Of all the major world religions found in the world today, Judaism is the closest to Christianity. God himself gave this system of religion and worship unto Him in the long ago. Christianity grew out of and was the culmination and fulfillment of Old Testament Judaism (Rod Rutherford, World Religions, pg.73) While this system was from God, it had a specific purpose which was served in bringing the Jews to Christ, and offering the Gentiles salvation in one body (Gal 3:24; Eph 2:15). One cannot separate Judaism and the law, for Jews were strict adherents to the law. The 10 commandments along with the 613 other laws were their lives, their heritage, and a major part of their religion.
Paul wrote in Romans 10:4,” For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”. He also penned in Colossians 2:14 and Ephesians 2:13-16 that “The law was taken away when Christ died on the cross”. The Bible teaches that Christ is superior to Judaism, and thus the law. While both Judaism and the law were good, and from God, God had an eternal plan that was superior. It will be the burden of this article to prove the superiority of Christianity and Christ over Judaism and the Law of Moses.
In Isaiah chapter two, the first “Major Prophet”, the “Old Testament Paul” would deliver a word to the people of God about the Kingdom of Christ and his universal reign. Some one hundred years after Isaiah, a prophet named Jeremiah, the second “Major Prophet” would again deliver a word to the people from God about a new covenant; A new law that would replace the old law for Gods people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The penman of Hebrews referenced the very words of the prophet Jeremiah to the Hebrew people when he said,”Behold, Days are coming, says the Lord, When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, “Know the Lord”, For all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:8-11).
The first observation made is that Judaism kept the children of Israel at arm’s length from God. Under the law (Judaism), the Jews approached God in public worship only through the work of the Levitical priesthood. The priest made daily sacrifices on behalf of the people, but on the day of atonement, the High Priest had special duties to perform on behalf of the people and HIMSELF. These mere men were intermediaries between man and God in the Mosaic system. This system is far inferior to the New Covenant because Christians are the priest. Christians are able to draw nigh unto God through the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ. No son of Aaron is needed, no Levitical offspring, no Moses to offer unto God. Under the Old Covenant, a perfect beast (Bullock, Lamb, Kid) without spot or blemish was acceptable; Under the New Covenant Christians, as individuals, crawl upon the alter of service and sacrifice and there die. New Covenant adherents don’t get back up until “next week” or “next year”. Paul put it like this in Ephesians 2:12-13, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who were sometimes were far off are MADE NIGH by the blood of Christ”. Christians have the blessed privilege of being near to God without the agency of another human, thus making Christ superior to Judaism.
Under the Mosaic system, the great acts of public worship were to be offered at the temple in Jerusalem; the Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. The gospel system removes the need for special places of worship, and emphasizes the nature and kind of worship that is accepted (Bob Winton, Hebrews pg. 265) “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24). Under the Law of Christ, Christians have no need to be in a specific geographic location to be able to worship the Father. This is another factor in consideration of just how superior Christ is over Judaism. Just consider this about the Ethiopian Eunuch; He traveled about 1600 miles to fulfill his duties as a proselyte. He had to travel 1600 miles just to fulfill his obligation to God under Judaism. Today, in Christ, Christians hardly have to travel 10-20 miles to worship with Gods people.
Continuing in reasoning why Christ is superior to Judaism, consider his offer of full pardon from every manner of sin upon obedience to Gods conditions. Just as long as an individual is obedient to Gods plan of salvation, which is clearly revealed in his word, remission of sins is completely attainable. In the spirit of Micah, it is proclaimed, “Who is a God like unto thee, who pardons iniquity” (7:18). God almighty alone can remove sin and transgressions. Once a sinner has been plunged beneath the flood, and contacted the blood of Jesus, they have a second law of pardon (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn 1:7; Jas 5:16). This affords the forgiveness of sins after being baptized into Christ where ALL spiritual blessings are found (Eph 1:3). One brother commenting on Hebrews 8:8-13 said this, “an added promise of the New Covenant is one that was not provided in the old covenant, ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’. Never before had God made this promise. The Israelites had an annual Day of Atonement to offer sacrifices for sins already committed, hence their sins were remembered. The Christians day of atonement came at the Cross. The promise of an everyday cleansing by his blood (2 Cor 4:16) is conditioned upon our continued faithfulness in Christ (1 Jn 1:7). We will never need another sacrifice for sins (Andy Erwin, Tn Bible College Hebrews Class, Pg.45-46). Notice this quote, “Under the New Covenant, or Gospel dispensation, full and final pardon is to be had. This makes a vast difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. Under the old, sacrifices must be often repeated, and after all, only pardon as to this world was to be obtained by them. Under the new, one sacrifice is enough to procure for all nations and ages, spiritual pardon, or being freed from punishment in the world to come. Well might this be called the new covenant. Let none suppose that human inventions can avail those who put them in the place of the son of God. What then remains, but that we seek an interest in this sacrifice by faith; and the seal of it to our souls, by the sanctification of the spirit unto obedience? So that by the law written in our hearts, we may know that we are justified, and that God will no more remember our sins” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, Heb 10:11-18, Pg. 1199).
As a Christian, one must ever be grateful for the wonderful and awesome gift called pardon that is enjoyed through the blood of Jesus. Which now it is noticed a key factor of both the old and new covenants, blood. God set the standard long ago that blood was required to Atone for mans transgression. Blood was used to cleanse the altar, sprinkled the mercy seat, the book of the covenant, and even on occasion the people (Ex 24:8). Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, all things are cleansed with blood (Heb 9:22).
Consider now the very words of the inspired penmen of Hebrews, relative to the blood. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:13-15). How much more than the blood of Christ? Christ was offered ONCE– and the penman through the Holy Spirit is revealing the exaltation of Christ blood over the blood of animals. Hence, “What can wash away my sins, NOTHING but the blood of Jesus, what can make me whole again, NOTHING but the blood of Jesus.” The sacrifice of Christ is vastly superior to the sacrifices of Judaism. Not a mere animal was offered for us, but the Son of God himself who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens (Heb 7:26).
The Old Law was referred to as Ordinances that were against us, contrary to us (Col 2:14) and a yoke of bondage (Acts 15:10). This pails in comparison to the Perfect law of liberty James writes about (1:25). The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers better promises than the law Moses delivered, and anyone practicing Judaism were without these wonderful promises. Judaism placed great emphasis on earthly rewards, while the Gospel system places its greatest emphasis on spiritual blessings. Judaism offered blessings measured by material prosperity, continued ownership of physical land, a long life, a hearty male lineage, but with Christ, the blessings are spiritual blessings. The ultimate blessing is heaven to come.
Under the New Covenant, adherents have the assurance of success as they labor for the Lord. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labors are NOT IN VAIN in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). Under the New Covenant all that obey have the assurance that If God is for them, none can be against them (Rom 8:31)? “We know all things work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).All are assured that they CAN do all things through Christ who gives them strength (Phil 4:13). Practicing Judaism makes it impossible to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, wherewith all of the basic needs of life will be met by God (Matt 6:33). Gods love is not contingent upon Judaism any longer, but is wholly contingent upon being in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39). In Christ Jesus, Christians will be administered an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom (2 Peter 1:11). Therefor, “He is able to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, for all time and eternity) those who come to God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intersession for them” (Heb 7:25). 1 John 5:4 says “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith”. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. All of this is an impossibility in Judaism, making Christ far superior to it.
Consider for one brief moment a type of heaven from the Old Testament. Canaan served to Israel as a land of rest. Canaan served as a place where needs would be supplied by the very God that brought the entire nation out of bondage. Canaan was to Israel a promised land. Canaan pales in comparison to heaven, for heaven is eternal, spiritual, and where God is. Canaan was promised and delivered, but only provided temporal carnal satisfaction. Judaism was practiced all throughout the land of Canaan, but the system was inferior and so was the land. The Land of rest we have promised through Christ is far superior to Canaan, seeing that God is there, and Jesus has prepared room for the redeemed to live with him forever (Jn 14:2).
“Canaan, like the Sabbath, proved but a symbol of something unattained. Yet the old longing for rest went on, and inspired men went on proclaiming it as attainable and still to come. The irrepressible craving, the suggestive symbols, the prophetic anticipations, are all fulfilled in Christ. He, when He had passed with us through this earthly scene of labor, entered, with our nature, into that eternal rest of God, to prepare a place for us, having by His atonement removed the bar to human entrance. Through our faith in Him we are assured that our deep-seated craving for satisfaction as yet unattained, which we express by the term ” rest,” is a time inward prophecy, and that, though we find it not here, we may through Him, if we are faithful, confidently expect it there, where ” beyond these voices there is peace” (The Great Text of The Bible: Thessalonians thru Hebrews by James Hastings, pgs. 319-320). Rest sweet rest, how we long for thee.
This article would be incomplete without bringing forth (in this writers opinion) the greatest chapter in all of the book of Hebrews when dealing with the superiority of Christ over Judaism. The Hebrews writer knew his audience well. These Jewish readers are heavily steeped in tradition, not only religiously, but in heritage and lineage. There was no one greater in all of their history then Abraham. In Hebrews chapter seven, the author does a magnificent job in reaching back into the depths of their history and making several points that are absolutely “un-get-over able”. The author goes back to an account we find in Genesis 14:18, and brings forth a Priest of the Most High God named Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a Canaanite, a Gentile. According to Joshua 15:63 we learn that the early inhabitants of Jerusalem were the Jebusites. All of this took place prior to God establishing the system of Judaism. This account is from the Patriarchal age. This Melchizedek was a great man no doubt. So great that the writer of Hebrews had no one better to prove his point of Christ superiority than this mysterious fellow. In Genesis 14, Abraham coming back from the slaughter of the Kings. Abraham, no doubt weary from battle and travel was refreshed by Melchizedek. Melchizedek blessed Abraham by giving him bread and wine (Gen 14:18) and encouragement to keep serving God almighty (14:20). Abraham then paid homage to the great King and Priest by giving him a tenth of all the spoils. The Hebrews writer drives nail after nail in the coffin of the Sacerdotal system the Jews are so reluctant to let go.
In Hebrews chapter 7:7,” without contradiction the less is blessed of the better”. This is an emphatic statement of truth no one can deny. In verse 10, he brings out the fact that every one that ever participated in the priestly duties paid tithes unto Melchizedek because they were yet in Abraham’s loins when he paid tithes to the Priest/King. Melchizedek received not his Priesthood by lineage like the Levites, but by his personal character and standing with God. He lived among wicked people, but he was far from them in their morals and their religion, and God appointed him as High Priest, and the same God that appointed Melchizedek, and established the Aaronic priesthood, could make a new oath and establish Christ, bringing in a new Law and system. God almighty has the right to do so. Following the reasoning the Hebrews writer is laying out for these Hebrew readers, in verse 23, it is set forth that there were many priests simply by reason of death. Priest had to be replaced and trained to serve. The chapter ends with verses 24-28 making a rock-solid case against the Levitical priesthood, by which the system of Judaism hung in totality. Without the Levitical Priesthood there is no Judaism. So, it is noted that Jesus lives forever, thus making him superior to any former priest (7:24). He is able to save to the uttermost which is something the Levitical priesthood could not do (7:25). He is unlike any of the Levitical priest in that they had to make offerings for their own sins, but Jesus is Holy, Harmless, Undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens (7:26). The Levitical Priesthood made sacrifices every single day, even on the Sabbath, but Jesus made a one time, all sufficient sacrifice when he offered up himself (7:27). This writer believes that God was encouraging the Hebrew people to stay the course, and not go back to a system that was already replaced. God knew full well that soon (AD 70) there would be nothing to return back to. This chapter alone (7) gives undying proof that Christ is superior to Judaism. Consider one more point that thrills the soul!
The most thrilling part, without dispute, is the better resurrection. The resurrection noticed in Judaism (son of widow of Zarephath, 1 Kings 17; son of the Shunammite woman, 2 Kings 4) were raised only to die again. They were raised back to life in the same old corrupt world. This is not so for the faithful child of God. The new covenant resurrection will be one of life eternal (Jn 5:28-29).
The book of Hebrews leaves no doubt to the Superiority of our conquering Christ, over everything that brought the Jews to the time when all things would be fulfilled. It is beyond the shadow of a doubt that the New Covenant of which Christ died to establish is far beyond and far better than anything Judaism ever offered. The salvation of Christ is greater in scope than what Judaism offered. It is built on a better testament, better promises, a better sacrifice, a better blood, a better resurrection. Everything about Christ is better and everything about Judaism falls woefully short of the better hope we have in Jesus. These things make the words to this song we sing even the sweeter!
NEARER, STILL NEARER
- Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast;
Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest.”
- Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an off ’ring to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart,
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart;
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
- Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified;
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.
- Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!
(Lelia N. Morris, 1898)
I think the above song is a great synopsis of Christ superior over Judaism.
As long as the Christian will seek the will of God and hold on to the Christ and follow him with a zeal and a fervor, the great truths that have been discussed regarding Christ and his New Covenant will bring salvation and keep one from falling away.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out below.
God bless you.
- Rod Rutherford, World Religions, pg.73
- Bob Winton, Hebrews pg. 265; 266-274
- Andy Erwin, Tn Bible College Hebrews Class, Pg.45-46
- Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, Heb 10:11-18, Pg. 1199
- The Great Text of The Bible: Thessalonians thru Hebrews by James Hastings, pgs. 319-320
- Nearer, Still Nearer, Lelia N. Morris, 1898
- KJV, NASB verses