Evidences for first-century fulfillment
Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did.
Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
In this famous passage, Yeshua ties the Law and the Prophets (the Torah) to the kingdom of God. The essence of the kingdom is being obedient to and maintaining the Torah or instruction of God.
For those of us brought up with Christian theology, this sounds contradictory to our modern ears. We have been taught that the Law was all about works and has passed away because now we are relating to God on the basis of his grace and mercy towards us. Therefore (according to what we have been taught) the Law is done away with, and we no longer need to keep it. Yet Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did. In fact, he tied Torah obedience and teaching of Torah to the kingdom, so this cannot be true, that is, if we want to follow Yeshua’s instruction on this topic.
When we review what the Law and the Prophets says about itself, we find that the Torah of God is his instruction, his guidance that is intended for all of mankind. God first revealed it to Israel, and then it would be revealed to the world.
Israel was prophesied to have their hearts changed and to obey the Law from the heart:
Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” – the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Beyond the remnant of Israel coming back to the Torah of the heart, the nations would also stream to the instruction of God.
Jeremiah 3:17 – “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
The nations would no longer to walk in the stubbornness of their heart because they would also desire to learn of God’s Torah.
Micah 4:1-2 – And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law [Torah], Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
According to Micah, this was prophesied to come about in the last days of the nation of Israel. Yeshua, as he spoke to two disciples in one of his resurrected appearances, revealed that this prophetic occurrence was unfolding before their eyes, that they were witnessing these things in the first century.
Luke 24:45-48 – Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
If Yeshua, post-resurrection, was attesting to the fulfillment of the Torah of God going forth from Jerusalem to all the nations, then there is no contradiction of his earlier statement that “whoever does and teaches these commands (i.e., Torah) will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
This is why the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount go together as the core of the Bible message. The Ten Commandments are the core of the Law and the Prophets, and the Sermon on the Mount is the core of Yeshua’s New Covenant teaching on the Law. Yeshua taught that although heaven and earth would constantly be passing away, his words would never pass away because they were based on the eternal Torah of God.
Daniel 2:44 – In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.
If the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom, then it makes sense that an eternal kingdom requires an eternal charter, an eternal set of guidelines. Taking Yeshua at his word and seeing how the prophets spoke of all of this coming to pass at the passing of the nation of Israel, we should take a closer look at what we have been brought up to believe about the kingdom and the Torah of God. If we are followers of Messiah, we should take him at his word that Torah, the instruction for his kingdom, would never pass away.
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The parable marked the end of the age, not the end of the world.
Matthew 13:47-50 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, “and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, “and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This parable is a popular one as it appears to explain how God will “tidy up” all of Creation at the end of all things at some point in the future. As to when this will occur depends largely on one’s view of the end-times that many say we are currently living in.
However, as mentioned previously, we have to remember that the parabolic teachings of Yeshua revolve around the nation of Israel, as they were his primary mission.
Matthew 15:22-24 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.” Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples approached him and urged him, “Send her away because she’s crying out after us.” He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
While Yeshua ultimately did assist this woman due to her demonstration of great faith in him as the Messiah of God, this does not diminish his own admission of his primary focus: the nation of Israel.
The parable of the net has been used (and misused, with the best of intentions) in the service of missions work and growing the kingdom. The idea is that the wide net of the gospel is cast into the sea of the world, surrounding everyone, and at the end of the world (or all time, whenever that is supposed to be) God will have his angels sort everyone out depending on if they are good or bad. Good people are spared, but bad people are sent to burn in hell for all eternity.
Pulling this parable back into the context of the culture of the day and the mission of Yeshua, I think we would do better to interpret it in light of what Yeshua was attempting to teach his immediate audience.
When Yeshua called his disciples, he mentioned how their fishing ability would be adapted to fishing for people.
Matthew 4:19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Mark 1:17 “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Luke 5:10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people.”
Charles Ellicott, on the topic of catching people in Luke 5, conveys: “thou shalt catch men, i. e. by teaching thou shalt win their souls for the kingdom of God.” This was the thrust of what Yeshua had taught his disciples when he charged them with following him. They were to spread the net of teaching the gospel of the kingdom that would affect everyone in Israel, good and bad. Some would respond, and some would not.
Now as we move to the timing of this sorting out of the good and bad, we find it takes place at the end of an age, not the end of the world, as the KJV relates. The Greek word aion means age, as in the end of a specific era of time, not the end of the world, as in the planet.
So what was the end of the age? From a host of corroborating scripture, the end of the age was to be the end of the national age of Israel at the destruction of the temple.
Matthew 24:3, 34 While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? ” … [Yeshua said,] “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Yeshua prophesied that the end of the age would take place within that generation, and his ministry was a warning to all that God was no longer going to spare the nation due to its corruption and hypocrisy. He had warned the leaders directly:
Luke 11:49-51 “Because of this, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ “so that this generation may be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world – “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. “Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible.
All of this came to pass with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Just as the parable of Yeshua taught, the net of the good news of the kingdom was cast (by the disciples, the fishers of men) into the sea of all the people of Israel, encapsulating them all. At the end of the age (the national age of Israel), the good (i.e., the remnant who was obedient to the Messiah’s teaching) were spared, but the bad (those who rejected the teaching of Messiah and the kingdom) were destroyed, with weeping and gnashing of teeth, when Jerusalem burned in its utter destruction from the Roman armies.
This is the reality of the parable of the net. The time of the end was the time of the end of the nation of Israel. God, through Yeshua, faithfully established the eternal, spiritual kingdom prior to the destruction of the earthly, natural kingdom of Israel.
Now we can still leverage some of the imagery of fishing for people in this current age, the age of the eternal kingdom. As we teach the good news of this kingdom, some will be drawn to this message while others will not. However, we would do well to avoid misapplying the consequences of not heeding the message, for in this age, those who reject the good news of the kingdom are simply depicted as living “outside the city,” (or the kingdom).
Revelation 22:11, 14-15 “Let the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; let the holy still be holy.” … “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
The faithful and the holy will have the right to enter the New Jerusalem; those who reject the message will remain outside of its mercies and benefits. This is the way of the eternal kingdom of God for each generation.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.