We have established that the Law in some form has always existed. Even in the Creation Story, we see the Sabbath, marriage and a strong hint at the Holy Days. We various laws in action throughout Genesis, and Abraham is praised by God because he “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Ge 26:5), which is a pretty comprehensive list.
We do see 2 major changes occurring in the time of Moses: 1. Sacrifices are formalized (“added” per Gal 3), and 2. Formal administration of the Law is divided between the civil and religious authorities.
Things pretty much stay this way through the time of the Judges. People are expected to be self-governing, but they prove to be incapable of this. Finally, they want strong human leadership and ask for a king. Change in administration again.
The civil administration is pretty much shot as far as Israel governing itself, though, after their return from exile. They are under one or another empire until 70 AD.
However, except for disruptions caused by their own disobedience, the administration of the religious system really did not change from Moses to the time of Christ. That means the core moral Law was basically unchanged from the time of Adam until the time of Christ!
Why, then, would God suddenly do away with all of the Law after 4,000 years? Why would pork and seafood suddenly be good for you? Why would the Sabbath, in effect since Creation, suddenly be of no effect? Why would Laws in which He sent both the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah into captivity over suddenly be only words on paper? Does this even make sense? Or, is God inconsistent, wavering and untrustworthy, not to mention unjust?
The answer, of course, is He didn’t do away with the Law! Yet, you here people say, “The Law has been fulfilled,” or “The Law has been nailed to the cross”. Neither of these things are true!
When the Law Will Be Fulfilled
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
~ Mt 5:17
Yet, how many read this as the Law has now been “fulfilled” as in “made obsolete”. I really don’t understand the difference between “made obsolete” and “destroyed”, as the effect is the same. However, it is good that I don’t have to wrangle over that as, Jesus continued:
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.
~ v 18
So, when will the Law change? Is the earth still here? Is Heaven still up there? Has “all” been fulfilled including the Millennium and the New Jerusalem has come to earth? No!
Jesus did not do away with the Law.
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.
~ v 18
So, if you call the Sabbath the “least” commandment and say one does not have to keep it, do Jesus’ words apply? If the Law says to not eat pork or seafood, but you say that is “just a health law that no longer applies”, then do Jesus’ words apply?
Rather, Jesus gives us a very important principle here, and it is the opposite of what the majority seem to take. Quite simply, the Law stands unless and until we are told otherwise. That means all of it and all of them.
Of course, I cannot make you comply to the Law any more than you can make me comply to it. We cannot force an increasingly secular government to shoulder its share of the burden, but then again that is why secular governments will be overturned at Christ’s return.
What Was Nailed to the Cross
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
~ Col 2:14
Notice it is “the handwriting of ordinances”, not the Law. It was the charges against us! Christ died for our sins! He came to wipe away the debt! He came to pay the penalty for breaking the Law, not to do away with the Law itself!
He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.
~ Col 2:14 (NCV)
Do you remember that Pontius Pilate put a sign over Jesus while He was crucified? Do you know why? It was custom to write down the charges against the criminal was found guilty of and nail the charges to their cross. That is why the Pharisees were so upset!
Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
~ Jn 19:21
It wasn’t a crime to be the King of the Jews, but in their eyes it was a crime to say you are King of the Jews.
Yet, it is our offenses that were nailed to the cross in the Father’s eyes. Jesus’ blood covers them.
What Did Change?
Each of these could be an entire article. However, briefly, here is what has changed since Jesus’ death:
- Sacrifices and the Law that was “added” (Gal 3) are not required for Christians today.
- Circumcision is not required for Gentile converts. Converts to Judaism were expected to become circumcised (which is why some remained at proselyte level). Therefore, one of the very first controversies was over whether or not Gentiles had to become “Jewish” physically first in order to become a spiritual “Jew” (which only proves that Christianity started out as a sect of Judaism and was considered as such even into the 2nd century).
- There is no physical Temple, so the physical rituals that applied to the Temple are not required. So, phylacteries (which weren’t supposed to be literal to begin with), tassels, washings and the like are not required.
- The priesthood has reverted back to Melchizedek. This affects where tithes go.
- The moral Law that drives our daily lives, however, is supposed to have much deeper meaning, i.e. “fulfilled”, “expanded upon” or “magnified”. For example, lust in the heart is adultery. It is the thought and intent as well as the action that is important.
Any other change is likely to be a twisting of Scripture or something pretty obscure that is really a result of the above.
However, the reality is that Dispensationalism and how it deals with the Law is only part of the problem. One of the main distinctives is how it treats Israel and the promises God made to it.