Friday, April 14, 2017

Moses Died On Mt. Nebo

The primary, most central, most mission-critical tenet of Armstrongism is the requirement of observance of the Old Covenant law. Not all of it, just about 2%. The law must be kept because it cannot be changed, they say. Oft repeated is, "not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (MAT. 5: 18b)[NIV]. The law does not save you, they teach, but without observing the law you cannot be saved. Among the laws that Armstrongism claims must be observed are the Old Covenant holy days, including Passover.

The Armstrongist calendar year practically begins at Passover. They read about the Exodus, and clean almost every nook and cranny of leavening. But Passover is a Jewish holiday, you say? If you are talking about the Old Covenant Passover, then yes, yes it is, God bless them. And it should stay theirs. Passover is generally considered to be by far there most important calendar event. But Armstrongism says no, Gentiles are required to observe it too. Something doesn't add up about that, you wonder? Correct. It doesn't add up.

Jesus and the Apostles were Jews, who lived in the end times of the Old Covenant, of course they observed the things of the Old Covenant. But the Old Covenant ended. <- The biggest part of the equation is left out. After that point, the Apostles were abundantly clear that believing Jews could retain their national traditions but the Gentiles were not to become Jews in order to be Christians (see Acts 10, Acts 15: 18-26 and GAL. 2: 11-16). To demand we all must do what Jews did to fulfill the contract of the Old Covenant during the Old Covenant period doesn't make any sense - even if it is Jesus and the Apostles. The Gentiles weren't party to it in the first place and Old Covenant ended when Jesus died. Not to worry! To oversimplify it, Armstrong teaches that they keep the New Covenant .. just there is little difference between the Old and New Covenants. Passover was a law then and it's a law now. No changes! Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen...! The only parts of the law that have changed are the national parts that governed Israel, and the ceremonial parts. Basically all Jesus did was take away sacrifices. So the law HAS changed - IF we accept this Armstrong doctrine. The parts they require haven't changed, they assure us. Passover is one of those required parts. For example:

(EXO. 12: 43) And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner [Gentile; non-Israelite] shall eat it."

Oh. Well, maybe Exodus 12: 43-49 isn't such a good example. That says Gentiles are forbidden by law from participating in Passover, and this is repeated in Numbers 9: 14. Requiring everyone to participate would be a huge change in the unchanging law.

Let's just forget about that. Forget you saw that. Let's stick to the core, the spirit, the heart, which is that the law doesn't save you but you can't be saved without the law.

ABD agrees that the law doesn't save you, we just disagree about the continuing requirement of Old Covenant law.

THE MEANING OF MOSES MATTERS

There once was a man from Egypt named Moses. Moses was a particularly unique example among mankind. Author of the Pentateuch. Hero of the Jews. Specially chosen to act out a picture of the salvation process. Giver of the law. In fact, Moses represented the Old Covenant law. As Elijah represented all Old Covenant prophecy, Moses represented all Old Covenant law.

One day, as he led the Israelites through the desert, they came to Kadesh. It was hot, there was no water, and what should happen but Moses' sister dies. It was not the best of times. To add insult to injury, the people come to Moses and Aaron and their complaining was so bad that Moses' patience gave out. God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will gush out for all to drink. Moses didn't listen so well. In his anger, he yelled at the people and struck the rock - twice - rather than just speak to it. God had something specific He wanted Moses to do, but that just wan't in Moses' nature. For this, God would not let Moses lead the people into the Promised Land. Note that God points out Moses' lack of faith as the real reason. You can read this in Numbers 20: 1-13.

Since we know that all of these things happened as examples for us, what does it all mean?

Moses, as the law, was fiery hot with anger. When violated, there is judgment and punishment. The rock was Jesus. The water was the Holy Spirit. From this Rock waters could flow, but who was able to make them flow? The law, in his anger, strikes out. It isn't in the nature of the law to be gentle towards the weak human condition. As Paul said, the people died under the law without mercy (HEB. 10: 28). Water does flow because God is merciful, just as water flowed from Jesus side when He was struck (pierced). But it wasn't as God wished it to be. God didn't desire punishment and sacrifices and things of the law (for example, ISA. 1: 12-15). God wanted love and faith and things of the spirit and the heart (ISA 1: 16-17; MIC. 6: 8). God specifies in Numbers 20 verse 12 that it was because of a lack of faith that the law could not lead Israel into the Promised Land.

Faith is commended in the Old Testament but doesn't come from the law. So the law did its best to the people until they made it close to the Promised Land, but it could go no farther. Moses died on Mount Nebo, overlooking the Promised Land. He never stepped foot in it. The law was made for a certain people in a certain place at a certain time. The law kept the people up and until a certain point, then its purpose ended.

Because faith has little part in the law, the law can not take God's people to their Promised Land. No, the law does not save you.

Galatians 3, the whole thing (but especially 19 and 24-25), is perfect right here. I'll wait while you read it. Please, be my guest.

Welcome back!

JOSHUA TAKES OVER

Deuteronomy 34 tells us that Moses was allowed to see all the Promised Land, that he died, and that before he died he passed a special blessing onto Joshua who would lead the people into the Promised Land. That last part is incredibly important. Joshua would lead the people into the Promised Land, not Moses. What does this mean?

Joshua had the very same name as our Lord and Savior Jesus. Both were named, roughly, Yeshua. Joshua is an Anglicized version of Yeshua and Jesus was Latinized to Iesous before being Anglicized into Jesus.

Clearly and unmistakably the foreshadowing indicates that the law cannot bring God's People into the Promised Land, but Jesus Christ can ...and has. The Old Covenant with its law, having accomplished all that it could do, was no longer useful. Jesus has taken the place of the law to accomplish what it never could. The law never could because we are so weak. The law is all about us and what we can do while faith is all about God and what He can do.

One of the first instructions that God gives Joshua in Joshua 1: 7-8 is to keep the law perfectly. Jesus did this, too. It is important to specify this!

You see, the Armstrongists quote Matthew 5: 18, but they use it incorrectly. They try to say the law has not changed at all, even though it is easy to demonstrate that it most certainly has changed in order to fit Armstrongist teachings. Not just some judicial part, or some ceremonial part, but even the moral part - which we saw earlier in the law of Passover. In order to push Passover on all Gentile Christians, Armstrongism must change the law. Yet Jesus said it was not His intention that the law should change. Jesus did as Joshua was instructed - He kept the law perfectly. Even the smallest letter and stroke of the pen were all satisfied in Jesus. Nothing was altered to make it easier on Him. The spirit of the law was completely satisfied in every way throughout Jesus' life and in His death as an offering for sin. In this way, the law was completely satisfied. Justice was satisfied. Love was satisfied. Everything Jesus did brought the Old Covenant to perfect completion. You see, the point I'm driving at is that the law was not simply changed, ever, it was fulfilled. All of it. Teleo!! And then the entire Old Covenant with all of its laws and requirements was abrogated.

The law cannot save you. The Old Covenant law isn't even asked of you. It was asked of Jesus, and He accomplished all that was asked.

When Jesus had fulfilled it all, He died on the cross and on the third day rose again as our Savior. He crossed over from death into life eternal, just as Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

The law is not changed now or removed arbitrarily now, it is completely satisfied and completely replaced. It was an all or nothing deal. Nor either is this an after thought. It was planned this way from the beginning. I hear people say, "God wouldn't change His mind, so the law remains." Ahh, but God didn't change His mind, which is precisely why the law is removed. Then when it was accomplished He sat down at the right hand of the Father. This is metaphoric language. It means His work of salvation, so many thousands of years long, was completely accomplished and now He rests from it. He does a new work now.

All analogies break down at some point. Just as Jesus is our Passover lamb, but He was not taken into a home for 4 days and physically inspected before being sacrificed, roasted, and eaten with horseradish, so Jesus did not do  absolutely everything that Joshua did. Jesus did no cross the Jordan, He did not bring a people into a physical land, He did not war with anyone, He did not grow old and die, and etc. But this was all done and recorded for our good, so that we could know that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He would do.

He leads us to enter into that Promised Land. The way we enter with Him is by participating in Him. The way we join in the promise to Him alone is by participating in Him. We become one with Him, in spirit. Where He is so we will be because we are part of Him. The church, what remains here on earth as a witness through the ages, is His spiritual body. Each of us individually, and all of us collectively. We take in that bread and wine and in this we are always reminded that we take Him in. He in us and we in Him. And so we will always be with Him.

The law doesn't save you, Jesus does. You cannot keep the law, Jesus did. The law is not asked of you. It was never asked of the Gentiles anyway. The Old Testament isn't there to tell you what laws to keep now, it is there to tell you who Jesus is. The Old Covenant is gone, the New Covenant remains.

For a fabulous bit of expansion on the fact that our own efforts at law-keeping are wholly insufficient, I recommend to you Martha's post "You Will Never Be Worthy".

CONCLUSION

In conclusion of this whole topic, Moses, who represented the Old Covenant law just as Elisha represented the prophets, was not allowed to bring Israel into the Promised Land. Moses died on Mount Nebo. The meaning for us is that the OC law cannot bring us into our rest, our Promised Land. Paul is absolutely crystal clear about this in Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans. The law was only intended to keep Israel up until Jesus' death. Whether the letter of the law was nailed to the cross or our long list of offenses was nailed to the cross, it doesn't matter. Either way the outcome is the same. The Old Covenant law has no more accusation against the Jews, and it excluded the Gentiles so it never had any hold over the Gentiles anyway. The purpose of the Old Covenant and its requirements is over. It was never meant to go any farther.

Jesus fulfilled it completely and set it aside. Jesus alone can bring us into our Promised Land. We can't do this. Moses can't do this. The way this is done is by participating with Him - just as we take the bread and the wine into us. The church on earth is His body, spiritually. We are one with Him. And so we enter into the promise and the rest in Him. He is our Promise. He is our rest. He paid for our sin and gifts us His righteousness. Our righteousness does not come from the law! It comes from grace through faith. The way we participate in Him is through grace of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes by faith. Follow the Holy Spirit. From now on it is no longer us who lives, but He who lives in us. Just as Paul said.

Armstrongism has conditioned its adherents that if there is no law then there is no standard, anything goes. Not so! Notice that no one here has ever said we have no standard of conduct to live up to. We most certainly do. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, what conduct will we have? We have righteousness, but righteousness is not of the law anyway (GAL. 2: 21). Once again, if we are led by the Spirit then we are not under the law (GAL. 5: 18). So, it isn't that there is no standard, it's that the standard is not the OC law. The New Covenant standard is faith and love. Step into it!




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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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1 comment:

Black Ops Mikey said...

This idea that if something in the New Testament isn't mentioned, then the Old Testament applies. This idea goes all the way back to Ellen G. White. G. G. Rupert used this 'rule' explicitly to secure not only the Sabbath, clean and unclean meats, but also the Feasts with Passover.

You've covered the major problem right here: Gentiles were not to keep the Old Covenant Law, with the Passover being the really big example here. Moreover, circumcision was not explicitly covered in the New Testament until Acts 15. Again, the Old Covenant did not apply to Christians and the Apostle Paul made that all abundantly clear in his epistles.

Furthermore, farmers in the Worldwide Church of God attempted to keep the seventh year land Sabbath. You know what happened. Either they went into debt or lost their business. The reason? There was no doubling of the proceeds from the crop as was promised in the Old Testament for the Israelites for 'the land the Lord giveth thee'. Either God flat out lied, or we aren't supposed to keep the seventh year land Sabbath.

The problems go on and on. Blue fringes on garments? The Ten Commandments bound up an affixed to your forehead? Where does it end?

The Old Testament uses the word 'faith' two times. One of them to say that the just shall live by his faith and the other about the Israelites who had no faith. Without faith, as Hebrews 11 says, it is impossible to please God. The Israelites did not have the Holy Spirit. Their agreement with God was to obey Him and receive physical blessings by keeping physical rituals.

How is it then that the churches of God expect spiritual blessings by keeping physical rituals?

The truth is that Herbert Armstrong was not converted and could never understand anything spiritual. The only thing he could do is to comprehend the physical. Don't we all remember how he said that if you keep God's Law, you would receive (physical) blessings? Keep the tithes, and you would be financially prospered? Exactly. Except, as we have seen, it was no formula for success. With God you have to have faith that things will work out, even if there is absolutely every evidence at the moment that things absolutely won't work out.

So to Herbert Armstrong, when the 'Work' was going great financially, it was a blessing, and when it wasn't, the coworker letters would go out and in a spate of absolute lack of faith, it was declared that "This Word could go down" in an instant. Of course it could. That's the way of things not covered by God. And look at the aftermath. Is there even a Worldwide Church of God any more? What happened to the campuses. Where is the Plain Truth Magazine. For that matter, where is the Good News? The Armstrong versions are gone, gone, gone and mostly forgotten with no lasting legacy at all except squabbling divisive spit-offs trying to gain ascendance in an ever growing smaller environment of entropy.

Grow in grace and knowledge?

We think not.

Because that takes faith and not some Olde Testament Christianity.