Yeshua obeyed and taught the Torah. The sermon on the Mount, the only sermon recorded for us, is His teaching of the Torah. It begins with the Beatitudes that sound like a Psalm.
He then goes on to speak of not abandoning the Torah but practicing it and the importance of teaching it. His standards are high, and it is not as if He has a higher standard than His Father. No, He is giving the proper interpretation.
For any commandment that is given by God there is the issue of the heart at its core. Adonai sees the heart, not just the outward appearance or observance. That does not mean that the outward observance is not important. Instead it means that the observance should flow from a heart truly devoted to Him. Out of such a heart the observance of the commandment will be true and pure.
To observe the commandments with an impure heart is sin and to have a pure heart and not actually observe the commandment is also sin. Both are disobedience. It cannot just be interesting information to enlighten our hearts, it must move to observing what has been learned to make a true and complete transformation in the person.
Let us love Him with a pure and clean heart so that we may serve Him through obedience to His commands!
This is what we are to strive for through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”
This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?
Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.
The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.
We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.
Three basic questions we should ask are: 1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture? 2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start? 3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?
1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).” Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments. He never broke the Law of the Kingdom. Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel. He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him.
If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?
Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews. Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”. After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism. Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with. Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above.
Isaiah 8:13-16 says, “ADONAI/The LORD Shaddai is the only one you are to regard as holy, He alone are you to fear, He alone are you to dread, and He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem He will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured. Bind up the testimony and seal up the law/Torah among my disciples.”
In Romans 9:33 Paul says that the stone that makes men stumble is Yeshua and in 1 Timothy 2:6 he calls Yeshua the testimony that was given in its time. So, Yeshua is the stumbling block and the testimony.
Historically, Christians have held tight to the testimony of Jesus and the Jews have held tight to the Torah. However, as we see in the Isaiah passage it is about both.
Revelation 12:17 lets us know it is the ones who hold to the testimony of Yeshua and keep the commandments of God that the dragon goes after. Both are important!
Finally, we see this in Isaiah 8:20, “To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”
Is it any wonder that the enemy wants us to keep these two, the testimony (Yeshua) and the Torah, apart? It is that all too familiar strategy of divide and conquer. Let’s not give him that satisfaction! Let us hold to the testimony, Yeshua, and the Torah!
Now, as we begin to witness to our older brother, the Jews, we need to be honest with ourselves and them. We have presented in the past a Messiah they could not recognize. Not only have we presented a Gentile looking Messiah devoid of His Jewishness, but we have also said that because He fulfilled the Torah/Law that we don’t have to obey it. That is and has been a big turn off to the Jewish people and rightly so.
We have essentially said to them, “believe in Jesus to come to God, but don’t serve and obey God.” That is essentially what they hear. And it is and has been a huge clue to them that the one we are presenting to them, at least the way we have presented Him, sounds and looks more like a false prophet than the real Messiah written about in the Tanakh (what we call the Old Testament). Let me explain this statement.
Deuteronomy 13 says that even if someone prophesies and it comes true or does signs and wonders (miracles), but they lead you away from your God and from serving Him they are a false prophet. Since to serve Him means to obey Him the false prophet is encouraging you to disobey the one you claim to serve.
Even Yeshua when speaking of those who come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord didn’t we do things in Your Name,” he said to them, “Go away from me you workers of Lawlessness, I never knew you.”(Matthew 7:22-23) This comment of Yeshua takes place in the context of a discussion about false prophets. This should be very sobering to us. We need to be very careful about how we present our Messiah.
Yeshua was a Jew and practiced the Torah. If He did not He would have been a sinner and not an acceptable sacrifice. He not only practiced the Torah, He also taught the Torah. If He didn’t He would have been coming against the teachings of His Father. He Himself said that His words were the words of His Father (John 8:28, 14:24). Remember, He is the Living Torah, which also means He would have been coming against Himself. He would have also, at the least, been calling Himself the least in the Kingdom according to His own words (Matthew 5:17-20).
Yeshua is the Living Torah, He practiced the Torah, He taught the Torah and promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would also teach us the Torah (John 14:26 & 16:13-15, Romans 8).
My point is this: Let’s be honest about our mistakes of the past and seek to rectify them with truth and grace. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.
I also want to say I am not passing judgement on those who have taught this. I believe those who have come before us have done the best that they knew to do from what was taught to them. It is not about them, but about us and how we present Yeshua now and in the future, now that the LORD has opened our eyes.
“To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you brothers in the name of our Adonai Yeshua the Messiah, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no schisms among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same opinion.
Notice what this passage is saying, that we are to be one, with no schisms. That our words are to be the same and that being the same (one/echad) in mind and opinion makes us complete. Therefore, we are not complete as long as as we are not one/echad, as long as there are schisms between us.
I have heard others over the years speak of unity not meaning uniformity, and in terms of our gifts and talents they would be correct, however this verse seems to be saying that in terms of our faith they are not. Then there is this verse, Ephesians 4:13, that speaks of the Messiah giving different gifts so that His body may be built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become complete (echad), attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.” The oneness of the body seems to be the final step to the bride of Messiah making herself ready (Revelation 10:7).
Also, the body of Messiah keeping Torah, in other words, obeying the commandments is also definitely coupled with belief in Yeshua before His return (Revelation 12:17 – “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her seed—those who keep Elohim’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Yeshua.”).
So the question is are we there? No we are not. So what does that mean? It means we still have a ways to go. The prayer and hope is that we are on the road and not resisting the work of the Spirit in our lives and the life of the body. Remember the work of the Spirit according to Ezekiel 36:27 is to help us obey the decrees and laws of Elohim and do them. Also, according to Jeremiah 31:33 the New Covenant is the placing of the Law/Torah of God on our minds and hearts.
Therefore, the Reformation is not yet complete until these things are true of us. God is still working among His people and He is preparing us for His Kingdom. So we pray, “Your Kingdom come Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
So why is it important that even the Gentile believer obeys the Law of God/Torah. It is not only our obligation of living in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8), not only how we express our love for our Messiah (John14), but it is also how we make Judah jealous (Romans 11).
We are called to make the Jews jealous and even angry that we have something that they understand is theirs (Romans 10:19 and Deuteronomy 32:21). When we practice the Torah/Law of Moses/Law of God, when they see us practicing Torah it arouses in them a jealousy and in some cases even anger because they think we are hijacking what is theirs. However, Scripture itself tells us that the same law is for the foreigner and the native born (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:15-16, 29;Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14 and Deuteronomy 1:16). It is for all those who choose to follow Elohim and be a part of His Kingdom.
At this point it is not just about our Discipleship in the Kingdom but it also becomes about Evangelism of the Jews. Paul in Romans 11:13b-14 puts it like this, “I make much of my ministry (to the Gentiles) in the hope that I can somehow arouse my own people (the Jews) to jealousy and save some of them. This jealousy is in the hope of their salvation.
So when we live out the Kingdom life it is as if we are Joseph saying to his brother Judah, “I am Joseph (Ephraim) a son of Israel and I bring you my brother good news of life, the Messiah, the true bread of Heaven, has come and He is Yeshua of Nazareth, Yeshua the Netser, Yeshua the Branch.”
Couple these two things, belief in Yeshua our Messiah and obedience to the commands of His Father and we have God’s recipe for His people becoming one/echad. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are called to be one/echad in Messiah and all those who follow Yeshua the Messiah and love Him will obey Him. We willingly become the bondservant of our Master to serve Him faithfully all our days.
What would the body look like if we did this instead of causing division and strife in the House He is building? Things would all come into place and the tabernacle of David would be echad! It would be ready for the glory of Elohim.
James says in 1:22-25, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after he looks, goes away and forgets what he looks like. However, the one who looks intently into the perfect Law/Torah that brings freedom, and continues in it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he shall be blessed in what he does.”
We are not free from the Law/Torah, the instruction of God in how to hit the mark, we are free from sin, which is the breaking of the Law/Torah. Psalms 119:44-45 says, “That I may always keep Your Law/Torah, for ever and ever, and walk about in freedom. For I have sought Your precepts.”
Did you catch that both James and the writer of this Psalm are calling the Law/Torah freedom? Let us live in that freedom!
Most of us know Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God/Elohim not of works so that no one can boast.” Then immediately following that is verse 10 that states, For we are God’s/Elohim’s handiwork/masterpiece created in Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus to do good works, which God/Elohim has prepared in advance for us to do.”
In these three verses we have the good news of both justification and sanctification. God/Elohim did not just save us by His grace through faith so that we could not boast that we did it ourselves, it was His gift to us. We did not earn it or deserve it. We did not deserve for the Son of God to die for us. We did not deserve Him taking the punishment for every single sin we have all committed, we did not deserve it in the least. Elohim’s mercy is greater than we can even imagine. He is the consuming fire and in His mercy chose to spare us.
This is our justification, our initial point of salvation. This is when God justifies us in His presence because of the work of Yeshua/Jesus. This is when He redeems us from a life of sin and death. However, is that all He has for us? Of course not!
If that was all He ever did for us it would have been sufficient/Dayenu. But He did not stop there. He tells us of the things He has prepared for us. He gives us the instructions on how to live this redeemed life in the power of His Spirit. He did not just leave us alone to figure it out by ourselves. He gave us His Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh to teach us how to follow Him. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says this, “I (YHWH) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will take away your heart of stone and put in you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit/Ruach in you and move you/cause you/teach you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Therefore, part of the job of the Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh is to help us be obedient to His ways and His laws that He prepared in advance for us to do.
We are to do the good works of the Law so that we may walk in the blessings of obedience. Just like the children of Israel was redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb and then shown how they were to live, so we are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb and then shown how to live. Yet this way we are to live, the things we are to do and obey, were prepared in advance so that we might walk in them. The Spirit/Ruach teaches us how and it is our job to listen and obey, to shema to the Word of God who told us we are to observe all things that He has taught us.
I wanted to post some articles I wrote recently for our congregation. These articles speak to what I believe is the Heart of God, for His people to be one!
We must turn our ears toward Him and Shema. To Shema means not only to hear but to also be ready and willing to obey. To be like a child who loves for a parent or teacher to pick them for a task, ready and willing to do the will of that parent. That is how we are to be with our Heavenly Father. Before Elohim spoke to the people at Mount Sinai He told them to consecrate themselves. He wanted them set apart for His Word and His ways. He wanted to be able to meet with them. Yeshua prayed in John 17 that we would be set apart, consecrated/sanctified, as He is set set apart. Let us truly be set apart to our Father and ready and willing to Shema to His every Word.
Let us remember what sin is: the breaking of the Law according to 1 John 3:4. Let us set our minds and all our hearts on the will of God by being obedient to the Word of God. As Yeshua said in John 14, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Let us not just speak of our love, but also show our love so we will not be like those of whom God spoke when He said, “they speak of me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Let us draw near to Him with the love of obedience. After all, as James said, “faith without works is dead.”
We have all prayed for revival to come to God’s people, but what really brings revival? We desire to see a true move of God. We want to see people get saved and yet we are all aware that true revival must happen with His people first. We have heard sermons on 2 Chronicles 7:14 perhaps many times where it says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” We want the forgiveness, we want the healing of the land, we believe we are humbling ourselves and praying and seeking His face, but what about that other one – turn from their wicked ways? But if you notice the humbling, praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways is all one move. In other words, we can’t really do the first three without doing the fourth too. That is giving God lip service and not all of us. True revival does begin with His people. Let us seek after Him with all that we are and continue to turn from our wicked ways while humbling ourselves, praying and seeking His face!
Interestingly enough the definition for sin is to miss the mark. We don’t need someone to teach us how to miss the mark, we are already good at that, we need someone to teach us how to hit the mark. Yes, the definition for the word “sin” is an archery term meaning to miss the mark. While the definition of the root word for Torah/First Five Books of the Bible/The Books of Moses, of which Yeshua said spoke of Him, is also an archery term meaning to hit the mark. The word Torah itself means instructions. So the Torah is God’s instructions for hitting the mark, the mark of righteousness, which is the opposite of our wicked ways. In Psalms 19:7 it says, “The law (the Torah) is perfect and it revives the soul.” What revives? The law of God/the Torah for it is perfect and as Paul says in Romans 7:12 that the law/Torah is holy. Let us live by the holy and righteous ways of God, His instructions, not by our evil, wicked and lawless ways which are the ways of the evil/lawless one. As Paul also said at the very end of Romans 3, we are to uphold/establish the Law of God.
In Isaiah 32:17 it says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace, the result of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” That is the effect and fruit of righteousness, but what is righteousness? We find that in Psalms 119 in verse 137 it states, “Righteous are you, YHWH (LORD), and your laws are right.” In verse 160 we see this, “All Your Words are true; all Your Righteous Laws are eternal.” So it is the Law of God that is righteous and eternal, just as He is righteous and eternal. So it would make sense that in the first part of verse 165 of that same chapter we find this, “Great shalom/peace have they who love your Torah/Law”.
We wait for Him who is righteous and while we wait we obey His righteous decrees and in this there is peace.
We will continue these tomorrow! Please stay with me I am leading to a very important climax!
In Isaiah right between chapter 7, which gives us the sign of Immanuel, and chapter 9, which tells us a child is born and a son is given, sits chapter 8. I want to look at some things in this very interesting and prophetic chapter. In verse 16 it states, “Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples.”(NIV) This is a very compelling verse. When I first saw this verse it was the word “disciple” that caught my attention. I thought that was an odd word to use in the Old Testament so I looked it up and it appears that Isaiah and Jeremiah are the only two who use this word and Isaiah is the only one who uses it to refer to the disciples of God. I found this interesting because I think, like most of you probably, of a disciple as someone from the New Testament era. I was not aware that it was also in the Old Testament.
If you notice Isaiah is being told to bind up something and seal up something. He is to bind up the testimony and seal up the law. This language reminds me a lot of when Gabriel tells Daniel to seal up the vision for the time of the end. But he is being told to seal up the law. We all know what that is. It is the Books of Moses, the Torah. But what of the testimony, what is that?
It reminded me of a verse in Revelation 12, verse 17: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”(NIV) The commandments could very easily be another word for the law since Psalm 119 uses many different words to refer to the Law: Law, Commandment, Precept, Ordinance, and even Word. So we have the Law represented here, but is the testimony of Jesus the same testimony that Isaiah is referring to? Let’s find out.
Let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:5 & 6. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.”(NIV) Paul here is referring to Jesus as the testimony. But can we be sure it is the testimony that Isaiah is speaking of?
Back in Isaiah 8 let’s go back a few verses and read what is above verse 16. Let’s start in verse 13 and go through 15, “The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”(NIV) That sounds familiar!
Romans 9:31-33 says, “but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”” Paul definitely believes the “stumbling stone” in Isaiah is referring to Jesus.
Peter also speaks of it. In I Peter 2:4-9 he says, “as you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”(NIV) Yes, even Peter sees Jesus as the stumbling stone.
These verse are definitely declaring Jesus to be the “testimony” that Isaiah was referring to.
The verses in 1 Peter tie back to Isaiah 8 in another way as well. Peter speaks of being brought to His wonderful light. We are brought to the light of Him. If we go back to Isaiah 8 verse 20 we read, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” That’s right the Law and the testimony of Jesus is what gives us light. He is the Light!
Finally, In Revelation 22 we see Jesus-the testimony-declaring He is coming soon and in verse 14 it says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”(KJV)
So we have seen how Jesus, YESHUA, is the testimony of God to man and that He is linked all through Scripture to the Law, TORAH. He is the living word, the living Torah, the living Law. We cannot separate Him and faith in Him from the Law anymore than we can separate His humanness from His deity. They are forever linked and meant for His disciples.
Not surprising since we see in Isaiah 2:2 & 3, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”(NIV) That’s right, in His kingdom, Yeshua will sit on His throne in the House of God and teach the Torah. How awesome is that!
Let us be ready! Let us know His word and obey it! In doing so we are declaring our love for Him. Oh, what a love! A love that seeks to obey every word that comes from the mouth of God. It is never contrary to Grace to obey the One we claim to love. Otherwise, it is words alone, it is faith alone, and as James (Jacob) the brother of our Lord said, “faith without works is dead.” May it never be, may our obedience prove our faith day after day.
Yeshua-the testimony-and the Torah are forever linked. Hallelujah!!