In the average Christian church, there is a discounting of the relevance and potency of the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) and the Writings due to misinterpretations of Scripture.
Statements like, “That’s the old stuff–we don’t need that anymore,” “We’re under a new covenant (without knowing what that means),” and “We’re not under the law, we’re under grace (without knowing what that means),” get us in a lot of trouble.
Many who would profess to be followers of Yeshua (Aramaic name of the Messiah), deny the very doctrine and source from which He taught–the Torah. They use many of the excuses listed above to validate their living out of just a few books in the Bible.
I am convinced that our walk (not religion) will be much more enriched when we seek to understand Scripture within its complete context.
Refusing to critically and objectively study what some call the Old and the New Testament IN CONTEXT leaves many of us hungry for truth. To apply Scripture out of its context is to starve yourself; for it cannot produce real fruit.
To apply principles of Scriptures contextually, we will have to unlearn much of what we’ve learned.
If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: the “New” Testament is commentary on the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings. That means its foundation is the Torah. They derive their thinking and understanding of Scripture from Torah. So, we must know Torah to properly interpret and apply what we read.
The first couple hundred years after Messiah ascended, they did not have what we have compiled today. So, they were teaching from the: you guessed it–Torah, Prophets, and the Writings.
I know. Many believe they were reading out of pocket New Testaments and following along as these events took place; but, that’s just not what happened.
Heck, it’s unlikely the writers of the New Testament would’ve thought what they were writing would be considered Scripture. So, when Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 saying, “All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work;” the Scripture he is referring to is the Scripture they already knew: the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings.
Most of the time when Christians hear Torah, their mind goes to the “icky law that Jesus fulfilled so that we don’t have to.” There are many things wrong with that perspective. However, we have to start somewhere.
Many translate Torah as “law.” However, it is best translated as instruction, teaching, or doctrine.
Simply, the Torah is YAH teaching us how to live life. It’s His instructions for life. It is the WORD (Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:142; 1 Tim. 1:8, Rom. 3:31). Messiah is the living WORD (John 1:1-14).
In Matthew 22:36-37, 39-40, Messiah has an exchange that helps sum up the Torah.
“Teacher, which is the great command in the Torah? And יהושע said to him, ” ‘You shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets.”
When Messiah said, “The Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands,” he is saying every Word given in the Torah falls within those two categories. Every Word or principle given to Israel instructed them in how to love YAH and love people (including themselves).
Recently, I was reading Paul’s letters and enjoying an enriching time in the Scripture when I came across a verse that is a prime example of this.
Colossians 3:5 reads, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: whoring, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed of gain, which is idolatry.”
When examined in the Greek (the original language of the book of Colossians), these words sum up the instruction of Torah.
The word idolatry or immorality refers to a selling off of ourselves for the purpose of sin (failure). It has a connotation of adultery. It is to cheapen what is valuable. It is to give over to someone what already belonged to another.
Torah is riddled with instructions against idolatry. Idolatry gives honor to the created rather than the Creator.
“You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth..”
Shemoth (Exodus) 20:4 TS2009
The word for uncleanness or impurity paints a picture of mixing. Torah goes into depth always about the issue with mixing.
“‘Guard My laws. Do not let your livestock mate with another kind. Do not sow your field with mixed seed. And do not put a garment woven of two sorts of thread upon you.”
Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 19:19 TS2009
“They did not destroy the peoples,
As יהוה had commanded them,
But mixed with the nations
And learned their works,
And served their idols,
And they became a snare to them.”
Tehillim (Psalms) 106:34-36 TS2009
The issue with mixing is expounded upon in the book of 1 John. John goes into depth about YAH being light. In Him is no darkness.
The word passion refers to an inordinate desire. A desire that is misplaced or out of order–which indicates something was not covered properly previously. If a father does not cover properly, this lack will place an inordinate desire in a child that could have been prevented if the father had covered properly. Torah is thorough in showing how to cover the vulnerable and the importance thereof.
The word greed or covetousness means advantage and aggression. This is a contrary idea to what is taught in Torah. Many have often wondered why did YAH always instruct the people of Israel to get only what they needed. He’d find fault if they took more than they needed.
1. This was a sign of someone who had not had Sabbath perfected in them. In other words, if they took more than they needed, this was a sign of someone who did not trust YAH.
When Sabbath is perfected in someone, they do not seek to provide for themselves. They see YAH as provider and what they have for others. YAH covers me and I don’t have to look out for myself. They trust. They do not strive. Providing for yourself is strife.
2. Getting more than you needed meant someone else would go without.
The Torah is all about how to care for others and trusting YAH to care for you.
All of the words and right-rulings of YAH are to reveal (cultivate) two things in us: love for YAH and for people. The Torah makes provisions for the citizen and for the stranger, for the vulnerable, for the weak.
If we live a life that is me-centered, we are not living Torah.
If you are reading Scripture without a proper (progressing in understanding) foundation of Torah, then your understanding is shallow.
Torah is for today — and not in a vague “good for reference” kind of way. Instead, it is for today — actively, intensively, transforming its students.
“The Torah of יהוה is perfect, bringing back the being; The witness of יהוה is trustworthy, making wise the simple;”
Tehillim (Psalms) 19:7 TS2009
Stay tuned for more posts on Torah!