Imposed Until the Time of the Reformation – The Passing of the Law of Moses – #1
The question of when the Law of Moses passed away continues to rage. The futurist view is that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross,” with appeal to Colossians 2:14-16. Unfortunately for the futurist view, Colossians does not actually say what it is claimed! See my book, Torah To Telos: The Passing of the Law of Moses for a full discussion. The purpose of this study is to show that the Law of Moses did not pass away until it was all fulfilled – precisely as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:17-18. That did not happen until the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70.
Let us not forget those words of Jesus: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Verily I say unto you that until heaven and earth passes, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law until it is all fulfilled.”
Words could hardly be clearer, more explicit, more undeniable. The sad reality is, however, that many today do in fact openly deny these words of our Lord. They even go so far as to say that the fall – the judgment of Jerusalem – had nothing whatsoever to do with the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. But, once again, the words of Jesus could not be clearer, as he spoke of that coming catastrophe: “These be the days of vengeance in which all things that are written must be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).
Much, much more could be said of this, but, for our purposes here, I want to focus on Hebrews 9:8-10:
“The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.”
Let’s be very clear about what these verses say:
✔ The Law of Moses with all of its attendant cultic practices, could not provide forgiveness.
✔ Because the Law of Moses could never remove sin, and make the worshiper “perfect as regards the conscience” the Law of Moses could never bring man into the Most Holy Place, the presence of God.
✔ The inability to provide forgiveness and bring man into the MHP was what was “wrong” with the Law of Moses.
✔ The Law of Moses would remain imposed (from epikeimai) “until the time of reformation” (reformation is from diorthosis).
✔ The time of reformation, the “diorthosis” was when what was “wrong” with the Law of Moses would be set right, corrected.
✔ Thus, the time of reformation would be when forgiveness would become a reality and man could enter into the MHP, the presence of God.
It is my intention to show that “the time of reformation” was nothing other than the second appearing of Christ for salvation of Hebrews 9:28. It was not at the cross. It was not at the confirming of the New Covenant through Jesus’ death, although that was, to be sure, part of the initiation of the reformation / restoration. If I am able to establish this as true, it will prove several things:
1. The law of Moses, with all of its attendant cultic practics, including the sacrifices, the washings, the “carnal ordinances” and the entire Jewish festal calendar, remains imposed until the second appearing of Christ.
2. It will prove that the dominant view of evangelical Christianity, that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross,” is in fact erroneous.
3. It will prove that if the second appearing of Christ has not yet taken place, the Law of Moses remains “imposed.”
4. It will prove that if the second appearing of Christ has not taken place that there is today no forgiveness of sin and therefore, no entrance into the Most Holy Place.
First of all, it should be noted that these verses, verses 6f, use the present active indicative to describe the Temple cultus at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews. Thus, v. 9 is literally “it is symbolic of the present time” proving that the Temple cultus was still serving as a type and shadow of the coming realities of Christ. It is not that those things had been shadows of what had now fully come. That is confirmed when chapter 10:1 says that the Law still had (present active indicative) a shadow of the good things that were about to come.
A reading of verse 11 in some translations has led some to believe that the shadows had already become a reality, since it says Christ had come as “the High Priest of the good things that have come (genomenon).” However, that reading is at least questionable as a comparison with other translations reveals. The translations are about even in rendering the text as “have come” or “to come.” There is in fact a variant reading that says Christ had come as a High Priest of the good things “about to come” And there is good reason to accept the “about to come” rendering:
1. The indisputable present active indicatives of v. 6f that speak of the still present typological meaning of the cultus. The absurdity of claiming that even today, those things serve as types and shadows of what is yet to come should be more than obvious. If what they typified has become a reality, then most assuredly are not still shadows!
2. The contextual certainty of the “about to be” concept as found in Hebrews 10:1-2 where the writers clearly says that Christ had to come again the second time, fulfilling the Atonement typology, “for the law, having a shadow of the good things about to come (mellontown).” Notice that “for” at the beginning of verse 1 because it gives the reason why Christ had to come the second time. And that reason was because the Law was still, when Hebrews was written, a shadow of the good things about to come.
3. In Colossians 2:16 the apostle declares in no uncertain terms that the cultus, with its “new moons, feast days and Sabbaths” was, when he wrote “are (present active) shadows of the good things about to come (mellontown).”
So, when Hebrews was written, the cultus was still a shadow of good things about to come. The law had not yet been fulfilled. The types and shadows of that cultus were still anticipating fulfillment. The time of reformation has not fully come! This cannot be over-emphasized.
In our next installment, I will drive this point home and demonstrate how Jesus and Paul agreed that the Law of Moses would remain imposed until the eschatological consummation. This means that Hebrews was teaching Torah To Telos – Torah would remain imposed until the telos, the Day of the Lord.
Be sure to get a copy of my book The Passing of the Law of Moses: Torah To Telos, for one of the most in-depth discussions of the passing of the Law to be found.