In this blog, we ask and answer the hard questions that few Bible teachers ever ask much less answer including the topic of discussion below. Why is this? For one thing, I have an inquisitive mind and I want answers. Second, I trust the Word of Elohim, and I know that it is the divinely revealed Truth of Elohim and it contains no contradictions; everything in Scripture perfectly dovetails with everything else to form a glorious, unified and indivisible grand picture of YHVH’s plan of salvation for fallen humans. Therefore, I am not afraid to ask the hard questions, because I am assured that I will not be disappointed or disillusioned when the answers are revealed. The Truth will only strengthen our faith in and our understanding of the will of the Almighty Elohim, not weaken it. So I keep asking the questions and seeking the answers. So please enjoy the following study.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matt 7:7–8)
Is there a difference between the Torah and the law of Moses? Technically, no, since the Scriptures use the terms law of Moses and the law (i.e. Torah) interchangeably in many places.
However, many people think that the law of Moses or the Torah originated with Moses. I have emphatically taught over the years, and the Scripture is clear on the fact, that the Torah did not originate with Moses, but from eternity or from heaven where Elohim exists. How can we assert this? This is because the Torah is a reflection of the heart, mind, will and righteous character of Elohim. It is spiritual and is thus eternal as Paul states in Romans 7:14. Moreover, Scripture reveals that the voice of Elohim from heaven gave the ten commandments to the Israelites (Exod 20:1–22), and the finger of Elohim wrote them on stone (Exod 31:18; 32:16), and the rest of the Torah was dictated to Moses directly by Elohim (Exod 13:1; 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22; 31:1, 12 and dozens or more references could be given). Therefore, no one except an ignorant fool or a deceiving, disingenuous liar can ever say that the Torah-law originated from human source or sources.
At the same time, and in a sense, Moses is the originator (by the hand of Elohim) of the law of Moses as opposed to the eternal principles of the Torah, which, again, are a reflection of the heart, will, character, holiness and righteousness of Elohim. What do I mean? Moses is the first person to have written the Torah down in Exodus 24:7 (perhaps that is one reason he needed to be educated in Egypt, so that he was capable of such a task requiring literary skills). He put the Torah into a form that had not existed before: a national constitution for a physical nation state in written form. For the first time, he codified the Torah or turned it into a written legal code. This was necessary because Israel was now a nation with physical borders and not just a large nomadic family or tribe. As such, Israel needed a system of written laws by which to govern their nation. Therefore, Torah had to be expanded and more clearly defined, if you will, to meet the legal requirements of governing a physical nation. The laws of Elohim had to be specifically spelled out and put into a written form. In this form, political leaders, judges, priests and people would know what the law was, so that could be studied, obeyed and adjudicated. Furthermore, the nation could pass no new laws that in any way would contradict the Written Torah, which was the supreme law of the land.
Consider this. The principles of the Torah are eternal, spiritual and endless because Torah is a reflection of the eternal and infinite mind of the Creator, so it has many applications and possibilities and can be expanded to meet the legal exigencies of a physical nation. None of those applications, however, violate the basic principles of the eternal principles of Torah. For example, the Sabbath is a rest day. Though rules and regulations may be enacted that tell us how to keep the Sabbath, nothing can violate the basic principle of resting on the seventh day of the week.
The eternal principles of the Torah may also be likened to the Constitution of the U.S., which is the overarching law of that nation; no state, county or city government can pass a law that violates the U.S. Constitution. They can pass many additional laws, but nothing that goes against or supersedes the Constitution is permitted. This is akin to the law of Moses, which was based on or sprung out of the eternal principles of the Torah. It could contain additional legal requirements that would help to rightly govern a physical nation, but the nation could never pass a law that would contradict or invalidate any principle of Torah. For example circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, but under the law of Moses, it became a proof of citizenship, like a passport, in the physical nation of Israel. It was necessary for the protection of the nation and to prevent aliens from coming in and taking over. Those people who went through the physical ordeal of circumcision were likely serious about wanting to part of Israel. This was a test of the seriousness of their intent. The problem with the believing Pharisees of Acts 15:1 who believed that circumcision was to be a precursor for salvation is that they took the concept of circumcision both as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and as a physical act of faith in Elohim, mixed it with the proof of citizenship requirements of the law of Moses and then conflated the two and now made it a salvational requirement for inclusion in the spiritual nation (or body of Messiah) of Israel. Paul corrects this theological error in Romans four and addresses it in Galatians (and elsewhere), and the apostles made a ruling on this issue in Acts 15, as well. Contrary to what many in mainstream Christianity erroneously teach, Acts 15 was not a verdict on the validity of Torah, rather it was a verdict on whether circumcision was a prerequisite for salvation. It was a prerequisite to be a member of the physical nation of Israel, but not for salvation, as Paul states in Romans chapter four.
Another example where the Torah had to be expanded under the law of Moses was in the area of the inheritance laws. Traditionally, the firstborn son received the lion’s share of his father’s inheritance and was responsible for carrying on the family lineage. That’s following Torah in at its ideal level. However, what if your first born son was out of Elohim’s will (such as Ishmael), or was a profane, rebellious and godless man (such as Esau), or was an immoral and power hungry person (like Reuben who slept with his father’s concubine to affirm the his status as the firstborn leader of his tribe), then what? The birthright would then go to the next best male candidate for the position. Now what if one had no sons? Then what? This is what the daughters of Zelophehad faced in Numbers 36. The Torah had to be amended or expanded to accommodate this situation. Moses sought YHVH on the matter, who gave him instructions on what to do. So ideally, and according to the overarching principles of Torah, the birthright would go to the firstborn son, but humans don’t live in an ideal or perfect world, so sometimes adjustments or exceptions were made and the Zeloophehad’s daughters were able to inherit their father’s estate with certain provisos made. The same thing is true with marriage. Ideally, it’s between one man and one woman for life. Period. But what if you were the leader of a tribe or a king and your wife was barren and she couldn’t bear you a son? Then what? You had to get a son somehow or your tribe and lineage would die out or be destroyed or subsumed by a more powerful neighboring enemy tribe. Today the same conditions don’t exist where if one childless, that’s not the end of the world; they’re nomadic or kingly lineage dies out. As nomads in the ancient Near East, one’s tribe was one’s life and security. One couldn’t exist without that community support and protection; without this, one died. So if one’s wife was barren, what did one do? A man had to take another wife who could bear him a son to continue his lineage. The same was true of a king who had a barren wife. Was having multiple wives (polygamy) YHVH’s ideal situation for marriage? Absolutely not. It caused no end to familial problems, as the Bible so poignantly chronicles in a number of instances. Yet, polygamy became a reality for some men, and the law of Moses accommodated this practice and addresses this issue.
The same is true of divorce and remarriage. Yeshua states that, again, marriage was between a man and a woman for life from the beginning. Yet because of the hardness of the human heart, some people simply couldn’t continue to live together in marriage, and so the law of Moses permitted divorce and even allowed for remarriage (Mark 10:2–9, cp. Deut 24). This was not the perfect will of Elohim for marriage, but his permissible will, if you will.
In conclusion, Paul alludes to the good, better and perfect will of Elohim in Romans 12:2. All three are in the will of Elohim, but how much of the time are we ever in his perfect will? What is the perfect will of Elohim? It is the Torah, which reflects his perfect, holy or pure and righteous character. Are even the best intended humans capable of always walking in the perfect will of Elohim, or walking at the highest level of Torah all of the time or even most of the time? Hardly! Nevertheless, we should always be striving to do our best as much as possible. Let’s face it. Life is just plain difficult. That is where YHVH’s grace comes in! If our hearts are right and we are doing the best that we can, then YHVH’s merciful grace will cover us, as long as we do not turn his grace into licentiousness or license to sin (i.e. the violation of YHVH’s Torah, 1 John 3:4), which is what the church has largely done through its misguided and false teaching about the Torah being abrogated. The Bible is clear: there is no grace for willful and knowing disobedience!