The First Event - Christianity Versus Pharisaism
In considering the two historical events which laid the foundation for the modern scene, one should be absolutely clear in one’s own mind as to the position of the Law at the time of the first Advent. When the Lord Jesus Christ said: “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, He was not advocating the deadly freedom of lawlessness. The context against which He spoke these words was, of course, “the things which my Father hath taught me” and as it was the Father who energised the prophets (2nd Peter 1:21) to write His indictment against Israel’s lawlessness, it would surely be more than a little confusing if the Son changed the charge and commended that ‘each man do that which is right in his own eyes’.
Make no mistake here. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate in the flesh (John 1:14), did not lower the standards of the Law of the Lord to conform with the so-called human conscience, nor did He advocate the transposition of any of its clauses to accommodate the emotional considerations of men. At that time, Talmudic law was in operation - a facet of law-keeping which centred on rabbinical interpretations and which had as its main feature, the adaptation of the Law to a conformity with what the Jews required of it. This, in itself, is a most illuminating feature for while the Jews professed to keep the Law of Moses, the rabbinical censorships and amendments rendered the whole body of the Law as of none effect (Matt. 15:3,6). The Lord Jesus Christ stipulated that: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Thus, as one looks at the Ministry of the Lord, one may see that in all things He upheld the statutes and the judgments of the Law as given to Israel at Sinai and did not condone the breaking of the least of the commandments (Matt. 5:19). It is necessary at this stage to recapitulate that the Law, i.e. the commandments, the statutes and the judgments, were part and parcel of a political instrument designed to operate within God’s Israel people in their capacity as God’s Witnesses (Isa. 43:12). The ordinances of propitiatory sacrifices were the religious disciplines which involved the Aaronic priesthood as mediators of reconciliation in the event of both national and individual transgression of the LAW. The religious ordinances i.e. the shedding of sacrificial blood in propitiation for sin, came to an end (Heb. 9:25-28) when the Lord offered Himself as the one, full, sufficient and final Sacrifice for those who had transgressed the Law. After this, no further sacrifice was necessary and in consequence, the ritualistic aspect of the Law passed, leaving the statutes and judgments to govern the national witness of God’s People. As the Bible makes abundantly clear, the Jews resented the allegation that they were not keeping the Law of Moses - if was in fact not given to them for the word ‘Jew’ is significantly missing until many centuries after the giving of the Law at Sinai - and their animosity to the Lord is recorded for all to read. This antagonism did not end with the Death of the Lord for despite the evidence of His Resurrection, they did everything to discredit both Him and His ministry which naturally brought Pharisaism into conflict with Christianity. The gulf widened as Christian theology began to add its interpretations to the Message of the Lord Jesus Christ with particular emphasis of the non-continuity of the Law which militated against the inclusion of all and sundry. This theology had developed to such proportions that in His message to the Church at Sardis at the close of the first century in the Christian dispensation, the Lord Jesus Christ drew attention to its implication. He said to that Church: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name and thou livest, and art dead . .” (Rev. 3:1). To quote a modern translation: “I know what you have done, that you have a reputation for being alive, but in fact you are dead” (J.B. Phillips translation). If one were to ascertain the yardstick which differentiated between being alive and dead, one need not go further than the Law for Moses, to whom the Lord made continual reference, said:
The Second Historical Event
As the Christian theology spread towards Rome, it developed an entirely new concept of God’s Word in that, to complete its break with the nationalism of the Old Testament which it equated with the Jews, it endowed the narrative with the character of typology i.e. nothing had political substance, but all which was recorded was written to demonstrated some spiritual truth. Some of the early Church ‘fathers’ contended that the Jews were totally incorrect in believing that the ‘dietary laws’ concerned ‘actual food’ - that these laws, in fact, contained ‘spiritual food’ alone! As is common knowledge, Rome was ‘converted’ to the Christian faith at the beginning of the fourth century when Constantine, himself a convert, issued a decree of tolerance for the Christian faith. With the downfall of Imperial Rome - some say that it was because of the principles involved in Christian theology - one finds the emergence of the Papacy, the theology of which merely extended that of the Palestinian Church and added this to the ‘mysteries of Babylon’, thus fusing Babylonian paganism with Christian theology. The missionary enterprises of the Palestinian Christian church to proselytise all and sundry was followed and in 596, Augustine was sent to Britain by Pope Gregory to ‘enlighten’ the already established church concerning the correct theology. It is a matter of history that Augustine succeeded and the faith transplanted by the Apostles from Palestine to Britain gave way to the theology of Rome. It has been stated earlier that the Apostolic faith engendered by the actual teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ with its emphasis on the Law was taken to Britain by the Apostles themselves. While many theologians may contest this statement, let their argument be with the historians, Sabellius, Origen, Euesbius and Gildas plus the findings of the Church Councils of Pisa (1417), Constance (1419), Sena (1423), and Basle (1431), all of which ruled that the British Church took precedence over all others being founded by Joseph of Arimathea immediately after the Death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Venerable Bede, whose ‘Ecclesiastical History’ was an eyewitness account of developments in Britain subsequent to Augustine’s appearance in that country, provides supporting evidence that the Scots, at least, were still observing things Hebraic and were not following the theology of Rome. Bede recorded that the Scots were celebrating the Old Testament Passover festival - a projection of the Law from Palestine to Britain - a feature strongly resented by Rome. Bede wrote: “The same Pope Honorius also wrote to the Scots whom he had found to err in the observance of Easter, exhorting them not to think of their small number, placed in the utmost borders of the earth, wiser than all the ancient and modern Churches of Christ throughout the world; and not to celebrate a different Easter, contrary to the Papal calculation, and the synodical decrees of all the Bishops upon earth”. A papal decree was thus issued which broke the last remaining ties of the old British church with the Law of the Lord. As the Church of Rome became the dominant force within Christianity, its doctrines and decrees were never challenged until the years of the Reformation and even then, the law had been so successfully repealed by men that even the Reformers continued the theology of antinomianism. Thus, despite an open Bible, Christianity still followed the teaching of men rather than the requirements of God. The Papal decree in 634 A.D. abolishing the last traces of Law-observance in Scotland, and the ever-widening gulf between Christianity and Pharisaism whose supposed observance of the Law of Moses was incompatible with the new ethic, were the two events which have been forgotten today. If the ‘fathers’ of the Reformation had been bold enough to discard what they had been taught by men and to embrace what God requires of His people - what a different tale would have been recorded in Anglo-Saxon history. Government would not be in the sterile position of subservience to the dictates of political considerations. The economies of both national and individual life would not be dictated by the money-lenders and land tenure would not be the precarious possession that it is today. The health of the nation, or rather the ill-health of the nation, would not be the incredible national drain that it is and the family would not be the center of national disruption.
Is This Reality or Philosophy?
There are of course, those who would naturally say that this is all speculation - a philosophy built on wishful thinking arising out of the need of the times. Is it? How many people have ever tried to see the Law of the Lord in a modern context? How many have ever thought of it as applicable to the present need? The propaganda of today is of course, that man must find his own political salvation within the realms of his own conscience, for God, so they say, is not interested in these matters but merely waits for the souls of those who die ‘in Him’. If this is so, there are a lot of strange things happening in the world which appear to suggest otherwise. How real were the warnings against transgressions of God’s Law? How seriously did God’s Israel people take them in Biblical days? One would venture to say that the scepticism which obtains today within Anglo-Saxondom in respect of God’s Law is a reflection of that which obtained when their forebears lived in the land of Canaan. They did not take the Law seriously and were no doubt conned into believing that it was merely a religious exercise designed to keep them in line. It was infinitely more than that, as Bible history makes abundantly clear. God warned of certain and inevitable consequences which would follow Law violation (Lev. 26:14-33) and each of these became the experience of the people as they ignored the warning signs as they intensified. They were taken into captivity - as God said they would be - and they embarked upon a 2,520 year course of corrective punishment - as He said they would. After ‘2 days’, the people rose up again during the Reformation - as He said they would (Hos. 6:2) - but because of national blindness, they are once again being diminished - just as He said would happen (Isa. 59:10-18). Israel - Biblical Israel that is - has become a very real thing in Anglo-Saxondom, for what this company of nations is today, is what God said His Israel people would be through a continued violation of His Law. It is no longer a philosophy when the cold and unbiased facts of the contemporary scene reveal a pattern of disasters which, according to the Word of God delivered to Israel almost four thousand years ago, was prescribed for Law transgression. Consider for a moment the account in Deuteronomy 28 where no less than thirty disasters, calamities or distresses are listed as a consequence for Law transgression - all of which are applicable today in Anglo-Saxondom. Take, for instance, the literal translation of verse 20 which reads: “The Lord will send upon you judgment, confusion and frustration in all that you undertake to do . . .” and is this not the situation as it obtains within the national policies of the Anglo-Saxon company of nations? If one were to take each one of the clauses as set out in this chapter it will be seen that there is not one land in all Anglo-Saxondom which has not, at some time or other in very recent times, experienced every one of these clauses. Ill health is there; economics is there; land tenure is there; agriculture is there; malfunction of government is there and above all, the disruption of family life is there.
What of the Other People?
God’s Law, as it regulates the relationships between His people and the other races of the world, invariably invokes the comment that it is not ‘Christian’. It may not be ‘Christian’ as men conceive Christianity, but bearing in mind the historical departure from the Words of the Lord Jesus Christ and the unauthorised repealing of God’s Law by early theology, can one use this term and still remain within scriptural limits? The answer is a categorical no. Against this, many will ask just where do the races of the world fit in and one can only say that God has His Own place for them. In Micah 4, one reads of the revelation of the Lord’s foreknowledge in that mention is made of the time when the Kingdom of God is set up.