Monday, February 16, 2015

Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets

These days it is rare to find anyone who is correctly teaching the proper relationship of the Law and the Prophets to the kingdom of God.  Many are confused about the New Covenant of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, and they fail to preach the whole counsel of God.  So let's take a look at what Jesus said on this topic.

Jesus with Moses and Elijah in the Kingdom of God
In Luke's gospel it is recorded that Jesus said:

"But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."  (Luk 9:27)

So He said some of his disciples would see the kingdom of God before they tasted death.  He meant that they would see the kingdom before they left this planet at the end of their lives.  And just as He said, eight days later He took His three closest disciples -- Peter, James, and John -- up onto a mountain to pray.  That is when the three disciples saw the kingdom of God. There the Lord's face and clothes became as white as lightning.

“Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.” (Luk 9:30, NIV)

The disciples saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. It is important to notice who was talking with the Lord in the glorious kingdom of God there on the mountain.  Not only was Jesus appearing glorified, but so were Moses and Elijah. These two men represented the Law and the Prophets.

Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!"  (Luk 9:35)

So the Heavenly Father identified Jesus Christ as His Son, His Chosen One, which was an important seal of divine authority and remains so today as recorded in Scripture.  The Father commanded the disciples to listen to Jesus.  So this changed the focus, so that from that point forward all disciples of Christ would listen to Jesus.  There is still Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets, but we listen to Jesus now.  Therefore, we must ask whether that means we listen to Jesus to the exclusion of the Law and Prophets, or in conjunction with them.

The Law and the Prophets Fulfilled in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God
Jesus answered this question later when He said:

"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.” (Luk 16:16-18)

Since Jesus came, the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing their way into the kingdom.  It was only until Jesus came that the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed. However, Jesus did not do away with the Law and the Prophets or annul them.  He upheld them!  Although He established a New Covenant with God's people, according to the prophet Jeremiah, He upheld the Law and the Prophets. He said, "it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail."  And in Matthews gospel, he said:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 5:17-19)

In the kingdom of heaven, whoever keeps and teaches the Law and the Prophets is considered great. Far from abolishing the Law and Prophets, the Lord gave them a place of very high importance. He said that not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. So let nobody annul one of the least of these commandments, or teaches others to do the same.  In fact, if you read the rest of the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, you will clearly see that Jesus taught the Law and the Prophets.  For example, He said, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 7:12). Other topics He taught about from the Law and Prophets in that sermon were murder, adultery, reconciliation, righteousness, and more. 

Likewise, in the context of Luke's gospel, where Jesus said it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail, He immediately referred to adultery in connection with divorce. That was a connection that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were not preaching about. He said, "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery." In doing so, He accurately taught the meaning of the Law and the Prophets, tying together and unifying passages from the Law (like Genesis 2:24 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4) with passages from the Prophets (like Jeremiah 3:1 and Malachi 2:13-16).  He carried the same message in the gospel of the kingdom as the Lord said through Malachi and other prophets, "you are not keeping My ways."

Another example of Jesus tying together and unifying the Law and the Prophets with the gospel of the kingdom is in regard to the commandments to love. "One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."  (Mat 22:35-40).  Therefore, Jesus summarized in two commandments everything that was written by Moses and the prophets. He showed that the whole Law and Prophets are unified or tied together by the one common, central theme of love.

Now back to the Luke passage we were examining a moment ago. In the same context of Jesus' instruction about the lasting nature of the Law and Prophets, He immediately told the account of the rich man in hell and Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.  This was not a parable, because it contains a proper name, which is Lazarus, and a parable never uses proper names.  Most of us are familiar with this account of the two men in the underworld.  But do we fully understand the final impact of the story's lesson?  Listen to Abraham teach us the lesson:

"But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them…If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luk 16:29,31).

First of all, Abraham in his lifetime came before Moses and the Prophets, as well as before Christ.  Yet Abraham taught that people on earth should listen to Moses and the Prophets.  He upheld their teachings. In fact, he said that if people will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. And that is a veiled reference to both the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the first fruits from the dead, as well as the many genuine and proven testimonies we hear in these last days of people rising from the dead with a message from the Lord about heaven and hell.

Secondly, it was the Lord Jesus who told this true account of the rich man and Lazarus, and He used it to further emphasize His point that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.  In this story that Jesus told, He declared through the mouth of Abraham that people should listen to Moses and the Prophets.  As I said, that was the main point of the story, which most people miss.  In saying this, Jesus upheld the Law and the Prophets. In fact, if the rich man had listened to them, he would have remembered the poor and been kind to Lazarus.

Therefore, we can see that the Law and Prophets have not lost their importance and have not been abolished by the New Covenant.  The way we relate to God now has changed under the New Covenant, because of the great and loving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us, shedding His own blood, so that we sinners could be made righteous.  In the gospel of the kingdom, we preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But the ways of God have not changed!

And the message of the Lord to the apostate Church today is still "you are not keeping My ways." The message of the gospel is that you must repent of sin and believe on Jesus Christ in order to receive forgiveness of sins.  The Father said to listen to Jesus and Jesus said to listen to the Law and the Prophets, which taught a pro-love message against sin. We need to listen to Jesus, Who will teach us by His Spirit to properly understand the deeper meaning of the Law and Prophets, as He did in His Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the gospels, in order to show us the ways of God.  Then we will see where we have gone astray, so that we can repent, be forgiven, and return to God.

Learning the Ways of God in the Law and Prophets
I recommend you read my other articles about the Law, in order to understand clearly what I am teaching about the ways of God, which is not a return to living under the Law, since we are under grace and not Law. We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ. Therefore, I strongly recommend reading the following articles below, beginning with the ones in the left column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
Faith Works!
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?
The Obedience of Faith
Righteousness by Faith not Law
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully
What Then Must We Observe?
Remember the Eternal Law of God

Believe All That the Prophets Have Spoken
Jesus taught us to believe all that Moses and the Prophets have spoken.  He said, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (Joh 5:46-47).  From this it is clear that Moses and Jesus are in harmony with each other.  And it is necessary to believe both Moses and Jesus.  If you do not believe the writings of Moses, you will not believe the words of Jesus.

Another passage in Luke’s gospel that I would like to mention is the account of the Lord meeting the two men on the road to Emmaus on the day of His resurrection. 

“And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luk 24:25-27)

Notice that he rebuked them for being slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. The prophets spoke of how it was necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory.  One example of that is in Isaiah 53, in which Isaiah prophesied about Christ’s suffering and crucifixion around seven hundred years before it happened (also see Yeshua Ha'Maschiah in the Tanakh).  And notice how Jesus explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with Moses and with all the prophets. So as they listened to Jesus, He taught about Himself from the Law and the prophets.

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luk 24:44-47)

Notice that all things that are written about Jesus in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. So Jesus emphasized His harmonious relationship with the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  In Him we find the fulfillment of what is written in those Scriptures, including their fulfillment in Him within our lives.  His suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead were all in fulfillment of those Scriptures. Likewise, we proclaim to all nations repentance for forgiveness of sins in His name, just as it is written in the Law and the prophets. It is always just as it is written in the Law and the prophets, since they must always be fulfilled.  And Jesus is the One Who opens our minds to understand those Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to Him!

As Philip said to Nathanael, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (Joh 1:45).  We proclaim as Peter did,  "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."  (Act 10:43). As Paul did, we believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets. (Ac 24:14).

Finally, if you notice in the many divine revelations of heaven and hell that I have posted on Eternal Destinations, the message in these revelations typically refers to the ways of God that are found throughout the Bible, including the Law and the Prophets. Let's keep the ways of God according to Scripture, and not be like the rich man in hell and countless others who failed to do so, because they didn't listen to the Law and the Prophets.  They were slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. Just as it is written, let us prepare in holiness for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is coming right away! The call is going out today, "Sinner, come home!" Repent and believe the gospel, for the Kingdom of God is near.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.  The calligraphy in the "Every Word of God is Flawless" image used in this article is by my sixteen-year-old daughter, C.V. Lacroix.  The "At the Cross" illustration was also created by her. You can find more of her fine artwork at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I recommend, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of Hell, Restored Truth, Zipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, The Cost of Discipleship, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Remember the Eternal Law of God, Is Tithing Required?, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?The Straight and Narrow PathA Trip to Hell, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Separation from the World, The Rise of Antichrists, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. 

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