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Torah and the Believer

Torah, the “Law”, the books of Moses. These Scriptures have long been relegated to the attic in the minds of many who claim the Jewish Messiah. Perhaps the pages of the “Old Testament” in your Bible have never seen the light of day. Too often we ignore Torah because we think it doesn’t apply to us. We’re in the “Age of Grace” and we don’t need the “Schoolmaster” anymore. The “Law” was for Israel and ‘Jesus’ abolished it on the cross.

Such ideas are contrary to Scripture, the words of the Messiah Himself and they are the result of the anti-Semitism that has permeated the ‘Church’ since the second century.

Yahushua Himself stated “I have not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill. Until heaven and earth disappear, Nothing...shall disappear from the Torah...Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:17-19) Anyone includes you and me. The least of these commandments includes all of them. And He didn’t say ‘Until My atoning death’ but ‘until heaven and earth pass away’. That hasn’t happened, therefore it all still applies.

What about Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul)? Didn’t he say the Law was abolished in our “Age of Grace”? “Not at all! By faith we uphold the Law.” (Rom 3:31) To say that Sha’ul, a Pharisee until the end (Acts 23:6) would teach the Torah had been abolished is absurd! Certainly Rabbi Sha’ul was against legalism; the idea that one can do anything, including obeying the Torah, to merit salvation, but he also believed, as did all the Talmidim (disciples), that Torah was the standard of faith and practice for the community, Jews and Gentiles (II Tim 3:16, 17). The Torah written on our hearts is certainly no different from the Torah revealed in the Scriptures. Of course the Gentiles would have to be taught Torah, because they were converting from the total darkness of paganism to Biblical, Messianic Judaism. That was the issue before the Jerusalem council. Did that have to obey Torah before they were accepted as ‘saved’ or after. They decided to accept them on the basis of faith and teach them their new religion after. (Acts 15:19-21)

Unfortunately, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the continued influx of pagans into the Messianic community and the rise of Rome as the authority for the community, the anti-Semitism that was characteristic of the ancient world (and ours as well!) crept in and Judaism and Torah went out. These men, the “Church Fathers”, began the business of creating a new religion, Christianity, which was a mix of Jewish ethics, Roman religion and Greek philosophy. And to legitimize their existence as God’s new chosen people they persecuted God’s true chosen people; and two thousand years of tribulation, inquisition and holocaust have been the result.

Theology was also used to legitimize the new religion. Allegory, Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism are all attempts to explain why the ‘Church’ worships on Sunday and celebrates Christmas while the only religious practices described positively in the Scriptures they coopted are the Jewish religious practices of the Torah. And the only people ever chosen by God as His own are the Jews.

Such ideas result from a misunderstanding of Scripture, history and the nature of the Torah itself. The Torah, as some suppose, was not a do-it-yourself plan for salvation imposed on an unsuspecting nation so God could show the world that it didn’t work. The Torah is the rule of faith and practice for the community of God, Israel. One does not obey Torah to be redeemed, one obeys because one is redeemed.

Just as when you become a citizen of a new country you agree to be bound by it’s laws and adapt to it’s culture, so it is with the Kingdom of God. When you enter it by faith you agree to cast aside your previous citizenship in the world with it’s sinful rules and customs, and abide by the new laws and customs, those of Torah. It is this decision that separates the righteous of all the nations that have a place in the world to come (Ps 22:27, 117:1) from the people of Israel who will have the primary place (Deut 26:19, Isa 54:3). The righteous man who refrains from evil, obeying the prohibitive mitzvot (commandments) such as the noachide laws, fears displeasing God. The Jew or Gentile who obeys the positive mitzvot as well as the negative does so to please God, thus demonstrating a greater love and devotion and in so doing, receiving a greater reward. In other words, if one desires the privileges that come with citizenship, one must obey the laws of the land. If one desires to be in Jerusalem with the King of Israel, one must take on the responsibilities of the Kingdom.

Torah was not abolished or relegated to secondary status at the coming of the Messiah. It was clarified, amplified and fulfilled by Him. It is and always shall be the standard for the redeemed community, the remnant of His people Israel. As we read it, learn from it and live it, we will draw closer to our God and serve Him in both spirit and in truth.

Rav Mikha’el