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!
Most of you are probably aware that the New Covenant is not just a New Testament idea. It is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 31:31-33 it says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”(NIV)
Did you notice who it was for? The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah. So if this covenant is to be for us we have to be a part of Israel. Are we? Paul tells us we are in Ephesians 2:11-13 & 19-20, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”(NIV) The New Covenant is for us because we have been made a part of Israel by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, the covenants are also for us, all the covenants of promise.
Is not the New Covenant a covenant of promise? But what does the New Covenant do? It puts the Law on our minds and our hearts. Is it the same Law as the Law of Moses? Yes, however, it is different in this respect, it is not just on tablets of stones as it was in the days of Moses, it is put on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.
Ezekiel gives us another glimpse of this. Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(NIV) It is the job of the Spirit to help us be obedient to the Law of God.
It is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to be given to us as a deposit guarenteeing what is to come. That is why Jesus could say that the cup of redemption at His last Passover was the New Covenant in His blood.
Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in terms of this making Him our God and us His people. As for Ephesians we are part of Israel based on the APOSTLES and PROPHETS with CHRIST JESUS as the cornerstone of our faith. Our faith is not just a New Testament faith.
Is it any wonder that John in 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Sin is the breaking of the Law. We reject the moving of the Spirit when we disobey the very thing He wants us to obey, the Law. There is power in obedience and it leads to righteousness and holiness according to Paul in Romans chapter 6. Let us not be slaves to sin and death, but to obedience. Let us live as citizens of Israel and members of the Covenant community.
Striving to obey the God I love through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit,
In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says this, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(NIV)
Let’s look at this passage carefully and honestly. First of all, Jesus makes the very blunt statement that He has not come to abolish the Law or Torah, but fulfill it. So we ask. If He did not come to abolish it, did He come to change it? Again, let’s ask another question. If He changes it is that a problem? Most in the church would say that it is not a problem since He is the Son of God. However, remember that in His first coming He came to be the spotless Lamb of God. In order for Him to be spotless He would have to be sinless.
John says in I John 3 that sin if the breaking of the Law. What Law? The Law of God or what is commonly referred to as the Law of Moses. Here is the problem in Deuteronomy 4 and 12 it says that one is not to add or subtract from the Law. If one does then that person is a lawbreaker and therefore a sinner. Here is where we have to be honest. To add to or subtract from the Law would be to change it. Thereby, making Jesus a sinner and not the spotless Lamb.
When Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law, He meant all of it. That would imply what He did in His first coming and what He will do in His second since both are referred to in the Law and since He did not accomplish it all in His first coming. This would include the prophetic elements of the fall Festivals and even some of the last chapters of Deuteronomy among others. Remember He only fulfilled the spring Festivals in His first coming.
Then Jesus says that none of the Law would go away until heaven and earth disappear. It all must be accomplished. We know that heaven and earth are still here. Therefore, we know that there is still part of the Law for Him to fulfill and accomplish. He still has part of the Law to fulfill in His second coming. Therefore, the Law, all of it, still stands because not the least stroke of the pen would be done away with until He accomplished all of it and heaven and earth are still here.
I have a question. Is Yeshua/Jesus the least in the Kingdom of Heaven? Absolutely not! Did you catch how Yeshua makes the distinction between least and great? The one who is least is the one who sets aside even the smallest of His laws and teaches others to do the same. So if Jesus taught others to set aside any law from God by His own definition He would be called the least in the His Father’s Kingdom. Is that the case? No, so how can the former of Him setting one or more aside be the case? It can’t!
However, the one who obeys the laws of God and teaches others to do so is called great in God’s Kingdom. We know that Yeshua obeyed His Father and was our spotless Lamb. However, to be great in His Kingdom He would also have to teach His people to obey His Father, even the least of the laws. He is absolutely great and the only one who has ever completely obeyed the Father and taught His people to do the same.
It is important to remember that every time Yeshua clashed with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law it was over the Tradition of the Elders that the Pharisees and teachers equated with the Law. Jesus firmly rejected that because the Tradition was really a list a things added to and subtracted from the Law of His Father. They found ways to not fully obey the Law or they added on boundaries around the Law. Which the Law itself forbids. That is why Yeshua said ones righteousness must surpass theirs’.
It should be our heart, as it was our Saviors, to obey our Father. Yeshua said in John 14 that if we love Him than we would keep His commands. He also makes it clear in that chapter that He and His Father are one and if that is the case than His commands or Law is no different from His Father’s. If it were they would not be one and Jesus would be a sinner and we would forever be lost. We must remember that Scripture says God and Jesus are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
May it be our heart to obey every word that comes from the mouth of God out of our love for Him!
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!!