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Words of a Fether

To The Point: Hebrew Roots

Are Christians obligated to live under the laws of Moses?

For as long as the Body of Christ (trad. church) has existed, some have insisted that Christians must practice Judaism as prescribed in the Old Testament. Though some of those may concede that such practice is how we show our love to God, others make it a salvation issue, or at least a fellowship issue. Those who do not agree are often looked upon as rebellious or ignoring half the Bible. But what does that very Bible say? We will examine a list of scripture passages on the topic.

Old Testament passages about the separation of Israel and the church

We see in 2 Kings 21:7 that God has chosen Jerusalem and the temple in it for himself. First of all, be aware that the temple in Jesus' day did not have the Ark of the Covenant in it. That alone should have made it illegitimate, yet Jesus himself worshiped there and observed all the laws of Moses. So this negates the argument that the tribulation temple cannot qualify as being desecrated per Daniel. 9:27 if there is no Ark inside. (See this article for more detail.) This verse is very clear; there is nothing in the context to justify taking it allegorically or symbolically.

In Jer. 31:31-36 the New Covenant is with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah, not any Gentiles, and not with the Body of Christ which is neither. The passage identifies literal, physical Israel and Judah by their attributes: They broke God's covenant with them specifically. Further, Only if these decrees vanish from my sight, declares the Lord, will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.

Our last Old Testament passage is Dan. 12:1. Here, the angel Michael is identified as the one who protects Daniel's people— not the Gentiles and not the Body of Christ. There will also be a time of distress like no other, which Jesus also referred to in Mat. 24:15— for Daniel's people, Israel.

New Testament passages about the separation of Israel and the church

First we need to look at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. The purpose for the meeting is stated in Acts 15:5. Some claim that they were talking about the Talmud or oral traditions, but it explicitly states that the Gentiles must keep the law of Moses. After a lengthy discussion, Peter stood up and said that what the former Pharisees were trying to do was to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear. James then cited a prophecy in Amos about a time when God would return and rebuild David's fallen tent, and for a purpose: that the rest of mankind— the Gentiles— would seek the Lord. Paul described this also in Rom. 11:25: Israel is partially hardened against God until the full number of Gentiles has come in (covered in more detail here).

As shown in that study which focuses on Rom. 11, God had not rejected his people Israel, which Paul identifies as physical and literal descendants of Abraham, specifically the tribe of Benjamin. The divine plan was to use Israel to make Gentiles want God, and then to use Gentiles to make Israel want God. His unfinished business with Israel will be addressed once the Body of Christ has all its members. That's what Rom. 11 is teaching. No one is grafted into Israel, and Israel has not been replaced by either Gentiles or the Body of Christ. In Rom. 11:25-32 Paul mentions the patriarchs (plural), meaning much more than just Abraham. More importantly, God's gifts and calling are irrevocable. These were literal and physical in the Old Testament, so there is no justification for making them figurative in the New.

Finally, in 1 Cor. 10:32 we see it explicitly stated that mankind is divided into three, not two, groups: Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God (aka Body of Christ). We are neither Jews nor Gentiles, yet we inherit the Promise to Abraham— not the law of Moses. In fact, the entire letter to the Hebrews is all about the temporal nature of the law of Moses, such that it is replaced by the priesthood of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:12-13), the priestly order to which Jesus belongs. Heb. 8:13 says as well that the new covenant means that the first one is old and obsolete. Gal. 3:19-29 clearly teaches that the purpose of the law of Moses was to serve as a temporary guide until Christ came.

Conclusion

Besides the clear separation of Israel and the Body of Christ established to this point, we cannot brush aside the Millennial Kingdom passages as discussed here and here. They speak in very down-to-earth terms especially in the Old Testament: crops, herds, long but mortal life, generations, animals, etc. Once allegory or the presumption of non-literalism is invoked, all discussion is reduced to mere speculation or personal preference, as opposed to a mandate from God. So anyone attempting to put the burden of the law of Moses on Christians is in clear violation of the whole of scripture.

Remember Gal. 5:14

Posted 2020-10-07 under hebrew roots, legalism, torah, point