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CHRISTIAN UNITY               __________________________________________________________________________________

 

April/May 2005                                                                                                    First Year, Second Issue

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A Christian Orthodox Periodical Published by St. Mark's Orthodox Fellowship (Canada Inc.)

Mailing Address: 2160 Weston Road Toronto, Ontario M9N 1X6 Fax:(416) 243-8374

Website Address: www.smofonline.org

Editorial

The 5th annual Christian Orthodox Unity Conference

One God, One Testament, Old and New

The Fellowship has arranged this conference in “All Saints” Greek Orthodox Church and “St. Mary” Armenian Apostolic Church in Toronto on May 6th and 7th, 2005.  It started with an educational Greek liturgy celebrated by the very Reverend Father George Dragas, Professor of Church History and Dogmatic at the Holy Cross Seminary in Boston.  He gave a lecture about the Orthodox Liturgy, and another lecture about the Old and New Testament unity according to the teaching of the early fathers of the church.

Professor Richard Schneider (a convert orthodox Jew; Russian OCA), Prof. Emeritus of Church History, York University, Visiting Professor of Liturgical Art, St. Vladimir’s Seminary; Visiting Lecturer, U. of St. Paul; Adjunct Prof. Trinity college; and the first orthodox president of The Canadian Council of Churches, gave a lecture about the same subject “When His time has come; how the New Testament reads the Old Testament”.

We will present these seminal lectures in series starting with the first lecture given by Dr. Raouf Edward. All lectures are available on tapes and CDs.  Please call (416) 505-4876, mail or fax us.                                                                                                                                                                             R.Ed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Law in the Old and New Testament

Fathers, brethren. My talk tonight is about the Law in the Old and New Testament.

The word "Law" in Greek is called Nomos and in Hebrew is called Torah. The law was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai as mentioned in the book of Exodus. Then it was detailed in:

 

v     Deuteronomy 5-25: where it starts with the Ten Commandments, then regulations for Jews how to worship God and about their relations to each other.

 

v     Leviticus 1-26: which covers the laws of sanctification that include regulations of purification by offering animal sacrifices; also the orders pertinent to the sanctuary and priests.

 

Why the Law?

History of the relationship between God and Man

Because the Law has to regulate this relationship starting with the Jews as representing children of God, we have to talk a bit about the history of this relationship:  when did it start and how did it evolve?

Creation of Man

St. Cyril the Great says that the blessing of the Creation in Christ predates the curse resulting from the Fall of Adam; also the promise of Eternal Life is older than the sentence of death; and thirdly the Freedom as children of God is also older than being enslaved to the devil.

St. Cyril the Great, while expounding on two verses, one from Colossians 1:15 and the other from Proverbs 8:22 [St. Cyril, Thesaurus, 15: pg 75, 292 BC], he points out that Christ is the Head of creation and the Head of the new creation.

 

v     Colossians 1:15-17 & 18-20:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the First born overall creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence".

v     Proverbs 8:22

"The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old.  I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth … Then I was beside Him, as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of man".

Commenting on the above verses, St. Cyril The Great confirms that God the Father and even before the ages, has established His Son, the word of God, as the foundation upon which the human race is built.

So the history of the relationship of God and man is one continuity that

v     Starts with Christ as the Head of creation:
"the first born overall creation", "the image of the invisible God" after which man was made and toward the likeness of which man is moving [then God said, "Let Us make man after our image and likeness". (Genesis 1:26)],"The beginning of the creation of God". (Revelation 3:14.)

v     And continues with Christ as the Head of the new creation:
"The first born from the dead", "The head of the body, the church".

We have to draw your attention here to the evil attempts of our enemy the devil who always tries to corrupt every good work of God towards man and thus deprive man from it.

Throughout history, whether by ancient Arians or modern Jehovah's Witness, the devil has attempted to prove that Christ is created and thus deny His eternal existence.  He has used all verses indicating Christ as Head of Creation for that purpose.  So, what God intended for the life of man, we see how some were tempted by the devil, turning it for their own death.

St. Cyril the Great [St. Cyril, Homilia Paschalis, 30; pg 77, 974; also Glaphyra in Exodum, bk 1; pg 69, 424B] indicates how God does not start with one plan, and when it does not go through, He comes up with another.  No, but on the contrary, there is one divine plan (economy). So if it is the creation, it starts with Christ before the ages, remains in Him throughout the ages, and ends in Him after the completion of the ages.

So if it happens and man falls because of disobedience, then it is possible to restore him again upon the same foundation that had been set before the ages, Jesus Christ.

So it is not the Son that the Father created but we were created in the Son before the ages, in His predestined plan (economy).  It was on this account that He was called "The Beginning of the creation of God".  Christ as the Beginning is the first principle, the source of God's creation.  (The Creative Word and Wisdom of God).

Back to Colossians 1:15 we see no clear distinction being made between Christ as God and Christ as Man.

v     As God, Christ is eternally and consubstantially (of one essence) the image (Greek "icon") of the Father.

v     As Man, Christ is the image after which man was made and toward which man is moving.

This explains how the Son of God was revealed to Daniel like the Son of Man before ages.

The Fall of Man and the Reign of Sin

"Therefore Just as through one man (Adam), sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned". (Romans 5:12.)

For Adam, sin came first (the original sin) and then death (not only of himself but of the human nature that he carried).

For us, it is the opposite: death, mortality we inherit from Adam, and sin follows after.  So we inherit from Adam the mortality of man's nature.

The Promise of Salvation

Having said earlier, according to the exposition of the scripture by St. Cyril the Great that Christ was the foundation of creation (and Adam was the first manifestation for it).  Restoration of creation was possible to be achieved because Christ was the foundation of it. This is how Christ became the Head of the new creation through incarnation and conquering mortality and death of man's nature by his resurrection.

This can explain the immediate promise of salvation after the fall of man "And I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed (Jesus Christ); He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel". (Genesis2:15)

Then such promise of salvation was reiterated by God to Abraham.  "Now to Abraham and his Seed (Jesus Christ) were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to your seeds’, as of many, but as of one ‘And to your Seed’ Who is Christ" (Galatians 3:16.)

 

 

What Purpose then did the Law Serve?

Asked St. Paul in the Letter to the Galatians, and his answer was "It was added (to the promise mentioned above) because of transgressions, till the Seed (Jesus Christ) should come to whom the promise was made" (Galatians 3:19).

"I would not have known sin except through the Law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had saidyou shall not covet’". (Romans 7:7).

St. Paul adds "The Law entered that the offense might abound (ie. when we become aware of our sins)"(Romans 5:20.)

We add here, that another purpose of the Law is to dispute the false pride of man in his efforts to deify himself away from God which was the basis of the original sin: "And the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die … the day you eat of it … you will be like God". (Genesis 3:4).  But failing the law and being confronted with the reality of his corrupted nature after the fall, man realized his need to the Savior "Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ". (Galatians 3:24.)

So we can see that The Law was given “because of transgressions” of children of God, the Israelite, and as “a tutor” to bring them to Christ, the Savior. Thus, the principle purpose of the Law, although it was the justification of man before God, yet in reality the Law did the opposite “There is none righteous, no, not one.” As St. Paul quotes from Ps 14:1-3, in Romans 3:10. This was not because of a defect in the Law but because of the corruption of man’s nature after his fall. “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14).

 

According to the Law “Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25). Also “Any one who has rejected Moses’ Law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28). Obviously there was no such righteous man before God, of a nature pure enough to match with the Law, and fulfill it all. “They are all under sin” so that “There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:9&12)

 

Of note that “die without mercy” is not a brutality of God, but revelation of a fact: Life was gifted to man by God. If rejected, death is the outcome because death is the absence of life. Life is spiritual in essence and manifested physically in the creation. Also death is the spiritual and physical absence of life and manifests  accordingly.

 

The Prophetic role of the Old Testament

(The Prophets and The Law)

 

For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John” Matthew 11:13.

…And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus Christ) expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

 

 

Jesus fulfilled the Law    in His person, words and actions by:

1) Performing God’s will in its fullness “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15).

 

2) Transgressing none of the percepts of the Law “which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46) “the ruler of this world is coming, and He has nothing in me” (John 14:30).

 

3) Declaring the perfect fulfillment of the Law, which He delivered in His sermon on the Mount (see below).

 

4) Granting righteousness − the goal of the Law − to us. “For what the Law could not do, that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”(Romans 8:3-4)

 

 For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:4)

 

Jesus fulfilled the Prophets by carrying out fully what they had foretold about Him.

 

Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Offerings

 

Christ as the fulfillment of the Prophets and the Law is illustrated in the system (liturgy)) of offerings (= sacrifices ) in The Mosaic Law.

 

1)      The Burnt offering             Lev 1:3

2)      Sin offering                                    Lev 4:3

3)      Trespass offering                           Lev 5:15

4)      Grain offering                                Lev 2:1

5)      Sacrifice of Peace              Lev 7:11

 

Each of these offering/sacrifices indicated and prophesied about different aspects/functions/roles of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross except the Grain offering prophesied about His life before the cross.

 

·      The Burnt sacrifice, indicated His personal righteousness as Son of God

·      The Sin and Trespass sacrifices indicated how He carried the sin of man (to man), and the trespasses of man (to God).

·      The sacrifice of Peace, explained the new creation of man in Jesus Christ and how communion in it brings about the eternal peace of man with God. Obviously it points at the Eucharist

 

 

 

The Grain offering

 

v     Shall be of fine flour” => incarnation of Son of God

v     Put frankincense on it” => His worship, service and works during His mission on earth as complete human

v     mixed with oil” => His conception is of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:20)

v     anointed with oil” => Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him (Matt 3:16)

v     shall be unleavened” => Has no sin (=Leaven)

v     shall season with salt” => His humanity preserved without corruption

v     Baked in the oven” => suffering and tribulations

 

By eating The Grain offering, the priest was able to partake in such a gift of pure life necessary to enhance his service. This was because The Grain offering represented the pure life of the coming Messiah our Lord Jesus Christ who was the only person to fulfill the commands of God fully and to pass this potential to His believers.

 

Jesus declaring the perfect fulfilled Law

The Sermon on the Mount

“The New Convenant”

(Matt 5:17-48)

 

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled” (Matt 5:17&18)

 

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy” (Rev 19:10)

 

It is finished” (John 19:30) said our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross

 

Jesus revealed the deeper meaning of several Old Testament Laws, broadening their implications, both in His acts and teachings.

v         “You shall not murder” is expanded beyond the command against physically killing another (Matt 5:21-26). Murder now includes anger, calling someone a fool, and failure to be reconciled with a friend or adversary.

 

v     You shall not commit adultery” no longer refers merely to the unlawful act of sex outside marriage. It now includes Lust. (Matt 5:27)

 

v           When Jesus was asked about the Law of Divorce, He referred to (Genesis 1:27) “So God created man…male and female He created them”, and to (Genesis 2:24) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”.  By this, Jesus looked further back to the original intent of God in creation regarding monogamous marriage for life. Then Jesus approved it saying “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:6).The Lord Jesus Christ revoked what Moses legislated in (Deut 24:1-4): “when a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found uncleanness in her…he writes her a certificate of divorce and sends her out of his house.”  Jesus explained this apparent contradiction as follows “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matt 19:8)

 

v     Jesus teaches that nothing is of itself spiritually unclean. God makes all things good. Sins are committed by our own free will; which come from within us, and defile and make the heart impure. (Matt 15:1-20) & (Mark 7:1-23). St. Mark commented on the above, in his Gospel saying that Jesus has declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). So, by taking purification (cleansing oneself from defile) from an outward level (ceremonial washing) to a deeper level (guard our hearts from evil), Jesus casted doubts at the need of bodily ritual purity in the old testament and refuted the tradition of the elders (which is a body of interpretation of the Law that was considered by the Pharisees and the scribes )

 

v     Swearing (To bind ourselves with an oath) Jesus forbids us to swear; Thus speaking against casual use of God’s name and superficial oaths and commanding us to speak the truth and to keep our promises. By this, Jesus teaches that trust is secured not by an oath but by inner integrity. We may swear when required to (e.g. in courts), but the solution to lack of trust is good faith, our integrity, truthfulness between a person and God (see Matt 5:33-37).

 

Here and in the previous teaching, although Jesus stopped some practice mentioned in the Old Testament Mosaic Law, but not as a contradiction to the teaching of it but to support the true essence of it.

 

v           Compensation versus Forbearance The instructions of the Mosaic Law “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was the maximum to achieve in an evil era (equality in loss for both parties) and to protect against more aggression in response to the original offence; given the corrupted human nature by the fall of man. It is also revealing to man how evil is evil (manifesting in the loss of both parties), and hopefully man can feel the need of salvation from his corrupted nature.  Contrary to (Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21) Jesus teaches not to resist violence but overcome both evil & evil persons only by good nature. So, it brings both us and our enemy under the Yoke of God’s Love which is the nature of the new era of salvation.  Jesus though, was talking on a personal level and not contradicting His teaching elsewhere about the state’s right to protect its citizens and punish criminals.

 

v     The Sabbath restJesus did not instruct His disciples, nor did He violate the Sabbath rule. The Gospels mention 6 separate incidents of standoff between Jesus and “Pharisees” over observing the Sabbath:

 

Ř      When His disciples plucked the heads of grains (Matt 12:1-8/Mark 2:23-28/Luke 6:1-5)

Ř      And when Jesus healed the sick in the Sabbath (Matt 12:9-14/Mark 3:1-6/Luke 6:6-11; 13:10-17; 14:1-6)

 

Jesus clarified, that adherence to rules for religious practice is not meant to triumph over mercy and human need, as there should be no contradiction in God’s teaching of both perspectives. “Therefore the Son of Man (the merciful Jesus Christ) is also Lord of the Sabbath (The same merciful God)” (Mark 2:28).“Also” signifies the consistency of God’s position in the relationship, regardless of the inconsistency of man.

 

So Jesus Christ our Lord who is giving precedence to mercy rather than ritualistic observance is also the same God who gave the Sabbath coupled with the same message “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Then came the rigid Pharisees with their legalism to make the observance of the Law an absolute, over human need or service to God.

 

Talking about the consistency of God’s message across the ages and the rigidity of Pharisees, brings us to the newness of Christ’s teaching and that the old and new cannot mix as Jesus stressed in (Mark 2:21, 22).

 

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 3:21, 22)

 

So, although the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week when “God rested on the seventh day” (Gen 2:2) after creation (by the way, Sabbath is still celebrated by the church); yet, since, Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Sunday, the church gathers on this day instead of the seventh to worship God as it is the day of the new creation through risen Christ. Sunday is therefore called “The Lord’s Day” and “The eighth day”, because it transcends the Sabbath and is seen as being a part of heavenly time rather than earthly time, (the world has no 8th day in his earthly time of the week).

Now on the first day of the week (Sunday), when the disciples came together to break bread (Eucharist)…” (Acts 20:7)

 

v     Love

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matt 5:43-44)

 

“Hate your enemy” was not mentioned in the Mosaic Law. But apparently was a consequence of Jewish interpretation of the command regarding loving the neighbor (as no body else other than the neighbor was mentioned to be loved).

 

You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18)

 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated who our neighbor is: anyone in immediate need, even a supposed enemy.

 

Loving others like yourself, and loving your enemy is an act, not from this world and beyond the capacity of the flesh. It is a divine grace that unites the soul to God and to other people (1John 4: 7-21). It is a true expression of God’s life that can dwell and manifests in children of God in the New Covenant.

 

 

Salvation is in the name of Christ

 

Jesus made it clear in His dialogue with the man who had great possessions (Matt 19: 16-22). He asked the Lord “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus answered him “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” Then the man responded that “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him …come and follow me.

 

In a similar dialogue (Mark 12:28-34) with one of the scribes whose question was “which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus’ answer was corroborated by the scribe saying “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Yet despite of this wise corroboration from the scribe, Jesus still saw this man, close to but not yet in the kingdom of God, awaiting personal belief in and follow of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Act 4:12)

 

 

 

 

 

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