Introduction to my book: “Lawful or Legalistic: How New Testament Believers Must Understand Old Testament Laws”

          There’s been a strong pull towards all things Jewish. This is good. We must stand by Israel and respect the Jewish roots of our faith. Israeli flags adorn the platforms in most of our churches (in the USA). The blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) has been incorporated into the worship services of many churches. In moderation this is entirely appropriate but many people have begun a distinct unscriptural drift into an obligatory legalistic observance of Old Testament laws.

          I have many close friends who are Messianic Jews (Jewish believers in Jesus). Many Messianic Jews are a bit perplexed over to what extent they should observe Jewish customs and laws. Many of us have seen precious Jewish believers drift into legalism and some have even gone fully back into traditional Judaism. The keeping of Old Testament laws (Torah observance) is the hottest issue in Messianic Judaism today.

          Messianic Jews are by no means the only believers who are vulnerable to a misunderstanding of Old Testament laws. A group or movement calling itself “Messianic Gentiles” teaches a strict observance of Old Testament laws and – as the name suggests – its members are Gentiles. I have heard from a reliable source about a pastor in the Midwestern US who began to reach out to the traditional Jewish community and then saw his own son and daughter-in-law convert to Orthodox Judaism.


          I will show in this book that Jesus fulfilled not only the animal blood sacrifice system but also fulfilled all of the other commands of the Mosaic Law. Colossians 2:16-17 teaches that the dietary laws (food and drink), festivals, new moon celebrations and Sabbaths are shadows (prophetic prefigurements) but the substance (prophetic fulfillment, spiritual reality) belongs to Christ. The basic premise of this book is to assert that we must keep the substance and not the shadow. We must keep the present spiritual reality rather than the prior prophetic prefigurement.

          Regarding the Law of Moses, Matthew 5:18 says “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” yet Hebrews 7:12 says “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Obviously then, the “all be fulfilled” occurred sometime between Mt 5:18 and Hebrews 7:12. That “all be fulfilled” is none other than the sinless life, atoning death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Law is fulfilled!!! Now we, as followers of Jesus, “establish the law” (Romans 3:31) by keeping the substance and not the shadow! Romans 7:4 says “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (NASB).

          What then of the Law? Is the Law a mere history lesson or just a list of Jewish customs? No! The Law is a blueprint for the walk by the Spirit. The Law is an extremely valuable prophetic picture (shadow) of how we are to follow Christ (spiritual reality). Every one of the 613 commands of the Law of Moses has its specific fulfillment in Christ and we walk in the fulfillment reality and not in the literal content of the commands. This book explains how we are to walk in the spiritual reality typified by the Sabbath, tithing, dietary laws, etc.

          Objections to the above stated view based on a false interpretation of Acts 21, a wrong eschatological understanding of Ezekiel’s temple (Ezekiel chapters 40-44) and a misunderstanding of how Gentiles keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the future (Zechariah 14)  are rebutted and a correct understanding of these issues is given in this book.

          Voluntary observance of the literal Law of Moses is permissible and even encouraged. Many believers, both Jew and Gentile, rest each Sabbath. This is especially necessary if one is living in Israel or involved in evangelism among Jews but such literal Sabbath observance is not mandatory.

          As to the matter of Replacement Theology, this author maintains that the church does not replace Israel! Romans 11:28 teaches that the physical Jew is “beloved for the sake of the fathers” (NASB). God affirms a special love for literal, physical Jews  who are descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish believers in Jesus maintain their Jewish identity by voluntary (not mandatory) observance of Jewish customs and laws. Israel has a right to her land within secure borders in the Middle East. The Law is a shadow but the Jews are not. The Jews are a distinct people to whom specific promises are made. 

          This book gives the reader a correct understanding of how Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus relate to the Law of Moses. A correct understanding of the Old Testament Law answers a multitude of questions ranging from the daily walk of the believer to the political conundrums of the Middle East.

          I pray that you the reader will enjoy this book and find its truth both challenging and liberating. I humbly set it before you by the grace of God.

My book: Lawful or Legalistic: How New Testament Believers Must Understand Old Testament Laws is available on my website: http://www.gracelawandsonship.com.

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