Recently I was involved in conversations in the blogosphere regarding Torah and its relevance to Gentiles. Many said it has little to no bearing on us. Several times I shared this with my rabbi at Torah study and was shored in my belief that yes, there is one Torah for all humanity.
Now before anyone jumps up and starts pointing out differences, I realize there are differences in the Torah between men and women, Levites and Israel, and cohen and the high priest, just to name a few.) But the reason my heart is breaking is because of a letter I read from Boaz Michael of FFOZ.
It seems there are prominent Messianic Jewish organizations in the land of Israel that teach the whole purpose of the Torah was to point to Yeshua; that the Torah was never meant to be literally observed. And there is another prominent Messianic organization teaching that even the moral laws of the Torah are abolished.
While it might seem crazy, it makes sense. When you start to question/remove one point of Torah, eventually the whole thing is up for debate. Of course, this leads to everyone doing right in his own eyes, which leads to all sorts of debauchery even among believers. I’ve observed this with my own eyes – believers rejoicing over gay marriage; incest, fornication, and abuse are proliferate in the body as we look the other way. This must not be!
The time is short. Messiah is coming soon. We must pray for unity in the body of Messiah. How else will the world find their way to Him?
First we must realize that Torah means ‘instruction’. And I say the Torah – God’s instruction – is still relevant.
- God’s instructions for festivals are still relevant.
- God’s instructions about what is (and what isn’t) food is still relevant.
- God’s instructions about marriage and family are still relevant.
- God’s instructions about justice are still relevant.
- God’s instructions about modesty and clothing are still relevant.
- Even God’s instructions about sacrifices are still relevant.
How can I say that? Because Yeshua is our everlasting sacrifice.
When we sin (and admit it, we still do) it is the Blood of the Lamb that cleanses us. His sacrifice is so different from that of goats and bulls because what He accomplished is beyond our comprehension. Somehow, His blood continues to cleanse, where goats and bulls were only a one shot deal. And we still need that cleansing if we want to approach an All Holy God and live. So God’s instructions about sacrifices are still relevant.
The other day I came across this article, ‘What it Means to Receive the Torah’ and I encourage you to read it. It is short and to the point. It is about Torah from a Jewish perspective. For instance, “The Torah teaches us not only to be good, but to be holy as well. What does it mean to be holy? Holiness means being separate.” Sounds a lot like Peter’s letter, doesn’t it?
And what about, “Receiving the Torah is to accept that there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct one’s life.” Could this have been penned by Paul?
The author also talks about the importance of unity and love. Sounds a lot like our Messiah and His emissary, John, does it not?
God’s Torah is relevant because it is His standard of righteousness and holiness, whether we follow it or not. My heart breaks for the body of Messiah who miss out on the opportunity to be holy as He is holy. And my heart especially breaks for those that teach others to walk away from God’s instructions.
Thank you for your wonderful write-up. I wish things made as much sense to me as they do to you, but there is no getting around the fact that I find myself in a strange place these days.
Just to think, at the beginning of the year I was a Bible-believing Christian, whose favorite Apostle was St. Paul. I have been a Christian for nearly 40 years and have held various offices within the church, including Sunday School teacher. But, everything came to a screeching halt as I sat down to study Paul’s letter to the Galatians in late February.
I did not get through the first verse when it occurred to me, that Paul was not an apostle at all. It was as if scales fell from my eyes and I really saw Paul for the very first time (without all the church fanfare). It suddenly occurred to me that Paul had never met Yeshua, he was never mentored by Yeshua and he never witnessed Yeshua’s baptism or ascension. In fact, Paul was neither foretold by Almighty YHWH, he was never recruited by Yeshua or even known to the Twelve. He just came walking out of the wilderness one day…under his own power, proclaiming a bright light spoke to him (that claimed to be the risen Christ), and who continued to give him secret revelations…which led Paul to proclaim his own gospel, build his own foundation (apart from Christ’s), ask congregants to emulate him, not to mention call him their “Father”. Thus a new faith was born (Christianity), which introduced a new mode of salvation “By grace you are saved (alone) through faith.”
By and large, I placed Paul on trial and after deliberating for a few months, the verdict was that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It hurt me to lose him, because, after Yeshua, he was my favorite Biblical character. After throwing out Paul’s letters, I also threw out all other Pauline works, essentially leaving me with Matthew, James, Jude and Revelation.
One of the problems that I am dealing with right now, is that no one in the New Testament cared to write their names to their works, so we cannot really know who wrote what, except for the braggart, Paul, who wanted to father his own religious following. I like the Book of Matthew, but the truth is that Matthew never said he wrote it and since it is written in the third-person, we know it is at least second-generation hearsay.
After all is said and done, I just think that if the words of Yeshua were pertinent to us today, He would have written them down, Himself, and then safeguarded His words for all generations to come. As it is, we have writings attributed to apostles from unknown sources, claiming that Yeshua did this and that, and said this and that. Then, we have, Paul, who never spoke of Yeshua except when he wanted to claim authority in Christ, then continued to take things in a whole new direction.
From where I am sitting right now, and I may change my mind tomorrow – I just don’t think Yeshua was meant for Christians or for “Gentiles”. I think The Messiah was meant for the lost sheep of Israel, to fulfill the Law and the prophets, to return as the King of the Jews and to die as a ransom for many.
I believe Yeshua was The promised Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Son of God and the sacrificial Lamb of God. I believe He was the final say, the final sacrifice, to end all sacrifices and the beginning of the end. Forty years after His sacrifice and His ascension back to His Father in Heaven (70 A.D.), He returned, Jerusalem fell, the Temple was destroyed, the surviving people were taken as slaves and the rest fled into exile.
I am not sure if you can clear this up for me, but since the Temple is gone, as well as the priesthood, and our Father left the Holy of Holies almost 2,000 years ago, where does that leave the Torah? If the Torah was a wonderful stew made up of 613 marvelous ingredients that was pleasing to Almighty YHWH in every way, what are we left with now? A pot pie that incorporates the 200 remaining ingredients? If the Torah, in its fullness, was “the Way”…what is it now considered by YHWH, now that it has been drastically diminished in scope? If the Torah, in its fullness, was considered a treasure map that led to our Father in Heaven, how can a map that is missing many of its crucial pieces be able to do the same? Please help me understand how the Torah, in its diminished state, is still pleasing to our Heavenly Father?
Best wishes and be well – John
Rabbi Saul/Paul is a very misunderstood apostle. This misunderstanding stems from Gentiles being removed from the Jewish roots of our faith.
It is unfortunate that Paul is credited with starting a new religion, because he did not. When we look at his writings from the perspective of him being Torah observant, they take on a completely new meaning.
When I look at Torah, I see the grace of God all over it! The Lord, Himself, testifies to this when He reveals Himself to Moses:
“YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!! YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins…”
The mode of salvation in the Torah was always based on faith – faith in who God is, in His character. I would encourage you to revisit Rav Shaul, understanding him as a teacher of the Torah from the School of Hillel (one that is more lenient, more full of grace, as opposed to the School of Shammai, one that is more stringent).
When studying the book of Matthew, one realizes it was written to the Jews, to prove Yeshua is the promised Messiah. Even the grouping of the lineage speaks of King David.
What makes you think Yeshua already returned? If he is the Messiah, and I believe he is, then his return would not go unnoticed.
The Dwelling Presence of the Lord was never in the Second Temple, therefore is it more than two thousand years since the Presence left.
With the Temple gone, as I mentioned in the article, we are left with instructions for right living. We see the holiness of God, we see God’s character.
The call for God’s people always was, and still is, for us to be holy, as God is holy. The Torah describes what holiness looks like.
I do not think Paul is as misunderstood, as he is not well-received.
Does it not concern you that YHWH never mentioned his coming, like YHWH did for others (on so many other occasions)? Does it not concern you that Yeshua did not choose him, even though they were in the same city at the same time? Does it not concern you that the Twelve had no idea who this man was? Does it not concern you that Yeshua did nothing to introduce this man’s arrival? Does it not concern you that he was not well received by the Twelve? Does it not concern you that we have only his word that he saw a brilliant light and heard a voice, claiming to be the risen Christ? Does it not concern you that he was never mentored by Yeshua, Himself? Does it not concern you that he claimed he did not need the Twelve to lay their hands on him? Does it not concern you that he said he could not learn anything from the Twelve? Does it not concern you that he purported to receive secret revelations? Does it not concern you that after he allegedly became saved, that all persecutions within Jerusalem mysteriously stopped? Does it not concern you that there are 3 stories of his miraculous conversion in the Book of Acts? Does it not concern you that he promoted his own gospel? Does it not concern you that he never spoke about Christ’s ministry, promoted Christ or even referred to Christ (except to invoke His name)? Does it not concern you that he built his own foundation apart from Christ’s? Does it not concern you that he said we should emulate him? Does it not concern you that he wanted others to call him “Father”? Does it not concern you that he came out against the Torah? And, does it not concern you that he brought about a whole new mode of salvation (by grace [alone] we are saved through faith?
I am sure I have neglected to state other examples, but if this does not get one to think or raise any red flags…then I don’t know what will.
Be well – John
P.S. I am curious…why do you accept Paul’s teachings?
Wow, John. I thought we were having a conversation, but it feels more like you are here to preach to me the evils of Paul.
To be honest, John, I am more concerned with your willingness to banter about God’s name, than your misconceptions of Paul. As I mentioned before, the only way to truly understand Paul’s writings is to start with the understanding that he is Torah observant and never intended to start a new religion.
Your concern over people referring to him as ‘Father’. Apparently you haven’t read my post on this topic. I am guessing you didn’t call your own father, Father or Dad? In verse 10 of Matthew 23 Yeshua instructs us not to call ourselves ‘leaders’ either, so I’m curious how you refer to those who are over you in the faith? Or even the leaders of our country, or leaders of any organization?
At this point, we are going to have to agree to disagree. Paul’s writings line up completely with Torah and Yeshua.
Good evening, Ro:
Thank you for your reply, and, yes, I still think we are having a conversation, albeit a challenging one. That’s okay…isn’t it?
I think, when you referred to Saul as “Rabbi”…my false teacher meter went into overdrive, because Yeshua specifically said not to refer to a man as “rabbi”, because there is only one Teacher (Matthew 23:8). In the same way I do not call Catholic priests “Father”, because Yeshua instructed us not to, because we have only one Father and He is in Heaven (Matthew 23:9).
The problem is with the implied authority that is derived through the use of these titles and the subsequent submission that follows. Keep in mind that at the base of the cross the ground is level, so to submit to these men, on a spiritual level, is wrong. They are in the same boat as we are, and in most cases – do not really know any more than we do or walk any closer to God than we do, while others are flat-out evil. So, to call these men “Teacher” or “Father” in the spiritual sense, is flat-out wrong. Paul was looking to be called “Father” in the spiritual sense, and of that, there can be no doubt.
Ro, you mentioned that you are concerned about my “willingness to banter about God’s name”. Would you please tell me what you mean by that and then show me where I have done this?
To be honest, I am a little concerned that you have not addressed any of my questions or concerns. How are we to engage in honest dialog, when there is no give and take? I expressed to you my Biblical concerns with Paul, but you, in turn, brushed it off with a flick of your wrist, declaring, “Paul’s writings line up completely with Torah and Yeshua”, but then you failed to provide any evidence.
Regarding the First-Century return of Lord Yeshua, C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Say what you like, we shall be told, ‘The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.” Found in the essay, “The World’s Last Night” (1960), within The Essential C.S. Lewis, page 385.
Of course I know Lord Yeshua didn’t get it wrong, but there are plenty of know-it-alls, pastors, popes, priests, bishops, fathers, rabbis, scholars, elders and clergymen, who may be well educated and have impressive credentials, but drown in ignorance, nonetheless. Please don’t be one of them.
Be well – John
P.S. Who is over me in the faith? Since the Apostolic Age is over, the risen Christ sits at His Father’s right hand and Almighty YHWH governs all…I don’t have a clue as to whom I should submit to in the faith upon this earth nor do I know why I should. Please advise.
I personally prefer not to us the Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, and dislike when it is used. I personally feel it is disrespectful. Just as I wouldn’t refer to my earthly mother or father by their name, I feel we shouldn’t refer to our Father, the King of the Universe, Creator of All Things, by his name. I would appreciate it if you would be sensitive to my feelings on this subject, and refrain from using God’s name here.
I am sensing a pattern here. Have you read the entirety of C.S. Lewis’ essay, “The World’s Last Night”? Your quote is anything but what he was talking about. Here is a link to several of his essays. After you read it, let’s talk again. Okay?
You can find ‘The World’s Last Night’ on page 93 of the book, or 107 of the pdf file.
I look forward to your thoughts.
Why do you recoil from God’s name, when He used it 7,000 times in Scripture? I am inclined to think that if our Father did not want us to know His name or invoke His name…He wouldn’t have used it so extensively or at all. Why is it okay for Jewish scribes to conceal His name from humanity, thus striking His holy name from numerous passages, thus erasing it from the record, corrupting Scripture and lying to humanity? How is this logic wrong?
John, I already explained why I do not use God’s name and prefer it not be used here – out of respect for Him. As I know my earthly father’s name, but don’t use it out of respect for his position, how much more for the Creator of All Things?
As to Jewish scribes concealing it, where do you get your information? It is right there is the Torah scrolls. It is out of respect for the Holy One that they do not say it when reading the scroll. But all of us are aware that when the term LORD, or ADONAI, is said, it is a circumlocution for God’s name.
Again, I must ask, where are you getting your information?
Hi, Ro, Part II:
No…in all honesty I had never read the entirety of Lewis’ essay. Having said that, I reread my letter to you and saw that I had not fully articulated the point I had intended to make. The point was that C.S. Lewis implied Matthew 24:34 was an embarrassment to Christianity, because, I can only imagine, Yeshua prophesied that that particular generation would not pass away until all the aforementioned prophesies had taken place, including verse 30 and 31, which speak of Christ’s Second Coming. That was my point, which I failed to make.
Best wishes – John
John, I completely understood the point you were trying to make. Unfortunately, you were using someone else’s opinion of what C.S. Lewis was saying, rather than going to the source – C.S. Lewis himself.
And that is my point, John. Rather than reading Paul for yourself, with the understanding that he was completely Torah observant, and understood the Torah is all good, bringing life, you seem to take the Church’s misunderstanding of Paul’s words as gospel truth.
This often happens with people who come to realize the Torah is still relevant, that it is eternal.
As I asked you to go back and read C.S. Lewis’ words for yourself, I am also asking you to leave behind the Church’s traditional understanding of Paul’s words. Read through them understanding that he never was ‘converted’ to a new religion and the name change proves it. (Rather, Jews in the Diaspora have two names – their Greek and Hebrew ones.) Read through his letters as he intended them to be read, as one who fully supports Israel and believes God’s covenant is eternal and full of life.
As to C.S. Lewis’ essay, if you do choose to go back and read it, you will find that the one quote taken out of context was him pointing out the fallacy of many people, not his own belief.
Again, I ask you to go back and re-read Paul, leaving behind the Church’s mistakes of misquoting and misunderstanding, and let Torah, the Spirit, and Yeshua speak to you through them. You will come to understand Saul of Tarsus in a whole new light – the light of Torah.
I revisited page 98 of “The World’s Last Night” and right after the quote of the scoffer, beginning the very next paragraph, C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible” (Matthew 24:34) – making it his personal point of view. Perhaps you should likewise revisit his essay and tell me what you think.
Be well – John
Apparently you didn’t read the essay in its entirety, or you would not say the negative things you are saying.
Here is the first few lines:
Here are many reasons why the modern Christian and even the modern
theologian may hesitate to give to the doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming that emphasis which was usually laid on it by our ancestors. Yet it seems to me
impossible to retain in any recognisable form our belief in the Divinity of Christ and the truth of the Christian revelation while abandoning, or even persistently neglecting, the promised, and threatened, Return. “He shall come again to judge
the quick and the dead/’ says the Apostles’ Creed. “This same Jesus/’ said the angels in Acts, “shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” “Hereafter/’ said our Lord himself (by those words inviting crucifixion) , “shall ye
see the Son of Man . . . coming in the clouds of heaven.” If this is not an integral part of the faith once given to the saints, I do not know what is. In the following
pages I shall endeavour to deal with some of the thoughts that may deter modern men from a firm belief in, or a due attention to, the return or Second Coming
of the Saviour.
He is not a scoffer, as you so falsely accuse him. John, you really cannot venture a judgement without knowing all the facts, or at least the gist of what someone is saying.
What I hear coming from you, John, is not a desire to find the truth, but a preference to take things out of context and practice lashon hara. This certainly would need please our God.
On one hand you say that I am falsely accusing C.S. Lewis of being a “scoffer”, which is not the case, then you continue on by saying I cannot venture a judgment on him without knowing ALL the facts. Up to this point I would agree with you wholeheartedly, if it weren’t for the fact that you’ve misconstrued my intentions and missed my point entirely.
Then, with your other hand, you pronounce judgment on me, not claiming (charitably) that I may have misunderstood some things here and there, but preferring, rather, to boldly assert that I do not want to know the truth, intentionally take things out of context, while practicing defamation with an evil tongue (lashon hara).
I have never claimed that I get everything right or understand all things, but, then again, neither do you. And, if you think you do…you’re either self-righteous, delusional or nuts.
Moreover, why is it okay for you to make claims against my spirit and my character, when you truly don’t know me or know ALL the facts concerning me? Why is it that I must know EVERYTHING about C.S. Lewis in order to make a statement about him, but you give yourself license to condemn me, without holding yourself to the same standard? How can you hope to correct me with your right hand, then violate everything you said with your left?
If I take your words at face value and understand them correctly, I am inclined to think you are operating with a double-standard, which is indicative of those who are convinced of their self-righteousness and superiority. Could this be true?
Ro, I think I should move on. Thank you for your time.
I wish you well, John