Q. I have a question pertaining to Israel and re-establishing the old covenant. Israel’s return to God will come after the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, and the Jewish people will re-establish their covenant (old not new) with Him. This will require a return to Levitical practices and so a Temple will be built. In the New Testament, it states that Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. If Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, why is the law re-established? Even after God’s people finally recognize Christ as the Messiah, is the old law still practiced? If so, what is the purpose of practicing the law if Israel’s salvation is through Christ?
A. By fulfilling the Law, Jesus meant that He was fulfilling its requirements by paying the penalty for man’s violations. The Law has never been abolished, and as long as there’s a Heaven and an Earth the Law will continue to be in force (Matt. 5:17-18).
Throughout the history of mankind, salvation has come through obedience to the Law combined with the belief that a redeemer would come to pay the penalty for man’s inabilities to do so. Only the Church has been exempt from this “faith plus works” plan of salvation, because during the Church Age all our violations of the Law have been paid for in advance (Colossians 2:13-14). As soon as the Church is gone, this exemption will expire. Remember, the Age of Grace didn’t follow the Age of Law, rather it was an interruption of it. The Age of Law still has 7 years left, the period we call Daniel’s 70th Week.
Toward that end of that seven years Israel will recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) and will receive their version of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). But even then there will be a temple in Israel, a priesthood, daily sacrifices for sin, and other components of the Old Covenant. This is explained in detail in Ezekiel 40-46. With the exception of the Church Age, this is the way it has always been and this is the way it will be again, at least until the end of the Millennium.
In the Old Testament, Israel became so focused on keeping the Law, they didn’t think they needed a Redeemer to save them. During the Church Age we’ve become so focused on salvation by faith in the Redeemer, we rarely even think of the Law as God’s standard for acceptable behavior. During the Millennium Israel will be equally focused on both obedience to the Law and maintaining their faith in the Redeemer.