Perhaps the subject of this article strikes you as something that is obvious. However, there are many religious bodies, proclaiming to be the church Christ founded, which validate some of their religious practices not from Christ’s new covenant, nor from the eternal principles of God, but from the Law of Moses. God gave the Law of Moses to Moses upon Mt. Sinai. Part of the law involved what the world knows as the “ten commandments” (Ex. 20). These are held up by society and many religions as the laws to live by today, but do they still have the authority of God? In truth, much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time (Matt. 15:1-9), many entities promoting practices from the Law of Moses do not even follow them, but a form of them devised by the traditions of men. Such is the ground they stand upon, leading many to faithfully follow, though the foundation has been swept away by the hand of God. The covenant of Christ cannot be properly followed by those who still seek after the authority of an old law vanished away.
Malachi wrote, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:8). This passage demonstrates the neglect of the people of God. Under the Law of Moses, they were to bring forth tithes and offerings, tithes of corn, wine, oil, firstlings of herds and flocks, and tithes of increase (Deut. 14:23-29). If the Law of Moses applies to the faithful of God today and we are not obeying it, then His words in Malachi 3:8 are applicable to us. We are robbing God! However, if one undertakes deeper examination they will read Malachi 1:1 and 4:4. In these verses it is found that the words of God which Malachi shares are to the nation of Israel. Additionally, it is seen that the Law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel and no one else. The ten commandments? They were God’s law given to a specific people 3,400 years ago.
Many zealously religious individuals and entities declare their usage of musical instruments comes from the Old Testament. They will readily agree they are not Israelites, but are following the example given by Israel’s worship of God. God commanded within the Law of Moses that Israel make two silver trumpets and blow them at the tabernacle for various secular and spiritual reasons, as well as over their worship time of burnt offerings and sacrifices (Num. 10:1-10). Similar, we see the trumpets playing during the sacrifices at Solomon’s temple along with instruments introduced by King David (2 Chr. 29:25-30). Whether the instruments were approved by God is debatable (see Adam Clark regarding the Arabic and Syric texts), but such is not pertinent to our scrutiny in this passage. What is critical is the observation that, as commanded when God handed this instruction down in the Law of Moses, the playing of instruments only occurred during sacrificing. What occurred following these sacrifices? Singing is only seen. In the New Testament, following the once for all time sacrifice of Christ and then the addition of souls to the church in Acts 2, only singing is ever commanded by God for the church. This is an interesting shadowing between the old and new covenants in regard to what happens after sacrifice. Reasoning to justify instrumentation in Christ’s church by going back to the Law of Moses ignores that it was not only not practiced by Israel as it is implemented today, but the first century church by its own example and command (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19) never had a practice of following the Law in this regard.
The Law was given to Israel. There is no example of Christ’s church following the Law by the authority of God. Contrary to those who would follow the Law, the apostle Paul wrote the Galatian churches to follow only the gospel which he had previously delivered to them (Gal. 1). He told Christians that “a man is not justified by the works of the law” (Gal. 2:16). He declared, “For if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). Why? Paul stated, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). He would later say the Law of Moses was a schoolmaster. The word here comes from the Greek paidagōgos and references one who takes a student from point A to point B. The Law of Moses took the children of Israel from their wanderings in the wilderness to the final fulfillment of the promise to Abraham by God — Jesus the Christ, the seed to bless all nations. The Law was not created to last forever. This is another reason that the church does not follow it today.
We do not follow the Law of Moses today because it was not given to us, the first century church did not follow it, and it was not made to last forever. Long before the New Testament was written, the Old Testament declared the end of the Old was coming. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31). Jeremiah is quoted in Hebrews 8:8-13 and it is made clear that the Law of Moses by Jeremiah’s prophecy was already old and vanishing away. This is not the only Old Testament reference to a new covenant to be given. In the messianic passage of Isaiah 42, Jesus, the messiah that Israel was looking to arrive , would be given as a “covenant” to the people (Israel) and to the nations or Gentiles (v. 6). In Isaiah 61, a chapter which also sees messianic text and from which Jesus applies scripture to Himself, it is declared a covenant would be given to the “offspring” of God. Daniel 9:27 speaks of the Messiah establishing a new covenant. Hosea 2:18 speaks of a new covenant. There are other passages, but the point should be clear. Those in generations long before the establishment of the church knew the Law of Moses was temporary.
Once Jesus arrived upon the earth, He shared the good news given him by the Father. That is the “one faith” of the gospel (Eph. 4). He did so knowing His mission upon this earth was short and He was on the way to the cross to be crucified for the sins of mankind. He did so, was buried in a tomb, and arose after three days to be seen over a period of time by many before ascending into heaven (Acts 1). When he died upon the cross, the Law of Moses itself was figuratively nailed to the cross as well (Col. 2:14), taking away the ordinances of condemnation upon those whom it held in its grasp. Jesus shared the gospel in His ministry (Mark 1:1). His focus was not the instruction of the Law of Moses. After His resurrection but before His ascension, He told his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to teach the disciples to follow the things He taught them. Jesus did not teach the Law. He nailed the Law to the cross. He brought a new covenant to mankind. On the day of Pentecost when Christians were added to the church (Acts 2:47), they were not added to the kingdom of God by following a covenant of circumcision but rather a new covenant in Christ. The Law of Moses could not forgive sins (Heb. 10:1-4), but Christ’s blood brought about forgiveness and a new covenant of eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15). Christ came to take away the first covenant and establish the second (Heb. 10:9).
Why would the church of today follow something that was never intended for them? It makes no sense at all to follow something that the church when it was formed not only did not follow, but was warned against following. The Law was not created to last forever and ample proclamation declared it would end and another covenant would be coming. Only the new covenant based upon the sacrifice and gospel of Christ can provide eternal life. It is the words of His covenant that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). Knowing these things, why would anyone choose to follow any other teaching and jeopardize their soul for an eternity?
Travis has been a minister in the Lord’s church for over 15 years. He attends and teaches at the Eastside Church of Christ in Mt. Vernon, OH. He is the creator of churchofchristarticles.com.