What is the difference between the Torah and the law of Moses, if any?

This question from on of our loyal readers just came in about my recent post on Acts 15.

Great teaching Natan, but one question…I never thought of there being both a Torah law and a law of Moses that was custom rather than law. So circumcision isn’t a Torah Law but Law of Moses that is a custom rather than law. How does one tell the difference between what Moses commanded that is a Torah law and what he commanded as his customary law? Referring to this: ” Rather, what he was referring to was the customs Moses established (which become known as the law of Moses), which exceed the basic requirements of the Torah. In this case, it was the custom the circumcision as a requirement for inclusion in the nation of Israel and is based on the Passover requirements found in Exod 12:43–49. “

Here is my response—

What is the difference between the Torah and the Law of Moses?

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 didn’t 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.

At the same time, and in a sense, Moses is the originator (by the hand of Elohim) of the law of Moses as a 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 (perhaps that’s one reason he needed to be educated in Egypt, so he was capable of such a task). He put the Torah into a form that had not existed before: a national constitution for a physical nation state. 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 those requirements. 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 Continue reading

 

Acts 15 Explained (The mainstream church has lied to you!)

Is YHVH Elohim’s instructions in righteousness or Torah an unbearable yoke that Christian are free from making it now alright to murder, steal, lie, commit adultery and break the Sabbath? That’s what some misguided people want you to believe!

Oy vey! There is so much confusion, misunderstanding and false teaching out there in the church world. For example, the mainstream church has taught (or brainwashed) its constituents into believing that according to Acts 15, Gentiles are free from all of the requirements of the Torah-law of Moses, except for the four things mentioned in Acts 15:20.

What this means is that I guess it’s now all right for Gentiles to murder, steal, lie, worship idols, violate the Sabbath and you don’t have to tithe either (oops, there goes the pastor’s salary, retirement and building fund down the drain, and denominations are a thing of the past, as well, with their financial base gone), as long as we do the four requirements stipulated by the apostles in Acts 15:20. That means we have to do kosher slaughter of clean animals and make sure we get the blood out of the meat. Oh, I just remembered, the church doesn’t even teach these basic things, much less practice them. Now I’m really confused…so what’s really going on here? Well, it’s a heart of man thing! Paul summed it up in Romans 8:7,

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

Jeremiah had something to say about this as well,

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)

Human nature hasn’t changed much from the time these words were penned until now. To wit, someone just wrote the following in the comments section of this blog:

I heartily disagree. One need only look to what the Jewish apostles taught their goyim charges (from the Council at Jerusalem – Acts15, specifically verses 28 & 29));

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond these essential requirements: You must abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Not a word about the “Law”. Rather listen to what Jesus’ closest friend had to say, “Now then, why do you test God by placing on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”

Evidently, some feel that they know more than the Holy Spirit, and Peter.

I responded as follows:

Yes, yes, yes, those of us who’ve been around the block a time or two over the past few decades have heard this argument more than a few times. It’s not that someone is claiming to know more than Peter or the Holy Spirit, as you suggest. Rather, it’s that someone is failing to understand the Acts 15 passage in its full context and has defaulted to believing the traditions of men by which the Word of Elohim has been made of non-effect. Please allow me to explain.

First, let me thank you for allowing me to address this sadly misunderstood passage of Scripture that has confused many people and led many folks, such as yourself, to come to a totally wrong and unscriptural conclusion. To take the position you are positing totally contradicts hundreds of other verses in both the OT and NT. Yeshua himself said that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). To say that Scripture contradicts itself is, honestly, to call the Bible a lie and the Author of it a liar. Hard words, but the truth. Sadly, this is the majority position of the mainstream church. YHVH Elohim will straighten out this mess in due time. Many Christian teachers who have taught this and who have led YHVH’s people astray will be proven to be false and will have to answer before Elohim’s throne of judgment for it.

I will post the counter argument to your position on my blog. Those who are not afraid of the truth can read the truth here:

Now here’s my commentary on Acts 15.

Acts 15:1–29, See notes at Matt 11:29. (Posted below)

Acts 15:1, Custom of Moses. This is based on Exodus 12:48 which requires all males to be circumcised before being allowed to partake of Passover. To be part of Israel, one had to become circumcised and observe the Passover and all Israel was required to do so (Exod 12:47). Foreigners were forbidden from keeping the Passover (Exod 12:43) until they were circumcised. From this, the Pharisees got the idea that circumcision is a prerequisite for salvation—or inclusion in spiritual family of redeemed Israel. As Paul points out in Romans chapter four, Abraham was justified by faith, not by the rite of circumcision. Therefore, the custom of circumcision as a prerequisite for inclusion within the nation of Israel (a metaphor for salvation) is unique to the law of Moses, and not to the over-arching and eternal principles of the Torah (as demonstrated by the fact that Abraham come into a relationship with YHVH 24 years before being circumcised) to which the law of Moses is subservient. This custom was necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of the physical nation of Israel from foreign and pagan influences and was not prior to or subsequent to the physical nation of Israel intended to be a prerequisite for eternal salvation as Paul, again, makes clear in Romans chapter four.

Acts 15:10, Yoke on the neck. Many Christian commentators teach that Peter is making a reference to the Torah when he speaks of a yoke being put around the neck of the people of Israel meaning that Torah-observance was an impossibility. Yet, Moses told the Israelites that Torah-obedience wasn’t impossible (Deut 30:11–14), and that it would be a source of life to them (v. 19), and would be a source of wisdom and understanding for them, thus eliciting the curiosity of the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6–8). Were Moses and Peter at odds with each other thus violating the unity of Elohim’s Word (John 10:35)? Or Continue reading

 

Abraham a Torah Keeper Before Moses?

Genesis 18:19, Shall keep the way of YHVH…do justice and judgment. To what is YHVH referring here? He is referring to the Torah, something some Christian Bible teachers say did not exist before Moses and Mount Sinai (see also Gen 26:5). Let’s now see how the Scriptures define these terms and how they relate to the Torah. Genesis 18:19 says, 

“For I [YHVH] know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of YHVH, to do justice and judgment; that YHVH may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken.” (emphasis added)

Let’s define the three highlighted words above in the larger context of the Scriptures.

“The way” is the Hebrew word derech (Strong’s H1870) and is used in the following places:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way [derech], who walk in the law [Torah] of YHVH. (Ps 119:1)

I will run the way [derech] of the commandments … (Ps 119:32)

Teach me, O YHVH, the way [derech] of thy statutes … (Ps 119:33)

“Justice” is the Hebrew word tsedaqah (Strong’s H6666) meaning “righteousness.” Here is an example of its usage:

… for all thy commandments are righteousness … (Ps 119:172)

“Judgments” is the Hebrew word mishpatim (Strong’s H4941) meaning “ordinances” referring to YHVH’s moral and ethical laws as embodied in the last six of the ten commandments, which teach righteousness in one’s business and personal relationships.

 …[YHVH’s] righteous judgments [mishpat]. (Ps 119:7)

I have chosen the way [derech] of truth: thy judgments [mishpatim] have I laid before me. (Ps 119:30)

Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments [mishpatim] endures forever. (Ps 119:160)

Can there be any doubt, if we’re to believe what the Scriptures literally say that Abraham was Torah observant hundreds of years before Moses (Abraham’s great, great grandson) was born?

 

Is your house built on sand or rock?

Matthew 7:24–27, House on the Rock. What is Yeshua saying here? The Bible equates Torah with wisdom (e.g. Deut 4:5–6; Ps 111:10; Prov 2:6). Therefore, a wise man is one who walks in the Torah. The same man will be called “greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (5:19), referring to one who keeps the Torah-commandments of Elohim and teaches men to do them, whereas the one who rejects Torah the Messiah Yeshua will reject him (verse 23).

A “house” in Hebrew thought is a reference to the temple of Elohim (1 Chr 6:48; 9:13, 26, 27; 22:2; 23:28; 28:21; 2 Chr 4:19; 5:1; Ezr 4:24; Is. 2:3; Matt 12:4; Mark 2:26) that was built upon Mount Moriah (originating from the Hebrew word moreh meaning “to teach”) from which the Torah-law (the righteous teachings or instructions) of Elohim was to go forth to the nations (Isa 2:3; Mic 2:4). We know from the Testimony of Yeshua that the saints are called the spiritual temple (or house) of Elohim (1 Tim 3:15; Heb 10:21; 1 Pet 4:17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21). What we see here is that the “teachings” or “instructions in righteousness” (i.e. the Torah) of YHVH go forth from the temple or house of Elohim located on Mount Moriah for the benefit of the spiritual house or temple of the saints. Clearly stated, Yeshua is saying that the Torah-law of Elohim is for redeemed believers today during the so called “Church Age.”

The “rock” is a clear reference to Yeshua (Ps 18:31,46; 78:35; Rom 9:33; 1 Pet 3:8). He is a Rock and a House (Ps 31:2). He was the Rock in the wilderness from which the water of life flowed and that followed them (referring to the pillar of fire over the Tabernacle of Moses; 1 Cor 10:4; John 4:13–14). He was the Rock that is the Creator (Deut 32:18). As the Rock of Israel, his work was perfect and all of his Torah-ways (instructions, precepts, teachings in truth and righteousness) are judgment and truth (Deut 32:4). He is the Rock of Israel’s salvation (Deut 32:18; Ps 62:2,6; 89:26; 95:1). In Jacob’s dream of a ladder to heaven (which we discussed above), the rock or stone upon which Jacob rested his head and from which the ladder to heaven ascended is mentioned several times (Gen 28:11, 18, 22). This is a clear reference to Yeshua. He is the Stone that the builders rejected and which has become the Head of the corner (Ps 118:22). He is the Stone of stumbling and the Rock of offense (Isa 8:14), and he is the Stone that was laid in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a sure foundation (Isa 28:16). Yeshua is the Torah-Word of Elohim made flesh ( John 1:1, 14), and as we have already seen, he was the one who spoke out the Torah-instructions in righteousness to Israel at Mount Sinai. And upon what were those instructions written? Upon two tablets of stone.

So how could we summarize what Yeshua is teaching in his parable about the house on the rock? Does it give us any insights into how he viewed the Torah-law of Elohim that was given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai? Was Yeshua negative in his view of the Torah? Was he indicating that it would be replaced with another (new) law for his disciples—one that would supersede the Torah? Or as Paul the apostle said in the book of Romans, “Do we make void the Torah of Elohim by faith?” (Rom 3:31 cp 6:15). We all know Paul’s immediate response in the same verse to his rhetorical question. “Elohim forbid!”  Yeshua’s teaching of the house on the rock validates the Torah and therein he states clearly that the man whose spiritual house is not built on Torah is a foolish man and that his house will fall. Such individuals will be the ones who will hear the words of Yeshua, the Living Torah, on judgment day, “Depart from me, you that work Torahlessness. I do not know you” (Matt 7:21–23). This warning is totally consistent with Yeshua’s words of Matthew 5:17–19 where he forcefully upholds the legitimacy of the Torah of Elohim. In Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7), he nowhere contradicted himself, nor deviated from his core teaching of upholding the Torah—the instructions, teachings, precepts in righteousness of Elohim, which was had been the standard of righteous living that ruled both the national life of Israel and that of the individual. Yeshua, Paul the apostle along with numerous other biblical writers affirm over and over again that Elohim’s standards of righteousness never changed for ancient Israel (and for all humans), and never will change to this day.

 

What REALLY is the narrow gate?

Matthew 7:13, Enter the narrow gate. Here Yeshua speaks of the straight gate and the narrow way that leads to life versus the wide and broad gate that leads to destruction. This narrow gate relates to Jacob’s dream of a ladder to heaven.

In Genesis 28:10–22, we have the account of Jacob’s dream of a ladder reaching into heaven. The dream greatly amazed Jacob and afterwards he concluded that he had experienced a divine encounter. He named the spot where he had the dream Beth El meaning “House of El (God),” and he concluded that this spot was “the gate of heaven” (verse 17). In Hebraic thought, “the ladder” to heaven is equivalent to the Tree of Life, which is another term for the Torah of Elohim. We know that Yeshua was the Torah-Word of Elohim made flesh ( John 1:1,14). Not only that, Yeshua likened himself to a ladder reaching to heaven (John 1:51). 

Furthermore, we see both Moses and Joshua describing the Torah-law of Elohim as a (narrow, by implication) path from which one must turn neither to the left nor to the right (Deut 5:32; 17:11, 20; 28:14; Josh 1:7; 23:6). In Proverbs, the path of wisdom (i.e. Torah) is also likened to a (narrow, by implication) path from which one must not turn either to the left or to the right (Prov 4:27). 

The term “gate” (or door) itself in Matthew 7:13 is a Hebraism referring to the means by which one enters into the Tabernacle or Temple of Elohim (Exod 27:14, 16; 32: 35:17; Ezek 40:3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 etc.). The Tabernacle (or Mishkan) of Moses was representative of the pathway to redemption or salvation. Before actually entering the tabernacle, one encountered the altar of the red heifer, which is a prophetic picture of the cross of Yeshua. To enter the tabernacle, one passed through a multi-colored gate. One of the colors was crimson, which represented the blood of lamb on the door posts of the Israelites’ homes on Passover eve. After that, one would come to the brazen alter of sacrifice, which pictures the new believer dying daily, after the example of Yeshua on the cross, and daily ingesting of the “blood” and “body” of Yeshua (pictured by the Christian ritual of communion), the Lamb of Elohim. 

Yeshua fulfilled all these prophetic types and shadows. He said that he is the door or gate ( John 10:7, 9, 10) by which all must enter to have salvation (Acts 4:12), in order to have access to the Father in heaven (John 14:6). Yeshua told the rich young ruler that the Torah (both the Written Torah and Yeshua the Living Torah-Word of Elohim) was the path to eternal life (Matt 19:16–17). Moreover, the Torah points to Yeshua who was the “aim” or “goal” (not the “end” or “termination” of the Torah, as Rom 10:4 is often mistranslated as in most of our English Bibles) of the Torah who is the Living Torah-Word of YHVH ( John 1:1, 14). Yeshua said that he was the way (to the Father in heaven), the truth and the life ( John 14:6), and that the Word of Elohim is truth ( John 17:17). The only Word of Elohim that existed when Yeshua spoke these words was the Tanakh (or Old Testament).

Yeshua defined himself as the truth, so what is truth? How does Scripture define “truth”? In Psalm 119:142 and 151, David says that the Torah-law and Torah-commandments of Elohim are truth. It’s this simple! Any religious theology that attempts an end run head face into the truth of Torah. Period!

We see the concept of gates in the messianically prophetic verses of Psalm 118:19 and 20. Here the Messiah (Yeshua) is likened as gates of YHVH and gates of righteousness (Ps 119:172 defines “righteousness” as “all of thy Torah-commandments) which all the righteous shall enter.”

So Yeshua is the gate, or the straight way of life and truth, the door to salvation or redemption and the way to the Father in heaven. He is the Word of Elohim made flesh or the Living Torah (John 1:1, 14).

 

Torah Central—A New Paradigm From Which to View the Bible

The Living and the Written Torah Is the Central Theme of the Bible

The Living and Written Torah is the dominant theme of the Bible. They are one in the same thing—totally unified and absolutely indivisible, which is why I used the singular verb is and not the plural are in the previous sentence. Another way to say this is that whole Bible is about Yeshua the Torah-Word of Elohim who was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). 

To illustrate this point, as we shall discuss later, we find this dominant theme prominently highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of the Scriptures. 

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 and giving us eternal life.

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< (Strong’s H8451, TWOT 910b) 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, instruction (Prov 13:14). It is derived from the verb yarah/VRh meaning “to project, point out” (Strong’s H3384) 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 ideal.

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 wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f). So too Elohim, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights into how to live with each other and how 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 stands parallel to the word of YHVH. 

As already noted, the word Torah originates from the root word yarah vRH (Strong’s H3384), 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. By contrast, the Hebrew word for sin is chata (Strong’s H2298) which means “to miss the mark,” i.e. transgressing the Torah as 1 John 3:4 states, Sin is the transgression of the Torah.

The meaning of word Torah when analyzed through its Paleo-Hebrew pictographic letters yields some interesting insights from yet another perspective that are worth noting. The definition of the word Torah VRu< from the Paleo-Hebrew is as follows:

  • Tav means “sign, seal, covenant.”
  • Vav means “nail, peg, secure, add.” 
  • Resh means “head, person, highest.” 
  • Hey means “behold, reveal.”

The meanings of the individual picture-letters when combined give us the following expanded understanding: 

  • The Torah is “the highest secure covenant revealed.”
  • The Torah is “the covenant or sign that reveals the secure head or highest person” (i.e. YHVH-Yeshua).

The Origin of Torah and Its Introduction into the World

The Torah predates Moses who gave the law 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. That is another study and beyond Continue reading

 

Let it rain on the dry ground of our lives!

Deuteronomy 32:1–2, Note the phrases: “words of my mouth,” “my doctrine,” “rain,” “my speech shall distill as the dew,” “small rain” and “showers.” Now read compare these phrases with Eph 5:26. What is Scripture talking about here?

Israel spent 40 years in a dry wilderness. By contrast, the Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey and was well-watered. Immediately before and after the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (Exod 20), there are references to human thirst and YHVH providing water for his people (Exod 15:22–27; 17:1–7 Num 20:2–1

3). During the Messianic Age (the Millennium), living waters will flow from Jerusalem (Zech 14:8) and those who refuse to come up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will receive no rain on their land (Zech 14:16–19).

As you relate all these scriptures together, what is the bigger lesson YHVH is trying to teach us here pertaining to water and the word of YHVH?