The Law of YHVH or the Law of Moses?

Luke 2:24, Law of the Lord/YHVH. This phrase is found only three times in the Testimony of Yeshua—here and in vv. 24 and 39. The same phrase is additionally found 18 times in the Tanakh and obviously refers to the Torah (e.g. Pss 1:1; 19:7; 119:1). Meanwhile, the phrase the law of Moses is found a similar number of times in the Bible: 15 times in the Tanakh and seven times in the Testimony of Yeshua. Obviously the phrases the law of YHVH and the law of Moses are synonymous terms in that they refer to the same thing: the Written Torah. 

From the obvious meanings of these two terms, we learn that YHVH Elohim is the divine source or origination of the Torah, while Moses was merely the one who first wrote it down or codified it, and as the leader of the nation of Israel, he administered it. 

In light of these facts, it is interesting, if not ironic, how the mainstream church chronically refers to the Torah as “the law of Moses,” when Scripture refers to the Torah as “the Torah of YHVH” the same number of times less one. The mainstream church’s choice of one term over the other seems to reveal, sadly, its apathy, if not, at times, its outright antipathy, toward YHVH’s Torah. To justify this ungodly attitude, it has chosen to use the term that casts the Torah-law of Elohim in the most negative light possible by inferring that its source is man and not Elohim. This furthermore underscores the truth of Paul’s words in Romans 8:7 about the carnal mind of man being at enmity with the laws of Elohim in that it refuses to be subject to them.

 

What Is the Ultimate Goal of the Torah?

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”?

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. 

A strict obedience to the Torah is NOT the ultimate goal of 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?

Continue reading
 

“Yeshua came to fulfill the law”—what does this really mean?

Matthew 5:17, The law and the prophets. Yeshua mentions two of the three subdivisions of the Hebrew Scriptures in this passage: the Law or Torah and the Prophets or Neviim. The Jews have traditionally subdivided the Hebrew Scriptures into three sections: the Torah, Prophets and the Writings. We see Yeshua referring to this threefold subdivision in Luke 24:44. In fact, the Jews of today do not refer to their Hebrew Scriptures by the Christian term of “Old Testament,” but rather by the Hebrew word TaNaKh, which is an acronym representing this threefold division. The T in Tanakh stands for the Torah or the first five books of the Bible, the N stands for Neviim or the prophetic writings in the Hebrew Scriptures, while the K stands for the Hebrew word Ketuvim, which means Writings and includes the book Psalms, Proverbs, Job and others.

I came to…fulfill [the law]. Yeshua came to fulfill the law so that the law might be fulfilled in us, not so that we can continue breaking it without suffering the consequences. He came to save us from the consequences of breaking the law, not from the law itself. He came to set us an example of how to fulfill not only the letter, but the spirit of the law and to empower us through his Spirit to live in up to the law’s standards of righteousness.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Jesus came to fulfill the law [in our place], so that we don’t have to keep the law ourselves.” Many people just repeat this church-system mantra without really stopping and thinking about it. But what do they really mean when they say this? Do they even know? Have they thought about the implications of simply repeating this oft-quoted religious cliche?

Let’s think about this for a moment. If Yeshua’s fulfilling Elohim’s law (also known as the law of Moses)means that he did it so that we don’t have to, does this mean that since Yeshua didn’t murder, commit adultery, lie, steal, worship other gods, dishonor his parents, take God’s name in vain or covet it’s now all right for us to do so, since he did it in our place? When a Sunday Christian is presented with this line of reasoning, he’s usually hard-pressed to come up with a logical response, since his initial assertion has been proven to be illogical. The basic tenets of Christianity assert that such behavior is sin.

Now if you ask a clergyman the same question, he’ll often answer you in one of two ways. He’ll either tell you that we only have to do the laws that Jesus or the New Testament authors specifically enumerated. Or he’ll tell you that Christians are obligated to keep the moral law, but not the ceremonial laws of which the Sabbath, biblical feasts and dietary laws are a part.

To start with, let’s deal with the first answer. If Christians only have to follow the laws that Yeshua and the New Testament writers specifically mention, then is it all right to have sex with animals, since this law is specifically stated in the Old Testament Torah, but not in the New Testament? What’s more, why do many churches teach the tithing principle, which is a law found in the Torah, but not in the New Testament if we only have to follow the New Testament laws? Do you now see the speciousness of the argument that we only have to keep the Old Testament laws that are specifically mentioned in the New Testament?

The next argument involves dividing Elohim’s Torah-laws into two categories: the moral and the ceremonial laws. The problem with this argument is that neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament make such delineations. The law of Elohim is law of Elohim. It all stands or falls together. James, for example, speaks about the whole law and says that when one violates one of Elohim’s laws, one violates them all (Jas 2:10). He calls the same law “the royal law” in a singular sense with no artificial subdivisions (verse 8). Similarly, Paul sums up the law of Elohim by one word: love (Rom 13:8). Yeshua and the apostolic writers in numerous places speaks about the law (e.g. Matt 5:17–19; Mark 12:28–31; Rom 3:31; 7:12, 14; 8:7) and makes no distinctions between moral and ceremonial. 

Continue reading
 

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.

Continue reading
 

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.