Heaven and Earth
This article came about somewhere around 2000 or 2001 as a result of a series of email exchanges between myself and a dear lady I met on a now-defunct discussion group. As a matter of fact, this lady is responsible for numerous of the articles I wrote around that time because she had so many wonderful questions. Jim :)
She started it of with the following email:
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished... But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the law to fail. Now I think we may have sort of discuss this before. But every time I read this for some reason this jumps out at me. The law has changed one thing we don't offer lambs as sacrifices any more Jesus was our lamb for every. Okay so my question what is meant by until heaven and earth disappear. Now I know that this earth and heaven are still here. So what is the heaven and earth being referred to in this passage?Elaine
Hello Elaine! You have portions of two different quotes here, one from Matthew and the other from Luke. I don't think there is any twist to the meaning of "heaven and earth" in either one, I think we have simply heard these verses outside of their context our whole lives so that they don't make sense. If we hear this with the ears they heard it with we would hear a different story altogether - and I don't mean by using any kind of sneaky interpretations but simply as it is written. The crowd spoken to and their perceptions have everything to do with why Jesus said what He did. The fact is that the same mindset that was being rebuked by Jesus has become that which has reinterpreted these verses for us. It's called "covering your tracks".
The mention of "until heaven and earth disappear" as written in a document comes across much differently than in real life. "Heaven and earth" is a fixed reality in which everything found within its scope is bound to it. The fact is that the world STILL operates on the same basic elemental principles. One would have to pass out of this realm into another in order to escape. Sound familiar? :)
But what did the religious - you know, like EVERYBODY listening to Jesus - what did THEY hear? "YOU CAN'T GET AROUND THE LAW!!" Why would Jesus suggest such a thing? Because that is EXACTLY what the religious leaders had been doing their whole lives, and it is what everybody else learns to do right along with them. Consider, what possible reason would Jesus say this: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."? He said it because they couldn't perceive His words in any other way than that of an attempt to "abolish" the "it is written".
You see, Jesus never changed the nature of the law in any way, but instead, He FULFILLED it. We're not free from law because He got rid of it, but because He took us OUT OF ITS REALM AND INTO ANOTHER. The end of the law is death, and in His dying Jesus became our pioneer into a new life - Hebrews 12:1-2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.( - I had to slip that in there ... :).
Look at that Matthew passage:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20
It's in the middle of what's called "The Sermon on the Mount", which is one of the most misunderstood sections of the Bible (if you follow the flow of the whole thing it starts high and then continues going down, down, down until it hits rock bottom). Who do you think they were who "breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same"? The religious leadership, of course. Read through all of the encounters with Jesus and the scribes or Pharisees, etc. and it is the ongoing theme of just about every one. The theme? Using the written word to get around the written word. But it ain't gonna happen as long as the heaven and earth are still standing.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20
Jesus was slamming everything about the teachings of the religious "men of God" simply on the basis that their teachings were intertwined with the physical confines of that which is seen. But also, in the words Jesus spoke He declared ANOTHER reality that was OUTSIDE their comprehensions, and it stirred up hope within many, though they didn't get it until He sent His Spirit.
Consider the Luke passage:
'No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.' The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.' Luke 16:14-18
Those who had achieved this high "spiritual" position of "Pharisee" had used the written word of God to justify themselves in robbing the people blind and making it appear as if they were all the more godly for doing it. You see, the Pharisees had gotten on the "kingdom of heaven" band wagon ("forcing his way into it") - as preached by Jesus - but they were using the same old elemental principles of the old covenant which never worked.
I made sure to add Jesus' statement about committing adultery to bring in that context of the Pharisees sneaky ways of getting around the law that they themselves were preaching. If any of you saw the movie, "Elizabeth" then you may get the sense of the tension that was going on while Jesus was speaking these words to them. There was the scene in the movie where Queen Elizabeth had to persuade the religious leaders to unify England in the creation of the "Church of England" (because they were going back and forth between who was persecuting and killing who for religious preferences between Catholic and Protestant). Right in the middle of the commotion (before she won them over), one of the religious leaders made a pompous argument about her lack of supporting the "sanctity of marriage". His comment almost turned the tide against her proposal until she replied something along the lines of: "Who are you to lecture us about the 'sanctity of marriage' when you yourself have been divorced THREE times and are now on your fourth wife?" With that, many of them began to laugh and lean her way. It was a downhill defeat for her opposition after that.
The fact was that EVERYBODY knew about this man's divorce rate, but until she verbalized the religious hypocrisy of his claims they didn't even consider the connection. The Pharisees were preaching the law and pointing their fingers and condemning those who opposed their "interpretations" of the law which they claimed to BE the law - and yet EVERYBODY knew how they used the law to get rid of their wives when they didn't please them. I have the inkling that there was probably much chuckling going on amongst the crowd (and even amongst those Pharisees who had not been divorced) in hearing this from Jesus. His point was clear: who are YOU to lecture these people about "keeping the law" when you bend it and get around it every chance you can?
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Okeedokee, there! After I responded to your questions about heaven and earth, you asked for more. So more you get. Heck, these are just random and unorganized thoughts I'm throwing out so take whatever you can, okay? :)
Let me remind you to always consider the mindset of those who are being spoken to as you read what Jesus had to say. The religious-minded just didn't know what to make of Jesus because he didn't fit into any kind of a mold. Sometimes it may seem that Jesus came on a little harsh in an unappropriate way as he talked to the people, but the fact is it was the people who were forcing the confrontations. He didn't just walk up to somebody and call him a viper or a hypocrite for the heck of it. The religious had been making devious plans in an attempt to expose him as a fraud, even though they were the ones who were not being true to themselves or to the people or to God. His rebukes were simply the exposing of their sneaky little plans and the evil in these hearts that had the people under their control.
Something else to consider in all this is the rock and the hard place created by the presence of both John the Baptizer and Jesus. Did you realize how this presented a very BIG problem? Here is how Jesus put it:
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.'' Matthew 11:16-19
Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. In other words, Big Momma's children will always rationalize Big Momma's logic.
On the one side, they had Wild Man John who stuck by the letter of the Law and by the code of the Nazarite vow, and they could not control him or keep him from nailing their butts to the wall with their own hypocrisy. And yet, they would go out to the wilderness to see him carry on with his message that he was preparing the way for the ONE who was to come. Heck, John simply hit them head-on with their false motions by which they hoped to make the people think that John was one of them. What were they to say about him? They tried to play him, but he had no vices by which they might leverage against him or even suggest that he had broken any law when he was running them through the meat grinder. He wouldn't dance to their tune so they saw no option but to proclaim something spiritually evil against him. So they claimed that he had a demon!
On the flip side, they had this man who was more comfortable in the presence of uncultured and crude lower class common people (of course everyone didn't like him) and chose them to be his friends. He was way too easy-going to possibly be the long-awaited ONE, and definitely did not fit their concept of a godly man or of a SAVIOR. He would NOT be controlled by them no matter how smoothly they presented it, for he always saw through their shallow attempts of forming an alliance. To them, Jesus was nothing but a loose cannon. And if they couldn't control him then they would destroy him. These religious sneaks put on their most holy faces and wore their holy clothes with Bible verses written all over them. Yep, they actually did that. They had scripture verses sewn into the hems of their garments and on these little boxes that hung off their hats as tassels. Now, this posturing always worked before because the people automatically cowered through intimidation, but it didn't work in the presence of Jesus. I think they were waiting for Jesus to recognize them, but they didn't expect the kind of recognition he gave them. He put these religious hypocrites on center stage and exposed their facade for what it was!! The people who had lived their whole lives under the control of these men watched in awe and amazement as they were able to see what should have been the most obvious thing in the whole world. It was like they were held in fear from saying the thing that was on the tips of their tongues, just as the little boy who didn't know that he wasn't supposed to say "Hey, the emperor is naked!". Jesus didn't put on the holy face they expected him to have as they sang the funeral dirge, and they called him a law-breaker.
You see, their rationale, their logic, was able to flip flop and condemn both these men who were at opposite ends of the spectrum FOR THE SAME BASIC THING AT THE SAME TIME without even a hint that they were being cast back and forth like the waves during a storm. Here God had sent a wild man who kept his vows and had no vices to put the spotlight on his son who, for all appearances, was breaking the law that was kept by his forerunner. This threw the religious into total confusion by busting up every single sneaky trap they could devise. And Jesus took every opportunity to use this in exposing the bondage of their teachings.
It was pure tension for the religious mind I tell you, pure tension!! :) An example. The scribes and Pharisees were afraid to publicly say anything against John because the people held him as a prophet - and Jesus was well-aware of this. When the religious demanded Jesus to prove his authority he answered them with a trade-off, or an "I'll tell you if you tell me" proposition. He asked them if John's ministry (his "baptism") was from God or from men. They consulted amongst themselves and said, Well we can't say "from men" because the people might kill us, and we can't say "from God" because then he'll ask us why we didn't believe him. So they say, "We don't know." Big DUH, Homer Simpson!! Now, Jesus wasn't merely toying with them, but he had presented them with a question that contained the answer for their own question to him: OF MEN or OF GOD?
Do you realize the outcome of this sermon Jesus preached? No, it wasn't made up of all the conviction for sin stories that we usually hear from it, nor did it have anything to do with picking it apart and placing it into neat little dispensations, nor did they discuss how they were going to make their little light shine, nor how they were going to send up materials for their heavenly home, etc, etc.
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 8:28-29
He was teaching them AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY, and not as their scribes!! Do you remember when the Pharisees sent the temple guards to go get Jesus as he was teaching at one of the feasts? They come back without him and after the Pharisees ask them why they didn't bring him back they simply said, "No one speaks like this man!!"
"As having authority". His words were real and they went to the very heart. His words were not spoken in pretense, but spoken as coming from the lips of God himself. His words DID NOT sound religious, for that is what they were used to from hearing the scribes. His words did not cover truth, but exposed all. His words were real and alive and even though they cut to the quick they were deliverance itself!!
Okeedokee there, Elaine, here are a few more ramblings on the heaven and earth passages. :) Pardon me if I end up writing some of the same things, okay?
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20
Most who heard Jesus couldn't help but to assume that his stated purpose was to ABOLISH the Law simply because it is built in to the natural mindset. But Jesus did not say what their assumptions concluded, instead he claimed that he actually came to FULFILL the Law, not abolish it. I think those who have the Spirit really do understand this, but we are often confused by WORDING differences. For example:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by ABOLISHING in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:14-16
Okay, so it says "ABOLISHING", doesn't it? I've heard this passage quoted as if it superseded or replaced what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, but does it? What if the distinction Jesus made is exactly what Paul is presenting in the Ephesians passage?
What was abolished by his death on the cross? The ENMITY (or the HOSTILITY, ANTAGONISM, ILL-WILL). What is that enmity? The Law of commandments CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES. You see, the Law is not the problem with the Law, for the Law is based on the very character and goodness of God. The problem with the Law is that the empty life of humanity lacks the wherewithal to "keep" it, because only the life of God can produce the life of God.
Now, in giving Israel the Law, the character of God was broken down into meticulous "principles" based on their specific everyday life of interaction with each other. They showed a life where infractions are not tolerated, but instead where goodness is rewarded. These ordinances were as unable to produce the stated commands in the same way a written document lacks the ability to produce the actual voice of the writer (Of course, if you actually know the writer, you can "hear" his voice when reading his letters! :) Anyhow, God basically "inscribed" His character into these ordinances that touched on just about everything and anything involved in every moment of their daily lives.
But did this "inscribing" actually reveal GOD? No more so than a long and tedious chemical breakdown describing in full detail everything about chocolate tells us ANYTHING about that ONE BITE of the incredible substance!! I'll take the taste of it over an article about it anyday!! How about you?
The irony of this "inscribing" is that even though the documentation of ordinances only produced adverse effects, those under it found their identity in the simple fact that THEY had something that nobody else had - and they turned around and used this "ownership" as proving their superiority!! It was a grand conspiracy of a whole nation of people who agreed together not to let on how miserably they FAILED these ordinances but only how the fact that "WE have them and YOU don't!!" MUST be conclusive proof of how much better they were!! And should you think this is prejudiced statement I can only say that ANY group of people WOULD and HAVE done the same, for those who make up the present religious systems have done the EXACT SAME THING.
The bottom-line point is that the ENMITY is the result of the arrogance of those who PRETEND to keep the Law against those who are outside its confines. All of us have been on BOTH sides of this hostility in one form or another because we have so many systems of "ordinances" in which one will boast against another. We each have taken turns making claims of performing or abiding by a specific set of rules so that we can say, "I do it right, but you don't!" The antagonism that is produced by this is EXACTLY what this hostility between Jew and Gentile was. Forget trying to understand it by today's perceptions because you'll misunderstand the whole thing. The understanding of what has been abolished is found in the fact that Jesus had to put HUMANITY to death in HIMSELF which broke down the barrier because it put the nails on the lid of the coffin that performance in following even the meticulous principles of God could produce life!!
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18
Put yourself in their shoes. Remember that NOTHING of God had happened in Israel for a long, long time!! 400 years previous to this it was recorded in the Macabean writings that God had not spoken in those days. Well, guess what? Nothing changed in Israel since the Macabean religious revolts except for things like the creation of the Hasidic order - which was the precursor to the Pharisaical system! We are told by Paul that Jesus came at the "fulness of the times". You see, this thing, this appearance of righteousness had become full grown and was like an over-ripe tomato about to explode if disturbed. Well, Jesus happened!!! Then ... SPLATTTTT !! Self-righteousness was bursting at the seams, and it took a major PR spin in the attempt to hide the reason for the obvious stench.
The people had grown up in a society where getting around the Law was the common practice. Don't you realize that the Law itself had actually been hidden from their sight by the accumulation of "traditions", which were the actual added on rules they tried to live by over the centuries? When I read that article that was posted earlier about the different approaches of what to do when coming to a Stop Sign it gave a concise understanding of this practice of traditions.
From the article:
An orthodox Jew ... (will) take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.
The Jews living 400 years before Christ came to such a low point in their history where it became obvious to some that there was no way for the people to keep the Law. In other words, they came to a desperate crisis point where it was "sink or swim" for Israel. But HOW could they keep a law-breaking people to keep from breaking the Law so that the curses attached to the breaking of the Law might be rescinded? These men KNEW that the time had come to make DRASTIC measures simply to preserve Israel from falling any further in their pagan decline. Their solution? Make a "hedge" around the Law!! In other words, they would take another route that didn't hit one of the hundreds of commandments so that they wouldn't run the risk of disobeying the Law! They figured that if they made enough of their OWN additional commands the people simply wouldn't have the opportunity or time to break GOD'S commands. They figured that God wouldn't be too upset if the people only broke these man-made rules and not HIS.
Well, in the process, Israel became monotheistic again (holding to only ONE God), and produced a "form of godliness". The daily lives of the people SEEMED to be governed by "God's" Law, but, in reality, they knew very little of that Law, but PLENTY about the opinions and interpretations of that Law. The Pharisees had for all intents and purposes pushed God's Law out of the way. Self-righteousness was the common expression of their religion (much the same as it in the "Christian" Church).
Built into the statement made by Jesus (of not coming to abolish the Law) was the insinuation that this is exactly what their system was already attempting to do. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Jesus had looked right into the gathering of the scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees when he said this!!
But he didn't leave it at that, for his statement led into this: "BUT TO FULFILL"!! To fulfill? Yes, yes, yes!! Don't you see? The Law and the Prophets were "CLIFFHANGERS"! They were NOT finished in any way. No, there was a HUGE HOLE where the end of the story should have been. Christ's fulfilling of "the Law and the Prophets" was not merely that he "fulfilled the prophecies", that was ONLY a side issue, ONLY a reasonable off-shoot of the REAL fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
* If you made a lock that requires a KEY to open it, then without that KEY there is no completeness or fulfillment of the lock. The lock would be a worthless thing without the thing that operates it, wouldn't it?
* If you made a computer monitor and keyboard, but did not make the actual COMPUTER then those things would be incomplete and unfulfilled, and would not only be worthless, they would not make any sense at all to anybody!!
In every single "scripture" there was something so necessary, so crucial to the understanding of the whole thing, that in being left out there could be NO WORTH to any of the writings - they were merely letters inscribed on stone!! The OT writings were incomplete commands without the thing that gave those commands life. And I don't mean they were incomplete without the NT writings, as that is a BOGUS twisting of the truth. The truth of the matter is that the OT writings were incomplete without CHRIST, for the demand of HIS life had been woven into every single thread of the fabric of the "Scriptures" - from the obvious to the obscure!!!
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."
I think Jim, in several and I do mean several posting back, you were referring to this death as humanity. See before they were in Gods image, walked and talked with Him. What I always was taught was spiritual death could be conceived as becoming human. Maybe that is what you were saying? Was it?
Actually, no, I wasn't saying that human = spiritual death. More like, what humanity BECAME was spiritually dead. I think that being TRULY human is to be FREE and ALIVE. But of course, that's not what we see when we observe humanity, though we DO witness a SHADOW of reality. By "shadow" I refer to a "hint" of something we have seen in humans that DEMANDS that this amazing creation is supposed to operate according to the love and goodness and honesty, etc that ALMOST seems to be there.
Remember that fig tree that Jesus cursed on the way into Jerusalem and on the way out the disciples saw that it had withered from the roots (Matthew 21:19)? Jesus approached the tree because it APPEARED as if it OUGHT to have fruit on it, but it had none (I'll bet they were all starving and were all hoping to get their fill). His curse was simple: "no one shall eat from you anymore!" This is not only a good picture of fleshly Israel, but it is an excellent picture of humanity itself. The APPEARANCE of fruit is there, but it has none. In his death Jesus killed the fruitless tree that only had the appearance of fruit. But he raised a new tree - IN HIMSELF!! If the seed falls to the ground and dies it will produce much fruit!! The irony is that the fruitless dead thing that still pretends to have fruit looks at the REAL tree with the REAL fruit and calls it barren. So it was between Isaac and Ishmael, so it is with us.
Any way with this came the law which relates to God and His goodness. Right?
Okay, I can see that I have thrown you off in asking you what the law "relates" to and how you've been wondering what the heck I'm asking. :) Yes, the law is definitely connected with the goodness of God, so of course, you are very right in stating this.
Consider the two passages I popped on the end of yesterday's email:
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world Galatians 4:3
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using) - in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? Colossians 2:20-22
Notice the two similar phrases?
* the elemental things of the world
* the elementary principles of the world
Being under the law caused the Jews to be held in bondage under the very same principles of the world. The "elemental" things. This might sound complicated but it describes the basic operating principles of the world we grew up in, or simply stated, this is how the world works. See the "do not's" of the Colossians passage? All of us can remember this kind of stuff all through our lives whether it was at home or at school or at work or at church. "which all refer to things destined to perish with the using"!
How did we all learn to deal with our world as we grew up? "Don't do this, and don't do that!" "Get away from that thing!" "Don't look at that magazine!" "Don't watch that TV!" Please note: by mentioning this I'm not suggesting that we try to NOT tell our children these things, because that is all part of learning how the world in which they live actually works. And our children will learn this whether they hear it from us or from somebody else ... or even have to figure it out for themselves. If I want my child to tell you "Thank you" when you give her a gift then I have to TRAIN her to say it - but this training CANNOT touch the heart and cause real thankfulness, for that must come from God.
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the WEAK AND WORTHLESS ELEMENTAL THINGS, to which you desire to be ENSLAVED all over again? Galatians 4:9
The law does indeed reveal the true goodness of the true God, but in going through the lifeless human filtration system all it really ends up touching on are the same basic WORTHLESS operating principles by which the world has been living for millennia. The ordinances of the law relate to the stuff of the dying world and to the outward observance of principles that have no life in them and cannot go any further than to the establishing of an APPEARANCE in the "empty shell" of the human.
Enmity: Date: 13th century : positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will
Don't miss the "mutual" aspect of this ill will. It's not merely the fact that evil cannot dwell with God, but also that the evil cannot tolerate God, and even more, that those who were given the law used it to establish a "superiority" over those who did not have God's laws - even though those under law were being kept in BONDAGE under the same slavery that held the rest of the word. Israel merely had an "official" and very specific bondage.
The destroying of the "enmity" then breaks all these barriers. How was it destroyed? By DEATH. Not just death in a general sense as if somehow God NEEDED a sacrifice to keep Him from being pissed off, but in the fact that Christ took the enmity to himself - he became the enmity!! You see, Jesus was qualified to do this because not only were all things made through him but that he also was born as a man. Christ HIMSELF is the reconciliation of all things. Through his body, in death, the enmity was destroyed because in him the old life was killed.
Jesus didn't die and then just get "better", he was resurrected to a new life that has no more dealings with ANYTHING of the old creation!!! Don't miss this! The mystery of "heaven and earth" is not in trying to figure out what has happened to IT, but instead it is the understanding that WE have been removed from its confines. Christ was taken OUT of the old heaven and earth because he died out of it. We died with him, and so we have been taken out of it through his death. But we are "saved" by his LIFE. The thing that our old life "hinted" at being has been fulfilled in Christ. The old decaying corpse may still be around, but it is NOT our life or our identity. The heaven and earth didn't go anywhere - WE did. And the ordinances are still tied to it for they relate to the stuff that passes away with use.
Taken out, and brought into a NEW reality, a NEW life.
The fulfilling of the law? The ordinances did nothing. When questioned as to the "greatest" law it was said,
To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind ... and then to love your neighbor as yourself.
Well, yeah, if love was there then there would be no need for any of the ordinances, would there? When the life of the Spirit of Christ was put within us the love that is the fruit of the Spirit fulfills everything at the heart of the law. Forget the ordinances of the law, they did nothing but add more brokenness to the commandments. We have been brought into a life wherein is NO brokenness. This life is not attached to the heaven and earth even though we are still here, for we are truly strangers and aliens in this place that used to make sense to our principle-based consciousness.
Elaine, my sweet!!
Never ever stop asking questions. In the book of Jimicaiah it says, "Blessed is he who asketh many questions!!" and in the book of Jimesis it states, "Many answers satisfieth a fool, but he who is wise regardeth the good question far above the multitude of answers!!". So, see what I mean? :)
I may have written about this a while back, but I am often reminded of my semester in Junior College many years ago (yikes!!) where I took a course in "Computer". Okay, I'll date myself here by letting on that the class used IBM cards for programming which may cause some of you to say, "Huh?". Yeah, each card represented one little command. Talk about a waste of paper!!! :( Anyhow, the course was an elective, and I can't remember why I signed up for it, but maybe I was just curious.
So, here I was desperately trying to figure out how to do this crazy stuff. I was able to go through the motions and get my cards punched properly so that they would successfully operate and perform the task at hand, but I didn't have the faintest idea what I was doing. Each lesson would get more and more complex and I found myself getting more and more confused. Most of the others seemed to lack the confusion I found myself in and that only caused more stress as I saw myself falling further and further behind. I WAS coming to understand some of what I was doing but I was also very aware of the complexity of the task before me!!
I can vividly remember the day near the end of the course where the teacher was taking a survey (by show of hands) to determine how far along we were on our assignments. I was sitting about three rows from the front and I was a little slumped in my seat because I was preparing to be embarassed by my lack of performance. He began asking about the earlier lessons and, of course, everybody raised their hands. As he moved forward toward the more current lessons fewer and fewer were raising their hands, though I was still partially in that mode of expecting the worst, so my reactions were a little delayed to the fact that I was a little further ahead than most. By the time he was reaching the end, it dawned on me that I was in a very small group of those still raising their hands. And I was totally shocked when I was the ONLY one who was raising his hand at the next one. I don't think I had noticed that I was little by little straightening up in my chair and was sitting straight up by the end, and I had to turn around to see if this could really be true! The teacher then said, "Well, you all now know who to ask for help in finishing your assignments, don't you?" :) I WAS BAFFLED!!
My point is that I ASSUMED that every one else was having no problems based on their seeming lack of confusion. I have come to realize that I am the most confused about a particular thing when I am actually understanding it!! Why the confusion? Because in seeing clearly we become aware of the incredible ramifications connected to the new understanding. Also, those assumptions we have by comparing ourselves with what we THINK others are thinking seem to multiply the confusion of now seeing that the world is so much bigger than we first imagined!!
Everything we are seeing in Christ is simply opening wide expanses before us of the real life that has been here the whole time. But because the life of Christ in us touches on absolutely EVERYTHING we can imagine we often find our old perceptions demanding recognition and answers. And the really cool part is that we really do KNOW all things in Him. It is very confusing thing to try to "reconcile" the old concepts - as if we COULD do that. We might have the worst understanding of many Bible verses, but the knowledge of Christ outweighs it all. I have been often surprised to get a new view of a verse or passage in context only to realize that it was actually telling me something I already knew and understood within me for a long time.
Because I know that my relationship with you all and most of all with God is not based on what I know. I really like that!!!!
I really like that, too!!
I am saving my fig tree question for later as soon as we get done with this one.:0) Jim that doesn't surprise you that I would have one does it? lol
Oh, I was pretty darn sure you would!!! :)
Don't you just love this I can't even ask the question right?
Your questions are just fine. True communication involves bouncing things back and forth in the process of figuring out what the heck we're saying to each other. :) Like I mentioned to you, I finally figured out how I was confusing you by asking a question that could also connect to one of the recent posts I wrote regarding this question. See, I was doing a Homer Simpson on my end, too!! Doh!!
Okay Jim, I am late for work so have to go really fast. What is the heaven and earth? :<) Could it be the old versus new? Will check in after work. Love Elaine
I think perhaps you are not hearing my answer because it is too stinkin' anti-climactic, or in the words of the two brownies in the movie "Willow": "We were expecting some more GRAND ... less fuzzy!" (For those who are not familiar with this movie, these two had been involved in a search to find the exiled sorceress, Rozelle - a good one, of course! - but when they found her she was in the form of a muskrat!)
I think the "heaven and earth" is simply the heaven and earth. Nothing complicated, no hidden messages or code to figure out, just plain old earth and sky made up of the elements. It's the stuff our bodies are made of, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars. It is the elemental stuff to which we were born into and the stuff our bodies will return to - which will get recycled into something else. It is the stuff that is no longer our identity because we have died to the elemental, and no longer are "home" in this world, but only "home" in Christ.
See, pretty anti-climactic, huh? :)
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