The Law and the Prophets Were Until John
It is difficult for many to accept the fact that the Mosaic Law is no longer applicable or binding. Many have grown used to the idea that if one lives by the Ten Commandments God will bless and approve his or her life. While it is true that such a life would be based upon a high standard of morality, it is not true that the Ten Commandments, any part of the Mosaic Law, or the Prophets are the basis for serving and pleasing God in this age.
Jesus said “The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it” (Luke 16:16). This is a preliminary indication that the Mosaic Law was about to serve the purpose God intended it to serve. Jesus had just warned of the love of money, knowing the Pharisees were “lovers of money” (16:14).
His statement to the scoffing Pharisees was intended to show them how superficial their religion was. Their fortè was outward adherence to the law, but Jesus knew they were hypocrites. As lovers of money, they were guilty of devouring widows houses while making a pretension at prayer (Matthew 23:14). On the other hand, many Publicans and common people gladly heard John the Baptist as he announced the coming of the kingdom. He preached that it was “at hand” (Matt. 3:1-2).
He baptized many who wanted to be part of that kingdom (3:5-6). Jesus said from that time men “violently” sought entrance into the kingdom as an invading army rushes to capture what to them is a prize. The coming of His kingdom and the ending of the Law of Moses and the Prophets are tied together.
The kingdom of which Jesus spoke was not the Old Testament kingdom of Israel; it was to be God’s kingdom. It is “of heaven” (Matt. 25:1). The Mosaic law and all the prophets served to prepare the world for its establishment. Jehovah promised Solomon that “There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel” (2 Chron. 7:18).
Looking down through time to when Jesus Christ would be the King of Kings, the Psalmist offered praise to Jehovah. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: A scepter of equity is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Psa. 45:6). Study other passages such as Psa. 103:19; 145:13.
The prophet Isaiah announced the great King of the future. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:7).
Daniel pinpointed the time of the establishment of the kingdom as the days of Roman rule (Dan. 2:41-44) and prophesied that it would be an everlasting kingdom and a dominion from generation to generation (4:3,34). His prophecy affirmed that the saints would receive it and it would last forever (7:13-14,18,22,27).
The kingdom Daniel and Isaiah had in mind would be different than the political kingdom of Israel. Hosea prophesied that Jehovah would make an inglorious end of the kingdom of Israel. “And Jehovah said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease” (Hos. 1:4). Amos also foresaw the destruction of the kingdom (Amos 9:8).
One of the first things Jesus did was preach, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Matthew calls His efforts “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (4:23). Those who wished to receive the blessings He attached to membership in the kingdom were naturally eager to enter it (Matt. 5:3,10). He taught His disciple to pray, “Thy kingdom come” (6:10). He said only those who do the Father’s will may enter it (7:21).
Jesus promised Peter the keys of this new kingdom (Matt. 16:19). On Pentecost Peter opened the portals to the Kingdom through preaching Christ as the risen Savior. Peter affirmed that Jesus is now exalted at the right hand of the Almighty and is indeed Lord and Master (Acts 2:29-33). With the establishment of the kingdom came also the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
Paul said the law was “blotted out” by the death of Christ (Col. 2:14) and that from henceforth none can be judged by Mosaic precepts (verse 16). He concluded that the law was but a “shadow of things to come” (verse 17; Heb. 10:1).
The preaching of John the Baptist marks the prelude of the transition in the taking away of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the new. John’s role in God’s scheme of redemption is unique. He lived and died under the Law of Moses, yet never entered the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God was not set up during his life time. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11).
For centuries the Mosaic Law had been read and studied by the most brilliant minds on earth. Yet few came to realize the full significance of it. Through Paul came the inspired statement of the purpose of the law. He wrote to the Romans that through the law came the knowledge of sin (Rom. 7:7).
To the Galatians he said the law was added because of sin and was designed to lead the sinner to Christ for justification (Gal. 3:19-20,23-24). Never was the Law of Moses designed to justify a sinner (Gal. 2:16). Only by obedient faith in Christ are sins removed. The blood of bulls and goats were never effective in removing sins (Heb. 10:1-4).
So until John the law and the prophets served their intended purpose. From that time forward men diligently sought entrance into the kingdom of God. On the day of its establishment (Acts 2:1-4) thousands were added to it by the Lord (verses 41,47). No one today can serve God acceptably by seeking justification under the Mosaic Law.
It is time now to turn to Christ for peace of mind, happiness of heart, and salvation of the soul.
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