One of the most important subjects for believers in this latter-day era of widespread lawlessness and licentiousness is the role of the law of God in society and in our own lives. God’s moral laws are rules for conduct, transmitted to the Israelites (Psa. 147:19), who were to “teach” them to all the world’s peoples (Micah 4:1-2) for their benefit. But popular teaching has instead created confusion by inventing arbitrary (so-called) “divisions” of the law, including a “catch-all” category they have labeled “ordinances” which we are told “are all abolished for the modern Christian.” Common practice places into this latter division any individual laws which are personally disdained. On this basis, some individuals and denominations call the Biblical food laws “ordinances” and claim that they are abolished under the New Covenant, while others call them “statutes” and assert their continuing relevance for the Christian. What is the truth concerning this matter?
Leading scholarship reveals that the Law of God is a seamless whole – there are absolutely no divisions as far as God is concerned! In fact, the entire Word of God itself is a holy and true united continuing story, and to remove any part is to leave it altogether incomplete and tarnished. Although the Word of God was given to us in 66 books, they all inter-relate together giving us a complete picture of God’s Work throughout history. Christ told us in Matthew 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” How can anyone then teach that an entire large section of the law is now “abolished?” Such a view is patently unsound in view of Christ’s strong statement to the contrary.
Nothing in the Word of God has been abolished under the New Covenant. Until heaven and earth pass away, and not a moment before, not a single dot over an “i” will be abolished or removed. Scripture tells us, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19; cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32) One of the saddest situations in Christendom is to hear ministers of the gospel assert that this or that part of the Bible that they refuse to obey is “abolished.” Note this: the word, abolished, should never ever be used by Christians for any part of the Bible, for the penalty is to be removed from the Kingdom of God and the Book of Life. It is a dangerous precedent to begin removing verses out of God’s holy book.
But you may ask, are we then to reinstitute blood animal sacrifices? Of course not, because although the Old Covenant law was not abolished, it was instead transformed – changed for the better – under the New Covenant. That is why the New Covenant is called the “Better Covenant” (Hebrews 8:6), because it is a transformation or improvement over the Old. In fact, the word “new” in the phrase “New Covenant” is a translation of a Greek word, kainos, meaning “renewed or freshened.” The New Covenant is the “renewed covenant,” the transformed and improved version of the Old Covenant. It is not at all true that the Old Covenant and its principles were to be thrown out in the trash as rubbish. God’s principles are eternal, but the application changed for the better under the New Covenant.
One of the greatest British-Israel scholars of the late 19th century was Dr. J.M. Grant, whose distinguished career included appointment as the Surgeon-General of Great Britain. He clearly stated the true role of the laws of sacrifice for us under the New Covenant in better terms than I could, and will let him explain it for us: “The truth is that we live under a dispensation of sacrifice just as fully as did Noah and Moses. The only difference is that our sacrifice is commemorative while theirs was anticipatory; and the elements that we employ are different from theirs, because Christ has been offered for us as he had not been for them. He is our victim as well as our priest; and while He offers His own blood for us, no other victim must be offered – ‘there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.’ This is St. Paul’s teaching in Hebrews 10:26, or rather, this text is misapplied by those who quote against the argument which I am advancing.” (The Origin, Progress, & Establishment of the Kingdom of God, 1888, p. 102)
To put this in a different way, the law of blood sacrifice is still in place today; we still “claim the blood” under the New Covenant just as much as our forefathers of Israel did under the Old, but now it is the blood of Christ instead of the blood of bulls and goats. The Old Covenant sacrificial law is certainly still in effect today that, “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22) The Apostle Paul did not think that the law of blood sacrifice was abolished! When I was young the church hymnals were filled with songs about the blood, but today they have all been removed by modernists who claim that the law of blood sacrifice is abolished and not for the Christian. Is it any wonder that the next step has been to claim that people can be saved without Christ and His blood sacrifice for sin?
Many have been confused by the Apostle’s statement that Christ by His death was “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. 2:14) In a separate study I show that these “ordinances” which were nailed to the cross were human ordinances, not God’s ordinances. (See the article, “The Better Covenant” on the CBIA website at www.israelite.ca.)
You may think that the law of sacrifices is a subject of minor importance for us and the least of the law and its commands. If so, ponder these words of our Savior who by the laws of sacrifice shed His blood for you: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19)
Some may think the subject of blood sacrifice is a gory one dealing with death instead of life. Not so! The purpose of the law of sacrifice for sin was to provide a way for us to obtain eternal life, as we read in the gospel of John: “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:48-53) The law of sacrifice in the Bible is indeed for the Christian today and is a Divine ordinance for life!