Defined In Both A Scriptural and Prophetic Context
As time goes on, it becomes both neccessary to define and re-define terms. Within the Christian Scriptures, terms like "faith", "justification" and "sanctification" are being rendered into such terms as "trust", "being made right" and "becoming set-apart" as time goes on. This is needed because of the tendency of terms to fossilize due to use, misuse, abuse and misunderstandings. Many doctrinal applecarts have been upset this way as people hold to the traditional definition of terms to build entire strongholds around their false doctrines.
I know of one ministry in particular which got upset because the New International Version chose the phrase "cult prostitute" (which renders the Hebrew best) in favour of the King James Version "sodomite." They insisted that the King James Version was the "correct" rendition because it was "inerrantly inspired." This led to a doctrine of hate against all homosexuals. While those who practice the homosexual lifestyle are indeed in sin, this ministry couldn't see clear enough due to a beam in their own eye in order to remove the speck in the homosexual's eye.
Yahweh has taught me directly to never get too hung up on language because when we do so, we quench His Ruach (Spirit). The Pharisees did the same when they struggled over the right means to divorce. Some held you could divorce your wife only for fornication and others held you can do it for any reason. Yah'shua upheld the spiritual intent behind Torah by saying that Yahweh intended man to be one flesh and that what Yahweh has put together, let not man seperate (see Matthew 19:1-9).
Some likewise ask why I call myself a Christian when I don't uphold the Protestant creeds or traditions. Others asked why I call myself Messianic when I don't uphold all the beliefs of the Messianics. How can I refer to myself as Messianic and Christian and (at times) neither Messianic nor Christian? The mystery has to do with timelessness. In Yahweh's realm, language as we understand it is non-existant . . . everything is understood by the heart (as I shall demonstrate shortly). But in the world of time, there are times I call myself Messianic and not Christian and times when I call myself Christian and not Messianic. This does not mean I reject the central creeds of the Bible . . . such is not the case! But human termage sometimes attaches meanings beyond Yahweh's intent. When I call myself Christian, I identify myself as believing in the saving work of Yah'shua's crucifixion and resurrection and the central tenents of the Christian faith. But with that term comes things I do not believe such as the inherited Paganism in the faith. When I call myself Messianic, I am saying I believe in Messiah, but also keep Torah. But with that comes a host of things I do not believe, such as the anti-Pauline Ebionitism of some Messianic sects, the belief some have in the Talmudic rituals, and a host of other things.
On the flip-side, if I call myself simply a believer in Yah'shua, I risk alienating my brothers in many camps. So I use the term that is best for the situation I am, hopefully as the Ruach leads:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward Elohim, but under law toward Messiah), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV).
Now we all have seen this Scripture abused. When stating I become all things to all men, I by no means am implying that I break the Scriptures to become all things to all men. By no means! I know of one Messianic Jewish "deliverance" minister who said she would don the emblems of Satanism in order to proselytise to those in covens or eat pork to win over someone. I hardly doubt the girl is saved. A believer in Messiah does their best to follow the Scriptures, but realizes that language itself is merely a vessel and is rather limited. We are no more able to fit Yahweh's Words in one human word then we are to explain Him between the two covers of the Bible itself. It is impossible. Thus, we must have a spirit which is receptive to truth.
My particular subject today is the word "torah" and how it is used in Scriptures. In using this word, I realize I am going to have to dissect it and analyze it so it makes sense to the Western mind. Since I am using human terms, primarily English terms, I know people are going to disagree with me, some may even call me a heretic, and some may personally hate me and want to discredit me for the things I am writing today. If this is so, the question then arises what brings up these feelings in these people? I am not preaching these things for my own sake but trying to teach things as the Ruach (Spirit) of Yahweh leads me. I have prayed about this and believe the answer I have received lines up with the Scriptures. I have shared it with others and those whom trust and know me will attest that everything I am teaching here is pure Scripture. I am willing to provide character references to those who think I am teaching anything but Scripture.
What does the word "Torah" actually mean? Many Messianics will be quick to give this answer: Torah equals Yahweh's instruction. The Hebrew word, "torah", simply means instruction. But when you ask them what this Torah says, they are quick to answer "the first five books of the Bible" (or if they're Talmudists, they may also answer the "torah" given by the Rabbis). Sure, the first five books of the Bible contain Torah, but if Torah means "instruction" is it all of Yahweh's Torah? I would tend to disagree. I think the whole of those parts of Scripture which contain Yahweh's Instruction are Torah, but would exclude genealogies, histories (unless there is an obvious Instruction to be learned from it), and those parts of the Bible which previously were Instructions, but fell into disuse (such as the Aaraonic Priesthood, some ceremonial laws, circumcision, animal sacrifices, etc.). Thus, certain parts of the Bible are more important than others.
Let me demonstrate. If Torah is the first five books of the Bible, we run into a problem. Especially if we take Messiah's words literally:
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-20 NKJV).
If the second usage of "law" in these verses equals "the first five books of the Bible" as most people understand these words, then we run into a problem: there are times when Yahweh has both added and taken from this Torah. Let me demonstrate:
Leviticus 21:5 KJV They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
Ezekiel 5:1 KJV And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor, and cause [it] to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the [hair].
Exodus 26:1 KJV Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle [with] ten curtains [of] fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: [with] cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.
2 Samuel 7:13 KJV He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
Leviticus 20:10 KJV And the man that committeth adultery with [another] man's wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
John 8:3-11 KJV And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Yah'shua stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on the ground, [as though he heard them not]. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Yah'shua was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Yah'shua had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Yah'shua said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Genesis 17:11 KJV And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Galatians 5:2 KJV Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Messiah shall profit you nothing.
Many people are quick to explain these "contradictions" away. In fact, I once asked Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion if the first five books of the Bible are Yahweh's Torah, how come David was commanded to build a Temple? He remarked, "Because Yahweh told him to." If the first five books of the Bible are Yahweh's Torah and that Torah is not to be added to nor subtracted from, it seems quite obvious to me that David sinned by building a Temple, doesn't it?
The "first five books of the Bible" (which I will from hereon out call the Pentateuch and not the Torah) state nothing of the sort. Rather, this is what they say:
Deuteronomy 4:2 NKJV: "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Yahweh your Elohim which I command you."
Deuteronomy 12:32 NKJV: "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."
All Yahweh is stating here is to carry out His commands as He gives them. Nothing more, nothing less. This, however, does not mean He cannot add to it nor take from it, as He clearly has in past, demonstrated from the Scriptures.
So what truly IS Torah? It is Yahweh's Instruction. Yahweh adds to it and takes from it as He sees the need. It is wrong for man to do so. How do we know when Yahweh adds or takes from His Torah?
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'--which you have not known--'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yahweh your Elohim is testing you to know whether you love the Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after Yahweh your Elohim and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst" (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NKJV).
Some teachers use the phrase "to entice you from the way in which Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to walk" to mean a false prophet will turn one away from obeying all the commands in the Pentateuch. As it has been demonstrated Yahweh can add to or take from His Instruction as He chooses, this clearly cannot be the case. Rather, a false prophet is anyone who leads you away from true worship in Yahweh-Elohim, simply put. It was Yahweh's Instruction, His Torah, that taught the majority of Israel to avoid shaving their beards, but His Instruction likewise taught the singular Ezekiel to shave his beard for prophetic purposes. This same Instruction commanded Israel to build Yahweh a Tabernacle, but was later overturned to accomodate for a Temple. Thus, true Torah, true Instruction, is Yahweh's will for the moment. This becomes clearer as we understand the significance of the New Covenant:
"Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh, when 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 lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says Yahweh. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law [Hebrew: Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NKJV).
The New Covenant is Yahweh's Torah, His Instruction, written on our hearts. As I have explained in previous essays, Scripture substantiates the view that the outer code of the Pentateuch (excluding circumcision, animal sacrifices, a Levitical priesthood, a Temple and possibly some of the ceremonial laws) still stands. However, its place in the New Covenant changes. The Pentateuch is rather seen as a thing which instructs us as to what sin is (Romans 7:7). This view of Pentateuch can be seen from the words of Paul himself:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in Elohim for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10:1-6 NKJV).
"But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed Elohim which was committed to my trust" (1 Timothy 1:9-11 NKJV).
Thus, we see the Pentateuch is meant to instruct us as to what sin is. We hand those sins to Messiah who supernaturally renews us to keep Yahweh's Instructions (which, I might add, are all over the Bible and not just in the Pentateuch). These views are substantiated in the epistles of Paul:
Galatians 3:21-22 NIV: Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of Elohim? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Romans 9:30-32 NIV What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 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."
Galatians 5:1-6 NKJV Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Messiah has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Messiah will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Messiah, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Ruach eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Messiah Yah'shua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Galatians 5:18 NKJV But if you are led by the Ruach, you are not under the law.
Thus, true righteousness is the righteousness by faith! There is a righteousness by works, the works of the Pentateuch, but even it is sin, unless it is couped with the righteousness of faith or trust. The righteousness of trust means to humble ourselves as little children so Yahweh Himself can change us (Mark 10:15). A little child trusts that his parents will provide all his needs. In the same way, Yahweh will make us righteous and help us keep His outer Torah if we trust Him since we NEED this to enter His presence:
"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of Elohim, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when Elohim will judge the secrets of men by Yah'shua Messiah, according to my gospel" (Romans 2:12-16 NKJV).
Again, this is not to negate the outer code, only that it is secondary in importance to Yahweh when compared to the Instructions written on the heart. An outer code is needed while we are in our flesh, if only to maintain order and to keep us from utterly quenching Yahweh's Ruach. But the Torah under the New Covenant is very simple: Trust Yahweh and He will supernaturally enable you to keep His commands, His Instructions, as He guides you. There are times, as in the cases of David, Ezekiel, Paul and others that Yahweh's Instructions may violate or supercede His ceremonial laws, such as the Sabbath, Holy Days, kosher laws, or other commands (see Matthew 12:1-8), but NEVER the moral laws.
For example, while it is Yahweh's Instruction we eat kosher (perhaps because it is healthy for us), when I was homeless and couldn't analyze all food contents, I prayed and felt Him reiterate a principle to me, using the words of Mark 2:27, but changing just one word: "Kosher laws are made for man, and not man for kosher laws." This was Yahweh's Instruction for me at the time. Thus, while it is healthy that we follow Yahweh's written Instruction as to what we are to eat, sometimes we need to disregard them if the Ruach guides us to fulfill a higher law, such as preserving our lives. The only way we can know what's right and wrong in a given situation is if we have a relationship with Yahweh through Messiah so that we can hear Yahweh's Instruction in our heart, using the outer code of the Instructions to filter false revelations from true ones (although this is not fool-proof if one is devoid of the Ruach haQodesh [Holy Spirit]). Experienced elders well acquainted with the voice of Yahweh's Ruach can help us do this.
This view of Torah should not surprise those acquainted with the Scriptures, but it often does. It should be noted that Yahweh's Torah has been expanded and downgraded throughout the Scriptures. In the beginnining, it was two commands: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:22) and "Eat of every tree in the Garden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" (Genesis 2:16-17, author's paraphrase). After the Fall, commands such as circumcision (Genesis 17) were added gradually. Then, in Moses' time, a "Torah was added because of transgressions" (Galatians 3:19) which persisted until Messiah's death. When Messiah died, Torah, Yahweh's Instructions, began being written on the heart of all true believers (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 2:12-16; 2 Corinthians 3) with the outer code serving as a roadmap so that we can repent and remove sin from our lives so that Messiah could write the outer Torah on our hearts. When the New Heaven and New Earth come, we will be left with just this heart-Torah and will no longer need the outer code (Jeremiah 31:33; Matthew 5:18).
This is a hard topic to write on and only the spiritual will understand it (Romans 8:17). Thus, I need not exhaust more energy on this then is needed. If one wants to say I am not Messianic because I trust Yahweh enough to help me keep the Torah, they are free to say so. But in writing this, I am by no means abrogating nothing that the Pentateuch or the Prophets teaches. I will not be judged by what label I wear, but whether or not I follow Yahweh through His Son, Yah'shua. Rather, I am outlining my doctrine so people are clear as to what I believe. This is teaching Yahweh has given me directly and I would not be so bold to state that if I weren't sure of the source. Seek Yahweh with all your hearts and see if He will not teach you the same things. I promise you, He will. Yahweh Bless.
This page was created on 4 October 2009
Last updated on 4 October 2009
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