N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 71 (Submitting to God’s Torah)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:7

(Rom. 8:7 ESV) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

(Rom. 8:7 NET) because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.

(Rom. 8:7 HCSB) For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.

In this verse, Paul simply summarizes what he’d already said in chapter 7. The “outlook of the flesh” speaks to the lost, those not “in Christ Jesus” (8:1).

Wright insists that we should read “law of God” as the Torah of God, to be consistent with the earlier chapters, but we should understand Torah in a new way.

Can it really be that “the law of the spirit of life” is a further reference to Torah, introducing now a new facet to Torah not visible in chap. 7? Most commentators draw back from this conclusion. I am persuaded, however, that reaction is wrong. When scaling the sheer rock of Paul’s thought it is important not to lose one’s nerve and settle for an apparently easier path, a seemingly more natural route.

The explanation of v. 2, after all, is found in vv. 3–4; and there, as the heart of the chapter so far, we find that the “righteous verdict of the law,” the δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου (dikaiōma tou nomou), is now fulfilled “in us who walk … according to the Spirit.” We then find, by implication, that whereas “the mind of the flesh” does not submit to God’s law, the mind of the Spirit actually does (v. 7), and that by the Spirit God will do what the law wanted to do but, through no fault of its own, was unable to do (8:3, 10–11; cf. 7:10).

It is not fanciful, then, but strictly in keeping with the thrust of the whole passage, to say that when Paul speaks of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” he is indeed referring to Torah, in a way for which we have only distantly been prepared by 3:27, 31. After all, ho nomos in vv. 3, 4, and 7 is clearly Torah. How obscure do we suppose Paul to have been?

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 576-577.

So does this mean we should be circumcised and eat kosher? Obviously, this is not the case, as shown by Gal and Rom 14. So how is Paul thinking of the Torah as it applies to Christians, who possess the Spirit?

Commenting on Rom 10:4, Wright writes,

Romans 7:1–8:11, likewise, does not undermine Torah. It does not suggest that when God acts in Jesus Christ and by the Spirit Torah is abrogated or made to look bad. On the contrary: it is “the mind of the flesh” that cannot submit to God’s law (8:7). In Christ and by the Spirit God has at last done what Torah wanted to do but could not do, that is, to give life (7:10; 8:11). This points on to the theme of 10:5–9.

In fact, if we wanted to summarize 2:17–29; 3:27–31; and 7:1–8:11, one good way of doing so might be to say: “Christ (and the Spirit) are the goal of Torah, so that all who have faith, all who are in Christ Jesus, may have righteousness and life.” …

I conclude that in 10:4 Paul does not intend to declare the law’s abrogation in favor of a different “system,” but rather to announce that the Messiah is himself the climax of the long story of God and Israel, the story Torah tells and in which it plays a vital though puzzling part. God’s purposes in Torah, purposes both negative and positive, have reached their goal in the Messiah, and the result of that is the accessibility and availability of “righteousness” for all who believe.

Both of those emphasized words are important, underlining the contrast (a) with the restriction of “righteousness” to Jews, and (b) with the badge of covenant membership seen as “works of Torah” in the sense already discussed.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 658.

Commenting on Rom 10:5-11, Wright continues to explain his thinking —

In fact, however, once we discover what Paul is doing in these verses–and they display one of his more subtle readings of Scripture–we shall see that here, too, somewhat as in 8:1–11, he envisages the fulfillment, not the abrogation, of Torah. …

Deuteronomy 30 comes immediately after the chapters in which Moses has held out to the people the covenantal blessings and curses. … The final and most emphatic curse is exile: Israel will not simply suffer blight, mildew, barrenness, poverty, sickness, and a hundred other evils in the land, but will ultimately be driven off the land itself, scattered among the nations of the earth (28:63–68; 29:22–28; see esp. 29:28[27]: … .

But after they have all happened, and in particular after the exile has done its worst, then there will come a great reversal. Deuteronomy 30 is a prediction of the return from exile, pointing to the spiritual and moral renewal that will make that return possible and appropriate. Israel will return to YHWH with all its heart and soul (30:2, 6). YHWH will turn Israel’s captivity around, and regather his people (vv. 3–5). YHWH will circumcise Israel’s heart, to love YHWH, so that Israel may live (v. 6). Blessing will once more follow, if Israel will now be obedient (vv. 8–10).

And the central blessing is life itself: God has set life before them (v. 15), the life that results from keeping the commandments (v. 16) as opposed to disobeying and so incurring death (vv. 17–18). Life is what they must choose (v. 19). They must love YHWH, obey his voice, and cleave to him, “for he is your life, and the length of your days” (v. 20). The whole chapter might be entitled, “the new obedience which brings new life.”

In the middle of Deuteronomy we find vv. 11–14, the passage Paul quotes in 10:6–8. The commandment is not too hard; it is not far off. You do not need someone to go up to heaven and bring it down, so that you may hear it and do it; you do not need someone to cross the sea and fetch it, so that you may hear it and do it … . “The word is near you; it is in your mouth, and in your heart, so that you may do it” (v. 14). The chapter, in other words, presumes that Israel has been sent into exile and is now going to turn to YHWH from the heart, and proceeds to explain what it really means to “do” the law and so to “live.”

This life-giving “doing” will be a matter, not of a struggle to obey an apparently impossible law, but of heart and mouth being renewed by God’s living “word.” It will not be a matter of someone else teaching it to them as from a great distance. Verse 14, significantly, omits even the mention of “hearing” the commandment; it will be inside them, in their mouth and heart.

We cannot but think of Jer 31:33–34: In the restoration after the exile, the people will not need to be taught the commandments, because they will be written on their hearts. And this cannot but remind us of Rom 2:25–29, a passage that Paul is about to echo in 10:9–10. It should be clear already that Paul has the context, and overall meaning, of Deuteronomy 30 firmly in mind. …

This should make it clear, too, that Paul’s quotation of Lev 18:5 in 10:5 is not set in opposition to Deuteronomy 30. … Lev 18:5 brought together two things, “doing the law” and “living”: “the one who does these things shall live by them.” This is what the “righteousness which is from the law” declares; that is how Leviticus 18 was heard in Paul’s own day. … It offers, he insists, a fresh explanation, granted exile and return, for what “do the law and live” might actually mean.

In the original passage, the lines Paul quotes each end with “so that you may do it.” Here, as in 2:25–29 and elsewhere, Paul’s point is that those who share Christian faith are in fact “doing the law” in the sense that Deuteronomy and Jeremiah intended. Those who believe that Jesus is Lord, and that God raised him from the dead, are the new-covenant people, the returned-from-exile people. …

Now all who believe in the Messiah, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are thereby “fulfilling the law”; they are “doing” it in the sense Deuteronomy 30 intended; and they thereby find “life,” as 8:9–11 demonstrated, the life that Torah wanted to give but could not (7:10), the life that can now be spoken of more specifically as “salvation” (10:9, 10, 13). And that, of course, was all along the point of the paragraph (10:1–13). Paul has prayed for the salvation of his kinsfolk; now, starting with Torah itself, he has shown the way by which that salvation may be found.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 658-660.

Let me see if I can simplify this a bit:

  1. The promises in Deu 30 of the end of Exile and the restoration of Israel as God’s people is a part of the Torah. “Torah” does not mean “Law of Moses.” It refers to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The same is true of “law” when Paul is writing in Torah terms. Thus, the promises of Deu 30 are as much “Torah” as are the Ten Commandments. And that means that the covenant with Abraham is part of the Torah, since its recorded in Genesis.
  2. The Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants both point to Jesus. It’s much easier to see in Abraham, but Deu 30 especially is a promise that will be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Spirit.
  3. The Torah of the Spirit of Life (Rom 8:2) speaks first to gaining eternal life, that is, escaping the curses of Gen 3 and Exile so that God’s people may re-enter the Garden so that they will no longer “surely die” by losing immortality by losing access to the Tree of Life.
  4. Thus, when Moses promises in Deu 30:6 that God will circumcise the hearts of the Jews so that they “may live,” he is speaking of undoing the curse of Gen 3 as well as the curses of Lev 26 and Deu 28-29 (Exile). In retrospect, “live” has to refer to immortality, since the curse of Gen 3 took away immortality and the Exile separates Israel from God. Besides, of all the curses threatened, God never says the Jews will suffer physical death and be exterminated from the cosmos. So if they aren’t threatened with physical death, what is “life” in Deu 30:6? Surely, regaining the immortality that Adam and Eve once had.
  5. Therefore, the Torah of the Spirit is the Torah re-read to include the story of God’s relationship with Israel and the rest of the world from Adam to Moses. The Spirit is how God will circumcise hearts. Faith in Jesus is how the promises to Abraham will be kept.
  6. Therefore, the Torah is not repealed so much as fulfilled. It has come to its natural and intended conclusion: life (immortality) is given to God’s people by the Spirit thanks to the forgiveness made possible by the work of Jesus on the cross accessed by faith.
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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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31 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 71 (Submitting to God’s Torah)

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Read the balance of Deu 30 and notice, that if you make an application of the verse 6 to today then you have removed it from its context and are applying it incorrectly to the wrong people and the wrong source of which they are supposed to obey. Notice verse 10 specifically.
    Deu 30:10 ESV when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
    Book of Law, is not part of the NT. Verse 8 specifically states that what Moses is referencing is what he was writing “today”.
    Deu 30:8 ESV And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today.

    Pulling a message out of its context is exactly how we play havoc with God’s Word. If you apply this into Christianity, you will need to apply the Book of Law that Moses wrote. This is doing exactly what Paul condemned, as he discussed bringing circumcision into Christianity.

  2. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Did Adam really have immortality while in the Garden? If we state that he did and that was what he lost when he sinned, then it was called death, immediately. It was not physical death. He was not physically dead prior to removal from the Garden. It appears to me, according to God’s Words that the Tree of life had the ability to restore that immorality regardless of any commitment on Adams part, and it would not have been a reversal of a physical death, he was still alive. But, it was not involved in the immorality which he possessed before losing it, because he had not eaten of it prior to his expulsion from the Garden. On the other hand we have not been informed that Adam was created as an immortal being. Was any other creation upon earth created as an immortal? What animal or plant life is or was immortal? We could be assured that most of the plant life was created as an annual, a life which was cycled by the seasons.

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry asked,

    Did Adam really have immortality while in the Garden?

    I would be slow to read much into “tree of life” other than what we’re told.

    (Gen. 2:9 ESV) And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    (Gen. 3:22 ESV) Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever– ”

    (Gen. 3:24 ESV) He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

    (Rev. 2:7 ESV) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

    (Rev. 22:2 ESV) through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    (Rev. 22:14 ESV) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

    (Rev. 22:19 ESV) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    It sounds in Gen 3:22 that the tree of life either had not yet been eaten of by Adam and Eve or else required occasional eating to continue in effect. So Adam and Eve lost “the right to the tree of life.”

    My own view is that Adam and Eve lost their right to immortality, not that they lost immortality. Immortality is gift from God, not an inherent feature of being human. We don’t have it in its fullness until we’re in the Garden or NHNE.

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote,

    Read the balance of Deu 30 and notice, that if you make an application of the verse 6 to today then you have removed it from its context and are applying it incorrectly to the wrong people and the wrong source of which they are supposed to obey.

    Notice verse 10 specifically.

    Deu 30:10 ESV when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

    Book of Law is not part of the NT. Verse 8 specifically states that what Moses is referencing is what he was writing “today”.

    Larry,

    Do I throw away Psa 23 because it’s part of the OT? What am I to do with the “new covenant” promises in Jeremiah?

    Regarding Deu, a part of the book of the Law, do I throw away the command to love God? The command to care for the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner?

    The covenant with Abraham is part of Genesis — a book of Law — and yet not part of the NT and nonetheless the covenant under which Christians are saved by faith. Gal 3 and Rom 4.

    So the old Jule Miller filmstrip dispensational approach leaves mores questions unanswered than answered — and is frankly just plain wrong. The book of the Law hasn’t been repealed but fulfilled through Jesus and has to be re-read and re-thought in light of Jesus — which is what Paul is doing in Romans.

    As Wright notes, Paul builds much of his case on Deu 30. See esp. Paul’s quotations in Rom 10. Paul treats it as authoritative for his readers, and I figure he knows what he’s talking about.

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,

    “My own view is that Adam and Eve lost their right to immortality, not that they lost immortality. Immortality is gift from God, not an inherent feature of being human. We don’t have it in its fullness until we’re in the Garden or NHNE.”

    (LC) Unless I misunderstand the concept of immortal life and eternal life, I believe that something is amiss in your view. I cannot find that Adam ever had a “right” to immortality. We know that he died when he disobeyed God’s instruction, God confirmed his death (separation from God). Separation from the Garden removed access to the “Tree of Life”. By the way could that really have been Christ? Evidently, the “Tree of Life” could have overpowered God”s sentence of death, if the death was referring to the physical life. But, the death or separation was not a physical dimension. There is no form of the word immortal translated within the OT, and these are the only usages in NT. In the context found in these verses, no man will have immortality until he is raised from the grave or changed in the last day. Notice, that some of those who are raised on that last day will judged and sent to hell. Therefore, are all that are raised from the dead given immortality? But, this is not the climax of our promise. You see the fact that we have already been given eternal life when we committed to Christ. Can we have eternal life and not be immortal? Jesus told Mary that she would never die, he was not speaking of physical death but of the eternal life that she would possess.
    1Co 15:51-57 ESV Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (53) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (54) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    (Rom 1:23 ESV) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
    (Rom 2:7 ESV) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    (1Co 15:53 ESV) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
    (1Co 15:54 ESV) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    (1Ti 1:17 ESV) To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
    (1Ti 6:16 ESV) who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
    (2Ti 1:10 ESV) and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

    So what is so important to you about immortal life if you have been given a gift of eternal life? If these were the same than we would not receive either until the resurrection. If they are not the same then we have never been given a gift which is identified as immortal life. Can an individual be condemned after being resurrected? Paul says so, “Act 24:14-15 ESV But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, (15) having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” the unjust are not Christ’s.
    Not once is the term “immortality” been identified in scriptures as a gift, but the term eternal life has been identified as a gift. Both the same?

  6. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I figure that the majority of individuals whom Paul was writing to had very little if any knowledge of the Book of Law. Why would we believe that The Gentiles were schooled in the Jewish religion? How many centuries would it have been before even the Gentile leaders would have access to the Hebrew writings? How many of the Gentile churches would contain any Jew who was so highly schooled in the Law that they would serve the Gentile community as a dictionary or concordance regarding the OT Torah? Why are we so determined to be a part of the promise to Abraham? The promise to Abraham was (past tense, already done, completed) in Christ.
    Act 7:17 ESV “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt

    Heb 6:13-15 ESV For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, (14) saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” (15) And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.

    Gal 3:10-19 ESV For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” (13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (15) To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. (16) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. (17) This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. (18) For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. (19) Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.
    (LC) The promise to Abraham was not a promise for us to inherit. It was a promise to his offspring (Christ) and Christ inherited the World, not the Jews or us. That promise has been fulfilled and will not be repeated. Now, we have been given a better promise than was given to Abraham, he was not promised eternal life.
    1Jn 2:25 ESV And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

    Heb 8:6-13 ESV But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. (8) For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (9) not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (13) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

    The OT covenant is diminished, obsolete, cannot provide us with the promises which the NT promises. In fact anyone who attempts to obey the Law of the OT today forfeits the blessings of the New Covenant (eternal life).

  7. Dwight says:

    An interesting thing is that after man was expelled from the garden his life expectancy started slowly going down hill from about around 1000 years to 100 years. That is a big drop. What caused this drop? This is just speculation, but perhaps Adam and Eve’s separation from the tree of life did, not only in their generation, but the following generations leading to death.
    God of course was the source of life, not the tree itself.
    We often argue that it was the environment, but perhaps it was access to the Tree of Life, which would have been access to God.
    Sin separated man from God and thus life.
    God said in Gen. “And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
    I have often read this as being an upper limit, but perhaps this is a lower limit from where they were and an upper limit to how long one can live.

    Gen.3 ” Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
    Gen.3 seems to point to the possibility of immortality within the context of the tree or having access to the tree, so God separates man from the tree.
    It should be noted that Jesus is said to have died on the tree and that He was life. This may or may not be an allusion to the Tree of Life, but that is what Jesus is.
    Through Jesus we have access to life, only by partaking of Him.

    Larry, “The OT covenant is diminished, obsolete, cannot provide us with the promises which the NT promises. In fact anyone who attempts to obey the Law of the OT today forfeits the blessings of the New Covenant (eternal life).”
    While the OT covenant is diminished and fulfilled, this isn’t necessarily true of the Law of the OT (Torah), after all Jesus quotes the Law of the OT quite a bit. Some of the Laws are in full affect, primarily these two:
    1. Love the Lord thy God with all they heart and with all thy soul and 2. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
    I see a difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of God. The Law of Moses was put forth for the Jews, but the Law of God was put forth for man. In Matt.5 Jesus talks about the Law, never repeals it, but adds depth to the intent. To not kill another (murder) was a law from the time of Cain and Abel, but Jesus simply argues that murder begins in the heart and thus you must tame the heart.
    The Perfect Law of Liberty is in effect and greatly overshadows the OT Law of Moses making it obsolete. But it doesn’t make it sinful or wrong, just without saving power.

    My parents had me circumcised, so I am circumcised, which is in accordance with the Law, but this doesn’t justify me. Paul had Timothy circumcised, which was in accordance with the OT Law, but Paul understood that this didn’t justify Timothy before God.
    Paul went to the Temple, but worshipped God not just in the Temple.
    In the coC, which has come down through the past, keeping the Law or the things of the Law is seen as sinful, despite the Law coming from God.
    We need to get this out of our heads.
    Subverting Christ and leaving Christ for the OT Law is wrong, but the Law isn’t wrong and can be done within the context of Christ. Not should be, but can be. They are not diametrically opposed to one another.
    After all the early Jews (apostles) sacrificed and kept the law, while being Christian. But they didn’t leave Christ (life) for the Law (which could not give life).
    Gal. 3:10 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse…”

    Romans as a theme is arguing for relying on and placing faith in Christ, instead of relying on and placing faith in the Law, without arguing against the Law and actually using the Law as an argument for Christ. All are in sin, thus all need Christ….the Savior of Mankind.

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    Right on. I would add that yes Jesus did quote from the Law while preparing those he was teaching for his kingdom. This is expected because Jesus lived and died under the Law and all those to whom he was teaching were living under the Law. If he had taught the principles of the New Covenant which exempted many regulations in the Law, He would have been disobeying the Law in in teaching that sacrifice, Temple Worship, circumcision and many other regulations were no longer necessary. He did try to teach them that he was the expected Messiah and because of that they killed him. As you mention, “that the Law can be done within the context of Christ”. I believe that there many things contained in the Law which would demand an individual to not only obey it, but the leaders, the Priests, the High Priest, the king if there was one, of the Israelite Nation etc:. A Christian would not be at liberty to obey the Spirit, under the Law. You mentioned, “that In the coC, which has come down through the past, keeping the Law or the things of the Law is seen as sinful, despite the Law coming from God. We need to get this out of our heads.” Then as you continue you admit they are not the same, therefore we would be serving two different masters, (the Law was a “master”, Paul identified it as a schoolmaster or guardian to bring us to Christ). Since that is true, to attempt to serve the Law after Christ had arrived and given us the New Covenant would in effect be reflecting that we did not trust Christ to be our Savior. Could anyone serve the Law without giving it part of the glory that we owe to Christ? O lets be safe and do both to be sure we have the bases all covered, diminishes Christ. To use the Law as an authority for any actions which it describes, rejects the authority invested in the New Covenant, (actually the author of it, Christ). Therefore, just as Paul has stated, “Gal. 3:10 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse…”. Can anyone serve the Law as you suggest without relying on the works thereof? Is the Law just fun to do? To serve it less than fully would have even been sinful to the Jews. How would it not be sinful for us? In fact there are regulations within the Law that would forbid serving Christ. Serving Christ by a Jew was an offence within the Law. Not even Jews could serve both. I could quote scriptures to back that up, and I will if anyone needs to see them.

  9. Dwight says:

    I would argue that to do things within the law isn’t necessarily doing on the law unless you are looking to these things for justification before God. In other words, if I sacrificed a lamb to God in sacrifice, this is not wrong, but we must also realize these things were done before the law as well. In many people’s minds since the Law was done away with the things of worship done within were done away with as well, even though worship is worship when done of a free will. But the acts of worship never was used as a justified any ways, but rather being worshipful to the only living God.
    I don’t know of any regulations that would argue against worshipping Jesus, even though He is God, but Jesus Himself deferred glory to His Father.

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I have waited for a while thinking that someone else might comment on your March 16 comment. The first thing that came to mind as I read your comment about you sacrificing a Lamb was, why? What purpose would you consider sacrificing a Lamb to God serve? I believe that you understand that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and that any other animal sacrifices beyond that serves no purpose.
    Heb 10:1-10 ESV For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (2) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? (3) But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (4) For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (5) Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; (6) in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. (7) Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'” (8) When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), (9) then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. (10) And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
    Christ was reported as saying in verses 5,6 and 8 what God thought about these sacrifices. An important fact in verse 8 is that they were according to the law. Now considering that fact, would we believe that just any one could offer a Lamb as a sacrifice according to God’s instructions in the Law? In the Law only a Levite could perform the sacrifices. These Levites then had to perform a ritual cleansing prior to the sacrifice. Would you qualify? Even if you could all the sacrifices were a symbol leading up to the sacrifice of Christ, therefore to sacrifice in the same manner today would be a unfavorable reflection upon Christ’s sacrifice. Considering what is said in Heb above could we imagine that God would consider someone today sacrificing a Lamb as worshiping him?

  11. Dwight says:

    Larry, The offerings of sacrifices to God preceded the OT Law, all the way back to Cain and Abel, Noah, etc. and God seemed to like that which was offered to Him from us. After all it was us offering something valuable to God. In our daily struggle to live, how much do we dedicate to God…really.
    Yes, our life, but in particular out of our life.
    I think it would be a good exercise for us to within a day to write down what we purposely dedicate to God vs ourselves.
    We might be surprised…or not.
    Let’s see watching TV, reading a book, going to a sporting event, etc.
    What purpose do these things serve towards God?
    And then we juxtaposition this to purposely dedicating something to God, yes even a sacrifice or the burning of incense. Which do we think God would rather have from us? Something we dedicate to ourselves or to God (that he approved of), even if it is archaic and non-salvational?
    Is going to a baseball game salvational?

    Rom.14:5-8 “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
    The above verse argues that even though we may or may not purposely dedicate a day or our eating towards God, we ourselves are God’s, so we basically dedicate everything within the context of our life to God.
    But while doing this it also makes the concession that we can dedicate things to God of our own accord of our own free will. We can observe a day towards God if we want to.

    The often argued point which you are arguing basically follows the RP or Law of Exclusion, where when one thing is commanded, then something else cannot be done by man in conjunction with that command. ie the command to sing to God, excludes the playing of instruments to God, even while the command to sing is fulfilled by singing, to the point that an extra form of worship is then sinful, ie IM. Thus even raising our hands to heaven or bowing while singing is wrong, because it is determined by us towards God in conjunction with singing, but is not singing.

    The early Christians were largely Jews, aka the Apostles, and they did the things that Jews did back then, sacrificed, went to the Temple, etc., because they understood that these things were to God, because God was pleased with them and they didn’t counter Jesus, unless one placed their faith in those things to justify them before God.

    One of the most overlooked accounts is of Jesus in the Wilderness for 40 days. We read it, but just focus on the temptation, but why was he there in the first place…fasting? This wasn’t law. He purposely dedicated this time in this way to God.
    Then let’s think about what Satan offered Jesus…food, health, land.
    These things in themselves are not sinful, but since Jesus had dedicated himself to God for forty days of fasting, which was not written in the Law, to go against what He purposed would be sinful.
    In the case of Jesus, he dedicated 40 un-commanded days of fasting to God.
    Why? Because HE wanted to.
    Noah sacrificed to God when he stepped off the Ark on to dry land in thanks, because he wanted to.

    Heb.10:1-10 specifically addresses the sin offering set-up and not sacrifice in general for other reasons, ie praise and thanksgiving.
    Jesus did indeed fulfill the sacrifice that could take away sins for man, but this didn’t make sacrifices obsolete or sinful, otherwise the apostles and early saints would have been sinning as they did them. Paul even went through the purification process. Timothy was circumcised.

    vs.5-8 are basically taken from the books of the OT prophets where God is chastising the people because they are offering sacrifices, which God commanded, without love for and faith in God.
    If what you say is true, then God is disliking the very things he commanded and desired.
    His argument is that although they are fulfilling the law by sacrificing, they “you have neither desired nor taken pleasure in…” the sacrifices. They offer to God, but their hearts are not right before God.
    See I Cor.11 in regards to partaking of the LS.
    Same thing.

    “Now considering that fact, would we believe that just any one could offer a Lamb as a sacrifice according to God’s instructions in the Law? In the Law only a Levite could perform the sacrifices. These Levites then had to perform a ritual cleansing prior to the sacrifice. Would you qualify?”

    This is often repeated in the coC, because we like to see things through the Temple, but is not really true. Only the Levite priest could do certain sacrifices for certain things in the Temple, but David, Solomon, etc. did sacrifices to God and burned incense that were not sin offerings.
    They were simply offerings of praise to God.
    And, yes, the cleansing baptism we go through makes us priest before God, a Temple to house God and a living sacrifice before God in all that we do. We more than qualify as a saint.

    I consider this a horrible argument “Considering what is said in Heb above could we imagine that God would consider someone today sacrificing a Lamb as worshiping him?”
    in that we have just condemned the apostles who went to the Temple and did the Passover, etc.
    Consider
    Col.2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

    Paul was arguing that those that did these things, that were indeed a shadow of the things to come and without real substance, were not and could not be judged as sinful, as they were not sinful.
    Jesus did not sin while fasting 40 days in the wilderness.
    Daniel did not sin while ritualistically praying three times daily towards Jerusalem.
    These weren’t about salvation, but praise and acknowledging God.
    They could do these things to God, even though they were not able to save as long as they didn’t place salvation in them. Salvation was and is in Christ.

    But back to what we do on a daily basis: Is watching a TV show or going to a baseball game an example of the substance of Christ or even a shadow of the things to come?
    So let’s not be so quick to judge those things that are at least a shadow and that God desired from a right heart.

    The condemnation of worshipping God out of desire for God by man while also worshipping God due to commands must be rethought. Otherwise we are doing just the least we can do by just doing the commands and not the most of what we can do by desire towards God.
    This goes back to are we going to church or are we being a church. Do we go to church worship or are we being worshipful in our life in all that we do, “word or deed”? Do we give by command (first day of the week to an institution) or out of love and compassion to the needy? Etc.

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    You have mentioned, “Only the Levite priest could do certain sacrifices for certain things in the Temple, but David, Solomon, etc. did sacrifices to God and burned incense that were not sin offerings.” I do not remember reading such and have tried to find where these events took place, without any luck. Could you direct me to them?
    I did find a king who was involved with the burning of incense, notice the results.

    2Ch 26:16-20 ESV But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. (17) But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, (18) and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” (19) Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. (20) And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.

  13. Dwight says:

    2 Chron.26 is in reference to the Temple, I am making references to those things sacrificed outside the Temple, which was done away with, but according to Jesus in John worship itself wasn’t done away with.
    In the coC we mine the Temple for patterns, despite the fact that we reject what was done in the Temple for us today.
    But…
    David sang. played and danced before God…this was worship.
    Noah sacrificed before God, not a sin offering, but an offering of praise.
    David prayed to God three times a day towards Jerusalem.
    Not all offerings and sacrifices were done for sin, which is what Jesus was sacrificed for. He was our sin offering.
    But this didn’t make sacrifices, the burning of incense, etc. sinful, as I said, otherwise the Apostles were sinning when they went to the Temple. Purified themselves. When Paul had Timothy circumcised.

    In the procession of the Ark David sacrificed to God…2 Sam.6:13-15 “And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.”
    David did this of his own will towards God. In fact the whole procession was not commanded and was purely David. All that was required to deliver the Ark was Levites to carry it.
    And then Solomon…1 King 9:25 “Now three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the Lord, and he burned incense with them on the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the temple.”
    Solomon built this altar for God and burned incense on it to God….purely in praise. Three times a year…so it was ritualistic.
    My point is that God simply didn’t and doesn’t reject praise from a good heart.
    And what was done in the Temple was highly regulated while those things done outside the Temple were not. You could only burn a certain type of incense in the Temple, but outside the Temple one could burn incense to God of any type. The Passover involved three commanded items…the Lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread, but within these things, wine was added in and not just added in, but integrated to the whole meal.

    And then we go back to Col.2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

    And then there is what we do not towards God, but ourselves. We are OK with going to a baseball game, which has no reference to God, but is purely self pleasure, but in the coC we get all bent out of shape when we argue that something that is purposed as praise to God is allowed, even those things that were done in the OT and NT or that is a shadow of the real.
    Jesus talked about religious fasting and so did the apostles, but do we do it, no and we don’t even preach on it, simply because it seems so Jewish and archaic.
    Sacrifices, burning of incense, and praise in general was not Jewish, but simply praise. We in our brilliance have rejected reasonable forms of praise and worship to God, because we are better than that…better than them.
    Now mind you I am not advocating these things, but these are not condemned by God and were surely accepted in praise. In the above festivals or feast in Col.2, all of these things would have been done.

  14. Dwight says:

    Larry, Although I used to follow this same Temple/worship patternism, I have come to some understandings of the scriptures.
    1. The RP or Regulative Principle is based squarely on Temple worship, where when God commanded certain things, all other things were excluded.
    But we must realize this was God’s house and what happened in God’s house didn’t apply to the Jews in general. They could not live in God’s house or Temple, but they did live, eat, sing, play, have sex in their houses, those same houses in which they at the Passover lamb, prayed to God, had many other feast, etc.
    They could only burn certain type of commanded incense in the Temple, but man could burn any type of incense to God outside of the Temple, anytime and anywhere.
    Only certain sacrifices could be done by the Levite priest, but not all sacrifices were limited to the priest. Anyone could offer up a sacrifice of praise to God at any time.
    And so it goes.
    2. The Temple was done away with.
    3. Jesus clearly said in John that the Temple was going to become irrelevant as a place to worship and thus the things in it and that “we must worship in Spirit and in Truth”, which basically takes all regulations off of where and how we worship to God, as long as it is done in Spirit and in Truth.
    4. We are woefully inconsistent in our assessements of the commands to worship. We are told to “sing to one another” in Col and Eph. Now to take this literally as a command, we must sing in the presence of another, by command. We have examples of this in Jesus and the apostles and in Paul and Silas. There are no examples where they sang by themselves and no command. Thus any attempt to sing, alone, is sinful. Those who condemn IM break this all of the time.
    We are told directly to lift Holy hands to God in prayer, but who does that?
    There are many examples we adhere to as command and then just as many we slough off as irrelevant.
    We form a thing called a church with walls and boundaries of autonomy, when the church is those in Christ and all authority has been given to Christ. Once we cross the “church” threshold we as the church now can and can’t do certain things that we could have done before.
    We are the Pharisees in our magnitude of self-impositions.

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I believe that you must have connected a portion of my comments to an understanding you had about what some in the coC have taught. Apparently, I was not taught the same line of thought that you had encountered. That does not surprise me because I have refuted many concepts that teachers and preachers attempted to teach to me. Therefore, I will ignore the mention of the RP that you have spoken of because I did not adhere to that system.

    You have provided the text from 2 Sam 6:13-15 to confirm that David offered sacrifices to God. There are actually to accounts of this event in the OT, second being in 1Ch 15:25-29 continuing to 16:4 below.
    As I read these I did not see them teaching that David performed the sacrifices as you have suggested. Checking with some of the commentaries which I have in The Sword Bible Program, none of them suggested that David performed them either, but it is confirmed that the Levites were carrying the Ark just as God had required. Levites were among the procession, but there is no confirmation that these sacrifices were performed by those who were traveling with the Ark. There is no mentioning of the Ark or the procession stopping to perform the sacrifices. The text identifies that after those who were carrying the Ark had gone six steps, they had begun the sacrifices. We must look into the account written in 1Ch 15:14-29 to notice that the Levites who were there, were all consecrated for service including sacrificing and verse 26 states specifically that it was the Levites who sacrificed and they sacrificed 7 bulls and 7 rams. David did not physically perform the sacrifices. It is very appropriate to make a statement that David sacrificed because he was the King and possibly ordered or approved the action.

    2Sa 6:12-21 ESV And it was told King David, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. (13) And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. (14) And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. (15) So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. (16) As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. (17) And they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. (18) And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts (19) and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house. (20) And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (21) And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD.

    1Ch 15:14-23 ESV So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. (15) And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. (16) David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. (17) So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brothers Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their brothers, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; (18) and with them their brothers of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. (19) The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals; (20) Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth; (21) but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. (22) Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it. (23) Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. (29) Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, should blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. (25) So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing. (26) And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. (27) David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod. (28) So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres. (29) And as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating, and she despised him in her heart.

    1Ch 16:1-4 ESV And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. (2) And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD (3) and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. (4) Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel.

    You commented, “Solomon built this altar for God and burned incense on it to God….purely in praise. Three times a year…so it was ritualistic.”
    But, notice in the text which tells of Solomon’s actions. Did Solomon actually build the house by himself? Did he also build the fleet of ships by himself? Was he using his own hands to do this building of the house and ships?
    1Ki 9:24-26 ESV But Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the city of David to her own house that Solomon had built for her. Then he built the Millo. (25) Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the LORD, making offerings with it before the LORD. So he finished the house. (26) King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.
    Notice what is said in the previous verse.
    1Ki 9:23 ESV These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work: 550 who had charge of the people who carried on the work.
    Therefore, Solomon did not do the sacrificing himself.
    Isaiah who has been identified as making much prophesy about the Messiah has quite a lot to say about what God thought about, (well just read it).
    Isa 1:10-18 ESV Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! (11) “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? (13) Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (16) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (18) “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

    Ezekiel has much to say about incense alters, but notice not one of them were identified as a worshiping of God. All my searching ahs not reveled where anyone except the Levites could offer sacrifices and burn incense. Read Numbers chapter 16 about anyone else offering incense.

    Eze 6:2-9 ESV “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, (3) and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. (4) Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. (5) And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. (6) Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. (7) And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD. (8) “Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, (9) then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.

    Now let’s look at Col 2 again.
    Col 2:15-23 ESV He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (16) Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (17) These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (18) Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (20) If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
    You have read verse 16 as if it is attempting to give those in Colossians a right to do these things.
    But, these things are not suggested as part of the NT teachings. They are things which were part of the OT teachings and I read this as that the Colossians were not to accept the judgments of anyone who attempted to require them to be observant of those OT items. The key of understanding here is from verse 17.
    (16) Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (17) These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
    Do not be a participant of the shadow after Christ has come. They evidently understood that they were not to do these and there would be those of the Jews who would pass judgment upon them because they did not observe them. Paul is saying, do not accept their judgment, it is wrong (not applicable)

    Luk 1:8-12 ESV Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, (9) according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. (10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. (11) And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. (12) And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.

    Heb 9:3-4 ESV Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, (4) having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.

    In Revelation the incense is identified as the prayers of the Saints. If we then burned incense would it be a false prayer?

    Rev 5:8 ESV And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

    Rev 8:3-4 ESV And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, (4) and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

    I would still hold to the position that to perform any likeness of the sacrificing (especially a blood sacrifice) would be profaning Christ’s sacrifice. If there was no Israelite who was authorized to burn incense except the Priests of the Levites, then what would cause us to believe that we should do that today? If we decided that we are Priests and therefore it is acceptable, then find one Christian who burned incense to God as worship. Remember even the Apostles who entered the Temple were only participants of the worship through the Priest of the Temple; they did not have access to that portion of the temple.

  16. Dwight says:

    Larry.
    If you read the Law the Levites were bound to the sacrifices in the Temple or of the Temple, but not outside the Temple, unless for certain reasons.
    Unless you can find me an example where God binds all sacrifices, etc. on the priest outside the Temple.
    You wrote, “As I read these I did not see them teaching that David performed the sacrifices as you have suggested.”
    But then posted from 2 Sam.6
    “And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.”
    This was placed on David’s authority and desire to do in worship.
    I am not suggesting that David personally did the sacrifices himself, but rather that he put these sacrifices in motion. But his dancing, the singing, the sacrifice were not commanded by God or required in the moving of the Ark.
    All that was required was that Levites carry the Ark, but not all of the other stuff.
    This was placed squarely on David initiation and the doing of it.

    In 1 Chron.15 “David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.”
    Now David commanded the playing of instruments. Now when we read elsewhere we also find that David picked the Levites to do this, but these Levites weren’t priest, but just Levites.

    But moving on in 1 Chron. 16 “And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel.”
    Again it is noted that David commanded (God had not commanded) in regards to sacrifices, etc. Yes, David would have gotten the Levites to do it, but then again they were in that business. But it wasn’t in the Temple and it wasn’t commanded by God. This too was placed squarely on David as initiating it and having done it.

    In regards to Solomon we read and you note: “Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the LORD, making offerings with it before the LORD. So he finished the house.”
    And then you commented, “Did Solomon actually build the house by himself?”
    Which misses the point and was not my point.
    The point was that Solomon commanded these things to be done, so he did them, he had them built, so he built them. These sacrifices, etc. were on him. If there was someone to blame it would have been Solomon. While Solomon might have gotten the Levites to do the sacrifices, it wasn’t mandated by God through the Law and priest aren’t mentioned here because they are irrelevant to this being outside the Temple. And this was Solomon’s personal offering on his personal altar.

    Isaiah 1 is not the only place God complains about the offerings and sacrifices, New Moon and Sabbaths of the people, but then again these were the sacrifices that He commanded. the context is that the people were coming to the sacrifices unclean in that they were treating their neighbors wrong, not doing good, etc. They were going through the motions of worship, but since they were not being Godly, they were not really worshippers of God. They worshipped God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him…Isa.29:13

    You wrote, “You have read verse 16 as if it is attempting to give those in Colossians a right to do these things. But, these things are not suggested as part of the NT teachings.’
    Question: Then what gives you the right to go bowling? Go to a movie? Sing in four part harmony?Jesus didn’t teach this and it is not part of the NT teachings, right?

    The whole context of Col.2:15-23 is that people were coming along and placing rules on other people in regards to things they could or could not do in terms of law or justification.
    Paul debates against that even in the light of Jewish practices.
    This is why later on in that same context he says, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”.
    There were groups, namely the Encratites, who were imposing on others that to be Holy they couldn’t eat meat or drink wine and marry and some were imposing that they could not do any of the Jewish practices, but Paul is arguing that Jesus sets us free from these impositions.

    Which is why he says earlier, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.”
    And vs.18 ” Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism …”

    We must note that while the things of the Law were done away in regards to Law, these things were not made sinful to do or practice.

    The elephant in the room are the early saints and Apostles, which we tend to avoid. The early saints and the Apostles behaved as Jews, even though they were Christians, by going to the Temple, going through purification processes (Paul did this), being circumcised, (Paul had Timothy circumcised), etc. They went to the feast. These things were also shadows. They read and encouraged reading from the Torah, which was also a shadow.

    This alone refutes your argument “Do not be a participant of the shadow after Christ has come. They evidently understood that they were not to do these and there would be those of the Jews who would pass judgment upon them because they did not observe them.”

    Besides Col.2 is about doing those things and having judgment passed on them, not about not doing them and having judgment passed on them.
    The whole context is about doing things…eating, drinking, New Moon, feast, etc.
    Arguably, if your argument is against the feast, then it is also against eating and drinking, which they were being judged on. Many were being judged on the eating of meat and the drinking of wine.

    Luke 1:8-12 is in regards to the Temple, not in general. Only priest could burn incense in the Temple.
    But as Jesus noted and most would argue the Temple no longer is in power.
    So let’s return to before the Temple, many offered sacrifices to God who were not priest.
    We cannot play the priest card without the Temple, which they were tied to.
    And sacrifices existed prior to the Temple and was done by the common man.

    If your argument for incense is true in regards to incense in Revelations, then it is also true in regards to falling down before God. In one passage incense is the prayers of the saints, but in the other one it accompanies the prayers of the saints and is not the prayers of the saints.
    But it is all mostly figurative as is Revelations.
    Note: “four living creatures and 24 elders”. In vs. 6 you have a standing lamb.

    But, no, “If we then burned incense would it be a false prayer? ”
    If God had a problem with incense, then He wouldn’t have used in incense in these passages.
    Would it be wrong to eat lamb, since a lamb is mentioned (which was really Jesus)?
    Would eating lamb, be a false eating of Jesus, which was what the Lord’s Supper was supposed to be?

    All in all, just because something is no longer relevant, doesn’t make it wrong.
    Back again to bowling…is it relevant to God? No. Bowling is not even mentioned in the scriptures. Does that make it sinful? Only if you do something sinful while doing it, but offering sacrifices to God was never sinful and always accepted if done with a good heart from the very beginning, before the priest and the Temple.

    And you misunderstand my argument, when you say, “If there was no Israelite who was authorized to burn incense except the Priests of the Levites, then what would cause us to believe that we should do that today?”
    You use the word “should”.
    I am not arguing for should.
    What I am arguing for is “could”.
    This leads us back to Rom.15:5-8 where One person can esteem one day over another, while one person can eat to the Lord or not.
    Now whether or not they dedicate one day or their eating to God, the implication is that they are able to esteem one day or eat to God and even if they don’t, they are still doing all things in Jesus. They can however offer a day or eat to God of their own free will.

    But this argument brings about a strange tactic in that we like to play the “priest in the Temple card” either for or against things of worship, even despite the fact that the Temple was done away with and Jesus Himself said, “worship in Spirit and in Truth”, without arguing for or against any type of form of worship or way to do it, except it be done in Spirit and in Truth.
    Ironically Jesus talked of fasting and how to do it and prayer and fasting, and who does that and/or even teaches fasting as a practice to do. We don’t do it because it seems Jewish, even though Jesus commended it.

    We say, “Well only the Levite priest could burn incense to God in the Temple”. OK, true.
    It might even be true that only the Levite priest could burn incense at all, which I don’t think is true and if true, they would have been limited by the Law to the Temple.
    Solomon burned incense and could have used the Levite priest, but there is no command in regards to what they could or could not do in regards to incense outside the Temple according to the Law.

    But then we read and say, “the order of the Levite priest and the Temple were done away with”, and then we read where “Jesus is after the order of Melchizedek” of which we are as well and this order preceded the order and was superior to the Levite order and was before the Temple and the Law.
    Melchizedek was not bound to the Temple or the order of the Levite priest and did sacrifices to God.
    Even though we understand we are free, we still want to go back into bondage.

  17. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    Did you or did you not read Numbers chapter 16? Because the following verses 39-40 specifically state that no outsider (any Israelite) who is not a decedent of Aaron could ever burn incense to the Lord. He would be treated just like Korah and his company. This would include any of the KIngs even David and Solomon. Can you identify where the Lord reversed this judgment and allowed any Israelite to burn incense? If you cannot then this was in effect until the sacrifice of Jesus.
    Num 16:39-40 ESV So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar, (40) to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before the LORD, lest he become like Korah and his company—as the LORD said to him through Moses.
    Read the rest of the chapter for the completion of the men who lost their lives and the lives of their family because of this burning of incense.

  18. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    So you would chose to go back to the bondage of the OT worship and use Melchizedek King of Salem as an example of how to worship God rather then allowing Jesus to be your mediator between you and God? Did Jesus or any of his followers give you an example to offer a blood sacrifice or burn incense as a worship to God? Where is it show me.

  19. Dwight says:

    Larry, In regards to Num.16 I think the onus is on the concept in vs. 40 “before the Lord” meaning in the Temple or in this case the Tabernacle or on the Ark. Now you could be correct, in that only the priest could offer incense to God, and yet we still God’s command aimed at the Temple and then we have Solomon doing a burning of incense on his personal altar.
    But as I pointed out this was under the Moses law and in regards to the Levite priesthood which are a part of as we are under the Melchizedek priesthood.

    So your estimation is that Paul and the other apostles went back to bandage as they participated in OT worship? The fact that Jesus didn’t tell us how to worship allows different forms of worship as long as they are done in Spirit and in Truth. Otherwise you need to give me the list of approved ofor worship forms and unapproved of worship forms.You point with using Melchizedek was against the Levite requirements we are no longer under. Jesus is the mediator between us and God. Noah didn’t offer a sacrifice to reach God, but as worship.to God. Again we are told we could dedicate a day to God, but in since Jesus didn’t argue for it, it must be wrong. In fact Jesus dedicating 40 days to God must be wrong as it was not part of the Law.

    Again we are talking worship, not mediation, not a sin offering.

    What do we do with Paul and the apostles following the practices of the OT law and still be saints?

  20. Dwight says:

    Larry, This might be personal, but are you circumcised? If yes, then you are under the Law and have gone back to bondage, because circumcision was a sign of being under the covenant of the Law.
    That is unless you were circumcised, but you are not doing it as part of the Law.
    My parents had me circumcised, but this didn’t place me into the Law or under bondage to the Law as I follow Christ. But if I did place my faith in my circumcision as the Law, then I would be under bondage. But just doing something that is within the Law doesn’t make a debtor to the Law until I place my faith in that.
    Just so. The Early Jews and Apostles, were able to do the things of the Law, but not be under the Law as they placed their faith in Jesus. Paul had Timothy circumcised, but this wasn’t to fulfill the Law, but it was part of the Law. Paul went through the purification process, but he still placed his saving faith in Jesus. The apostles went to the different feast dedicated to God, but this didn’t mean that they went into bondage under the Law, as they clearly lived in Christ.
    As Christians, we are priest, but not after the order of the Levites, which had certain task in certain ways, but we are under the priesthood of Jesus, which preceded the Levites.
    So while burning incense might have been limited to the Levite priest, we, who are of another priesthood, are not under that same limitation.
    The early Christians who were Jews and the apostles were under the same lineage of Christ, still practiced the Law of Moses and still placed their faith in Jesus without contradiction.

    But there were those who judged others by what they did in certain things…like the eating of meat, marriage, the drinking of wine and performing Jewish practices.
    This is why Col.2 he says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you…”
    Paul is arguing that what people did in practicing the Law were not sinful and thus people could not pass judgement on them, after all the apostles themselves were doing these very things.
    And yes these things were a but a shadow and Christ was the light.
    So faith could not be placed in these things, but must be placed in Christ.

    Now Heb.10:1 “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”
    Only the true sacrifice of Jesus could atone for sins.
    This goes back to the concept that works don’t save and nothing we can do can save us.
    Jesus saves us, when we accept the savior and do God’s will.

    But let us consider the Lord’s Supper. We partake of the elements of the bread (the body of Christ) and the fruit-of-the vine (his blood). Barring the reality of transubstantiation, these elements are a stand in for the real. They are a shadow of the real things. Just like the lamb (called the Passover lamb) (Jesus) was the stand in for the Jewish lamb. But neither the Passover or the Lord’s Supper was designed to take away sins, but rather to remind us of God’s deliverance. While we are told to partake of the Lord’s Supper, it wasn’t meant to save, but to reflect salvation of Christ for man.
    Did this make the argument for the Jews to remember God’s deliverance from Egypt now wrong?
    After all they were remembering God.

    From Acts 16 we read “So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem;but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.
    So Paul did two Jewish things from the Law :
    1. Fulfilled the Nazerite vow,
    2. Was going to Jerusalem for a feast and he was adamant about this.
    Are we to condemn Paul?
    Did he go back into bondage under the Law by doing these things?

    Again, I am not arguing for doing these thing. But while most people would kill a deer to eat, would we in a moment of worship give praise and thanks for the deer we killed? Or even before wed kill it? Would we take the time to fast and pray towards God? Would we take a day off to sing and pray and worship with our family looking at things to remember God’s power and love? (BTW these in the Jewish world would be called feast, the Passover was one).
    In some ways the Jews have it better over us today, because we limit worship to God to worship in assembly, while they brought God into their lives. The Lord’s Supper would have originally been a supper in their homes, but we have turned into a Temple ceremony.
    Most go to the building to sing and worship and learn of God. And then leave God there when they leaved.
    We in our brilliance might be cheating ourselves, actually cheating God, because we don’t, using out other time and ability, dedicate more of ourselves and things to God.

  21. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    You have asked a very good question, about what do we do. I will answer this question with a statement from Paul.
    1Co 9:19-23 ESV For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (20) To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. (21) To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (23) I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
    I believe that Paul is stating that his motive for participating in the rituals of the Old Law were not for the purpose of worship. His purpose for becoming like someone outside the law (I would assume that has reference to the likeness of a Gentile), or to those who are weak was not to diminish his position within the servitude of Christ, but to increase his influence among those whom he was trying to win.
    Having said what I believe in this regard, I will give some examples to express what I believe we should follow of Paul’s example.
    We could be in the presence of someone who was offering a blood sacrifice or burning incense without endangering our position in the kingdom of Christ, unless we actually participated in it believing it to be our worship.
    I believe that if we as Christians attempted to offer a blood sacrifice or burn incense to worship God, we would be bringing in OT worship instructions into our lives and therefore, just as wrong as performing a circumcision as part of our worship. Paul gave many instructions about using the objects of The Law bringing us back under the bondage of The Law.
    We can attend any worship service of any other denomination of a God serving body of people, even if it is not anything like what we believe to be a correct ritual, and not be condemned by God for being there if we are like Paul with a goal to lead those to a better understanding of God and his Word. I’m not quite as brave though as I see Paul, Paul might even have attended a service of the First church of Satan in an attempt to teach them, why could I think that, well listen to the story of Athens.
    Have you known or heard of a Christian entering into a bar with the goal of teaching those there the Gospel? I could imagine Christ doing that.

  22. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I have not found where the scriptures state that Solomon had a “personal altar”, this might sway my thinking. Could you explain where you found it?

  23. Mark says:

    Solomon’s altar that he built is mentioned in 1 Kings 9:25 (google search)

    Dwight wrote about Jews having it better. Yes, they celebrate. There are Simchat Torah (rejoicing over the Torah), Passover, and Purim (rescue) among others. There is the rejoicing and praise to God over birth, bar mitzvah, marriage, becoming a parent, etc. i.e. “life cycle events.” Some of these events are celebrated at home with friends and family, no rabbi needed. The highest blessing and the redemption of the non-Kohen or non-Levite firstborn males are still pronounced by male descendants of Aaron (Kohens), even if a rabbi is present. Nothing similar to these, even a prayer over and for a newborn, made it into the conservative cofC. Announcement of a death was made so the ladies could know to start making casseroles for the family and fixing ham and potato salad for after the funeral. Now, a few progressive congregations have started these life cycle events in recent years. Instead of a celebration of something or time of praise, for most of us here, there was a sermon on what % of “appointed times” do you attend.

  24. Mark says:

    This may be a short duplicate if my earlier comment shows up. The Jews still have festivals of rejoicing Simchat Torah, Passover, Purim, and others and also rejoice over most life cycle events. The cofC had none except an announcement of a death.

    1 Kings 9:25 makes mention of Solomon’s altar that he built.

  25. Dwight says:

    Thank You Mark.
    An interesting thing is that in the coC we often argue against the Temple and the Jewish things, ceremonies, etc. and then what do we do, we use these things in our arguments and even turn the personal family-like assemblies and fellowships like the Lord’s Supper into a ceremony, called liturgy and then build a building dedicated to God, where God dwells when we are there (Temple).

    The fact is that while God strictly controlled those things that went on inside the Temple, God did not strictly control those things that went on outside the Temple. We are told that David created many musical instruments, even while God only commanded two trumpets. David freely played his instruments outside the Temple, but only the Levites could play them inside the Temple. Solomon as noted built an altar to God and burned incense on it. Solomon might have had a Levite priest actually do it, but it was still placed at the foot of Solomon doing it three times a year. God never commanded such. Solomon did it.

    In regards to Paul. I find it hard to imagine Paul purposely going to worship feast and just doing it for the sake of others, not God. This would place Paul in the same stage as those people God complained about in worshipping Him without their hearts in it to be seen of others.

    The fact is that Nazarite vow was a personal vow, which involved no one but that person who made it. He had nothing to prove by making a Nazarite vow and then going through the purification process at the Temple by a priest. He could have just made a silent vow and no one would have known any better, but I think that this was his way of honoring God.
    Same as going to the feast in Jerusalem.
    Paul had nothing to prove.

    And none of what he did was at odds with God’s commands, as long as Paul sought Jesus as the savior and Son of God.
    Going back into bondage would have been to believe that these things were vital for his salvation and his walk with God, but Paul clearly taught that Jesus was the way to God.

    You say,”I believe that if we as Christians attempted to offer a blood sacrifice or burn incense to worship God, we would be bringing in OT worship instructions into our lives and therefore, just as wrong as performing a circumcision as part of our worship.”
    But the term OT is just a word we use to help us divide time lines, but the Jews had no concept of OT vs NT. To the Christian Jews it was business as usual, except they no longer lived under the specter of the OT law, but under grace.
    Worship in the Temple, by sacrifices, etc. was no longer a requirement, but it was allowed and it was worship to God.

    I believe Paul when he comments “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”
    Paul understood that while he could do many things that were not condemned, that not all of those things were good for him. But Paul still lived as a Jew, so he must have thought that those things were good for him, until they weren’t. But that was something he could not judge others on.

  26. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight and Mark,
    I am really glad that you guys push me to dig deeper, I did not anticipate that you would not understand where what I was presenting was coming from. Therefore, I did not present all that was available on these subjects. I really don’t remember if I had understood that there was more than one narration of Solomon building the altar. But, look at what I found. I started out by consulting several commentaries about 1 Kings 9:25. I was interested to see if I had been wrong and that Solomon had really built this altar as his own personal altar. The commentaries were following the same train of thought that I had envisioned, but they led me to the other narration which follows.
    From Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
    1 Kings 9:25

    Three times – i. e., (see the marginal reference) the three solemn Feasts – the Feast of unleavened bread, the Feast of weeks, and the Feast of tabernacles.
    Did Solomon offer … and he burnt incense – Not with his own hand, but by his priests 1Ki_8:6; 2Ch_5:7-14. In sacred, as in ordinary, history, men are said to do that which they cause to be done.

    From Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
    1 Kings 9:25

    Three times in a year did Solomon offer – These three times were:
    1. The passover.
    2. The feast of pentecost.
    3. The feast of tabernacles.

    From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
    1 Kings 9:25
    And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord,…. The brasen altar, the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the court of the priests, and by whom he offered. The three times were the feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, as explained in 2Ch_8:13, not that these were the only offerings, or these the only times he offered; for he offered all other sacrifices, and at all other times commanded in the law of Moses, as on sabbaths and new moons, as expressed in the above place:

    and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord; the altar of incense, which stood in the holy place, right beside the most holy, in which was the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence; not that Solomon burnt incense in person, but by the priests, whom he furnished with incense; for no king might offer incense, as the case of Uzziah shows:

    so he finished the house; which respects not the building of it, that had been observed before, but the service of it; as he had provided all vessels and utensils for the furniture of it, and all things to be used in them; as sacrifices for the altar of burnt offering, incense for the altar of incense, bread for the shewbread table, and oil for the lamps; so he appointed the courses of the priests, Levites, and porters, to do their duty, who went through every part of service assigned them, and completed the whole; see 2Ch_8:14.

    From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

    III. His piety and devotion (1Ki_9:25): Three times in a year he offered burnt-offerings extraordinary (namely, at the three yearly feasts, the passover, pentecost, and feast of tabernacles) in honour of the divine institution, besides what he offered at other times, both statedly and upon special occasions. With his sacrifices he burnt incense, not himself (that was king Uzziah’s crime), but the priest for him, at his charge, and for his particular use. It is said, He offered on the altar which he himself built. He took care to build it, and then, 1. He himself made use of it. Many will assist the devotions of others that neglect their own. Solomon did not think his building an altar would excuse him from sacrificing, but rather engage him the more to it. 2. He himself had the benefit and comfort of it. Whatever pains we take, for the support of religion, to the glory of God and the edification of others, we ourselves are likely to have the advantage of it.

    From A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
    1 Kings 9:24-25

    1Ki_9:24-28. Solomon’s yearly sacrifices.
    three times in a year — namely, at the Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles (2Ch_8:13; 2Ch_31:3). The circumstances mentioned in these two verses form a proper conclusion to the record of his buildings and show that his design in erecting those at Jerusalem was to remedy defects existing at the commencement of his reign (see 1Ki_3:1-4).

    From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
    1Ki_9:25
    After the building of the temple, the practice of sacrificing upon the altars of the high places could be brought to an end (1Ki_3:2). Solomon now offered burnt-offerings and thank-offerings three times a year upon the altar which he had built to the Lord, i.e., upon the altar of burnt-offering in the temple, or as 2 Chron 8; 12 adds by way of explanation, “before the porch.” “Three times in the year:” i.e., at the three great yearly feasts – passover, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles (2Ch_8:13). The words which follow, אִתֹּו וְהַקְטֵיר, “and indeed burning (the sacrifice) at the (altar) which was before Jehovah,” cannot be taken as parallel to the preceding clause, and understood as referring to the incense, which was offered along with the bleeding sacrifices, because הַקְטֵיר is not a preterite, but an inf. absol., which shows that this clause merely serves as an explanation of the preceding one, in the sense of, “namely, burning the sacrifices at the altar which was before Jehovah.” חִקְטִיר is the technical expression here for the burning of the portions of the sacrificial flesh upon the altar, as in Exo_29:18; Lev_1:9, etc. On the use of אֲשֶׁר after אִתֹּו, which Thenius and Böttcher could not understand, and on which they built up all kinds of conjectures, see Ewald, §333, a., note. – אֶת־הַבַּיִת וְשִׁלַּם, “and made the house complete,” i.e., he put the temple into a state of completion by offering the yearly sacrifices there from that time forward, or, as Böttcher explains it, gave it thereby its full worth as a house of God and place of worship. וְשִׁלַּם is to be taken grammatically as a continuation of the inf. abs. הַקְטֵיר.

    Dwight, notice how this comment of yours is discussed in the following verses.
    “Solomon as noted built an altar to God and burned incense on it. Solomon might have had a Levite priest actually do it, but it was still placed at the foot of Solomon doing it three times a year. God never commanded such. Solomon did it.”

    Lev 23:1-4 ESV The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. (3) “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places. (4) “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.

    Exo 23:14-17 ESV “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. (15) You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. (16) You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. (17) Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.

    Lev 23:37-38 ESV “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, (38) besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.

    Lev 23:44 ESV Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.

    2Ch 2:1-6 ESV Now Solomon purposed to build a temple for the name of the LORD, and a royal palace for himself. (2) And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them. (3) And Solomon sent word to Hiram the king of Tyre: “As you dealt with David my father and sent him cedar to build himself a house to dwell in, so deal with me. (4) Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, as ordained forever for Israel. (5) The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. (6) But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?

    2Ch 8:12-16 ESV Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of the LORD that he had built before the vestibule, (13) as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. (14) According to the ruling of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry before the priests as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers in their divisions at each gate, for so David the man of God had commanded. (15) And they did not turn aside from what the king had commanded the priests and Levites concerning any matter and concerning the treasuries. (16) Thus was accomplished all the work of Solomon from the day the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed.

    Listen to the Words of the Lord many years later.
    Isa 1:10-18 ESV Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! (11) “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? (13) Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (16) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (18) “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

    Partially, from this message, I conclude that sacrifices and burning of incense is not what God desires for today. Do you really believe that after god made statements like these he would accept us doing those things as worship?
    Dwight, after reading these messages from scripture will you still promote that Solomon had this as his personal altar and that God did not command these three feasts or that Solomon was the one who offered the sacrifices (personally)?

  27. Dwight says:

    Larry, talk about overkill. All you had to do was post 2 Chron.8:12-16 to prove your point on Solomon which you did. I stand corrected.

    Moving on from Solomon this still doesn’t confront the points that before God made the Laws of Moses:
    1. That worship to God before the Law was done by the individuals who wanted to worship God. There were no priestly regulations as the eldest of the household, usually the father, offered the sacrifices, etc.
    2. That this would have been relegated to the Levite priest and the Temple by the Law.
    3. We are not under the Levite priesthood, but under the priesthood of Christ, thus freeing us from the rules of the Levitical laws. Jesus in John didn’t argue for a different worship process, but rather worship that would not be tied to the Temple and would be done in Spirit and in Truth.
    4. Isaiah was written to the Jews towards the end of their lifespan, but still to the Jews, it did not create a different dispensation from that time forward for the Jews. They were still required to do the Law, even as Jesus did.
    5. The context of Isaiah wasn’t against the New Moon and Sabbath, feast, after all God instituted them, but rather against their attitudes towards each other and the sin they did. This is reflected in Is.29 “Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,” It is not that the acts of worship were wrong, but the worshippers.
    6. But did God declare them sinful, even though they were righteous and Godly before. Even Jesus partook of the feast and the Passover. As God one would think that Jesus would have detested participating in the Passover or other feast and doing the Sabbath, which He did.
    7. The apostles likewise did the feast and “OT worship” and things as Jews. The book of Isaiah didn’t seem to bother them. Paul continued to be a Jew and follow Jewish practices until he was jailed. Even the ECF note that the Jewish Christians continued to practice as Jews in feast, etc. This did not seem to a contradiction. They were worshipping God, but not looking to the Law to save them as they had Jesus. They recognized Jesus as the their savior, not the Law.
    More importantly:
    8. I am not promoting animal sacrifice, but if a person who came from a Jewish background and was converted to Christianity still observed the Sabbath (Col. 2 and Rom.14:6), I could not condemn him. In fact I would think this is noble. However if as noted in Gal. 4, they seek the Law, over Christ they are in debt to the Law and not free in Christ. They must place Christ and grace over the works of the Law.
    How many people spend a Saturday dedicated to themselves, going fishing, playing sports? How do we keep God in our minds, if not doing something on purpose to do so? Many people wear crosses to remind them. Keeping the Sabbath as a way to keep God in front of them is not inherently a bad thing.

    9. I will note that Gal.5:2-3 does seem like Paul is being a hypocrite as he says, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.”.
    As he had Timothy circumcised, so does that mean Timothy is indebted to keep the whole law, no matter why he had it done or who told him to do it? I don’t think so. I think Paul is arguing against those who are entering into the Law or reverting back to it and leaving Jesus for the Law.
    After all in Rom.3:1-2 Paul says, “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! ” to note that there placement as a Jew and circumcision should be moving them towards God and thus Jesus (vs.21-22). There Jewishness didn’t make them worse off than the Gentile and he notes later that it didn’t make the inherently better as “all have sinned and fallen short” and thus need Jesus.
    And he does say in I Cor.7:19, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” so as to note that not being circumcised does not make one Holy before God either.

    10. Personally I would place animal sacrifice on the lower rung of worship to God in some ways, after all Jesus said, “I prefer mercy over sacrifice.” This shows that mercy and grace, etc are far superior to sacrifices. This is how Jesus lived His life showing love and mercy to all. And yet we are told to be a “living sacrifice” so we offer ourselves up to God. Many of the apostles went to their death as a sacrifice to God in martyrdom.
    While I cannot condemn animal sacrifice, keeping the Sabbath, I would argue that God wants self-sacrifice above all, probably first and foremost and this is by far the most valuable to God. God doesn’t ever condemn animal sacrifice for praise sake, and yet in the gospels God heavily promotes that which we give to God of ourselves in service in helping others, spreading the gospel, loving one another, etc. if by far superior.

    11. And yet how many of us do nothing of either? Having said 10, how well do we live up to 10? In the assembly we offer up song and prayers and are preached at for three hours of the day. What do we do with all of the other hours of the day? Do we go home, work and leave thoughts of God behind? Do we treat assembly like that which we think we are leaving behind by favoring ceremony over close personal fellowships? Do we dig through the scriptures with our family? Are we being a living sacrifice? Are we seeing ourselves as the Temple of God, as priest doing service for God on a daily basis in all that we do?
    How many of us place our faith in works, not animal sacrificial works, but going to assembly, giving at assembly, not doing IM, etc. and thus revert back to Law?
    Or possibly faith in faith?
    Instead of Jesus.

  28. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    Oh! That others of our Brothers would react as admirably as you have in allowing God’s Word to correct something that you may have believed for ages. You might have the opportunity to help me in the same manner for I am not yet perfected either.
    Thanks again for pushing me to search for answers.

  29. Dwight says:

    Larry, BTW, in the same light, have you read and/or made progress on the article I sent you on the Church/Congregation? It probably needs as much help. Also I am sending you an updated latest version.

  30. Dwight says:

    Larry, also I am not sure knowing or believing that Solomon vs the priest performed the sacrifices perfects us, especially since no one I know does animal sacrifices, even the Jews I know, but thank you.
    An interesting thing that comes out of this is that normally the priest would have done the sacrifices at the Temple, but since this was Solomon’s altar, they must have done it there for those feast.
    It is also interesting that priest are mentioned among the Israelites even before God officially creates them or standardized them through the line of Aaron and Levites.
    After all Melchizedek was a priest and a King.
    Also something I have missed in regards to Nadab and Abihu, where we often use the strange fire to argue for “additions” is that God actually says Ex.30:9 “You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.'” and then later down the line he gives the instructions for the ingredients of the incense. Very specific.
    God is not vague.
    So God actually address the concept of strange fire as wrong, before Nadab and Abihu did it.
    They went against a direct command.
    I believe we are perfected in Christ, by Christ and what we believe about him. But it is never good to believe something where the scriptures say otherwise either, even from the OT, if we can help it. This was not the first and will not be the last where I have missed something that changes things around.

  31. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I know exactly how hard it is to learn new lessons, I was also a die-hard coC, programmed for years. Because of this it is very easy to overlook some very obvious messages in scripture. As I notice the following quotation about Solomon’s altar, I think you may have missed one of my scripture quotations above, I admit this was a lengthy post, but I had included a portion which speaks to the purpose of the altar and the place it was placed.
    “An interesting thing that comes out of this is that normally the priest would have done the sacrifices at the Temple, but since this was Solomon’s altar, they must have done it there for those feast.”
    Rather than re-posting look back to the 2Ch 2:1-6 ESV text. I would guess that you may arrive to the same concept that I have. Which would be that Solomon built two places, The Temple and a Royal palace for himself. The Temple was dedicated to the Lord and that is where the altar was built, and that does not appear to me to be a personal place for Solomon.

    There is very interesting reading in chapters 6 & 7 the story of the dedication of this Temple (house for the Lord).
    Later in chapter 26 beginning at verse 16 we read of the actions of another King in the same Temple. He did not fair well in pursuing his own desires. This is where we find in verse 18 a message which identifies that no one except the priests who are descendants of Aaron were allowed to do this.

    Because of these messages I believe that Solomon would have been just as guilty as King Uzziah.

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