Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 6

We left Part 5 of this teaching series with a set of instructions regarding how to approach Jews with the truth about Christianity in a way that they might be willing to listen to. Now we will learn about how to approach both Jews and Christians with the truth about Christianity, the one Yeshua taught, by debunking the wrongful teachings and anti-Semitic interpretations of much of the New Covenant writings.

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Earlier in this series, I said that to approach a Jewish person with the truth about Yeshua you need to know the Old Covenant (Tanakh) prophecies. In today’s lesson, we will learn which letters and narratives in the New Covenant have been used as a polemic against the Torah and Judaism and we will show the correct interpretation of them.

Let’s start with the Christian teaching that the Laws of Kashrut (Kosher laws in Leviticus 11) are not required for Christians. The two stories from the New Covenant most used to justify this are Mark 7:19 and Acts 10-11.  In Mark, which we discussed briefly in an earlier lesson, Yeshua was talking with the Pharisees about hand washing prior to eating, and how we will not make our food ceremoniously unclean if we don’t first wash our hands, which was a rabbinic (Talmudic) requirement. In this discussion, Mark states that Yeshua declared all food clean. This verse has been used to show that the kosher laws were overruled and abandoned by Yeshua. Nothing could be further from the truth: Yeshua wasn’t talking about clean and unclean as in what was allowed to be eaten, he was talking about a ceremony, a ritual. As far as declaring all food clean, what was “food” for a First Century Jew is not what the world considers food, today. In India, beef is not considered food; to some African tribes warm blood taken from a cow is considered food; to some other people, monkey brains are a delicacy. And for a Frist Century Jew, the items that are specified in Lev. 11 as forbidden are not “food.” So, all food being clean means that all those things which were allowed to be eaten were the food that was declared clean and, therefore, would not make us ceremoniously unclean if we did not first wash out hands before eating it.

The Book of Acts, Chapters 10 and 11 tells us about a dream (vision) that Kefa (Peter) had while sleeping. The vision had a sheet with all kinds of non-kosher animals on it, and a voice from heaven said to kill and eat. Kefa refused to do so, and each time he refused he heard the voice say, “Do not declare unclean that which I have made clean.” This happened three times. As soon as he awoke, there were three servants of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius at the door of the house, asking for Kefa to come to the Roman soldier’s house. This narrative is used to show that God told Kefa that it is now allowed to eat non-kosher animals. Again, nothing could be further from the truth: first of all, this is a vision and visions are usually interpretive and not to be taken literally. The narrative even tells us that Kefa didn’t understand the meaning of it. At that time, a Roman person’s house was an unclean place to a Jew, and to go into one would make one unclean. That means you would have to wash your body and clothes and would not be allowed into the Temple or even the Courts until after evening. But the true interpretation is that there were three times the sheets came down because there were three servants at the door, and that meant Kefa was to go with them. At the end of the chapter, we are told about the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) coming upon the Roman people in that house who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. They were the “unclean” thing that God made clean because Romans (as I have said) were considered to be unclean people. And the fact that this had nothing to do with food is confirmed in Chapter 11 when the Elders, upon hearing what happened, didn’t say, “Yahoo!! Now we can go to Bob Evans for eggs and sausages!” but instead praised God that he made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved from their sins, as well as God’s chosen people, the Jews.

The entire Letter to the Romans has been used as a polemic against Judaism and the Mosaic Laws, but it is, in reality, an apologetic FOR the continued importance of obedience to God’s laws in the Torah. There is just too much in there for us to go into in this lesson, but if you are interested please let me know in the comments and I will do another lesson on that letter.

Matthew 5:17 is often used to show that the law was completed in Yeshua, meaning that through him it was done away with. Yet, the actual words Yeshua used were “I have not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it.” In First Century Rabbi-speak, to “fulfill” meant to interpret it correctly. Yeshua went even further to say nothing in the law will change until all things come to pass, meaning after the Apocalypse and not until he has taken rulership over all the earth.

An argument we can use against the (usual) Christian teaching that Yeshua did away with the law is found here, in John 1:1; he says Yeshua is the Living Word, the word in the flesh. There was no “Word” other than Torah, so since Yeshua said a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:22-28), if he preached or taught anything against the Torah then his house could not stand. Yet, we know that God promised David that the house of David (i.e., the Messiah) would stand forever (2 Samuel 7:16.) The truth of the Gospels is that everything Yeshua did or said, he told us came directly from God. And we know God doesn’t lie or change his mind, so everything Yeshua taught had to be from the Torah and validated the Torah.

The idea of the Trinity is a serious blasphemy in the Jewish mind. The watchword of the Judaic faith is the Shema, where we are told that the Lord is our God, the Lord is One! Many sects of Christianity believe in the Trinity and justify it with Yeshua saying that he and the Father are one (John 10:30.) The proper way to interpret this is to show it was metaphoric and in accordance with Jewish teaching. Yeshua did not mean he and God were a single entity in different forms, being one and the same person, but that because Yeshua only did and said what the Father told him to do and say, he was the image of the Father- he was the very reflection of God because he obeyed God exactly. Jews would understand this because of the Jewish idea that the Torah should be a mirror so that when we look into it we see ourselves. The idea of Yeshua being the living Torah and the perfect image of God, meaning when we see him we see God, fits in with this Jewish teaching. Gentiles have never been able to fully understand it because they don’t know the Jewish mindset.

Another wrong teaching is that when Yeshua was crucified, he nailed “the law” to the cross with him. This means the Torah is no longer necessary for those who are “nailed to the cross” with Yeshua. Again, this is incorrect. In Colossians 2:14, Shaul says that our sins were nailed to the cross with Yeshua, and that is correct- our SINS were nailed, not the Torah.  When a criminal was crucified, the list of charges against him was nailed above his head, just as we are told that Pilate nailed “Here is the King of the Jews” above Yeshua’s head. Through the sacrifice of Yeshua we can have our sins forgiven, but not all sins- only the ones we had committed to that point. Any future sins still need to be repented and asked to be forgiven. Much of Christianity believes, “Once saved, always saved” which denies the need for any further repentance or change of lifestyle once we profess faith in Yeshua. The only thing under the sacrificial system that changed with Yeshua’s sacrifice was the need to bring an animal to the Temple in Jerusalem; Yeshua is the substitution for that sacrificial animal and removed only the need to sacrifice at the Temple in order to be forgiven.

To conclude today’s lesson, we have looked at the main arguments against the Torah that Christianity has proliferated, and we have shown how to debunk them by giving the proper interpretation and meaning. Through these correct interpretations, we can help both Jews and Christians see the “Jewishness” that exists in the teachings of Yeshua, and how the “Christianity” that Yeshua taught, which was only a more spiritual understanding of the Mosaic Law, is what both Jews and Gentiles need to follow.

The next lesson will be the concluding lesson for this teaching series, in which we will bring it all together.

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I look forward to our next time together, so until then…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!


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?