Yeshua: What’s more important than Torah-law obedience?

John 13:35, By this all will know. Love was to be the identifying mark of a disciple of Yeshua. The Bible defines love in several ways. We love Yeshua by keeping his (Torah) commands (John 14:15; 1 John 5:1–3). Yeshua defines the Torah as loving Elohim with all of our heart, soul mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:28–31). Paul says that all the laws of Elohim can be summed up in love (Rom 13:8–10). Yeshua said that the greatest expression of love is to lay one’s life down for another as Yeshua did for us (1 John 3:16; 4:11). Without love, all the good—even religious works—we may do YHVH counts as nothing (1 Cor 13).

It’s important to note that most disciples of Yeshua (including Christians) believe this principle, but, sadly, when it comes down to reality, many fail to live out the identifying principles of love. How easy it is to view our religious works as the main identifying marks Continue reading

 

The radical message of John is still radical

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist, who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them by saying that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually. In a proper response, they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in one’s business dealings, and if one is a government worker, then treat the citizens one serves with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many consider to be the Continue reading

 

Vengeance, Retribution, Vindictiveness and Retaliation Is Torahlessness ≠ Love

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:17–18, KJV)

Leviticus 19:17, Not hate your brother. On vengeance, retribution, vindictiveness and bearing grudges against others. The KJV and NKJV translations of this verse is difficult to understand. The NIV reads, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” The NAS has, “You shall not hate your fellow-countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” Finally, the ASET reads, “You shall not your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.”

In other words, when your brother treats you improperly, honestly confront him, or as Yeshua said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matt 18:15). However, if he ignores you and is still prone to vengeance or bearing a grudge against you, don’t become like him and retaliate against him (Lev 19:18). Instead, love him as yourself, or treat him with love as you wish to be treated (ibid.), or else you will incur his sin by becoming like him (v. 17). Yeshua summed up this godly principle of not giving in to vengeance and retaliation when wronged this way, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). This is loving one’s neighbor as oneself and is the summation of the second half of the Torah (Mark 12:29–31) as summed up by the last five of the ten commandments (Exod 20:12–17).

Exhibiting vengeance, retribution, vindictiveness or bearing a grudge against one’s neighbor is a lack of self control, is a result of anger and is a form of hatred, which are all works of the flesh resulting in contentions between people (Gal 5:20). These are sinful behaviors and are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24), and people who habitually practice these sins along with the other works of the flesh are in danger of not being in the kingdom of Elohim (Gal 5:21).

 

What does badger skin have to do with love and Torah?

Numbers 4:6, Badger skin [Heb. tachash]. When being transported, the ark of the covenant was covered with a tachash skin, which, according to rabbinic tradition was an unusually beautiful color of turquoise blue made from the hide of a now extinct animal. According to The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, this striking color of blue invited one to keep YHVH’s Torah-commandments by clothing them in physical beauty thus showing that obedience to them would be enjoyable (p. 745). Is obeying YHVH, keeping his commands, inviting and enjoyable, or is it a burden? In 1 John 5:1–3 we read:

Whosoever believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of Elohim, and every one that loves him that begot loves him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [burdensome, severe, cruel, heavy].

John the apostle clearly states that obedience to Torah is centered on love—a love relationship between man and his Creator. John, in his Gospel, records Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, saying,

If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments (John 14:15).

Other scriptures that say the same thing in a different way include,

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.…Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:8, 10)

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:2–3)

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 5–6)

 

The Seven Steps to Spiritual Maturity—to Be Complete in Love

2 Peter 1:5–7, Add to your faith. This list of seven character qualities shows us the progressive steps one must go through to become mature spiritually. 

Faith: First there is initial faith in YHVH Elohim, which is the starting point in our spiritual walk. This is the same faith Abraham had when YHVH told him to leave Babylonia, and it was accounted to him for righteousness sake (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3).

Virtue: Second, initial faith in Elohim is “filled out with” (as J. P. Green translates it) virtue, which is defined as “moral excellence.” This can be no less than one’s learning to conform one’s lives to the high standards of the Torah, which tells us how to walk in relationship with Elohim (as summarized by the first four of the ten commandments) and our fellow man (as summarized by the last six of the ten commandments). Virtue is the opposite of sin, and the Torah shows us what sin and moral excellence are by showing us what to do (the path of blessing and life) and what not to do (the path of curses and death).

Knowledge: Third, as one begins to walk out Torah-obedience, one gains a deeper and more perfect understanding of the heart, will and mind of Elohim as expressed in the Creator’s instruction manual for living—the Torah, which is Truth and is the path that leads to life. At the same time, one gains an understanding of the opposite side, which is that of sin and leads to death.

Self-control: Fourth, as one gains a fuller understanding of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong as defined by YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, the Torah, and as one fortifies oneself morally by choosing consistently to do the right thing, one gains self-control. One learns to control or master one’s fleshly passions and desires including selfishness, pride, greed, anger and lust and all the other works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21).

Perseverance or patience: Fifth, as one becomes proficient and consistent in self-control, one begins to learn patience or perseverance, which is steadfastness, constancy and endurance. At this stage in one’s spiritual development, one becomes less likely to be buffeted around or thrown off balance by one’s own carnal impulses or by those of other people that are directed at us (persecution).

Godliness: Sixth, as our life more consistently begins to reflect the heart, mind and will of YHVH Elohim as exemplified in his Torah and the rest of his Word (the Scriptures) and as walked out by Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, then our words, thoughts and actions will begin to reflect the very character and nature of our Father in heaven, which is godliness, to those around us, even as the moon reflects the light of the sun into the darkness of the night world. At this point, who we are is more defined by the character of Elohim than by the carnal, sin nature of the typical man.

Brotherly kindness: Seventh, obedience to the Torah naturally results in our being kinder and gentler to those around us, since the Torah demands that we treat others how we want to be treated and tells us how to love our neighbor as ourself (Matt 7:12; Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). After one has completed these seven steps, one becomes perfect or complete in biblical love, which is the eighth step.

Love: The eighth step to spiritual maturity is love (for Elohim and our fellow man), which is the summation of all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24) and is the highest level of spiritual attainment (1 Cor 13:1–13) and is the summation of the entire Torah (Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). The previous eight steps are the components of a complete or perfect biblical love. Biblical love isn’t some nebulous or ethereal concept based on some heady concept, lofty emotions or vague feelings. Rather love is a concrete idea that is rooted in one’s actions toward one’s brother as delineated in the previous seven steps. This type of love is unconditional, and is an unselfish love for others even when there is no personal benefit to be gained as Paul succinctly and concretely teaches in 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter. This is the love of Elohim—the love that he has for men, and the love that he wants us to develop, so that we will be like him, so that he can live with us forever in his eternal kingdom. After we have matured through these eight steps, we become spiritually and morally complete or perfect and are prepared to spend eternity with YHVH Elohim in the New Jerusalem of heaven on earth. Love is the eighth step, and eight is the number signifying new beginnings and infinity; therefore, love is the character trait that launches us into a new beginning of a immortal life in Elohim’s eternal kingdom of the heaven on earth of the New Jerusalem.

 

What Are the Weightier Matters of the Torah-Law? The Higher Torah and the Highest Torah Explained

This is a teaching that every saint who is returning to the biblical, Torah roots of their faith needs to read. Why? So they don’t become hyper-focused on the dos and don’ts of the Torah-law, become legalistic, become head-knowledge-oriented people who have forgotten the spirit and heart of the law, become those who end up bowing down to the idol of intellectualism, and, most importantly, so they don’t forget the centrality of the gospel message with Yeshua the Messiah at its center.  Natan

Matthew 23:23, Weightier matters of the Torah. What are the weightier matters of the Torah? Torah is not an end-all. It is a vehicle that leads us to something. What is that? What really matters to YHVH when all is said and done???? It is the greater Torah or the higher Torah. The Gospel of Matthew (23:23) records that Yeshua rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their not following the higher Torah. What did Yeshua really mean by “the weightier matters of the Torah”?

What Is the Ultimate Goal of the Torah?

A strict obedience to the Torah is NOT the ultimate goal the Torah! The Torah, as wonderful as it is, points us to something even better and higher!

What are the weightier matters of the Torah? Perfect obedience to the Torah is not the ultimate goal of the saint. The Torah is merely a vehicle to lead us to something. What is that? What is the greater Torah, the higher and the highest Torah? What really matters to YHVH when all is said and done???? The Gospel of Matthew (Matt 23:23) records that Yeshua rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their not following the higher Torah.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Torah, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

What did he really mean by “the weightier matters of the Torah”?

The Deeper Meaning of the Word “Torah”

Almost every place where you see the word “law” in the Old Testament (or Tanakh), it is the Hebrew word “Torah.” This word is used 219 times in the Tanakh, and in almost every case it is translated in the KJV and in most other English Bibles as “the law.” Is this all this word means? Is “law” even its main definition according to the Hebrew?

Let’s begin to answer this question by asking another one. When you think of the term “the laws” what comes into our mind: good thoughts or bad thoughts? Do you think of a list of dos and donts—what you are legally permitted to do and not to do? Do you think of red and blue flashing lights and a sirens? Or a man in a blue uniform with a star and a gun? A black-robed judge with a gavel? A prison or jail cell? If so, these can be scary thoughts!

Let’s see what the word “Torah” really means according to the Scriptures.

In Proverbs 13:14, the Bible tells us that the Torah is the fountain of life and keeps one and keeps one from the snares of death. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? It fact, it sounds really good!

Next start open your Bible to Proverbs 1:7 where we read that the fear of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom. In verse 8, Solomon urges us to not forsake the law. The word law in this verse is Torah. Continue reading what Solomon teaches us about the benefits of YHVH’s instructions and wisdom found in the Torah. Start reading in verse 9 to the end of chapter. Here he is talking about the path of sinners (those who lawless or Torahless). Next start reading in chapter three and continue to the end of chapter four. Whenever you see the words “law,” “instruction,” “wisdom,” “instructions” “commandments,” “truth,” “mercy,” “knowledge” or “words” think of Torah, for that is what these words are referring to. Does this sound like the Torah-law of Elohim is a bad think that should evoke thoughts and emotions of fear and anxiety in a person? Or does the Bible view Torah as a fountain that brings life, wisdom, mercy, truth and knowledge?

On our journey to discover what is the higher Torah, let’s turn to Psalm 119. Perhaps no other biblical chapter explains the ramifications and extols the virtues of the Torah more than this psalm of David.

Based on Psalm 119 and Proverbs chapters one through three, what are the blessings and benefits of Torah-obedience?

  • It takes away feelings of shame, guilt, reproach and contempt. (Ps 119:6, 22)
  • It gives us an upright (straightness of) heart. (Ps 119:7)
  • It cleanses one’s ways and keeps a one clean. (Ps 119:9)
  • It keeps us from sinning against YHVH. (Ps 119:11)
  • It brings delight and joy. (Ps 119:24, 70, 77, 162, 174)
  • It gives us the ability to answer those who reproach (taunt, defy, rail against) us. (Ps 119:42)
  • It gives us freedom (a large or broad area to walk in). (Ps 119:45, 96)
  • It allows us to speak wisely before leaders. (Ps 119:46)
  • It brings us comfort. (Ps 119:52)
  • It gives us something to sing about (Ps 119:54)
  • It brings hope. (Ps 119:74, 81)
  • It makes us wiser than our enemies. (Ps 119:98)
  • It gives us more understanding than our teachers and the ancients. (Ps 119:99, 100)
  • It keeps our feet from evil. (Ps 119:101)
  • It gives light to our path. (Ps 119:105; Prov 6:23)
  • It helps to order our steps and keeps sin from having dominion over us (Ps 119:133)
  • It shows us what truth is. (Ps 119:142, 151)
  • It gives something to love. (Ps 119:159, 163)
  • It causes us to hate evil. (Ps 119:163)
  • It gives us great peace. (Ps 119:163)
  • It defines righteousness for us and gives us understanding as to what righteousness is. (Ps 119:172; Prov 2:9)
  • It brings an understanding of the fear of Elohim, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7; 2:5)
  • It gives us discretion (purpose, to know the difference between good and evil). (Prov 2:9)
  • It delivers us from the way of the evil man. (Prov 2:12)
  • It will keep us from the strange woman (a metaphor for sin or wickedness). (Prov 2:16)
  • It shall bring long life and peace. (Prov 3:2,16)
  • It shall give you favor and good understanding in the sight of Elohim and man. (Prov 3:4)
  • YHVH will direct your paths. (Prov 3:6)
  • It shall bring you good health physically. (Prov 3:8)
  • It will bring you physical wealth (because you tithe to YHVH). (Prov 3:9–10, 16)
  • It brings the loving correction and chastisement of YHVH. (Prov 3:11–12)
  • It brings happiness. (Prov 3:13, 18)
  • It brings honor (glory, abundance, riches). (Prov 3:16)
  • It is a tree of life. (Prov 3:18)
  • It brings life to your soul and grace (favor) like an ornament around the neck (Prov 3:22)
  • It will cause you to walk safely so that your foot will not stumble. (Prov 3:23)
  • It will make you so that you are not afraid—so that you can sleep safely at night and have sweet sleep. (Prov 3:24)

As we can see so far, the Torah is more than merely a list of dos and don’ts.  It brings Continue reading

 

What was John the Baptist really preaching? A Lesson for Us…

John the Baptist was no politically correct, mealy-mouthed, sissified, panty-waist, Ahab-ized preacher! He grew up outside the religious system so that his perspective and preaching wouldn’t be jaded when it came to calling those inside the system to repentance. We need more preachers like him today!

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them when he says that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually, and they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in your business dealings, and if you’re a government worker, treating the citizens you serve with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many might consider to be the specificities and dos and don’ts of the Torah-law, although it could be reasoned that Continue reading