Just what is the “Torah”?

For many the Torah is an unknown thing- something that Moses got from God with a lot of rules and it looks like a big scroll. The most misunderstood thing about the Torah, which is also a very prominent teaching in the Christian world, is that the Torah is for Jews only. Many are taught that Christians are not to worry about the Torah because they are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice and His love. They don’t need to obey Torah.

WRONG!!!  But, we’ll get to that soon enough. Just leave it at this for now: Jesus is the Living Torah, the Word that became flesh (John said that.) He was there when God gave it to Moses, and all He taught was the Torah (it was the only scripture.) Remember Jesus said a house divided against itself cannot stand?  So…if Jesus is the living Torah, and He can’t teach against what He is (that would be a house divided), then how can He possibly even suggest that we should not obey Torah? Moving on…

Today we are learning about Torah. It is comprised of 5 books, you all should know the names. And Torah doesn’t mean “law”, it means “teaching”, so to ignore the Torah is to ignore not just God’s commandments but His teachings, as well.  There are four basic functions the Torah serves to all of us:

  1. It is a covenant (God says do this and when we do He blesses us)
  2. It is a Ketuba (marriage certificate between us and God)
  3. It is a Constitution (it identifies the penal codes, civil codes and other laws that define a nation)
  4. It teaches us about sin by telling us what is right (Shaul explains this in Romans 3:20 and 4:15)

The Torah is a guide to show us what is right in God’s eyes. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Some are laws, some are commandments, some are ordinances- it is hard to tell one from the other sometimes. There are three different types of these laws:

  • Mishpatim (judgements)- there are three types of these, as well.
    1. “Mishpatim” are generally considered laws which we can understand the reason for having;
    2. “Dupah” are laws that God explains why we are to follow them; and
    3. “Hucah” are laws that we have no idea why they are given- God says do this this way, and that’s all there is to it.
  • Mitzvot (commandments)- these are easy to understand and usually God specifies them as commandments (like the festivals in Leviticus 23 and the Big Ten, of course)
  • Chukim (ordinances)- these are more along the lines of the civil and penal codes.

The Torah is part of the Old Covenant, which is also referred to as the Tanakh (‘tah-nach’, with a hard ‘ch’ at the end.) Tanakh is an acronym of the names of the different types of books in the Old Covenant: T is for the Torah (the first 5 books), is for Nevi’im (the writings of the Prophets) and K is for K’tuvim (the other writings and scrolls.)

I should also mention the Talmud, called the “Oral Torah” which is a compilation of Rabbinic writings and commentaries on the Torah. It is a massive writing, a Tome of some magnitude, with some 60-plus volumes split into tractates and orders and all sorts of different names for each part. There is a Babylonian and a Jerusalem Talmud, both are made up of (essentially) a Gemara and a Mishna. Many of the Orthodox Jews believe it to be scripture, or scriptural, and (in my opinion, this is unfortunate) will often go to the Talmud for answers before they go to the Tanakh. It also defines Halakhah, the Way to Walk, which encompasses Rabbinic rules and regulations for everyday living. It is a wonderful and rich compilation of Jewish thought and also contains many Jewish myths and stories that have nothing at all to with the Bible. I have not studied it, but it is essential if you are to create a library of Jewish writings.

The last thing about the Torah I want to discuss would, and easily can, take a lot more writing than anyone reading a blog would want to deal with. I have had a few posts already about this, and will continue to write about it now and then because it is so important for Christians to understand. And what is so important for Christians to understand about the Torah is this: Jesus did NOT do away with the Torah. He did not finish it, He did not teach against it, and He did not say it was completed and over.  What Yeshua (Jesus) did that no one else has been able to, or ever will be able to do in this plane of existence, is to live according to the Torah perfectly. The Torah identifies what sin is, and Yeshua lived a sinless life. That is the reason His sacrifice was accepted.

In the New Covenant writings there are many sections that have been misinterpreted and wrongfully taught in order to argue against the Torah being relevant to Christians- these are lies from the pit of Sheol! Read Matthew 5:17, or 2nd Timothy 3:16, or Romans 7:12 and you will see that the Torah is absolutely valid and alive. It is still God’s word to all of us, it is God’s instructions for how to worship Him, how to treat each other, and how to earn blessings (not salvation- that is free- but blessings. Blessings can be earned.) Much Christian teaching has used Galatians 3:10, 3:28, 5:1-4 and 2:15-16 as a polemic against the Torah, but that is all wrongful teaching. Galatians is not a polemic, it is an apologetic, just as Romans is. The problem is that Shaul (Paul) writes as a Pharisee does, in a somewhat convoluted way. He makes an argument against the Torah to point out the argument is false. That is why so many people misunderstand- they don’t take the bible in proper cultural perspective, they don’t interpret it using the meanings of the time it was written so they turn  the true meaning around.

The Torah is what God gave to Moses so that the Jewish people could be separated from the surrounding pagans, it sanctifies us, it makes us holy, and it is what God says is the way we should be.

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!! He has rules, He has laws, He has commandments all designed to help us live as He wants us to live, to teach us how to properly worship Him, and to lead us to salvation. And He calls it the Torah.

If you say you worship God and you want to know who God is, what He wants of you, and how to please Him, then you better know the Torah because that is exactly what God gave you so that you can! Yes, God gave the Torah to YOU! It is for each of us, it is who He is, it is who Yeshua is, it is valid, true, and eternal. It is all we need.

Well, Yeshua’s sacrifice is also absolutely necessary because, as I said above, no one (other than Yeshua) has been able to live in accordance to the Torah for more than a few seconds at a time, if that long.

But it is still all we need to know about God, what is right and what is wrong, and how to live with God and with each other.

Yeshua said it all comes down to two things: love God and love each other. The Torah teaches you how to do that, so why would you want to ignore it?

Comments welcomed (just be nice)