Torah Central—A New Paradigm From Which to View the Bible

The Living and the Written Torah Is the Central Theme of the Bible

The Living and Written Torah is the dominant theme of the Bible. They are one in the same thing—totally unified and absolutely indivisible, which is why I used the singular verb is and not the plural are in the previous sentence. Another way to say this is that whole Bible is about Yeshua the Torah-Word of Elohim who was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). 

To illustrate this point, as we shall discuss later, we find this dominant theme prominently highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of the Scriptures. 

In this study, we will focus more heavily on the Written Torah, as opposed to Yeshua the Living Torah, although in our minds, without Yeshua, it’s impossible to fully understand, much less obey the Written Torah. Furthermore, it is only Yeshua, the Living Torah and not the Written Torah who is capable of saving us from our sins and giving us eternal life.

The Written Torah Defined

Let’s first define our terms. What does the word Torah mean as defined in the Bible? The primary meaning of the Hebrew word Torah, VRU< (Strong’s H8451, TWOT 910b) is “teaching, precept, instruction” and not law, although it is translated as such some 219 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament). What is the fuller meaning of the word Torah?

According to Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Torah, as already noted, signifies primarily direction, teaching, instruction (Prov 13:14). It is derived from the verb yarah/VRh meaning “to project, point out” (Strong’s H3384) and hence to point out or teach. The law of Elohim is that which points out or indicates His will to man…Seen against its background of the verb yarah, it becomes clear that Torah is much more than law or a set of rules. Torah is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal.

Similarly, The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that the word Torah means “teaching” whether it is the wise man instructing his son or Elohim instructing Israel. The wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f). So too Elohim, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights into how to live with each other and how to approach Elohim. Through the Torah, Elohim, shows his interest in all aspects of man’s life which is to be lived under his direction and care. The Torah of Elohim stands parallel to the word of YHVH. 

As already noted, the word Torah originates from the root word yarah vRH (Strong’s H3384), which also means “to flow as water, to lay or throw as in shooting an arrow; to point out as if aiming the finger to make a point, to teach.” Another cognate (related word) of the word Torah is the Hebrew word moreh (Strong’s H4175) which means “teacher or archer (as in one who shoots at a target).” Moreh vRun derives from the same Hebrew root word, yarah, as does the word Torah and signifies that law is the revelation of Elohim’s will (e.g. Isa 1:10). Therefore, when one is walking according to the Torah of YHVH Elohim, one is walking in the light of YHVH’s truth, which is hitting the mark of righteousness. Likewise, YHVH’s teachings or instructions are a river of life flowing from his throne aimed at hitting the mark of truth and righteousness. By contrast, the Hebrew word for sin is chata (Strong’s H2298) which means “to miss the mark,” i.e. transgressing the Torah as 1 John 3:4 states, Sin is the transgression of the Torah.

The meaning of word Torah when analyzed through its Paleo-Hebrew pictographic letters yields some interesting insights from yet another perspective that are worth noting. The definition of the word Torah VRu< from the Paleo-Hebrew is as follows:

  • Tav means “sign, seal, covenant.”
  • Vav means “nail, peg, secure, add.” 
  • Resh means “head, person, highest.” 
  • Hey means “behold, reveal.”

The meanings of the individual picture-letters when combined give us the following expanded understanding: 

  • The Torah is “the highest secure covenant revealed.”
  • The Torah is “the covenant or sign that reveals the secure head or highest person” (i.e. YHVH-Yeshua).

The Origin of Torah and Its Introduction into the World

The Torah predates Moses who gave the law to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. There are many examples in both the books of Genesis and Exodus before Mount Sinai that YHVH’s servants both knew of and followed the Torah. That is another study and beyond the scope of this present discussion. Not only that, the Bible reveals that the Torah not only predates Moses and his predecessors, but the creation of man himself.

  • In the creation account, Elohim said, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). The light of Elohim came into darkness of this world. The creation of light was Elohim’s first creative act. As we shall see below, light is a Hebraic metaphor for the Torah.
  • By Yeshua, the Word of Elohim, all was created (Heb 11:3). Elohim’s Word is light and truth. Yeshua is the Word of Elohim and also the Light of the world (John 1:1, 8, 14; 8:12; 14:6).
  • Yeshua was that Word from Elohim. Yeshua was that Word that created all things; Yeshua was/is that Light that shone in the darkness of this world (John 1:1–14).
  • The Word of YHVH is Torah; they are his instructions in righteousness (Ps 119:1–176).
  • Psalms 119:142, Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy Torah is the truth.
  • Proverbs 6:23, For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

The Torah in the Beginning, Middle and End of the Bible

The Living (Yeshua the Messiah) and Written Torah (the first five books of the Bible) is the dominant theme of the Bible. Let’s quickly review three parts of the Bible—the beginning, the middle and the end—to illustrate our point. 

In Genesis one, at the beginning of the Bible we find the following.

  • Genesis 1:1, The Hebrew grammatical marker word consisting of an aleph and tav/<t (the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet) are found twice in verse one, just before and after the word heaven. They are the fourth and seventh Hebrew words in this sentence. The astute Bible student see this as a prophetic reference to Yeshua, who is the Beginning and the End (the Alpha and Omega AW, Rev 1:8, 11; 21:6, 22:13), and to the fact that Yeshua would come from heaven in the fourth millennia and would come back to earth from heaven in the seventh millennia. 
  • Genesis 1:3, Light was the first creative act of Elohim. Light is a biblical metaphor for Torah or the Word of Elohim (Prov 6:23; Ps 119:105). Light pierced and still pierces the darkness of evil. Darkness is a biblical metaphor for Torahlessness or all that which is of the world, the flesh and the devil and which is contrary to or in rebellion against the will and Word of Elohim (John 1:5; 3:16–21). 
  • Genesis 1:3–5, Light is mentioned five times here. Some Bible teachers refer to this as the five points of light—a reference to the five books of the Torah (Gen through Deut), and to Yeshua, who was the light of the world before the sun was created on the fourth day in Gen 1:14. Yeshua, that same spiritual Torah-light will replace the sun in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23; 22:5).
  • In Genesis 1:3, we find the complete spelling of the word light (Rut/aleph, vav, resh), as opposed to a defective spelling minus the u that the physical sun gives (see Gen 1:14, the first reference to light in that verse is spelled defectively). This points to the supreme and supernal Torah-light from heaven, which is Yeshua, the Torah-Word of Elohim that was made flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:1,14), and who was the spiritual Light of the world (John 1:4–5; 8:12). 

Next we come to the middle of the Bible, which is Psalm 119. This is the Bible’s longest chapter and the highest praise of Torah to be found in all of the Scripture. This psalm examines all aspects of the Torah much like a jeweler examining and admiring every facet and angle of the world’s largest and most priceless diamond. In this psalm, we learn what should be our view of and response toward the Torah of Elohim.

Finally, we come to the end of the Bible, which is the Book of Revelation. In the last two chapters of the Bible we find a number of references to the written Torah, and to Yeshua, the Living Torah.

  • Revelation 22:14 states, “Blessed are they who keep his [Torah] commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
  • Revelation 21:23; 22:5 (also 2 Cor 4:6) reveals that Yeshua will be the light of the New Jerusalem. Yeshua is the Light of the World (John 1:4–5; 8:12) and the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2) whose face shines like the sun (Rev 1:16). As the pre-incarnate Yeshua, Living Torah-Word of Elohim was the light that illuminated the earth until day four of creation when the physical sun was created, Yeshua will once again be the Light of the world.
  • Revelation 22:3, In the New Jerusalem, there will be no more curse because there will be no more sin or Torahlessness (1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of the Torah), which brings on the curses of the law (Deut 28:15–68), which death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23)—the ultimate curse for violating the Torah, which are Elohim’s instructions in righteousness. 
  • Revelation 22:12, Yeshua is bringing spiritual rewards to his servants based on how faithful they were to obeying and teaching the Torah (cp. Matt 5:19).
  • Revelation 22:13, The alpha and omega or (in Hebrew) the aleph and tav—the beginning and end of the Torah-Word of Elohim—is another reference to the written Torah and to Yeshua, the Living Torah. This is a repetition of the same concept found in the first verse of the Bible.
  • Revelation 22:15 (also 21:8), Outside of the New Jerusalem are found sinners or those who are Torahless.
  • Revelation 22:17, The Spirit and Bride say come. Who gets to come? Those who have prepared themselves for the marriage supper of the Lamb by putting on the robes of the righteous acts of Torah (see Revelation 19:7–9, NIV and NAS). The Scriptures define righteousness as obedience to the Torah (Ps 119:172).
  • Revelation 22:18–19 tells us to neither add nor subtract from the Book of Revelation, and by implication, the entire Bible. This echoes the warning Moses wrote at the end of the Torah (Deut 4:2; 12:32).
  • Revelation 22:20–21, The Hebrew word amein is found twice in the last two verse of the Bible including the very last word of the Scriptures. Amein means “verily, truly” and is a Hebrew word that originates from the Hebrew word emet/ /<nt meaning “truth.” The word emet is spelled aleph, mem and tav, which are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Therefore, emet is a word that signifies all that is revealed on the subject from aleph to tav, thus comprising all that can be written on it and no more can be added to it. This is a one-word in Paleo-Hebrew word pictures literally means “the highest head and source of all knowledge.” Thus, the very last word in the Bible clearly points to both the written Torah of YHVH Elohim, and to Yeshua, the Living Torah, which is the Word of Elohim in human form. Spiritually speaking as revealed in the Bible, these two are one and are indivisible.

What Was the Purpose of the Torah?

The purpose of the Torah is to show man how to walk in right relationship (or righteousness) with his Creator. It shows us how to love YHVH with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30) and love one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30). Once one is saved by grace through faith (see my teaching article on our web site entitled: The Abrahamic Covenant: The Covenant of Salvation), the Torah then helps show man how to walk in the straight and narrow path, which leads to blessings and life and avoidance of curses (Deut. 30:15; 32:47). The Torah shows man how to avoid sin, which is the violation of YHVH’s Torah-commandments (1 John 3:4). Sin is walking contrary to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, which are for our blessing and benefit. 

The Torah does not set an impossible standard by which to live. We must ask ourselves, would a righteous and just Creator and a loving Heavenly Father give to his chosen people a set of standards that were humanly impossible to perform, then curse them for their inability to meet these standards? Of course not. Rather, the Torah sets a standard of faith, trusting in Elohim, and of following its system of repentance and sacrifice for obtaining forgiveness from Elohim and restoring a condition of being considered righteous in his sight. After all, Moses, the human instrument through which YHVH revealed the Torah to the children of Israel, states in Deuteronomy 30:11-14:

For this [Torah] commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that thou may do it.

Paul quotes this very passage in Romans 10:6-8 where he relates the written Torah to Yeshua, the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate (in the flesh, see John 1:1, 14). He shows that the Torah and Yeshua are synonymous and that Messiah Yeshua came to live and reveal to us the righteousness of the Torah-law (verse 4) that is available to us if we will but have a heartfelt faith in him (verses 4, 9-10), and allow him to live out his righteousness in us through the empowering work of the Spirit of Elohim. In verses 11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.

It might be said that in a sense the Torah itself is neutral; neither positive nor negative. It is like a mirror simply reflecting the image portrayed in it. Torah reacts to human action. Those who obey it are blessed and those who disobey it are cursed. 

The Scriptures reveal that the Torah is much more than a list of dos and don’ts as many people have been led to believe it to be. The Scriptures reveal that the Torah is much more than a list of dos and don’ts as many people have been led to believe it to be.

  • The Torah defines what sin (1 John 3:4) and righteousness are (Ps 119:172).
  • The Torah shows us what YHVH expects from man (Deut 10:12–13). The Torah convicts man of sin or lawlessness and brings us to Yeshua by way of the cross (Gal 3:24).
  • The Torah brings temporal and spiritual rewards; life and blessing when followed; curses when disobeyed (Deut 28; Matt 5:19).
  • Obeying the Torah helps deepen a loving and intimate relationship with YHVH-Yeshua and helps us to abide in Yeshua (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-6).
  • Obeying the Torah helps us to stay spiritually pure (1 John 3:3-6).
  • Obeying the Torah protects us from the influence of the devil (1 John 3:8).
  • The Torah provides a framework for divine justice or judgment (Deut 17:11; John 12:48; Heb 4:12 cp. Rev 1:16; 2:16; 18:15, 21).
  • The Torah forms the basis for the jurisprudence system of civil government (Deut 17:11).
  • The Torah is heaven’s revelation of divine grace. It reveals how sinful man can be reconciled to a righteous Elohim; it reveals the path of redemption or salvation from slavery to sin through the idea of substitutionary sacrifice. This all points to Yeshua the Messiah, the Redeemer or Savior of the world.
  • The Torah reveals the concept of covenant between YHVH and man involving YHVH’s chosen people—the nation of Israel. 
  • The Torah will guide and keep us on the path of righteousness and lead us into YHVH’s everlasting kingdom and spiritual divine family. It acts as a protective guardrail to keep us on the road leading to eternal life. It keeps man from falling into the spiritual ditches or off the spiritual cliff along the side of the road of life.
  • The Torah is our light in a dark world; the answer to life’s questions and dilemmas (Ps 119:99, 105; Prov 6:23).
  • Through Yeshua the Living Torah, the Torah helps us to become the person that YHVH wants to live with forever. It prepares us to be the spiritual bride of Yeshua (Rev 19:7–8).
  • Obeying the Torah brings us eternal rewards (not eternal life, which is by grace through faith alone, see Eph. 2:8) in the world to come (Matt. 5:19).
  • Obeying the Torah helps deepen a loving and intimate relationship with YHVH-Yeshua and helps us to abide in Yeshua (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-6).
  • Obeying the Torah helps us to stay spiritually pure (1 John 3:3-6).
  • Obeying the Torah protects us from the influence of the devil (1 John 3:8).
  • Obeying the Torah-Word of YHVH helps to perfect YHVH-Yeshua’s love in us (1 John 3:6).

Yeshua Is the Living Torah

  • Yeshua was the Torah-Word of Elohim that was Elohim, and who came to earth to live in flesh form (John 1:1–14).
  • He was the I am that was before Abraham (John 8:58)
  • Rom 10, Yeshua is the ultimate expression, end goal of fullest fulfillment of Torah (Rom 10:4). Paul equates Yeshua, the Living Torah, with the written Torah of Moses (verses 5–10). In Rom 10:11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.
  • Yeshua, was the Torah-Light-Word led who instructed, fed and watered Israel through the wilderness.
  • 1 Cor 10:4, Yeshua was spiritual Rock that fed the Israelites.
  • Acts 7:38, Yeshua was the one who spoke from Mt. Sinai and who was with the angel that led the Israelites in the wilderness.
  • Yeshua is the Living Manna (John 6:48–51).
  • Yeshua equates himself with Torah (John 6—manna).
  • Yeshua referring to himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5; 12:46) urged his disciples to believe in that Light and to become children of Light (John 12:35–36).
  • Believers are not only called to emulate their Master and become light as he is light, but they are called to put on the “armor of light” which is likened to walking in righteousness (Rom 12:12–13) after the similitude of their Father in heaven who is called the Father of lights (Jas 1:17) and who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16). This is the same light that caused Moses’ face to radiate with light upon descending Mt. Sinai after having been in the presence of YHVH (Exod 34:33, 35).
  • In the Gospel of Matthew, Yeshua urged his followers to be lights in this dark world and to be a candlestick on a hill (Matt 5:14–16).

The Torah is the Bedrock Foundation of the Bible

  • Torah is the bedrock of the Bible. The rest of the Bible is built on this foundation, points back to it; points man forward to the Living Torah; urges us back to it, or forward to Yeshua; extols the virtue of Torah; predicts what will happen to man who remains outside of or rebellious to Torah; and is otherwise, an inspired commentary on Torah.
  • The Torah of the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) are the Gospel books, which are the words of Yeshua/the testimony of Yeshua, the Living Torah.
  • The rest of the the Testimony of Yeshua is the historical chronicle of how the early believers walked out Torah, how the apostolic leaders defended Torah from those who would attempt to undermine, negate or lessen it.

The Essence of Torah

  • Love is the foundation and quintessential concept behind the Torah-law of Elohim. Yeshua states this in Mark 12:29–31,
  • “And Yeshua answered him, The first of all the [Torah] commandments is, Hear, O Israel; YHVH our Elohim is one Master: and thou shalt love YHVH your Elohim with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
  • Love must be the motive behind all our righteous deeds or else our actions count for nothing (1 Cor 13:1–13). The concept of love and the keeping of YHVH’s Torah-law are codependent actions. One cannot exist without the other.
  • Yeshua speaks of the higher function of the Torah in his famous “Golden Rule” passage of Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Paul echoes this concept in Romans 13:8, “Love does not do harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of the Torah.”
  • John, in his epistle, discusses this idea at length in 1 John 2:7-11; 3:11-24; 4:7-2 where he states that “Elohim is love” (4:8, 16) and that one’s love of Elohim and man is linked to obedience to the Torah-commandments (2:7-9; 3:11-18). As YHVH first loved us, we should love our fellow man (4:7–11), in word, deed and in (Torah) truth (3:18). This relates to Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments.”
  • David came and reduced the 613 laws of the Torah to eleven (Psalm 15), Isaiah to six (Isaiah 33:15), Micah to three (Micah 6:8), Isaiah again to two—“Observe and do righteousness” (Isaiah 56:1). Then Amos came and reduced them to one, “Seek me and live” (Amos 5:4)—as did Habakkuk, “The righteous one will live by his trusting [or by faith] (Habakkuk 2:4)”’

What Is Our Divine Commission?

  • In Rev 1–3, Yeshua likens the seven assemblies to a seven-branched menorah, and elsewhere he likens believers to being a light on a hill in the darkness of this world (Matt 5:14–16). The menorah is our symbol. It is a picture of Torah: the gold, the olive oil, the light it produces are all pictures of Torah. It is also a picture of Yeshua, the Living Torah, who is the vine and we are his branches.
  • So go and live and be Torah-lights to a dark and lost world.

2 thoughts on “Torah Central—A New Paradigm From Which to View the Bible

  1. And Jesus (Yeshua) wrapped himself in a fetus-left all to become one of us and to show us not only how to live righteously in this flesh (hSELF) but also how to walk in the Spirit, simply profound and profoundly simple. Thanks Natan for the wonderful teaching, I love it!

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