Is the law of Moses also valid for Christians?

385 is also the law of Moses for ChristiansWhile Tammy and I were waiting in the lobby of an airport to make our home flight shortly, I noticed a young man sitting two seats down and looking repeatedly at me. After a few minutes, he asked me, "Excuse me, are you Mr. Joseph Tkach?" He was glad to talk to me, and he told me that he had recently been expelled from a Sabbath community. Our conversation soon became about the law of God - he found my statement very interesting that the Christians would understand that God gave the law to the Israelites, even though they could not keep it perfect. We talked about how Israel truly had a "moving" past in which the people often departed from God's law. It was clear to us that this was no surprise to God, because he knows how things develop.

I told him that the law given to Israel by Moses includes 613 commandments. He agreed with me that there are many arguments for this to what extent these commandments are binding on Christians. Some argue that all commandments must be kept, since they all come "from God." If this were true, Christians would have to sacrifice animals and wear prayer belts. He confirmed that there are many opinions about which of the 613 bids today have a spiritual application and which are not. We also agreed that the various Sabbatarian groups are divided on this issue - some practice circumcision; some keep the Sabbaths in agriculture and the annual festivals; some take the first tithing, but no second and third; some, however, all three; some keep the Sabbath, but not the annual festivals; some observe the new moons and sacred names - each group believes that their "package" of doctrines is biblically correct, but not the other's. He noted that he had been struggling with this problem for some time and given up the previous way of keeping the Sabbath; he worries, however, that he does not hold him correctly.

Surprisingly, he agreed that many Sabbatarians are in error because they do not realize that the coming of God in the flesh (in the person of Jesus) did what Scripture calls the "New Covenant" (Hebrew 8,6) and thus the Law that was given to Israel is outdated (Heb. 8,13). Those who do not accept this basic truth and seek to live according to the rules of the Mosaic Law (which 430 added years to God's covenant with Abraham, see Gal 3,17) do not practice the historical Christian faith. I believe that a breakthrough came in our discussion when he realized that the view (which many Sabbatarians represent) can not be upheld that we are now "between the Old and the New Covenant" (the New Covenant) would come only with Jesus' second coming). He agreed that Jesus was the true sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 10,1-3) and although the New Testament does not specifically mention abolition of the sacrifice of Atonement and Atonement, Jesus also fulfilled it. As Jesus explained, the scriptures clearly point to him and he fulfills the law.

The young man told me that he still has questions about keeping the Sabbath. I explained to him that the Sabbatarian view lacked the understanding, namely, that the application of the law had changed at Jesus' first coming. Although still valid, there is now a spiritual application of the law of God - which fully considers that Christ has fulfilled the law given to Israel; which is based on our in-depth relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit and reaches into our deepest interior - our hearts and our minds. Through the Holy Spirit we live in obedience to God as members of the Body of Christ. For example, if our hearts are circumcised by the Spirit of Christ, it does not matter if we are physically circumcised.

Christ's fulfillment of the law results in our obedience to God being brought about through his deeper and more intense work through Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, our obedience comes from what has always been the law, the heart, the spirit, and the great purpose of God. We recognize this in Jesus' new commandment: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 13,34). Jesus gave this commandment and lived according to this commandment in the knowledge that God in and through His ministry and the power of the Holy Spirit would write His law in our hearts, fulfilling the prophecies of Joel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

Through the onset of the New Covenant, which fulfilled and ended the task of the Old Covenant, Jesus changed our relationship to the law and renewed the form of our obedience that we accepted as His people. The underlying law of love has always been, but Jesus embodied and fulfilled it. The Old Covenant with Israel and the associated law (including sacrifices, tassels, and remission years) required special forms of implementation of the underlying law of love for the nation of Israel. These features are now obsolete in many cases. The spirit of the law remains, but the rules of the written law, which prescribe a special form of obedience, no longer have to be obeyed.

The law could not fulfill itself; it could not change hearts; it could not prevent its own failure; it could not protect against temptation; it could not determine the proper form of obedience for every single family on earth. Since the cessation of the work of Jesus on earth and the mission of the Holy Spirit, there are now other ways in which we express our devotion to God and our love for our neighbors. Those who have received the Holy Spirit can now better receive the Word of God and understand God's purpose for their obedience, since obedience was embodied and revealed in Christ and transmitted to us through his apostles, for us in the books, which we call the New Testament, has been preserved. Jesus, our great high priest, shows us the heart of the Father and sends us the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we can respond to the Word of God from the depths of our hearts, testifying by word and deed to God's intention to spread his blessing on all families on earth. This surpasses everything the law has been able to do, for it goes far beyond God's purpose, which the law should do.

The young man agreed and then asked how this understanding affects the Sabbath. I explained that the Sabbath served the Israelites for various purposes: it reminded them of creation; it reminded her of her exodus from Egypt; It reminded her of her special relationship with God, and gave the animals, servants and families a time of physical rest. From a moral point of view, it reminded the Israelites of their duty to end their evil works. From a Christological point of view, it pointed to the need for spiritual rest and fulfillment through the coming of the Messiah - putting their trust in salvation on him better than their own works. The Sabbath also symbolized the completion of creation at the end of the age.

I told him that most Sabbatarians apparently can not see that the statutes given to the people of Israel by Moses were temporary - just for a limited period of time and place in the history of the nation of Israel. I pointed out that it is not difficult to realize that it does not make sense for all times and places "to leave the beard untied" or "tassels to the four corners of a robe". When God's intentions for Israel as a nation were fulfilled in Jesus, he addressed all people through his Word and the Holy Spirit. This meant that the form of obedience to God had to do justice to the new situation.

In relation to the Seventh-day Sabbath, authentic Christianity has not begun to adopt the seventh day of the week as an astrological unit, as if God had placed one day of the week above the other. Instead of just weeding out a day to confess his sanctity, God now dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, thereby sanctifying our entire time. Although we could gather on any day of the week to celebrate God's presence, most Christian churches gather for worship on Sunday, the most recognized day on which Jesus rose from the dead, and thus the promises of the Old Covenant fulfilled. Jesus extended the Sabbath law (and all aspects of the Torah) far beyond the time constraints that the verbalized law could not provide. He even increased the commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," by "Love one another as I have loved you." This is an incredible love goodness that can not be captured in 613 bids (not even in 6000!). God's faithful fulfillment of the law makes Jesus our center, not a written code. We do not focus on one day of the week; he is our center. We live in it every day because it is our rest.

Before embarking on our respective machines, we agreed that the spiritual application of the Sabbath law is to lead a life of faith in Christ - a life that is sustained by the grace of God and the new and deeper working of God Holy Spirit in us, is changed from within.

Always grateful for God's grace, healing us from head to toe.

Joseph Tkach



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