The early New Englanders and the 613
Early American Theocracy
When the settlers landed on American soil they immediately set out to establish a society that would be beneficial for all who chose this “New England” as a place of residence. The fledgling community had no established law or code by which to live. It did not take the early society to realize that they needed a code to live by. The originally decided to establish a structure based on Biblical models.
These facts are relatively well known to most people. However, just how far were the early settlers willing to reach into the Biblical text for a model to build their new world on?
Thus, the New Haven Colony records show that the law of G-d, without any sense of innovation, was made the law of the Colony:
March 2, 1641/2: And according to the fundamental agreem(en)t, made and published by full and gen(e)r(a)ll consent, when the plantation began and government was settled, that the judiciall law of God given by Moses and expounded in other parts of scripture, so far as itt is a hedg and a fence to the moral law, and neither ceremoniall nor typical nor had any reference to Canaan, hath an everlasting equity in itt, and should be the rule of their proceedings..
April 3, 1644: Itt was ordered thatt the judiciall lawes of God, as they were delivered by Moses … be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction in their proceeding against offenders. . . .
It is a modern heresy that holds that the Torah of G-d has neither meaning nor any binding force for man today. It is an aspect of the influence of humanistic and evolutionary thought on the church, and it posits an evolving, developing god. The immutability of G-d is established in the Biblical text as well as Christian doctrine. How is it that we have G-d a mind of vacillation that changes each time the wind blows?
The founders of America were convinced that the only “Law” worth having was that of the Bible dictated to Moshe by G-d Himself. Contemporary society and church leaders have adopted an antinomian theology. (there is an oxymoron for you) How can we be antinomian and have a theology all in the same breath. The plain simple truth is that we cannot. We have opted for humanistic institutions rather than theocratic mores.
The antinomian theology of the contemporary church liberates man from the “law” (Torah) so that he can remain permanently bound and controlled by sin and death.
The phrase, “dead to the law,” is found in the writings of Shaul’s1, but we must find the appropriate context to interpret these passages.
Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to G-d.
The Greek text reads as follows…
Galations 2:19 εγω γαρ δια νομου νομω απεθανον, ινα θεο ζησω Χριστω συνεσταυρωμια
For I through the Torah’s instruction (nomon, nomo) died to be more G-dly. (For I through the Torah’s laws instructions and teachings died to be more like G-d.)
The Greek word απεθανον is future aorist tense looking forward to being more G-dly through the instruction of both the Torah and the Oral Torah. The dual use of nomos in this text allows us to understand that Shaul is referring to both the Torah M’Sinai (the written Torah) and the Torah B’al pey (the oral Torah).
The Greek word avpe,qanon is translated “died” in the past tense. This word cannot be translated dead, past tense when it is presented in the aorist future tense. The Future infinitive and participle are not strictly timeless because they point to the “end in view.” In other words Shaul was looking forward to the time when he would see the demonstration of the fruits of having learned Torah.
Romans 7:4 w[ste avdelfoi, mou( kai. u`mei/j evqanatw,qhte tw/| no,mw| dia. tou/ sw,matoj tou/ Cristou/( eivj to. gene,sqai u`ma/j e`te,rw|( tw/| evk nekrw/n evgerqe,nti( i[na karpoforh,swmen tw/| qew/|Å
So brethren that I and you put to death the nomo through the body the Messiah into the become you other (another) the other from (ek) dead to raise in order that bear fruit the G-d.
Before this verse can accurately be translated, we must establish the appropriate context. Shaul states that he is addressing his conversation to those who understand the Torah. This would insinuate that his readers understood both the “Torah M’sinai” and the “Torah b’al pey.” Therefore, the reader must be thoroughly acquainted with both texts before he can understand Shaul’s thesis.
From the context of this passage and the entire letter, “death” in this polemic is presented as an affirmative experience, as we are dying to “something horrific” (i.e., “that being dead wherein we were held” – 7:6). In verse 7:1, Shaul uses the same word, “dominion” (kurieuo, “to rule over”) vis-à-vis the “Law,” as he did in verse 6:9 (referring to death) and sin in verse 6:14. As Shaul has stated, when we “die to sin,” by trusting in G-d (HaShem), we are dying to the judgment and condemnation of G-d’s holy Torah, which demands death to those who intentionally violate the Holy Torah. In other words, we escape the punishment of the Torah by keeping the Torah. Keeping the Torah frees us from sin and death. We are freed from the condemnation of the Torah through faith. The Greek word for faith is “pistis.” As we have learned in the past, we must never translate Greek words out of a Greek mindset while reading the Pharisaic Shaul. What does this mean? Shaul, being a Pharisee, will never present the Torah in a negative or opposing light. Therefore, what does “pistis” mean? The Hebrew parallel to “pistis” is “emunah.” “Emunah” means faithfulness. Consequently, we are liberated from the possibility of condemnation by faithfulness. The analogous story teaches us that the woman would have been walking in sin if she tried to marry two men at the same time. When her husband dies, she is a liberty to find another husband being free from the possible condemnation of the Torah for adultery.
In the simile of Romans 7:1-4, Torah does not symbolize the husband (and thus it “dies,” as some falsely teach). The Torah here represents the legal framework that institutes the marriage. Shaul explains that the woman is obligated to her husband as long as he is alive. When he is deceased she is not subject to the penalties of Torah, should she remarry.
If the Torah is a life giving principle as stated in the books of Vayikra 18:5 and D’varim 28:15ff we must determine exactly what Shaul is saying with regards to death. In his letter, Shaul refers to the “mortification” (death, fencing off of the flesh). Shaul is trying to illustrate that true nature of the Torah. It was given as a tool to master the “yetzer hara” (evil nature, impulse or the flesh).
5 o[te ga.r h=men evn th/| sarki, ta. paqh,mata tw/n a`martiw/n ta. dia. tou/ no,mou evnhrgei/to evn toi/j me,lesin h`mw/n eivj to. karpoforh/sai tw/| qana,tw|>
This verse is crudely translated as follows. This is a word for word translation. Therefore, the Greek word structure will not flow grammatically.
“when for I am in the flesh the suffering sin the through the nomou to work in the member I into the bear the fruit the death.”
Some translations suggest that the Torah (nomos) aroused the passion to sin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Likewise, this is an intentional abuse of the text. The verse clearly teaches that sin brings about suffering. How is this possible? It is possible because those who know and understand the truth of G-d’s word (the Torah) despise the workings of the flesh. This is more clearly conveyed as we read the rest of this particular chapter. Shaul demonstrates the struggle between the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and the yetzer hatov (the inclination towards G-dliness).
6 nuni. de. kathrgh,qhmen avpo. tou/ no,mou avpoqano,ntej evn w-| kateico,meqa w[ste douleu,ein Îh`ma/jÐ evn kaino,thti pneu,matoj kai. ouv palaio,thti gra,mmatoj
now but (and) to bring to naught, abolish from the nomou to die in who to hold back, hold fast so that to serve I in newness a spirit a and, even, also not, no oldness a letter, writing
Having a fresh view of the Torah Shaul was able to serve G-d in the newness or spirit of the Torah rather than ineffectual interpretations and understanding. Having the correct mindset concerning the Torah is of vital importance. Shaul teaches us here that understanding the genuine intent of the Torah will liberate us to walk in the authentic intent of the Torah. This is often accomplished through a thorough understanding of the Oral Torah, which explicates those aspects of the written text that often remain obscured.
The written text of the Torah can often be concealed. Therefore, it is requisite to study the Oral Torah for insight to the indisputable meaning of the written text.
Shaul’s words teach us that we must maintain a lifestyle based on the Torah. Without this structure, society will fall prey to anarchy. Antinomianism has drawn our society into anarchy. Maintaining, congruence with Shaul’s analogy is vital to understanding the theme of living a Torah based lifestyle. What man or woman would want their spouse involved in multiple relationships? Infidelity leads to the destruction of the relationship. Living in an antinomainistic societal structure leads to a high divorce rate.
Reading further in this chapter, we can see that sin leads to the degradation of the soul. The degradation of the soul is resolved by following and keeping the true, spiritual intent of the Torah. The Psalmist tells us that the Torah of G-d is perfect. Through its practice, we are able to regenerate the degenerate soul. Psalms 19:72
The Torah restores the soul to authentic spirituality. Being spiritual, walking in the spirit does not negate the validity of the Torah. Being “spiritual” is an expression of the Torah.
It is highly disturbing to think that Yeshua or Shaul might have promoted an antinomainistic ideology. Antinomainistic theology (there is that oxymoron again) will have only one result. It will lead to the degradation of societal structure. I cannot believe that either Yeshua or Shaul would have subscribed to such an ideology. Both Yeshua and Shaul believed in the universal theocracy of G-d. This theocratic society was and is called the “Malchut Shamayim”3.
Rabbinic sources teach us that the end times – days would be referred to as the “ikvot haMasciach.” This phrase can be translated as the “footsteps of Messiah.” These days are called “ikvot haMaschach” for several reasons. Firstly, they are called the “ikvot haMashiach” because Messiah’s approach is so close that we can hear his coming footsteps.
Secondly, the end times or days is referred to as the “ikvot haMaschach” because the foot is the most callous part of the physical body. In conjunction with the vision and prophecies of Daniel, we live in the age of the foot. Daniel saw the terminal generation as the feet of the great image. The mixture of elements described in his vision tells of an age of instability. The generation that we live in is like the foot of Daniel’s vision and the phrase “ikvot haMaschach.” We are unstable and callous. Why is this? The reason our generation has become so callous and unstable is due to antinomainistic teachings and lifestyles. Contemporary leadership in every avenue of life has degraded life by preaching liberty.
The purpose of Messiah’s work was to restore man to a position of covenant keeping instead of covenant-breaking, to enable man to keep the law by freeing man “from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4). Man is restored to a position of Torah observance. Therefore, the Torah thus has a position of centrality in man’s indictment (as a sentence of death against man the sinner).
Growth in grace is a growth in understanding the true nature of the Torah. Furthermore, it is a growth in Torah observance.
It seems clear from all the data that the early “New Englanders” understood these truths. Furthermore, they desired to establish a society based on these fundamental truths and principles. I find it strange to think that the early settlers had the same scriptures (for the most part) that we have today yet developed a pro-Torah view of life.
The truth be known most of the early American settlers were still unfamiliar with the English versions of the Bible as most of them had either not been published yet or just been published and were still not widely available. Many of the Biblical resources that they used were more antiquated that our contemporary resources. The fact of the matter remains that they had to rely on Hebrew and most likely Latin texts as a source of Biblical information and studies. Having been much more acquainted with the Hebrew text caused them to have a pro-Torah view. The greater our understanding of the Hebrew text the more likely we will be to be pro-Torah.
The Torah is the foundational element of the “Malchut Shamayim.” We will discuss this vital truth in next week’s lesson.