Short Shot- The Song of Moses and the Passing of the Law of Moses- #2 The Day of Vengeance and the Passing of the Law Don K. Preston
In our first article on the Song of Moses and the Passing of the Law, we discussed the calling of the Gentiles, as foretold in the Song (Deuteronomy 32:21f) and how that prophecy was fulfilled in Paul’s ministry. The importance of that indisputable fact has incredible implications for the subject of the passing of the Law.
(I should point out that although I posted that first article several days ago, challenging anyone to respond to it, as of this day, not one person has responded to the article itself. Numerous individuals have posted insulting castigations of me personally, several have posted totally irrelevant (not to mention illogical) comments, but not one person has actually responded to the content of the article! To say this is revealing is an understatement)!
Let me reiterate a few of the introductory points I made in that first article.
(I want to thank Dr. Dallas Burdette for inserting the correct Greek and Hebrew fonts into the article for me).
The dominant view in the theological world is that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross.” That concept is based on a misunderstanding of Colossians 2:14-16. (See Dr. Dallas Burdette’s excellent article posted on this site, for an in-depth exegetical look at Colossians 2:14f). I am not going to discuss that text in depth here, but let me make just a couple of Short Shot observations:
- Paul said– writing circa AD 62, that the law was still a shadow of the good things “about to come.” He used the present tense (ἐστιν, estin, present active indicative), which tense is also used with the present active participle μελλόντων (mellontōn), which tense carries within itself something that is “about (μέλλω, mellō) to occur.” See Blass-DeBrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1961), 181.
- Paul said in Colossians, and Hebrews 9:6-10:1-2 says the same, that those “good things” were foreshadowed in the New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths. In other words, the Jewish Feast Days foreshadowed the coming better things.
- The Feast Days that are referenced- the Feast Days that had not yet been fulfilled were the last three of Israel’s calendar. These three days were/are known as (1) Rosh Ha Shanah (Feast of Trumpet, זִכְר֥וֹן תְּרוּעָ֖ה , ziḵ·rônʹ terû·ʿā(h)ʹ (2) Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, י֧וֹם הַכִּפֻּרִ֣ים, yômʹ hǎk·kip·pǔ·rîmʹ), and Succot, (Feast of Harvest, חַ֧ג הַסֻּכּ֛וֹת, ḥǎḡʹ hǎs·sǔk·kôṯʹ).
- Those last three of Israel’s feast days were “eschatological feast days” pointing to the last days consummation, i.e. Rosh Ha Shanah pointed to the judgment, Yom Kippur to the coming of the Lord and Succot which pointed to the resurrection. Since Paul, when writing in AD 62 or so, said that those final three feast days were still, when he wrote, shadows of the good things about to come, this means that those final three feast days were not yet fulfilled. Stated otherwise, it means that the Law of Moses had not been nailed to the cross, since all of the Law was not fulfilled.
This analysis of the feast days means that those final three feast days were not yet fulfilled. Stated otherwise, it means that the Law of Moses had not been nailed to the Cross, since all of the Law was not fulfilled until the destruction of the Old Heaven and Old Earth (Jerusalem). The word “feast” is from the Hebrew word חַג, (ḥǎḡ):
This noun occurs around sixty times with the principal meaning “festival,” or “feast,” and is associated almost exclusively with the Levitical calendar commemorating the redemptive actions of Yahweh on behalf of his people. ḥǎḡ usually refers to those memorial festivals celebrating Yahweh’s redemptive actions on behalf of his people (viz. Passover; Weeks [or Harvest]; tabernacles).
 Stephen D. Renn, ed., “Feast,” Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 373–374.As I stated in the first article the significance of what Paul says about the feast days is one of the most ignored issues in any discussion of the passing of the Law of Moses – or eschatology as a whole. See my book, Torah To Telos, The Passing of the Law of Moses, Vol. I for a discussion of the importance of the feast days for a proper understanding of the feast days and the passing of the Law of Moses. Simply stated, you cannot posit the judgment, the coming of the Lord and the resurrection in our future without thereby teaching that the Law of Moses remains fully in effect, awaiting the fulfillment of “the New Moons, feast days and Sabbaths.”
It is revealing that on an “anti-preterist” FaceBook page two church of Christ ministers by the name of Kyle Massengale, and Scott Russell, both men condemn me as a heretic and false teacher. They vehemently claim that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross.” When I posted the first article in this short series, neither man addressed the content of the article, but continued to condemn me as a heretic. I challenged both men to answer the article and asked them several questions.
✔ I asked if Deuteronomy was considered “the law”? No answer.
✔ I asked if ALL, not just some, but ALL of the Law had to be fulfilled before it could pass, per Matthew 5:17-18. Mr. Massengale argued that the Law is not the prophets or vice versa, therefore, all that had to be fulfilled was the Law, not the prophets. Such dichotomization between the Law and the prophets has literally no Biblical support, and interestingly enough, such an attempted dichotomization is virtually unknown in church of Christ tradition! See my book, Torah To Telos: The Passing of the Law of Moses, Vol. I, for an extended demonstration that in the Bible, the Pentateuch, the prophetic books, as well as Psalms and Proverbs, are all called “the law” by the Biblical writers.
✔ I asked if Israel’s feast days, mandated in Leviticus 23, Numbers 28, etc. was part of “the Law.” No answer.
✔ I asked how the Law could have been “nailed to the cross” in light of the fact that the very text that Mr. Massengale and Russell appeal to, Colossians 2:14f, says that at the time of writing, the “New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths’ were still (present tenses) shadows of the good things about to come.” No answer.
✔ I asked if the Sabbath, or the Sabbaths, have been fulfilled. No answer. The issue of the Sabbath, its typological meaning, and the passing of the Law is a HUGE issue that is in fact fatal to the view that the Law was nailed to the Cross.
✔ I asked if the last three of Israel’s feast days, referred to by the language of Colossians 2:14f, i.e. Rosh Ha Shanah, Yom Kippur, Succot, have been fulfilled, and if so, in what events and at what time were they fulfilled, since those last three feast days foreshadowed the Judgment, the coming of the Lord and the resurrection? No answer.
I can tell you as a former believer that the Law of Moses was nailed to the Cross, that you cannot hold to that view and answer these questions truthfully- Biblically.
The remainder of this Short Shot will vindicate my claim that the Law was not nailed to the Cross from a different perspective. The points to follow may seem redundant- and they are to an extent- but they are critically important so they bear repeating.
✦ The Book of Deuteronomy is part of the warp and woof of “the law”, i.e. the Law of Moses. I am unaware of anyone that denies this. I will not develop it here, but, scholarship has long understood that Deuteronomy, and particularly chapter 32, known as The Song of Moses, served a paradigmatic function for Jesus and the NT writers. It was their “roadmap” for understanding the Last Days. For an in-depth discussion of this, see J. Ross Wagner, Heralds of the Good News, (Leiden, Brill Academic, 2003).
✦ Deuteronomy 32, known as the Song of Moses, was an integral and indivisible part of Deuteronomy and thus, of “the Law.” Once again, I am unaware of anyone that denies this.
✦ One of the foundational tenets of all futurist views of eschatology is that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross” as noted above. Just recently, a hostile young man, Jeff Cunningham, wrote an article on Facebook on the passing of the Law. He openly stated that he was giving his assumptions as he sought to buttress his claims. That first “assumption” was / is that the Law was nailed to the cross. He simply listed Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2 without so much as a keystroke of exegetical development of those texts. This is hardly evidentiary proof of his claim.
In anticipation of what we will discuss below, let me express this: The standard view of Amillennialism and Postmillennialism (and some Dispensationalists) is that the Law of Moses- and that would include Deuteronomy and the Song of Moses – had no applicability after the Cross.
✦ In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said that not one jot or one tittle would pass from “the law” (more accurately, from the Law and the prophets),” (τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας, ton nomon ē tous prophētas) could not possibly pass away until every jot and every tittle of “the law” would be fulfilled, which of course would include Deuteronomy 32. Thus, until Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses was fulfilled, the Law of Moses could not pass away, could not be annulled, could not be taken out of the way.
✦ The Song of Moses foretold Israel’s last days (ἔσχατον τῶν ἡμερῶν, eschaton tōn hēmerōn, last of the days, LXX, Deuteronomy 31:29 / 32:20). There are some who try to turn the Song into a generic discussion of Israel’s history without any specific or limited application to AD 70 (e.g. Kyle Pope, Thinking About AD 70, Athens, AL; Truth Publications, 2019), 1-27). See my YouTube response to his book, beginning here).
In this second installment of our examination of the Song of Moses and the Passing of the Law, I want to focus on the fact that in Israel’s last days, when she would become “utterly corrupt” (Deuteronomy 31:29), and would provoke the Lord because of her rebellion (32:19), the Lord would bring vengeance, recompense and judgment on her. I give her a good bit of the relevant text (v. 28ff):
For they are a nation void of counsel, Nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end! How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had surrendered them? For their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom And of the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of gall, Their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents, And the cruel venom of cobras. ‘Is this not laid up in store with Me, Sealed up among My treasures? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’ “For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone.
Remember that Moses is describing what will happen many generations away, in Israel’s last days, in the “time to come.” He is not describing his contemporary situation but that of Israel in the far distant future.
In that distant future, the Lord said that Israel was to be “a nation void of counsel, Nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this.” This is the repeat of the indictment of v. 19f.
As a result of that rebellion, Israel’s “rock” would abandon her to her enemies. As we have noted, the Lord did abandon Israel to her enemies in later generations, and Jeremiah seems to echo the Song in Lamentations 2:3 as he “lamented” the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Chaldeans:
He has cut off in fierce anger Every horn of Israel; He has drawn back His right hand From before the enemy. He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire Devouring all around.
In fact, verse four says that Lord became the enemy of Judah and Israel as a result of her sins:
Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow; With His right hand, like an adversary, He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye; On the tent of the daughter of Zion, He has poured out His fury like fire.
And so, as we have noted, the Song served as a panoramic roadmap of Israel’s history, and yet, the ancients believed – and the NT application of the Song proves – that it pointed to Israel’s last end, her last days, final end, just as the language indicates.
In that anticipated last days Israel would become like Sodom – “their vine is the vine of Sodom” (v. 32). It is significant to note two things here.
First, John describes the enigmatic city Babylon in Revelation, the city “where the Lord was crucified” as spiritually called Sodom (Revelation 11:8). The reader needs to know that in Scripture, only one city– ONE- was ever spiritually designated as Sodom, and that was Old Covenant Jerusalem. See Isaiah 1:9f / Ezekiel 23, etc.. So, when we couple the evidence that the city John is describing, prosaically, as the location where Jesus was crucified, and then spiritually describes that place as Sodom, we are on safe ground in identifying “Babylon” as none other than Old Covenant Jerusalem. See my book, Who Is This Babylon? For a full discussion.
Second, as a direct result of that apostasy and rebellion,
‘Is this not laid up in store with Me, Sealed up among My treasures? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’ “For the Lord will judge His people
Side Bar: The Lord said that the judgment that was coming, which is described in verses 22f, a destruction that would burn the earth, was “laid up in store” by the Lord. This is directly echoed in 2 Peter 3:4f, where Peter predicted the coming Day of the Lord and the destruction of “the earth and the elements.” Peter was anticipating what the Song foretold, but the Song was about the coming judgment of Israel, not the destruction of material creation!
Another Side Bar: It is often argued that Moses said that judgment was “at hand” when he wrote. That is patently false and an abuse of the context. We have already noted that Moses is speaking of a time “many generations to come” NOT his own day. He is speaking of Israel’s last days (eschaton ton hemeron), not his own day. He clearly says that “their foot will slip in due time” (my emphasis). That “due time” would be Israel’s last days, when she would fill up the measure of her sin (31:29). We have here what I have termed “projected imminence” a situation in which a writer or speaker describes a time and events far off from their own day, but says that when that time arrives, the end will be near. See my book, Can God Tell Time? for an extended demonstration of this reality.
Okay, so in Israel’s last days, her appointed last end, the Lord would judge Israel. He would bring vengeance, calamity and recompense on her.
Remember what I shared above and in the first installment. A foundational tenet of all three futurist eschatologies is that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross. It was annulled, abrogated, removed, no longer had “standing” (meaning validity, from stasin / stasis – cf. Hebrews 9:6f).
Remember, as so well stated by Kyle Pope, (Thinking About AD 70, 2019, page 57):
“That which is abolished, annulled, or put away is no longer in force.”
This is so simple, yet profound, so irrefutable – and yet ignored. You will see why I say that as we proceed.
Remember also that Deuteronomy– inclusive of the Song of Moses– was undeniably part of “the law.”
Remember that Jesus said that not one jot or one tittle of “the law” would pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
All of this means, logically, irrefutably, undeniably, that until the Song of Moses was fulfilled not one jot or one tittle of the Law- including the Song- would pass away. The question is, when did the judgment, the Day of Vengeance, the time of recompense and calamity come on Israel in the last days? Did that day of vengeance come before the cross, which would be necessary if in fact that Law was nailed to the cross?
I have to make this brief since this is another “Short Shot” (I may have to name it a “Semi-
Short Shot”) – but take note of how the NT writers, writing after the cross applied the Song of Moses and the prediction of the Day of Vengeance, recompense and calamity that was to come on Israel, in her last days– the very time in which they were living!
Romans 12:11f – Paul was writing to the church being persecuted by the Jews (cf. 5:1f). He urged them:
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
So, Paul was writing to the Roman Christians nearly twenty-four years after the cross (57-33 = 24), where the Song of Moses (part of “the law”) was supposedly annulled and no longer had “standing.” Yet, Paul was appealed directly to the coming fulfillment of the Song to encourage the Romans brethren to steadfastness in their suffering for Christ. Why? They were to remember the promise that God made in the Song: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” and, “The Lord shall judge His people.” We cannot forget that in the context of the Song, the promise of recompense and judgment against Israel is set firmly in the context of the promise, “the Lord shall avenge the blood of His saints” (32:43) – precisely as Paul was promising in Romans!
There is clearly a problem here for the “the law was nailed to the cross” claim. Paul was writing nearly 30 years after the cross, where the Song (part of “the law”) was supposedly annulled and no longer had “standing.” Yet, Paul was appealing directly to the coming fulfillment of the Song to encourage the Roman brethren to steadfastness in their suffering for Christ. But it gets worse for the traditional view.
Read carefully from Hebrews 10:26-37:
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
Once again, we have an inspired writer writing to Christians– in Israel most likely – being persecuted for their faith in Jesus as Messiah. The writer promises them that judgment was coming on those persecutors (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1 which is a direct parallel). That promise of vindication was taken directly from the Song of Moses: “For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people” (Deuteronomy 32:29-43).
So, we have the Song predicting Israel’s last days (eschaton ton hemeron), and we have the writer of Hebrews living in the last days (eschaton ton hemeron- Hebrews 1:2). The Song foretold the coming judgment on Israel for her rebellion. That judgment would be the day of vengeance and recompense, when the Lord would avenge the blood of His saints. And we have Hebrews quoting verbatim from the Song’s prediction of that Day of Vengeance, vindication and recompense to comfort the brethren being persecuted for their faith.
The Hebrews writer did not speak of some vague, timeless principle of judgment, vindication, vengeance and recompense. No, his citation of the Song and its promise of vengeance on God’s people for their sin, is set in a context of undeniable imminence: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.” The Greek of the text is literally “very, very” little while. (Hosan, hosan micron).
It is specious in the extreme to say (as some commentators do) that we are still waiting for the fulfillment of Hebrews 10:37. “In a very, very little while, and will not tarry” can only be extrapolated into the future by an extreme perversion of the text, the linguistics and context. But if we are not still waiting for the fulfillment of Hebrews 10 then we are not still waiting for the fulfillment of the Song and its promise of the Day of Vengeance, calamity, recompense on Israel, and the vindication of the martyrs of God! This is where the “rub” comes in for the “the law was nailed to the cross” argument.
Many partial preterists admit that Hebrews 10 foretold the impending destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Well, that means that the Song of Moses was not fulfilled until the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the “the law was nailed to the cross” argument goes up in flames. After all, not one jot or tittle could pass from the law until it was all fulfilled and that includes the prediction of the coming Day of Vengeance in Israel’s last days. When we couple that with Jesus’ emphatic declaration when he spoke of that coming destruction of Jerusalem: “These be the days of vengeance in which all things that are written must be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22). Remember that Jesus said that judgment-
That Day of Vengeance – was going to come on Jerusalem for shedding all the righteous blood of the martyrs, in that generation (Matthew 23:29-37) – which would be the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:43.
If the Law of Moses– which included the Song – was abrogated, annulled at the Cross and no longer had any “standing / validity” after the cross one has the right to ask:
At what point of time and with what event did the last days filling up of Israel’s sin, the Day of Vengeance and the vindication of the saints take place– prior to the Cross – in fulfillment of the Song? You cannot find that fulfillment of the Song until AD 70 because both Paul and the book of Hebrews (not to mention Revelation!!) were clearly anticipating the imminent fulfillment of the Song well after the cross. Thus, since the inspired writers were undeniably anticipating the imminent fulfillment of the Song almost three decades after the Cross, this means that they did not believe that the Song was annulled and no longer still had standing / validity! Not one NT writer looked back at some Day of Vengeance against Israel stating that the Song was now fulfilled and consequently was now no longer applicable. Not one. Not a hint of a clue or a suggestion or an implication!
Since I will have a separate article on the vindication of the martyrs promised in the Song, I will only briefly mention that Revelation posits the coming– coming shortly, quickly and soon– vindication of the martyrs, at the judgment of Babylon, the city guilty of killing the OT apostles, Jesus himself, and Jesus’ apostles. In that judgment, the song of victory is sung because The Song of Deuteronomy 32:43 was now fulfilled – Revelation 19:1-2!! More on that later, so let me offer a succinct conclusion to this (not really all that short) Short Shot:
The Song of Moses was “the law.”
Not one jot or one tittle of “the law” could pass until it was ALL (not just some) fulfilled- said Jesus.
The Song of Moses predicted the Day of Vengeance, recompense, judgment of Israel and vindication for His saints, in Israel’s last days.
Jesus and the New Testament writers posited the coming Day of Vengeance at the impending, “in a very, very little while” judgment in fulfillment of the Song (not to mention Isaiah 26-27 and other OT prophecies) – Luke 21:22 / Romans 12 / Hebrews 10 / Revelation. They did not suggest, hint or imply in any way that the Song had been “nailed to the Cross.” For all of them, the Song still had full “standing” when the NT writers wrote, years after the cross.
Therefore, the Law of Moses – inclusive of The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32– was not nailed to the Cross.
It did not pass at the Cross.
It was not annulled at the Cross.
It did not lose its standing / validity / applicability at the Cross.
The Law only passed away when it was ALL fulfilled– when all things written were fulfilled – in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, (Luke 21:22) and, to reiterate, this means that the “the law was nailed to the Cross” argument falls crashing to the ground and crumbles to dust.