Hear Ye Him
Wallace H. Little
San Francisco, California
Throughout the religious world we are told to hear a number of "Hims" each representing a different religious concept. If we listened to the voices of all we would soon grow dizzy with claims, counter-claims, charges and countercharges. In I Thess. 5:21, Paul the apostle said, "prove all things; hold fast that which is good," and in Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." We have in this latter a God-commended example of how this proving is to be done. Religious people today who are loosely considered to be "Christians" are continually trying to serve two (or more) masters simultaneously. Some try to follow Christ and Martin Luther. Others try to follow Jesus and the Pope (whichever one is in office at the time). And so it goes. Luke 16:13 tells us that no man can serve two masters. The contrast presented by Jesus, and recorded by Luke, concerns trying to serve the Old and New law simultaneously. Jesus pointed out that new wine was not put into old wine bottles (wineskins) and that an old garment was not patched with a piece of new cloth. The teaching clearly informs us that the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25) was not to be appended to the Old Testament, but rather was something separate and apart from it; a replacement for, and not an addition to the law given to Moses at Sinai.
Certain things were characteristic of the Old Law - the keeping of the Sabbath Day, for example. As recorded in Mt. 12:2, the Pharisees condemned Jesus' disciples for plucking corn, claiming that they were doing that which the Old Law prohibited. In Acts 15:24, James makes the statement that the claim of the Judaizers that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the law was to the subverting of souls. This idea of circumcision, used representatively here, stood for the entire Old Law. Again, Paul in 1 Tim. 1:3-7 charges Timothy to be sure that those in Macedonia did not teach that it was necessary to be under the law; that is, be subject to the items contained within it. Note also Gal. 4: 10, 11.
As the observances of these things characterized the Old Law, so also can the New Law be identified. In the first place, the religious worship which Christ commanded toward God (Jn. 4:24) was not to take place on the Sabbath, but on the Lord's Day. There are some who believe that the day called "Sunday" is the "Christian Sabbath." The first day of the week and the seventh, the "Sabbath," quite obviously cannot be the same day. In Hebrew, the word rendered in English as "Sabbath," means "seventh." In Mt. 28:1 a clean distinction is made between these two days. Note: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . ." The Jewish clock went from 6 in the evening to the following evening at the same time. Noon, for example, was the 6th hour of the day. The day was divided into night and day (see 9en. 1: 5 ". . . and the evening and the morning were the first day"), with the morning beginning at sunrise. Therefore, the Sabbath would necessarily have to end before the first day of the week could begin. One followed the other, and to characterize the Lord's Day (first day of the week, Sunday) as, the "Christian Sabbath" claims that which cannot exist.
God chose the first day of the week for worship under the new dispensation because it was on this day that Christ arose from the grave. This resurrection is the down payment on our own, Sabbatarians claim that because God completed creation in six days, and rested on the seventh, that this day was hallowed from the beginning. Actually, God did not lay the requirement to remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy until the law was given to Moses (Ex. 20:8-11). Because Jesus overcame death on the first day of the week, we are required to assemble for worship on that same day. Scripture makes it plain that such was the practice of early Christians (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2).
Why should God change from one day to another? The worship which centered around the tabernacle (and later the temple) was designed to show in a figure the better things to come. This worship, and hence the law which established it, was never intended to continue without end. Although it did endure, at God's pleasure, for approximately 1500 years, it was designed to be replaced at a later date by the very God who gave it. This better law, the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25), was foreordained before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1: 20) to replace the Old Law.
Let's note some Scriptural support for the idea that the Old Law was strictly temporary. In Col. 2:16, 17, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come . . . ... Here we find that these things which describe the Old Law were but images or shadows of things to come, and no one at the time Paul wrote the Colossian letter was to judge (condemn) another for the failure to observe them. In Col. 3: 11, Paul goes on to tell us that there is neither Jew nor Greek, breaking down a distinction which was commanded to be maintained under the Old Law. The reason for the change is obvious: Rom. 1: 16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation, to all that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek," and Gal. 3:28 states, "There is, neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are III one in Christ Jesus."
God, in this latter dispensation of time, makes no distinctions based on ethnic origin, sex or social standing. The only thing that matters now is obedience to the gospel. Without such obedience, nothing matters. Note Heb. 5:8-9 and 2 Thess. 1:7-9. Heb. 7:11, 12 provides another bit of information to demonstrate that the law under the Old Testament (and consequently everything in it including the Ten Commandments) was strictly temporary in nature. Notice, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Since the priesthood was changed, the law which brought that priesthood into effect was also changed. But what law brought in the Levitical priesthood? That delivered by Moses at Sinai. Read on down to verse 14, "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood." Since Christ is now our high priest, and He is not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, the priesthood is changed. But when the priesthood was changed, Paul earlier argued that the law which brought that priesthood is also changed.
There are two quibbles which need to be covered here. First is that "If the Old Law is changed, and we are not under the Ten Commandments today, you are saying that we can go out and commit murder, adultery, steal, and so on." No, I am saying no such thing. Just because the particular law which lists these commandments has been done away (Col. 2:14) does not mean that the principles of human behavior codified in them no longer apply to us today. The same principles, in more complete form, were simply restated by Jesus and by Paul. "Hear ye Him" (Mt. 5:21-23). "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: BUT I SAY UNTO YOU . . ." And again, the same type of expression is repeated in verses 27 and 28 concerning another point contained in the ten commandments. Also see Paul's statement in Rom. 13:9. These principles of human behavior apply today, not because they were taught in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, but because Christ and Paul speaking for Him said, "I say unto you . . .", and told us to observe them.
A good analogy would be between British and American law concerning murder. Both involve the same principles of human conduct. Back in 1770, if an individual in the American Colonies committed murder, he was apprehended, tried, sentenced and executed under British law. Twenty years later, in 1790, if another in the same geographical area committed the same offense; he was apprehended, tried, convicted and executed, not under British law, but under American law. Why the difference? Because of American, not British law, applied at that time, and he was subject to it. The same principle applies to the Old Law, the Ten Commandments included. These never applied to any other than the Jews even at the time given (See Ex. 24:3). They were part of God's covenant with that people, and a covenant must be agreed to by all parties before it can be enforced. The Gentiles were never a party to this covenant.
The other quibble runs something like this: "Well, what you say about the Old Testament law being taken out of the way applies to the ceremonial law, and tabernacle worship, and so on, but the Ten Commandments are still in effect. This is because these other things are the 'Law of Moses,' while the Ten Commandments are the 'Law of God."' It sounds good at first, but like the other, it is easily refuted by Scripture. In Luke 2:22, 23, we find the entire refutation of this untruth. It reads, "And when the days of her purification according to the LAW OF MOSES were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord; (as it is written in the LAW OF THE LORD, every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord)" (Emphasis mine, WHL). In one breath, Luke, by inspiration, refers to the ceremonial law as "The law of Moses," and in the next, in talking about the very same things, as "The law of the Lord." The Law of Moses and the Law of God was one and the same thing. To try to separate them is to attempt to divide that which God has joined.
Finally note that there is an overriding reason why the New Law, that law brought by Christ, had to replace the Old. Under the Old Law, there was no remission of sins; sins were merely rolled back. "Remembrance was made of them year by year . . . ." (Heb. 10: 14), but they were not forgiven. It was not possible that the blood of bulls and 0ats could take away sin. Jesus had to die and be raised from the grave to bring forgiveness, and institute His law. Notice Acts 13:39, "And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified BY THE LAW OF MOSES" (Emphasis mine, WHL). Here we are told that Christ did what Moses could not do. Why the difference? In Jn. 1:17, "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" and Jn. 8:31, 32, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, if ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Salvation or freedom can come only by obedience to this truth, and this truth, the gospel, was not revealed in the Old Testament.
We are to hear Christ. We are to hear Him instead of all other religious leaders (Mt. 17:1-5). If we do not, Rom. 3:4 says, ". . . yea, let God be true, but every man a liar . . ."
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 9, pp. 2-4