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The Old Man Law

Dec 18, 2007

One of the Ten Commandments is "Honor your father and your mother." One of the specific statutes under that Commandment is found in Lev. 19:32,

"You shall rise up before the grayheaded, and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord."

On the surface, this is a law about reverencing, respecting, or  honoring one's elders. In earlier times, the younger ones would stand up when an elder walked into the room. It was a sign of respect. It is a good law, as most people will acknowledge.

But this law, like the others, has deeper meanings and applications. In fact, it is the basis of the resurrection of the dead. The prophet Daniel had a vision of the Throne of God, where He saw an Old Man called "the Ancient of Days." Daniel 7:9, 10 says,

" (9) I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. (10) A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened."

This is a prophetic vision about the resurrection from the dead. Young's Literal Translation says, "myriads of myriads do RISE UP." The Concordant Literal Translation says, "a thousand thousands are irradiating Him, and ten thousand ten thousands are RISING before Him."

We see, then, that the law about "RISING UP before the grayheaded" is not merely a suggestion to the living. It is a prophecy that when the Ancient of Days sits upon His throne to judge the world, the decree goes out much like we see in a modern court room: "ALL RISE."

The resurrection of the dead is the result of this command according to this law. Under the Old Covenant, the law may be ignored or violated, because it depends upon man's ability to be obedient. But under the New Covenant, the law is a prophecy of what WILL HAPPEN according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). Thus, when the law says, "Thou shalt not steal," we struggle with not stealing under the Old Covenant. But under the New Covenant, it is a promise of God that we really will not steal any more, because the law will be written in our hearts, and it will not be part of our nature to steal.

The New Covenant application of the law puts the burden upon God to fulfill its provisions in us. That is why the law is turned from a command to a prophecy. Commands can be broken; prophecy cannot. Thus, when we struggle to fulfill the commandments of God, we testify that we are yet under the Old Covenant. But when we are led by the Holy Spirit, we begin to let God fulfill those same laws through us. The real difference is that man is incapable, whereas God is able.

This is the message from the beginning in the books of Moses, for if you start with the first time the Hebrew letter yod appears in Genesis 1:1, and carefully keep track of every 521st letter in the Hebrew text, it will read, "Yeshua is able." This reveals Jesus' Hebrew name, Yeshua (or Joshua).

We know, of course, that He is able to do all things, but specifically it is a reference to the whole purpose of man's creation--the fact that He is able to finish what He started, to save that which was lost, to bring us into the Promised Land in spite of the opposition of man's will.

When Israel refused to enter the Promised Land in Numbers 13 and 14, God tempted Moses with a job offer which he refused. God threatened to destroy Israel and start over with Moses and his descendants. But Moses said, "If you do this, then all the neighboring nations will say that You were NOT ABLE to bring these people into the Promised Land as You promised" (Num. 14:16). God then vowed in verse 21,

"But indeed, AS I LIVE, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord."

The phrase, "As I live," indicates that God was here swearing a vow to do something. He did NOT say, "I will try." He did NOT add, "if I can just get people to listen to what I say." He swore to do this by the counsel of His own will. If He fails to do this, it will not be because of man's opposition; it will be because God was NOT ABLE to do what He said He would do.

In other words, what God was doing with Israel in bringing them to the Promised Land, was only a type and shadow of a much greater work that He fully intended to do. That greater work was to fill the whole earth with the glory of the Lord--not just the land of Canaan with a single nation called Israel.

This is, in effect, a divine vow to "restore all things." It was a vow that man's refusal to experience the feast of Tabernacles would in no way prevent God from glorifying Himself in those people. In other words, God is able to make us willing. He is able to open our blind eyes and our deaf ears (Ex. 4:11). Man's will is always subordinate to the will of God. This means that nothing men do can stop the divine purpose in the end. And His purpose is to be "the Savior of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10).

This does not mean that He will save men while they are in disobedience. It means that He will change their hearts by His love and merciful judgments in order to be able to save them without violating His character of justice and love, pictured in Scripture as FIRE.

And so, when ALL RISE before Him at the Great White Throne, Daniel says that the throne itself is a flame and its wheels are a fire. This is because a throne has always been a symbol of law. When a monarch sits upon the throne, it is in an official capacity from which he makes decrees according to the law. Hence, from God's fiery throne comes a "river of fire" (Dan. 7:10), for this represents the judgment of the divine law upon the myriads of people who have arisen before Him.

Revelation 20 gives us another view of the same time, telling us that the rest of the dead--those not raised in the first resurrection--will be raised at the Great White Throne to be judged by this "river of fire." It is not a literal fire. The fire is the "fiery law" itself (Deut. 33:2; Jer. 23:29). To define the nature of that "fire," one must read the judgments of the law, which do NOT include torture for any sin.

Once the judgment of the law has been administered by the "river of fire," the TIME of judgment is pictured in Rev. 20 as the "lake of fire." The "river" forms a "lake," because the river is thepronouncement of judgment, while the lake is the time of judgment.

The time of judgment is said to be aionian in the New Testament Greek. This word is usually mistranslated "eternal" or "everlasting," but in fact most scholars know that the word means "pertaining to an aion (eon, or age)." Dr. Robert Young, who wrote Young's Concordance and Young's Literal Translation, consistently translates the word "age-during." Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible consistently translates it "age-abiding." So if anyone wants to disagree with this translation, they may take up their argument with these Bible scholars. I defer to their scholarship.

When the age of the "lake of fire" is completed, the law of Jubilee will be fulfilled, wherein all "debts" are cancelled permanently, and everyone returns to his lost inheritance. The Jubilee is the divinely-mandated limitation on judgment for sin, for all sin is reckoned as a debt. This is confirmed in another way by the limitation of 40 stripes (Deut. 25:1-3). Then will God's vow be fulfilled.

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Category: God's Law

Dr. Stephen Jones

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