Yahweh's Perfect Torah
It is Sunday morning. Minister Johnson climbs onto the podium, turns to Romans 10:4, and proclaims good news by announcing, "The Savior paid it all. We are free from those Old Testament regulations and now are under grace through faith alone!"
Many in nominal worship today believe and proclaim this same message — that Yeshua the Messiah has "nailed the Law to the cross." How much of this belief is true, however? Has the Law been nailed to the stake or does Yahweh’s Torah remain in effect for His New Covenant believers?
Let us examine some popular New Covenant passages cited by those who would abolish Biblical Torah.
What Was Added?
Many point to a passage in Colossians as proof that Yeshua did away with the Torah. Here Paul writes, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his stake" (Col. 2:14).
With an understanding of the Greek word "ordinances" in this verse, we find another meaning. The Greek word here is No. 1378, dogma. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Greek Dictionary defines dogma as: "from the base 1380; a law (civil, cerem., or eccl.): — decree, ordinance." Dogma is found seven times in the New Covenant and refers to man-made decrees. One authority writes, "As the form of error at Colosse was largely Judaic, insisting on Jewish ceremonial law, the phrase is probably colored by this fact," Word Studies in the New Testament, p. 908.
Thus, dogma here is not signifying Yahweh’s Torah, but man-made decrees or ordinances. Paul was referring to the added law, which the Jews tacked on to Yahweh’s Torah. We find the Apostle Paul warning Titus of this added law in Titus 1:14: "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."
Yahweh was not always pleased with these added laws. Yeshua chastised the Jews in Matthew 15 and Mark 8 for their "commandments of men," which here meant eating with unwashed hands. The Jews made many physical commandments, but they neglected the spiritual aspect of Yahweh’s Torah, and that is what displeased Yeshua.
The Telos of the Torah
In Romans 10:4 we have a passage that is misconstrued by a majority of preachers today. "For Messiah is the end of the Torah for righteousness to every one that believes."
On the surface it may appear as if Yeshua ended the law for everyone when He died on the stake. Does that harmonize with the rest of Yahweh’s Word, however? Are we now living lawlessly? If so, then we have no sin because "sin is not imputed when there is no law," Romans 5:13. But that cannot be, because Paul also wrote, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of Yahweh," Romans 3:23. Is something missing here that most don’t see?
The Greek word for "end" in this passage is telos, and telos is defined in Strong’s Greek Dictionary as: "to set out for a definite point or goal, the point aimed at as a limit" — No. 5056.
This word "end" found in Romans 10:4 could also be translated "goal." We find a better rendition of this verse in the Jewish New Testament, which reads, "For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts."
The same Greek word telos is translated "end" in James
5:11: "…you have seen the end [telos] of Yahweh." Has Yahweh come to
an end? Of course not, and neither has the law. Both Yahweh and the Torah have goals, not
ending points. We will now look at an important goal of the law.
No Longer Under a Schoolmaster
Galatians is one of the most troublesome books for many
in today’s religious circles. In Galatians 3 we have a passage that has been
misunderstood by the major populace today. "Wherefore the Torah was our schoolmaster
to bring us unto Messiah, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is
come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24-25).
This verse is not difficult to understand if we consider some key facts.
We saw in Romans 10:4 that the Messiah is not the end of the Torah, but the goal at which the Torah aims. Messiah is the object or purpose for the Torah. Only through the Torah can we know Messiah, because Yeshua literally represents the Torah in flesh. He lived the Torah in every aspect. If we do the same, we will be like the Messiah.
Paul is saying that through the Torah we know Messiah, but after we have come to the knowledge of Yeshua we no longer need a schoolmaster, because the Torah is part of us now, as is the Messiah.
In the Greek culture a schoolmaster was a paidagogos, a trustworthy slave who had the guardianship of the boys of a household. They needed him for guidance and instruction while they were young. But after they grew up, they lived by the precepts he taught them. It became second nature to do what they had been taught. They would no longer need the schoolmaster once they learned "the rules." This is the point Paul was making with the Torah.
Through faith we comply with Yahweh’s will automatically. His precepts and teachings are now part of us. We no longer need a strict schoolmaster guiding our every thought and action because doing the right thing is second nature.
Torah keeping in the New Covenant
Yeshua and many of His faithful disciples not only show that the Torah has NOT been annulled, but they also express for it a deep love.
In Matthew 5:17-19 Yeshua says that those who keep and teach Yahweh’s Torah will have great treasures in Yahweh’s Kingdom: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Yeshua came not to destroy the Torah, but to fulfill or complete it, as the Greek indicates. Yeshua said those who uphold and teach the Torah will be blessed with honorable positions in the Kingdom, but those who refuse to keep it and teach others the same fallacy of non-obedience will not be blessed and will not inherit any position.
Yeshua was not the only advocate for Yahweh’s Torah. We find the Apostle Paul, who is usually cited as being against the Torah, in Romans 3:31 in fact promoting Torah-keeping: "Do we then make void the Torah through faith? Yahweh forbid: yea, we establish the Torah." Paul never said that Yahweh’s Torah wasn’t important. Many will say that all we need is faith. Paul says that we need both faith and Torah. We are not to throw out the Torah because of faith, but as Paul says we are to establish it within our lives.
In Romans 7 we find the Apostle Paul again promoting Yahweh’s Torah: "Know you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the Torah,) how that the Torah has dominion over a man as long as he lives?...What shall we say then? is the Torah sin? Yahweh forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the Torah: for I had not known lust, except the Torah had said, Thou shalt not covet...Wherefore the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:1, 7, 12).
Paul Advocates Torah
Paul says that the Torah has dominion or authority over us till death, just as marriage does between two people. He also says that without the Torah we would not know sin. Paul concludes this passages by not diminishing the Torah, but by giving it the highest honor.
In one New Covenant Passage we find the Apostle Paul using the Torah of Moses to convey his own message to young Timothy. "For the scripture says, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Tim. 5:18). His using such an example indicates that Paul taught and promoted the Torah as authority, meaning the basis for his teachings. Both of these instructions can be traced back to the Torah:
· "You shalt not muzzle the ox when he treads out the corn" (Deut. 25:4).
· "The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with you all night until the morning" (Lev. 19:13).
In Acts 24 Paul is standing before Felix, the governor of Judea. Paul is being accused of following and even promoting a division among the Jews. In truth, Paul never rebuked the Jewish faith, but proclaimed that he followed all that his ancestors taught. "But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Torah and in the prophets" (Acts 24:14).
In the governor’s attempt to condemn the Apostle, Paul not only says that he believes, but also unmistakably advocates the Torah and the Prophets. If he believed in the Law and the Prophets, he clearly would have been observing both. The Torah here includes all five books of Moses, while the Prophets indicates the entire collection of the prophets and all that they taught about Yahweh’s will through His Torah.
Obviously, Paul never uprooted the Torah, but had great respect and love for it. He realized its benefits. He knew that the only way to know right from wrong was by Yahweh’s holy standards inspired in the first five books of His Word. What would we use for knowing right from wrong if Yahweh’s Torah was annulled?
A Litmus Test for Righteousness
The Torah was not given to mankind to save us, but simply to show us right from wrong. In Romans 3:20 we see that without these standards we would live in a world with utter chaos. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
We are also warned of breaking Moses’ Torah in Hebrews 10: "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ Torah died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs unto me, I will recompense, says Yahweh. And again, Yahweh shall judge his people" (Heb. 10:26-30).
Notice that the writer of Hebrews very plainly says that once we have come to the knowledge of the truth, there is no more remedy for sins committed thereafter. This is a dreadful thought.
The writer of Hebrews continues by stating that those who break Moses’ Torah, which was received through Yahweh, will have a greater judgment than those of the Tanach. This contradicts the man-made notion of a New Covenant based on grace and faith alone. Salvation involves more than a simple proclaiming faith and grace to all those who believe. Salvation requires an action — obedience.
We find this confirmed in Hebrews 5:9: "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Yeshua, the author of salvation, offers the gift of salvation only to those who obey Yahweh’s Word. We cannot just believe or say that we have faith, but must act on our faith by obedience.
By observing His Torah we demonstrate to Yahweh that we want to obey and serve Him. In 1John 5:3 we read that if we love Yahweh we will obey His commandments. "For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
This passage is important to understand because the message goes much deeper than most realize. We not only show love by keeping Yahweh’s commandments, but we must also keep them out of a deep-down desire to serve Him. His commandments must be so desirable that they never seem grievous to us.
If they are grievous, then we have defeated the purpose of observing Yahweh’s Torah. Yahweh’s Torah is to shape and mold us into Yahweh’s own character. Any negative feelings toward His Torah amount to resistance of that goal. Yahweh’s standards are a reflection of His own morals and ethics. Why should He not want us to have the same nature as He does?
Faith Alone Is Not Enough
In the Book of James we find Yeshua’s brother unequivocally promoting Torah keeping for Yahweh’s people.
"What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one Elohim; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:14-19).
James asks a crucial question for any believer: What good is it if we have faith but no works? It’s like a vehicle with no gasoline, it travels nowhere. Our salvation works the same way. With faith and works we are promised Yahweh’s kingdom; however, without either of the two our salvation comes to a halt, with no gasoline to continue.
James also said that even the demons believe in Yahweh’s and Yeshua’s existence, but just having this belief does not make them worthy of Yahweh’s Kingdom. They have neither works nor an obedient heart,
Obedience as Well as Faith
Three noteworthy passages are found in the Book of Revelation. The first is the prophecy of the woman, meaning the Assembly, being taken into the wilderness for protection from the adversary. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Elohim, and have the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah" (Rev. 12:17).
Notice what distinguishes Yahweh’s people. Two characteristics define Yahweh’s saints: keeping of Yahweh’s commandments, and having faith in Yeshua. By these two characteristics Yahweh’s expectations for His people are defined.
We find these two attributes again in Revelation 14:12. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Elohim, and the faith of Yeshua."
Yahweh defines His Saints as those that are keeping His commandments and having a faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Very simply, these two elements are essential for a believer, for without them we will not have access to Yahweh’s Kingdom.
In the last chapter of the Bible Yahweh warns us once again of the need for keeping His commandments. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22:14).
Here at the end of the Bible Yahweh clearly says that keeping His commandments is a requirement for entering His glorious Kingdom. Yahweh will only accept those with an obedient and humble heart. A heart that never wavers from Him, but stays true to the end.
Every word in the entire Bible is for our benefit. Paul explains this in 2 Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
Every utterance that Yahweh has given is profitable in some way. Whether it be reproof, correction, or instruction, Yahweh’s Word has a place in each of our lives. It instructs us to righteousness, which is defined by observing Yahweh’s Torah.
Forget Not the Law of Yahweh
Within the prophets we can find an abundance of prophecies for the New Covenant believer. One prophet specifically educates us concerning the Torah of Moses. His prophecy is a reply from Yahweh.
In Malachi chapter 4, Malachi prophesies of the distant future. He tells of a time when the whole earth shall burn like a furnace, and the wicked shall become stubble. Malachi’s message is vital, for the message does not stop with those in the Tanach, but continues on for those in the latter days.
He warns that we must not forget the Torah of Moses: "Remember the Torah of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments" (Mal. 4:4). This is important to understand. We in the 21st century learn here that the saints are told to keep ALL the Torah, with statutes and judgments.
We must not neglect any of Yahweh’s Torah, but observe every
inspired commandment as Yahweh so wishes and instructs us, His people.
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