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A Change of The Law
- One Jot or One Tittle -
Compiled by Rachel Cory-Kuehl, March 10, 2014
Last edit: July 25, 2022
Scripture is from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
“All things must be fulfilled,” before a “jot” or a “tittle” could pass from the Law. Some believe these words of Christ must include everything written concerning the Son of God, in all of First Covenant Scripture (The Old Testament). Everything written would have to include His eternal reign as King of kings. His kingdom will have no end, therefore the entire Torah (including the sacrifice of animals under the Aaronic priesthood) will have no end. It will continue forever, without any change whatsoever. They point to the prophecies of Ezekiel’s Temple, and say those prophecies describe literal animal sacrifices, at a new Temple, during the upcoming millennial reign of Christ. Nothing is “changed” at the Glorious Return. Nothing will ever “pass from the law.”
I see the work of a new generation of Pharisees, teaching a return to every aspect of “first covenant” law-keeping, including the sacrifice of animals through a restored Aaronic priesthood at a rebuilt Temple on the Mount. They deny the existence of a “new covenant,” and insist that we are under a “renewed” covenant. I believe their argument is flawed.
NOT ONE JOT, OR ONE TITTLE
Matthew 5:17-18 [Jesus said] “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.” (ASV)
A “jot” or a “tittle” in the Hebrew, is like the dot of an “i,” or the cross of a “t.”
In other words, nothing could be gone from “the law” (the Torah - the Five Books of Moses) UNTIL:
1. heaven and earth pass away
2. all things are accomplished.
His prophecy leaves us with at least two big questions:
1. WHAT must be accomplished?
2. WHEN will heaven and earth pass away?
In Hebrews 7:12, we are told that something was “changed.”
Hebrews 7:12 “For the priesthood being changed,
of necessity there is also a change of the law.”
You can see the problem.
Nothing will be changed vs. Something was changed.
How do we reconcile the two passages?
Some throw out the Book of Hebrews as uninspired. I do not.
Three times, in the New Testament, we find words to the effect that “all things” were fulfilled concerning Him. They were fulfilled by His perfect life, His perfect death, and His resurrection (Jn 19:28, Acts 3:18, Acts 13:29).
If we limit the “jot or tittle” prediction to those “things” that would be fulfilled by his earthly life, His death, and His resurrection, and exclude prophecies of His glorious return, His judgment of the wicked, and His eternal reign, then we can reconcile the two passages. “All things” were fulfilled, therefore the law could be changed, IF heaven and earth passed away.
Did heaven and earth pass away, when Yeshua died? Yes!
HEAVEN AND EARTH
on the VEIL OF THE TEMPLE
When Yeshua died the great high entrance veil of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, with the “great noise” of an earthquake.
This veil was 80 feet high and 3 inches thick. On this veil was a glorious depiction of “the heavens and the earth” - for the LORD “stretches out the heavens like a curtain” (Isa. 40:22). God the Father “rent His robe” at the death of His Son. At the same time a great earthquake rent “the earth” beneath Jerusalem.
Upon seeing these things, the centurion and those with him at the crucifixion “feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matt. 27:54).
Josephus mentions but a single veil (katapevtasma; J.W. 5.5.5 §219) before a set of doors which serve as the “gate opening into the building.” It had golden doors fifty-five cubits high and sixteen broad. Before these hung a veil (katapevtasma) of equal length, of Babylonian tapestry, with embroidery of blue and fine linen, of scarlet also and purple, wrought with marvelous skill. Nor was this mixture of materials without its mystic meaning. It typified the universe. For the scarlet seemed emblematical of fire, the fine linen of the earth, the blue of the air, and the purple of the sea; the comparison in two cases being suggested by their colour, and in that of the fine linen and purple by their origin, as the one is produced by the earth and the other by the sea. On this tapestry was portrayed a panorama of the heavens, the signs of the Zodiac excepted. . .) J.W. (5.5.4 §211-5.5 §219 LCL)
Yeshua was master of the dual prophecy. When He died, “heaven and earth” on the Temple veil was torn in two, with the roar of an earthquake. Heaven and earth passed away. When He returns in glory, He will “rend the heavens” (Isa. 64:1). “The sky will recede “as a scroll when it is rolled up” (Rev 6:14). “Heaven and earth will pass away” with the greatest earthquake ever known (2Pet 3:7-12, Rev 16:18-20). Every mountain will be flattened and every island will sink into the sea.
Something in “the Law” could be changed.
In our study “The Change of the Priesthood,” I explain that the LORD himself changed the priesthood at Mount Sinai, following the Golden Calf Rebellion. He appointed the male descendants of Aaron as the priesthood “instead of the firstborn” of each tribe (Num 8:17-18). The exclusive Aaronic priesthood was “a change.” Once the “sins committed under the first covenant” were washed away by the blood of God’s own Lamb (Heb 9:15), He could change the priesthood BACK to “the firstborn”- His original appointed order - the “order of Melchizedek.”
In our study “Two Covenants,” my argument for a “new covenant” is based upon the Mosaic law concerning marriage and remarriage. I am personally convinced that the “first” covenant (the Sinai Covenant) was rendered obsolete by the death of the betrothed “husband” - God’s only Son. Israel was set free from that “first” covenant of marriage. She was free to enter into a “new covenant” of marriage, with “another man” - the risen Christ (Rom. 7:2-4). Because it was a new covenant, the LORD could legally change some things.
Hebrews and Galatians spell out clearly what has changed under the New Covenant:
1. The Aaronic priesthood (a temporary substitute) for the original order of “the firstborn,”
is exchanged for the priesthood of Messiah at the “true Tabernacle” - Heaven itself.
2. The blood of animal sacrifices (which could only be performed by an Aaronic priest),
is exchanged for the blood of God’s perfect Lamb.
3. Circumcision of the flesh (which was a blood sacrifice), in order to become a partaker of the “covenant of promise,” is exchanged for the “circumcision of Christ” - the circumcision of the heart - by faith.
4. The laws forbidding social fellowship and intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles are “changed,” because Christ has rendered all believers “clean.” The New Testament still forbids marriage between believers and unbelievers, but uncircumcised Gentiles who come to believe in Yeshua Messiah, receive the Holy Spirit and are “grafted in” to Israel redeemed.
Either we reject the Letter to the Hebrews and much in the letters of Paul, or we accept that some things are “changed” from “first covenant” to “new covenant.”
NOTE: I do believe that every one of the Ten Commandments is still living and valuable,
and desired behavior for His bride, by our “new” betrothed husband (2Cor. 11:2). He has promised to write that “law” on our hearts.
Our study “Israel - The People of God” will hopefully convince you that “Israel” is the name of the final redeemed people of God. Unrepentant “sinners in Zion” are “cut off” FROM Israel, and Gentiles who come to faith in Messiah, are “grafted in” TO Israel.
Many in the Hebrew Roots Movement, believe that any change to “the law” as commanded in the Five Book of Moses, is unthinkable. The Temple, with the Aaronic priesthood and the animal sacrifices will be restored, they say, and will continue once Messiah has returned. We need to look at some of the passages which are sited in support of that position, and the arguments based on those passages.
GOD DOES NOT CHANGE
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not;”
Psalm 89:34 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my lips.”
These verses have been quoted to support the teaching that God will never change His Sinai Covenant with Israel. And He didn’t. The LORD did not “change” that covenant.
The “first covenant” was not “changed.” It was rendered “obsolete.” It was a covenant of marriage, and it was rendered obsolete by the death of the betrothed “husband”(Jer. 2:1-3, Jer. 3:14, Jer. 31:32, Ezek. 16:32, Rom. 7:1-4).
Hebrews 8:13 “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete.” (NAS)
We are betrothed to Yeshua Messiah by a new covenant of marriage.
Under the new covenant the priesthood belongs to Christ and to those who are His bride. He is both King and High Priest forever (after the “order of Melchizedek”). His redeemed will reign as “kings and priests upon the earth” (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).
Hebrews 7:12 “For the priesthood being changed,
of necessity there is also a change of the law.”
And there is another way of looking at this. The LORD’s intention - His plan from eternity, was that His Son would become the perfect “sacrifice for sin,” the High Priest over Israel redeemed, and the King of kings. His plan has not “changed.” It remains the same.
NO ADDITIONS - NO SUBTRACTIONS
Deuteronomy 4:1-2 “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
Deuteronomy 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”
This is very serious! The LORD pronounced a curse upon “the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them” (Deut. 27:26). The Pharisees of Christ’s day believed that failure to keep every word of the Torah, would bring upon them the curse of God. No wonder there was such a conflict! No wonder Paul and all of the first believers were persecuted.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul clearly stated that physical circumcision for Gentile converts was no longer necessary.
He went much further saying that those who became circumcised in order to become “partakers of the covenant,” were “fallen from grace” and “estranged from Christ” (Gal. 5:5-6). Certainly this was a “change of the law.” Circumcision was the law under the “first” Covenant (Gen. 17:10, Exo. 12:44-48, Lev. 12:3, Jos. 5:3-5).
There were those in Paul’s day - converted Pharisees - who vehemently taught that all new converts must be physically circumcised, and agree to keep all the Law of Moses (including thrice yearly pilgrimage to the Temple at Jerusalem and the offering of animal sacrifices). These Pharisees did not believe that any part of the Torah could be “changed.”
Of course! No one should ever “change” the words of God. That’s not the point.
God did not “change” (or modify) the “first covenant” - in any way! That covenant was simply rendered OBSOLETE when Yeshua died - the betrothed “husband” of that covenant. The “first covenant” was a covenant of marriage. When the “husband” of such a covenant dies, the “woman” is free to “marry another.” That is the point Paul made in Romans 7:1-4. We are “betrothed” to “another man” - the One who rose from the dead.
See our study: “Two Covenants.”
The “new covenant” is NOT new. It is renewed, exactly as written at Sinai.
It was illegal for a Hebrew man - an Israelite, to re-marry a woman he had divorced for adultery or harlotry. He could NOT re-new the first marriage covenant with her. The LORD divorced Israel for both, and He said that Judah was just as guilty. But if He had divorced Israel at that time, then Messiah could not have been “born under the Law” to accomplish the redemption of Israel. Judah was finally widowed, when her betrothed “husband” died on a Cross. No! The “first covenant” is NOT “renewed.”
Hebrews 8:7-13 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says:
‘Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them,’ says the LORD.”
Notice that the “new covenant” is a “second” covenant. It is NOT just a “renewal” of the first covenant. This according to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, who calls the Covenant of Mt Sinai, “the first covenant” (Heb 8:7, 9:1, 9:15, 9:18).
The writer of Hebrews, is quoting from Jeremiah 31.
Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah–”
The Greek word translated as “new,” in Hebrews 8:8-13 is “kainos” (Strong’s #2537).
Meaning: 1) new 1a) as respects form 1a1) recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn 1b) as respects substance 1b1) of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of.
It is used for “new wineskins” (Matt 9:17), Nicodemus’ “new tomb” (Matt 27:60), Christ’s “new teaching” (Mark 1:27), “new tongues” (Mark 16:17), the “one new man” (Eph 2:15), the “new self” (Eph 4:24), the “new heavens and a new earth” (2Pet 3:13), the “new name” for the one who overcomes (Rev 2:17), the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 3:12), and the “new covenant” (Lk 22:20).
I don’t think anyone would argue that the New Jerusalem is simply a renewal of the older city on earth.
The Hebrew word translated as “new” in Jeremiah 31, “chadash” (#02319),
Meaning: a “new” or “fresh” thing.
It is used for a “new house,” “new wife,” “new song,” and for “the new heavens and a new earth” which the LORD promised to create. The “former” will not even come to mind (Isa 65:17). I don’t think anyone would argue that the “new wife” is simply “renewed,” or the “new house.” Solomon complained there was “nothing new under the sun.” I don’t think he meant “nothing renewed.”
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
The Hebrew word translated as “new,” is “chadash” (#02318).
Meaning: 1) to cause to grow up, new, to make new 1a) new strength and vigor is given to one 1b) to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt state
By contrast, the Greek word translated as “renew” or “renewed,” is “anakainoo” (#341).
Colossians 3:10 “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him . . .”
2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
Ephesians 4:23 “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,”
The Greek word translated here as “renewed,” is “ananeoo” (#365),
Meaning: 1) to renew (in the mind)
Colossians 3:10 “and have put on the new self [neos #3501b] who is being renewed [anakainoo] to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (NAS)
The point of all this word study, is to show that “kainos” (Strong’s #2537), is used consistently of the “new covenant” in the Apostolic Writings (New Testament). It is used to quote the Old Testament “chadash” (#02319).
The “new covenant” really is “new,” not a “renewed” Sinai Covenant.
Early believers at Jerusalem continued to offer sacrifices at the Temple.
They believed the Covenant was unchanged.
Paul went to offer sacrifices.
We cannot deny it happened. The story was faithfully preserved in Acts Chapter 21, because it ended with Paul’s arrest. At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul returned to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. He had been away from Judea for many years. He had apparently taken a Nazarite vow, for which he had his hair cut off some weeks before reaching the City (Acts 18:18). (See Numbers 6:2,5,9,18.)
The LORD gave Paul several warnings along the route, that he would end up in chains if he went to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23, Acts 21:4, Acts 21:11). But Paul was determined. Upon reaching Jerusalem he met with “James and all the elders” of the church, who joyfully told him of all the converts from the Jews who had come to believe in Yeshua as the Christ. These Jewish converts were also “zealous for the Law” (Acts 21:20). They continued to bring animals for sacrifice, to the Temple.
Acts 21:21-24 [James speaking to Paul] “but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.” “What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.”
There were several sacrifices involved in this process of purification. Paul went to the Temple, and paid the money for the sacrifices, but before they could complete the process of purification, some of the Jews from Asia recognized Paul - and a riot ensued. From that day on Paul remained a prisoner of Rome.
Why did Paul do as the Elders directed? Did he believe that the blood of animals really effected anything at all? Did he cross the line? Did he strike the rock twice, in his effort to “win” Jews? We are left to wonder.
1Corinthians 9:20 [Paul later wrote] “And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law” (NAS).
Some are teaching that Jews should continue to “keep the Law,” with circumcision of males, and sacrifices at the Temple, because of the Covenant with their ancestors. Gentiles are exempt.
Acts 21:25 [James speaking for the Council] “But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, [physical circumcision and sacrifices at the Temple] except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
These things would allow Gentiles to meet with Jews for worship. Jews continued to sacrifice at Jerusalem. Gentiles did not. Are you starting to see why some in the Messianic community are teaching that Jews are still obligated to keep the sacrificial law, and to circumcise their male newborns, while Gentiles never were.
Personally - I cannot accept a two tiered system, with different requirements for Jews vs. Gentiles. All human beings are “saved” in the same way - “by grace,” “through faith.” Such would certainly keep up the “wall of division.” It reminds me of the teaching that Gentiles must believe in Christ now - by faith, but Jews will come to worship Him after they see His glorious return. That’s a whopping double standard.
Yeshua kept The Law.
He is our example.
We should keep The Law that Jesus kept - The Sinai Law.
Jesus was “born under the law.” He was born under the “first covenant.” We are now living under the “second” covenant, the New Covenant.
All of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament. Only a few differences are seen, between the “first” and the “new.” See pages 3&4.
See our study: “The Ten Commandments - In the New Testament.”
WHY THE CONFUSION
CONCERNING THE LAW?
We wonder why they didn’t “get it” - that something was “changed.” Easy for us to say. The Jerusalem Temple has been gone for 1900+ years. It wasn’t so easy for them. They had 1200 years of Tabernacle and Temple history, and teaching. Not so easy to dismiss. They had laws forbidding social fellowship with uncircumcised Gentiles. Not so easy to dismiss.
The Temple was destroyed in 70AD, and Jews were banished from Jerusalem. A terrible persecution followed, that lasted for many years. If the LORD had allowed the destruction of the Temple sooner, the ensuing persecution might have hampered the early spread of the Gospel. Better that the destruction was delayed, even if it meant that some confusion lasted among believers, concerning the “change” from “first covenant” to “new covenant.”
The problem for our day - coming very soon, is that a third Temple will be restored on the Mount - before the return of Christ in glory. Many will go there to offer sacrifices. But the LORD will not be there. An imposter will “sit in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2Thess. 2:3-4). He will claim to be Messiah. Only the anointed “Son of David” was allowed to sit within the Temple court (Ezek 44:1-3).
Those who have not studied “the law” for themselves, with the New Covenant writings and much deep prayer, may be deceived by the imposter to come.
Remember: You are an Israelite - “grafted in” by faith.
We pray this study will prove a blessing.
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