Not one Jot or Tittle?
aymon de albatrus
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat 5:18)
“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.” (Luk 16:17)
For the record:
One jot. The word jot, or yod—’—is the name of the Hebrew letter I, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
One tittle. The Hebrew letters were written with small points or apices, as in the letter Schin or Sin, which serve to distinguish one letter from another. To change a small point of one letter, therefore, does vary the meaning of a word, and destroy the sense (a tiny tittle changes a letter into a different letter & thereby changes the meaning). Hence the Jews were exceedingly cautious in writing these letters, and considered the smallest change or omission a reason for destroying the whole manuscript when they were transcribing the Old Testament. The expression, "one jot or tittle," became proverbial, and means that the smallest part of the Law cannot be destroyed.
Here our Lord Jesus makes a very strong affirmation in saying: “Verily” which means ‘Truly, Certainly’. We are NOT to dismiss what the Lord says next as insignificant or something we can disregard or have a choice over it in our democratic society.
Then follows: “Till heaven and earth pass”. This expression states that the Law will never be destroyed till all is fulfilled. By this the Lord is saying that all things may change, even the earth and heavens (universes) may pass away, but the Law of God will stand till its purpose shall be accomplished. And has its purpose been accomplished as yet? NO for Jesus has not yet returned to close the times.
The Law of God is the Bible and thus all that is written in the Bible will not be destroyed till the end of time, i.e. at our Lord’s return. This is the premise of this article and that the principles of the Law of the Bible are applicable to ALL humanity, to the Jews and to the Gentiles till the end of time comes.
The laws of the Jews (OT) are commonly divided into moral, ceremonial, and judicial.
The Moral laws are such as growing out of the nature of things, which cannot, therefore, be changed; such as the duty of loving God and His creatures. These cannot be abolished as it can never be made right to hate God, or to hate our fellow-men. Of this kind are the Ten Commandments; and these our Lord Saviour has neither abolished nor superseded.
The Ceremonial laws are such as are appointed to meet certain rules in the Jewish society, to regulate their religious rites and ceremonies. These included the animal sacrifices and the sprinkling of their blood to atone for the sins of the people. The ceremonial laws associated with animal sacrifices where fulfilled by Christ in His coming and sacrifice on the cross, these laws are ceased and no longer binding for we have a better and permanent sacrifice in Christ who as the Highest Priest in Heaven He never ceases to intercede for us: “Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:25)
Jesus is seated on the throne of God as our High Priest ministering in the heavenly Tabernacle which is not made by man hands, but by God’s: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Heb 8:1-2)
Thus the principle of offering blood to atone sin has never ceased but it is now done in Heaven with the Holy Blood of Jesus, which has an infinite value, in atoning for our sins. We can then say that the ceremonial law on earth has ceased with Christ but its principles are still carried out in Heaven by Christ, Himself, forever.
The OT has 613 Laws and many of these were Judicial laws specifically applicable to the Jewish society, but others are universal and applicable to all, such as the 10 Commandments, that are judicial laws beside being moral laws. Is there anybody that can say that the 10C are not applicable today, even in our heathen society, such as the 6th “thou shall not murder” is not applied? It would be foolish to deny such a self evident thing, for God gave these judicial Laws to the Hebrew nation to be an example for all nations. These laws may be modified for a given society, but NOT nullified; their principles must be kept intact for all nations, for all times.
Of these 3 categories the moral law was confirmed and unchanged by Jesus (and surely He maintained also the other two). The moral Law requires love and obedience to God, and love to men, it cannot be changed, and Christ did not change It in any possible way. (Mat 19:19; 22:37-39, Luk 10:27, Rom 13:9)
The conclusion is then that the principles of the Law of God cannot be destroyed (and are not), as Jesus states above.
In our days there is controversy on whether or not God can break His Law, methinks this nothing other than idle talk. People tend to put God at the same level of men in their democratic egalitarian fanciful thinking, BUT God is God and He is above His Law that He instituted and imposed on mankind. God is well higher than His Law which is not applicable to Himself but to humankind. God is Sovereign and can break the Law as often as He wishes.
Take this passage for example, a stumbling block to many: “And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said to him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?” (Mar 2:23-24). Here Jesus allowed His disciples to pluck the ears of the corn on a Sabbath day, this being forbidden by the Law, and, of course the legalistic Pharisees took Him to task.
But what Jesus told them? He declared that as God He was the Lord of the Sabbath and He was entitled to overrule it whenever He wanted to: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mar 2:28)
Moreover he said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath (Mar 2:27)
Sabbath was intended for man to rest from labour, to rest from the cares and anxieties of the world, to give an opportunity to call off his attention from earthly concerns, and to direct it to the eternal matters. It was a provision for man that he might refresh his body by relaxing his toils; that he might have undisturbed time to seek the consolations of religion so that he might render to God that homage which is most justly due to the Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer of the world.
Where there is no Sabbath, there is ignorance, vice, disorder, and crime. On that holy day, the poor, and the ignorant, as well as the learned, have undisturbed time to learn the requirements of religion, the nature of morals, the law of God, and the way of salvation. On that day, man should offer his praises to the Great Giver of all good, and in the sanctuary seek the blessing of Him whose favour is life.
The Sabbath was, therefore, pre-eminently intended for man’s welfare, and the best interests of mankind demand that it should be sacredly regarded as an appointment of merciful heaven, intended for our best good; and, when applied correctly, will infallibly results in our temporal and eternal peace.
Man was made first, and then the Sabbath was appointed for his welfare, (Gen 2:1-3). The Sabbath was not first made and then the man made with reference to that. Since, therefore, the Sabbath was intended for man’s real good, the law respecting it must not be interpreted so as to oppose his real welfare. However, It has to be in accordance with man’s real good on the whole, and with the Law of God and we have no right, because Sabbath was made for man, to do anything contrary to what the Law of God admits. This would not be for our real good, but rather for our eternal injury, to devote the Sabbath to vice, to labour, or to amusement.
This is what Jesus intended, not only that He was Lord of the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was made for the lawful needs of man such as tendering to the necessities of the body, such as nourishment.
In all cases the principles of the Law must be upheld.
Further on the same passage Jesus draws attention to David and his men eating of the show bread at the Temple on a Sabbath day. “And he said to them, Have you never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the show bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?” (Mar 2:25-26)
Here David apparently broke the Law as interpreted by the legalistic Pharisees, but Jesus corrects them. Even though David ate the showbread which was only legal for the priests to eat (once the bread was removed from the table, a thing David did not do), but he gave also to the soldiers which were with him and on a Sabbath day. (This act would have been enough for the Pharisees to stone them to death) However this action was done with the full knowledge of the high priest (1Sa 21:2-6) who gave to David the holy bread (for there was nothing else to eat) on the condition that the men had not been with women. Thus David did not break the Law, nor the Law was done away, for David and his men were in dire need of food and the principle of the Law was kept for the Law is made for the benefit of man, as Jesus explained to the religious authorities.
So the question: Is the Law of God applicable to us today?
Let us listen to our Master's words: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat 5:18)
These are Jesus Christ’s word, they are clear and irrefutable. If anyone does not believe them and does not take them as true and applicable to us in the NT, then he may as well not believe a single word of Jesus reported in the Bible, and indeed he might as well throw the Word of God away for he is an unbeliever heathen.
The answer to the question is obviously YES! as such:
The Moral Law is to be accepted and obeyed as pronounced in the Bible,
The Ceremonial law is now performed by Christ in Heaven, but its principle is unvaried,
The Judicial Law, some aspects of It were specifically for the Jews, but the rest is applicable and indeed our jurists should base our laws on them, as the death penalty for certain crimes.
For the believers all of this is under the umbrella of the Grace of God in Christ, for His elect are justified by Faith in Him and not by the Law, but we must have a good understanding of the requirements of the Law for Sin is only known by the Law and without sin there is no need of Grace and by the Law we know what a great Gift Grace is and from what terrible damnation Grace has saved us. Praise God to the highest.
The words of Jesus are real, precise and true for not a jot or tittle has been in no wise passed from the Law and the Law is still in force today, for then how shall God judge the world? But we believers are under His Grace through the sacrifice of our marvellous Lord, Christ Jesus. Amen