Can a God-breathed eternal command lose power? Can it be nullified, canceled, or made obsolete? The Old Testament says absolutely never, NO! The New Testament in the Book of Hebrews says YES, it already happened! As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ we need to be able to see the truth AND LEARN FROM THIS. If you will ride through the storm, this lesson will bless you! Let’s get started.
The Old Testament writers say that EVERY ONE of God’s commands/rules will endure forever. Here is a sampling of the Old Testament’s position:
The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.–Psalm 119:160. Every one! No ordinance from God is excluded. Not a single one! They ALL last forever.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.–Isaiah 40:8. The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah declared that although the grass is seasonal and flowers ultimately yield to the conditions around them, God-breathed words are forever, and their strength stands throughout time.
Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.–Psalm 119:152 Again, these writers believed that God’s laws and statutes would last forever.
What laws, statutes, ordinances were these Old Testament writers thinking about? ALL OF THEM. The dietary laws, the temple laws, the laws of sacrifice, the laws of priesthood, the laws of tithing, the moral laws, the covenant laws, the ten commandments, etc. It says, EVERY ONE.
What did the Old Testament Jews believe, and why did so many reject Christ?
The basis of Judaism is that God is unchanging and His laws are unchanging and unalterable. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.–Psalm 119:160. In the Shloshah Asar Ikkarim (The Thirteen Fundamentals of Jewish Faith), the 9th principle is this: “The Torah, the words of Yahweh are immutable, timeless, and unchanging. In Judaism, you cannot improve upon the words of Yahweh God. His word is sure, settled, and unalterable”. It was unthinkable to imagine any of these laws being removed, altered, or improved. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.–Deuteronomy 4:2.
This is one of the reasons that the Jews rejected Christ. In their eyes, Jesus took a command that was spoken directly from the mouth of Yahweh (the “eye for an eye” commandment) and said that we shouldn’t do that anymore. Instead, we should turn the other cheek and show benevolence. They saw it as a violation of Deut 4:2. But Jesus wasn’t saying that governments shouldn’t administer justice, He was saying that we shouldn’t misuse that law as a means of taking justice into our own hands and using it for personal revenge. They just saw Him as tampering with the Law. The followers of the letter of the Law rejected Christ. Lawful Judaism rejected Jesus and could only see His humanity…and man is subject to Law. Spiritual Judaism (like Nicodemus) came to Jesus and could see His Divinity…and God can interpret the Law. The Jewish crowds were torn. They saw a man doing miracles and cried Hosanna in the streets. But when the leaders would point to the letter of the Law, they saw a lawbreaker and yelled for him to be crucified.
Here is something that made it even harder for the Jews to believe.
The very last command given in the Old Testament was this: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.–Malachi 4:4. If you were a hard-line Jew that believed all the written scriptures were unchangeable, and you believed the written scriptures were the final authority, you would have an extremely hard time listening to the voice of change which introduced a New Covenant and told Peter “Do not call unclean that which God has cleansed (Acts 10:15). Why would you have a hard time?
1. Because the written scripture said those animals were unclean.
2. You believe all of God’s ordinances endure forever. You believe you already have the best covenant.
3. The very last written command of God was “Remember the law of Moses…” Last words are extremely important. Why would God change His mind? His covenant laws endure forever! Practitioners of Lawful Judaism did not believe that God would change His mind. (But I believe practitioners of Spiritual Judaism did). What do you think?
Think about their dilemma! Only those Jews who had ears to understand that people like Moses, Hezekiah, and Ezekiel were actually able to persuade God to change from what He had already spoken, would be able to receive what was coming. They were able to perceive that the spirit of mercy triumphs over judgment…even written judgment. They were the ones able to receive the New and Improved Covenant prophecy of Jeremiah 31. They were the ones able to receive a better priesthood as prophesied in Psalm 110, and other places. They understood that the Spirit of the Law exceeds the written letter of the Law. What do you say? Does the written word have the final say, or does the Spirit of God have the final say over the written word? Which one is God? Can the Spirit cause the old written word to lose its breath? Do you believe Christ came with a better covenant (Hebrews 8:6)?
What does the New Testament say?
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment (singular noun) because of its weakness and unprofitableness–Hebrews 7:18 (Some versions say this one Old Testament commandment was “set aside” instead of “annulling”. However, the Greek word is athetésis, and it means: annulment, nullification, abrogation, cancellation.) Who or what can possibly nullify an eternal commandment of God? It appears that our God has the power to nullify written scriptures. Have you been taught that our God has the authority to nullify the scriptures, or have you been taught that the scriptures are the final authority?
The very next verse: For the law made nothing perfect; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.–Hebrews 7:19. You will soon understand that this one “weak and unprofitable” commandment was repeated over and over and it affected the entire Law. Therefore, the Law of Moses was superseded. Not only can our God nullify one set of commands, He can supersede the rest and replace them with a better hope!
What does this mean? The New Testament tells me that it means that my God can change His own God-breathed rules/laws, and according to the Old Testament they were all eternal ones. For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.–Hebrews 7:12. What law must be changed? His law! God’s law! God has the power to change “that which is written”. When Christ became our High Priest, God changed His own law. He found fault with His own law, and fault with the people following it. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second–Hebrews 8:7
The writer of Hebrews doesn’t stop there. He puts nails in the coffin by saying this: By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.–Hebrews 8:13. The Old Covenant with its law is now obsolete, outdated, and fading away. That is a sharp contrast from every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever.
Hebrews declared more than once that a specific God-breathed commandment that is found and reiterated in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Chronicles was cancelled and annulled even though our God declared it be a lasting and perpetual statute. Hebrews says that this God-breathed command was “weak and useless”. It was once so powerful that a man was killed for breaking one of its restrictions. What was this specific God-ordained perpetual law that Hebrews says has now been nullified?
The writer of Hebrews said, For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment (singular noun) because of its weakness and unprofitableness–Hebrews 7:18.
What is the former “weak and useless” commandment of God that was nullified? Go back two verses. The writer of Hebrews described this former commandment this way: He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.–Hebrews 7:16
According to God’s Law, ONLY a Levite priest could offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people that would be acceptable unto Him. With this law in the way, a man from the tribe of Judah pouring His blood on a cross and presenting it to God would be unacceptable. Only a man from the tribe of Levi could stand before the Ark of the Covenant (God’s presence) and intercede for the people, not a man from Judah. Only a man from the tribe of Levi could stand before God as a High Priest. I could go on and on.
Jesus did not meet the requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.–Hebrews 7:13-14. If this law stands and endures forever, Jesus cannot be our High Priest, and there would be no New Covenant.
So did God just “bump off” this law so that He could make room for Jesus? He could if He wanted to. I’m not certain. The Levites did make God angry in Malachi and we will look at that shortly. However, if this law was allowed to stand in place, then Jesus would never be our High Priest. This is ONE law that Jesus could not fulfill, so this law was made obsolete and God wiped it out! The entire Torah was bound together in this one fact: Every sacrifice, every offering, every ordinance of temple operation, every command in the bible for tithing (including Malachi 3) had to be performed in relation to a Levite. Without a Levite, none of these laws can be carried out legitimately as required. The Hebrew writer shows us because of that one law, everything required by that law is obsolete.
You may be thinking, “I thought Jesus said that He didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it”? That’s exactly right! Jesus didn’t abolish that law, Yahweh God did! Yahweh God began wiping out that law in Jeremiah 31 when He told of a New Covenant that was coming.
Let’s take a look at this once everlasting law that the writer of Hebrews described as weak. Keep in mind that we are not talking about “spiritual Levites” in these verses. Hebrews makes it clear that this is regarding priests being physically from the tribe of Levi.
It begins with God declaring an everlasting statute over Aaron the Levite and his descendants. God said, “and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute FOREVER.–Exodus 29:9
The Lord spoke directly to Aaron the Levite saying, But ONLY you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”–Numbers 18:7
God reaffirms His promise to the Levite Priest Phineas, grandson of Aaron: He and his descendants will have a covenant of a LASTING priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”–Numbers 25:13
At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today.–Deuteronomy 10:8
For the LORD your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the LORD’s name ALWAYS.–Deuteronomy 18:5
God said to Ezekiel They ALONE are to enter my sanctuary; they ALONE are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards.–Ezekiel 44:16
King David understood that God meant business when He said that only Levites could be priests and carry the Ark. God killed Uzzah because of this in chapter 13. Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the LORD chose them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister before him FOREVER.”–1 Chronicles 15:2
The Levites did cause God to give them a warning. He says He did this “so that the covenant with Levi would continue” but nowhere do we see God saying that they finally did something to make Him stop.
And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 2If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me. 3“Because of you I will rebuke your descendantsa ; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5“My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9“So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”
As a fellow believer, you are going to have to make a choice: Do the words forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal, lasting, mean nothing? Or, do I believe what guys like Moses, Hezekiah, Ezekiel, and others believed about God? They believed that although “God was not a man that He should change His mind” (He wasn’t fickle like men), He could be persuaded to change plans, change laws, and change from what He had already spoken without changing the essence of His character (“I am the Lord, I change not”) and without lying (“God cannot lie”). If they didn’t believe that, then why did those men even bother to ask Him to change? Why even pray? They saw God change from His spoken word.
If God can change His mind or change His commands/laws about what He is going to do, doesn’t that make Him a liar? No. God told Moses to stand back because He was going to wipe out the Israelites in the wilderness, but God didn’t do it after Moses persuaded Him to change from being angry. Did that make God a liar? No. Breaking away from your stated and declared intentions is far different than breaking your word that directly and willfully affects another party negatively. One is changing your mind, and the other is telling a lie. God changed His laws and Abraham hasn’t lost anything. Levites who followed Christ joined the priesthood of believers. In that sense, they haven’t lost anything. Abraham has gained because of the changes! Therefore, just as God didn’t have to destroy Israel in the wilderness as He stated He would, God doesn’t have to keep these laws. If you follow Christ, everything is still everlasting under Him (2 Cor. 1:20). When God makes a change, it is always for the better. In Christ, no benefits are ever lost. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.–2 Cor. 1:20
Christianity has an entirely different basis from the Old Jewish Faith (Judaism). Judaism says that God’s Laws are unchangeable and last forever. Christianity is all about change. We often say that Christianity is based on the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ. But what does that really mean? Here is what it means.
According to the author of Hebrews, the basis of Christianity is that God changed His laws (Heb.7:12) to usher in a New Covenant paid by the blood of Jesus Christ. He made a change by nullifying the weak and useless Levitical Priesthood (Heb. 7:18) with all its adjoining laws. He made a change to then supersede His faulty (Heb. 8:7) Old Covenant Laws with the far superior New Covenant whereby Jesus Christ became our High Priest (Heb. 8:6). Then He made a change by calling the Old Covenant obsolete, outdated, and fading away (Heb. 8:13) . Without all these changes, Jesus Christ would not be our High Priest.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED THROUGH THIS STUDY?
–We need to be careful what we say about the Bible and get our message right. The Bible never claims to be Sovereign. Men have exalted the scriptures by calling them the Final Authority. That is a position that is only reserved for God Himself. The Bible is not God. The Bible is not the “when that which is perfect is come” described in 1 Cor. 13. God has shown us that He can nullify the written scriptures anytime He wants. When we exalt the scriptures to a place of Final Authority equal with God, we sound like practitioners of Judaism rather than followers of Christ where the Spirit annulled scripture and changed laws. This type of preaching brings confusion and bondage. The Bible clearly has authority over man, but God has authority over the Bible. One is our Sergeant, but the other is our General. I’m not saying to do away with the Bible. I’m saying let the Spirit interpret the Bible instead of letting the Bible interpret the Spirit.
–We need to pay heed to the voice of the Spirit. If Peter had obeyed the letter of the Law instead of the voice of the Spirit, he would have never gone to Cornelius’s house. Some people say this is a dangerous thing to tell others. I say that it’s dangerous to stay on the roof arguing over the menu when God has spiritual food for you to eat at Cornelius’s house.
–We should never be fearful of God’s changes. Whenever God has made a change in the scripture, it has always been to our benefit. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
–The new mantra from the pulpit should be “If you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly, if you sow bountifully, you reap bountifully. Abraham gave a tenth of his gain to Melchizedek. That was a good example but was not a command. Every command for tithing including Malachi 3 was legitimately required to be given to a physical Levite. God has abolished the Levitical Priesthood. We are now under a Melchizedek Priesthood where there is no confiscatory demand. When we enforce tithing, we are denying the priesthood of Christ and are reverting to that which God has abolished.
–If the preachers and deacons who KNOW that the Levitical Priesthood has been abolished, continue to publicly preach mandatory, “stop robbing God” tithing, then you should have the right to publicly ask them to pull down their pants and reveal if they are circumcised and keeping the Law. If they want you to go back to abolished Levitical Priest Laws, then they should be held to the same standard. If they won’t unzip, then they need to keep their mouth zipped as well.
–Yahweh God is Sovereign and can do whatever He wants. He doesn’t fit in our box. He can change plans for us. That is why we pray. Prayer isn’t just about changing us. God can and does make changes as we send up our requests. I’ve talked about this many times on my blog.
–If God doesn’t make changes, then I will be forced to believe that everlasting doesn’t mean never-ending. I actually wonder about that. Does everlasting mean to full completion or never-ending?. Sodom and Gomorrah were burned with everlasting fire (Jude 1:7). Is it still smoking over there? Moving on.
–Finally. Jesus Christ is Lord! He didn’t become Priest by having to submit to a now nullified law, He became priest by the power of an indestructible life. That’s a description for someone Sovereign! That’s a description of God! I’m so glad that He is my High Priest!
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