The Torah Connection
If you were the infinite, all-powerful, omniscient and loving Creator of the universe who made man in his own image to have a relationship with him, how would communicate with finite humans? How could you pour all that you know and are into man, so that he could experience the love, joy, peace, goodness, holiness, wisdom, understanding and truth that you have? It would be like trying to pour the world’s oceans into a thimble. The best you could do would be to distill down the essence of who you are and what you know into its simplest and most basic form and then give this priceless, personal gift to man in hopes that he would accept and understand it and then live by it. If man showed that he could handle and appreciate this tiny dose of who you are and prove himself faithful to it, perhaps, eventually, you could give him more, and more, and more— and eventually, at some point in the future, even immortality as a member of the Creator’s heavenly spiritual family.
This is exactly what YHVH Elohim did when he gave man his Torah—a Hebrew word meaning “instructions, teachings, precepts and law.” The Torah is a tiny kernel of the essence of the very mind, will, character and heart of the Creator, and it’s his gift to man, for man to live an abundant physical life here and now with the possibility of graduating to a position of immortality in Elohim’s eternal kingdom.
How do we know these things? The Bible likens the Torah that emanates from the Eternal Creator to divine light that pierces the spiritual darkness of the man’s physical existence. Moreover, the Torah is like a path that leads man to YHVH Elohim, the Creator. It is the epitome of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding that when embraced and obeyed leads man to the fulfillment of his highest desires. This very Torah is revealed in the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Yes, not just in the books of the law of Moses, but in the New Testament or Testimony of Yeshua as well! To those who will remove their religious blinders and open their eyes, they will see that this truth has been there all along.
The Living and the Written Torah Is the Central Theme of the Bible
The Living Torah (i.e. Yeshua the Messiah who is the Word of Elohim that was made flesh) and Written Torah (specifically the biblical books of Genesis to Deuteronomy, and in the larger sense, the entire Old Testament or Tankah) is the dominant theme of the entire Bible from beginning to end. Yeshua and the Torah-word of Elohim is one and the same thing—totally unified and absolutely indivisible, which is why I used the singular verb is and not are, which is the grammatically correct plural form of the vert to be in the previous phrase. Another way to say this is that the whole Bible is about Yeshua the Torah-Word of Elohim who came in human form (John 1:1, 14).
To illustrate this point, as we shall discuss more fully later, we find this dominant theme prominently highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of the Scriptures. This brief lesson is, by no means, a comprehensive study of the subject of the Torah as presented in the Bible. It’s merely a quick overview to help you to begin viewing the Bible through a different set of spiritual glasses.
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 (which the Bible defines as the violation of the Written Torah), and granting to us by his merciful grace the righteousness required to receive eternal life and entrance into Elohim’s everlasting kingdom.
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< 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 and instruction” (Prov 13:14). It is derived from the verb yarah/VRh meaning “to project, point out” 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 an ideal place.
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 wisdom of the Torah gives insight into all aspects of life so that a young person may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f). Likewise through the Torah, Elohim, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights on how men are to live with each other and how man is 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 is his word to mankind—his instructions in right living or in righteousness.
As already noted, the word Torah originates from the root word yarah/vRH, 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. Conversely, the Hebrew word for sin is chata, which means “to miss the mark,” or to transgress the Torah as 1 John 3:4 states, “Sin is the transgression of the Torah-law.”
The Origin of Torah and Its Introduction into the World
To the biblically naive, it is believed that the Torah-law originated with Moses. In reality, the Torah predates Moses. He was merely the human vessel through which Elohim gave the Torah-law in its codified form 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 or as much of it as had been revealed to them up to that time. This, however, is a different study and beyond the scope of this present discussion. Moreover, the Bible reveals that the Torah not only predated Moses and his ancestors, but the creation of man as well as the following points will hopefully make abundantly clear. Scripture makes numerous allusions to the Torah at the very beginning of the Bible in poetic and metaphorical terms. For example,
- In the creation account, Elohim said, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). The light of Elohim came into the 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, which is the divine knowledge and wisdom of Elohim representing his perfect and undefiled character and nature.
- By Yeshua who is Elohim and is the Word of Elohim (John 1:1), everything was created (Heb 11:3). Elohim’s Word is light and truth. Yeshua is the Word of Elohim and is also the Light of the world (John 1:1, 8, 14; 8:12; 14:6). He is the Living Torah-Word of Elohim incarnate (John 1:1, 14)
- The Word of YHVH is Torah; it is his instructions in righteousness (Ps 119:176).
- The Torah is truth as we read in Psalms 119:142, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy Torah is the truth.”
- The Torah is spiritual light as we read in Proverbs 6:23, “For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
As we can see, the Torah or light of Elohim, which is the truth or Word of Elohim, which is Yeshua the Word of Elohim predated the giving of the Torah-law to Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. To say that the Torah originated with Moses is to hold to a very narrow and, quite frankly, an unbiblical and a naive understanding of the concept of Torah.
The Torah in the Beginning, Middle and End of the Bible
As stated at the beginning of this brief study, the Living and Written Torah is the dominant theme of the Bible. Let’s quickly see how this is the case by reviewing the three parts of the Bible—the beginning, the middle and the end to see how Torah is revealed here.
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 will 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). It also points us 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, The introduction of light into the world 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 is in rebellion to and 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 Genesis 1:14. Yeshua, that same spiritual Torah-light, will eventually replace the sun in the heaven on earth of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23; 22:5).
- In Genesis 1:3, we find the complete spelling of the Hebrew word for light (Rut/spelled aleph, vav, resh), as opposed to a defective spelling minus the vav/ 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 exact 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 a large, priceless and one-of-a-kind gem stone. 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, even so Yeshua will once again be the Light of the world as he was during the first four days of creation.
- 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 states that sin is the transgression of the Torah), which brings on the curses of the law (Deut 28:15–68), which is 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 or violators of the Torah, for sin is the violation of the Torah (1 John 3:4).
- Revelation 22:17, The Spirit and bride say come. Who gets to come into the kingdom of Yeshua as his bride? Those who have prepared themselves for the marriage supper of the Lamb by putting on the robes of the righteous acts of Torah (see Rev 19:7–9, NIV and NAS). Again, the Scriptures define righteousness as obedience to the Torah (Ps 119:172).
- Revelation 22:18–19 tells us to neither add to 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). The Torah of Elohim is the word or instructions of Elohim and not only encompasses the first five books of Scripture, colloquially called the Torah or Pentateuch, but ultimately includes the whole Bible.
- Revelation 22:20–21, The Hebrew word amein is found twice in the last two verse of the Bible is 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 a subject from aleph to tav, thus comprising all that can be written on it and no more can be added to it. 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 and is the Truth in its final and highest form. Spiritually speaking as revealed in the Bible, Yeshua, truth and Torah are one in the same and are indivisible.
What Is the Purpose of the Torah?
Actually, the Torah has many purposes resulting in blessings for those who follow it! The Scriptures reveal that the Torah is much more than just a list of dos and don’ts as many people in the mainstream church have erroneously been led to believe.
- The Torah defines what sin (1 John 3:4) and righteousness are (Ps 119:172).
- The Torah shows 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 and punishment; 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 (Gal 3:24).
- The Torah reveals the concept of covenant between YHVH and man involving YHVH’s chosen people—the nation of Israel, of which all born again followers of Yeshua are a part (Eph 2:11–19).
- The Torah will guide and keep us on the path of righteousness and lead us into YHVH’s everlasting kingdom and spiritual 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 spiritual 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).
Yeshua Is the Living Torah
Now let’s briefly discuss Yeshua the Messiah and his relationship to the Written Torah.
- Yeshua was the Torah-Word of Elohim and was Elohim 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).
- In the Book of Romans, we see that Yeshua is the ultimate expression, end goal or fullest fulfillment of the Torah (Rom 10:4). Paul equates Yeshua, the Living Torah, with the written Torah of Moses (verses 5–10). In Romans 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 the high standard of Torah righteousness through Yeshua their Messiah.
- Yeshua, was the Torah-Light-Word who led, instructed, fed and watered the children of Israel through the wilderness.
- Yeshua was spiritual Rock that fed the Israelites (1 Cor 10:4).
- Yeshua was the one who spoke from Mount Sinai and who was with the Messenger from Elohim that led the Israelites in the wilderness (Acts 7:38).
- Yeshua is the Living Manna (John 6:48–51).
- Yeshua equates himself with Torah, for he is he spiritual bread of life (or Word of Elohim) that came from heaven to feed mankind (John 6:22–58).
- 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 Yeshua, their Master, and become spiritual light as he is, 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 spiritual light that caused Moses’ face to radiate upon descending from Mount 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 like him 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
The Written Torah is the bedrock of the Bible. The rest of the Bible is built on this foundation, and points back to it. At the same time there are many prophecies in the Tanakh that point forward to Yeshua, the Living Torah. The rest of the Bible urges man to both return to the Written Torah (e.g. Jer 6:16; 18:15; Mal 4:4), and to go forward to Yeshua, the Living Torah, through whom one can walk in accordance with the Written Torah.
Moreover, the Bible extols the virtue of the Torah, and at the same time predicts what will happen to man who remains outside of or rebellious to Torah (both the Written and Living Torahs). Beyond the first five books of the Bible or the Written Torah, one might view the rest of the Scriptures as an inspired commentary on Torah.
Even as the five books of Moses are the foundation for the Tanakh (Old Testament) by revealing the Torah-Word of Elohim to mankind, even so, the four Gospels can be viewed as the Torah of the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament). They give us the words of Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim. The rest of the Testimony of Yeshua simply is the historical chronicle of how the early believers walked out the Torah through a relationship with Yeshua the Living Torah, and how the apostolic leaders defended both the Written and Living Torah from those who would attempt to undermine, negate, pervert or diminish it.
The Essence of the Torah—The Higher 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 indivisible and codependent actions. One cannot exist without the other.
For example, 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/fulfilling of the Torah.”
John, in his epistle, discusses this idea at length in 1 John 2:7–11; 3:11–24; 4:7–11 where he states that “Elohim is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) and that one’s love of Elohim and man is linked to obedience to the Torah-commandments (1 John 2:7–9; 3:11–18). As YHVH first loved us, we should love our fellow man (1 John 4:7–11), in word, deed and in (Torah) truth (1 John 3:18). This relates to Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments.”
The Scriptures also delineate the essence of the Torah in several other ways. For example, David came and reduced the 613 laws of the Torah to eleven (Ps 15), Isaiah to six (Isa 33:15), Micah to three (Mic 6:8), Isaiah again to two—“Observe and do righteousness” (Isa 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]” (Hab 2:4).
What Is Our Divine Commission?
In Revelation chapters one through three, Yeshua likens the seven assemblies (or churches) to a seven-branched menorah, and elsewhere he likens his disciples or the saints to being like a light on a hill in the darkness of this world (Matt 5:14–16). The menorah is the symbol of the congregation of the righteous saints. It is also a picture of Torah: the gold, the olive oil, the light it produces are all point to aspects of the Torah. It is also a picture of Yeshua, the Living Torah, who is like a vine or tree of life and his disciples are like the branches of that tree. This teaches us that our divine mission as followers of Yeshua is to be Torah-lights or life-giving entities to a dark and lost world. We are to draw others to Yeshua who is the Living and Written Torah-light of the world, and who lights the path to YHVH Elohim the Father resulting in eternal life and inclusion in his spiritual family as sons and daughters of the Most High. This is what the great commission is all about!