"He Taketh Away The First"
The words that serve as a heading for this article are part of a quotation from the tenth chapter of Hebrews. The writer has just emphasized the inability of the law of Moses to provide for the remission of sins. It was not designed for that purpose; but rather to make man aware of the abundance of his sins (Rom. 5:20), to cause man to see the "exceeding" sinfulness of sin (Rom. 7:7-13), and to lead man to the Lord for salvation from sin (Gal. 3:19-25). Man was not satisfied in his own conscience about his sins while under thelaw (Heb, 9:9; 10:1-2), nor were the sacrifices of the law satisfactory to the Lord for the remission of sins (Heb. 10:4-6).
Read now the passage from whence our text is taken. "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, 0 God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:7-10.
The very fact that a body was prepared for Christ (vs. 5) that he might sacrifice it for the sins of men (vs. 10) is evidence that God was not pleased with the sacrifice of bulls and goats in the atonement for sins. First (the K.J.V. says "Above when") He made this lack of pleasure known to men. Then Jesus came "to do thy will, 0 God." Jesus took away the first will, or covenant, in order that the second might be established. It is by that second will that "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
The sacrifice that Jesus made in offering His body as a sacrifice for our sins also took away the old system of sacrifices, or the covenant God first made with the Jews. Notice this thought expressed by Paul when he said of Jesus that He blotted "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; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col. 2:14-17. In Heb. 8:3-5 the writer speaks of animal sacrifices as a part of the "shadow of heavenly things" and Heb. 9:7-14 also shows their temporary nature along with the purpose of getting men ready for the real sacrifice of Christ.
This passage from whence our text is taken is just one of many which demonstrate that God did away with the old law and gave a new law. Notice the following phrases from just one chapter-Hebrews eight: "the mediator of a better covenant;" "that first covenant;" "sought for the second;" "make a new covenant;" "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers;" "the covenant that I will make;" "A new covenant;" "hath made the first old;" "that which decayeth and waxeth old;" and "ready to vanish away." All of these expressions show plainly that reference is being made to two different systems or covenants.
Hebrews 9:15-17 says, "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." The writer then continues by showing how the first testament, covenant, or law given by Moses, was dedicated with animal blood and how the last was dedicated by the blood of Christ.
In Romans 7:1-7 Paul again stresses the change of laws. Note especially these words: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ. . ." And again: "but now we are delivered from the law . . ." There is no reason to try to divide the law into moral and ceremonial law in an effort to cling to the observance of the sabbath day, for verse seven in this passage indicates that the law Paul is discussing contained one of the ten Commandments. See again also Col. 2:14-17.
In II Corinthians three Paul talks of the tables of stone in which was written the "ministration of death," and contrasts the glory of that "ministration" and the events connected with its presentation to the people with the glory of the "ministration of the spirit." In verse eleven he says, "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." The law in tables of stone was done away.
All students of the Old Testament are aware of the fact that the law given through Moses was given only to the Jews, and that it affected the Gentiles only when they were "strangers within" the gates of Israel, or when they became proselytes to the Jewish religion. Paul emphasized this fact in Romans 2:11-3:12. The Gentiles did not have the law (vs. 14) and therefore even those who lived prior to Christ will not be judged by it. But neither Jew nor Gentile of the present dispensation will be judged by the law of Moses, but all men will be judged by Christ according to the gospel (vs. 16).
One of the things accomplished by our Lord in His death was the breaking down of the "middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14). In breaking down this wall Paul says Christ "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances . . ." Most of the people who read these words would never have been under the old law, or covenant, but even those who would have been can be assured that "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second."
The new will went into effect after Christ's death (Heb. 9:16-17) and will remain in force to the end of time. We repeat, it is by this new, or second will that "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 7:10. There is no reason for any man to go to the old will, or testament, to try to find the way of salvation, nor to justify his religious practices. "There is one lawgiver . . ." (Jas. 4:12), and we have his law in the New Testament as it was delivered once for all (Jude 3).
Truth Magazine I:12, pp. 4-5, 24