Old Testament

Why Christians Don’t Listen To Moses: 2 – The Torah Is Temporary


Suggested Pre-Reading: Why Christian’s Don’t Listen To Moses 1


The Law of Moses, the Torah, as a single body of law comprising many individual laws, can only be eternal or finite in duration. When a Christian says, “I listen to Jesus, not Moses”, they are saying, “The Torah is temporary, and with the coming of Jesus its time to govern has ended.”

This declaration of a temporary Torah is highly offensive to Orthodox Jews, who believe that the Law of Moses is eternal. But the temporal nature can be easily demonstrated from the Old Testament, and both Christians and Jews agree that the Old Testament is God’s inspired word. The 613 commands identified in the Torah by the rabbis can be categorized into various groups. Three of the groups are sin, death, and disease. Both Orthodox Judaism and Christianity agree that after the resurrection of the dead, sin, death and disease will cease to exist. If those three things cease to exist, by logical necessity, so do the related laws. If the laws cease to exist, then they are finite in duration and cannot be eternal.

Consider these examples:

Type Example
Sin A jealous husband can make his wife take the adultery test per Numbers 5: 11 – 31
Death Ritual uncleanness occurs if entering the tent of a dead man per Numbers 19: 14
Disease Lepers must be easily distinguished in public per Leviticus 13: 45

In the age to come there will be no sin, and therefore no adultery, and therefore no jealous husbands invoking the adultery test. In the age to come there will be no death, and therefore no tents with corpses, and therefore no ritual uncleanness related to a corpse. In the age to come there will be no disease, and therefore no lepers, and therefore no laws instructing lepers how to distinguish themselves in public.

Although we are not yet living in the fully realized kingdom, we can nevertheless demonstrate the temporal nature of the Torah, by going through each and every law dealing with sin, death, and disease, and proving them to be unneeded in the age to come. There can be no doubt about the Torah being a temporary guide, which is just what the New Testament instructs.

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3: 24-25)

Why Christians Don’t Listen To Moses: 1 – Introduction


Why don’t Christians listen to Moses?

The simple answer is found in Matthew 17:

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17: 1 – 5)

This command to listen to Jesus, instead of Moses and Elijah, came from God and is the fulfillment of words God gave to Moses to give to Israel:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18: 15)

Peter quoted this very verse in Acts 3 and applied it to Jesus. There is no doubt that the New Testament teaches Christians are to listen to Jesus. This theme is expanded upon by the book of Hebrews, which opens with this:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1: 1 – 2)

In regards to the differences between what Jesus and Moses taught, we are told this:

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant (Hebrews 8: 6 – 9)

The book of Hebrews teaches that if the first covenant of Moses was sufficient, God would have no need of sending Messiah and promising through the prophets a new and better covenant. But since the first covenant was never obeyed by Israel, because of their perpetual sin, something better was needed. This better thing is Jesus and the New Covenant.

And so to summarize our initial examination of this issue, we as Christians do not listen to Moses because the New Testament tells us to listen to Jesus, and instructs us that the New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant, due to the Old Covenant’s inability to produce the repentance and faith God desired.

God’s Oracles Center Around Christ: 2 – The Old Testament Implicitly Teaches the Centrality of Christ


Suggested Pre-Reading: God’s Oracles Center Around Christ: 1


It is clear that the New Testament was written to document the words and deeds of Jesus and to declare him to be the Christ. It is not as clear that the Old Testament was written to set the stage for Jesus of Nazareth. On the surface, the Old Testament is an account of the nation of Israel, beginning with God’s creation of Adam and ending with the return of the Jews from the exile. Beneath the surface, the story being told is about a great king who would come from the nation of Israel and rule the world in righteousness.

Although Christians should read the Old Testament and learn how it points to Christ, many do not do so, finding a cover to cover reading intimidating. For those intimidated by the Old Testament, there is a summary of the whole story found in the ninth chapter of Nehemiah. The summary, provided in full at the end of this article, was written after the return of the exiles from Babylon and covers from the beginning of creation to the return of the exiles. If the summary proves to be intimidating, one can focus on the following excerpt, which captures the essence of the Old Testament:

You are just in all that has come upon us;
For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law
Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.
But they, in their own kingdom,
With Your great goodness which You gave them,
With the broad and rich land which You set before them,
Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.

Nehemiah 9: 33 – 35

God was very good to Israel, over and over and over. Their response to God’s goodness was sin and a refusal to obey the commandments God gave them. For nearly one thousand years, from Moses to the end of the exile, the Law proved incapable of changing the hearts of the people. The promised blessings of the Mosaic Covenant were not enough to inspire godliness, and the promised curses of the Mosaic Covenant were not enough to prevent sin. Something greater than the Law of Moses was needed, to cause the people to trust and obey God. If the Law of Moses was to remain the primary administration, why not think that Israel would remain in a perpetual state of sin and rebellion and exile?

It is viewing the Old Testament in this way – as a chronicle of Israel’s perpetual disobedience – that enables one to see how the story is dependent upon the Christ. Israel’s inability to obey the covenant of Moses is resolved by the prophetic promise of Jesus and His new covenant. Consider the words of Isaiah, who wrote of a great king from the line of David who would rule in righteousness.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Isaiah 9: 6 – 7)

Consider the words of Jeremiah, prophesying that a new covenant would be made, in which the law of God would be written on the hearts of men, rather than on tablets of stone.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31: 31 – 33)

The promise of a savior-king, enacting a covenant in which He by divine power changes the hearts of His people and atones for their sin, is is the exact solution needed for a people who continually proved incapable of obeying the law by their own power. If the prophecies regarding Christ are removed from the Old Testament, the story started in the Old Testament has nowhere to go. For one thousand years the law failed to produce godly people, and unless that law were replaced with something better, there is no reason to think anything would change.

Our conclusion then, in light of all that has been said, must be that Jesus is central to all that is going on in the story of Israel. If by removing Christ from the Old Testament the story has nowhere to go, what other conclusion is there to draw?


Old Testament Summary In Nehemiah 9: 5 – 37

O may Your glorious name be blessed
And exalted above all blessing and praise!

You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.

You are the LORD God,
Who chose Abram
And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees,
And gave him the name Abraham.

You found his heart faithful before You,
And made a covenant with him
To give him the land of the Canaanite,
Of the Hittite and the Amorite,
Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite—
To give it to his descendants.
And You have fulfilled Your promise,
For You are righteous.

You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,
And heard their cry by the Red Sea.

Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
Against all his servants and all the people of his land;
For You knew that they acted arrogantly toward them,
And made a name for Yourself as it is this day.

You divided the sea before them,
So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground;
And their pursuers You hurled into the depths,
Like a stone into raging waters.

And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day,
And with a pillar of fire by night
To light for them the way
In which they were to go.

Then You came down on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven;
You gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

So You made known to them Your holy sabbath,
And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law,
Through Your servant Moses.

You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger,
You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst,
And You told them to enter in order to possess
The land which You swore to give them.

But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;
They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments.

They refused to listen,
And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them;
So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.
But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.

Even when they made for themselves
A calf of molten metal
And said, ‘This is your God
Who brought you up from Egypt,’
And committed great blasphemies,

You, in Your great compassion,
Did not forsake them in the wilderness;
The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day,
To guide them on their way,
Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go.

You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth,
And You gave them water for their thirst.

Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want;
Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.

You also gave them kingdoms and peoples,
And allotted them to them as a boundary.
They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon
And the land of Og the king of Bashan.

You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven,
And You brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.

So their sons entered and possessed the land.
And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites,
And You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land,
To do with them as they desired.

They captured fortified cities and a fertile land.
They took possession of houses full of every good thing,
Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,
Fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate, were filled and grew fat,
And reveled in Your great goodness.

But they became disobedient and rebelled against You,
And cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets who had admonished them
So that they might return to You,
And they committed great blasphemies.

Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them,
But when they cried to You in the time of their distress,
You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion
You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.

But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You;
Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.
When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven,
And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,

And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law.
Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances,
By which if a man observes them he shall live.
And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.

However, You bore with them for many years,
And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets,
Yet they would not give ear.
Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness,
Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You,
Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people,
From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.

However, You are just in all that has come upon us;
For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.

For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law
Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.

But they, in their own kingdom,
With Your great goodness which You gave them,
With the broad and rich land which You set before them,
Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.

Behold, we are slaves today,
And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty,
Behold, we are slaves in it.

Its abundant produce is for the kings
Whom You have set over us because of our sins;
They also rule over our bodies
And over our cattle as they please,
So we are in great distress.