PART ONE: THE FIRST COVENANT
1 - What Is A Covenant?
2 - The Covenant with Israel
3 - The Holy Assembly
4 - The Torah
5 - The Sabbath Covenant
6 - The Feasts of the Lord
7 - Other Nations Enter the Covenant
8 - The Desecration of the Covenant
9 - The Promise of A New Covenant
PART TWO: THE NEW COVENANT
10 - The New Covenant
11 - The Holy Assembly
12 - The Torah
13 - The Sabbath Covenant
14 - The Feasts of the Lord
15 - Gentiles Enter the Covenant
16 - The Desecration of the Covenant
16 - The Desecration of the Covenant
In chapter 7 we looked at what the First Covenant said about the desecration of the first covenant in Israel. During the time of Yeshua we see the desecration of the covenant and we also have a good idea how the covenant was being observed in his day. Let us look at what Yeshua had to say about their commitment to the covenant.
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Yeshua and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the Torah asked Yeshua, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?" (Mark 7:1-5)
In the Torah there are many commands requiring the washing of hands, feet and clothes. Although the washing of hands before eating is a good cleanliness practice, there is no command in the Torah requiring it. This command is from the "tradition of the elders" known today as the Talmud.
He replied, "Isaish was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death,' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:6-13)
Yeshua points out that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Torah have placed more of an emphasis on the "traditions" then on God's commands. The command to give offerings (Corban) is in the Torah, but these Jews have taken the command and twisted it to meet their desire to violate another command, which they do not want to observe.
Yeshua is not condemning the "tradition" to wash their hands before eating he is simply using this as a tool to make a point. Yeshua had taught his disciples to listen to, and obey, what the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Torah tell them, which would include the washing of hands.
Then Yeshua said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the [Torah] and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. (Matthew 23:1-3)
In chapter 8 we looked at the desecration of the community of Israel in the First Covenant. But we recognized that the assembly could not be desecrated since the holy assembly was made up of those who did not desecrate the covenant, but the Holy Assembly has been desecrated today.
By translating the Greek word "ekklesia" as "church", instead of "assembly" as it should be, we have created a new people of God called the "church". One of the teachings in the churches today is that the assembly of Israel has been rejected by God and has been replaced by the "church" as God's new chosen people of the New Covenant. We have come to view Judaism and Christianity as two separate religions, with Judaism being a false religion. The bible teaches that "Christianity" is rooted in Judaism and the only true difference between the two is that many of the Jews are still waiting for the Messiah. It is our job to teach them the truth. They do not need to "convert" to Christianity; they only need to acknowledge that Yeshua is their Messiah.
Since the body of God's people is one, not only can we see the desecration of the assembly by the Gentiles, but also by the Jews who have left their heritage and the Torah by assimilating into the secular world and the churches. This is clearly a ploy of Satan to further the elimination of God's chosen people.
The "church" has also forgotten that we are "citizens with Israel", "the descendants of Abraham", "a chosen nation", and part of the "assembly of Israel". It is interesting that the most common name for the believers today is "Christian". This word is only used three times in the New Covenant. There are many other names given to the believers in the book of Acts, like "the way" which was in reality a sect of Judaism and not a separate religion.
By separating ourselves from the Jews, we have alienated ourselves from our "brothers". By doing this, we have desecrated the Holy Assembly. That was not even possible in the first covenant.
Over the 1500 years following the giving of the covenant at Mount Sinai, the covenant was desecrated and twisted to the point that it no longer resembled the original. Is it not possible then, that after
2,000 years after the giving of the new covenant that it to has been desecrated and twisted to the point that it too, no longer resembles the original? Let us remember that Satan wants to desecrate whatever God has consecrated, this is seen in the First Covenant and he has succeeded in the new covenant as well.
Back in the first chapter, we discussed the lack of commitment in our society today. This lack of commitment is not only to our families, employers, and employees but also to our churches and to our God. The bulk of the teachings today in our churches are grace and love and ignoring works and obedience.
The covenant between God and his people is not taught or understood by the average church member today. Covenants are considered First Covenant teachings and not relevant to today. Our commitment to God begins and ends with an hour or two on Sunday and an occasional Bible reading in the week. We teach and live by "comfortable Christianity" putting no requirements on its members.
Even the word covenant has been replaced with the word testament in some translations. The word Testament simply means a "will", but this does not accurately convey the meaning of Covenant that is a binding agreement between two parties and sealed with blood. Our Old and New "Testaments" should be called the First and New (or renewed) Covenants.
In the First Covenant Satan succeeded in twisting the way the people kept the Torah by introducing them to a legalistic form of keeping the Torah. Satan has taken this one step further in the New Covenant and succeeded in teaching that there is no Torah.
Just as the church says that the Christians have replaced the Jews as God's chosen people, the church also says that Grace has replaced the Torah. If the Torah is only found in the First Covenant and grace is only found the New Covenant, then, we would expect to find the word "Law" only used in the First Covenant and the word "Grace" only in the New Covenant. In reality, these two words are used about the same in both. Law (Hebrew Torah and Greek Nomos) is used 223 times in the First Covenant and 194 times in the New Covenant. Grace (Hebrew Chen and Greek Charis) is used 147 times in the First Covenant and 155 times in the New Covenant.
Grace is taught in the First Covenant just as Torah is also taught in the New Covenant (even more times than grace). If you look up all 194 occurrences of the Greek word nomos you will never find it being used in a negative way or imply that it is abolished. As we have seen in chapter 11, the scriptures are very clear, the Torah was, is and will be.
If we throw out the Torah we also throw out the king. Every king has a set of rules and regulations for his kingdom to obey. God the King has given his Torah for his people in his Kingdom to obey. When we say there is no Torah we take away all authority from the King. Can a king rule without rules? No, we call a kingdom with no rules - anarchy.
Yeshua warned his disciples what the last days would be like,
Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness (anomos), the love of most will grow cold. (Matthew 24:11)
One of the Greek words for wickedness is the word "anomos" which as we pointed out earlier means "no Torah" or "violation of Torah". Who are the false prophets? They are those who are teaching that there is no Torah and the love of those who have no Torah will grow cold. Let us remember what Yeshua told us, "If you love me, you will keep my commands" (John 14:15).
Another Greek word closely related to anomos is anomia (the adjective form of the word) which means the same as anomos. Anomos and anomia are used quite a few times, but since they are translated as wickedness in most translations, their true meanings are covered up. Let us look at some of these passages and translate anomos and anomia correctly (These passages are from the New King James Version).
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice violation of Torah!' (Matthew 7:23)
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice violation of Torah, (Matthew 13:41)
"Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and violation of Torah. (Matthew 23:28)
"Blessed are those whose violation of Torah are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; (Romans 4:7)
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of the violation of Torah leading to more violation of Torah, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:19)
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with violation of Torah? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
For the mystery of the violation of Torah is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
Whoever commits sin also commits violation of Torah, and sin is violation of Torah. (1 John 3:4)
We have already discussed the Sabbath in great deal in a previous chapter, but let us look at how the Sabbath is kept today in our churches.
Throughout the last 2,000 years we can see an evolution of the Sabbath. Even in this century, we have seen some of this evolutionary process. By the third and fourth centuries, Sunday replaced the Sabbath day of rest for the Christians. It is not my purpose here to go into the details about this change; there are many good books on this subject. I just want to give an overview of how the Christian Sabbath evolved from Saturday to Sunday. There are two main reasons for this change. To be separate from the non-Jewish believers and to bring the pagans into the church. Let us recognize that it is Satan's desire and his plans that are ultimately responsible for bringing about this desecration of God's holy day, but it is the church that has allowed the desecration.
To be separate from the Jews
The book of Acts shows that the first century believers observed the seventh day Sabbath. In the second century the Jews and the believers began to split apart. The non-Jewish believers began to separate themselves from the Jews by being less Jewish and the Jews began to senate themselves from the non-Jewish believers by becoming more Jewish. One of the dividing walls that were constructed between the two was the Sabbath day. The Christians began meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday), while the Jews continued to meet on the seventh day (Saturday).
To bring in the pagans
Around the fourth century, the Roman Church, in its desire to "Christianize" the whole empire, declared all people "Christians". These "Christians" still wanted to hold on to their pagan holy days and customs. One of which was their worship of the Sun god, which was done on the day of the sun, or as we know it today; "Sun"day. The worship of the sun god began with the Babylonian Empire many centuries before Christ. The Roman Church, in order to appease the pagans, declared that Sunday would be the day of worship for all Christians.
The Sabbath today
The Average Christian when asked why we do not "keep the seventh day Sabbath holy" (Exodus 20:8-10), will give a variety of answers. Here are the most frequently used answers (excuses).
1. Every day is a Sabbath.
2. You can make any day of the week you want a Sabbath.
3. We don't know which day is the seventh day.
4. Our Sabbath-rest is in God.
5. The Sabbath was for the Jews.
6. Yeshua changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
Let us examine each of these "answers".
Every day is a Sabbath
God himself defined what the Sabbath day is.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work. (Exodus 20:9-10)
The Sabbath is a day that no work is to be done. If every day is a Sabbath day, then we could not work on any day.
You can make any day of the week you want a Sabbath.
This is in direct conflict with the fourth commandment that specifically states that the Sabbath is to be on the "seventh" day.
We don't know which day is the seventh day.
Look at any calendar. The first column on the left is the first day of the week. What day is that? Sunday. Look at the last column on the right, this is the seventh day of the week. What day is that? Saturday. Webster's dictionary says that "Saturday" is "the seventh day of the week". Even our culture today (as does most others) recognizes Saturday as the seventh day of the week.
Remember that the Sabbath day was both blessed and made holy by God at creation. The Sabbath is very special to God. I do believe that God would ensure that we would know what day it was on.
Our Sabbath-rest is in God
We discussed this in greater detail in chapter 12. God does promise rest to his people in the First Covenant, but is a Sabbath-rest?
The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)
Yeshua also promised rest to his people, but is this a Sabbath-rest?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
God promises rest to his people, but this is not the Sabbath-rest that God commanded his people to observe. Remember that the Sabbath means a day without work for the purpose of resting and worshiping. And as Hebrew
4:9 states; "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God."
The Sabbath was for the Jews
All of the Torah was originally given to Israel (and the other nations who left Egypt with Israel) at Mount Sinai, including the 10 Commandments. No believer today would argue that the command "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:7) was only for the Jews. We recognize that the 10 commandments are valid today, except the fourth command to observe the seventh day Sabbath. How can we say nine of the Ten Commandments are valid today but not the fourth?
Yeshua changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday
This is probably the most common answer given to explain why we do not keep the seventh day Sabbath today.
No scripture in the New Covenant speaks of a change of the Sabbath. We saw in chapter 12 that Yeshua, the apostles and Paul kept the Sabbath. The truth is that the Roman Church officially changed the day many centuries ago. Here is an excerpt from three of the Catholic Catechisms.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday Instead of Saturday? Answer: "We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."
- Peter Geiermann, The Converts' Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 2nd Ed. 1910 p. 50
Question: Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals or precepts? Answer: "Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; -she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority."
- Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism p. 174
"From this we may understand how great is the authority of the church in interpreting or explaining to us the commandments of God -an authority which is acknowledged by the universal practice of the whole Christian world, even of those sects who profess to take the Holy Scriptures as their sole rule of faith since they observe as the day of rest not the seventh day of the week commanded by the Bible, but the first day, which we know is to be kept holy only from the tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church."
- Henry Gibson, Catechism made easy (no. 2) 9th ed. Vol 1 pp
Up until the middle of this century, it was commonly understood within the church that the Sunday Sabbath was the day of rest and no work was performed in obedience to the commandment. In the last 50 years (since the end of World War II) our culture began to be more self centered and less God centered. In this selfishness, we have changed the Sunday Sabbath even further. We may attend Church in the morning for an hour or two, but the rest of the day may be spent watching football or mowing the lawn. Even in the last 20 years we have seen a great decline in church attendance and many "Christians" look at church attendance as optional.
We are to be set apart from the world
God's people are called to be set apart from the world. But over the centuries Christians have become more and more like the pagan or atheistic world. Sunday is a good example. The church may recognize Sunday as the day of rest from work, but so does the world. If a business in the community is going to be closed on one day, what day is that? In most every case it is Sunday. Is this because the owner of the business wants to go to church? Probably not, he recognizes that he cannot work everyday and does need a rest from his work and Sunday is recognized as the day that this nation rests.
God set the seventh day (Saturday) aside as a day of rest, a day to be holy or set apart for God. How does the world view Saturday? This is the day for parties, fun and play, for the seeking after our own pleasures rather than God.
I mentioned earlier that the Roman Church accepted the holy days of the pagan culture in order to appease them and bring them into the "church". The two major "Christian" holidays we have today came from this pagan culture. They are Christmas and Easter.
Here again we see Satan who has succeeded in deceiving the church into believing that the feasts set by God himself are no longer required to be kept, and instead we have embraced the feasts which were originally established in pagan cultures long before Yeshua was born.
Let me first explain that I do not object to observing Christmas or Easter, but these holy days are not in the Bible. These holy days can be observed in a Christian home with a Christian atmosphere, which is pleasing to God. We must also recognize that God did command certain days to be feast days and he expects us to keep them.
Again I will emphasis that it is not my intention to go into any detail here, but to examine a few facts about the origins of our "Christian" holy days. There are many good books available that do go into detail on these holy days if one chooses to investigate this further. I only want to point out that what we consider "holy" may in fact have its origins in the "unholy".
The word "Easter" comes from the word "Ishtar". Ishtar was the goddess of war and fertility of the Babylonian Empire. She is also the wife of the Sun god, Nimrod. Much of our traditions surrounding Easter are rooted in the worship of the goddess Ishtar. The sunrise service was originally observed hundreds of years before Christ. It was observed on the morning of the summer equinox in honor of this goddess. Two of the symbols of fertility associated with Ishtar were eggs and rabbits.
The Winter Solstice is on December 22nd. On this day the sun reaches its lowest point and the 25th was recognized as the day that the sun began to rise higher and was known to the Babylonians as the day the "sun god" (Nimrod) was born. Another fertility symbol of the goddess Ishtar is the evergreen tree. The Yule log and the eating of ham were both originally observed as traditions associated with the god Nimrod and his wife Ishtar.
"Come out of [Babylon], my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes". (Revelation 18:4-5)
The Christian holy days are rooted in the Babylonian worship of pagan gods. God is calling us out of this false religious system and calling back into his religious system which he instituted thousands of years ago at Mount Sinai. When we are faced with the decision of whether or not we should observe Christmas and Easter rather than the Holy Feasts of Israel, let us remember the words of Yeshua.
"You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (Mark 7:9)
Will we continue to observe the traditions of our church while continuing to ignore the commands of God?
Copyright © 2004
Jeff A. Benner
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