Where are we to look for truth, in a smoking mountain, an earthquake, a hurricane, the explosive force of a blazing fire or the rising tide of a grand tsunami, a swarm of locust or a plague of disease, or the suffocating death of the Mosaic Law? Many of us have been lead to truth through the tragedies of life. Those tragedies have been our teachers to instruct and point us to the light; but did we not rather find truth in the soft shower of a Spring rain, the pleasant fragrance of a field of flowers, the beautiful sun setting in an ocean of blue, a cool Summer breeze on the back of our neck, or the gentle peace of a baby lamb?
Elijah feared for his life and hid in a cave on mount Horeb where he was told he would see God.
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’”
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:11-13
For most, truth is held in bondage to the law; but is not the law the servant of truth? In fear Elijah expected to see God through an act of force, but he was looking in the wrong place. In fear men look to the power of the law as their cloak of comfort. Even Christians expect to take comfort in the law and take their rest hidden in the cave on Horeb; and although it is called the Mountain of the Almighty, God was there as a gentle soothing voice of peace and assurance, and it was those words that gave power to Elijah, and not the rampage of the Divine Magistrate displaying His Majesty. Elijah did not return to the Desert of Damascus carrying the Pentateuch, the Torah, the Law of Moses under his arm, he returned in trust and faith in the Living God whom he had just met. He had no authority to do what he was about to do outside of simple obedience to his Master who would take care of the details.
Today Christians still, like Elijah, look for God in the absolute justice of the Law, and always go to the Old Testament to justify their actions to judge, swear, and kill. Pray that you never meet God on the basis of His law rather than on the basis of His mercy, which has been displayed in the life and death of His Son. It was only after Elijah dropped his arms from a posture of defense that he surrendered to the kind gentleness of a loving Savior.
“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17
How are we to reconcile the sayings of Jesus concerning the “law”?
“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.”
“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.” Matthew 5:17-19
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:11-15
How can we reconcile the smoking mountain with the Lamb of God? There is no reconciliation; one or the other has to go.
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith 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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.” Hebrews 8:7-9
In this drama of law and grace dwells the terrible struggle between evil and goodness and darkness and light. Outwardly the Church claims to follow Christ, but when the question touches the flesh and our personal lives, we retreat back into the bondage of the law, and deny Christ. Instead of holding to one of the two, the Law of Moses or the law of love in Christ, they acknowledge both to be valid and straddle the fence between the Old Testament and the New.
The Hebrews were weighed down by all the external ordnances that were added to the already formidable load put on them by Moses. It was to these Jews that Christ appeared, finding all of life strictly defined, down to the finest detail, and all of this the Jews acknowledged as the commands of God.
When strict laws govern a people, especially when it deals with the minutia of an examined and scrutinized life, what can a teacher, i.e. Christ, teach such a people about truth and grace without infringing on their laws; toes were going to be stepped on, it was unavoidable. Christ, understanding the pillars on which their law was founded, takes from it what is truly the Devine law of the Kingdom, and rejects the rest.
“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.’” Matthew 13:52
Lying buried within the Old Testament law is the eternal law of Christ and it is that law that Jesus extracts and displays before His disciples and says that not one jot or tittle can pass from this law. This is the law that He says that “whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” This is that law which is the essence and core of the Mosaic Law; loving God and loving your neighbor.
The Old Testament law has its purpose, and that purpose is to prick the conscience of every man and make him aware that he is a law breaker, and deserves death. Once that is accomplished he has the choice of repenting or rebelling. True repentance leads to Christ who opens the cell door and throws away the key; the key being the condemnation of the law. The Law of Moses is then null and void and has no part in their lives, at all, other than to instruct others who need to repent. To return to the law after receiving salvation is to judge Christ as insufficient. It is Christ’s divine law of love that He teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. Today it is almost universally taught that the law overrides the divine law of Christ, and for those Jesus says, “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.” Following these words Jesus proceeds to teach how His divine, eternal, law of love, is to be fulfilled.
The Word of God is still hid from men whose hearts are locked on the letter of the word and have not the Spirit of the word. The Spirit has always been toward love, forgiveness, and mercy, if it weren’t, there would be none of us here to contest the argument; but we are here. Jesus has spoken plainly and advises all men to lay down their weapons of defense, whether that be legal, physical, or manufactured. Prudence dictates we surrender and live.
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:31-33
To say we surrender but to secretly hide a stiletto or gun in our boot is no surrender at all. To say we surrender then quote some obsolete law from our old kingdom, in defense of our rebellion, is to use that same law to condemn ourselves. To say we surrender and to continuously teach that another set of laws should be followed is treason, and carries a death sentence. To say we surrender and believe that there is still some worth or power remaining in the old system is presumptuous, and no better than witchcraft or astrology, or the hallucinations of vanity and pride. To say we surrender and then steal away some wedge of gold to indulge at some future date is stupidity in the extreme. To say we surrender and to claim some kind of ownership is delusional. The King who is coming against us is no other than the Lord God Himself, and His terms of peace are total and complete surrender. He requires even our thought-life to be taken captive; but in return He gives us freedom and life everlasting. This is a wonderful bargain, yet most do not understand the terms because they hold onto the dream of life perfected under their old master, the law, and spy on the liberty of their brothers and sister and promote the law in underhanded ways and deceptively teach the foolishness of Christ and His new law of love, mercy, and forgiveness. This is no surrender, it is rebellion, and on the massive scale of the angels in some distant time. Lucifer will once again take his stand against the Almighty in the greatest contest ever, and will be assisted by none other than the Church. The blind will lead the blind into battle and they will all fall into the pit.
When I say the Church I do not mean the Ecclesia, but rather the manmade imitation that we see up and down Main Street who worship programs, icons, men, buildings, sensual excitements, and of course, the coffee café. The Church exists, and will always exist: small, poor, and persecuted.
Christ broke the law by stripping it of all the non-essentials, and for that He was murdered by those who were awaiting their Messiah. Christ was crucified; the seed fell to the ground, was buried, grew, and multiplied. His teaching remained with His disciples and passed in to another age. In this new age weeds found root and overgrew and choked out the truth. The teaching of men replaced Divine revelation; the letter of the law hid the Spirit of the Gospel and the teaching of Christ became entangled with the Torah, the Law, which Christ had rejected.
The struggle between darkness and light is at a point where light only barely penetrates the dark, and truth has been turned in to a lie. It is the duty of every Christian to remove the creeping mold that has attached itself to the Gospel and to confront those who have believed the lie and live in error.
I will move a little deeper in a follow-up article and illuminate specifics of Christ’s commands and how they have been reversed to mean something different than what Christ intended.