The Sabbath Issue

Chapter 3: The Law of Moses and the Cross - Part 2

*Passage 5. Ephesians 2:14-16, tells us that the Law of Moses was the Middle Wall of Separation between Jews and Gentiles, and that it is now broken down through the death of Christ, so that the two can become One New Man in Christ (the Church). Thus the New Covenant must exactly be the same for both the Jew and Gentiles: 

“He Himself (Christ) is our peace, who has made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and has BROKEN DOWN the Middle Wall of Separation (Partition), having ABOLISHED in His flesh (by the Cross) the Enmity, that is, the Law of Commandments, contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one New Man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the Cross, thereby PUTTING to DEATH the Enmity (the Difference).” 

The Law created a barrier that kept Jews distinctive from Gentiles (for the purpose of preserving revelation), but it also separated Gentiles from Jews and their spiritual life and inheritance. But Christ, on the Cross, abolished this Wall of Separation (Enmity). If the Law was still in effect, it would still be a Wall of Separation between Jews and Gentiles, but it is now broken down in Christ, so that both are made one people in Christ. Thus if we try and erect the Law of Moses again, we work against God! If Messianic Jews want to keep aspects of the Law of Moses (such as the Sabbath) in order to identify with their people, that is fine, but as Jews under the New Covenant they are not to think they are also under the Old Covenant Law, or that they are under a different set of laws to Gentile believers. They are not to use their Jewishness or the Law or as a Wall of Separation between them and Gentile believers.

*Passage 6. Galatians 3:23-4:7 describes the Law as a temporary Tutor over a minor to bring him to maturity (faith in the Messiah): 

Galatians 3:23-25: “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the LAW, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the LAW was our TUTOR to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a TUTOR.”

Believers in the Messiah are now no longer under this Tutor, and so we are no longer under the Law of Moses. It is no longer in effect. It may have taught us many good things, it no longer has any authority over us. While we were at School, we were under the Law of the School, but now that we have graduated, we are no longer under this Law. Although it was able to teach us many good things, it would be a backward step to go back under it, because that would be like an adult regressing back into childhood! 

Children need more detailed laws to govern their life to teach them wisdom, morality and discipline in living, until they are mature enough to be given more freedom, until they can be trusted with greater responsibility. In Christ, we are treated as adults with more freedom in the details of how we live than the Jews had under the Law, but it is a freedom with greater responsibility. 

*Passage 7. 2Corinthians 3:2-11 says that the Law and Glory of Moses has passed away, being replaced by the the new eternal Law and Glory of Christ. In making this claim it focuses on the 10 Commandments written on Stone: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not on TABLETS OF STONE, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (v2,3). “the ministry of death, WRITTEN and ENGRAVED ON STONES” (v7).

The New Covenant which brings life through the Spirit is contrasted with the Old Covenant of Moses which brings condemnation and death: “who also made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (v6). The Law was an administration of death and condemnation: “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones was glorious” (v7). “For if the ministry of condemnation had glory” (v9). 

The Law was glorious (it was of God), but its glory was temporary, and destined to pass away (as symbolised by the glory on Moses’ face): “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was GLORIOUS, so that the children of Israel could not 

look steadily at the face of Moses, because of the GLORY of his countenance, which glory was PASSING AWAY” (v7). 

By contrast, the glory of the ministry of the New Covenant is much greater: “how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious (the Old Covenant) had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels (the New)” (v8,9,10). 

“For if what is PASSING AWAY was glorious (the Old Covenant Law-System), what REMAINS (endures forever) is much more glorious” (v11). Whilst the Old Covenant (v11) with its glory (v7) is PASSING AWAY, the New Covenant with its glory REMAINS forever. It has both a greater and an eternal glory.

In v7,11, the word for ‘passed away’ is ‘katargeo’, which means: ‘rendered inoperative.’ The Law (including the 10 Commandments) which was glorious has now been RENDERED INOPERATIVE as a binding system of Law (but it still exists as an inspired revelation of God), to be replaced by something which is much more glorious (the Law of Christ), and which will never become inoperative.

*Thus the New Testament is clear that we are not under the Law-System of Moses, which includes the 10 Commandments. 
*The whole Old Covenant and Law-System of Moses (in its entirety) has been rendered inoperative by the death of Christ. 

*The Old Covenant in Moses has been superseded and replaced by the New and Better Covenant in Christ; with a new Law, the Law of Christ, replacing the old Law-System of Moses. 

*Therefore believers are not under the Old Covenant Law of Moses, 
but rather, they are under the New Covenant Law of Christ. 

*Believing Gentiles are doubly not under the Law of Moses, for: 
(1) Gentiles were never under it (it was a Covenant just for Israel) (2) in any case, it has been now been superseded by the New Law of Christ, so neither believing Jews nor Gentiles are under it any more. 

*However there is a sense in which, unbelieving Jews (in Messiah) are still under the Tutor (the Law), until they come to faith in Christ and graduate to the New Covenant. Until Christ is revealed to them, they must remain, by default, under the Law System that applied to Israel before Christ and His death on the Cross (Galatians 3:23-25).

*This means we are not under the 10 Commandment Law, which is intrinsic to the Law of Moses. We are now in Christ, and so we are under the Law of Christ (defined by the New Testament), which includes 9 of the 10 Commandments, but NOT the Sabbath Law.



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