INTRO TO TORAH PART TWO
DID JESUS DO AWAY WITH THE LAW?
Perhaps one of the oldest and most contentious questions in the Christian era is the role of the Torah in the time of the New Testament. Are the commandments done away with? Are people of non-Jewish descent obligated to any of the Mitzvahs? How do we apply these things today?
It is probably fair to assume that most people reading this website have already formed some level of opinion on this topic. For those who are not, we will briefly examine a few points regarding this debate to show why it has often been misunderstood. However, for a more in depth exploration of this question, I invite you to read "The Heart of the Kingdom: God, Israel, and the Church" by Thomas n. Deplume which you can get by clicking here. It gives a much more detailed and thorough response to these issues.
Having said that, let's take a look at the matter from a biblical perspective:
All of creations exists and is sustained by the decrees and commandments of God. Light for example exists (and continues to exist) because god said "Let there be light". Life perpetuates because God said "Be fruitful and multiply". Miracles occur because the power and the will of the Lord causes them to be. He created all things and all rules of the natural world, and only he has the authority to alter or suspend them.
When it comes to matters of the Law found in the Torah, certain commandments were revealed progressively over time. Some commands were given in the beginning of creation, others to Noah upon leaving the Ark, still others to Abraham in his covenantial promises with God. A great deal of the coomandments were given to Israel at mount Sinai under what's known as the Mosaic Covenant. And then there is the new covenant found in the blood of Jesus at the last supper. Does this most recent covenant do away with the law that proceeded before it from earlier covenants, divine actions, and decrees?
The answer as we shall see is "No", it does not do away with earlier covenants but works together with them. Consider what Jesus said:
[Mat 5:17-20 KJV] 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
We can see that Jesus plainly said he did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil. Does fulfilling mean destroy? No, or the statement of Jesus would be contradicting itself. Have all things concerning the law and prophets been fulfilled? Remember, the law and prophets also speak of things regarding the second coming of Jesus, and the end of the world. Since this is still a future event, the law must necessarily still be in affect.
How then did the teachings of Jesus work with the law? Consider what he says in the next verses:
[Mat 5:21-22 KJV] 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
[Mat 5:27-28 KJV] 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Notice something here about the teachings of Jesus in contrast with the commandments of the law. The Law dealt with controlling external behavior, but the teachings of Jesus dealt with the actions on the inside, in one's own heart. This is how Jesus fulfilled the law, not with mere external actions, but by having a pure heart and pure motive on the inside.
The New Covenant promises to write God's law on our heart. It does not do away the old law, it works with it, fulfills it and performs it from the right spirit. This is the difference.
What Jesus did on the cross saves us who believe on him from the penalty of having broken God's law, not from the obligation of keeping it. But he didn't pay the penalty so that we could continue sinning without consequence. Jesus died to free us from our sins, not so that we could have them.
But how does this apply to those of non-jewish descent? After all, their ancestors were never part of Israel and therefore not part of the covenant at mount Sinai. Do they still have to keep the commands of God given there? for the answer to that question we have to look at the next section called "Identity"