Chag Semeach to all my friends out there. That is the Hebrew greeting that translates, roughly, to Joyous Festival.
We just celebrated Shavuot, the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. This is one of the three Big Ones, the festivals that God commanded us to celebrate only at the Temple in Yerushalayim. The other two being Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles.)
This Holy Day is also called by the Greek term for 50 days, Pentecost. I have always heard people refer to Pentecost as a Gentile celebration, but it is a Jewish holy day. The 50 days comes directly from the counting of the Omer, which God decreed we should do starting with the first Shabbat after Pesach. The Gentile celebration is from Acts, where the Disciples receive the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, from God while celebrating Shavuot.
This year Shavuot also falls right at the end of the readings from Leviticus, which is the book in the Torah that has the most laws and regulations, especially referring to the priestly duties. The past week or so I have found myself writing more and more about how Torah is still a necessary and valid book of laws that all Believers, not just Jews but all Believers, should be trying to follow.
The historical teachings of the Christian world are that the Torah is for Jews and Jesus is for Christians; the God of the Old Covenant is an angry and punishing God and the God of the New Covenant is loving and compassionate (funny- I always thought He was the same guy!); the Jews are living under the law and the Christians are under the blood, so the law doesn’t apply to them.
That last one is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. The law doesn’t apply because we are under the blood of Christ? So what, then? Messiah said to ignore the Torah? To quote one of the disciples, Shaul (Paul), who wrote about ignoring the Torah in his letter to the Romans, “Heaven forbid!” The Torah is what Jesus, Yeshua, taught from, and it is what He lived, and it is what He said we should obey.
Yeshua did NOT do away with the Torah. One of the verses from the Gospels that people love to trespass against (meaning, as in Yeshua’s day, to misinterpret) is Matthew 5:17. They say that since Yeshua fulfilled the law, by doing so He completed it and thereby, it is not longer applicable. By completing it fully He did away with it.
Horse Apples!! If that is a valid statement, then if someone comes to a complete stop at a stop sign, looks left, right, then left, and only then continues to drive they lived that law completely, so no one else ever has to stop at a stop sign.
Oh, yes- and if someone lived their entire life without committing murder, it’s OK for you to go kill someone. And let’s not forget the person who never had sex- that’s the one for me! Thank goodness for that someone who never fornicated during their entire life so that now we all can do it. I’m going back to college!!
Ridiculous, isn’t it? Just because someone obeyed a law, that did away with it? Absurd, stupid, and very, very wrong.
Yeshua did live the Torah to it’s fulfillment, He lived it completely and correctly but not to do away with it (which He confirms in Matthew 5:17.) No, He lived it fully to show us how we are to live it! When He said He came to fulfill the law He meant that He came to interpret it correctly: in the First Century , to “fulfill the law” meant to interpret it correctly, whereas to misinterpret the law was to “trespass the law.” That’s why the “Lord’s Prayer” says we should forgive those who trespass against us- meaning those that sin against us, since misinterpreting the law is a sin.
I have gone over this many times: John says the Word was first, then that Word became flesh. The only “word” John had was the Torah. The flesh that Torah became is clearly Yeshua. As such, that also is hemeneutically accurate since Joel and Jeremiah tell us that in the end days we will have Torah written on our hearts, meaning we will be living, breathing Torahs, ourselves. We won’t ask our brother if they know the Lord because all will know Him. Yeshua says that if we know Him, we know the Father, so it all comes down to Yeshua is the living Torah.
Now, if He is the living Torah, how can He teach anything but what He is? Did you ever read Yeshua telling anyone that they should not do as He does? Didn’t He say a house divided against itself cannot survive, yet His kingdom will never be torn down? If He is the Torah, as we have shown, then to teach or even suggest that those who follow Him do anything except what the Torah says is to teach against Himself, dividing His house and thereby, His kingdom will not stand.
Doesn’t He say that if we love Him we will obey Him? If so, then show me where He said ignore the Torah. Show me where He said Torah doesn’t matter. Show me where He said the heck with God and His rules and regulations, I want you to follow me, instead.
Oh, wait- someone else says that, doesn’t he? That is the one who wants to usurp God and calls Him a liar. Is that who you want to follow? If you follow anyone telling you the Torah is not valid and you can ignore it, you are not following God. That leaves just one other.
The Torah is who God is. He tells us about Himself, he tells us about ourselves, He shows us how to live and how to treat each other. It is what God says we should do, it is what Yeshua did perfectly (in order that He could be the sacrifice He was meant to be) and what He taught from, and it is just as valid today as when Moshe brought it down from the mountain some 3500 years ago.
The Torah is the ultimate User Manual for life. In fact, it is the User Manual for Eternal life! If you ignore it, you will miss out on much that God has for you.
Here’s the part that confuses people: when we live Torah perfectly, we will be saved. The problem is this: we cannot live the Torah perfectly. That is why God sent Messiah Yeshua, to provide the means for us to have a single, once and for all sacrifice that will take away our sins as the Torah’s sacrificial system was designed to do. And Yeshua will take them away not just once, but again, and again, and again until everyone can have their sins forgiven, not once a year at Yom Kippur, but every second of their life. Yeshua came to Earth to live as a human, perfectly in accordance with Torah so that He could then act as our ultimate sacrifice (as it is pointed out in Hebrews) once and for all.
The difference between Torah being lived correctly and incorrectly is what Shaul pointed out, over and over, in his letters to the Messianic Kehilot (communities): if we think we can be saved by living according to the Torah we are dead: not because the Torah is not the way to salvation, but because we have no chance of living the Torah perfectly. If we use Torah as the only means of our salvation we lose before we even start. Yeshua is the only way we can be saved. He did not replace the Torah, He made salvation through it attainable by giving us a “handicap”, so to speak. His sacrifice is our salvation, His death is our life, and His teachings are to live Torah as best we can and to trust in Him to do the rest.
We will all stand before God at the final judgement, and Yeshua will be at the right hand of God. When we, who have given ourselves to Yeshua and who accept and trust Him to be our Messiah and Savior, fall short of Gods commands and are faced with our own sinful lives, Yeshua will stand forth and say, “Father, this one is mine.”
That’s all it will take. Yeshua will stand between us and God, between our sinfulness and His righteousness; God will see us through the righteousness of Yeshua, and as such, we will be acceptable. His blood will cover us, encapsulate us like a cocoon, and we will emerge clean and righteous, forever. We will be transformed from sinful flesh into righteous spirit.
The Torah is the road map to salvation, but there is a great chasm we need to cross that Torah cannot get us across. The only way to span that chasm is to use Yeshua as our bridge between death and salvation. The Torah is what we need to live by, as best we can, and Yeshua is who we need to accept as our guide, our Messiah and our Savior to get us across the chasm between our sinful nature and God’s complete holiness.
The truth is this: Torah is valid and God expects us to live according to it’s rules, regulations, laws, commandments and ordinances. Yeshua is the Messiah, and He also expects us to live in accordance to the Torah. It is what He taught, what He used to explain Himself, and what He is: He is the Torah, in the flesh. Why, oh why, would He teach us to do anything else but live as He did?
Following Torah will not save you, following Yeshua will, but Yeshua said to obey Him and what He taught was the Torah. God promised us (in the Torah) that when we obey we will receive blessings, so don’t follow Torah to be saved- that is a waste and the wrong reason to follow Torah. Follow Torah to receive blessings, to hold God to His promises, and to do as Yeshua did to show Him how much you really love Him.
When it comes to following the Torah, you have to make up your own mind. Read Deuteronomy 28 to see what blessings God has in store for those that obey Torah. And what He has for those that reject it.
Torah won’t get you saved, but it will make life on Earth soooooo much better.