One of my classmates of the Bible study, who adheres to Judaism said, “God could not be more clear that He expects us to observe Passover every year, forever, eating matzos and refraining from eating leavened bread. The clear teachings of the Torah are eternal and apply to every time and place that we find ourselves in.” One of the basis of her argument was that if God says something under the title of “eternal covenant,” it is eternally binding and applies to every time and place. Well, let us reason together what the Bible says about “eternal covenant.” 유대교를 고수하지만, 함께 성경을 연구하는 친구가 이렇게 말했습니다. “하나님께서 당신의 백성들이 무교병을 먹으며 유월절을 해마다, 영원히, 지킬 것을 기대하시는 것은 너무나 당연하다. 율법의 가르침이 이렇게 명백하기에 그 말씀은 영원하며 모든 세대에, 우리가 속한 모든 장소에 영원히 적용된다.” 그녀의 논지의 중심에는 만약 하나님께서 “영원한 언약”이라고 명명하시면 그것은 영원히 적용되는 것이요, 모든 시간과 장소에서 다 지켜야한다는 것입니다. 자, 그럼 “영원한 언약”에 대해 성경은 무어라 말하는 지 함께 상고해 봅시다.
What does it mean that His eternal covenant is eternally binding? Judaism seems to emphasize our reactions and obedience to the covenant. So we must observe it forever. However, the biblical concept of “covenant” may emphasize the opposite. For example, in Genesis 9, God made “eternal covenant” through rainbow after the Flood. He would not destroy the whole earth with waters anymore, forever. And the focus is on God’s action toward living creatures, not on the obligations of the living creatures! Actually there is nothing we can do in that covenant! It is unilateral! Neither it mentions of any consequences if violating. So, in this case, the real purpose of the eternal divine covenant is not for us to observe the ritual but for us to REMEMBER who He is and what He has done. Uniquely in this covenant, the purpose is for GOD to remember;
Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I WILL REMEMBER my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind… Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and REMEMBER the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” _Genesis 9:14-16
Take another example in Genesis 17. God made an eternal covenant of circumcision with Abraham. How many times do we see phrases like “I will make you great, I will give you this land, and I will be your God?” The focus was not on the circumcision, it was on self-revelation of Hashem and His unilateral promises to Abraham and his descendants. I love how they have cherished the tradition for thousands of years. If any Jew invite me to participate in Seder, I will and I want to keep it every year. If i find myself on the Passover evening in the midst of the wilderness where i cannot find matzos, wine, or lamb, etc, i will still remember and worship what Hashem has done for us. I thank them because their existence and their observance of the great biblical feasts for generations to generations prove that the story of the Bible is not just story but HISTORY. It is true that rituals could help remembering, but ritual itself has no power to create a holy habit of remembering God. I bet my Jewish friends know this more than i do. The purpose of the eternal covenant is to REMEMBER and WORSHIP forever who He is and what He has done.
Since God’s intention in establishing the eternal covenant is for us to remember and worship, He does not impose the covenant as ‘fixed regulations and forever- unchangeable documents’ on us, expecting us to oberserve it literally, word for word. For example, the contents of the Passover covenant vary as to the Israelites’ various locations such as Egypt, Mt. Sinai, and wilderness, etc. We see in Numbers 9 where God has supplemented the passover covenant as His people faced a new situation. Some people could not observe the Passover because they were defiled by dead body, so they asked Moses what to do, and Moses asked God.
“And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you” (Numbers 9:8)
The Lord granted them to observe it next month! The divine covenant is FLEXIBLE although it is not FLUCTUATING. Keeping the law correctly is less desirable than keeping the law faithfully to God. The divine revelation is designed for our living relationship and long-lasting conversations with Him. The father would want his children rather to keep the covenant WITH HIM than to keep by themselves silently. The father reveals his heart gradually as his children grow and learn to ask how to interpret and apply to their situations in particular times and spaces. Whatever God says in different times and different places, we must obey. We cannot say “God, because you commanded at first to keep it on the fourteenth day of the first month, we will always keep it on the first month. They cannot keep it on the second month!” It does not mean God’s commandments only apply in certain times and places. Rather, it means God reveals progressively His will without changing the core spirit of the covenant as long as we want to keep. If God says “they will keep it on the second month,” they should keep it on the second month! Again, Adonai is flexible enough to respond to our situations without compromising or annulling His covenant.
In Genesis 12, the Lord said to Abraham, “Go to the land that I WILL show you.” Hashem did not reveal which land He would give, but Abraham obeyed in Haran. When Abraham entered the land of Canaan, the Lord appeared and said, “unto thy seed, I will give THIS LAND.” Hashem revealed which land He would give this time in different place. God progressively reveals His plan for the covenant as His servant proceeds in obedience. Therefore, the “eternal covenant” is not so much about us who are eternally bound or eternally required to do as about eternal God who is eternally revealing His love and fulfilling His plan for us.
In this sense, I believe G_d has continued to reveal His will through the covenants, Moses, and prophets and finally Jeshua. Then, we could better understand what Jeshua meant when He said, ” You have heard that it was said of them of old time… But I say unto you…”
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to FULFIL.” ___ Matthew 5:17
When the first century Jews who lived in the land of Israel heard this provocative phrases of Jeshua, they were able to distinguish their teachers and Jeshua.
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” __ Matthew 7:28-29
I believe that in the narrative of the Gospel of John 13:21-31 , we could find this divine character of divine revelations. “Verily verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me.” Jeshua has revealed somewhat vaguely who would betray Him. Then He progressively revealed more specifically after the beloved disciple asked a question, “Lord, who is it?” “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” The intimate conversation between Jeshua and the beloved disciple in the bosom of Jeshua reflects the biblical episodes when Hashem reveals prophetic words and His will only to his beloved servants such as Abraham or Moses.
After giving the morsel to Judah, Jeshua commands, “Do it QUICKLY” and the verse 30 says, “So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was NIGHT.” It is interesting because the way the Gospel writer narrates is almost same as Exodus. It was the same Passover night in Egypt when Hashem commanded Israelites to eat quickly and go out. The LAST Supper in Jerusalem seems to reconstruct the FIRST Seder in Egypt! Judah Iscariot, therefore, symbolizes the Israelites who ate quickly and went immediately out of Egypt in the night. However, it should be noted that the Exodus does not say that Hashem was glorified through the Israelites, but it says ‘through the Pharaoh and his army who chased Israelites!’
“I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.” __ Exodus 14:17
Do you see how the Torah describes? Hashem gained glory through the enemy whose hearts were hardened by Hashem and who chased Israel. Compare this to how the Gospel describes.
“Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” ___John 13:31
As Hashem hardened the hearts of Egyptians so that they chased Israel, Jeshua hardened the heart of Judah by giving him the morsel of bread and allowing the Satan enter into him so that Judah chased Jeshua. As Hashem was glorified through Egyptians, The Son of Man was glorified through Judah and God was glorified in HIM. So, the psychological condition and work of Judah corresponds to that of Egyptians. “Hardened heart and chasing or persecuting.”
Overall, we come up with the double identity of Judah Iscariot. On the one hand, He represents Israelites who ate quickly and went out of Egypt on the Passover night. Spiritually, they are Jews who are in the Old Covenant; they are delivered and saved! I hope this will unveil the blinded eyes of Christians.
On the other hand, he represents Egyptians whose hearts were hardened to chase Israel. Spiritually, they are Jews whose hearts were hardened to chase Jeshua and people in the New Covenant; I hoep this will unveil the blinded eyes of Jews. Finally, in this spiritual logics, Jeshua represents all three: Hashem, Israel, and church. Starting from the ancient Egypt on the Passover night, Hashem began to reveal progressively the Passover covenant throughout the history of Israel, and finally fulfilled it in the Passover night to extend the salvation to gentiles through the New Covenant. In the last days, the Jews (spiritually Egyptians) will know that Jeshua is the Lord and Israel and church.
“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” ___ Exodus 14:18
And I believe when the Messianic kingdom come here in Jerusalem, Adonai Eloheinu will eternally fulfill the passover covenant with us Jews and Christians in the eternal kingdom of God. Listen what Jeshua said in the seder,
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
And refined, aged wine.
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His יְשׁוּעָה salvation.” __ Isaiah 25:6-8