More on the Passing of Torah
Don K. Preston D. Div.
As many of our readers are aware, this last year, Kurt Simmons and I engaged in a formal written debate on the timing of the passing of the Law of Moses. Kurt once espoused the truth of scripture that Torah continued until AD 70, but has now abandoned that truth, and returned to the idea that the Law of Moses ended at the cross.
I have now published that debate in book form, and it is available from this website. I urge those interested in this critical subject to purchase a copy of that book. It contains a wealth of information, and will dispel the false notion that Torah passed at the cross.
Part of my negative material in that discussion centered around the ceremonial feast days of Israel. Throughout the debate, Kurt ignored my arguments and especially in regard to my material about the feast days. It was clear then, and now, that Kurt had no answer for this devastating material. In many ways, the issue of the feast days is foundational to the issue of when Torah passed away. His failure (refusal) to deal with the issue in the debate has led him to attempt to address it in his latest E-Journal (January 2011) Sword and Plow.
He poses the question: “Does the fact that some prophecies and promises contained in the Old Testament scriptures were not fulfilled mean that the ceremonial law was still valid, binding, and obligatory?” He answers his own question: “No, The shadow ends where the body begins; the body is Christ (Col. 2:17). The temple ritual was a prophetic type and foreshadow, pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus. Once Jesus came and fulfilled the law’s demand, the law ceased. Not ONE verse can be produced showing the Old Testament was binding from and after the cross.” There is just so much error here!
1.) Christ was / is the body. Amen! However, the “body” to which the temple ritual pointed included more than simply Jesus’ death. The temple ritual pointed to Jesus’ parousia, to perfect the salvation initiated by his death (Hebrews 9:24-28). See the debate book for more on this. To suggest that the temple ritual and feast days pointed exclusively to Jesus’ passion is as false a claim as could be.
2.) The temple ritual included the feast days– Colossians 2:16f– and those temple rituals and feast days foreshadowed the AD 70 eschaton. More on this below.
3.) Colossians 2:16-17 uses the present tense verbs– as I noted repeatedly in the written debate, but Kurt refused to even acknowledge– to say that those temple rituals and feast days were still, when Paul wrote “shadows of good things about to come.” I challenged Kurt repeatedly to address these verb tenses and the meaning of mello, but he adamantly refused. In his writings Kurt has always affirmed that mello means, “about to be, to be on the point of.” But to admit that in Colossians 2:16 and Hebrews 10:1 is fatal to his new theology. This is why he so adamantly refused to address it in our debate.
4.) As I prove in the debate book, there are scores and scores of verses that prove that Torah remained valid until it was all fulfilled in AD 70– just as Jesus predicted.
It is important for the reader to understand that Kurt argued repeatedly during our debate that the only part of the Law (Torah) that was done away was “the ceremonial law.” In his second affirmative, Kurt argued: “If we will take the time to analyze it, we will find that the only law removed by the passing of the Old Testament was the ceremonial law.”
So, Kurt argued that the ceremonial law of Torah– and this indisputably included the feast days– was annulled, invalidated, removed at the cross. He is saying that the ceremonial laws– which included the foreshadowing festivals that foretold AD 70– were annulled.
If the ceremonial law– which included the feast days that foreshadowed the eschatological consummation– was annulled at the cross, then everything in that annulled law was abrogated. If not, why not? Of course this would nullify Jesus’ words that, “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law until it is all fulfilled.” If the ceremonial law was annulled, doesn’t that mean that those prophecies themselves were invalidated at the cross? Let me express it like this:
All of the Old Covenant ceremonial law was annulled at the cross– Kurt Simmons.
But, the Old Covenant ceremonial law included the predictions of the eschatological consummation in AD 70– The Feast of Trumpets,. The Day of Atonement, the Feast of Harvest.
Therefore, the predictions of the eschatological consummation in AD 70– The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, the Feast of Harvest– were annulled at the cross.
This is the logical and necessary implication of Kurt’s unfortunate claims.
Kurt’s claim completely negates the typological meaning of the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Harvest. The eschaton did not have to take place, indeed, could not take place, since the feast days which foretold that consummation were now null and void! But wait, Kurt knew that the eschatological element of the final feast days had to be fulfilled. But, to admit this would logically demand that Torah could not pass until that consummation. So, to (ostensibly) avoid this self contradiction, Kurt has created a new theology.
Kurt now argues: “Prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and wrath upon the nations did not derive their validity from the law.” I must confess that I was just staggered at this statement. This is just astoundingly bad.
Let me state it like this: (As a note here, I utilized logical syllogism throughout the debate. Kurt literally scoffed at the use of logic, urging the readers to ignore my syllogistic arguments. And that is precisely what he did: he ignored them!)
Anyway, take note:
The ceremonial feast days of Israel–which were an inextricable part of “the law”– included the Feast of Trumpets, which foreshadowed the eschatological Day of Judgment and the Feast of Harvest, which foretold the resurrection.
The eschatological Day of Judgment (foreshadowed by the Feast of Trumpets), and the Feast of Harvest (which foretold the resurrection) occurred in AD 70 (Kurt Simmons agrees).
Therefore, the eschatological prophecies of the Day of Judgment and the resurrection– fulfilled in AD 70– derived their validity from the law.
Let me express it another way:
The law (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) commanded observance of the Feast Days, including the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Harvest.
The Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Harvest typified and prophesied the eschatological consummation in AD 70. (Simmons agrees, or at least he has in the past).
Therefore, the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Harvest, which typified and prophesied the eschatological consummation in AD 70 derived their validity from “the law.”
Kurt’s desperation is patently obvious when he denies that the eschatological prophecies did not derive their validity from “the law.” In truth, their only validity sprang from Torah, for prophecies were in fact, “the law”!
In Isaiah 28, God foretold the laying of the foundation stone for the Messianic Temple (v. 16f). He foretold the coming destruction of “the whole earth” (28:22). He foretold scoffers who would deny that work. (This prophecy lies behind 2 Peter 3:3 and Peter’s discourse on the Day of the Lord, an
d those who scoffed at it). But, notice this:
In 1 Corinthians 14:20ff Paul quotes directly from Isaiah 28:11f and calls it “the law.”
Paul, by inspiration, called Isaiah “the law.”
Isaiah (the law) predicted the eschatological Day of Judgment in AD 70.
Therefore, the eschatological Day of Judgment derived its meaning and validity from “the law.”
Do you see how easy it is to refute my friend’s claims? When one denies the emphatic declarations of scripture, they wind up saying things like prophecy did not derive its meaning from the law. Let me illustrate that a bit further, by turning my friend’s claim around just a bit.
Old Testament prophecies foretold the atoning work of Christ (The ceremonial, typological, prophetic Day of Atonement, Leviticus 17; Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:24-26, etc.).
But, prophecies do not derive their validity from the Law, per Kurt Simmons. (If it is true that prophecies of AD 70 did not derive their validity from the Law, then it is true that the prophecies of Jesus’ atoning work likewise did not derive their validity from the Law. Both tenets are equally grounded in Torah- in the Feast Days).
Therefore, the prophecies of Christ’s atoning work did not derive their meaning from “the law.”
Of course– catch the power of this – if the prophecies of Christ’s atoning work did not derive their meaning from “the law” then even Christ’s death was not necessary for the passing of “the law.” Jesus said “the law” had to be fulfilled for “the law” to pass. By denying the inextricable connection between prophecy and “the law” Kurt has negated the necessity for Christ’s death to abrogate Torah!
For Kurt to be anywhere near correct, he must argue that prophecies of Jesus’ passion did derive their meaning from “the law”, but that the prophecies of AD 70 did not derive their validity from “the law.” But the same festal calendar of “the law” that foretold Jesus’ death foretold the AD 70 consummation– thus giving the prophecies of the consummation their “law” connection and validity.
Kurt’s dichotomization between “the law” and the prophets is simply untenable, as just seen. The law foretold the consummation just as it did the Atonement. And, the law was prophetic, and the prophets were “the law.” See also Matthew 11:13: “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Do you see that? Jesus said the law prophesied! Thus, prophecy derived its validity directly from “the law.” This is undeniable. See the debate book for more on this.
Kurt would (surely) argue that the prophetic law of the Day of Atonement gave validity to Christ’s death. That Day of Atonement was “the law” – and no Bible student would ever deny this.
Well, just as surely as the law of the Day of Atonement was prophetic of Jesus’ atoning work, the law of the Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Harvest was prophetic of the eschatological consummation in AD 70. Kurt’s denial of the interconnectedness of law and prophecy is inexcusable, and betrays his desperation.
Undeniably, the typological feast days were “the law.” In fact, here is a critical point: all of the eschatological prophecies that Kurt says do not derive their meaning from “the law”, are nothing but the oracular (or written) forecasts of the fulfillment of what the ceremonial law foreshadowed in the feast days.
In other words, in Exodus- Deuteronomy we find the ceremonial festal calendar set forth. Those feast day mandates (laws) serve as the fountain for the later, written and oracular prophecies of the fulfillment of what the feasts foreshadowed. That festal calendar (i.e. “The law”) anticipated the eschatological consummation, i.e. AD 70, foretold by the later prophets. Would anyone deny that the Decalogue from whence those feasts sprang, was “the law”?
So, right there in “the law” we find the seminal anticipation (prophecies) of the AD 70 consummation. Then, in the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., we find the overt prophecies of that consummation. But what these later prophets foretold was nothing other than that which was typified in “the law.” What those later prophets foretold was what “the law” foreshadowed in the feast days.
The point is that the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem are nothing other than the prophecies of the fulfillment of Rosh Ha Shanah and the Feast of Harvest. Thus, all prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and wrath upon the nations derive their entire validity from the law. But there is more.
When Israel sinned against God, He sent the prophets who uttered prophecies warning her of impending destruction at the hands of the Assyrians. Did those prophecies (e.g. Isaiah, Micah) of that impending judgment “derive their validity from the law.” Incontrovertibly so.
When Judah apostatized from YHVH, He sent his prophets who uttered prophecies warning her of coming disaster at the hands of the Chaldeans. Did Jeremiah’s, Habakkuk’s, Zephaniah’s prophecies of that coming judgment “derive their validity from the law?” Undeniably.
The prophecies against Israel and Judah both derived their validity from the law. Now, consider this:
Deuteronomy 28-32 anticipated Israel’s last days. Chapters 28-30 are called “the Law of Blessings and Cursings.” In brief, YHVH said that if and when Israel violated the Law of Moses, He would bring judgment on her. As just seen, Torah gave the later predictions of judgment on Israel / Judah their validity.
Well, Deuteronomy 28-32 also spoke of the judgment God would bring in AD 70 (cf. 28:45-58)! And that judgment– just like the Assyrian and Babylonian calamities– would be the direct result of violating Torah. In chapter 31-32 we find predictions of what would occur in Israel’s last days–AD 70 (cf. Deuteronomy 32:43).
So, undeniably, Torah served as the ground and basis for God’s predictions of the AD 70 consummation. Torah was the basis for prophecies of that judgment. Thus, Paul wrote in Romans 4:15, where in the Greek it says “the law brings about wrath.” The wrath Paul had in mind is “the Day of the wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” in Romans 2:5– the AD 70 Day of the Lord.
Thus, in direct falsification of Kurt’s claim that the prophecies of the AD 70 consummation did not derive their validity from the law, the indisputable fact is that those prophecies derived their validity directly from Torah and no where else.
As just seen, Israel’s festal occasions were typological (prophetic) and anticipated not only the passion and resurrection of Jesus (i.e. Passover-First Fruit) they also anticipated the eschatological consummation:
The feast of Trumpets predicted the Day of Judgment.
The Day of Atonement anticipated the perfection of salvation.
The Feast of Harvest symbolized the resurrection.
Just a quick note here: per Kurt’s newly invented theology, he must take the view that the events of Pentecost, which were the fulfillment of the festal calendar– did not derive their meaning from “the law” since, “the law” had passed away at the cross. So, Kurt’s new theology is that the first three ceremonial feasts of Israel’s festal calendar were an indispensable part of “the law” and had to be fulfilled for Torah to pass away. However, per Kurt, the rest of Israel’s festal calendar was mysteriously, mystically, inexplicably not “the law” and did not have to be fulfilled for Torah to pass. Seriously now, would anyone have derived that meaning from Jesus’ words in Matthew 5? Did Kurt offer a word of proof for such a radical dichotomization of the festal calendar? Not a syllable.
Kurt told us that the ceremonial law passed at the cross. He now tells us that the ceremonial law of the last three feast days were not, somehow, the law after all, but simply proph
ecies that did not derive their validity from “the law.”
So, Scripture posits the festal calendar as “the law” and predictive of not only Jesus’ passion / resurrection, but the AD 70 consummation as well. Kurt says, “No, only Jesus’ passion / resurrection was “the law” (to admit that Trumpets and Tabernacles was “the law” would be fatal to his new theology, but it is simply undeniable) and fulfilled the first three of the feast days. However, the last four of the feast days Pentecost – Tabernacles, were (somehow) not really “the law.” Because the last three were predictive of AD 70, they were not “the law” and thus their fulfillment was not necessary for the passing of “the law.”
Kurt is thus arguing that only some of the feast days derived their meaning from the law. However, he claims that the last three (actually four, remember) of the feast days did not have to be fulfilled for Torah to pass. Kurt wants to argue on the one hand that it was necessary for some prophecies of the law to be fulfilled for Torah to pass, but on the other hand that not all of the prophecies of the law had to be fulfilled for the law to pass.
The entire festal calendar was “the law.” There is no justification, other than a desperate desire to defend a preconceived theology, to say that only some of that festal calendar was “the law” and that only part of that “the law” had to be fulfilled for “the law” to pass, while some elements of that same “law” were somehow not “law” after all, and therefore did not have to be fulfilled.
Jesus said, “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law until it is all fulfilled.” Well, the entire festal calendar was “the law.” But, Kurt says Jesus did not really mean that all of “the law” had to be fulfilled. Per Kurt, what Jesus really meant was, “some jots and some tittles shall pass when some jots and some tittles are fulfilled.”
However, if Jesus actually wanted to say that all of the law had to be fulfilled for any of it to pass, what words would have better communicated that idea? What is there about, “None will pass until all is fulfilled” that communicates “when some is fulfilled, some will pass?”
A critical note:
In Israel’s festal calendar, the Day of Atonement came after the Feast of Trumpets, which signified the Day of Judgment, and before the Feast of Harvest, which signified the resurrection.
Now, make no mistake, Kurt believes that prophecies (e.g. of Isaiah 53, Daniel 9 etc.) of the Day of Atonement “derived their validity from the law!”
However, Kurt denies that the Judgment and the Resurrection feast days derived their validity from the law. So, per Kurt, the Feast of Trumpets –which led directly to the Day of Atonement– did not derive its meaning from the Law. The Day of Atonement did derive its validity from the law. Then, however, the Feast of Harvest, which followed directly upon the Day of Atonement, did not derive its validity from the law.
Are we actually supposed to believe that of the last three of Israel’s feast days, only one of them derived its validity from the law? Where would one find evidence of such dichotomization? Where did YHVH ever indicate that the Atonement was “the law” but, the other feast days were not “the law?” Simply stated, He never indicated anything remotely resembling such an idea. This is a theological invention.
But, what my friend does is simply astounding. Kurt rips the Day of Atonement out of its chronological sequence, and says that the Atonement was consummated at the time of the first feast– Passover. In our written debate I challenged him to give us a single shred of evidence for such a dramatic remaking of the calender, but he offered not a word of evidence or support.
Kurt’s claim that: “Prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and wrath upon the nations did not derive their validity from the law” could not possibly be more ill-informed; could not possibly be more wrong.
Let me summarize what we have seen in this brief article:
During our written debate, Kurt argued that “the ceremonial law” of Torah was abrogated.
Kurt now says that some of the ceremonial laws of Torah were not fulfilled at the cross. However, that does not matter, he tells us, for those ceremonial prophecies, “did not derive their validity from the law.”
We have proven irrefutably that Paul called Isaiah– with its prediction of the Day of the Lord– “the law.” Thus, Kurt’s claim is invalidated, prima facie.
We have shown that Israel’s festal calendar– taken directly from and a foundation part of “the law” predicted the eschatological consummation. Thus, prophecies of “the end” derived their meaning from no where else other than “the law.”
We have shown that just as prophecies of the Assyrian and Babylonian destructions derived their validity from the law (Deuteronomy 28-30) the AD 70 judgment likewise derived its validity directly from Torah, as Deuteronomy 28-32 proves beyond dispute.
We have shown that Kurt’s claim that prophecies of the eschaton did not derive their meaning from “the law” demands, logically, that prophecies of Christ’s atoning work likewise did not derive their validity from “the law” since it was the typological, prophetic, ceremonial, sacrificial system of “the law” that predicted his atoning work.
For Kurt to argue that the Atonement prophecies did derive their validity from the law, but that the other two eschatological feast days did not derive their validity from the law is surely one of the most illogical, ill-founded arguments imaginable. It is difficult to imagine anything with less merit.
If some of the prophecies (i.e. of Jesus’ passion) derived their meaning from Torah, then all of the prophecies (i.e. of the eschatological consummation) derived their meaning from “the law.” This is undeniable.
Kurt’s treatment (actually, he totally ignores the Biblical evidence) of the chronological order of the festal calendar betrays his desperation. To rip the Day of Atonement out of its chronological sequence is unjustified and wrong.
Kurt’s latest attempt to support his false claims of the passing of the law at the cross is untenable. As I noted in the written debate, the one word that came more and more to characterize his argumentation was, and is, desperation. His claim that the prophecies of the end did not derive their meaning from “the law” is a prime example of this desperation, and this truly is sad. His claim that the reality to which the prophetic feast days pointed, i.e. salvation and redemption had arrived fully before that to which they pointed was fulfilled– the eschatological consummation– is specious in the extreme. That is like saying fulfillment came before fulfillment came!
There is no way to prove that the Law of Moses passed away at the cross. Israel’s feast days– undeniably part of “the law”– foretold the eschatological consummation. It was then, and only then that “the body,” the reality to which those shadows pointed, fully arrived and the law could and did pass.
The importance of the topic of the passing of Torah can scarcely be over-emphasized. The failure on the part of evangelical Christianity to grasp the significance of this topic is responsible for most of the theological and eschatological error in the world today.
All three futurist eschatologies say on the one hand that the Law of Moses has been done away. On the other hand, they then appeal to the Old Testament to prove a yet future coming of the Lord. It is logically inconsistent to appeal to a covenant that has been annulled for any kind of future hope, is it not?
And yet, this is precisely what Kurt– and all futurists — do. Kurt, along with amillennialists and postmillennialists to a degree, says God’s covenant with Israel was nullified at the cross, but then they appeal to G
od’s covenantal promises to Israel for their eschatology. But catch this:
The ceremonial, sacrificial, festal calendar was an integral part of God’s covenant with Israel.
The festal calendar would not be fulfilled until the eschatological consummation in AD 70.
Thus, God’s covenant with Israel would not be annulled until AD 70. (See Daniel 12:2-7)
Biblically, there is no eschatology divorced (pun intended, for those who catch it!) from God’s covenant with Israel. I challenged Kurt repeatedly on this issue in the written debate, but he refused to say so much as one word about it.
Because of the importance of this issue, our theme this year for our Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, July 14-16, 2011 will be: When Did the Law of Moses Pass Away? At the Cross or AD 70? (Incidentally, I had already decided this before my debate with Kurt).
You do not want to miss this event! I can tell you that interest in this conference and topic is already very high. Make your plans now to be with us. This is “the” can’t miss conference of 2011!