Now for the third mistake I'll be addressing made by modern ministers. This is one that is so major that I will deal with it by itself before continuing to a few of the implications of this problem in the third and final post on this subject.
The third mistake I'm addressing is a failure to see the Old Covenant, including the moral law written on the tablets of stone, as being fulfilled in the New Covenant and not now binding on the people of the New Covenant as a standard for behavior as Kingdom people.
This is major, as we will see, primarily because of the ramifications of it all. Some ramifications [for example, the tithe and the Sabbath] will be addressed in my final post on this subject next time. But the problem itself is my point at present.
In order to not make this mistake, it would be necessary that one understand how the Old Covenant [Testament] was basically between God and Israel. It is also important to see how the law, called the "Law of Moses" because it was delivered through him to the nation of Israel, codified their behavior as the people of the Covenant following their redemption out of Egypt. [The Exodus]
At that time and place in history, they were brought out of bondage and into a Covenant with Jehovah as His special people and were to live under certain stated standards presented in the law of Moses. There were, in fact, several purposes for that law, but we are at present interested only in dealing with it's binding effect as a lifestyle upon the Covenant people called Israel .
This law, by the way, was a unified standard that was not ever thought of as being divided into three parts, Moral/ Civil/ Ceremonial, by the Jewish people. So many bible students would later attempt to make that division with the purpose of retaining the moral law as an eternal standard even for people of the New Covenant. [Testament] This would include many in our present day, including dispensationalists, who so frequently are found making that mistake.
But the Old Covenant with Israel and the Mosaic law were all only preparatory for something that was yet to come. That covenant was certainly an important step in what could be called "Redemptive history," or the "story of redemption," but God was using it as only temporary "until the time of reformation." [Heb 9:10] That was when God would speak in a final way to a new brand new people in a brand new New Covenant with a standard of behavior to be written on their hearts and not on stone. [2 Corinthians 3:3]
Jon Zens, a friend of mine and as good a scholar on this issue as can be found today, points this out so well when he said... "Thus, all of procedures and special activities in the Old Covenant were types and pictures of the One who would come and deliver a new people from bondage and create a new nation holy to Himself with a new standard of behavior." [See Heb. 3:5/8:5/9:8-9]
All of this is not to say that the Law of Moses was/is not significant for the Christian in the New Covenant in some fashion. But it is to say that it was preparatory and not binding as a lifestyle on those of us who are in the New Covenant .
Again, Zens states it this way..."This is simply to say, then, that the 'law' [for the New Testament believer] must now be identified with the current covenant in force for the former covenant is no longer operative. Moses was the head of his house: Israel. Christ is now the Head of His house: the church. So we must come to grips with the fact that the house of Moses is finished, and the house of Christ is being built until the end of this age (Heb.3:1-6; Matt.16:18; 28:20). These lines of thought come together rather clearly in Matthew 5:17-7:29." That statement of Jon Zens deserves a second reading I would think.
Jon goes on to say..."So Jesus stands in history as the long-awaited Messiah. The government is to be upon His shoulders, which is to say He is the law-giver. He here [In what He says in the gospels & the epistles] expounds "law" in the New Covenant." But - and this is crucial - While His explication of "law" in His Kingdom incorporates elements of the Mosaic code into the New Covenant, it is as He intensifies the Mosaic elements that they become new. ("whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart," 5:28)."
Jon's conclusion is that there are certainly similarities between the Mediator of the New Covenant giving His law, and the Old Covenant mediator, Moses, receiving the Ten Words at Sinai, but it is the authority with which the new Lawgiver says what is the standard for the behavior of the New Covenant believer's lifestyle that is to be recognized. We are not under law [Moses] but under grace. [Christ]
[I personally believe there is a major shift from "doing" which is the basis of the Old to "being" which is the basis of the New. This will be seen more clearly as we look at the Sabbath for example next time.]
The proclaimers of the New Testament message were certainly mindful of how their message flowed from the types, offerings, and sacrifices of the Old Testament, but were also extremely conscious of how their message was new and found its authority in Christ alone and was, thus, fundamentally different than that of Moses.
This contrast can be clearly seen in the familiar expression used by our Lord in the sermon on the mount when He repeatedly said... "But I say to you." This is why the writer of Hebrews was willing to say things like this in his letter to Hebrew Christians to show them how the old has given way to the new.
"If that first covenant had been faultless, then no place have been sought for the second" (Heb.8:7).
"In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old; now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away" (Heb.8:13).
"He takes away the first, that he may establish the second" (Heb.10:9).
"That which is done away....that which is abolished" (2Cor.3:11-13).
It is in this failure of seeing the uniqueness of the Law of Moses for Israel alone and the reality of Old Covenant's
abolishment/fulfillment in the New Covenant that modern ministers so woefully get it wrong. And why is this important? Next time I'll give my two cents on that.