By Stan Brown
Ephesians 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Paul continues to speak of the newfound unity between believing Jews and believing Gentiles, indeed by inference the unity that exists among all believers. Paul recognizes that there remained discord between the two although it had been completely eliminated as His death nullified the enmity which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances. On a practical basis it would take a while to get there since some things die hard yet the death of Christ completely abolished the Law as a set of rules that had to be followed in order to fellowship with God. The Old Testament Law with all its specifics no longer held sway over believers. The council of Jerusalem, as described in Acts 15, recognized this fact although asking Gentiles to show respect for a few things while acknowledging that these few things were not wrong.
The sacrificial system, the rules of clean and unclean that emphasized what sin was, the dietary laws and all the rest were abolished by the death of Christ on the cross. He took care of the sin problem once and for all. This did not abolish the basic righteousness of God that was expressed in the Old Testament Law and the Ten Commandments in particular. After all Christ summarizes and endorses the commandments in the New Testament. And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. ( Matt. 22:37-40)” But it did abolish the need to follow all the rules of the Law which had caused division between Jew and Gentile.
The result of Christ’s death was the establishment of peace. The death of Christ on the cross established peace between God and every man who would accept the gospel of grace through faith including both Jew and Gentile. It would also establish the possibility of peace among all believers. I say, the possibility of peace, because believers have not always been great in living out in practice what God has provided. The point is simple. The death of Christ united believing Jews and believing Gentiles into one new man. The death of Christ has united all believers into one new man. It is that which fulfils the words contained in the high priestly prayer of Jesus, that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:21). We are God’s message to the world as individuals and as a body that demonstrates God’s love to the world.
I finish the discussion today with a somewhat peripheral conversation. Why do we not observe the Sabbath Day as did the Jews? First, it relates to the statement contained in Ephesians 2:15. I know I said that the moral character of God remains proclaimed in the Ten Commandments and it does. We must think about the prime reason for the commandment to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy. In keeping with the structure of the covenants of the day, it formed the basis for remembering the King. In keeping the Sabbath Day, they were forced to remember God as Creator (He had rested on the seventh day) as well as His absolute Holiness. When the Sabbath Day was kept as more than just rituals, it pointed directly to the Divine, Eternal, Holy, Creator of the universe. Today, we worship on the first day of the week. We still remember the Divine, Eternal, Holy, Creator of the universe. Our focus is now on the One who rose from the dead on the first day of the week. He is the Divine, Eternal, Holy, Creator of the universe and we celebrate His resurrection from the dead as the incarnate Christ. Interestingly enough the Old Testament feasts prophesied concerning this change. There are only two Old Testament feast days that were always celebrated on the same day of the week every year and it happened to be the first day of the week. First Fruits, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead was always celebrated on the first day of the week following the Passover Feast. Pentecost, which marks the beginning of the church and the giving of the Holy Spirit, was celebrated on the fiftieth day following on the first day of the week (When the Jews counted days, they counted differently than we do. For them day one is today. We count day one as tomorrow. Thus, if day one is on the first day of the week so is day fifty.). We need to worship God every day of the week united together as believers wherever we are. The Law no longer separates us. Christ made peace.