Month 11:04, Week 1:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5939:300 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 24 January 2015
Covenants of Yahweh
Preface to the Book
This book has long been in the planning but for many reasons has been postponed until now. The impetus for finally penning it came because of two important challenges.
Types of Law
First, the need to prepare a commentary on Paul's letter to the Galatians which cannot properly be understood without a clear understanding of the differences between the many forms of "law" mentioned in his writings, from the Torah itself to Jewish Oral 'Law' or Talmud to Roman decrees and Athenian legislation, all which are rendered by a single, undifferentiatable Greek word (unlike in Hebrew), and with that has come incalculable confusion in Christendom. That aside, there is a very real need to clearly distinguish between all these forms of law - and in particular Torah and with the word "Covenant". Christians, and not a few Messianics, tend to confuse 'Law' with 'Covenant'.
Second, to answer a well thought-out but fundamentally flawed book by the distinguished evangelical writer, Joseph Herrin, entitled Laying Down the Law which arrives at the traditional Protestant conclusion as to the place (or rather, absence) of the Torah in the New Covenant paradigm, leading one to wrongly suppose that Paul set up an entirely new religion to replace the former one instituted by Moses.
Torah as a Wall of Protection
The thesis of this new book, which the author believes to be the true exposition, is the place of Torah in the New Covenant as a wall of protection around the believer without being the 'main thing', which is a life in Messiah. For convenience, and to give a theological handle to those who might need one, we describe our position as 'messianic evangelical'. This makes us both messianic and evangelical...and neither.
Herrin begins his book with an interesting (and helpful) parable. A wealthy man conceives of building a fantastic city as a memorial to his great name, to be the centrepiece of his kingdom. It will be a utopian paradise. He amasses materials and selects a piece of barren land which will one day be occupied by this fabulous city, and orders a wall constructed around it. Generation after generation of caretakers are appointed to guard the wall and prevent anything from entering through it until the day for the city's erection arrives. In the process of time the Guardians forget what the purpose of the wall was - to keep the plot of land untouched until the time for the construction arrives - and as a result the wall becomes an end in itself. When the Great Builder arrives, generations later, and tells them what the wall was for - to preserve the piece of land throughout the generations so that this great city might now be built on virgin land unsullied by the hand of man - the Guardians reject the Great Builder, because the wall has now become an idol to them. In Herrin's parable, the wall was only ever intended to be temporary and would be knocked down when the Great City is built.
A Half True Theology
In other words, the Torah was that wall, the Guardians were the Levitical Priests, the Great Builder was Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and the City was the Kingdom of Heaven. As parables go, it is an excellent illustration of Reformation theology but it's not biblical. The problem with it is that it is half true and half false, the heart of its error being in the confusion over the difference between law and covenant.
The Messianic Evangelical Position
As you will see as you work through this book, Evangelical Christians and Messianics are both right and wrong, the biblical truth lying somewhere in the middle between their respective positions. Evangelicals (by and large) are perfectly correct in saying that the Old Covenant, Levitical Priesthood and animal sacrificial system are gone - forever - and that we live under an entirely New Covenant, not a 'Renewed Covenant' as many Messianics teach. But Messianics are (by and large) perfectly correct when they say that the Torah remains as our hedge of protection in both Covenants: yes, it has been modified to take into account Messiah's fulfilment of many of prophetic types (we don't, for example, offer animal sacrifices any more), but there is a wall, even if it isn't identical to the old one - a wall of holiness and a lifestyle defined by the Messiah.
The Eternal Walled City
Like it or not, Paradise remains a Walled Garden, the New Jerusalem is surrounded by thick walls and the Heavenly Temple (like its late earthly counterpart) is compartmentalised and walled. These are not unguarded or unfenced - they remain, in perpetuity, surrounded by the Torah - the Law and the Mitzvot (Commandments)...not the Old Covenant Torah but by the New Covenant Torah containing a great many of the former Torah mitzvot (commandments) but also containing some new ones so as to bring the original Torah to completion - in order to "fill" or "fulfill" the original intention of Torah. No one enters these places who are not submitted to Messiah and Torah-obedient.
The 9 Gates of the Old Jerusalem
The ancient earthly Jerusalem had nine gates - the New (Sha'ar Hadash), Damascus (Sha'ar Shechem), Flowers/Herod's (Sha'ar Perachim), Lions/St.Stephen's (Sha'ar haArayot), Eastern/Golden (Sha'ar haRahamim), Dung (formerly North Africans - Sha'ar Ashpot), Tanners (Sha'ar haBurskai), Zion (Sha'ar Tsiyon) and Jaffa Gates (Sha'ar Yafo) - one of which (the Eastern Gate) has been walled up since the 8th century to prevent unauthorised access to the Temple Mount. This wall, along with its nine gates, one of which is sealed, may certainly be viewed as a type of Old Covenant Torah in its perfection, the number 9 depicting divine completion or finality, at least as far as that temporary Old Covenant was concerned. The total destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem began on Aviv 9 and it was likewise on this very day that the second or Herod's Temple was burned to the ground in AD 70 by the Romans and Colonia Aelia Capitolina built on its ruins. Thus it should come as no surprise to learn that 9 is also the number of judgment. That one of nine gates has been permanently walled up is a prophetic picture of the impossibility of finding ultimate completeness in the Old Covenant and the necessity of a New and Final one. The original earthly Jerusalem was raised to the ground by the Romans to indicate that judgment and the complete and final end of the Old Covenant. The Old City of modern day Jerusalem is still built on the that Roman urban grid.
The 12 Gates of the New Jerusalem
Accordingly, the New Jerusalem has 12 gates altogether, one named for each of the original 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel, 12 being the number of governmental perfection or Yahweh's rule over His Creation. A far better parable than Herrin's would then be a plot of land with a man-made temporary city and a temporary temple with a temporary city wall with 9 gates (representing Old Covenant Torah) that is to be completely removed and replaced by a permanent Heaven-made city with a permanent temple and a permanent city wall with 12 gates (representing New Covenant Torah). Though the Old Covenant was nowhere near the fullness, neither was it a barren plot of ground surrounded by a wall either as Herrin's parable would have us believe. There was a city - a kingdom - there but it was not permanent, maintained by temporary daily, weekly, monthly and annual animal sacrifices that had no efficacy beyond the time span allocated to them or after this life but which pointed to the Final Sacrifice of the Son of Man and to a "better covenant" (Heb.7:22), not a resuscitated Old Covenant. They were made right with Yahweh by their emunah (faith), rewarded for their obedience to the mitzvot (commandments), enjoyed the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in sufficient measure, and had the same everlasting hope as Job who testified:
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see Elohim (God), whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27, NKJV).
With this bare outline in mind, let us now pursue this subject in earnest with an in-depth scriptural study of the Covenants of Yahweh...
THIS IS A DRAFT COPY AND MAY BE REVISED AND UPDATED
First draft, 24 January 2014