfection of Torah -- where grace is born, having been an early creation of God, who is known throughout Jewry, and Islam, as the Compassionate One.

It will probably take me a week to do justice to the material you have presented here. I can explain everything you have stated from a Jewish perspective, if you would like. I am quite sure that neither of us will budge from his present thinking, although mutual understanding might be strengthened. Please let me know if I should continue.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Thanks xhwa.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Smilingjack,

" I am quite sure that neither of us will budge from his present thinking, although mutual understanding might be strengthened. Please let me know if I should continue."

I agree. I'm all for understanding... understanding is a good thing, it's education. Please continue.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Dear Seeker of Truth,

1. Introduction: Jews come from such a totally different point of view that it is difficult to address your beliefs directly. For this reason I’ll create one observant Jew’s perspective first, before trying to find parallels. I think you’ll see what I mean as my explanation progresses.

In the observant Jewish world there probably is no word more beloved than Torah. Law is a misnomer, although it is constantly used to translate torah. In fact, torah comes closer to meaning Instruction, but there is no English word capable of expressing all that Torah means to Jews. Torah is our heritage, our birthright, our wisdom and a primary source of our joy. Being its custodians is our calling. Accepting the commandments incumbent upon Jews defines Jewishness -- but Torah is by no means a list of rules or laws; Torah is life.

When read casually, it appears simple and straightforward, but in fact it is the most sophisticated literature in existence. It is always open to the serious student, but unsearchable for depth. One is forever challenged by even greater depths. The word, Torah, is derived from a root related to archery, so to miss its high standards or to ignore its subtleties is related to the sin concept, but that word is also inadequate. We aren’t talking about a law here, but life – a perfect and miraculous expression of God on parchment.

After reading your short essay on the consequences of not obeying the “Old Covenant” perfectly, I must say your description of the perceived Jewish conundrum is unsettling. No wonder so many zealous Christians feel a need to open Jewish hearts and minds to the love of Jesus and the grace you believe he alone offers mankind. You apparently think Jews are living under a curse so severe that even for one tiny infraction we are all condemned to eternal death if we don’t accept Jesus.

One respects your kind concern, but because we look at God and our covenant in such a vastly different way, it is not easy to address your concerns. We do not and cannot recognize the problem of sin that Christians solve through acceptance of Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice, and herein is the crux of the matter, because: If the problem doesn’t exist for Jews, then we have no reason to solve it.

2. Forgiveness: We don’t go through life worrying about what we’ll do to cover penalties we may have incurred through sins. There is no reason for us to think along those lines. We spend our lives learning and applying Torah. Repentance of wrongdoing is the only prerequisite for complete forgiveness. Additionally, there is the great annual day for atonement, Yom Kippur, when the entire Jewish world makes collective confession before God. We have God’s assurances that nothing more is necessary for forgiveness.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the LORD and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).

The month of Elul immediately precedes Rosh Hashana and the Days of Awe. It is believed that God comes especially close during that time of year, “while He may be found,” to facilitate introspection and repentance. He did similarly at Sinai during the dangerous sequence of events when Moses received the Ten Commandments on Rosh Hashana while Israel was creating the golden calf. Then through repentance and Moses’ prayer, Israel was forgiven and presented with a new copy of the Commandments on Yom Kippur. On that day the recently broken covenant was renewed for the first time. Perhaps one could refer to this as the first “new covenant.” The first covenant with Israel had been broken and a new one took its place – but this time it was very slightly different in that Moses had created the tablets upon which God wrote the second covenant.

During modern proceedings on Yom Kippur, including hours of intense introspection and group confession – the day is 25 hours long -- one is made intensely aware of God’s great mercy, compassion and eagerness to forgive his betrothed of every imaginable failure to live up to the perfect standards of Torah, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. After Yom Kippur serious Jewry everywhere are completely cleansed from all failure to embrace Torah, although the gates of forgiveness are always open upon personal repentance.

At the Feast of Weeks (Shavuos, called Pentecost in the NT) many synagogues crown their Torah scrolls with roses to give them extra splendor on the day we received this priceless gift. Torah processions through synagogues on that day can be a thing of great beauty. We don’t approach the Torah (Law) with dread of consequences for transgressing its legalities or spiritual requirements. We’re in the process of learning to live it perfectly; but we inevitably stumble, and as we learn in Batman Begins, we fall in order to learn how to get back up. Excepting extreme circumstances, punishment is not the consequence; growing in holiness is.

We can’t learn to live Torah all at once, and God knows that. Creation is still underway, and now we humans have a hand in the process. We learn, we improve, we become more and more like the Torah ideal, even though it speaks to each of us personally and uniquely. Each of us has his or her own portion in the Torah.

So once again, Torah is our life, and God is our life (Deut. 30:20, 32:46). We revere God -- and His Torah as the perfect revelation of His Nature and the ongoing story of Creation’s progress. We also love God and Torah, and therefore rejoice in them. Forgiveness through Jesus is no part of the observant Jewish life because God completely forgives when we repent.

Each year we reread the story of the atonement Moses made for Israel when he convinced God to spare our lives after the golden calf. Through that series of events, even Jesus was redeemed through Moses’ prayer. Without it, the tribe of Judah would have ceased to exist. King David, and eventually Jesus, would never have been born (Numbers 14:11-24). Earlier, Noah’s righteousness brought mankind across the flood. Apart from the redemption provided by Noah, the pre-flood world would have been exterminated and Abraham would not have been born.

All serious Jews, including Jesus, live (or lived) to fulfill the Torah. Torah and God are in a very real sense equivalent; both are perfect expressions of compassion, mercy, justice and righteousness. Neither God nor Torah exists to snuff out the lives of imperfect human beings. When we err, we return to God and Torah, and through that process always receive forgiveness to enable our continuing progress.

3. Marital Bliss, Separation & Reconciliation: The Torah contains our Ketubah, the formal terms of our wedding agreement between ourselves and God. The relationship is one of betrothal, of Israel’s acceptance of God’s marriage proposal at Sinai, which we unfortunately later ignored. Obviously it has been hard on both sides, but God knew it would be this way. To win us back of our own free will, he must let us experience the full consequences of our headstrong infidelities. When we’re ready He’ll take us back. But it is a relationship between husband and wife, and marital love is the operative principle.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her … you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Master’ … I will betroth you to Me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:14, 16, 19-20).

Remember Job, who had gotten a wrong impression of God vis-a-vis “the hearing of the ear.” At the end of his ordeal, after God spoke to him from a whirlwind, Job finally saw God in his mind’s eye, and was ashamed of himself for previously misjudging God. God can be severe, but He is wonderfully kind and his Torah is no less so. His severity is reserved for extreme circumstances, and is used only to help one, or many, to grow.

Toward the end of Deuteronomy He told Israel through Moses that they would wander far from the ideals of Torah, but after experiencing the consequences of abandoning the covenant they would wholeheartedly return. At that time God will receive them all back into his open arms in the greatest reunion planned so far in the projected history of God and man. Yet there is no assertion there that a messiah’s death and resurrection would make reconciliation possible. The only requirement is wholehearted return to God and Torah.

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.

"If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

4. Regaining Life: According to early Genesis we lost eternal life by way of our first parents’ disobedience. We might have gone on living forever if God had allowed us access to the Tree of Life, but he removed us from the garden to make sure we couldn’t eat from it. Upon Israel’s acceptance of the covenant at Sinai, humanity once again received the Tree of Life in the form of Torah. Torah is our Wisdom -- a tree of life for all those who hold fast to it (Deut. 4:5-6, Proverbs 1:1, 13, 18). Its application should return earth to its Edenic state.

Tragically, the Kingdom of Priests that is the family of Israel has in large part failed its mission to make Torah available to the world. But we have yet to reach the end of the story. The messianic kingdom has not yet begun and God has not yet returned to the earth and its Edenic garden. We have many wonderful things ahead of us. May God make us all worthy of the days of Messiah.

5. Human Sacrifice: The matter of human sacrifice is a serious one, and many righteous men have gone to their grave in wars or heroic actions that have ultimately claimed their lives prematurely. (May God rest their souls with honor forever.) The Genesis 22 story of Isaac’s binding shows God’s distaste for human sacrifice, yet Moses put his life on the line for Israel at Sinai, and David certainly put his life on the line for the people of Israel when he faced Goliath. If Goliath had won, David would have been a human sacrifice.

“The Talmud connects Miriam’s death to [the passages in Numbers 19 concerning the brown cow [red heifer]. Just as the ashes of the [red heifer] atone for sin, the death of a righteous person does the same” (BT MK 28a, quoted in Etz Hayim, the new Conservative Pentateuch, p. 883). 4 Machabees 17:21-22 mentions, “... they [the martyrs] having become, as it were, a ransom for the sin of our nation. And through the blood of those devout ones and their death as an atoning sacrifice, divine Providence preserved Israel that previously had been mistreated.”

Israel left Egypt after her firstborn males had been saved from execution by the blood of lambs or kids on their doorposts and lintels. By means of the horrifying price paid through killing the Egyptian firstborns, the priesthood of Israel was purchased by God. That dignity didn’t last long. By the time of the golden calf, less than two months after leaving Egypt, the firstborns had disqualified themselves and had to be replaced by the more righteous tribe of Levi. How Jesus is seen in metaphor as the Passover lamb of God taking away the sins of the world is beyond me. The blood of Passover lambs only saved Israelite males, and fifty days later those same saved males had to be replaced due to their decadent conduct.

I realize that there are times when people should put their lives on the line for others. Israel was settled in the land of Canaan by means of holy wars required by God for the taking of the land, and in those wars Israelite warriors put their lives on the line. America has had to go to war to keep freedom alive when Germany or Japan would have taken it from us. We have never lacked heroes willing to shed their blood for the good of country and loved ones.

6. Sedition: During the first century CE Herod thought little of crucifying anyone who plotted his overthrow or the overthrow of Rome. Nonetheless, Jesus dared to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey after the example of his ancestor, King David, and the people enthusiastically hailed him as king. Obviously that didn’t set well with Herod, Rome’s King of Jews, and Jesus received the legal Roman remedy for sedition, the point being that Jesus willingly rode to his death in an heroic act that he knew would merit capital punishment. He most certainly disobeyed Roman laws against sedition by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey to the passionate acclaim of his people. Before this he had urged his followers to take up their own crosses and follow his example. If Jesus’ execution merited forgiveness for the whole world, then why would anyone else need to take up an instrument of Roman execution?

7. Suffering & Corbanot: I think Jesus would be horrified to think that so many people have held his suffering and death above the suffering and death of so many others, so much so that no other suffering is seen, among many Christian believers, to come close to the agony Jesus experienced during the day or two of scourging and crucifixion he endured at the end of his life. This is not in any way to deny, minimize or denigrate the excruciating pain and humiliation he did experience, but it is intended to call necessary attention to the extreme suffering of so many others of his beloved Jewish people. Presumably the belief in Jesus’ supreme suffering is based upon passages in Isaiah 52 and 53 that rehearse the struggles and suffering of the Jewish people as a whole, including those of the northern kingdom – those who have borne, through millennia of heroism and suffering, the same cross Jesus bore, both before and after his lifetime. Israel has always been the servant nation, the people chosen to be the instruments through whom all the nations of the earth bless themselves or receive blessings – and that dignity comes at a high price.

Jesus was an outstanding and magnificent Jewish Torah genius who suffered nobly to glorify the Name of God. That much seems certain if we are to believe any part of the gospel accounts. But what of the mothers who, before they were raped and killed during Hitler’s insane Reich, had to see their babies ripped from their breasts, thrown into the air, and then shot to death or bayoneted as they fell? What about the holy men of God who perished in the holocaust? What about the hundreds of innocent Jews crucified and made torches during Nero’s insane reign? Or the expulsions, pogroms, Crusades or the Inquisition? Not everyone was protected from fires and lions like Daniel and his friends, but they all had taken up their crosses and joined the efforts of those who continue to help prepare the earth for the return of the Kingdom of God. If I may be so bold, they all became corbanot, that is offerings, sometimes living, sometimes murdered, sometimes burnt for the peace – the blessing -- of the nations and the earth.

8. Judean Messianic Expectations: Here is a link to a NY Times article that might interest you concerning Jewish messianic hope during the century immediately prior to Jesus’ lifetime. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/world/middleeast/06stone.html?em

SmilinJackSprat said...

I goofed. In that tome of mine I have Israel receiving one version or another of the ten commandments on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Shavuos. I'm glad you can't see my red face.

We received the first set, the ones Moses smashed, on Shavuos (Pentecost). The second set was given to the Israelites on Yom Kippur, in recognition of their being forgiven, their collective death sentence being reversed.

Rosh Hashana is the traditional anniversary of Adam & Eve's creation, called the birthday of the world. It is also the annual Day of Judgment that culminates on Yom Kippur, after ten Days of Awe, during which we prepare for the moment when judgment is sealed -- when the Temple gates were closed after the day of atonement.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Thank you, Seeker. May God speed you mightily in your quest for truth. Jack

Seeker Of Truth said...

Jack,

My apologies. I took a luxuriously long Thanksgiving vacation & just got back on the 4TH, I am now scrambling to get caught up on everything I've fallen behind on. To top it off my internet is being uncooperative, I wanted to add this comment yesterday, but was lucky just to get your comment posted. Again, my apologies.

Robert said...

The problem is the arguments fall apart when we read in Revelation 22:15 that people who are sexually immoral, idolaters, murderers and liars will be "outside" of the kingdom. This must mean that God has some standard He uses when deciding that people will be in the Kingdom. Now, these sounds like the Ten Commandments to me and if they are, you have to face the question of the Sabbath. These laws either all stand together or fall together.