Word of the Week

Torah

 

Hebrew

If I’m following Messianic Judaism (or Hebrew Christianity), am I putting myself under the law?

תורָה

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).”

What does it mean to “keep Torah”?

In the book of Galatians, the fifth chapter, Paul seems to be saying that “keeping Torah (the law)” puts you back under the law and that means you have fallen from grace. So does it follow that Messianic Jews and Christians who choose to keep the law have fallen from grace? Not at all.

The Bible records for us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but many Christians today have forgotten some very important parts of Scripture—namely, the “instructions” of God, or in Hebrew, Torah. — Shema.com

But when people have the idea that “keeping Torah” means an obligation to follow the Mosiac law as a way of justification before God, they have indeed fallen from grace.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17).”

Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law. The word “abolish” is the Greek word for “destroy or do away with”. The Greek word translated “fulfill” means to make complete (Matthew 5:17). So does that mean that “the law and the prophets” are done away with?

It’s interesting to me how today’s Christians are willing to toss God’s law out the window but follow prophecies to understand the times in which we live. Jesus coupled the law with the prophets. To say that He meant only the prophets that prophesied about Him is a weak argument at best, as those prophets combined messianic prophecies with other events as well. So did He only fulfill part of the prophets but all of the law?

What law did Jesus come to fulfill? Certainly not the Ten Commandments, which were the foundation of the Torah. Yet some will say they are good people because they keep the Ten Commandments. But do they? How many “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy”?

In fact, Jesus came to bring a more stringent law when He came.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28)
Of course, He absolutely did and for all time fulfill the demands of the law which required repayment for transgression. I owed a debt impossible for me to pay because to transgress the law in any point is to transgress the whole law. I am a sinner saved by grace. I owe my salvation to Yeshua’s completed work on the cross, where He unequivocally said, “It is finished.”
In light of that, how am I now to live?
I look back in the Old Testament at those first five books—the Torah—and I see instruction on how to live a long, healthy and happy life. No sacrifices are necessary to pay for transgressions, because Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice. Yet His feasts and His Sabbaths were enjoined forever. They are God’s moedim (not the feasts of the Jews), His appointed times, which He established forever.

The law of justification by works was never supposed to achieve salvation. No one was ever able to keep the law perfectly—until the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua. Therefore, I must rely on and trust in His finished work alone for my salvation. And I do.

Romans 7:12 tells us that the law is holy. Why in the world would we do away with something holy? The law was designed to show us the holiness of God. Its purpose was to expose man’s sinfulness and the sinfulness of sin.

“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).’

Sanctification comes by the grace of God. It means to be set apart and made holy. When I look into the mirror of the law, I see that my face is dirty. It shows me how unholy I am. Yet looking into the mirror does nothing to cleanse my face. Only God’s grace, provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, can do that.

Yet in my heart of hearts, the thing I want most to do is walk in a manner pleasing to God. This requires that I know what delights Him. Do I think that weaving patterns of the world into His holy things is pleasing to Him? Now that the Bible is completely written as our textbook for life, do I then act as I please, adopting the cares and concerns of the world but leaving out His will?

And what is His will? That we should live in the righteousness provided to us by His Son, our Savior.

The Torah was often compared to fire, water, wine, oil, milk, honey, drugs, manna, the tree of life, and many other things; it was considered the source of freedom, goodness, and life; it was identified both with wisdom and with love. – The Jewish Virtual Library

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 10:9-13).”

I love the Torah. It is God’s letter to His beloved children, written with the object of making them one with Him. I find fulfillment in keeping the Jewish feasts, the Sabbath, and in learning the language it was written in.

But not for one iota of a moment do I ever think that if I don’t keep the law I will suffer eternal damnation.

 

Yeshua took care of that for me.

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