Just a Thought …

civil lawIn Y’shua’s day, Torah was the CIVIL law of the nation of Israel, and it efficiently regulated daily life.  Had Y’shua ‘done away with’ Torah, He would simultaneously have ‘done away with’ the civil law of Israel, making Israel indistinguishable from the pagan nations around her.

Yet scripture tells us repeatedly that YHVH’s intent was for the Hebrews to act as priests to all the nations, living out before them lives devoted to charity, purity and fellowship with YHVH and each other, with Torah as their guide.  That duty and privilege has never been rescinded by Y’shua or YHVH, despite what the modern church might teach. 

How could they do their job without Torah?  How can ANY person who wants to be set apart for YHVH live any way except by the standards He set in place long ago?

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning [Greek: ἀρχή – är-khā’ – origin (of all things)].  1John 2:7  [Please see Evidence that Torah was Given to All Men at Creation]

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.  2 Peter 2:21

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works [to the Hebrew, ‘good works’ ALWAYS refers to the works described in Torah], and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Think not that I am come to destroy [1] the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill [Greek: πληρόωplā-ro’-ō (2)].   For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law [Torah], till all be fulfilled [Greek: γίνομαι – gē’-no-mī (3)].  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  Matt 5:16-19

Torah or ….. What?
retro robot toy
Robots function by means of another’s instructions [Torah] and a power source – they have no personal motivation. In contrast, a human’s obedience to Torah is evidence of the heart’s motivation.

Humans are not automatons – we find it imperative to express who we are.  Every individual, in order to have a meaningful life, finds it absolutely necessary to establish a set of values, or at the very least, a philosophy, by which to express his or her spirit and personality.  For Israel, that set of values has always been Torah, and in every Hebraic community down through history, Torah has been the guiding principle of life.

But according to current Christian theology, if all Jews had recognized Y’shua as Messiah, and if Y’shua had genuinely ‘done away with’ Torah, Israel would have had to create a new body of civil law, as well as a new guiding principle.  In other words, Christianity expects the Israelites to abandon the instructions of God Himself in favor of the church’s interpretation of what Y’shua taught. [4]

What sense does that make, when they already had The Word of God and what was acknowledged to be the noblest set of laws in the known world?

Tanakh: 613 commands.  NT: Over 1,000 commands.  American civil law: literally hundreds of thousands of laws.  So Torah is a burden?
Tanakh: 613 commands — New Testament: Over 1,000 commands — American civil law: literally hundreds of thousands of laws — So TORAH is a burden?

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as YHVH my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?  Deut 4:5-6, 8

It would be impossible to mention any other people even at a much later age… whose law and constitution embodied an ideal so noble as that embodied in the Hebrew civil laws, or any people whose history shows the existence of such political institutions so essentially just, free, and humane… We Gentiles owe our life to Israel… It is Israel, who in bringing us the divine law has laid the foundations of liberty. It is Israel who had the first free institutions the world ever saw… (Lyman Abbott, Life and Literature of the Ancient Hebrews, 1901)

What sense does it make to abandon Torah when Torah will be our Civil Law in the Millennial Kingdom?

Scripture tells us that YHVH’s Torah is indeed the civil law of His Kingdom.  It also tells us that believers are already citizens of that Kingdom and therefore subject to Torah’s authority.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves… Col 1:13 NIV

Paul tells us:

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.  Rom 3:31

That wordestablishis the Greek word ἵστημι  (histēmi: Strong’s no. G2476 which meansto establish a thing, cause it to stand; to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything”, etc.

Scripture carefully defines just what the ‘Law’ of the Kingdom will be.  Two of many examples are found in Isaiah:

Behold my Servant [Messiah], whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment [Heb: mishpat – just ordinances] to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment [Heb: mishpat – just ordinances] unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment [Heb: mishpat – just ordinances] in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his Torah…. YHWH is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he [Messiah] will magnify the Torah, and make it honorable. Isa 42:1-4, 21

Torah HeartLift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation [Heb: yeshuah] shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my Torah…. Isa 51:6

But…!

Readers may be thinking, “The Jews would have retained the laws; they just would not have relied on them for their salvation, and they wouldn’t have needed to continue making the sacrifices called for in Torah.

Torah has never been the means of salvation!

In reality, the Israelites as a nation and Judaism as a religion never viewed Torah as a means of ‘salvation.’  Such a belief was not the teaching of Moses or the prophets.  Of course there were individuals who believed this ‘doctrine’ from time to time, just as many Christians have also held to various scripturally inaccurate doctrines.

grace-of-godThe Jew’s hope has traditionally and historically been YHVH’s Grace (Heb: chen) and lovingkindness (Heb: chesed): he knows that he is imperfect in his obedience, but he relies on the many promises that YHVH will judge him according to his heart’s genuine desire to please and obey YHVH despite the frailty of his flesh.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O Elohim, thou wilt not despise.  Psalm 51:17

YHVH is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.  Psalm 34:18

 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.  Isaiah 57:15

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith YHVH: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.  Isaiah 66:2

Broken-Heart--1And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  Zechariah 12:10

Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men)  1Kings 8:39

There are SO MANY MORE verses of this type!

The Hebrews have always understood that Torah was intended for their good always (Deut 10:13), that they might have success and prosperity (Joshua 1:8) and a prolonged life. (Ex 20:12)  From their perspective, Torah is a treasure and a blessing, never a curse or a burden.

Torah is God’s invitation to all men to live in fellowship with Him in a lifestyle of purity, charity and fellowship – a lifestyle that reveals YHVH’s  love and His values in human activity.

Would the Temple Sacrifices Cease?

Another objection that Christian doctrine raises is: “Torah instructs us to make sacrifices in atonement for our sins, but Y’shua IS the one and only sacrifice we need, so Torah is useless to the Christian.”

Sadly, this concept is mistaken on several counts:

First and most importantly, Torah MUST stand if Y’shua’s death and resurrection are to have any atoning merit.  If Torah has truly ‘been done away with’, then Y’shua’s sacrifice is not needed and has become meaningless.   Why is this true?

orange-light-burst
Torah is the Light of Truth that reveals sin.

It is Torah that defines and reveals sin.  (Rom 7:9, 1John 3:4, Lev 5:17, etc.)  Without Torah, there is no sin.

Without sin, there is no guilt.

Without guilt, there is no need for atonement.

colossians-214With no need for atonement, there is no need for Y’shua’s ministry of death and resurrection on our behalf.  It was, after all, our debt to sin that was nailed to His cross.

Secondly, the Tanakh (Old Testament) tells us plainly that the Temple will be in use during the Millennial Kingdom, indicating that at least some types of sacrifices will continue to be offered.  For example, Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) will be celebrated, which includes a LOT of sacrifices.  (Zechariah 14:16-19, etc)

Finally, we have the assurance in the Tanakh that YHVH’s Torah is TRUTH and sums up HIS Righteousness.  We are further assured that His Truth and Righteousness are eternal, for which we can only give thanks and praise!

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
You people in whose heart is My law [Heb: Torah]:
Do not fear the reproach of men,
Nor be afraid of their insults. 

For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
And the worm will eat them like wool;
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation from generation to generation. (Isaiah 51:8)

The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.  They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.  (Psalm 111:7-8)

 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.  (Psalm 119:160 NIV)

Judged According to What We Have DONE

Yes, YHVH looks at the heart, but he JUDGES according to what we have DONE, because the heart is revealed by our deeds.  When our deeds consistently reveal unrepentant disrespect of YHVH’s instructions, we may protest our love (we may even believe that we ‘love’ Him according to our own definition of love), but our actions prove otherwise.

I YHVH search the heart and examine the mind, to reward [Heb: nathan – to bestow; to pay wages] each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserveJeremiah 17:10

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.  Psalm 62:12

If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it [the requirements of the Law] not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?  Prov 24:12

Paul (and the other NT writers) agree with this understanding.  For example, Paul even quotes Psalm 62.12 and Prov 24:12 (above) when he writes:

What you doBut in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, whowill render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth [Your law is truth (Ps 119:142)], but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good [the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Rom 7:12)], to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.  For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified  Romans 2:5-13  (There’s more… )

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.  2Peter 2:21

Do we love Him and His Ways more than our own, or are we ‘doing our own thing’ like our own little ‘gods’?  Are we willing to give His instructions first priority in our lives?

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  Matt 5:19

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Matt 15:19

By Sue Wyatt, lambs.servant@gmail.com


© Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Destroy: Greek: καταλύωkä-tä-lü’-ō – (Strong’s G2647) – to subvert, to overthrow; to render vain; to dissolve.  Y’shua is telling us plainly that He has no intent to subvert or overthrow Torah!  In fact, in another place, He says,  My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. (Luke 8:21) and Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep [Greek: φυλάσσω – phylassō to guard a person (or thing) that he/it may remain safe] it. (Luke 11:28)

[2] Fulfill: Greek: πληρόωplā-ro’-ō – (Strong’s G4137) to fill to the brim; colloq: to give the full meaning; to interpret correctly; to perform, accomplishIn Y’shua’s own lifetime, Gamaliel, the great Torah teacher (and instructor of Paul himself),  had coined the use of this terminology in regard to Torah.  In his usage, to ‘fulfill’ Torah was to correctly interpret Torah – to ‘fill it up’ with all its deepest meanings, and to live it out properly.

An example of Gamaliel’s usage of this terminology (destroy and fulfill) can be found at this URL:  (http://books.google.com/books?id=_qSWLVIi2xwC&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=not+to+abolish+but+to+fulfill+rabbinical&source=bl&ots=pM0eOV2OSa&sig=uZNq5FnKKajUqwtNg6W_O2ceOUA&hl=en&ei=adqjTYeSCKe30gGIgoX1CA&sa=X&oi=book_resul

[3]  Fulfill: Greek: γίνομαι – gē’-no-mī (Strong’s G1096) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage

[4] The church can only interpret, because Y’shua did not give many specific instructions – He was expecting us to follow the specific instructions of Torah!  As a result, in the church we find a tremendous range of interpretations on the most basic subjects.  For example, there are those who believe that we should not kill anyone (or even any thing) for any purpose; those who believe we should only kill in self-defense; and those who believe we should kill murderers; all based on the general principle, “Thou shalt not kill“, when in fact there are specific Torah regulations that tell us what to do  in each case.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Just a Thought …”

  1. Hi Sue. ‘Just finished reading Revelations and Zechariah and ‘thought I’d read some of your related posts again!

    Studying God’s Word takes time, but when the pieces of the puzzle start getting into place, it relieves the headache! Can’t help standing in awe at my God! Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s