While talking with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, it came to light that he and his family are no longer Baptists, but have joined the Messianic Jews. This seemed odd to me as I would assume that they would be in the Hebrew Roots movement as they are not Jews, but nonetheless the conversation continued. He used a few scriptural references to prove his points, but upon further examination, it seemed to me that the references he made actually prove his points to be false. It is a matter of having a framework of presuppositions to provide context by which to interpret the scriptural references cited. From my perspective, which I obviously think is correct, he is wrong, but from his perspective I am wrong. We talked for a bit longer, and agreed to disagree. Neither of us swayed the other.
He insisted that the New Testament scriptural references to food that Jews would eat excluded the foods that were unclean in the Old Testament. I conceded that to a Jew who was not a Christian, and even early converts, pork probably was not on the dinner plate, but I did not agree that pork is still of limits. He also insisted that we are still under obligation to follow all of the laws. He made no distinction between, the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the royal law. To that, I simply asked, “Do you make a booth outside your house and live in it for a week? Do you sacrifice animals in the temple, on the altar? Do you pay a temple tithe?” Of course we know the answers to those questions demonstrate an inconsistency in praxia.
In Mark chapter 7 we read about Jesus chastising the Pharisees. He is telling them that having dirty hands and eating with them doesn’t defile you, but He is also saying that the food that goes in doesn’t defile you, as well as saying that ceremonial washings don’t help you.
Mark 7:1-23 “1The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
6And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
8“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
9He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10“For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.””
14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Mark 7:19 “ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα.”
Stephen preached about the cessation of the sacrificial system, and temple system, immediately preceding his martyrdom. That is why they killed him. He was preaching Christ as the fulfillment of these shadows and types. With His fulfillment of the sacrifice, He made a way for men from all nations and tribes to be the Church. The picture of clean Israel against a pagan backdrop, would be replaced with Peter rise up and eat! The picture of clean and unclean food is analogous to the people, and the analogy does not negate the truth behind it that also applies to the food, as we can see in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:14-1 Timothy 4:1-5
“14I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
16By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Here we read Stephen’s testimony,
“ 8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. 13They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.
1The high priest said, “Are these things so?”
2And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, ‘LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’ 4“Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. 5“But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM. 6“But God spoke to this effect, that his DESCENDANTS WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND, AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. 7“ ‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY WILL BE IN BONDAGE I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’ 8“And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abrahambecame the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, 10and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
11“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. 12“But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13“On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14“Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. 15“And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. 16“From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH. 19“It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20“It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. 21“And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son.22“Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. 23“But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. 24“And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25“And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. 26“On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ 27“But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? 28‘YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’ 29“At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.
30“After forty years had passed, AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH. 31“When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32‘I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33“BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘TAKE OFF THE SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE ON WHICH YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND.34‘I HAVE CERTAINLY SEEN THE OPPRESSION OF MY PEOPLE IN EGYPT AND HAVE HEARD THEIR GROANS, AND I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM; COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU TO EGYPT.’
35“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36“This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37“This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’ 38“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. 39“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’ 41“At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? 43‘YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’
44“Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45“And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46“David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.47“But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48“However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
49‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE,
AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET;
WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord,
‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE?
50‘WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’
51“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.52“Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
54Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.58When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
Christ’s fulfillment of the shadows, and types represented in the Patriarchs, ceremonies, and sacrifices, is inexpugnable. Anyone citing the false accusation against Stephen as evidence that we must keep all the laws of the Old Testament demonstrates their complete lack of understanding of the sermon Stephen preached and was killed for by men who were seeking to be justified by their own righteousness. Can your righteousness surpass that of the Pharisees?