Thursday, December 7, 2017

Did Jesus really say we didn't need to follow the Torah?

Jesus was very clear that He did not come to abrogate the Torah, the Prophets or the Writings, what Christians call the Old Testament. He said “not one yod” (yod being the smallest letter of modern Hebrew that resembles an apostrophe) would disappear from the Torah.
“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 I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot [yod], not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matt 5:17,18
Courtesy of Flick-Torahdr

I once asked a Jewish person what the difference between an Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jew was. He told me that with the Ultra-Orthodox, whatever the mitzvoth (commandments) say, they go and do more than is required. If they say don’t cut the side burns a certain length, they will go and make it grow as long as possible. In a way, I admire their zeal. But to be blunt, it is primitive.

God’s Law was not primitive. When it was given to the Israelites the Torah was the most progressive, human rights oriented (even animal rights) way of thinking possible. It even had medical concepts that would be known to mankind for millenia.

But the Real Essence of the Torah is not just about “murder”, “adultery”, “lying” etc. Its always about love. Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly loving your neighbor as yourself. But Jesus went further to expound this. He said “murder” was an act of darkness not at the level of committing it… but just by thinking evil of someone, by saying to yourself “You fool!”. Or adultery wasn’t about intimacy with someone other than your spouse, but about even lusting in your mind!

Firstly, He drew out the Real Essence of the Torah in Matthew 5-8. Secondly, He sets the bar so high that it becomes impossible to achieve it. No one according to the Torah as revealed by Jesus – can ever be righteous. That was what the Torah was supposed to according to Jewish thought – practice it perfectly and you become righteous before God. But He took the level of impossibility of being righteous by the Torah to an extent never seen neither before nor after – its not what you do or don’t do, its what you think!!! The slightest blotch of darkness, just a hint of hatred, only a split-second thought indulging in covetousness, jealousy, envy, conflict, lust, etc. That’s all it would take be a transgressor of God’s Law.

Jesus completely upended the way the Law was being interpreted. It wasn’t meant to be followed like a cooking manual. It was meant to be 1) a shadow of heavenly things in the sacrifices and temple ways and 2) it was meant to show we needed a Savior, a Lamb of God that could once and for all declare us clean, righteous, justified, sanctified. And He was that Lamb of God.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law by being the Sacrifice (that every sacrifice of the Law alluded to) and the Temple (the very presence of God on earth). His Sacrifice cleansed eternally the believer from sin and made them justified. His prophetic name “Immanuel” meant God was with us – there, in a Person, Living, Breathing, Eating just as we do. In other words He Himself was the embodiment of the Torah! He was the Living Torah!

Some say Jesus did not say we should not follow the Torah, but Paul did. Paul only elaborated on what Jesus said. You see, Paul really understood the Law as a student of Gamaliel – who was one of the ancient founders of the current Judaic thought which adapted to a reality without a temple. But Paul had great respect and adoration for the Law and never said it should be cancelled. He wrote about the fulfillment of the Law and what it practically meant for the believer in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel and the World alike. In fact, Paul was arguably the reason why the Torah and other Jewish Scriptures (and note that the Christian Bible is almost written entirely by Jews) became the world’s most translated, copied, recited, and read book, that was, is and will be.

When you have Jesus saying its not what you eat that makes you unclean (Kosher, etc), but rather what comes out of your heart that does, He is revealing that the essence of the Law wasn’t in actions taken or avoided but in thoughts. He was confirming the fact that you don’t get a single inch closer to God or more justified by any degree of Torah keeping.

So yes, some people want to do the Law and Believe in Jesus. Fine. Do the Law. But every Law you do to be righteous in front of God is another fall from Grace. It’s that simple. Such people completely miss the Real Essence of the Law. Righteousness in God’s eyes was never meant to be achieved by you or I following the Torah.  Jesus did that for us and gave us freely this Righteousness.
 “Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith Yahweh But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith Yahweh, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jer 30:31-34
I'm saying this right if some think that I may be hinting that it indulging in sin is ok. But those who think like that only do so because they do NOT understand the Grace of Yeshua!

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