During the season of Shavuot/Pentecost, I was reading a few comments on a particular teaching video. The discussion was centered around the fact that as Christians we should not be observing feast days because “we are no longer under law but under grace”. Those comments served as the inspiration for this week’s blog. As believers, we have been taught that law opposes grace but what does the Bible really say?
What is Law?
When God redeemed Israel out of bondage in Egypt, God gave them his righteous standards by which they were to live. We find these recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, known as the Torah, and it constitutes civil, ceremonial and moral rulings. These instructions/laws/rulings were not given as a means to redeem or “save” Israel; they were already redeemed out of bondage to slavery. Torah was given to reveal God’s holiness to the people and also to serve as a guide as to how they were to live as His holy people. It covered how they were to worship God and how they were to relate to their fellowman. Without the law, they would not have known what sin was (Rom. 7:7). However there was one challenge; There was no provisions under Torah to deal with certain categories of sin (e.g intentional sins) and the only penalty was death, remember, the Bible teaches us that the ‘wages of sin is death.’ (Romans 6:23)
There was also another aspect to Torah that Israel did not understand at the time; embedded in it was God’s prophetic blueprint of how He would save mankind from the curse of sin and death, and how the plan would unfold all the way to eternity (Revelation 22)
what is Grace?
The Apostle Paul defines it this way ““For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” and “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Eph 2:8-9, Romans 11:6 ). Grace simply means that one does not get what one deserves (death).
At the beginning of Yeshua’s (Jesus) ministry, John the Baptist announced his arrival with these words “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29-34). In essence, John was saying to the people that Yeshua would become the atoning sacrifice that would remove sin. It was now time for the prophetic blueprint that was previously hidden in Torah to be revealed. It was a free gift but there was one condition; man could only have his sin forgiven by faith. Put another way, there was nothing “works” based that man could do to attain salvation, it was purely by the grace of God through faith in Yeshua.
While many believe that grace is a New Testament concept, a closer look at Torah will reveal the opposite. At the core of Torah is the grace, love and mercy of God, or else all of Israel would have died for violating His holiness. They would have had no idea how to approach or not to approach a holy God; but that is for another discussion.
With that said, does God’s grace stand opposed to God’s righteous standards and instructions? Does it mean that those of us who have come to faith in Yeshua no longer need to walk in obedience to God’s law? The grace of God, His unmerited favour towards us, should fuel our desire to obey God’s commandments, not because they save us, but because we love Him. In the words of Yeshua, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Admittedly, there are certain aspects of Torah that we are no longer able to keep, especially as it relates to ceremonial and civil laws. However there are commandments that we are able to uphold and we should. We read in Psalm 19:9-11 that “God’s laws are pure, eternal and just… for they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them”
So, what should our response be to God’s commandments concerning feast days, or anything else for that matter? Does grace stand opposed to or does it remove the laws of God? No. Grace simple means we who are in Messiah are no longer condemned to the punishment of death when we break God’s law. Does this mean therefore that we can continue to sin and live as we please? In the words of the Apostle Paul, “absolutely not!” Instead we uphold God’s standards. Also, let’s remember the prophetic blueprint embedded in Torah. There are events that are yet to be fulfilled at Yeshua’s return. When we observe feast/holy days in obedience to God’s commands, we are prophetically anticipating those things which are yet to come!
Paul said concerning Torah “the law is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good” (Romans 7:12).