9-3-1 Law, Commandment, Statutes And Covenant

Part 2: Rebuttal Statements

Mr. Duncan Heaster:

1. God promises not only spiritual blessing, but material blessing and earthly dominion if we are faithful to obey the commandments of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28)

“The covenant” cannot be just the 10 commandments. Dt. 28 follows after the re-affirmation of the covenant in chapter 27. There, the people had to assent that there would be curses for disobeying “his commandments and statutes, which I command thee this day”. These weren’t just the 10 commandments- e.g. “cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen” (:17). “Commandments and statutes” is obviously more than the Decalogue (which of the ten would be “statutes” and which “commandments”?). The blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience of Dt. 28 follow straight on from this- relating to “all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day” (28:1,15). These weren’t just the Decalogue. Moses told them far more than this in his final speech to them. The blessings and curses were clearly not relevant to Gentiles- the curses are specific to Israel and include suffering “thine olive shall cast its fruit…all the diseases of Egypt…ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven…the Lord shall scatter thee among the peoples, from one end of the earth even unto the other…the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I said unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again; and there ye shall be sold for bondmen”. This last curse identifies those being spoken to as those who came up out of Egypt. Clearly the chapter refers to Israel, not Gentiles. I have shown in my opening statement that the Sabbath was specifically for the Jews.

2. …and yes this applies to the church today since Christ informs us that the kingdom of Israel has been passed to the church in Matthew 21:43

Mt. 21:43 says that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to others. But this doesn’t mean that the laws given to Israel are now binding on Gentiles.

3. Psalm 2 also commands all governments to submit to the law of the Bible

This is going too far. The law recorded in the Bible includes all kinds of commands given by God at various times, but not all of these are binding on men of later times. Psalm 2 doesn’t say this anyway. It speaks of a time when the Lord’s Christ will be surrounded by His enemies but they must submit- and therefore “Lay hold of the son [of God], lest…ye perish” (:12 RVmg.). The appeal is to the Israel who crucified Jesus to repent and accept Him as Christ. It isn’t an appeal to keep the Law. It is applied in the NT to the sufferings of Jesus at the hands of the Jews. Jesus refers to it when He appeals to Israel to repent “except [lest] ye likewise perish” (Lk. 13:5).

4. If we are not faithful to obey the commandments of the covenant, God promises judgments as 1 Peter 4:17 states, judgment begins with the house of God.

But this passage says nothing of being judges for not obeying Old Testament laws.

5. Most Protestants and Christian groups today have essentially committed that old heresy where the Old Testament law is thrown out and all we pay attention to are the sayings of Jesus Christ in the gospels.

This certainly isn’t the Biblical position. The fact one doesn’t keep the Sabbath doesn’t mean one pays no attention to the OT revelations.

6. For this reason God has made the Protestant church weak and the heresy of Romanism powerful, and it is presently now swallowing up many of the liberal and even those that are seen as evangelical protestant

This is false logic. I don’t keep the Sabbath. But it doesn’t mean I am on my way to Rome.

7. The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of law: that law that is binding upon all people of the earth, and that there is also law that is only binding upon ethnic Jewry.

Where does the Bible tell us this? No evidence is provided. My opening statement pointed out that there is no such difference.

Philip’s reasoning from Romans seems to me to prove little. The law being spoken about there, he reasons, is the Decalogue. But Paul is talking about circumcision, which was not part of the Decalogue, but of what Philip thinks of as the ‘ceremonial law’ which has been done away. Paul is writing to the Jews and Gentiles in the church at Rome. The Jews were trying to make the Gentiles be circumcised (cp. Acts 15). Paul is proving the universal need of both Jew and Gentile in Christ; he does so by saying that the Jewish Christians who try to keep the law break it; and the Gentiles who don’t keep the Law also have a sense of right and wrong, a conscience, and will be judged by God for their sins against what they know to be right. And so Paul goes on to show the futility of keeping the Law: “Therefore by works of the law shall no flesh be justified…but now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested” in Christ (Rom. 3:20,22). The “law of faith” has replaced the law of obedient acts; “therefore we conclude [RV we reckon] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (3:27,28). If a Gentile was perfectly obedient to the Law, then his uncircumcision would be “reckoned” as circumcision (2:26). But as Paul so often shows, nobody is perfectly obedient to the Law. And therefore we “reckon” that someone is justified by faith quite apart from deeds of the Law. Philip has told us that this section of Romans refers to the Decalogue when it speaks of “the law”. If this is so, then the works of obedience to that Law are not going to justify us. Our salvation comes from outside that Law.

8. Paul states … “it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13). Paul is saying here that even though the Jews “have the law” and will be judged by the law, even the Gentiles have that law written on their hearts, and therefore all who obey this one law will be declared righteous.

I think this is missing the point. Paul’s point is that those who totally obey the Law would be righteous, but none of us do or can…so our being declared or reckoned righteous must be by another means- by faith in Christ. So “the law of faith” replaces the Mosaic Law.

9. The Old Testament also binds the Gentiles to the law of God when it states in Deuteronomy 9:5 “… on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you…” So we see here that God is judging these nations for their wickedness and sin. The Bible clearly tells us that sin is defined as a violation of the law of God in 1 John 3:4… These Canaanite Gentiles were wicked because they were breaking God’s law, the same law that Israel was bound to obey.

Again logic seems to me to be faulty here. The Mosaic Law was given on Sinai as Israel were on their way to dispossess those peoples. Those nations were wicked before that- this is why their land was given to Israel. So their sin was before the Mosaic Law was given. Their sin therefore wasn’t because they were not keeping Mosaic Laws such as the Sabbath. God did not make known to the people in Egypt anything about the Sabbath, but after He brought them out of Egypt and into the wilderness he gave them the Sabbath law (Ez. 20:10-12; Neh. 9:13, 14). There is no evidence that even Abraham kept the Sabbath law, for Moses, while speaking of the covenant that contained the Sabbath commandment, said: " The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even who are all of us here alive this day" (Deut. 5:3).

10. Jew and Gentile could both be executed by the civil law of Israel for breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Both the Jew and the stranger (Gentile) were not allowed to commit adultery, murder, kidnapping, Sabbath-breaking, and if either did both were to be put to death. After God lists the death penalties for violating the ten commandments in Leviticus 24, He states in Leviticus 24:22 “You are to have the same law for the alien and the nativeborn”.

But God didn’t say that the entire Gentile world had to keep the Decalogue. Only the Gentile who chose to live in the Israelite community. I showed in my first statement that the Sabbath was a sign between God and Israel, not the Gentiles. So who was the “stranger within your gates” who had to keep Sabbath? It can’t be merely a Gentile, because the Sabbath was a sign between God and Israel. Therefore these people must refer to proselytes, those who had chosen to enter into the community of Israel and share as far as they could a covenant relationship with God. And this is why Is. 56:3,6 speaks of “the stranger that hath joined himself [Heb. implies, in covenant] unto the Lord…to minister unto him, and to love the name of the Lord…that keepeth the Sabbath” (RV). These were Gentiles [“strangers”] who had chosen to enter into covenant relationship with Yahweh and therefore they came under His laws. This is why “the stranger” also participated in confirming the blessings and cursings attendant upon having covenant relationship with God (Josh. 8:33). It is why the stranger kept the Passover in later generations (Ex. 12:49)- to show that they felt solidarity with Israel’s God to the point of feeling that He had brought them too through the Red Sea. It’s why they could offer sacrifice (Lev. 17:8). But is false logic to say that because these Gentiles kept the Sabbath therefore all Gentiles now must do so. Those Gentiles kept the Passover and the laws governing sacrifices; it can’t mean that Gentiles now must therefore do those things.

11. …they divided the law into that law which was binding upon both stranger and Jew, and that law which was only binding upon the Jew (namely the ceremonial and sacrificial systems and circumcision).

But the Gentiles who lived among Israel also had to keep Passover and offer sacrifices etc. Neither of these is in the Decalogue.

12. …distinction between moral laws and those which were ceremonial. “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?” (1 Sam 15:22)… ‘I desire faithful love, not sacrifice’ (Hos. 6:6).

This hardly proves such a distinction exists between moral and ceremonial law. God wants obedience to His principles from the heart, rather than mere obedience to the letter of a law. Surely Philip is missing the hyperbole- it wasn’t that God didn’t want any sacrifice, He wanted love more than He wanted sacrifice. For He elsewhere criticizes Israel for not following the sacrifice legislation as they ought to have done. All this was summated in the work of Jesus as foretold in Psalm 40- “sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not”, compared to the work and death of the Lord Jesus. He showed the “faithful love”, obedience to the voice of the Lord etc. which the OT passages had explained were what God wanted more than He wanted animal sacrifice.

13. The New Testament also recognizes the ceremonial distinction. In fact, the book of Hebrews is incomprehensible without such a distinction (cf. Heb. 7:11-12, 18-19).

These verses make no such distinction. Because Jesus was to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek [through Judah not Levi] it followed that “there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness”- and this commandment is “the law” which has been replaced by “the word of the oath”, the new covenant in Christ (7:28). Nowhere is there the slightest suggestion that “the law” refers to only part of the Law. Hebrew 8 goes on to say that this “law” was the old covenant, which has been replaced by the new. But the old covenant was that which was epitomized in the Decalogue, written on table of stone. And the new covenant is not written “in tables of stone” as were the 10 commandments; we are ministers not of those written letters in the stone, but of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:3-11). What was “in letters, engraven on stones” (RVmg.) was undeniably the 10 commandments, including the Sabbath. And this is called “the ministration of death…of condemnation”, “which is done away”; it is to be contrasted with the ministration of the Spirit.

14. Christ’s words are clear in Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.

And He did. He fulfilled them in His life and death. He didn’t abolish them during His lifetime. He fulfilled them. When we read of the teachers of " the law" we understand it to mean the Law of Moses, not the Decalogue (Matt 5:20, 7:29).

15. The Sabbath was not sanctified when God covenanted with the Jews, but when God created the heavens and the earth.

No, there is no command to keep Sabbath until Moses. The fact God rested that one day doesn’t mean He commanded His creatures to rest. Because He made lights on the 4th day doesn’t mean we have to every 4th day.

16. Hebrews also tells us in 4:9 “there remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God”.

The Israelites who left Egypt didn’t enter the “rest” of the promised land, nor was the full Kingdom of God established then. " If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day" (Heb 4:8) and that day is Today " God again set a certain day, calling it Today" Heb 4:7, so " we who have believed enter that rest" (Heb 4:3). We don’t enter that rest once /week. It is a state we are in now, as we wait for the ultimate rest of the Kingdom at Christ’s coming. This entering God's rest through faith in Christ is alluding to Matthew 11:28-30: “I will give you rest”. Just before Matthew tells us of Jesus' dispute with the Jews concerning the Sabbath he records Jesus' words " I will give you rest" - from Sabbath keeping and legalistic righteousness.

17. John in Revelation 1:10 states that there is such a thing as a “Lord’s Day”.

This is “the day of the Lord” – a common phrase for events to come in the future, especially around the final coming of the Lord in the person of His Son. John was there “in spirit”- the “spirit of prophecy”. “My holy day” and “the Lord’s day” don’t seem synonyms to me. “The day of the Lord” and “the Lord’s day” certainly are.

18. The apostles met together on the first two Sundays after the resurrection (Jn. 20:19-26)…Acts 20:7

If we don’t have to keep Sabbath, the argument about when it should be kept becomes irrelevant. If the disciples met on the 1st day of the week doesn’t prove they were doing so in an attempt to keep the Sabbath. My church meet on Sundays but not to keep Sabbath. The fact is there is no statement ever that Sabbath [Saturday] was changed to Sunday. Philip has argued that God rested on the 7th day and so should we. If this is really so, why does he say that we must now rest on the 1st day? It means that the argument based on what happened at creation is invalidated.

The meeting in Jn. 20 took place on the Sunday evening after the resurrection. The disciples were assembled, we are told, " for fear of the Jews." In fact, some of them didn't even believe the Master had risen. (Mark 16:11-14, Luke 24:36-38). They were hardly holding a worship meeting. The Sabbath is not even mentioned in this verse.

Regarding Acts 20:7, note that the meeting was held in the evening of the first day of the week and continued till midnight or a little later. That is, it began on Sunday evening and finished in the early hours of Monday morning. The " breaking of bread" took place after midnight (verse 11)- therefore on the Monday morning, not Sunday!

19. In Col. 2:16 Paul is discussing the moon days of the ceremonial law.

But Colossians 2:14 speaks of “handwriting” that was done away. This surely refers to the Old Covenant, the 10 commandments, which were “written on tables of stone” (2 Cor. 3). Col. 2:14RV has: “the bond written in ordinances”, of which “the sabbath days” of v. 16 were part. The bond that was done away by the cross was “the old covenant”, that written on stones, the 10 commandments, which included the Sabbath. If Paul intended us to keep the Sabbath, why did he not define in more detail that he was referring to the Sabbath days of the feasts? The Sabbaths were a shadow of Christ, fulfilled in Him- that’s why they are ended, Paul says. So, is the weekly Sabbath not a shadow of Christ? It surely is, for Jesus was clearly alluding to it when He offered us “rest”, and when Hebrews 3 says that “today” is the Sabbath. If the weekly Sabbath was a type of Christ, which it surely is, then according to Col. 2:17 it has been “taken out of the way” by the fact Christ fulfilled it. It would be hard for Philip to argue that the monthly “Sabbaths” were types of Christ, so [according to Col. 2] they were ended; but the weekly Sabbaths are not types of Christ. If they are, then according to Colossians, this is the very reason why they have been taken out of the way. And this is why v. 18 warns us to let no man tell us to keep Sabbaths or any legalistic righteousness- for it is a sign that in the end we will not hold fast to Christ, who has fulfilled these things, and opened a way for a real salvation, through faith rather than works of legal obedience.

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