Why is the Old Testament called eternal?
Most evangelicals say that the Old Testament was meant to be temporary covenant, one that was planned to be replaced by a better covenant, if that’s the case, why is this covenant (or series of them) in the Old testament frequently called an “everlasting covenant” not a “temporary covenant”? In fact, in Psalm 19:7 the Law is called perfect, which leads us to wonder, why should a “perfect” Law need replacing? (See below for examples)
Why does OT eschatalogical prophecy of the future include a restoration of Old Testament Law?
In fact Zechariah has a prophecy regarding the end times (Zech14:4-13) which undeniably shows the “the Day of the Lord.” In this prophecy The Lords feet rest on the Mount of Olives, there is eternal daytime, no night, and God ushers his reign of peace for the whole earth. During this eternal kingdom, God commands all nations to obey Old Testament law and celebrate the feast of Booths (Zech 14:16-19). Likewise, we see temple sacrifices continue in this vision of the future (Zech 14:21).
A few examples of Old Testament edicts described as Eternal/everlasting
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as an ENDURING covenant” (Exod 31:16)
“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children FOREVER, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29)
“A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an EVERLASTING covenant.” (Gen 17:13)
“God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an EVERLASTING covenant for his offspring after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
“The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the EVERLASTING covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)
“it is from the people of Israel as a covenant FOREVER.” (Leviticus 24:8)
“It is an EVERLASTING covenant of salt before the Lord to you and your descendants with you.”(Num 18:19)
The consensus of biblical archaeologists is that the Hebrew Bible contains much history but its “overlaid with legendary and even fantastic materials that the modern reader may enjoy as ‘story’ but which can scarcely be taken seriously as history.”
William G. Dever, commonly referred to as “America’s leading archaeologist of Israelite history” writes: “While the Hebrew Bible in its present, heavily edited form cannot be taken at face value as history in the modern sense, it nevertheless contains much history.
Let me begin by clarifying which books of the Hebrew Bible I think can be utilized by the would-be historian, whether textual scholar or archaeologist. With most scholars, I would exclude much of the Pentateuch, specifically the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. These materials obviously constitute a sort of “pre-history” that has been attached to the main epic of ancient Israel by late editors… As for Leviticus and Numbers, these are clearly additions to the “pre-history” by very late Priestly editorial hands, preoccupied with notions of ritual purity, themes of the “promised land,” and other literary motifs…
All this may be distilled from long oral traditions, and I suspect that some of the stories – such as parts of the Patriarchal narratives – may once have had a real historical setting. These traditions, however, are overlaid with legendary and even fantastic materials that the modern reader may enjoy as “story” but which can scarcely be taken seriously as history.”
(William G. Dever “What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It? – What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel” 2001 – William B. Eerdmans Publishing )
If you are a child born outside of marriage, there are commands in the Bible forbid you to go to church. (Or perhaps to join the assembly of the people, or the leaders, depending on who is writing the commentary, and how much they are trying to soften this passage for the modern reader.)
“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:2)
This sounds even nicer in the good ‘ol King James:
“A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:2)
Samsons last great act was the destruction of a building that resulted in the death of 3,000 civilians (including women) who were members of a different religion, while they were not engaged in war, but were at a worship service.
“Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed. Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. (Judges 16:27-30)
The great Bible hero Samson ended his life as a “suicide bomber.”
Incidentally, to help us appreciate the number of casualties, the September 11 suicide attack also left about 3,000 civilians dead.
What we know as the “Ten Commandments” actually has more than 10 laws and sayings, (up to 19-25 separate commands) thus different groups of Christians have had to group these many commands into “Ten Commandments” but they have done it differently.
Here are the seven different versions that group these many commands into ten.
T: Jewish Talmud
C: Catechism of the Catholic Church,
R: Reformed Christians
Today’s the vast majority of biblical scholars don’t accept the traditional tales of the authorship of many biblical texts.
“Moses did not write the Torah (The Pentateuch, that is, the first five books of the Bible); David did not write most of the Psalms; Solomon did not write the Song of Solomon or Ecclesiastes; Isaiah did not write the entire book attributed to him; Paul did not write the letter to Timothy or Titus or several others published under his name; and it is unlikely that the apostles Matthew, James, Jude, Peter and John had anything to do with the canonical books ascribed to them.” (1)
(Michael Coogan, from Harvard, one of todays most respected Old Testament scholars, editor of the Oxford Annotated Bible.)
Even many conservatives reluctantly agree on these issues, for example Eardmans Commentary on the Bible, written by 67 Christian scholars including well known conservative theologians James Dunn and Bruce Waltke, states that the authors of the Torah are unknown (2) and it was likely edited on many occasions by different people.