THE CHURCH & GOD’S LAW (Part 1)
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18.
We live in an age of rapid change. Technological devices are changed every couple of months it would seem. Buy a computer today and you may need to change its program (are parts thereof) in a year or so just to keep up! People’s philosophies and world-views are also in a state of flux. I was just getting a handle on what “Modernism” was all about, when they changed it! We no longer live in a “modernist” age. Now we have gone “post-modernist”!
Then there is the institution of marriage. As we have seen above, it is also in a state of melt-down as the Post-modernist attempt to redefine it. No longer is it “my husband” or “my wife,” rather it is now “my partner.” More and more marriage Celebrants are going on the dole as people see less use for marriage in a Postmodernist society.
And what about banks? It used to be banks that got robbed by people. But all of that seems to have changed. Now the people feel as if they are being robbed by banks!
Even in the churches there are cries for “change!” Not too many years ago I was at a conference and all I heard for a week was “Change! Change!” I am still waiting on an answer to my question at that time, “Change from what into what?” It seems that some people just want change to keep up with the times! They do not want the world to leave them behind. They want to be relevant! Back in the 60s the singer/songwriter Bob Dylan was right when he sang, “O the times they are a-changin.’”
We could go on and on listing things that are changing round about us. But we should note that not all change is bad. Sometimes things can change for the better just as much as they can take a turn for the worse. But, regardless of whether in your opinion things are changing for the better or for the worse, or whether you hate change or love change, or are not bothered either way, regardless of all of that, look at what Jesus is saying, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Do you get the distinct impression that Jesus is telling us that no matter whether the change is for the better or for the worse, it is not going to stop Him fulfilling the law? In other words, Jesus Christ is going to keep on fulfilling the Old Testament Scriptures, for that is what He meant by the law. Therefore the law equals the Old Testament Scriptures and everything revealed therein. And the Word of God will never change.
In the following we shall look at two things in particular. We shall see that the Law is Permanent and that the law is Perfect.
God’s Law is Permanent
Jesus is saying that God’s Word, “the law,” i.e., the Scriptures will remain forever. That’s what Jesus means by the words “the law” here. “The Law” refers to all the Old Testament Scriptures, Genesis to Malachi. He is saying that every jot and tittle, every dot above every “i” and every stroke across every “t” of these Scriptures, will remain until the end of time as we know it.
He is saying that heaven and earth will change before God’s Word will ever change, which is never! For some two hundred years “modernists” have been in the churches trying to change God’s Word. These people categorized the Old Testament Scriptures into “J” documents “E” documents, “P” and “D” documents. In order to deny that the Bible is God’s revelation to fallen man and make it fit with their own view that it is man’s letter to God they had to invent all kinds of theories about Bible “redactors” and “interpolators.” These would need to be dishonest men if part of their job was to rewrite Scripture to make it look as if certain verses, for example, had predicted significant historical events.
These people who concoct these fanciful ideas, these Modernists, these Theological Liberals, these Higher Critics, as they are also known, have ruined many a good Denomination over the last two hundred years, many of them Presbyterian and Reformed. They have shipwrecked the faith of many people. However, the Word of God still stands as it was written! As the Prophet Isaiah puts it, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8.
Everything God has said will come to pass WILL come to pass, i.e., the Word of God stands forever. Not one jot or tittle will be left unfulfilled or unaccomplished. Robert Burns in his poem “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose” wrote, Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, / And the rocks melt wi’ the sun: / And I will love thee still, my dear, / While the sands o’ life shall run. Burn’s was talking about his love for his wife, or maybe she was just his “partner!” But Jesus here is talking about His love for God and for His neighbor. And He is saying that even though the seas may dry up or the rocks may melt away, not one jot or tittle will melt away from God’s Word! To quote my old college professor the Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, “For even when heaven and earth will temporarily ‘melt away’ especially at the time of their final re-NEW-al, God’s Word shall NEVER ‘melt away’!”
The Law, the Word of God is Permanent. It goes on to perpetuity. Even in a rapidly changing society God’s Word, the law, is changeless! It is absolute. It is a stable point of reference throughout all ages. But, does this mean that nothing in the law, i.e., the Old Testament has been fulfilled? The Old Testament is full of, promises, predictions, prophesies and prefigurations. However, with the coming of Christ much of these things had been fulfilled.
a) The birth of Jesus had been promised.
b) The place of His birth had been predicted.
c) The work He was going to do had been prefigured. And,
d) The extent of His kingdom had been prophesied – all in the law.
The following are some very brief examples: E.g., both Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14 promise His birth: Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore, the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” So we see then that the One whose birth was promised was going to bruise, even crush His enemy’s head.
And, not only that, the Old Testament also predicted the place where He was to be born of the woman. E.g., Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephratha, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.” This small insignificant little town was going to produce the One who would be ruler. The One “whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting,” i.e., “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Bethlehem was predicted as the place where the Seed of the Woman would be born.
And what Jesus was going to do was prefigured. E.g., Exodus 20:2, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” And also 1 Sam. 17:49-50, “Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in David’s hand.” The One who was going to crush the serpent’s head, was prefigured in David crushing the giant’s head with a stone. David had no sword in his hand when he delivered his people. He bruised his enemy’s head with a stone. Jesus had no sword in His hand when He delivered His people. He bruised His enemy’s head, i.e., the head of the serpent, with a stone. Not with one of the stones the Devil tempted Him to turn into bread in the wilderness. But rather the stone that was supposed to seal His dead body in a tomb. That was the stone that figuratively struck the Devil in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth! In this Jesus brought us out of the house of bondage, i.e., the bondage of the house of death! And, as David proceeded to cut the head of the giant with Goliath’s own sword, so Jesus after His resurrection began to cut the Devil’s head off. Thus the Serpent’s head is crushed! And of course, all of this is prefigured in the Old Testament.
And the extent of His kingdom was prophesied: E.g., Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” The prophesied extent of Christ’s kingdom is that it will encompass all of heaven and all of the earth. It will be without end.
We need to move on, but I hope you can see that many of the Old Testament promises, predictions, prophecies and prefigurations have already been fulfilled. But they will keep on being fulfilled by Jesus Christ “Till heaven and earth pass away.” Thus Old Testament speaks of the conception of Jesus, the birth, the life, death and resurrection. It speaks of His ascension, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and His Second Coming. And this is not to mention the New Heaven and New Earth. Or should we say the RE-newed heaven and the RE-newed earth? – the one that will be there after heaven and earth temporarily “melt away.”
Does this mean that we are to throw away those portions of the Old Testament that speak of the things Jesus has already fulfilled? God forbid! For how on earth will we be able to understand who Jesus is and what He came to do without the Old Testament? You cannot understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. The two Testaments must always stay together. There is an Augustine jingle that comes in various forms. The following is a couple, “The New Testament is latent in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is patent in the New Testament.” Or, “What is in the Old concealed is in the New revealed”
Everything Jesus taught comes out of the Old Testament. Everything His disciples taught comes out of the Old Testament. Therefore, it is impossible to understand the New Testament without the Old Testament! “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Will this ever change? Never! Why? Because, as we have just seen, God’s Law is Permanent.