In the Old Covenant the badge of covenant membership in the family of God was Circumcision, Temple-observance, and Torah-keeping, with this last involving Sabbath-keeping, kosher diet, and keeping the Feasts, (among hundreds of other things). These were the borders defining the “people of God.”
In the New Covenant the badge of Covenant membership is faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel. He became “faithful Israel” because fleshly Israel could not. And He also became the curse promised by the Torah to those who could not truly keep Torah. Jesus also embodied the badges of old covenant membership: He was the Temple, He fulfilled/will fulfill the Feasts, He is our Sabbath rest, and His law delivers the “heart circumcision” that Moses predicted would come in Deut. 30:6.
Israel could not keep Torah and indeed that is what was predicted right from the very beginning (Deut. 31:16), even though it was also declared (paradoxically) that these laws were not too difficult for Israel to keep and obey (Deut. 30:11). The hard reality is that the giving of the Mosaic Covenant was a covenant designed to fail, but to “fail” for a specific purpose.
The purpose of the Torah was to act as a trap to highlight and contain sin and death. The devil thought that he had defeated Jesus when He died on the cross, but Jesus showed His triumph over sin and death through the resurrection. Indeed, without Torah the seriousness and reality of sin would have gone unrecognized. That is why the end-point of a covenant based on Torah-keeping was always death, until God sent His Son to fulfill Torah for us.
Torah has served its purpose, which is why we can now become members of God’s covenant family through faith alone. Membership is no longer dependent upon Temple-observance (including sacrifices for sins), fleshly circumcision, or Torah-keeping. Does this mean there is no longer any Law? Of course not. There is still a law.
The early Church Father Tertullian wrote that the biggest deception of gnosticism was the separating of the Law from the Gospel. Every kingdom has a Law, including the Kingdom of God. That is why Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” That is why it says in Revelation 22:14 -KJV, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.”
The question is, what Law is being spoken of here in this New Covenant context? It is the Law that comes from the heart; the Law that flows from the teachings of Jesus as the King of His Father’s Kingdom. It is the Law of Christ. It is the Law written on our hearts bearing witness through our Holy Spirit-redeemed consciences!
You can read about some of the Laws of the Kingdom of God in Matthew 5-7 within the Sermon on the Mount. It is a law that reaches into our minds and hearts and beyond outward observances. It ministers to the heart-problems that emerged after the Fall of Adam and Eve: those of anger, lust, greed, pride, and fear. These were the problems that Jesus was sent to solve, rather than the political problems of Israel’s day, and of ours today, that outwardly “religious” people tend to get so worked-up about.
Today the biggest problem within “Christianity” is lawlessness. Indeed, this last great heresy is predicted in the New Testament, and I highlight it in my blog here: https://redmoonhawaii.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/the-great-heresy-of-the-last-days/
This unfortunate separation of Law from Gospel, which began with gnosticism, re-emerged in the teachings of Martin Luther during the Reformation. Luther taught that the teachings of Christ were largely irrelevant, and that essentially all that was needed to understand the Gospel was Paul’s letter to the Romans. See here: https://redmoonhawaii.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/martin-luthers-foundation-of-sand/
This separation gathered further pace with the introduction of dispensationalism, which argued that all of the teachings of Jesus were for “Israel” and were never intended for the “Church Age.”
Today in the USA we are reaping the consequences of this bad theology that has been sowed relentlessly over the past few hundred years. Yes, today the Church is a mess, and lawlessness has increased, with the love of most growing cold.
Dear God, what are we going to do!? The answer for many people, coming out of this dispensationalist-based evangelicalism, which looks fawningly upon all things related to fleshly Israel, the Jews, Zionism, and the modern-day state of Israel, is to return to the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
Paul taught that it would be God’s blessings upon a faithful Church that would cause Israel to be jealous and thus bring about Israel’s end-times redemption (Romans 11), but the fact is that within this twisted dispensationalist perspective it is lawless Christians who have become jealous of Israel! Yes, it is clear to me that dispensationalism has proven to be the stepping stone towards the Hebrew Roots Movement, in that it provides room for a lawlessness that HRM then attempts to remedy. But this false solution leads only to the very same dead end warned about repeatedly by the Apostle Paul!
The answer for our problems today, indeed the only answer that has ever worked, is to return to faith in Jesus. Not a dead faith that is based solely on acknowledging certain facts about Jesus, but a living faith that actually believes who Jesus is and lives by what He taught. His commandments are not optional, and keeping them is the evidence of the Spirit’s work on the inside of our hearts. A true and living faith is always accompanied by works that bring glory to our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus taught in Matt. 5:16.
Jesus claimed to be the Temple, but now we are the Temple when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and work together to establish His eternal Kingdom.
Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World, but He also tasked us with the responsibility of shining our own lights, which are given to us by Him.
Jesus claimed to be able to provide the living water that was described in the Old Covenant as the river of life that flows from the Temple, but He also said that we would have springs of living water flowing out of us, water that we can offer to those around us who are thirsting for truth and righteousness.
The New Covenant is amazing and beautiful, and to be a part of it is to accept a priceless gift. Let’s get to know what it truly means and lay down our lives for our King, putting it into action! Jesus came in a single body two thousand years ago to seek and to save that which was lost. That ministry is still going on today, and now He has more than just one body to use, He has all of us! Let’s go Church, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!