Redeemed or Forgiven?
Part 4 of 8
This Part 4 will cover Abraham and the Law
THE FATHER OF ISRAEL-
Unfortunately, with the Hebrew Roots Movement it would seem that Moses has become the father of Israel and not Abraham.
Why is Abraham the father of Israel?
The Bible says that we are partakers of Abraham. Why?
Of course it had to start with someone and that someone is Abraham, but is there more significance to Abraham other than the fact that the covenants, the promises and the people began with him?
Abrahams life and personal relationship with God is the foundational standard for what the nature of our redemption is in Christ. Our redemption is paralleled in the story of the Exodus but the “purpose” of that redemption begins with Abraham.
Jesus Christ is the Seed of Abraham that came through Isaac who was the son of promise born to Abraham. The birth of Isaac however, did not come about in simple terms, to say the least.
The HRM tries to summarize and reduce the story of Abraham down to an example or illustration on commandment keeping. This is done by singling out and selecting these two verses that come at the beginning and end of Abraham’s story:
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless’.” (Genesis 17:1)
“…’because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws’.”
The HRM uses these two verses, and especially the latter, to build on the presupposition that Abraham was under the Law in the same manner as we see with Moses.
The idea that Abraham’s obedience was in relation to the Law is pure speculation and conjecture that relies on a faulty inference and presuppositions that are contrary to the chronology of Moses and the Law which can be found in both the Old and New Testaments.
It is very short-sighted to view Abraham’s life in relation to commands. Abraham was not subject to arbitrary commands that were abstract from his relationship with God. The bigger picture is revealed when we try to determine what was God’s will and purpose for Abraham and how it relates and applies to us.
Abraham’s desire, and God’s promise of a son results in a conflict between what is born of the will of God, and what is born of the will of man. Abraham was never in opposition of conflict with the covenant and promises of God, but he was in a conflict about how those things would be fulfilled.
The covenant with Abraham included the sign of circumcision which is the removal of a very personal affect or aspect of an individual, but this did not remove the personal aspect of Abraham which created a conflict. This inward and personal aspect of Abraham caused him to work against the very same things that he desired and believed in according to the promises. Let’s take a look at a similar description that Paul makes about this personal aspect and conflict:
“…for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find…For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind…”
God and Abraham seemed to be working towards the same end or objective, but Abraham took it upon himself to decide how that objective was to be worked out.
What we must completely understand is that temptation from Satan in the Bible always begins with a pseudo or false alignment with God. Adam and Eve, Sarah and Abraham, and Jesus Himself were all tempted along the lines of a false God-likeness, not along the lines of blatant opposition. Sin leads to blatant opposition to God, but it begins with the assumption that we are, or will be, impervious or immune to the consequences of acting outside of God’s boundaries. In a basic sense, Abraham and Sarah believed they had the knowledge of good and evil and were thereby compelled to act on their own. They were not trying to oppose God, but they presumed to have the mind of God in the matter.
Its interesting to notice that Abraham listened to his wife just as Adam listened to Eve rather than God:
“Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife…’.”(Genesis 3:17)
“And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.”(Genesis 16:2)
When Abraham and Sarah took it upon themselves to bring forth the son which was promised, Ishmael was born to Sarah’s handmaiden or bondwoman. Ishmael however, was not recognized by God as the son of promise.
The many aspects of Abrahams life which include:
Chosen of God, approved by faith, brought into a covenant, promised, circumcised, the son of the bondwoman, the son of promise, and trusting in God-are all aspects that make up the NT doctrines and distinctions concerning our salvation and redemption in Christ.
More importantly, we can’t look at these aspects of Abraham’s life as nothing more than the groundwork for doctrines. These things did not become doctrine for Abraham but they became the experience and meaning of his life and relationship with God.
Abraham obeyed God, but the purpose of God wasn’t simply to get some human to obey commands. The purpose was to work out those areas of Abrahams life that interfered with the relationship that God desired to have with Him.
Abraham lived with dual nature that believed God on one hand, but trusted and sought out its own methods on the other.
The story of Abraham is the story of mankind, and the story of Redemption is about bringing all mankind to the place of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ so that God can once and for all, deal with the inward and personal aspect of man that is contrary to Him.
Abraham is the father of Israel because what begins with him, gives us an example of what God wants to work out of every man which was inherited and began with the fall in the garden of Eden.
There still remains a huge question to be answered.
Having seen how God personally worked and transformed Abrahams life, why then does God place the descendants of Abraham into and under a very impersonal and vicarious legal system known as the Law of Moses?
The birth of Ishmael was no small thing. It is from Abraham that the division is made between what would be of promise and what would not. From this division we get what is born of bondage and what is born of freedom.
God was not playing games in deciding who would be the son of promise and who would not. This was a very serious thing and the NT puts the issue of Hagar and Ismael along the same lines of bondage and especially bondage concerning the Law. Lets read:
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
‘Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.’
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.”(Galatians 4:21-31)
THE LAW OF MOSES-
So why did God put the descendants of Abraham under an impersonal and vicarious legal system when the father of Israel was not under that system himself?
Now that we have looked at original sin, the fallen nature of man, and God’s dealings with Abraham, what role does the Law play concerning original sin?
If you think the fall in the garden was mere disobedience, then I can assure you that you are mistaken.
If you think Abraham bringing Ishmael into the world was only a mere indiscretion and misunderstanding, I can assure you that you are mistaken also.
The fall in the garden resulted in the dominion of sin for the entire world, and the results of Ishmael are even more clearer today than they have ever been.
So does living under the Law nullify these things?
Did God hope to restore mankind unto His image and likeness through the keeping of commandments on stone?
If there is one thing that the Hebrew Roots Movement will not tolerate, it is the idea that the Law and ten commandments had not been given before the Exodus.
Laws before Moses is a completely different topic altogether, but just because there are similar activities and laws before Moses, this does not mean that other people where under the same Sinai/Horeb Covenant and Laws.
No where in the Bible does it say that anyone before Moses was instructed to keep the Sabbath and nowhere in the Bible do we see anyone under the same covenant of Moses with the same terms, conditions and laws.
-If other people were under the same covenant and laws, why were they not written on tablets of stone also?
-Why wasn’t there an ark of that said covenant?
-Did God come down on a mountain in smoke and fire for anyone else?
-Were these same people circumcised and promised certain lands as part of the covenant?
-Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, so why isn’t he the father of Israel?
We have to understand that there is a difference between how Christians view the universality of the Bible and how it is viewed by the HRM.
The HRM tries to pass off this idea the the Law of Moses should be more appropriately called the Law of God. In doing this, they hope to do away with any uniqueness of the covenant that was between God and the nation of Israel and thereby make the Law universal in compulsion and obligation. By doing this, it also suggests that there is no other format and standard of obedience except to the Law.
What is interestingly hypocritical about the HRM is that on one hand they believe gentiles in Christ have become grafted into Israel to such as point that they are obligated to the Law, but on the other hand, they make every attempt at dismissing the idea that the Law and commandments were given to Israel in the desert at Sinai.
It’s truly sad because it’s a total fabrication and falsehood.
Christians believe that the laws and commandments under Moses contain universal principles and representations of God and His righteousness, but we know according the Bible that the covenant with Moses and Israel was both a covenant and a legal system that are inseparable from each other. It was given to a special people at a special time, at a special place, and it also contained the terms and conditions that were in relation to the promises and possession of a very specific piece of land we know as Israel.
The HRM has to make the law universally obligatory to everyone from creation until now in order to combat those who have written off everything about Israel, but more importantly they have to fabricate the universality of the Law in order to maintain their position on the Sabbath. That’s really the only thing that this all about for them, but not for me.
For me it is about the Redemption of Jesus Christ and my entire blog has very little to do with the Sabbath controversy.
SCRIPTURAL CHRONOLOGY AND PURPOSE-
The Law was engineered for the greater purpose of the redemption of mankind. It is applicable to the Redemption but it is not the substance of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is.
As I stated before, the HRM is highly opposed to the idea of chronology and progressive revelations of righteousness so lets look at some basic scripture that addresses the chronology and purpose of the Law:
“The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.”(Deuteronomy 5:2-4)
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.”
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come…Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the LAW ENTERED that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 5:12-21)
“What purpose then does the law serve? It WAS ADDED because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made…But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith…”(Galatians 3:19-26)
If we combine these verses, what we can see from Paul’s timeline and purpose is:
1)A definite point of entry with Moses.
2)Proof and guilt of sin according to the law and proof of sin inherited from Adam.
3)Preparation for the fulfillment of the promise of Abraham through faith.
In Romans 5, Paul presents the idea that there wasn’t any law from Adam to Moses whereby God may impute sin accordingly. Even “IF” Paul believed the Law was abolished, he at least admits to the Law being in effect from Moses to Christ so what reason would there be for Paul to deny that it existed prior to Moses? If it was a true Biblical understanding of the Jews to believe the Law existed prior to Moses, what purpose would there be in denying it?
As a matter of fact, it’s the Law that Paul promotes as the number one source for revealing sin:
“…I would not have know sin except through the law…”
“…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”(Romans 3:20)
So why wouldn’t he sum up all of history, since Adam, to be under the Law and the knowledge of sin by the Law? Yet he doesn’t. Paul isn’t excusing anyone because he fills in the blanks with these two passages:
“For since the creation of the world His attributes can be clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20)
“…for when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law unto themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…”(Romans 2:14-15)
If we look at Romans 1:20, why would Paul go to all the trouble of holding people accountable to the revelation of God and sin according to nature and conscience and yet go on to hold people accountable to the Law that was confined to a specific time unless he knew good and well that the commands and instruction of the Law were most certainly confined to a specific time?
PREPARATION FOR THE SEED OF ABRAHAM-
Even if a person doesn’t believe Paul, it doesn’t matter because Paul only presents the same exact chronology that all Jewish people believe, which is the belief that the people of Israel were given the Law under Moses while they awaited the promised Seed of Abraham in which all the nations would be blessed. But why? Why the wait?
In Galatians 3:19 we can see that the law was added because of transgressions. The mechanics of this passage indicates that although the promise of the Seed was given, the issue of sin had to be revealed and dealt with in order to prepare man for what would take place in Christ.
The fall of man and the self-will of Abraham that interfered with the promises of God, had to be revealed in its entirety so that the purpose of the Cross would be understood by making all mankind guilty under the Law.
In Abraham, we only see one aspect of self-will and how it produced Ishmael, but the law reveals the greater depth to the fall of man and inward sin. The law was intended to reveal that all mankind was born into the same conditions that we see in Adam and Abraham. We are born into the flesh or carnality.
The Law was given in relation to man and the unregenerate and carnal condition he was in. This does not make the Law unholy, but it must be understood that it was given in relation to man, who was unholy.
The Law was not a pseudo or fake covenant, it was very real, but it was made with men who were carnal and unregenerate. The reason for the strictness and the penalties of law is two-fold.
1) It was made with sinful men, for sinful men and so it had to fully encompass the sins of man.
2)It had to reveal the depths of sin and reveal the contrast between God and man.
This is why no one ever will be an inheritor of the promises to Abraham through the Law. Let’s read:
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:16-18)
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.”(Galatians 4:28-31)
Scripturally, this is why it is impossible to speak of the Law as synonymous with the born again life in Christ because the Law came in written format in relation to carnal man. The Law was given in the context and paradigm of unregenerate and carnal men in the flesh.
There are so many uses, applications and enlightenments that we can gain from the Law, but to say we must “keep” it, is to suggest that believers in Christ are not born again to a new nature and distinction.
DISTINCTION AND SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD-
Many people in the HRM who believe that we should live according to the Law, see it as their distinction between themselves and the world but the Law is supposed to reveal the distinction between God and us. Everyone is born of the flesh and a sinful nature so we are ultimately no different in the eyes of God than anyone else until that is dealt with. But once again, when the HRM only believes we are forgiven and not redeemed from inward sin, then the only distinction you can possibly have before God, is to keep the Law.
In the NT, we are called to be separate from the world also but when man is unregenerate, his only means of separation from the world is to cloak his flesh and unsanctified nature in the outward works of the Law. He has no hope of purifying the nature within that separates him from God. There are no works that can recover and reclaim what was lost at the fall.
Under the Law, a large portion of what was righteous was defined simply by what was opposite of the heathen or uncircumcised heathen, but in Christ, our righteousness is defined by what is opposite to what we used to be. We can no longer be sanctified unto God by being opposite of the heathen through the Law. Our distinction comes along the lines of being opposite to our old nature regardless of how anyone else acts. The Law came so that EVERY mouth may be stopped and ALL the world become guilty before God. The only distinction and sanctification that we have now is through our identity in the new nature of Christ.
Before I drag this out to nauseating proportions, I will conclude this section by addressing the question of whether or not, living according to the Law has the power to nullify all that is sin.
“For what the law could not do in that it was week through the flesh…”(Romans 8:3)
What you will find among many who believe in living according to the Law, is that no one has ever really been “lost”, but merely disobedient and the life of a believer is nothing more than a reconstructed succession of the ups and downs of obedience and disobedience throughout history. There is an element of truth to that when it comes to obedience, but it does not take into account the Redemption of Jesus Christ that not only forgave man his sins but delivered him from sin not only here on earth but the entire universe as well. The Redemption of Jesus Christ is not about commandments and forgiveness. It is about the essence of good and evil beyond time and space. The Law and commandments are symptoms and indicators of how that essence of good and evil has been played out in our earthly realm and human lives. There are no days, or dates or foods or translations and dialects that have the ability to cancel out the power and dominion of sin. It’s ludicrous to even consider that. Everything that sin has effected must perish and it all perished with Christ.
I will cover more about the Law and our obligation to it in the articles about the Holy Spirit and Righteousness.
In Part 5, we will be looking at what really happened with the Cross of Jesus Christ.