Torah Portion for Monday 26th July 2021 (by Miriam Wakefield)
”Va’etchanan Deuteronomy Chapter 3 – 7:11
I have been asked why the Torah is – Old Testament Law- so important when we have the salvation message in the New Testament. We have been taught we are no longer under Law but under grace – what more do we need? Good question.
While it is true, we are no longer under the legal constraints of the former covenant given at Sinai, we are reminded in psalm 1 to delight in the law of the Lord and to meditate on His Law day and night. Law is not the true definition in this passage. The true definition according to (Y.R.H, Strong's #3384), is Torah actually means “to shoot an arrow or to hit the mark” so it’s not so much about rules and regulations but about direction and taking aim in the way of your life. English Bible translated the word Torah to “law”. The Torah is the First 5 books of the Old Testament, so when you see the word “Law” you should read “Torah” – and take aim!
Psalm 19:7 says “The Torah of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” The New Testament in Romans 7:12 says that the “Torah is holy, righteous and true” and in 2 Timothy 3:16 says “all scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness.” The Torah provides the context for the New Covenant revelation which Jesus used to explain His ministry to his followers. The Old Testament helps us understand the New Testament in context.
So, we should be Torah aware Christians. Most consider the Old Testament irrelevant today since we are mainly taught from New Testament writings but I think that is a serious mistake.
Jesus and his disciples were all Torah observant Jews. The scriptures they studied, loved, and quoted were from the Torah, the prophets and the writings called the Jewish Tenach. Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy, the book we are studying now, more than any other scripture. As a child Jesus would have studied it and memorized it like all Jewish children. He would also be very familiar with the discussions of the Rabbis and the sages.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus quoted “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and all your strength” Deuteronomy 6:5. which is the Torah portion for this week. Then He added “You shall love your neighbor as your self” Leviticus 19:18 and both come from the Torah. Jesus said he did not come to abolish Torah and prophets but to fulfil them. Matthew 5:17-19
Mathew 19:17 Jesus said “If you want to enter life keep the commandments”. When asked which ones, he recited the Ten Commandments.
Jesus says the Jewish Torah testifies of Himself. John 5:39. As followers we should understand how Torah bears witness to Jesus as the King of the Jews. In doing so, we can appreciate the glory and grace of God as reflected in Jesus. For example, the “sacrificial Lamb” and “The blood on the door posts” at Passover represents the blood of Jesus. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
In the story “on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 13-36 Jesus reveals himself after the crucifixion to his disciples on the road and it says, “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets He explained to them what was said in scripture concerning Himself”.
We too should be able to find Jesus in the Old Testament where he is concealed but in the New Testament he is revealed. Jesus was a Jew – He was a Rabbi. The Bible was written by Jews, for Jews about a Jew. We must understand this.
The church was born on a Jewish holiday called Pentecost. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was entirely Jewish, quoting from the prophets and (psalms) with no gentile in sight. The 3000 people saved that day would all have been Jewish. The church met regularly in the temple, where gentiles were excluded; Peter and John went to the temple for prayer every day Acts3. Their ministry was to the Jewish people and thousands believed Jesus was their Messiah. Acts 21:20
Peter’s vision of the blanket filled with kosher animals caused him angst because he would not eat anything that was not kosher nor enter the house of a non-Jewish person. That shows us how Peter was steeped in Torah even after spending 3 years under the teaching of Jesus.
The apostle Paul was raised a Torah observant Jew and studied under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem Acts 22:3. Rabbi Saul as he was then known, was well established in the Jewish leadership of his day, had a relationship with the Sanhedrin and the High Priest of Israel Acts 9:1-2 but even after his conversion on the road to Damascus, he still identified himself as a Jew. In Acts he says “I am” not I was but “I am a Pharisee”. He was observant of Torah to the point of blameless. Phil 3:6 says he kept Torah his entire life. Acts 25:7-8:
Acts 27:18. Says he took the Nazarite vow and offered sacrifices in the temple. When he went to Thessalonica it says, “as his manner was, he went into them and for 3 sabbaths reasoned with them out of the Torah.
When he taught the gentiles, it was all from Torah because the New Testament had not yet been compiled for the church. So, to understand Paul’s writings you must remember his training as a rabbi. For example, when he quoted from Exodus where Moses strikes the rock and out flowed water – Paul writes, “All drink from the spiritual drink, for they were drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them and that Rock was Messiah for He is the living water.2 Corinthians 10:4
It seems we have been so short sighted - it is impossible to understand New Testament writings while ignoring the cultural and theological context of which it is part.
All of those born Jewish are part of God’s family by means of God’s love and grace as extended through his son Jesus. Those who reject Him are spiritually lost whether born Jewish or not. 1john 5:12
So, it is essential to follow Torah - Jesus is the Living Torah. The word made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. He is the center the beginning and the end of all true Torah. Jesus is the voice of God - the Word of God. The message of God to us so it was Jesus who spoke the words of God to Moses - it was not someone else.
Jesus is the heart of Torah. These are the words for all who have ears to hear for ourselves. They are personal to each one of us through the wisdom and grace of God. It is impossible to please God without faith and knowing Him. Faith is essential to knowing Him but if we are the Bride of Christ, it is time we met our “in-laws” revealed in Torah!
My personal Study notes from John Parsons Hebrew4Christians