A few weeks ago, Answers in Genesis, a ministry I love, promote, financially support, and am blessed by, posted The Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Please read the previous posts in the series, as I am answering the allegations one by one.
answering answers in genesis, part one
answering answers in genesis, part two
answering answers in genesis, part three
answering answers in genesis, part four
answering answers in genesis, part five
answering answers in genesis, part six
answering answers in genesis, part seven
answering answers in genesis, part eight
answering answers in genesis, part nine
answering answers in genesis, part ten
Furthermore, it is highly questionable to assume that Jesus had the Mosaic law in mind when he told the disciples to keep his commandments.
Earlier in the same evening, he commanded the disciples to love one another (John 13:34), and he gave them several commands during his ministry that are not spelled out in the Mosaic law. It is far more likely that Christ’s words in John 14:15 referred to these instructions.
Why is it highly questionable that Jesus had the Mosaic Law in mind when He told His disciples to keep His commandments? The Law of Moses is the Law of God, which is the Law of Love that Jesus preached.
Furthermore, Jesus did not come to preach His own words, His own commandments, or His own will, but the words, commandments, and will of His Father. The Father communicated His will through His Word. Is not the Law and the Prophets the Word of the Father? Of course it is!
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice Law-lessness!’” Mat 7:21-23
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Mat 23:23
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” Joh 5:30
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” Joh 14:24
And let us not forget that Jesus is the embodiment of the Word of God in the flesh:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Joh 1:1, 14
Unless someone excised Genesis through Deuteronomy from the Word of God and did not mention it, if the above statement of John’s is true, then that means that the Word of God including Genesis through Deuteronomy is full of grace and truth! Perhaps it is our perception of the Law of God that is off, and not it itself?
In fact, Gentiles who have not spent a great deal of time studying the Law of God contained in Moses, assume that this Law has nothing whatever to do with the New Testament, or with love, or with Jesus’ commandment to love one another. Jesus Himself blows a wide hole in this assumption as does Paul in many places. But let’s look at the two most telling examples:
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Mat 22:34-40
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law. Rom 13:8-10
Many will read these passages, and say something like the Law of Love is greater than the Law of the Old Testament; the Law of Love has superseded the Law of the Old Testament. But if we read these passages carefully, we discover that is not what Jesus and Paul were teaching! Rather, the Law of Love is the equivalent of the Law of the Old Testament.
Jesus said all the Law could be summed up in two commandments, Love God, and Love your neighbor. Paul said that all the Law could be summed up in one verb: Love. Paul quotes some of the Ten Commandments to make his point, in fact, the second half of the Ten Commandments, he says, can be summed up by Love your neighbor:
|Law of Love|
|Love God||Love your neighbor|
|1. Worship God alone (Exo 20:2-3)||6. Do not murder (Exo 20:13)|
|2. Do not worship idols (Exo 20:4-6)||7. Do not commit adultery (Exo 20:14)|
|3. Do not profane the Lord’s name (Exo 20:7)||8. Do not steal (Exo 20:15)|
|4. Keep the Sabbath (Exo 20:8-11)||9. Do not bear false witness (Exo 20:16)|
|5. Honor father and mother (Exo 20:12)||10. Do not covet (Exo 20:17)|
Of course, refusing to murder someone is an act of love toward them. Refusing to steal something that belongs to our neighbor is an act of love toward them. When we obey the sixth through tenth commandments, we are showing love to our neighbor in a practical way. That is what Paul is teaching. Jesus agreed, and also taught that when we obey the first through fifth commandments, we are showing love to God in a practical way.
We can see how worshiping the Lord alone or refusing to make or bow down to idols is an act of love for Him. We can see how refusing to profane His holy name, YHVH, is an act of love for Him. We may not see how resting on the Sabbath is an act of love for Him, but we accept that it is, as this is what the Scripture teaches.
The Ten Commandments as stated in our Bibles are mostly stated negatively: what not to do. When we restate them positively, we can also see how honoring our father and mother is an act of love for Him:
1) Worship God alone + 2) Do not worship idols, i.e., preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s worship;
3) Do not profane the Lord’s name, i.e., preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s name;
4) Keep the Sabbath holy, i.e., preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s rest;
5) Honor father and mother, i.e., preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s authority.
The Lord delegated some of His authority to human agents, in order to preserve and bless those who are weaker and more vulnerable, and the first and most important delegation of His authority is to parents. That is why, when we honor our father and mother, we are showing honor and love for God.
Jesus furthermore taught us that all the Law and the Prophets, the entire Old Testament, hangs on the two commandments to Love God, and Love our neighbor. The rabbis have divided the Law into 613 distinct commandments. If “Love God” and “Love our neighbor,” or as Paul put it, “Love,” sums up the entire Law, then we can see a deeper truth:
613 commandments in Torah (Gen-Deu),
summed up by
summed up by
Two greatest commandments (Mat 22:34-40),
summed up by
Love (Rom 13:8-10).
It is fine to tell someone that they must love (Rom 13:8-10). Who must we love? Why, God and our neighbor (Mat 22:34-40). Okay, but what does it mean to love our neighbor? Well, first of all, do not murder him. Do not steal from him. Do not lie about him, and so on (Exo 20). But where do we draw the line between murder and accidental death, for example? Those kinds of questions are what the entire Torah explains in its 613 commandments (Gen-Deu). They are not separate commandments from the Ten, but they are explanations of what obeying the Ten looks like in practical life.
The entire legal code found in Torah is nothing more than the definition of what obeying the Ten Commandments looks like. The Ten Commandments are nothing more than an explanation of what loving God and our neighbor looks like. The entire Law and Prophets is nothing more than an exhortation to love.
His Law is love. It is not a prison house (sin is a prison house). It is a plumb line in a terribly crooked world, that forever remains straight. It informs and instructs (Paul calls it our tutor, Gal 3:24). It is a tool to correct our course and light our path, so that we always remain walking in love as He walked.
Paul moreover reiterates the New Testament harmony of the Law as do the other apostles:
Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Rom 3:31
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 1 Cor 7:19
Is the Law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! Gal 3:21
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. 1 Tim 1:5
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 Joh 5:3
Finally, the Torah itself establishes that the Law of God and the Law of Love are equivalent using its own amazing teaching tools … stay tuned …