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This question is long but that's because I thoroughly researched it and want to present scriptural evidence that I would like addressed in the answers.

In the original Covenant that God made with the Israelites, He made one thing clear: the Law is given to the Israelite nation as an everlasting covenant. It is for ever.

You can see examples here: Exodus 31:16; Exodus 12:14; Exodus 12:17; Exodus 12:24; Exodus 31:17; Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:21; Leviticus 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Psalm 119:159-160; Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 11:1; Leviticus 10:15; Deuteronomy 28:15-46; Exodus 27:21; Exodus 28:43; Exodus 29:28; Exodus 30:21; Exodus 31:16; Leviticus 24:8 and so on

For example, Israelites are commanded for ALL GENERATIONS to not eat bread on Passover, to fast on Yom Kippur, and not to work on the Sabbath day.

Deuteronomy 11 goes into detail about blessings and curses that would come about as a result of keeping or not keeping the law.

Now, most of the Jews in the years after 35 AD didn't personally see Jesus resurrect or anything like that. They relied merely on the word of 12 guys, many of whom didn't write any gospels (at least none that have made it down to us).

The first time, God appeared to everyone. He even says this:

"The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you."

In short - if you're Jewish and someone is telling you "hey guys, we can go eat pork now because the Law has been 'fulfilled' by Jesus, and we saw him resurrect so don't worry guys", you shouldn't listen to them. Why? Because God appeared to everyone and said to follow His commands. And those commands include not eating pork.

No wonder Paul and other people had trouble convincing the Jews. It was a big risk for them to listen to these guys.

So my question is - if God really wanted Jews to stop following the Law, why didn't He just communicate it clearly to everyone as He did the first time? Why use some fishermen and a former Pharisee?

In addition, please address the following facts from the New Testament:

  1. Jesus himself says to follow the law. For example Matthew 5:

    "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

    Here is what we know logically: Heaven and earth didn't disappear. So this leaves only one possibility, that the word 'fulfill' somehow absolves Jewish Christians who are under grace from keeping the law, with Jesus as a stand-in for everybody. How can we be SURE that this is indeed the meaning, when Jesus could just as easily have meant that he personally will fulfill them as an example to others to fulfill them? A more natural interpretation, by the way.

  2. We also have Jesus teaching in Matthew 5:19

    "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."

    Notice that even if you enter the Kingdom of Heaven you can still be called least by breaking commandments and teaching others to do the same.

  3. Jesus' actual answer to the question "What must I do to be saved" is "Follow the Law." The story with the young ruler is found in all three synoptic gospels. Here is Luke:

    And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Combining this with the first two points above, it would seem that Jesus was advocating following ALL the commandments, not just the 10 commandments. In any case, how are we sure that Jews don't have to do what Jesus told the young ruler?

  4. Most of our our support for antinomianism comes from Paul. But Paul never saw Jesus' ministry on earth during his lifetime, and what changed his life was a PERSONAL experience on the road to Damascus not shared by anyone else. Mohammad also claims to have a personal experience but you don't believe Islam. Also, immediately afterwards [Gal. 1:15-16] Paul says he did not consult the disciples of Jesus (who may have told him to follow the law) but went to Arabia and preached his gospel among the gentiles from his own visions. Three years later, he says, he decided to visit the "Pillars of the Church" and makes explicit in Galatians 1:18-24 that he saw no one except Cephas (Peter) and James, when he was in Jerusalem, and implies he did not explain his gospel to them until 14 years later [Gal 2:1-2] in a subsequent trip to Jerusalem. He says of that trip:

    I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.

    In his own words, he winds up arguing with Peter (Cephas) and telling him that he is wrong to follow the Law. Even though he came to see if what he preaches to the gentiles is correct.

  5. In Acts 15 and 21, we have a different picture. The Church Fathers tell Paul that there are rumors he is teaching Jews not to follow the Law. They command him to show "there is no truth in these reports about you", and he does. They then send an OFFICIAL LETTER TO ALL GENTILE BELIEVERS:

    The apostles and elders, your brothers,

    To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

    Greetings.

    We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

    Some Christians today don't even follow the requirements set forth above, and this was as official as it gets by the most authoritative Church leaders ever. So what gives?

So can you please address 1 - 5 and the details above in your answers?

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closed as too broad by Flimzy, wax eagle May 8 at 17:12

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
How should I edit the question to be less broad? What makes it so broad? The 5 points are supposed to narrow and clarify the issue, so that answers are substantive. –  Gregory Magarshak May 10 at 18:24
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3 Answers 3

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Jews should indeed follow the law, but the problem that arises from this is the how. How to follow the law is the real question. You see God has decided to fulfill the Law for us, as in the time of 2 Chronicles 20. So it is not that the law of sin and death has been broken. It is that the law of man fulfilling the death penalty is broken. For God is the same yesterday and today, and his laws are perfect. For the Sins that he requires a death penalty to, they will indeed receive that penalty if repentance and forgiveness do not occur. So as you pointed out in your Question 1 Jesus came to fulfill the law. He becomes the opposite equal reaction. So when we choose for him to be the opposite equal reaction we are set free from "responding to the law" yet not free from the "result of the law".

Question 2 Nor do I suggest you teach other to not follow the law for he has said:

Matthew 5:19 NKJV

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It is like at a dinner table when visiting a family that has specific rules about how to eat. You do not want to embarrass your friend nor yourself suffer embarrassment. So when your friend simplifies your eating experience to a small set of actions, and trains you to only eat of certain portions, and how to eat in that form. He gives you the easier way to get through the experience so that the parents do not think less of you. Yet if you choose to ignore your friend and eat in a way that was not taught to you, and start to eat foods that you where not instructed on. Your chance to make a mistake increases. And shame is the result. So for example if your friend gave you the instructions to get through the meal and you decided to bring a friend, and your friend makes a mistake. Is it the fault of the son the the friend makes the mistake, and even if it really isn't does he not indeed receive a punishment for not explaining it all to all of his friends?

Yet the heart for many are against the truth, for the topics of truth, say "1949 hockey" or "ways to curl hair" are ranging many in topics and Gods delight and banquet of truth is intensely large and growing in fruits. So therefore since the heart is against the truth, the mind wanders and undivided attention does not occur. So the people do not hear or see, or understand (those truths) that are being told.

Yet the one with undivided attention will hear the deposits of truth and will be able to remain in the conversation and the peace, love, and joy can occur.

So Prophecy against the sinner Son of Man, and have faith that God will fix the threatening behavior. And the opposite equal reaction is also needed to fulfill the law, which is to bless those that curse you. This is your answer to Question 3.

So should you keep your festivals? Yes. But they are unworthy if not done in the spirit of Joy. For the amazing things God has done for you really should be appreciated as I appreciate that amazing things God does for me.

References: Parable of Sower, Parable of Talents, and much of the new testament.

Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good(attention undivided), your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Learn how light is so important in the book of 1 John.

Now concerning situations that make you unclean I am pulled between two understandings. There are those things that make you physically unclean(changing your smell) and those things that are spiritually unclean, and of specifics laws and to which category I do not know for sure. Yet as I speak I try to reason. For with faith and forgiveness the spirit becomes solidified, and the fall to depression should not occur. But since many are weak in faith, and depression does occur. Logically somewhere in positioning of the law and displayed attitude, and the cleanliness of the body, God finds perfection. Even Paul does remind:

2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV

Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

Now for Question 4 It was confirmed in Jerusalem that Paul was teaching correctly, and to understand how it was correct is to understand the law, and its purpose. For Circumcision is the outward sign of the removal of the flesh, yet once the removal of the flesh happens to the heart, the sign leading the way to the removal of the flesh is no longer needed. Even in your question 5 you see that sexual immorality was to be avoided. That continues with the main purpose of the circumcision. To cut off that which is extra.

It is like a child learning to ride a bike, the law at that time is for the training wheels to be on the bike, but as we know this is to teach us that the training wheels should be there to teach the child to ride without the training wheels. Yet when a child learns to ride the bike the training wheels are no longer necessary, and an updated law supersedes it.

Question 5 needs to remember that the writing was directed to Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia for "their" correction.

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I am accepting this answer because it is the only one that explicitly attempted to address the 5 points in my question, which was asked. And since the question is put on hold, better answers aren't like to come. –  Gregory Magarshak May 10 at 18:23
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There are many ways to clear up the list of misinterpreted scriptures you imbedded into your long question but I will specifically draw a few arguments from the Epistle to the Hebrews. The reason why I will focus on the argument presented to the Hebrews is that it argues the end of the Law to a specifically Jewish audience.

First the author establishes that Jesus is greater then angels and if greater then angels must be greater then the man who Jews most proudly adhered to, Moses.

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. (Hebrews 3:3, NIV)

It is important to establish that Jesus is greater then Moses because just as Moses was used by God to establish a covenant and associated laws governing church practice, Jesus established a new covenant and laws governing a new church practice.

Second the author shows that the law under Moses was not meant to go unchanged forever but was to be renovated under a new Priesthood. The ceremonial height of the Law under Moses was invested in the Priesthood and any change in the Priesthood would therefore mean a change to the entire Mosaic law governed under that Priesthood.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. (Hebrews 7:11-12, NIV)

This answers your questions about the never ending nature of the Law. The 'everlasting' concept is not to be taken absolutely as though there were never to be an end. It just meant that it shall be in force as long as God does not establish anything new, no matter what any man might propose to change. The Law itself predicts a new covenant for Israel and this was naturally associated with the coming Messiah who would bring in the new law under a new covenant 'ratified by blood':

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33, NIV)

Now that the author established that the law was NOT meant to go unchanged but would be made obsolete by a new Priesthood who would be a mediator greater then Moses and even the angels, he provides many warnings not to harden ones heart to this change , otherwise face hellfire. (This is a warning very applicable toward your sentiments are any who are influenced by them).

Upon establishing a greater new covenant and laws of worship under a new Priesthood, the author starts to manifest the weakness and inherent uselessness of the Law under Moses an Aaronic Priesthood because it was only a shadow of the good things that were not come not the actual thing itself. In other words it had no real ability to atone for sin, which alone can be obtained in the death of Christ (the real object) foreshadowed by animal sacrifices according to the Law of Moses.

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (Hebrews 7:18, NIV)

and

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13, NIV)

The weakness of the Law was proven by its own annual requirement to repeatedly sacrifice on the day of atonement. If it was not weak it would not have to be repeated but its weakness is proven in the repetition. On the other hand since Christ's atonement is far far superior to the Aaronic system, it only needed to be done once. (That Catholics introduced the mass to sort of pretend a new sacrifice not ordained in scripture, bring much condemnation on their religion for they also daily proclaim its weakness even below that Aaronic priesthood):

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. (Hebrews 10:1-2, NIV)

I could go on and on following the arguments of scripture but I think any objective party would already see in these few quotations that the Law was never meant to stay weak and useless but predicted a renovation under Messiah-King that would abolish the old order. To deny this basic fact is to deny the New Testament and to bring a curse upon oneself. I feel the fearful and repeated warnings from the writer of Hebrews is still applicable to any Hebrew today who would ever consider resurrecting a weak prefiguration of Christ. This would be a rejection of God's new covenant with both Jew and Gentile whereby the dividing wall of hostility was torn down symbolized by the temple curtain being torn in his holy death on the cross as an atonement for our sin.

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I understand what you're saying, but we have to consider the sources which you cite for support. As with any law that carries penalties, you have to be very careful that you are indeed not under it anymore before transgressing it. Especially when God Himself said over and over that the law is forever. You say it's not to be taken absolutely. How are you sure? Paul never met Jesus in real life and taught his own gospel from his own "revelations" for 14 years. That's what you quote from. Hebrews 17 says: For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." - By whom? And? –  Gregory Magarshak May 8 at 15:26
    
Could you edit your answer to address the following: Jeremiah 31 which you quote goes on to say, in context: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate... and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever." This physical city hasn't happened yet. How are we SURE that the new covenant already happened? My concern is that the ceremonial/moral/civil distinction is wrong. –  Gregory Magarshak May 8 at 15:28
    
Also can you please refrain from invoking fear too much, I feel it derails the logical discussion and basically says "stop discussing, because to even consider this will bring curses". Well the original covenant also put the fear of God into the Israelites. What about that? Let's just address relevant facts please. –  Gregory Magarshak May 8 at 15:36
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My own personal theory to explain all the above is as follows:

God indeed made an eternal covenant with the Israelites. That is why they are still around. And the Law of Moses is forever.

It seems to me that Paul was teaching Gentiles they only have to do the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah . In fact the letter from the Church to Gentile Believers is very similar to those laws.

Jews have to follow the law even if they convert to Christianity. The "ceremonial law" is not suddenly optional. I cannot find support for the distinction of ceremonial / moral law, much less support that trumps all the evidence above.

Peter and James remained observing Jews for the rest of their life. Peter's dream about pork was not in real life. If the original Church in Jerusalem followed the Law after Jesus' resurrection, why shouldn't Jews do it today?

In short, I think it's highly dubious for Christians to claim that Jews can now violate the Sabbath and other laws. That's my personal understanding based on the evidence above. But I know this is not the mainstream understanding, so please let me know how the mainstream addresses the evidence above.

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Jesus the Messiah taught only Jews. He taught a clearer form of Judaism that allowed poor people and those cut off from mainstream Judaism to remain Jewish. He taught Jews that the beliefs of the Sadducees and Pharisees were not altogether correct and that they could remain Jews without all the man-made rules. His followers (the Apostles etc), were converts to His form of Judaism. Paul realized the value of this for gentiles and between him and the other apostles they further adapted the laws to make being Jewish a viable livable proposition. How are you then excluding 'pure' Christians? –  gideon marx May 8 at 9:23
    
Yep. You mean "gentile Christians?" The stakes are high for Jews not to follow the Law of Moses and for Gentiles not to follow Noahide Laws. Paul never met Jesus in real life and he himself at times wondered whether his personal revelations were interpreted correctly and whether he was "running his race in vain." He went to Antioch 14 years later to reveal "his" gospel and wound up disputing it with the Church set up by Jesus. So are you sure that the moral/ceremonial/civil distinction trumps what God Himself said was everlasting laws? e.g. not sleeping with a menstruating woman. –  Gregory Magarshak May 8 at 15:34
    
'Pure' or 'gentile', call Christians what you like, NOBODY is excluded from the Law. We are pardoned our transgressions on the understanding that we are aware of them and regret them and that given a choice we would keep the Law. Make no mistake, to be part of God means to be part of the Law and it is for ever. –  gideon marx May 9 at 8:39
    
@gideonmarx why would gentiles need to follow the OT Law? I presume you're talking about the one given through Moses to all the Israelites as part of a special Covenant with Israel? It wasn't a covenant with other nations. For example, why do gentiles have to circumsize themselves? Even Paul yelled at Peter, saying "How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" In short ... I think Gentiles were always just supposed to follow the Noahide laws. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah#Acts_15 –  Gregory Magarshak May 9 at 16:50
    
Before I can answer your question, you must decide once and for all whether Paul was the Messiah or Jesus. –  gideon marx May 10 at 8:25
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