One of the issues Yeshua had with the Pharisees and their teachings was that some of their man-made traditions were given precedence over what God said. These traditions have become part of Halacha, the Way to Walk, which is defined in the Talmud.
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Today, more often than not, religious Jews seek to get their answers from the Talmud before they look to the Torah or any other part of the Tanakh. This is, in my opinion, no different than the mistake of placing what men say over what God says that we made way back then, in the First Century.
But that’s what the Jews do, so what does this have to do with calling Saul, whose Greek name used in the New Covenant is Paul (get the reference in the title, now?)
Christians have based most of their beliefs and doctrines not on the Torah or the Gospels, but for the most part on the letters that Saul, and other people, wrote to the (mostly) Gentile congregations throughout the Middle East.
God told us exactly what he wanted from us in the Torah- that is the ONLY place in the entire Bible where we often read “And God said to Moses, ‘Tell the children of Israel (whatever the commandment was)'”.
What we read in the Torah isn’t divinely inspired, it is divinely dictated! It isn’t someone telling us what God told him, which could be subject to interpretation, but it is the very words God used.
Saul was never given direct instructions from God, and when he talked of God’s commandments, he quoted from the Tanakh, but mostly what Saul told his congregations to do was from Saul.
Oh, yes, I know what you are saying: all those instructions were divinely inspired. Well, if they were, since God told Isaiah (Isaiah 55:11) that his word never returns void, then why is it that most of Christianity’s doctrines and dogma, based mostly on the Epistles of Saul, ignore God’s word? Isn’t that the epitome of God’s word returning void?
If someone said something that caused people to reject the Torah, how can that come from God? Didn’t God tell us the laws in the Torah are valid throughout our generations?
Oh, wait, I know- you are going to tell me that those laws are just for Jews, right? Well, think about this: throughout the Torah, God says there is just one law for both the Israelite and the foreigner joined with them and Saul says, in Romans 11:11, that when you accept Yeshua as your Messiah you are now grafted into Israel and an adopted child of Abraham. So, you are now an Israelite (spiritually, if not physically), and as such God says you are to be treated just as a native-born Jew, and like it or not, that means you are also subject to the same laws that Jews are, which is the Torah.
Perhaps that is why Saul also warns his Gentile converts to Judaism, which is what they were becoming when they accepted Yeshua, not to brag or feel superior to the Jews they were now joining.
Look, it isn’t Saul’s fault his letters, which he never intended to override God’s commandments, have been used that way. But what it comes down to is this: the complaint Yeshua had against the Pharisees for making man-made laws more important than God’s commandments has been repeated by Christianity. Instead of learning from the mistakes the Jews made, they not only made the same ones but made them even worse because:
Jews following Talmudic Halacha do not reject the Torah but Christianity misconstruing the Epistles Saul and others wrote, does reject the Torah.
And when you reject the Torah, you reject God. That may be a hard word to hear, and I am sure most Christians reading this right now are shaking their heads back and forth, saying to themselves, “No, no- he is just plain wrong: what about 2 Timothy 3:16-17 where we are told:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Well, you are right! All scripture IS God-breathed, but what was scripture then? It was the Tanakh!!! There was no other scripture, and the instructions from Saul were not some future prophecy or divinely inspired to also cover the not yet written New Covenant, which is (in fact) a bible put together by Gentiles who had already rejected any and everything Jewish.
NO! What Saul was talking about was the Tanakh, the “Jewish Bible” which was the only scripture he knew, and what was being taught to these neophyte Believers so that they could be thoroughly equipped for righteousness.
And that, my friends, means that if you are not following the scripture Saul meant, which is the Torah then, by definition, you are not being equipped for righteousness.
That should be a scary thought, and I pray that you are open to hearing what I am saying. Not because I am saying anything of my own, which I’m not, but because what I am saying is the same thing that God told Moses, that God told Isaiah, and what Saul really meant when he told Timothy how to teach the Gentile Believers under his authority.
God has no religion, but men created religion so that they could have power over other men. This is obvious just by looking at all the different religions, with different forms of worship, but all are supposed to worship the same God, who said he never changes. If he never changes, doesn’t that mean his instructions will never change? If he says everyone who sojourns with (i.e., is grafted into) his chosen people are to be subject to the same law as they must, doesn’t that mean they are also to obey the same laws?
We all have Free Will, and so we can each make our own choice of who to listen to regarding how we live which is, essentially, the way we worship God. For Jews, we can choose to follow Halacha from the Talmud or what God says in the Torah; and for Christians, they can choose to follow the doctrines and dogma created by Constantine (and any number of Popes over the centuries) based on letters from Saul and other men, or they can choose to follow what God says in the Torah.
To me, this is a no-brainer, but to the Jewish Orthodoxy and most Christians, it represents making a major paradigm shift in their lifestyle.
And we all know how people feel about change, even when it has eternal consequences.
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That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!