When Forever is not

One of the objections folks will bring against us, in the Lord’s church, is the one about us no longer holding to the commands of the Old Law. They will point to the regulations regarding the Sabbath and say, “it says we must keep it forever, but you say no. Who’s right, you or God?” this line of argument is most often used when we point out that although David used an instrument for worship, that is no authority for us today. They think they have us caught. However, as I will show in this article, it is they who are “caught” and it will be by the very way Jesus corrected the Sadducees; “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29]

When ‘forever’ is not

First, we need to point out to these folks that there are some ‘forever’ things that are not forever.

These things are called “eternal” and “perpetual” in the Bible, yet they have been abolished: The Feast of Unleavened Bread: [Ex 12:17]; Burnt offering: [Ex 29:39-42]; Day of Atonement: [Lev 23:28-31]. According to their logic, we should STILL HAVE ANIMAL SACRIFICES! If we still have animal sacrifices what then was the need for Jesus to die on a cross?! Surely, they have read Hebrews 10:10… “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

If the Sabbath day is to be observed because of the words ‘forever’ ‘everlasting’ ‘permanent’ ‘eternal’ [all of which are translated from the Hebrew ‘owlam’] then we ought also to keep all the Jewish holy days and feasts! Interesting side note, I met a lady this past week who intends on starting a “new” church that will do this very thing, KEEP THE JEWISH FEASTS because they were commanded to be kept ‘forever.’

Setting aside the admonition from Paul that if one keeps one part of the Law they are obligated to keep the whole law, and if they do, they ‘have fallen from grace’ that is, lose their salvation [Gal 5:1-4. (this particular woman has no salvation for she also said that she had asked Jesus into your heart, a primary error needing to be taught more accurately.)

The meaning of forever

We need to examine the meaning of ‘forever’ as well as the meaning of ‘throughout their generations’ as it was used in the Old Testament.

As pointed out above, the Hebrew word ‘owlam’ that is translated forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent does not mean never ending rather it means ‘age lasting.’ In Jonah 2:6 Jonah says that he was in the fish forever, but he wasn’t, he was only inside the belly for 3 days!

Another example of ‘forever’ meaning ‘age lasting’ is with a righteous earthly king. It is said that these will have thrones established forever. “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.” [ Proverbs 29:14] Did they? Of course not, their throne only lasted as long as they were alive.

When God spoke about something being forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent in the Old Testament He was limiting it to their generations, that is, He limited it to the Jewish age. The Jewish age stopped when Jesus died on the cross. The Sabbath, the feasts, all Jewish holy days and institutions were ‘nailed to the cross’ [Colossians 2:14].

‘shall surely be put to death’

Here is another problem that comes from ‘not knowing the scriptures.’ Are they going to keep ALL PARTS of the command to keep the Sabbath? You can read about it in Exodus 31:13-17;

“… Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant…”  [Exodus 31:13-17] [emphasis mine seb]

I know of no one today who advocates for keeping the Sabbath who will put to death any who don’t. Why follow it at all if you’re not going to keep it all? Which is the point Paul made to the Galatians, “o foolish Galatians” [Gal 3:1].

There are even more examples we could cite that destroys this foolish notion that the Sabbath, the feasts and the holy days be kept forever.

  • Will the Earth remain forever [Eccl 1:4; Ps 78:69; Ps 104:5]? Nope! [2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 20:11; Rev 21:1,4,23; Rev 22:5; Heb 12:26-27; 2Co 4:18]
  • Shall circumcision remain forever [Gen 17:10-14]? Better not. [Gal 5:1-4; Rom 2:28-29].
  • How about tabernacle candles or Tabernacle Shewbread [Lev 24:2-9]? I think not. [Heb 8:13-9:4]

This last one really freaks them out when I say I don’t follow the 10 commandments [Deut 5:1-29 Esp. v29]. Romans 7:1-7 explains how we are dead to the Law to be joined to the body of Christ!

Let’s abandoned all these attempts to bring back the Old Law, our High Priest and King has delivered to us a much better covenant.

ETERNAL LIFE

Under the better covenant of Christ, He promises eternal life. At the judgement, the last day of this physical realm, Jesus will separate all of humanity into 2 groups;

Mt 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

It’s at that time that those who have obeyed the Gospel will inherit “eternal life.”

Please, obey the Gospel so that you may enjoy the spiritual blessings promised in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

A Survey of the Bible

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD to stop to take in the entire landscape. This is what we are doing with our Wednesday study of the Old Testament.

One of the primary reasons many people haven’t made the effort to get to know the Bible is that they feel it is intimidating and confusing. Without a basic understanding of how the Bible is written this can often be the case. To help develop an overall picture of the Bible, turn to the Table of Contents. You will notice that the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books that are divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Let’s notice how the Old Testament can be outlined.   

The Old Testament is made up of 39 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Genesis to Esther: History books (of the Jewish people), Mostly chronological, starts at beginning of time and goes to about 400 BC.

Job to The Song of Solomon: Poetry books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: Job – trials, Psalms – worship/prayer, Proverbs – wisdom, Ecclesiastes – philosophy, Song of Solomon – love.

Isaiah to Malachi: Prophecy books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, basically they were preachers inspired by God to warn the people of judgment and foretell certain future events. 

The New Testament is made up of 27 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Matthew to Acts: History books, not chronological, Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are all self-contained histories of Jesus’ life. Acts is the history of the early church (or followers) of Jesus.

Romans to Jude: Letters to churches or individual Christians, not chronological, many written during the time frame of Acts’ history, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: worship, morality, love, relationships, trials, philosophy, wisdom, etc.

Revelation: Prophecy book, written to correct and warn early Christians.

Recognizing these things will be extremely helpful in your reading of the Bible. Simply understanding the context of what you’re reading will make the Bible less confusing. Knowing the above should give you confidence in your ability to understand God’s Word.

The Outline of the Bible:

overview

Study the chart above. Notice that the three periods of time are divided by how God delivered His laws to mankind. The first was through patriarchs or heads of families. Second was through Moses and the prophets. And finally He delivered His will to man through Jesus.

The Patriarchal Age. This period starts in Genesis 1 at the creation of the world. Adam & Eve disobey God and are made to leave the Garden of Eden. After many years the earth is full of evil and God decides to send a flood to destroy all that will not repent. Noah and 7 of his family are the only ones who are saved. Over 400 years later a man named Abram (later Abraham) is chosen by God to become the father of the Israelite nation (Gen. 12).

From this time on the Bible specifically traces the History of that one nation. Abraham has Isaac, Isaac has Jacob, and after Jacob’s name is changed to Israel he starts the family. The Israelites (also called Hebrews or Jews) begin to grow as a family after Jacob has 12 sons who later become 12 tribes. At the end of Genesis they are a still a small family who have moved to Egypt. They are taken into captivity for a couple hundred years and grow to be a large nation.

The Mosaic Age. God chooses a man named Moses to deliver the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses leads the people out of Egypt to a mountain called Horeb (later Sanai). Here God delivers his law for the Israelites.

After the Israelites wander for 40 years in the wilderness, they go into “the Promised Land” (Canaan) under Joshua’s command. Once they settle the land God leads the people by appointing a series of Judges (who were basically military leaders) for around 350 years. After this the people want to be lead by a king like the nations around them. God warns them it’s a bad idea but grants their request by giving them Saul, David, and then Solomon. After Solomon’s reign (925 BC), the nation divides into two groups – Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  The northern kingdom of Israel grows increasingly evil and at God’s decree is taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 BC never to return again. Later, the southern kingdom of Judah is punished by being taken into captivity by the Babylonians. After 70 years they returned to their homeland and rebuilt their nation. It is their descendants who are the Jews of today and through whom Christ came.

During the time of these two kingdoms, the Prophets wrote their books. Almost all of them spoke of the coming of a Savior or Messiah. Most of them also spoke of a new covenant that would be enacted when this Savior came.

The Christian Age. This is the final way that God has revealed His will to mankind. We are now living in this age. The Bible teaches that once the Messiah came, so did the new covenant.

According to the Bible people today are to follow the New Testament. This is one reason why there are so many churches today doing so many different things yet all claiming to follow the Bible. There are many religious groups who say they follow the Bible but for some reason have missed this important Bible teaching. Can you think of any religious practices you’ve seen before which are only found in the Old Testament?

Jesus Has All Authority:

The Bible teaches us 4 things that are NOT our authority for religious practice. 1) The Old Testament, 2) Our own initiative to change something God commanded (like Nadab & Abihu), 3) Emotion or good motives (like David & Uzzah), 4) The traditions of men. If none of these can accurately define for us what God wants from us, where must we look?