What is Meant by Torah ?
|Written by: Glenn Kay|
F irst and foremost,the Torah is "God's teachings. "This is the primary meaning of the word - Torah. The word does not mean "law; it means "teaching." The root of the word can be traced to the Hebrew word "to throw" or even "to shoot an arrow." Hence we can say that "Torah" is God's teaching, hitting the mark of man's needs.
Torah is the teachings of Ha'Shem (God). His instructions to us. There is a mis-understanding of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) of God that Torah Observant Jews and non-Jews follow.
First, it seems important to keep in mind that God has never been a racist, but has always adopted into His Jewish Family all who sincerely turned to Him from among the nations of the world, with or without formal conversion to the Jewish religion. Gentiles, like Jews, can be reborn into right relationship with the God of Israel through His Messiah.
If Torah were some painful punishment that God inflicts on those who are Jewish by natural birth, then love would require that Jews not share it with anyone, but bear it themselves, as stoically as possible. Some people treat it that way.
On the other hand, if Torah is a gracious gift from God to His children, we ought to share it that way, in the context of love and joy, and not hatefully or selfishly withhold it.What kind of document is Torah ?
It is a Covenant
By this, we mean it is a legally binding agreement between God and His own people. As such the Torah is not simply a list of do's and don'ts, but rather it stipulates the responsibilities of both parties involved in this covenantal relationship.
It is a Ketubah
A ketubah is a formal, written document, which spells out the terms of the Jewish marriage contract between husband and wife. "The ketubah" also has a symbolic meaning. Since the bride and groom represent Israel and God at Sinai, when the Torah was given, the ketubah represents the 'book of the covenant' " - the Torah!
In Exodus 6:6-7, God uses four verbs to speak of the process by which He will redeem His people. The fourth of these verbs is, "will take," which is used elsewhere in the Tenach to describe what happens when a man "takes" a woman to be his wife. In the context of Exodus 6, then, it appears that God is betrothing Israel to be His wife. But when is the wedding?
According to traditional Jewish thinking, the wedding took place at Mount Sinai. Although the Biblical text does not specify a wedding was taking place, the similarities between the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai and a traditional Jewish wedding are striking.The Torah - A Way of Life
Contrary to what many believe, the Torah is not for those who are yet unregenerate. It is not a way of salvation. The only functions it serves to the non-believer is to point out their sin and show the need of salvation. It is also clear the the Bible teaches that Torah is to be the way of life for the redeemed community.In Deuteronomy 30:14-15 we read;
"But the word is very near you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may observe it. See, I have set before you today life and propserity."Jeremiah 31:33 emphasizes for the believer:
"I shall put My Torah within them, and on their heart I will write it."
The words of Torah are our life (Deuteronomy 32:47) When we study Torah, we can learn a great deal about God Himself and His eternal attributes. And when we parctice Torah, we are therefore practicing that which is holy, righteous, and good. We are also participating in our new life - the life of God. Torah also serves as a book of reminders. But reminders of what? Reminders that we are the people of God, the "called out ones." The Torah describes a lifestyle of built-in daily, weekly, and yearly reminders.Daily Reminder - The Tzitit
In Numbers 15:37-40, we read; "and you shall have the fringe, that you may look upon it and remember..." As we look upon the fringes of the garments we are reminded of who we are and what God expects of us. They serve as reminders that we are called upon to be doers of the word and not merely hearers. They serve to remind us to behave in a manner consistent with our calling.Weekly Reminder - The Shabbat
God has given us the gift of one day out of every seven - a day to remember who we are. He has given a day every week, a day without pressure. A day unrestricted by the regular demanding activities of the week. God speaks to us in His word about the wonderful gift that the Shabbat is in Isaiah 58:13-14. There we read:
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."Yearly Reminders - The Feast Days
God has given us in His Torah annual reminders through the yearly cycle of His appointed holy days or feasts. These day were given by God to remember the great things God has done through the use of these yearly celebrations. Consider these days and what they teach us about God and our relationship to Him:
(Feast of Lots)
|Book of Esther||Commemorates the story of Esther when King Ahasuerus denounced Haman's plot to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Persia. Purim is a joyful celebration of thanksgiving for Esther's courageous acts and God's faithfulness.|
|Leviticus 23:4-8||Remembers the Exodus from Egypt. A great time to join us for our "Messiah in the Passover" celebration.|
(Feast of Weeks/Pentecost)
|Leviticus 23:9-22||Known also as the Feast of First Fruits, it celebrates the time of the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. From Acts 2:1-41, this holiday marks the begining of the endtimes harvest of people into God's kingdom.|
(Feast of Trumpets)
|Leviticus 23:23-25||Celebrates the beginning of the Jewish Civil year. It is both a time of rejoicing as well as a holy occasion (see Nehemiah 8:2, 9-12).|
(Day of Atonement)
|Leviticus 23:26-32||Is the holiest day of the Jewish year. A time to consider Yeshua as our atonement.|
(Feast of Tabernacles/Booths)
|Leviticus 23:33-34||Sukkot recalls 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, living in tents (booths) and worshiping in a portable tabernacle. Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Ingathering - a wonderful harvest holiday.|
(Feast of Dedication)
|Daniel 8:13-14, John 10:22-23||Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC, and Hanukkah holds great meaning for Messianic Believers today.|
Why Should We Follow The Torah?
Much of the content of Torah is described using the word - Mitzvot - this word simply means "commandments." Many believers have problems with this concept found in the Tenach. They are quick to point out that we are under grace, not law. But this fails to take into consideration the fact that the New Covenant scriptures contain over 1,000 "commandments." Yeshua Himself said - "If you love Me you will keep My commandments (mitzvot)."
What is the difference between the command to celebrate the Lord's holy days and choosing elders to govern your fellowship? Both are commands. Who are we to judge which commands of God we are to obey? God's Word is not like a menu in a Chinese resturant - where we can pick one from column "A" and one from column "B", it is all His Word!
In Jeremiah 31 we are taught that God would write His Torah on our hearts. What does this mean? Does it not imply then that Torah would be a very central part of our lives as believers? Does it not mean that that living a Torah observant lifestyle would be a natural outgrowth of having the living Torah (Yeshua) dwelling in our lives?