Sunday, August 31, 2014
A message to the Church: WWJD? Keep Torah!
It's hard to argue with. The sinless Son of God... how did he remain or achieve sinlessness? Unlike all his ancestors in the flesh, the people of Israel, Jesus kept the Law of God perfectly! And for this reason, He was able to offer His life up as a sin offering on the Lord's feast of Passover (Pesach), the spotless lamb of God.
Keeping the Law of God is really quite a feat! The Jews had all sorts of rules and traditions, "laws" they passed down on top of God's revelation in order to safeguard the keeping of the Law. Ever since I have been alive, the Church and American Christians have claimed that Yeshua came and fulfilled the Torah in order to "set us free from the Law!" But as I began to study eschatology,(the study of last things), I began to notice a few things.
Certainly a major component to Biblical prophecy is when the usurper of God's throne, the Evil One takes throne during the last "Seven" (shabua), which is prophesied by an angel of righteousness to Daniel, telling of the 70 "Sevens" decreed for the people of Israel to finish transgression, bring in everlasting righteousness and atonement for sin, and to anoint the holy Temple (Dan. 9:24). So from this prophecy, and especially as these times are upon us, it seems that the "Old Covenant" is not out of business; God is not finished with it! In fact, part of Moses' prohecy in Deut. 30:1-8, at the end of the Torah, extended down to this very day, 3000 years later, after the Jews and Israelites were dispersed into all corners of the earth, and began to be brought back to the land promised to Israel!
Quickly, the other thing I noticed was in Zechariah, speaking of the LORD's return, when the people of Israel "look on Him whom they have pierced," (12:10); Mashiach Yeshua sets up His millennial reign on earth, and "all who are left of the nations that came up against Jerusalem (some will be left!) will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, and to celebrate the feast of Sukkot [of booths]." (Zech. 14:16)
So if for the 1,000 years that Jesus is reigning on earth(!!!! He is, He IS returning!!!!) He will require the inhabitants of the earth to worship and celebrate the feast of Sukkot, or Booths, commemorating Yhwh's deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt into the promised land (which, Egypt Biblically became synonymous with "sin", thus signifying Yeshua's salvation, His deliverance from sin).
Now if these things are going on, WE in the Gentile Protestant Church don't have it all figured out! I thought something was up! While in seminary, I remember our professors telling us that the term "Law" in the Bible, was really a poor translation choice for the word "Torah" in the Jewish Tanakh. A better translation for the term "Torah" would be "instruction."
So let's apply this dynamic. "Yeshua came to set us free from keeping God's instruction! Yay!!!" Now, how does that sound? Pretty ludicrous doesn't it? We say, "Oh Jesus came to set us free from keeping the Law (Torah/instruction) of God!" Following that logic, it makes it clear that we can live any way we want, and claim salvation. Not far from me, there is a church with a female pastor, and when she or the church is confronted with the verse, "An overseer [i.e. pastor] should be the husband of one wife, (1 Tim. 3:2)" the immediate response is Gal. 3:20, "we have been set free from the Law!" But it's funny isn't it, both statements are taken from the New Testament! What have they really been set free from?
The problem with this logic is, and I'm tempted to say to them; "Well great! There's a couple of congregants here I really don't like, so it'd be okay if I killed them! I mean, we're set free from the Law right? And isn't the prohibition against murder in the Law, I mean following that would be legalism!" And you could make that argument about adultery, abortion, murder, homosexuality, etc. etc. ad inifinitum.
Did Jesus really set us free from the Law? Let us look at some of the scriptures now with this new understanding. In Matt. 5:17-19, Jesus says "I did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. Amen I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Torah until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps and teaches them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
On its face, does that sound like Yeshua is saying "Be free from the Law of God my child! Be Free!" No, it doesn't. In fact, it sounds just the opposite! We can also see this with the apostle to the Gentiles, Rabbi Paul, as he tries to set out this faith in Messiah to the Jews and dispersed Israelites (remember, the house of Israel was dispersed into the nations circa 720 B.C.) in Rome. Rabbi Paul says, "What then, should we continue in sin, so that grace may increase? May it never be!" Let's remind ourselves, how do we know what sin is? From God's Torah, His Word! Again, Rabbi Paul says, "What shall we say then, Is the Torah sin? May it never be, on the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Torah; for I would not have known about coveting, if the Torah had not said, 'You shall not covet!'" (Romans 7:7).
"But Christopher", you might be thinking, "Are you saying we need to keep the Law in order to be saved?" Not at all! Look, Rabbi Paul deals with this also in Romans 3:19-31. And this really helps if, when you're reading the word "Law," to interpret it as "Torah" or "instruction." The Apostle Paul taught that we are "saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). In Romans 3:20-22a, 24, Rabbi Paul teaches us:
"because by the works of the Torah no flesh shall be justified in His sight (that is, made righteous, or "saved"); for through the Torah comes the knowledge of sin" [... hence, in order to live life free of sin, like Yeshua, the Son of the living God!] But now, apart from the Torah, the righteousness of God has been manifested [see Jhn. 1:1-3], being witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets. Even the Righteousness of God through faith in Yeshua the Messiah for all who believe... being justified [i.e., declared righteous] as a gift by His grace through the Redemption which is in Yeshuah the Messiah"
We've been SO conditioned, and I think set up for the end-time deception through our use of the word "Law," and it's secular usage (1 Jn. 5:19). Paul says in verse 31, "Do we then nullify the Torah through faith? May it NEVER be! On the contrary, we establish the Torah!"
"What!" you're thinking, "We (Protestant Evangelical Christians) ESTABLISH THE TORAH!!!????" That is what Paul is telling us! In Leviticus 23, the proscribed feasts are not called "the feasts of the Jews," but rather, "the feasts of the LORD... even these are My feasts (Lev. 23:2)."
Here's another verse for consideration. Adonai Yeshua, when giving his high priesetly prayer to the Father, in John 17, says "Sanctify by Your truth, Your Word is truth." There was no New Testament in existence at the time, nor would the first epistles be written for another 20-30 years. What Word was He talking about? The revelation given from God, the Jews know as the Tanakh, containing the Torah. Yeshua said, "[It] is truth" (17:17).
Do Christans not claim to follow the Truth? We do. We claim to be people of the Truth. And we define sin from reading from the Truth.... yet we do not follow the Truth. We do not establish it, as Paul told us through the Holy Spirit (Ruach hakodesh)(!) But it seems that there is a growing awakening in our time, as the number of Messianic congregations increase throughout the world, and believers begin to follow Yhwh in Truth. The LORD is opening people's eyes to understand His Truth.
This is one reason I have a hard time with the church using "Sunday school" material, which really has become a discipleship material, but has kept believers from seeking understanding of the Scriptures from the Holy Spirit Himself, because the Spirit is the One who gives understanding (John 14:26), not Sunday school quarterlies! It seems to me that Sunday school quarterlies have kept the church "boxed in" to a predetermined set of beliefs, much like the Jehovah's Witnesses, which have a commentary at the back of their bibles to tell them how to interpret or belief their scriptures from the Watchtower Society, or the Pope, who tells his congregants what and how to believe, and how he gets away with changing God's eternal Truth. Sunday School quarterlies is a very Popish practice!
But really this Great Deception (THE Great Deception/Falling Away?) started back in the Fourth Century A.D., whcn the Christian Church was separated from the Jews, and the day of their worship was changed from the Sabbath. The LORD commanded that we honor the Sabbath, and keep it holy. But Emperor Constatine did not want the Christians to look like the Jews, so he changed the day of worship to Sun-day... the day of worship of the pagan sun god which can be traced back to Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-12), who became a "mighty hunter before the LORD."
Before this, Christians, Messianics and Jews all worshiped together, celebrating the feasts along with observing Torah. Much of the current confusion in the church today, and why it looks like the world, and why it is losing its young people to the world in the name of science and through Darwinian Evolution (to which even the Pope, the supposed "Vicar of Christ" bowed)... all of this goes back to when the "Christians" were separated from the Jews by the Holy Roman Empire, i.e., the Vatican, and the Christians no longer obeyed the Spirit's command through the Apostle Paul to "establish the Torah" (Rom. 3:31).
When we recognize this fact, we began to have our eyes opened to a whole new Biblical understanding and understanding of what is and will happen in the end times, and why. I think this is also one reason why we do not see miracles as much in the Church today... for we do not accept Deuteronomy (Second Telling of the Torah) chapter 28, as normative or true for Christians in today's church.
You might still think that I'm being fanatical and legalistic and reading the New Testament thorugh the lens of an extremist zealot. Haha, ok... but if what I'm saying is true, wouldn't we find evidence of it in the Old Testament, the Tanakh? After all, the LORD is the same, yesterday, today and forever, right? What did Yhwh Himself promise of the New Covenant when it was announced through the prophets (remember, Paul mentions it testified by the Torah and the Prophets)? Let's look in Jeremiah:
"But this is the Covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, 'I will put my Torah within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer. 31:33).
This has been one of the Deceiver's greatest deceptions that is still flying under the nose of believers today, and one of the greatest hindrances to the power of the Redeemed of Messiah on earth, as they struggle to carry out the LORD's commands.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith!" (1 John 5:3,4)
"If you love me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15)
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose myself to Him." (John 14:21)
Now, as for you, is Yhwh's Torah written on your heart? Will you keep His commandments, and establish His Torah (Rom. 3:31), or will you perpetuate the doctrine of demons and the traditions of men over the word of God?