Part 5: Is the Torah Obsolete?
Ron Cantor’s Response to “Fulfillment” Theology as presented By Dr. Gary Burge
Moving on, Burge then points to Hebrews 8:13 to show that the New Testament cancels out the old.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:13)
What does this mean? First, we are speaking not of the Abrahamic Covenant (the first Land promises) but the Law of Moses. Secondly, the writer refers to that which is obsolete as something outdated that will soon disappear. Are the Ten Commandments outdated? Have they disappeared? I say no. So much of civil law today finds its rooting in the Ten Commandments.
Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and 7th president of the United Sates: “That book (the Bible), sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests.”[i] Noah Webster said, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”[ii]
Before the New Testament was written Paul said referring to the Old Covenant, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living.” (2 Tim. 3:16) So, if the Old Covenant still has relevance today, what was obsolete and soon disappearing?
Most scholars agree that the Book of Hebrews was written around 64 CE. If that is true, then this is just six years before the destruction of the Temple and thus, the sacrificial system. In context, Chapter eight of Hebrews is clearly making the case that the ministry of Messiah, as the High Priest and mediator, is superior to the ministry of human Cohanim, Temple priests. It is a comparison between the heavenly tabernacle and the earthly Temple, which “will soon disappear.” It is not a repudiation of all that is written before Messiah. And most certainly, it is not a declaration that God’s promises to Israel through prophets are irrelevant in light of the New Covenant.
How ironic that Burge points to the writer of Hebrews’ usage of the famous passage in Jeremiah, promising to Israel a New Covenant, to prove that it was the Mosaic Law that was discarded. In that passage, God does not say that the New will supersede the Old, but that in the New, “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts.” (Jer. 31:33 CJB) The Old is not trashed in the New, but rather we are empowered to live out God’s commands.
Sacrificial System, not the Entire Old Covenant
In 70 CE the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices ceased. Why? Because “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” (Heb. 10:4) God did not do away with the Torah, but only the sacrificial system, as Yeshua’s ministry is superior. We read in Acts 21, more than twenty years after the Yeshua movement began, that Jewish believers are honoring the Torah—and it is portrayed as a good thing!
On hearing it, they praised God; but they also said to him, “You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of believers there are among the Judeans, and they are all zealots for the Torah. (Acts 21:20 CJB)
Conclusion: Hebrews 8:13 is not referring to the Abrahamic Covenant or the Mosaic Covenant as a whole, but saying that in light of Yeshua’s sacrifice, there is no longer a need for Temple ministry. Furthermore, to imply that Hebrews 8:13 is saying that the God—who cannot lie—will not fulfill that which he promised to Israel, is to change the very nature of God as a faithful Father.
If we come to that conclusion, then none of us are safe. If God can break His so clearly expressed promise to return Israel to her land, then He can break any promise to you!
Fortunately, He is faithful to both you and Israel.
[i] Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, pg. 519
[ii] Citizen’s Rulebook, p. 8