Obedience vs. Legalism

scalesObedience

  • The quality or condition of being obedient.
  • The act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
  • The trait of being willing to obey 
  • Conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, esp. on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.
  • Behavior intended to please your parents; "their children were never very strong on obedience"; "he went to law school out of respect for his father's wishes" 

Synonyms – submission, subservience, deference.

 

Legalism

  • Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
  • The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. 
  • The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

(All definitions taken from www.dictionary.com)

What does the Bible say?

Legalism is an often thrown about term by Christians today.  The slightest insistence that we must conform our lives to Christ in obedience and tempers flare.  But, what do the scriptures say?  Can we really say we have been saved, if our actions do not reflect our salvation?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  James 1:22

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  John 14:5

Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.  And the ruin of that house was great.  Luke 6:47-49

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Luke 16:10

We have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Hebrews 12:9, 10

The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:17

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness.  Ephesians 4:11

Legalism comes about when we do things for our glory, rather than out of love for our Heavenly Father.  As a child, we loved our parents, who disciplined us on occasion, aimed us in the direction to go and loved us.  Because we loved them, we tried to please our parents by doing as they asked of us.  It is the same in our relationship with God.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Remember…

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  Galatians 2:20

 

Obedience to YHWH’s Will

ObedienceOBEDIENCE

 

Dying to our will,

Living for YHWH’s will

 

 

"The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!""  – A. W. Tozer

 

"The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death… we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time… death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life."  –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."  –  Brother Lawrence

 

"The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is no true faith present. To attempt the impossible God must give faith or there will be none, and He gives faith to the obedient heart only."  –  A. W. Tozer

 

"The chief thing is, not to know what God has said we must do, but that God Himself says it to us. It is not the law, and not the book, not the knowledge of what is right, that works obedience, but the personal influence of God and His living fellowship. It is only in the full presence of God that disobedience and unbelief become impossible."  –  Andrew Murray

 

"Before we look at how we make Jesus Lord, we need to see what it is we mean when we talk about lordship. To make Jesus Lord of our life means to surrender control of every area of our life to Him. We come under His authority. His authority is supreme over our authority. We start taking orders from Him – we do what He tells us to do. That's what lordship is – Christ reigning as supreme authority over our life. Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It's not a state of being, it's a state of doing. Those whom Jesus recognizes as His own are those who do the will of His Father in heaven."  –  Keith Green

 

"What is meant by "follow"? To follow signifies that the way I tread and the place where I go are all decided by someone else. We are following the Lord; therefore we have no authority to decide our own path. The body in its relation to the Head can only obey and follow. If we wish to live out the life of the body of Christ we must cover our own head; that is to say, we must not have our personal opinion, egoistic will or selfish thought. We can only obey the Lord and let Him be the Head."  –  Watchman Nee

 

Prince of Peace, Control My Will

I love this hymn, written by Mary Ann Serrett Barber circa 1801.  A beautiful prayer put to music.  Some of her poem was not used in the hymn.  

 

Prince of Peace, control my will;
Bid the struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubtings cease,
Hush my spirit into peace.

Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
Opened wide the gate to God;
Peace I ask, but peace must be,
Lord, in being one with Thee.

May Thy will, not mine, be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.

Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
Thou my life, my God, my all;
Let Thy happy servant be
One forevermore with Thee!

12 Awesome Torah Sites

"It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more.”
"This is what Adonai says,
who gives the sun as light for the day,
who ordained the laws for the moon and stars
to provide light for the night,
who stirs up the sea until its waves roar —
Adonai-Tzva’ot is his name."

Jeremiah 31:31-34, CJB

 

12 awesome Torah sites

When I first began to understand that I am part of Israel, under the new covenant, as stated in Jeremiah above, I searched high and lo on the the internet for the best Torah websites.  Of all the websites out there (and I've found alot over the years) here are 12 awesome Torah sites.  These sites share weekly Torah commentaries and/or articles and videos that discuss insights on the Torah.  Hope these are as big a blessing to you as they are to me!

12 Awesome Torah Sites

  1. 119 Ministries
  2. Bmidbar Ministries
  3. El Shaddai Ministries
  4. Emet Ministries
  5. Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int'l
  6. Hebraic Roots Network
  7. Hoshana Rabbah
  8. Lion & Lamb Ministries
  9. Ruach Ministries International
  10. Sheepfold Gleanings
  11. The Barking Fox
  12. WildBranch Ministries

And there you have it, 12 awesome Torah sites that you don't want to miss!  Happy studying!

Hebraic Perspectives

GotTorah2About six years ago, a friend of mine had come to a new perspective in her walk with God.  She had started to see the Bible from a Hebraic perspective and was claiming to walk in the “Law of God”.  Feeling that I understood the fundamentals of Scripture pretty well, I was confused as to her new found viewpoint and felt that she needed to be corrected quickly.  So I embarked on a siege of emails and blog rebuttals, explaining that she was perhaps getting lost in her study of Scripture.  While I never directly told her she was getting wrapped up in cult-like behavior (and I should know cult-like behavior, having grown up as a Jehovah’s Witness), I felt that she was.

For three years, I tried to persuade her to stop pursuing this line of thinking and for three years, she gently quoted Scripture again and again.  The last blog post I read from her just plainly upset me, as I realized there was no way I was going to persuade her from her new point of view.  I was very concerned and I went to God in prayer, pleading with Him to reach her heart.  But, then, I stopped, mid-way through and started praying for me.  IF there was something I was missing, would He please show me.

It’s a funny thing, when we stop focusing on changing someone else and start focusing on changing ourselves.  Suddenly, our eyes are opened.  That’s when Yah can work with us.  Until that point, often He leaves us in the state we’re in, because our hearts are hard.  We want to be our own leaders, rather than allowing Him to lead.    Sometimes, head knowledge, can get us in some places that make us stubborn, arrogant and plain ol’ ugly to others.

When I began to be willing to have Him change me, no matter the outcome, no matter my presuppositions, He showed me Scripture that I had read before, but that suddenly made sense.

These Scriptures made me cry, with sadness for all the time I’d wasted and happiness for finally seeing it His way!  It was like when I had come to the realization that Yeshua was God, manifested in the flesh.  The Son of God, not just a “perfect man”.

Some of the Scriptures that were revealed to me opened my eyes anew.

If we believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is God, then, we must believe that He is THE lawgiver and that He handed down the Law or Torah.  Paul did. Isaiah 33:22, 1 Corinthians 10:3-9

Love is equated with keeping the commandments.  New Testament Scripture over and over again says, IF we love Him, keep His commandments.  (John 14:15; 14:21; 14:23; 15:10; 1 John 2:4, 5; 5:2, 3; 2 John 1:6)  This smacks of Deuteronomy.  (Chapter 5:10; 5:29; 7:9; 11:1; 11:13; 11:22; 19:9; 30:16)

Yeshua tells us of the great commandment and its partner in Matthew 22:39-41.  Another way of the looking

at this would be to see a target.  The bulls-eye would be these two commandments.  Each ring out gives more detail on how to live these out.  The Ten Commandments would be the next ring.  Then, more detailed instruction on the next ring.  These are YHWH’s instructions, guidelines to live a full and long life and that our life will prosper.  (Deuteronomy 4:40)  It also says these will bring blessings.  (11:26-28)

When we start looking at the Bible from a Hebraic perspective a few things begin to take shape.

1)      We realize who we are.  We are Israel.  (Not in the replacement theology way of “the church”), but in the grafted-in to the tree and part of the commonwealth of Israel as part of the seed of Abraham way.

2)      We realize, with more than just an intellectual nod toward the fact, that ALL Israel was at Mt. Sinai, not just the Jews.

3)      We realize that the entire “New Testament” can ONLY be defined through the use of the “Old Testament”, the only Scriptures the Apostles had and used.

4)      We realize that Law and Grace have never been pitted against each other in Scripture.  Rather, we (“the church”) have done that, by not understanding who we are, what the Law is and what the Law does in and for our lives.

But, first, let me state unequivocally, we are SAVED by GRACE through FAITH, just as Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  That is not in question here at all.

However, it was pointed out that IF I say I follow the Law of Moses (which is also called the Law of God, the Torah) because I’m saved, then, I am automatically saying that those who don’t follow the Torah are NOT saved and this immediately lumps me in with those in Acts who were called “Judaizers”, men who insisted that you MUST be circumcised and follow the whole Torah TO be saved.

First, let me say, I have NO WAY to read a man’s heart.  I don’t know if a person’s heart is right with Yah or not.  But, I do know that I can see a person’s fruit, which is a manifestation of his heart and its direction.  Yeshua says so, speaking specifically about false prophets.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the  fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:15-23

Torah doesn’t mean law.  This is a misnomer.  Torah comes from the Hebrew word, “yarah”, which means to shoot straight, to hit the mark, to teach or instruct or to lay a firm foundation.  Yeshua is referred to as Yah’s firm foundation.  He is also referred to as the Living Torah.  He says He is the Truth, the Way and the Life.  These are all synonymous with the Torah.

The word LAW is so often misunderstood in Scripture.  Our English (and the Greek) both have a disadvantage because we have only one word, LAW (nomos), to mean many words that are conveyed.  Neither word, in English or Greek, remotely expresses the same idea as Torah, which conveys God’s grace and love toward His people.

Torah does not mean salvation.  We cannot be saved by the Torah.  But the Torah is called:

  • perfect, sure , pure, true and righteous
    1. Psalm 19:7-9 – “The law [Torah] of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  The statutes of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”
  • holy, just and good
    1. Romans 7:12 – “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
  • better than precious metals
    1. Psalm 119:72 – “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
  • sweeter than honey
    1. Psalm 119:103 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”
  • a lamp and a light
    1. Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
    2. Proverbs 6:23 – “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”

In Proverbs we are reminded to “keep God’s commandments as the apple of our eye”.  (Proverbs 7:2)

Some of the purposes of Torah are:

  • To help us to know God, His loving kindness and forgiveness.  (Psalm 103:6-12; Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Kings 8:23; Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4)
  • To teach us how to worship God.  (Psalm 119:9-16)
  • To make us aware of sin, what pleases and doesn’t please Him.  (Romans 3:19-20)
  • To bring us to Christ.  (Galatians 3:23-24)
  • To prove the indwelling Spirit and His living in our hearts.  (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews chapter 8)
  • To show how His chosen, the community of believers, should conduct their government.  (See Deuteronomy)
  • To cleanse our ways as we live by them.  (Psalm 119:9-11)
  • To show us a minimum to start with on our quest for holiness.  Life in the Spirit always requires a higher standard than the letter, according to the Sermon on the Mount.  (Matthew 5:20, note the word “exceed”.  Matthew chapters 5, 6, & 7)
  • A way we can prove our love for God.  (John 14:15-24)
  • As assurance of our salvation.  (1 John 2:3)

Clearly, the Torah (Law) was given as doctrine, for reproof, instruction, for setting things straight, for instruction in righteousness, as 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us.  It was given for our good.  Does this sound like something that Yeshua would want to do away with?

If we look carefully at the words and we’re using logic, we realize that Yeshua can’t come to abolish (get rid of) something he just said he DIDN’T come to get rid of.  He would be contradicting himself, at best.  Look at Matthew 5:17-20.

“Think not that I come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am NOT come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men to, he shall be called the least in heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Breaking down the scripture, the word fulfill, can’t mean abolish, destroy, get rid of, eliminate, if Yeshua stated that he didn’t come to destroy the law or the prophets.  Therefore, fulfill must mean to fully do, accomplish correctly.

Second, everything hasn’t been accomplished yet.  Three of the seven prophecies, shadowed in the seven ‘Feasts of the LORD’ haven’t been completed.  We are not fully in His Kingdom, the wicked are not utterly destroyed, Satan and his legion haven’t been cast into the lake of fire.  Therefore, what does Yeshua say?  “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Not something we don’t know… Yeshua was a Jew.  He came to “fully do” the Torah, never breaking it, doing it perfectly.  If he hadn’t done it perfectly, he would be sinning, since sin is defined as breaking the Torah.  Changing the Torah would have been breaking the Torah.

Those things that Yeshua was accused of breaking were part of the oral law, the traditions of the Pharisees and scribes (lawyers).  When He is perceived as breaking the law, He was in fact, only violating their additional (man-made) rules, those that are referenced in Luke 11:46, 52.

Yeshua tells his disciples to actually listen to these men and do what they say, but there’s a catch… Matthew 23:2, 3 – “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must obey them and do everything they tell youBut do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

We’ve been taught that the Law (Torah) is bad.  That it isn’t good.  That it’s not perfect.  That it’s lacking.  And we’ve been told that following Torah is legalism.

Wikipedia states legalism this way, “Legalism, in Christian theology, is a sometimes-pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of the law over the spirit.  Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption.”

That last line explains it perfectly, “Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption.”  Nothing we can do can merit our “right” to God’s gift.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:9)

The Torah was meant to teach God’s people how to be holy, because He is holy.  It was never meant to be the salvation that God was going to send in His Messiah, but rather a shadow of the need for the finished work of Yeshua’s sacrifice.  If Torah could save, there would have been no need for Yeshua.  This was the very issue that Paul was dealing with through Galatians as verified in Acts chapter 15.  These men who had come down from Judea were telling the Galatians that they HAD to be circumcised before they could be saved (Acts 15:2).

In Romans 3, Paul reminds us that we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law, but then in verse 31 reminds us, “Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

We establish (set up on a firm or permanent basis; initiate; bring about) the law.

Paul is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted apostles.  It’s through his letters that most of the confusion regarding Torah and grace occur.  That’s why Replacement Theology has flourished as it has.  These letters of Paul have been used as anti-Semitist weapons.  But, it’s also why Peter wrote about Paul, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  (2 Peter 3:16)

Did Paul support Torah?

Romans 7:21 – “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

Romans 10:4 – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”  (End here does not mean complete, but rather goal or target.)

Acts 24:14 – “So worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”

Acts 25:8 – “While he answered for himself, neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.”

Romans 7:22 – “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”

Romans 7:25 – “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law sin.”

1 Corinthians 7:19 – “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

Romans 9:31, 32 – “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.  Wherefore?  Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.”  (Paul’s two main points here are that the law is righteous and we must seek it by faith.)

First faith comes, THEN, obedience.

So why does he say that we are not “under law”, but “under grace” in Romans 6:14?  Ahhh… here is one of those times when the English and Greek languages fail.  What “law” is Paul speaking about?  We have to take the subject matter from the entire chapter.  Chapter six is speaking the whole time, regarding sin and the law of sin and death (the flesh).  Paul points out that Yeshua’s death and resurrection overcame the law of sin and death therefore we don’t have to succumb to it anymore.  It no longer enslaves us, if we put our full faith and trust in Him.

In Galatians chapter 5, Paul refers to the “yoke of bondage”.  Was he calling the Torah bondage?  No.  He was referring to the law of sin and death, which no longer keeps us as slaves, since we are in liberty through Jesus Christ, as is referenced in Romans 6:18, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”  The entire theme of Galatians is we are only justified (saved) through Yeshua HaMashiach.  Following Torah does not cause us to fall from grace unless we are attempting to use it to justify ourselves.

The law of sin and death is not gone, but because of what Yeshua did, it does not have authority over us and thus the law of liberty now governs our lives instead.  This is what it means to be “free in Christ”.

But, we’ve been told how many times, for well… hundreds of years that the Torah (Law) has been done away with and/or that it’s only for the Jews.  Is that right?  That it’s only for the Jews?

Who did God say he would make His new covenant with?  Only the Jews?  Only the “church”?

Jeremiah 31:31-33 says, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, 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 a husband unto them, saith the LORD.  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, 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.”

The new covenant is only made with Judah and with Israel.  Notice there is no mention of Gentiles, no mention of an entity called “the church” separate from Israel, at least not in the ordinary sense of the word.

There are two houses mentioned, two groups.  They are distinctly separate, Judah and Israel/Ephraim.  (Ezekiel 37; 1 Kings 12; Jeremiah 3:6-11; Psalm 114:1, 2; Zechariah 11:7-14; 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2, 17).  Judah comprises the tribes Judah, Benjamin (which also absorbed parts of Simeon) and Levi (the Levites and Priests).  The name Israel, given originally to Jacob by God Himself, is used to identify all the tribes (sons) of Jacob, but is also known as the 10 tribes or the northern kingdom, divided from Judah, the southern kingdom.  This is the Israel that God was speaking of in Jeremiah.  Those tribes divided from Judah.  These are also called the house of Joseph, Ephraim, the 10 Lost Tribes, the house of Jacob.  And in Revelation, there are only 12 gates, with the names of the 12 tribes above them.  (Revelation 21:12)

So who are the Gentiles then?  Back in Egypt, on Jacob’s death bed, he blessed his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim.  (Genesis 48:13-19)  Note that Ephraim is prophesied to become a multitude of nations.  This phrase, ‘multitude of nations’ is the Hebrew words, “melo hagoyim”, most often translated Gentiles.  So, Gentiles = Ephraim.  Those who are to be a multitude of nations.  But what about those who may not be directly descended from Ephraim?  Not to worry!  God has a place for everyone, just as He did at Mt. Sinai.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, and were being instructed in the Torah given them in writing at Mt. Sinai, they were told to have only one law for both the native born and the stranger.  After all, they were not all native born Israelites that came out of Egypt, but there was a mixed multitude that came with them.  (Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14, 15:14-16)

We are told that we are grafted into the olive tree.  Grafted in means we used to be out of something, now we’re part of something.  (Romans 11:11-27)  We are part of Israel, adopted as children of God and appointed as heirs of the promises of Abraham.  (Romans 9:1-16; Romans 8:14-17).

So, given all that I see above, the reason I believe that we should follow the food laws in the Torah are …   We are children of God and part of Israel, given Torah as instruction and a guard over our lives.

Speaking directly on Peter’s vision, I note that it came well beyond a decade after Yeshua had ascended into heaven.  He had continued to eat kosher the entire time.  So, it’s obvious he didn’t understand Yeshua’s words to mean that he could now break the laws of clean and unclean foods.  Even during the vision itself, he is adamant to not eat those things that God had said were unclean.  After the vision is over, he is still completely confounded.  It’s not until messengers come to get him to go see Cornelius (a Gentile) that Peter realizes this has nothing to do with food, but rather Yeshua is speaking of the relationships between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Clean and unclean teach us about holiness, about separation and about purity and impurity, on many levels.  And while purity observances were more about these things and not sins, in themselves, they were nonetheless to be regarded as important and strived for, because impurity, uncleanness was something that would keep a person from being able to enter the Temple and thereby the presence of God.  Our bodies are called the Temple of God.

I personally do not believe that Peter’s vision was about food.  Especially since there is no Scripture in Torah that ever describes food as anything other than clean.  Rather, I believe God was directing Peter to accept Gentiles, something that Jews in their adding to the Law (Torah) had stopped doing, as his own explanation directs.  In the temple, they had a separate court for the Gentiles.  There were man-made rules on not even entering the house of a Gentile or eating with a Gentile, etc.

But, having said even that… here’s a question… if we love God, why would we NOT want to do whatever He tells us?  (Exodus 20:6; John 14:15; 1 John 3:24; 2 John 5, 6) The Torah was placed in our lives to help us live.  Many of the things that are in Torah, we already do and we just don’t recognize them as part of Torah.  For instance, He tells us not to murder, don’t practice bestiality, and don’t sleep with your father’s wife.  Just a sample, and yet, we wouldn’t question those, right?  So, why do we stomp around and whine about other instructions and claim they’re done away with, like observing the Sabbath on the day that God appointed?  Or why do we fuss about not eating what He says is unclean?

Take pork, for instance.  We are only now, in the last few decades, realizing that pork carries disease, has parasites, and can cause red blood cells to clot at enormous rates within just a few hours of eating (an inflammatory response), even if it has been fully cooked and “is not at risk for spreading parasites”.

And… why would anyone want to eat many of the other unclean animals?  Vultures, bats, mice, snakes, spiders… gross!  I understand if it’s an absolute necessity, if there were nothing else to eat, but we are in a time when we can choose a mass variety of clean animals and never begin to be in a position where we would have to choose animals from the unclean list.

Here’s a question, before I move on:  Do the following acts sound good?

Perverting Justice.  (Leviticus 19:15)

Practicing witchcraft. (Deuteronomy. 18:10-11)

Cutting your body for the dead.  (Leviticus 19:28)

Having sex with close family members.  (Leviticus 18)

Its odd that Christians, in general, follow A LOT of these commandments already, but if we establish a statement that says we should follow His Law (Torah), suddenly, legalism is the cry of the day.

YHWH knew what the human race needed when He instructed them through the Torah.  His laws (commandments, decrees, judgments, statutes) preserve us, protect us, guard us and bless us.  King David wrote an ode to Yah’s Torah in Psalm 119.  He calls blessed those who follow His law.  He calls Torah a lamp and a light, truth, and a delight.  In Romans 7:12, Paul defines the law (Torah) as “holy and good.”

It’s a heart condition.  It always has been and it always will be.  He showed us love, while we were still sinners.  And its our turn to show Him love, by doing His commandments, which aren’t burdensome.  (1 John 5:3)

Yah’s commandments are to be engraved on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33) You see, living the law (just to live it, which is called the “letter”), is not what YHWH is looking for in our lives, but rather, He is looking for us to live His Word from our hearts (because we want to, not because we have to).  It’s a heart relationship He wants with us.

Did Yeshua come to abolish the law?  He says no.  Matthew 5:17-19.  He didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill (fully fill, show how to live it with completeness).  He tells us so through the man who called Him ‘Good Teacher’.  (Matthew 19:16-18)  He even declares that if our righteousness doesn’t exceed that of the Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

What is righteousness?  Faith and obedience.  Abraham was accounted righteousness, through his faith, which was shown by being a doer of Yah’s Word, not by hearing only.  Noah was accounted righteousness through his faith.  In Hebraic thought, the two are one and the same.  You cannot have one without the other.  Thus, why James said what he does in James 1:22-25 and in 2:14-18.

More points to ponder…

Why would Yeshua say that He didn’t come to destroy the law, but He came to fulfill (modern interpretation meaning abolish), then, turn around and reveal to Paul & Peter, in Acts, (as so many say) that it isn’t necessary to keep the Law?

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 says the following:  “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 the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God 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 the Lord your God, 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 Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”

If Yeshua (Jesus) came here to abolish the Law, He was then, committing treason, turning those who follow Him “after other gods”, namely Himself.  These things that Christians say Jesus has done to “liberate” them from Yah’s Law, is in direct opposition to the Scripture above.  Is Yeshua a liar?  Was He crazy?

Why would YHWH tell Noah that he could eat anything at all (and Noah was aware of the clean and unclean), but then, in the Mosaic Law, say you can only eat clean animals, then, turn around and tell the “new testament church” that you can eat all animals, but then, in the New World to come, those who eat swine’s flesh and the abomination will be consumed together?  (Isaiah 66:16-18)  I’m pretty sure He’s not suffering from bi-polar or schizophrenia.  He says He doesn’t lie and that He changes not.  He also says He isn’t the God of chaos and confusion.  So…

Logic dictates… Noah knew what animals were clean and which weren’t. He was told to bring 2 of every unclean and 7 of every clean.  Just from a purely logical deduction, if Noah ate any of the unclean animals, would there have been any to propagate their kinds?  Just a thought.

Is it possible, that if Paul and other NT writers seem to contradict the OT Scriptures, that maybe, just maybe, we’re misinterpreting what they wrote?  And maybe we need to go back to the beginning and start again, because we’ve missed something.  There are no contradictions, because He doesn’t lie and He doesn’t change.  The story is the same from beginning to end.  The entire Bible is a love story and a story of bringing us back to Him, fully restoring what was in the beginning.

But… what about…

  • The 613 laws?
  • Animal sacrifice?
  • Mixed fibers in clothing?

613 laws was a number placed on Torah, by a man named Maimonides, who lived in medieval Spain.  Its tradition, not Biblical.

Wikipedia source states, “Rabbinic support for the number of commandments being 613 is not without dissent and, even as the number gained acceptance, difficulties arose in elucidating the list. Some rabbis declared that this count was not an authentic tradition, or that it was not logically possible to come up with a systematic count. No early work of Jewish law or Biblical commentary depended on the 613 system, and no early systems of Jewish principles of faith made acceptance of this Aggadah (non-legal Talmudic statement) normative. The classical Biblical commentator and grammarian Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra denied that this was an authentic rabbinic tradition. Ibn Ezra writes “Some sages enumerate 613 mitzvot in many diverse ways […] but in truth there is no end to the number of mitzvot […] and if we were to count only the root principles […] the number of mitzvot would not reach 613” (Yesod Mora, Chapter 2).”

There are many commandments (and by many scholars count in the New Testament, over 1050).  But, not all apply to all people, at all times.  There were laws for the Temple, laws for the priests, laws for men, laws for women.  Let’s be intellectually honest here and stop jumping back to legalism as a defense for NOT doing the commandments.

Regarding animal sacrifice.  This was done AT the Temple, by the High Priest.

The Temple is not in existence currently and our High Priest (Yeshua) is currently in heaven.  But Scripture clearly states that it will be done again.  (Isaiah 56:6-8; Zechariah 14:16; Jeremiah 33:15-18 and Ezekiel 43:18-46:24.  I lean toward this understanding of the Scriptures on this matter.  “Will there be animal sacrifices during the millennial kingdom?”

Part of the questioning that many keep drawing from, in my opinion, isn’t regarding specific laws for the purpose of understanding, but to press their legalistic view of Torah.  This sounds harsh, but I don’t believe they are doing this because they’re out to harm me or others, but rather, because they just don’t get it yet.  They’re stuck in their paradigm.  I can say this, because I was once coming from that viewpoint.

Regarding mixed fibers.  Another object lesson about not mixing.  Not mixing our worship, not mixing our seed (like as in food.)  Look at the mess Monsanto has created.  And yes, not mixing fibers in our clothing.  My wardrobe is quickly becoming one of 100% this or that.  Linen, cotton, hemp, bamboo and sometimes rayon.  I am trying to change out all my clothing for natural fibers.

Health benefits regarding linen (and other 100% fibers) are tremendous.  Check it out.

However, this may have been more about wool and linen alone and how they affect the Holy of Holies as these fibers are both rated at a magnetic count of 5000 and by mixing the fibers they cancel each other out, leaving someone (a priest, for instance) open to electromagnetic susceptibility.  I won’t rule any of it out.

So to clarify what I believe about the Torah…

Yeshua’s sacrifice is the only means of salvation from the law of sin and death.  This was never the responsibility of the Torah (Law).  Salvation is by grace alone through faith.  Faith (and love) is shown by obedience to His commandments. We are not saved by following Torah, BUT because we are saved, we GET to follow Torah and show Him how much we love Him!

The world that has been opened up to me is unbelievable! I can’t imagine anyone not wanting this for themselves.  There is so much freedom in His Way, its amazing!

We are free to make the choices to follow or not to follow.  But, we must own up to those choices and the consequences that follow.  These things are between each person and God.  But, I do keep in mind Yeshua words in Matthew 5:19, “Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

HowtoLoveGodLastly, what harm is following Torah, to the best of our ability?  All the instructions fall under one of two

commandments.

“He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.””  Matthew 22:36-40

AND… we are to follow Yeshua.  In my opinion, this is a DWYD (Do What Yeshua Did), not a WWYD (What Would Yeshua Do).  As NotAFan says, “Are you a fan or follower?”

It in not my intention nor my purpose to condemn anyone, by sharing what I believe and what I’ve discovered.  In fact, its my intention to share out of love for Him and for you, to share what I’ve learned and to help others find this Law of Liberty, freedom!