Christian “Double-Speak” When It Comes to the Torah

Deuteronomy 31:10–13, You shall read this Torah before all Israel.Verses like this tend to expose the theological confusion that occurs in the minds of many Christian Bible teachers. For example, Christian commentator Matthew Henry on this verse writes about the need to read the Word of Elohim and that doing so will “help us to keep his commandments.” Yet elsewhere he says in the same commentary about the same laws that the commandments or laws of YHVH “are done away with.” 

Statements like these are representative of a split and incongruous, “double-speak” thinking on the part of many Christian Bible teachers and people when it comes to the commandments or laws of Elohim. Some laws, they say, we are to keep (e.g. thou shalt not murder, lie, commit adultery, etc.), but other laws we can disobey (e.g. the Sabbath, dietary laws, and biblical feasts). 

Is it possible to have it both ways: to believe that we need to keep his commandments, yet teach they are done away with? If so, then what is the meaning of such biblical phrases pertaining to YHVH’s Torah or Word as “forever,” “for a thousand generations,” “the same yesterday today and forever,” “till heaven and earth pass away,” “I change not,” and “think not that I came to destroy the Torah-law?” Is ­YHVH’s Word inconsistent and contradictory, or is this, instead, the case with the thinking of men? Is YHVH’s immutable character flawed with regard to keeping his Word, promises and standards or is man the one at fault?

In reality, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Do we have a high enough view of YHVH Elohim and fear him and tremble at his Word (Isa 66:2), or have we, in reality, demoted the veracity of his Word by contorting YHVH and his Word to fit the mindset of changeable and inconsistent man (which the Scriptures define as idolatry)? 

Moreover, have we, by denying the validity of some aspects of YHVH’s Word, bought into the lie that the serpent proffered at the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden when he told the man and the woman that YHVH really did not mean what he said and that humans can take the “have it your own way” and “pick and choose” approach when it comes to obeying the Word of YHVH (a philosophy that forms the basis for the religious movement called secular humanism, which is at the heart of all the religions of the world—including much of Christianity—except the true religion of the Bible)?

In reality, how many aspects of Christian theology are no more than a thinly veiled version of the religion of humanism in disguise? 

These are tough questions that the saints who are the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16) need to ponder seriously. Let’s not forget the words of Yeshua in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my [Torah] commandments” and the words of the apostle in 1 John 2:5–5, “He that says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his [Torah] commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keeps his Word in him truly is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The bottom line reason why man has a hard time submitting to all of YHVH’s commandments is nowhere stated more concisely in the Bible than in Romans 8:7,

[T]he carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.

 

If your forefathers broke a nation’s law, does that now free you to ignore that law?

Deuteronomy 29:15, Not here with us today.This verse  teaches us that YHVH made his covenant not only with the Israelites present there that day, but with all those who would live in the future. What are the implications of this with regard to your life? How does it impact what you do, how you act, your attitude and relationship with your Maker to know that covenants were made 3500 years ago that have a bearing on our lives today as Redeemed Israelites? 

There are those in the modern church who will say, “Since I’m not an Israelite, but I’m a Gentile Christian, therefore, I have no obligation toward the Torah, and thus the Old Testament laws mean little or nothing to me.” 

My response to this argument that, with the flick of the hand and the nod of the head, dismisses two-thirds of Scripture—the Word of Elohim—is simple. The idea that a born again believer is still a Gentile—a lie that the church system has convinced most Christians to believe—isn’t biblically substantiated. The Scriptures are clear on this point. For example, Paul calls redeemed believers the “one new man” and part of the nation of Israel. And who are the ex-Gentiles that Paul talks about who were aliens to the covenants (plural, referring to the Abrahamic Covenant revealing the path to salvation, the Mosaic Covenant revealing the path of righteousness and the New Covenant, which is the previous two covenants written on our spiritually circumcised hearts) of Israel, but have now been brought into the commonwealth of Israel through the work of Yeshua? (See Eph 2:11–19.) Remember, there’s no Gentile gate in the New Jerusalem—only the 12 gates named after the 12 tribes of Israel. So what tribe are you?

Additionally, some might question whether covenants made with one’s forefathers are applicable to us today. If this is your case, then let us pose the following question: Did the founding fathers of America make laws more than 200 years ago (i.e. the U. S. Constitution) that are binding upon us today? If so, how much more applicable upon us are covenants made by our forefathers 3500 years ago with YHVH? Just because our ­forefathers broke their covenant with YHVH does not free us to violate YHVH’s laws any more than if someone in the past violates a nation’s constitutional law frees this frees future generations from violating that law. Think about it! 

 

What Is the Purpose of the Torah?

The law of YHVH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHVH is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of YHVH are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of YHVH is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of YHVH is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of YHVH are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Ps 19:7–11)

Deuteronomy 28:1, Commandments. Most people with whom I have engaged in discussion about the Torah-law of Elohim have a limited understanding of the breadth, scope and purpose of Elohim’s law. If they understand the full ramifications of the Torah, they would likely be less inclined to dismiss its validity in their lives. When discussing the Torah with people who have a traditional Christian view of  “the law,” it might be helpful to keep the following truths in mind; they help to “blow the lid” off of people’s theological boxes!

(Excerpted from a larger work by Ya’acov Natan Lawrence entitled, YHVH’s Instructions In Righteousness—A Messianic Believer’s Introduction to the Torah available online at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/torahprimer.pdf)

The purpose of the Torah is to show man how to walk in right relationship (or righteousness) with his Creator. To do this, we must love YHVH with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30) and love our neighbor as ourself (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30). Once one is saved by grace through faith (See my teaching article entitled: The Abrahamic Covenant: The Covenant of Salvation, available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/abracov.pdf.), Torah helps show man how to walk in the straight and narrow path that leads to blessings and life and avoids the curses of the law (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), which is walking contrary to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness that are for our blessing and benefit.

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The Blessing, Unity and Order of the Torah

Deuteronomy 27:11–28, Blessing and curses for obedience. In these verses we find listed some of the blessings and cures for Torah obedience. Do you believe the Torah principles (spiritual truths) of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience to YHVH’s Word are for us today? If not why not? 

Here are some questions to consider to ask when considering Elohim’s Torah and the blessings and curses that come upon us as a result of our response to these instructions in righteousness, which are a reflection of the character and nature of the Creator. Does YHVH’s character, truth or Word change? If these blessings are not being manifested in your life why might that be? Could it relate possibly to your level of Torah obedience and faith/trust level vis-à-vis YHVH and his Word? What changes could you make in your life that might place you in a more favorable position to receive his blessings rather than the curses?

Deuteronomy 27:15–18, The commandments are all inter-connected. To the casual reader, the admonitions contained in these verses may seem to be arranged in a random order, but this is not the case. Let’s discuss the purposeful design of the order in which Elohim gives this commandments.

Consider the following: The prohibition against idolatry (verse 15) is juxtaposed with that of degrading one’s parents (i.e. not honoring one’s parents, or as S. R. Hirsch states in his commentary, “who outwardly is respectful to his parents but inwardly considers himself vastly superior to them”) along with trespassing against one’s neighbor’s property by removing his neighbor’s boundary markers or landmarks. 

Now consider this: One who does not honor and fear YHVH but turns to idolatry (the second commandments) will not honor one’s parents (the fifth commandment) (and vice versa) will likewise not honor the property of one’s neighbor (including his neighbor’s wife). 

Juxtaposed next to these commands is the prohibition against misleading a blind person (verse 18). This means that we should not take advantage of one’s blindness by advising a blind person in a way beneficial to us and detrimental to him. 

Following this commandment is the principle about one who steals justice from another by perverting judgment against one who is weaker socially or financially or who is less informed at law than another thereby giving the advantage to the stronger (The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash/Devarim, pp. 2126–2127). 

Can you see how each command is interrelated with all the others? Does this not give one insight into the curious statement found in James 2:10, which declares that if you have broken one commandment you have  broken them all? This should help us to see that in one way or the other, all of YHVH’s commandments are inter-related, all depend on each other, and they all stand or fall together. 

Now relate James 2:10 back to verse eight of the same chapter where James notes that the entire Torah-law can be summarized as the “royal law of love.” 

As you review YHVH’s list of prohibitions in Deuteronomy 27 can you see any other relationships between these juxtaposed concepts? Learning to exegete (draw truth out of) Scripture in this manner will yield a whole new level of spiritual revelation to the reader.

 

The Priesthood and the Torah-Law Then and Now

Hebrews 7:12, Priesthood being changed…a change also of the law [Torah]. The Greek words for being changed and a change are respectively metatithemi (a verb) and metathesis (a noun). The the verb means “to transpose, to transfer, to go or pass over, to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another.” Many people interpret this verse to mean that YHVH’s Torah-law was changed (i.e. has been invalidated or annulled) by the new covenant, but is this what the author is saying here?

Before going further in our discussion, let’s lay out some basic truths of the Scriptures. 

YHVH doesn’t change (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17). The word torah [in English, translated as law] means “instructions, principles, teachings” and came directly from YHVH to his people. The Torah teaches men how to love YHVH and love one’s fellow man. It is YHVH’s instructions in righteousness and reflects his very character and nature. Who YHVH is doesn’t change.

It is a sin (a violation of the Torah) to change the Torah (Deut 4:2; 12:32).

So in this light, what is this verse really saying? It declares that the priesthood was changed. The Levitical priesthood that was temporarily and parenthetically inserted into the Melchizedek priesthood (both priesthoods are revealed in the Torah, see Exod 19:2, 4 cp. 28:1; 32:29). In the former priesthood, a father acted as the priest over his family interceding for them before Elohim via sacrifices and offerings (Gen 8:20; 12:7, 8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7; Exod 17:15; Job 1:5). In the latter priesthood, YHVH designated the descendants of Aaron as priests over Israel replacing the heads of each home as the priest of each family (Exod 30:31).

The writer of Hebrews reveals to us that with the coming of Yeshua, the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood was replaced by the original order of Melchizedek with Yeshua as its High Priest. This makes sense when we realize that Yeshua is not only the builder of his spiritual house, the church (Heb 3:3), but also the head of it, for he is the High Priest over the spiritual house of Elohim (Heb 10:21), which is comprised of the saints who are living stones and are apart of that house (1 Pet 2:5) and temple (1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21–22) with Yeshua as the chief corner stone and the apostles and prophets the foundation (Eph 2:20). The saints are currently a part of this original Melchizedek priesthood, which has attained to the higher spiritual level through Yeshua, regardless of their tribal lineage (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). 

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Revealing the Uplook and the Outlook

Overview of Psalm 19—The “Light” of the World

This psalm contains three sections that shows a wonderful and logical progression from the greater (Elohim) to the lesser (man), from the macro downward to the micro. At first appearance, these three sections may seem unrelated, by they each section flows logically to the next revealing some deep mysterious truths about YHVH Elohim’s plan of redemption for humans.

Section one (vv. 1–6) describes the creation of Elohim, which points to the glory of Elohim, the Creator. It concludes by describing the sun, which is the physical light of the world and is like a bridegroom in his full glory emerging from his private chambers about to marry his bride. The physical universe is governed by physical laws, which keep it functioning in an orderly manner.

Section two (vv. 7–11) describes the glorious attributes of the Torah, which reveals the character of Elohim, and it shows man what his response should be to the Almighty Creator upon viewing the glories of the creation. Man is to worship the Creator, not the creation. When followed, the Torah helps to keep man’s life structured in a way that brings order, blessing and causes life to function smoothly. Moreover, as the sun’s light pierces the physical darkness of the world, the light of the Torah brings the spiritual light of Elohim into the world along with many benefits for a blessed life.

Section three (vv. 12–14) explains what happens when the light of Torah shines into the darkness of a one’s life—it exposes the hidden dark areas of sin in one’s life. It shows man how to walk blamelessly before and in a right relationship with Elohim. This psalm then ends by stating that YHVH is man’s strength and redeemer. This is another way of saying that man is morally and spiritually weak and needs redemption from the consequences and the power of sin. Thankfully, YHVH has the answer to this problem: he is man’s strength and Redeemer. Yeshua the Messiah is man’s Redeemer and as the sun is the physical light of the world, Messiah is the spiritual light of the world (John 1:6–9; 8:12) Scripture even calls Yeshua the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), and, in his glorified state, his face shines like the sun in its full strength (Rev 1:16). When a person follows the Torah through a relationship with Yeshua the Redeemer, one will eventually be raised to glory and shine like the stars in heaven (Dan 12:3; Matt 12:43), for they will be like Yeshua (1 John 3:2). HalleluYah!

 

Is the Torah “Jewish fables?”

Titus 1:14, Jewish fables. Many people in the mainstream church are content to dismiss the Torah merely as Jewish fables having little or no relevance to Christians. Yet, the same preachers will passionately promote Christmas trees, Santa Claus and Easter bunnies. So what’s wrong with this picture? 

Moreover, many Bible teachers in the mainstream church teach that this verse refers to the Torah. They use it in attempting to prove that the commandments of the Torah are no longer valid for believers. Is this correct? 

In reality, Paul can’t be referring to the Torah here without contradicting himself elsewhere. In numerous places, he strongly upholds and defends obedience to the Torah (Rom 3:31; 7:7, 12, 14; 13:8–10; 1 Cor 7:19; 9:21; Gal 3:10; 6:2; 2 Tim 6:14; Tit 2:14) and even claims to follow it himself (Acts 21:24; 24:1425:8; 28:17; 1 Cor 9:21). He must be talking about the Jewish traditions of men, which Yeshua said in Matthew 15:3–9 and Mark 7:7–9 make of non-effect the word of Elohim. 

In fact, this is exactly what Paul is referring to here in this verse when he says “Jewish fables and commandments of men.” This is not a reference to the Torah the commandments which, in truth, came from YHVH Elohim and not from men. In the same verse, Paul contrasts these commandments of men with “the truth” from which men have turned away. 

So what is this truth that Paul references here? Since Bible defines its own terms, we must look to it for the definition of the word truth. Elohim is the source of truth (Deut 32:4 cp. Pss 86:11; 89:14; 117:2), he is truth (Ps 25:10; 31:5; 33:4), and his Torah is truth (Ps 119:142, 151). 

Truth is the opposite of a fable. One example of a Jewish fable and a commandment of men would be the idea that one can’t be saved unless they’re first circumcised (Acts 15:15:1, 5), which was the subject of the Acts 15 council. Paul vehemently fought this Jewish fable, and the whole Book of Galatians, for example, largely deals with this issue. If Paul had meant the Torah when mentioning “Jewish fables” then this makes Paul into a schizophrenic liar (since he promotes and lauds the Torah and claims to follow it elsewhere), while elsewhere he views the Torah as irrelevant and not necessary to be obeyed. Were Paul against the Torah, this would put Paul at odds with Yeshua who upheld the Torah (Matt 5:17–19) and with himself when he said to imitate Yeshua the Torah-keeper as he himself did (1 Cor 11:1). 

From this brief discussion, it should be obvious to a logical minded person that Paul doesn’t have the Torah in view when he mentions fables in this verse.