Saturday, July 7, 2012

Till heaven and earth pass, away.

Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (KJV).

We have been discussing the interconnecting subjects, of how the heaven and earth passed away. In this article we will go back into the old testament to see some of the elements of the law (Torah) (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, "Instruction"), also known as "The Pentateuch", a.k.a. the Five Books of Moses that had to be fulfilled before heaven and earth passed away.

In these lengthy chapters of Deuteronomy 28 to 31 God describes in great details in (the Torah)  what would happen to the nation of Israel if they obeyed His words, and what would happen if they disobeyed Him.

Contained within the law were curses and blessing.  In this section God set life and death cures or blessing before the nation of Israel.   Deuteronomy 30:19  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.  Moses implored the people to make a choice.  Choose – The Hebrew verb bahar means “to choose, to pick, to take a keen look at.”

If they wanted to choose life, then they absolutely have to know what the Torah says.   Verses 2-14 point out the specific blessings for obedience. They would include food in abundance (verses 4-5), safety from enemies (verse 7), healthy children and abundant livestock and produce (verses 11-12).

These blessings would also enable Israel to give to many other nations, without having to borrow from them (verse 12).   All in all, Israel would become a "holy" people (verse 9), "the head and not the tail" (verse 13).

On the other hand, disobedience would bring about severe punishment. And that is just what happened. We know from history that ancient Israel later suffered  the specific curses listed, including military attacks, when the Roman  Empire besieged and conquered  Jerusalem and enslaved the nations.   God used this dreadful curses spelled out in Deuteronomy 28 to 31 as well as military attacks and enslavement.

Because of the large amount of curses that were (written in the law) and fulfilled upon the nation of Israel, for time and space we will look at just some of them.   Warning some are given is graph details.

Deuteronomy 28: 49-50  The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand,  a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.   Jesus mentioned this coming time in Luke 19:43-43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side.  "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."

The context makes it clear that Jesus is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman  Empire.  Jesus bemoans over the fact that the people of this city are ignorant of what is needed to make peace.  This meaning is supported by Zacharias' prophecy, "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He (has visited and redeemed His people), and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began..." (Luke 1:68-70).  (emphasis added)

Zacharias prophesied two things.  He prophesied that the King of all people would come. From verses 68 to 69, he prophesied with joy that God did not forget His promises and that Jesus, as God promised to Abraham, was born to the Virgin Mary in order to save his descendants from their enemies' hands. (Luke 1:74)    

There would be famine due to food shortages and destruction through locusts, worms and other natural disasters, unhealthy livestock, and droughts (Deuteronomy 28:17-18, 38-42).      Famine in Palestine, is mentioned when Paul and Barnabas went from Antioch to Jerusalem to bring relief to the Believers in Judea. (Acts 11:27-30)    This was shortly before they were sent out on their first evangelistic journey (Acts 13:2-3).

They will be conquered by a foreign power and become slaves-some of them will be sold  as captives of war to distant lands, including Egypt, never to see their country again (verses 32-33, 41, 68)  Josephus tells us everyone over the age of seventeen was sent in bonds to work the Egyptian mines. (Josephus 37:B.C A.D. 70 p. 230)

Some would resort to cannibalism Deuteronomy 28:52-57  "You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. "The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, "so that he will not give any of them the (flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege)  and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates. "The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter  "her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for (she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege)  and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.
(emphasis added)

This actually occurred during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70   One women who had lost everything but her baby to blood-thirsty Jews, then killed her baby son, “and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.” When the seditious men smelled “the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her, that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show then what food she had gotten ready. She replied, that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them and uncovered what was left of her son. She said this is my own son and he was killed by my own doing. Come eat of this food; I have eaten of it myself. The men left, trembling and frightened and the all the city came under distress when they heard about it. (Josephus pp. 443-444.)

So ever jot and tittle of the law, was fulfilled by the time all the curses of disobedience came upon the nation of Israel.   The new heaven and earth was in place. A Paces of golden nuggets from Bible history.   Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (KJV).   Jesus made it clear until heaven and earth passed away.   Not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled"

The word 'Law' in Matthew 5 is a reference to the whole of the Old Testament."Both the Law and the Prophets together (v.17)  were standard Jewish ways of referring to entire Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament)."

What did Jesus mean by till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled"  When He spoke these words the New Testament had not begun to be written and the Old Testament was all that existed.   He declared that not so much as a stroke of the pen will be altered from the law until all is fulfilled, referring to all prophecies recorded in the Old Testament.

But what did Jesus mean by heaven and earth passing away?   At first glance, it looks as though Jesus was simply saying the physical heavens and earth had to pass away some day.  But is the physical world or universe what Jesus had in mind? Was a literal heaven and earth in His thoughts?

Remember now Jesus was a familiar with the Jewish metaphorical language that was used in Old Testament.  We have to go into the Old Testament to see what "heaven and earth" means in prophetic language. 

In Deuteronomy 32:1, in the song of Moses, God is talking to Israel when He says: "Give ear, 0 ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, 0 earth, the words of my mouth."   The following is another example of where the nation of Israel is being addressed by Moses and metaphorical language is used, with the rulers depicted as the heavens and the people as the earth.   In Bible figurative language, "heavens" refers to governments and rulers, and "earth" refers to the nation or people.

With this in mind, we can look at the verse in which God begins to give predictions of coming invasions and captivities of His people.   In the song of Moses, God is depicting the fate of Israel when He says: "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deuteronomy 32: 22).

Is God here talking about burning up the  mountains and earth? No, he is talking about bringing judgment upon the nation of  Israel. He had already told them the type of judgment they could expect. ""The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift  as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, " (Deuteronomy 28:49).

The rulers and their people would face judgment from the Lord.   And God said, as swift  as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, " He used the armies of heathen people to accomplish His purpose.   Jesus later give predictions of this came coming invasion.   Matthew 24:28  "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.  More on this in my next article.

In the song of Moses, God is telling His people that He would delivered them from the oppressor, but if they became disobedient He would bring all sorts of trouble upon them. It was a song of deliverance, but also a song of warning.   The apocalyptic and symbolical language is used in the song of Moses in describing the coming judgment of God.

Every Israelite was familiar with the use of this type of apocalyptic language.    In Haggai 2:21-22 God said, "I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen." Here we see the connection between shaking the heavens and the earth, and the overthrow of kingdoms and powers.

Since the writers of the Old Testament used this highly symbolic language to picture the actions of God, the writers of the New Testament, adopt  the same kind of imagery to describe events of historic proportions.

In Hebrews 12:24-29 we read, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,  whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may  serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire.

This change would involve the passing away of the old Judaistic system with all its ceremonies, rites, rituals, temple, sacrifices, etc. The writer of Hebrews  "borrowed" words from Haggai 2:6, "Whose shook the heavens and the earth, and the overthrow of kingdoms and powers but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven when we receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.    Here we see the connection between shaking the heavens and the earth, and a kingdom which cannot be shaken.  Both of these writers thus affirm the new heavens and earth are presented in imagery language.

Both passages in Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:24-29  refer to a catastrophe event and employ the very similar figure of speech and we have the authority of our Lord for a fixed time of the event and the period of which He speaks within the limits of the generation then in existence.   The old Mosaic order, was decayeth and waxeth old is READY to vanish away Hebrews 8:13 because the new order of redemption reality has come in a kingdom which cannot be shaken. 

The Messiah was to bring in a kingdom and reign of ever-lasting righteousness, a time of renewal and unprecedented peace, when men and nations were reconciled to each other and to God.   But men teach that Jesus’ ultimate objective is to destroy the whole earth!

How strange that the Old Testament nowhere predicts the destruction of the earth.   In fact,  David said in Psalm 104:5  that God "laid the foundation of the earth, that it shall not be removed forever." And in Ecclesiastes 1:4 Solomon said, "One generation passes  away, and another generation come: but the earth abideth forever."   Where is it ever taught by the prophets that the Messiah would destroy the earth?!!   The Apostle said in Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. KJV.

In Matthew 24:35 Jesus is not anywhere speaking of the passing away of the literal heavens and earth, but of the coming destruction of the Mosaic, old covenant and the Temple and all the rituals and ceremonies involved in their existence and practices.   Out of the ruins of the old heavens and the old earth, and the old Jerusalem, there comes a new heavens and new earth and a new Jerusalem

Isaiah 65:17-19 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem a a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.