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Can Certain Parts of the Old Testament Law Add to Jesus’ Blessing and Atonement — and should believers ‘tithe to Melchizedek’?

Renette Vermeulen

 

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Contents

· The New Testament Covenant Differs Drastically from the Old Covenant 

· During the Old Testament Dispensation, the Hebrews were God’s physical nation 

· The Curse of the Law is a spiritual place or position without Jesus Christ  

· Why did Christ have to go to the Cross? 

· Why Jesus had to Fulfil both the Ceremonial and Moral Law in our place 

· The Mysterious Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus Christ 

· What was Abram doing when he tithed to Melchizedek

· The Spiritual, New Testament Priesthood after the ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK   

· The New Testament/Covenant “law” of Tithing in the Context of Jesus’ New Testament Commandments  

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT COVENANT DIFFERS DRASTICALLY FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT COVENANT

The reason why we should study the Old Testament, (as all sincere believers belong to the covenant of the New Testament,) is because the national physical temple, priesthood, wars, etc. of the Old Testament Covenant, merely foreshadowed all the spiritual regulations of the New Testament Covenant.  Thus, all these Old Testament happenings were recorded for us “as examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted... and become idolaters as were some of them…” (Heb. 10:1; 8:5; 7:22, 18-19; 1 Cor. 10:6.)  And so, it is completely unscriptural to apply any of the Old Testament covenants to Jesus’ Scripturally born again, New Testament/Covenant believers.  (Such as the so-called “covenant of circumcision,” which the Dutch Reformed Church and other Calvinists turned into their ‘baptism of babies.’)  All the Old Testament covenants pertained to the Old Hebrew nation as a whole and can only relate to Jesus’ New Covenant body of spiritual believers in a figurative sense, thereby fitting into the full context of God’s New Covenant for all humankind on a global scale, (Heb. 8:6-13; 9:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10.)  For example: God promised Abraham in Gen. 15 that He would make him the spiritual father of the global, New Testament, spiritual nation of true believers, comprising of all Jesus personally born again disciples from the Hebrew, as well as the Gentile nations.  (All non-Hebrews are Gentiles.)  The New Covenant nation consists of all those from all nations, who would personally accept and follow Him as their Lord and Savior.  This promise was fulfilled in Jn. 1:11-13; Gal. 4:6; Rom. 1:16; 4, 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-29; 13-14; Heb. 11:12-13. 

The Dual Law 

During the Old Testament Covenant, God dealt with His physical, or national nation, Old Israel, according to both the Ceremonial and Moral Law.  The Ceremonial or Ritual Law pertained to everything outward: the physical old temple, its physical sacrifices and priesthood, and physical precepts of the law such as tithing.   The Moral Law is God’s eternal and unchangeable Royal Law of Love, written on the heart or human spirit of every person on earth, (Rom. 2:12-16; 1 Ths. 5:23.)  However, during the New Testament dispensation, God deals differently with His spiritual, New Testament “Israel;” spiritually born from every tribe, and tongue, and nation, and saved and blessed through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Old Testament was the Covenant of the Law. 

The New Testament is the Covenant of Grace through God’s Savior or Messiah, (Heb. 1:1-2.) 

To bring this spiritual New Testament Israel into existence, God fulfilled the promise He made that day of the fall in Eden.  As God became a mere man Himself in the physical form of the Man Jesus Christ, God the Father placed the atoning cross of Calvary right in the middle of the two different dispensations,  Covenants, or Testaments.

It would have been logic for God to proclaim the Messiah’s birth to the chief priests and the scribes for them to announce it to the entire nation.  Yet, God ignored the temple priesthood in their political aspirations and their spiritually dead temple religion, and sent His angel to shepherds in the field.  These shepherds were plain people with simple lives and humble hearts, who sincerely believed in the living God, and who would accept their Hebrew Savior without religious reserve.  The only others, to whom God proclaimed this wonderful news, were strangers from a far off land - the wise men from the East.  While the temple priesthood was sleeping, these strangers were rejoicing, for they knew that the Savior of the whole world, God’s Priestly King, the One, True God, became an ordinary human being that night.  The Holy Spirit led them in the form of a star to His humble birthplace, while He concealed the Christ from His physical Old Israel.

We can reason that the shepherds and the wise men symbolise the New Testament nation who would accept Jesus as their Savior - a few sincere Hebrews and a multitude from all the Gentile nations, (Rom. 9:27-33.)  All the other Hebrews, who clung to their traditional, religious beliefs, missed the arrival of their spiritual Savior King on planet earth that night. 

Most horrendously, from His first moment in this dimension, this spiritually dead, political-religious system became the Lord Jesus’ greatest enemy.  This carnal, sanctimonious system and all her religious descendants would remain His adversaries until that day on Golgotha and even forever after, (Mt. 27:25-26, Rev. 17:5.)   

 

DURING THE OLD TESTAMENT DISPENSATION THE HEBREWS WERE GOD’S PHYSICAL NATION 

The opening of the New Testament era found the Hebrews at a place in history where Gentiles were lording over them again.  It was in the days of Herod the Great, an Edomite, who was crowned king over Judah by Augustus and Antonius, the head-rulers of the Roman Empire.  Herod was a brilliant but merciless ruler, a deceitful, cruel murderer, (Mt. 2:16-18.)  To escape his tyranny, the temple priesthood had their eye on the Savior and Deliverer, Whom God had promised in the Old Testament.  However, they expected their Savior to be a physical king.  A physical high priest.  A brilliant human politician.  An unconquerable freedom fighter, who would break the yoke of Herod and unite them once again to become a great nation, which would rule forever over all the earth, (Micah 5.) 

Old Israel never had their spiritual renewal in mind.  They focused entirely on their physical desires.  However, physical restoration of Old Israel and the fallen world was not what God had in mind for the Hebrews - or for the New Testament believers in Christ during the New Testament dispensation.  Old Israel, as most Christians today, missed the fact that God is not into conversion and restoration.  God is into rebirth and complete renewal, (Jn. 3:3-5; Rom. 12:1-2.)  Thus, this physical fallen world will not be changed into a “better” physical world.  New Testament Scripture, (i.e, the context of the Book of Revelation and Jesus’ teachings in Mt. 24, etc.) teaches, “The Day of the Lord will come as [unexpectedly] a thief in the night, in which the [physical] heavens [the atmosphere, stratosphere, etc. around the earth] will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat.  Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up… We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells…”  (2 Pt. 3:10-14.) 

Old Israel focussed on national and physical change, but God thought so much further than their material world.  Old Israel’s need to be renewed spiritually weighed heavier than their politics, religion, physical temple, controlling priesthood, traditions, or any other kind of earthly comfort zone they wanted to hold on to – which is still the overall view of God for all of humankind today, (Mt. 6:19-33; Lu. 13:24; 14:26-35; Jn. 18:36.) 

The Old Testament is filled with God’s promises to renew Old Israel spiritually, yet with the birth of the Lord Jesus, their religious leaders completely overlooked all these promises.  Isaiah prophesied in 7:14 and in 9:5-6 that the spiritual Messiah would be born from a virgin, born as a man, yet He would be God at the same time.  He would descend from the royal house of David, from the tribe of Judah, [not from the tribe of Levi as the Old Testament, physical, priestly government], and He would be Israel’s Spiritual, Theocratic King and High Priest for all eternity according to the Eternal Order of Melchizedek, (Heb. 7:14-28.)  Sadly, Old Israel was completely bound to the mindset that they, the physical descendants of Abraham, were God’s chosen people and as a result, they were ‘predestined’ to inherit eternal life.  They believed God would always be merciful to them, no matter how they lived, or whether they knew Him personally or not.  They were certain their leaders were on the right track.  They believed (as most Jews and Christians still do,) as long as they attended their temple ceremonies devoutly and followed their leaders slavishly they were saved and safe, Mt. 3:8-9; Jn. 17:3; 2 Ths. 1:8.

Nevertheless, Jesus brought His Spiritual Kingdom to this physical dimension and proclaimed, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.  If My kingdom were of this dimension, My followers would have been fighting [physically] to keep Me from being handed over to the Hebrews [or “Jews” to be crucified].  But as it is, My kingdom is not from this realm; it has no such origin or source.” - Jn. 18:36; Mt. 26:52-53; 2 Cor. 10:3-6. 

Still, the temple priesthood was so comfortable in the carnality of their spiritually dead religion; their convenient man-made laws and traditions and their outward temple ceremonies, they did not want anything of God’s spiritual kingdom, Mt. 15:9; 22:29.  The Hebrews did not realize that the total destruction of their temple-dispensation was at hand.  God required inward, spiritual renewal, but just as in Christianity, they were cast in the concrete of their outward, physical temple (or church) ceremonies, rituals, norms, and forms.  After all, temple service does not require COMPLETE spiritual renewal, REPENTANCE from sin, and a lifestyle change.   Hence, Jesus own nation insisted that their pagan Roman government torture their sinless Savior to death.  This spiritual Deliverer withstood their empty religion, which rejects, to this day, Gods New Covenant salvation.  Even worse, Jesus did not fit into their political Kingdom Now aspirations.  The Hebrew leaders deliberately rejected God’s complete Mercy, the Lord Jesus Christ, in favour of their physical temple-leaders and everything the Hebrews thought they could represent.  Unfortunately, through a lack of spiritual knowledge and a lack of love for the truth, the people supported their false leaders in committing the greatest crime in all of history.  They did not ‘merely’ discard their All-Great Gift from God; they tortured Him to death on a tree, (Mt. 27:22-26; Gal. 2:21; Hos. 4:6.)  Rudely and cruelly rejected by the Hebrews, God extended His mercy to all the Gentile nations.  The Israeli people will always remain God’s only physical nation from which Jesus was born  into this world.  However, under the New Testament Covenant, only sincere faith in Jesus will save and redeem them as well as all the genuine believers from Gentile nations: (Acts 10:28-36; 13:38,46; 1 Pet. 2:4-5; 9-10.  Jn. 1:11-13; Rom. 9:25-26; Rev. 5:9-10; Gal. 3:10-18; 6:15-16.) 

 

THE CURSE OF THE LAW IS A SPIRITUAL POSITION OR PLACE WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST     

Every creature of God lives under His universal Law and His universal Law judges every creature, (Rom. 2:14-16.)   

Satan coaxed humankind into transgressing the Law in Eden, because through their disobedience, the devil managed to lure humankind from their Godly condition, position or place of spiritual life and blessing.  The position of life and blessedness into which God had created them.  Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived in a condition of spiritual, emotional, and physical wholeness and well-being — they occupied a complete, blessed state in God. 

Adam and Even fell from this position of blessedness when they disobeyed God. 

Thus, the curse of God’s Law does not merely pertain to our finances or our outward condition in this world, as some would like to believe.  Peter described humankind’s condition of sin and called them “cursed children.” - 2 Pet. 2:14.

Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Eden transgressed God’s entire holy Law and gave Satan the legal right to keep all of humankind in a state, place, or position of sin and cursedness without God, (Rom. 5:12-13.) 

Therefore, the curse of the Law, just as the state of sin, is a spiritual place without God.  This dreadful condition of cursedness, which began with humankind’s sudden spiritual death in the Garden in Eden, gradually extended to every aspect of their lives on earth.  As it happened in Eden, only a single act of disobedience caused Old Israel to transgress the entire Law and fall under every facet of its curse, as described in Deut. 28.  To remain in God’s blessing and receive God’s favour, the Old Testament Hebrews had to adhere to every aspect of the Dual Law, the ceremonial or ritual temple laws as well as the Moral Law written on their hearts – which was completely impossible for them to do.   

To break this cursed position and to bring humankind back to their complete, blessed position in God, Jesus had to pay the total ransom fee, which the Dual Law demands.  As soon as Jesus paid the price in full, Satan had to set humankind free.  However, humanity is not saved ‘automatically.’  As Adam and Eve used their free will and chose to sin against God in the garden, so humanity has to personally believe in Jesus Christ and choose the salvation, redemption and blessing, which can only be found in Him, (Jn. 1:12-13; Ga. 4:6.)   Jesus’ redemptive mission, therefore, was to fulfil the entire Law of God, (His Ceremonial and Moral Law), thereby doing the entire will of God in the place of all humanity, (Mt. 5:17-19.)   During this mission, Jesus never took much notice of the doctrines of men but stated in Mt. 15:9, “Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men.” And His servant Paul commanded in Col. 2:8: “See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you captive by his co-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit, following human tradition, men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world; crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding the [spiritual] teachings of Christ.”

All those who choose to accept Jesus as their Christ personally, also choose to accept His fulfilment of the Dual Law in their place.  The just Judge of the universe finds all those “not guilty,” who fulfil the entire Dual Law through the complete atonement of their Christ.  Once vindicated from all our transgressions of the Dual Law, we can stand before the throne of God as if we have never sinned, and God will accept us wholeheartedly as before the fall, (Rom. 8:1-4, 10:4; Heb. 10:14; Jer. 23:6; 1 Jn. 1:7-9.)  The price that broke humankind’s position of cursedness was therefore the same price that broke our state of sin.  Therefore, the blood of Jesus had to be shed, His body had to be bruised, and He had to become a curse in our place, (Gal. 3:10-14; Jn. 10:10; Isa. 53:4-5.)  Through His fulfilment of the Dual Law, (the ceremonial or ritual law AND the moral law,) Jesus bought back our entire state of salvation, redemption and blessing, as also described in Deut. 28.  For this reason - praise God! - Paul could proclaim in Gal. 3:6-14 that every genuine, New Testament believer in Christ inherits, (come into, or receive freely) the complete position of blessedness, into which Adam and Eve were created before The Fall!

“All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you: Blessed shall you be in the city and in the field, in the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground and the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in your basket and your kneading trough… when you come in and… when you go out.  The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.  The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake.  He will bless you in the place that He gives you [to inhabit]. He will establish you as a people holy to Himself, [1 Pet. 2:9-10...]  He shall make you the head and not the tail…”

As nothing and no one else could atone for humankind’s position of cursedness, no other sacrifice would ever be acceptable to God. “If it is the adherents of the Law, [or the so-called ‘predestined’ Jews or certain Christian denominations], who are to be the heirs [of salvation and blessing], then faith is made futile and empty of all meaning, and the promise of God, [Gen. 15], is made void and has no power.” None of us can come into a right standing with God, [fulfil the Dual Law and earn righteousness], or earn even one of His blessings by keeping any [or, if it were possible, all] of His commandments.  Every aspect of the curse comes upon everyone that does not abide to all the requirements of the Dual Law, and none of us is able to keep the law in its entirety.  Keeping only certain parts of the Law, especially parts of the old, outward, Ceremonial Law, can never buy any blessing from God; in reality, it buys only the entire curse!

Any attempt to earn salvation and blessing by works, is the attempt to add to Jesus’ completed work at Calvary.  Our attempt to add to Jesus’ work, declares that His atonement for us was insufficient.  Therefore, through legalistic works, we reject the grace of God in Christ, (Gal. 3:10-14; 2:21.) 

The curse of Eden included the curse over physical death and creation in general, and the curse of disease, sorrow and lack of peace that possessed humankind when they ate of the forbidden fruit in Eden. 

 

However, Jesus “has [also] borne our grief, sicknesses, weakness and distresses, and carried our sorrows and pains…” the prophet Isaiah wrote in 53:4-5, “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him we are healed and made whole [again].”  Jesus broke the curse of physical death, as well as the curse over creation, which will manifest visually at His return.  The writer of Heb. 2:14-15 explained, “Christ partook of the same [human] nature, that by going through [physical] death He might bring to nought and make of no effect him who had the power of death – that is, the devil – and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives…” And Paul elaborated in Rom. 8:19-22, “Creation itself [God’s innocent creatures the animals and plants] also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God,” as God promised to create “new heavens and a new earth,” after He had destroyed everything by fire, (2 Pet. 3:10.)

The curse over humankind also incorporated the curse of toil, or working without producing anything that can please God, but by the grace of God, Jesus invited us in Mt. 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labour, [in a futile attempt to earn your salvation and blessing], and you who are heavy-laden [with the commandments of men: Gal. 5:1], and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke, [My Gospel], upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest.  For My yoke, [the Gospel of Love], is useful and good – not hard or pressing, [as the commandments of men], but comfortable, gracious and pleasant, and My burden, [My commission to proclaim the true Gospel], is light and easy to be borne.” Hence, the writer of Heb. 4:9 could proclaim, “There remains a rest to the people of God…”

This is not a call to be lazy and irresponsible.  The rest of Jesus is an inward attitude of rest from man-made legalism and the so-called spiritual works of men.  If we have surrendered our lives into His hand, restlessness shouldn’t be chasing the true children of God anymore: 1 Tim. 6:6-12.  Ambition shouldn’t be driving us to work until we drop, primarily because we aren’t pursuing physical acceptance, wealth, honour and power.  Genuine children of God are satisfied with what they have, although they still have to work physically to earn a living on earth, and to glorify God through their lives.

Paul instructed in 2 Ths. 3:6-10: “Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and struggle we [rather] worked night and day, that we might not be a burden or impose on any of you for our support.  Not because we [elders] do not have a [Scriptural] right to such support, but we wished to make ourselves an example for you to follow.  For… we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone, [ministers of the Gospel as well], will not work, neither let them eat.”

It is true that the blessed kings of Eden became the cursed slaves of Satan.   

Nevertheless, glory to God because; Jesus Christ came to redeem us completely from that dreadful condition!

 

WHY DID CHRIST HAVE TO GO TO THE CROSS IN OUR PLACE?

Only God Himself was competent to reverse the sad situation of humanity’s fall in the garden in Eden. 

No one else was sinless and worthy enough to become the atonement for humankind’s inexpressible blunder.  The sacrifices of the Ceremonial Law were only slaughtered as symbols of the perfect Lamb Who was to be slain at Calvary; thus, they were powerless to redeem fallen humankind from their place of sin and cursedness, Heb. 9:9-15.

In order to become this Sacrificial Lamb, God had to step onto humankind’s physical level.  Without laying down His Divinity, Jesus became flesh in this physical dimension.  As Jesus “so loved the whole world”, He willingly chose to become a mere man, for the purpose of taking the place of all humankind on Mount Calvary, (Jn. 3:16; Col. 2:8-15.)

Jesus main mission on earth was to reconcile humankind to God.  He came to make us all acceptable again - holy enough to enter into the presence of the Most Holy God, (Jn. 1:1-5.)  To accomplish this, He had to deal with the cause of the division: humankind’s fallen position or place of sin and cursedness without God.  Therefore, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to bear upon Himself, [in His physical flesh], the separating sin-state of the entire human race. John said in 1:29b: “Behold the [Ceremonial, sacrificial] Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the whole world.”  Titus wrote in 2:11, “For the grace of God, [Jesus], has come forward for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind.”  Paul wrote in Gal. 3:10-14, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.  But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith…  Christ has REDEEMED us from the CURSE OF THE LAW, having BECOME A CURSE FOR us, for it is written cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that the BLESSING OF ABRAHAM might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we [ALL, Hebrews and Gentiles alike,] might receive the promise of the Spirit through FAITH…  (Gal. 2:21,) [Therefore,] I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness [and blessing comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” 

Spiritual sin indwelt physical humankind and “became flesh” at the fall.  Therefore, Jesus’ redemptive ministry had to be a war like none other, (Rom. 5:12.)  If Jesus had fought humankind’s sin, the essence of Satan, on the spiritual level only, it would have been unconquerable.  If it were fought on a mere physical level, it would have been a joke.  To conquer this

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