Former rabbis had believed that the Messiah would bring in a new set of laws to replace the Mosaic laws. We find a number of indications of this in the Talmud, compiled around 550 AD. Jewish commentator Raphael Patai had written:
· The notion that the days of the messiah, the messiah’s apocalyptic reign, will be served by a new law is a Jewish one. Paul is quite Jewish in seeking to extend his new, more accessible, religion to Gentiles in the interest of time as did some of his contemporaries among the rabbis. In his essay, “The Crisis of Tradition in Jewish Messianism,” G. Scholem reviews the most important rabbinic statements that look forward to a utopian messianic age governed by a new, relaxed law:
· Lev. Rabbah 9:7 - All sacrifices will be abolished except for the offer of thanksgiving.
· Yalkut and Midrash Mishle (on Prov. 9:2) - All festivals will be abolished except for Purim which will never be abolished (and the Day of Atonement will be like Purim)
· Midrash Tehillim (in regard to Ps. 146:7) - The Lord allows the forbidden … and will one day allow the eating of all animals now forbidden to be eaten … In the time to come he will allow everything that he has forbidden.
· Lev. Rabbah 13:3 - A new Torah [law or teaching] shall go forth from me.
· Yalkut (in regard to Isa 26:2) - the messiah himself will teach it (The Jewish Messiahs, Harris Lenowitz, page 270ff)
· Eccl. Rabbah 11:1 - R Hizqiya in the name of R. Simon bar Zibdi said: “The whole Tora which you learn in This World is vanity as against the Tora of the World to Come. For in This World a man learns Tora and forgets, but in the Future to Come (he will not forget) as it is written, I will put My Tora in their inward parts and in their heart will I write it (Jer. 31:33) (The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, pages 247-257)
However, modern day rabbis have gravitated to a different view – that the Mosaic Laws are eternally binding. The Jewish Encyclopedia's "New Testament" article states:
· "The idea of the new covenant is based chiefly upon Jeremiah 31:31–34. That the prophet's words do not imply an abrogation of the Law is evidenced by his emphatic declaration of the immutability of the covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:35–36; comp. 33:25); he obviously looked for a renewal of the Law through a regeneration of the hearts of the people."
(Please note that Jeremiah 31:35-36 and 33:35 say nothing about the continuation of the Mosaic Covenant!)
Elsewhere, The Jewish Encyclopedia reads:
· Judaism knows of no other than the old Sinaitic [Mosaic] covenant. Eternal as the covenant with heaven and earth is God's covenant with the seed of Jacob (Jer. xxxiii. 25 et seq.). http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4714-covenant
However, Scripture reveals that the Mosaic Covenant would be unable to deliver what the Messiah and His New Covenant were finally able to provide. When we examine Messianic prophecy, we find that Israel’s blessedness was not to be found in their adherence to the Mosaic Law but in their Messiah. The following are verses that the rabbis had also regarded as Messianic:
· The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified…you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. (Isaiah 61:1-7; ESV)
In what state do we find Israel prior to the Messiah’s return? One of shame and dishonor! It would be the Messiah, and not Mosaic Law keeping, that would “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Instead of exalting Israel, the Mosaic Law would evidently afflict Israel through their failure to keep it.
Elsewhere, Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will bring justice, not the Mosaic Law:
· Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations… “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:1-7)
The Messiah will also be the covenant and the light, which the Mosaic Covenant (MC) could not provide. He would open blind eyes and release those in bondage. Clearly, the MC would fail to do this.
· The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:8-10)
At the time of the Messiah’s return, there will be “waste places of Jerusalem.” Why would this be if Israel’s adherence to the MC had been adequate? Evidently, it wouldn’t be. Instead, Israel’s hope would have to be in the Messiah and not in their ability to keep the MC.
Who is “his holy arm?” Isaiah tells us:
· Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:1-4)
Why would the Messiah have to carry “our sorrows” if the MC had been adequate? Instead, the Messiah, the one who would bear Israel’s sins, would ultimately be their hope.
The Messiah’s return will mean comfort for the afflicted and a worldwide awakening:
· The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:26-28 [This Psalm might not have been considered Messianic by the rabbis]; also see Psalm 2, 40, 69)
Salvation wouldn’t come through the MC and Israel’s obedience. Instead, as so many prophecies indicate, it would come through the Messiah:
· Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit…On that day the LORD their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land. (Zechariah 9:9-16)
The MC would not bring salvation, but death, because of Israel’s disobedience:
· Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return. I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course. (Jeremiah 8:5-6; 5:3; Isaiah 1:3-4; 9:3; 64:7; 65:2-3; 66:4; Hosea 4:6; 7:10)
Instead of bringing glory to God, Israel under the MC would profane Him. This is why a New Covenant was necessary. Besides, the MC governed by fear. Israel had been terrified to hear God’s voice and dared not to come into His presence lest they be struck dead.
Why weren’t the rabbis willing to see that the MC brought Israel under the curse of God?
· “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…” (Deuteronomy 28:15)
Why don’t the rabbis see that an eternal MC offered them no hope and no blessedness? Why would they put their hope in their ability to keep the Law? Why do the rabbis reject the New Covenant and its promised blessedness through an intimate love-relationship with their Savior, something they could never enjoy under the MC?
· And I will make for them a covenant…And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. (Hosea 2:18-20)
Sadly, my Jewish people have hardened their heart against their God, and, by doing so, they have also hardened their heart against wisdom, plunging themselves headlong into the darkness (John 3:19-21).