SS Lesson: The Apostles and the Law

Greetings my Brethren:

I was just amused by the Sabbath School lesson for this week. Check it out here: http://ssnet.org/lessons/14b/less11.html

Monday’s Lesson, made this profound statement: “When the first group of believers gathered on the day of Pentecost, Peter was the chief spokesperson. Certainly, if the law had been changed in any way, Peter would have known. What does Acts 10:9-14 tell us about Peter’s adherence to the Jewish law after Jesus’ ascension? If Peter thought this way about laws concerning food, what can we imagine his view was on the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments?”

It was rather eye-opening to me to realize that the “Jewish law” mentioned in the lesson, AKA “The Ceremonial Law,” is what we today get our baptismal vow from in the abstaining from unclean meats. Here we see Peter this time, not evangelizing anyone, but just had a roof-top prayer festival before meal, and knew that unclean food prohibition, which is not in the Ten Commandments, was still binding on him, and not nailed to the cross, as most Protestants today teach! This he was convicted of many years after the cross!

The lesson is rather beautiful if we can see beyond the Vail of the author’s limitations. For example, in Thursday’s lesson, Jude is discussed, and the fact that he denounced homosexuality in such strong terms, calling Sodom by name, is compelling evidence that he did not consider the so-called “Ceremonial Law” to have been nailed to the cross, else he would not have appealed to its violation against the fires of the last days! These tenets (Peter’s nonconformance to eating unclean foods, and Jude’s insistence that homosexuality is sin) stand as silent witnesses in Scripture that the Ten Commandments are not the only obligations Christians have today before a Holy God.

And the lesson actually made this point quite eloquently, without noticing it. Check this out, Monday’s Lesson again: “There is nothing in the biblical record to suggest that the content of the Christian message included instructions to reject the law. In a powerful way, the incident in Acts 10 demonstrates that the earliest Christians fully identified with their Jewish roots. Compare 1 Peter 2:9 with Exodus 19:6. What is the context of Exodus 19:6?”

I find it curious that while early Christianity did not “reject the law,” even the so-called “Jewish law,” that today it is completely rejected by the descendants of the Christian Fathers. One question looms in my mind, pondering, “When did the Christian Church revoke the so-called Jewish Law”? At least as Adventists, we hold to the prohibition from unclean meats, tithing, anti-homosexuality (anti sexual immorality) etc., all of which are not explicitly outlined in the perfect ten. These should make for an engaging Sabbath School discussion tomorrow.

Still on Monday’s Lesson, the author pointed to Exodus 19 as a precursor to chapter 20, the chapter which first records the ten commandments, and somehow seeks to gain the readers conviction that “the Holy nation, royal priesthood” concept was limited to their being obedient to the ten commandments, but this is false. The reader needs to continue reading…chapters 21-23, to see that this was one unbreakable chain of commandments given by a loving God to His children. Among other things, we can see the following principles which would, for the time then present, set Israel apart from the nations of the world:

  1. Laws for servants, Ex. 21: 1-11
  2. Laws on Personal Injury, Ex. 21: 12-32
  3. Laws of restitution, Ex. 21: 33-36
  4. Laws on Property matters, Ex. 22: 1-15
  5. Laws on Social responsibility, Ex. 22: 16-31
  6. Laws on Justice and Mercy, Ex. 23: 1-9
  7. Laws governing the Sabbaths: Ex. 23: 10-12
  8. Laws governing the annual festivals (feasts), Ex. 23: 14-16
  • The bond of holiness—the angel of YHWH—Ex. 23: 20-33

It took their obedience to all of these to make Israel be in compliance with the will of YHWH: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Ex. 19: 6. One might well ask, could Israel have broken any of the eight codes of law itemized above and still be considered “an holy nation” by YHWH? The answer is an absolute NO! The trouble with many Christians today is to accept the grace of Christ devoid of the completeness of His law. For the Sunday keepers, they accept God’s grace and nine of the Ten Commandments, because of their hatred for the 4th commandment which has Sabbath obligations. On the other hand, Seventh-day Adventists embrace only the Ten Commandments and dispense with the so-called “Jewish” or “Ceremonial” laws, declaring them to have been nailed to the cross with Christ, because of their hatred for God’s holy festivals (the feast days).

Both groups have compounded their challenge in the wake of the social upheaval of homosexuality, they have un-nailed the Jewish laws from the cross where they have theologically hung them since Calvary, and are appealing to these so-called dead laws to restore social order and decency, but it’s like beating a dead horse. The Gays have learnt all too well, that the “ceremonial law” which once condemned their proclivities are now nailed to the cross, and there is now condemnation to their conscience for disregarding a dead law. Who is to be blamed for their reprobate philosophy? Church leaders, of course–theologians who hate the completeness of the Torah.

How unjust for a Holy YHWH to be so restrictive to the Hebrew people by giving them rigorous laws which he knew they could not keep, in the first place, and then turns around and condemns them for disobedience, then he comes to the Christians and say, “well, you have no obligations to keeping those laws which are against you, just do as you please and love me without any regard for “the deeds” (works) of the law, and you shall be saved. But those Israelites…they will earn heaven by the skin of their teeth!” Does this not sound like the spirit of Pharaoh? Do you know who was controlling Pharaoh’s mind to destroy the Hebrew people and cause them to serve with rigor? Yes, the enemy of salvation. Now if you know these things, happy are ye if you “fear YHWH and do His commandments, for this is the whole duty of mankind.” See. Eccl. 12: 13.

Finally, I looked for the commandment which said “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and alas it is not in the “Ten,” though it is appealed to throughout Scripture in a number of instances. Check this out: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” Lev. 19: 18. Search all of Exodus 20, the signature chapter on the Ten Commandments to see if you can find these words. The truth is simply this, they’re not there, and only in the “Jewish laws” (ceremonial law) can they be found. Now, I am not asking what can be inferentially drawn from the Ten Commandments, rather, I want to know what is explicitly written there.  It is true that the ten commandments can be summarized as love to God (first four) and love to man (last six), but Jesus did not as much as quote from the ten to make this point, rather he quoted from the so-called ceremonial law, and said this is the “great” commandment!

It was to this “Jewish Law” that Christ appealed when He was called upon to define the “greatest commandment” (Read Deut. 6: 5):

35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22: 35-40

So, we are now learning that the two “great commandments in the law” are not taken directly from the Ten Commandments, but from the so-called Ceremonial, or Jewish Law! That should make for an interesting and engaging discussion, especially amongst Seventh-day Adventists.

Have a blessed Shabbat when it comes.

Shalom in Messiah,

Garrick

PS: Please join my Bible Study on Sabbaths:

Time: 5:30 pm EST

Call: 1-805-399-1000; PIN; 121929#

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