Short Shot- The Song of Moses and the Passing of the Law of Moses- #3
The Song of Moses, The Avenging of the Martyrs and the Passing of the Law of Moses
Don K. Preston
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
This is our third installment in our examination of the Song of Moses and the Passing of the Law of Moses. In the previous two articles we have discussed the calling of the Gentiles, as foretold in the Song (Deuteronomy 32:21f), as well as the prophecy of Israel’s last days and the Day of Vengeance against her. The importance of these issues for a proper understanding of when the Law of Moses was removed is critical. You can read the first two articles here and here.
The power of the two previous articles is manifested by the fact that I posted a link to both articles on some FaceBook pages that are hostile to the full preterist view. I asked that those who take the position that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross” (I will call it the AD 33 view), address the arguments presented in the articles. Although I posted the first article over two weeks ago, there has not been a single former preterist, not a single advocate of the “nailed to the cross” view that has hit a key to address the arguments. What has been done is the mere repetition of the claim that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross– but no exegesis. I have had several people– who clearly had not even read the articles and admitted it– tell me what they “believe” and “feel” but again, not one person has addressed the arguments presented in the articles. I strongly suspect that this will be the case with this article and the next one as well. I guess we will see!
As just suggested, 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. (Again, see Dr. Dallas Burdette’s excellent article posted on this site, for an in-depth exegetical look at Colossians 2:14f). Again, the prejudice and closed mindedness of those who take the AD 33 view was exposed when I have asked several posters if they have read his article. Although they castigated Burdette as a heretic, not one of them had actually read his article! How is that for scholarly objectivity?
Let me repeat a couple of Short Shot observations to set the stage for what follows:
- Paul said– writing circa AD 62, that the law was still– he uses the present tenses- a shadow of the good things “about to come” (from mello, in the infinitive, meaning “about to be, imminent”- 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 Rosh Ha Shanah, (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Succot, (Feast of Harvest), the last three of Israel’s feast days.
- 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.
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…
(Editorial Note: One of the two men that I named in the article when I posted it yesterday, is a lawyer. He contacted me yesterday demanding that I remove his name from this site, or else, “I will sue you.” This in spite of the fact that I did not quote his words, I did not post a picture of him, I did not use his name to sell anything. All I did was truthfully report our interactions– exposing his utter failure to deal with the Biblical issues. But for this, he threatened to sue me! I asked him if he had ever read 1 Corinthians 6, which forbids Christians from suing Christians, but he ignored that question.
Think about this. This church of Christ lawyer realized that he had failed 100% to defend his doctrine, and when that doctrine was publicly exposed and falsified, he lashed out, threatening to willfully violate scriptures to prevent further revelation of his error! His actions speak loudly of his desperation, pride and arrogance. All of this makes me wonder if this lawyer has ever mentioned my name publicly, in any of his sermons! Hmmmm.
Unfortunately, I am not financially able to engage in a frivolous, time consuming and unjustified lawsuit. I am well aware of how lawyers can stretch out litigation, costing the other party thousands and thousands of dollars. So, with that said, I am deleting the names of both men that I named in the article yesterday. Instead of giving their names, I will assign them names. Let’s see here, we will call them Bocephus #1 and Bocephus #2. (For a bit of editorial levity).
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 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 them if Deuteronomy was considered “the law”? Still no answer after well over a week, as of this posting.
✔ 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. Bocephus #1 (the Lawyer) 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. Interestingly enough, such an attempted dichotomization is virtually unknown in church of Christ tradition! The “standard view” in the c of C is that the term “the law” was inclusive of the Law and the prophets. This is easily documented but I have to keep this article at least somewhat short.
✔ I asked if Israel’s feast days, mandated in Leviticus 23, Numbers 28, etc. was part of “the Law.” Still no answer after well over a week, as of this posting.
✔ I asked how the Law could have been “nailed to the cross” in light of the fact that in the very text that Bocephus #1 & #2 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.” Still no answer after well over a week, as of this posting. In fact, Mr. Massengale, as is his custom when confronted with difficult questions and arguments, simply disappeared from the discussion. Mr. Russell, as is his custom when trapped, changed the subject and made several false accusations against me, as well as calling me names.
✔ I asked if the Sabbath, or the Sabbaths, have been fulfilled. Still no answer after well over a week, as of this posting. And let me just say that the Sabbath issue- and the issue of the Feast Days – is the Achille’s Heel for all who take the AD 33 position.
✔ I asked if the last three of Israel’s feast days, referred to in 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? Still no answer after well over a week, as of this posting.
I can tell you as a former believer in the AD 33 doctrine that one cannot hold to that view and answer these questions truthfully- Biblically. It is impossible. I can also tell you that neither Bocephus #1 or Bocephus #2, as adherents of the church Christ view of the Law of Moses, have a clue in the world how to deal with the issue of the Sabbaths and the Feast Days.
With this refresher, let me turn now to examine the prophecy of Deuteronomy 32:43 that in Israel’s last days the Lord would avenge the blood of the saints / martyrs. 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.
SideBar: Sam Frost, former full preterist, has essentially invented a new argument. On FaceBook, 6-20-2021, Frost commented on Matthew 5:17-18: //Thus, jesus (sic) is NOT saying that the old covenant, which is IN the Scriptures, but does not EXHAUST all Scripture, is in full force until heaven and earth pass away. You add that term (erroneously), “full force”.//
So, for Mr. Frost, the Law of Moses was part of the Law, but, it was not “the law” that Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5. The Law was much bigger than the Law of Moses. Furthermore, the Law of Moses was “the covenant” and, per Frost, the Mosaic Covenant (part of the law) passed away, but not “the Law.” When I challenged Mr. Frost to prove his assertion and to show that in Matthew 5:17f Jesus- or his audience– had something other than the Law of Moses in mind, Mr. Frost disappeared from the discussion. Mr. Frost has done nothing but expose his utter desperation and lack of logical acuity.
Here is what I posted in response to Mr. Frost:
Jesus– not one jot or one tittle of “the law” would pass until it was ALL FULFILLED.
That means that since “the law” included the Law of Moses, not one jot or one tittle of “the Law”– inclusive of the Law of Moses — could pass until “the law”– all of it– was fulfilled.
You have SOME of “the law” i.e. the law of Moses with its cultic praxis, priesthood, Sabbaths, sacrifices, etc. passing away, yet somehow, even though that cultic system was a massive part of “the law” (which you have not defined in any way shape, form or fashion), it has passed away, but “the law” remains valid! Total contradiction of Jesus’ words– as usual.
At the time of the posting of this article, Mr. Frost has not responded with a keystroke.
✦ As we have seen repeatedly, one of the foundational tenets of all futurist views of eschatology is that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross.”. Just recently, a hostile and vitriolic 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. The very first admitted “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.
As we continued our “discussion” Mr. Cunningham claimed on the one hand that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, and yet, he insisted that the last three of Israel’s feast days (the ones listed in Colossians) remain unfulfilled! When I challenged him to prove that “the law” could be nailed to the cross and yet those feast days remain unfulfilled, all I was met with was more insults, slanders and name calling.
✦ 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), until every jot and every tittle of “the law” which of course would include Deuteronomy 32), was fulfilled. 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 (eschaton ton hemeron – “last of the days”- LXX- Deuteronomy 31:29 / 32:20).
In this 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, she would become “utterly corrupt” (Deuteronomy 31:29). The Lord would bring vengeance, recompense and judgment on her. And as the Lord closed the Song He made this promise:
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
Remember that Moses is describing what would happen many generations away, in Israel’s last days, in the “time to come”(from chronos – 32:28-LXX). He is not describing his contemporary situation but that of Israel in the far distant future. (Amazingly, the acerbic young man mentioned above posted on FaceBook that Moses was speaking of his own generation in the Song. When I noted that this was wrong, because Moses specifically said that he was speaking of the time after his death (31:29, after “many generations to come” (32:4f), and in Israel’s last days, Cunningham simply repeated his claim. Such is the desperation of those opposed to the truth of fulfillment).
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. 20f.
Take careful note of Jesus’ citation of this text in Matthew 17:17. There, Jesus – just as Peter did in Acts 2:40 -undeniably applied the Song to his generation. That allows us to focus our attention on the promise of Deuteronomy 32:43 and we will do that in the next article. But before we do that, we need to examine the promise of the avenging of the blood of the martyrs- in Israel’s last days and at the eschatological consummation.
Among many OT texts that could be examined, let me focus on Isaiah 25-27:
Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.
In this marvelous prophecy, we have the resurrection of the dead (v. 19). We have the Day of the Lord (v. 20), and we have the avenging of the blood of the martyrs (v. 21). This is, therefore, indisputably a prophecy of the eschatological consummation. (The ancient rabbis and commentators agree with this).
This is confirmed in chapter 27:1-3:
In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong, Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea. In that day sing to her, “A vineyard of red wine!” I, the Lord, keep it, I water it every moment; Lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day.
Notice that reference to the antecedent discussion– “in that day.” Chapter 27 is clearly continuing the discussion of chapter 26, and the discussion of resurrection, the Day of the Lord and the avenging of the martyrs and the destruction of the great serpent, Leviathan. This is the promise of the destruction of the great dragon, the Devil (See Romans 16:20 which is drawing on Genesis 3 and Isaiah 27). We thus have here the echo of Genesis 3:15f and Isaiah 27 and the promise of the final defeat of Satan. There can be no doubt that this is referent to and prophecy of the final judgment (Revelation 20:10ff).
We must note that this time of the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the avenging of the martyrs, the crushing of the great Serpent, would be the time of Israel’s salvation! Just like Isaiah 25:6-10 foretold the resurrection as the day of Israel’s salvation (25:9-10), chapter 26 and 27 continue that discussion. And there is more.
So that we can have no misunderstanding of the time, context and framework for the eschatological consummation being foretold, I give here an extended bit of chapter 27:9f:
Has He struck Israel as He struck those who struck him? Or has He been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him? In measure, by sending it away, You contended with it. He removes it by His rough wind In the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: When he makes all the stones of the altar Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust, Wooden images and incense altars shall not stand. Yet the fortified city will be desolate, The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness; There the calf will feed, and there it will lie down And consume its branches. When its boughs are withered, they will be broken off; The women come and set them on fire. For it is a people of no understanding; Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor. And it shall come to pass in that day That the Lord will thresh, From the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; And you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel. So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
Several things have to be noted, but I will also skip over several because this is, after all, supposed to be a “Short Shot.”
✿ Israel had been “slain” (27:9f– this hearkens back to 26:9-19), but she had been slain “in measure” by being sent into captivity. (How do you kill someone “partially? This is patently not speaking of physical death).
✿ The Lord promised that “in that day” that is under consideration, the Day of the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the vindication of the martyrs, the destruction of Satan, “Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: When he makes all the stones of the altar Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust, Wooden images and incense altars shall not stand. Yet the fortified city will be desolate, The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness.”
So, in the eschatological consummation, when the Lord took away the sin of Israel, (“Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin”) it would be the time, “When he makes all the stones of the altar Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust, Wooden images and incense altars shall not stand. Yet the fortified city will be desolate, The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness.” This is directly parallel to Isaiah 25, where we find the promise of the resurrection, and it would be when: (My emphasis)
O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more; It will never be rebuilt (Isaiah 25:1-3- It should be noted that there are some translational issues when it says, “a palace of foreigners to be a city no more”. The preferred reading according to numerous sources is that the temple would be turned over to foreigners. The rest of the context makes this very clear).
✿ Stated simply, the Day of the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the vindication of the martyrs, the destruction of Satan would be the time of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem!
✿ I cannot left un-noted the connection between Isaiah 27 and Paul’s famous words about the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord in Romans 11:25-27. Paul was still anticipating the salvation of Israel at the coming, and he cited Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59, for the source of that hope. Not only that, he said that coming of the Lord for the salvation of Israel would be, “this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sin.”
So, ask yourself: If the Law of Moses- inclusive of the prophets- was nailed to the cross, how could Paul be anticipating the (imminent- Romans 13:11f) coming of the Lord for the salvation of Israel, in fulfillment of the Law of Moses? See my extended discussion of this issue in my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27.
✿ And now, we find our direct connection to the Song of Moses:
“ For it is a people of no understanding; “Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor” (Isaiah 27:11).
Here, YHVH gives the reason why the fortified city, the temple and the altar would be turned to chalkstone– “For it is a people of no understanding; Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, And He who formed them will show them no favor.” Notice that causative “For.” This is the reason for the coming judgment. But of course, we simply must “catch the power” of what is being said.
✿ The reason for the prophesied time of judgment on Jerusalem and the temple is because the people were “a people of no understanding.” What people was that? The answer is undeniable and explicit: “It is the people whom the Lord had created.” Not only that, the Lord of Judgment cites the Song of Moses to speak of the reason for the coming judgment- Deuteronomy 32:28: “For they are a nation void of counsel, Nor is there any understanding in them.”
✿ So, what we have here is the prophecy of the eschatological consummation, the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the vindication of the martyrs, the destruction of Satan. It is emphatically, explicitly and undeniably placed at the time of the judgment of Jerusalem and the Temple and that judgment would be in fulfillment – and justified by– the Song of Moses and its prediction that in Israel’s last days the Lord would judge His people for their failure to understand and their rebellion- and He would avenge the blood of His saints!
Those who take the AD 33 view of the passing of the Law (that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross), have a HUGE problem (actually, problems plural) here.
If the law and the prophets were nailed to the cross, how is it that Isaiah 25-27 foretold the eschatological consummation, which the AD 33 advocates place in the future? If “the law” which was inclusive of the prophets (Matthew 5:17-18) was abrogated at the cross, then the prophecy of Isaiah 25-27 was nailed to the cross, annulled, abrogated– and cannot therefore be a valid prophecy of a yet future eschaton.
You can’t have your theological cake and eat it too.
If the Law was nailed to the Cross, then either Isaiah 25-28 were fulfilled at that time, or the prophecy was annulled,
If the prophecy of Isaiah 25-27– (which is the prophecy of the resurrection!!) that is built on the Song of Moses– remains valid, then “the Law” was not nailed to the cross,
One can reject church history and the creeds and take their stand on the inspired text, and accept that the eschatological consummation foretold in Isaiah 25-27 was to be fulfilled at the time of the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. As we will see, that is where Jesus’ promise of the vindication of the martyrs places it.
Supporting this is the fact that as we have seen, Isaiah 27 posits the time of the eschatological consummation at the time of the judgment of the people of no understanding – i.e. in fulfillment of the Song of Moses– which was “the law.”
Remember, no one denies that Deuteronomy is “the law.” Thus, when Isaiah 27 posits the fulfillment of the Song of Moses (the law) at the eschatological consummation– and links it directly to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple – several facts become apparent, even if those facts fly in the face of traditional eschatologies and views of the passing of the Law.
The Law- inclusive of the Song of Moses– remains valid until the fulfillment of the the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the vindication of the martyrs, the destruction of Satan. This is a huge conundrum for the AD 33 advocates.
Since, as just noted, the text of Isaiah 25-27 links the consummation to the judgment and salvation of Israel, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, then if one takes the futurist view of the eschaton, they must posit that judgment of the city and temple at that time as well. But the Amillennialists and Postmillennialists have no such tenet in their paradigm. So let me say this: if your eschatology has no place in it for the yet future destruction of Jerusalem– and the Temple!!– then you cannot use Isaiah 25-27 as a prophecy of the end time resurrection. But that means that you cannot use 1 Corinthians 15 since Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection is built on Isaiah 25 (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)!
Furthermore, if your view of the future end has no place in it for the judgment of Israel- in fulfillment of the Song of Moses– then you have the wrong eschatology. Any view of eschatology that omits or denies the role and place of Israel at the end times is a false eschatology. The only way to honor scripture is to see that eschatology is about the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel– and that ALL of those promises were fulfilled in the first century, in the catastrophic judgment of Jerusalem- Luke 21:22.
(I should comment that many commentators, to escape the implications iterated here, tell us that Isaiah 25-27 spoke of the eighth century (721 BC) judgment of Israel. But that will not work at all since neither Jerusalem nor the temple was destroyed at that time)!
So, what we have in Isaiah 25-27 (and much, much more could have been said), is that these great chapters foretold the eschatological consummation of the resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the vindication of the martyrs, the destruction of Satan, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
That judgment would be in fulfillment of the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:28-43). So…
If the Song – and Isaiah 25-27 was fulfilled in AD 70– which we shall see is true– then the Law of Moses, “the Law” was not nailed to the Cross.
If the Song – and Isaiah 25-27- will not be fulfilled until the so-called end of time, then the Song of Moses, Isaiah 25-27– and every jot and every tittle of the Law– will remain valid, binding and in full force until that end of time consummation.
In either situation, the argument that “The Law” was nailed to the Cross is falsified.
In our next installment we will tie in Isaiah 27– and thus, the Song– in with Matthew 23 and the Olivet Discourse and other texts. So, stay tuned!