Why Torah?

I shared James’ post, Christianization of Acts 15, on Facebook, and a friend commented and it turned into a small exchange. First, he asked about the purpose of the Law, and why observe it if it’s a shadow of Jesus? After my response, he asked about whether or not I am Jewish, and if not what is my reason for following Torah. He also asked about going to a priest for certain functions, and such. I don’t want to quote his entire comment, but below is my response. It was something that I had been pondering anyway, so his question hit me at a time when I was prepared. Thanks Papa!

I am a gentile, and proud of it! Thank you for your questions. The question of why I observe Torah is something I am often asking myself, to make sure I’m on the right track. Why would a gentile who has salvation through Yeshua need Torah, or even WANT Torah?

For a while, I had grown frustrated with my faith. I KNEW it was true, I KNEW it was the path, THE WAY. But there was something missing. And honestly, I wasn’t sure what my feelings about Jesus were. But this past January/February I started studying at Torah Class. It was like the veil had been removed from before my eyes! I was uncovering so much depth in scripture I had never seen before, and so much depth to my God that I’d never known before. I learned that our modern world is so much more connected to those ancient peoples than I thought. I saw the beauty in Yahweh created a uniquely separate people, set apart to serve Him. And many many of the lies of modern Christianity were revealed to me.

The truth is that the modern church is full of paganism and antisemitism. I was disgusted with what I saw, and the only solution was to turn to the Father, what is clean in His eyes? I didn’t want to keep following the traditions around me, but I didn’t want to just pick up another teaching of man either.

One of the most important things I learned is that the “Law” was not nailed to the cross, and it was not done away with. But I also know that we are not obligated to follow it. Yahweh does not love us any more or any less for following it. We are not more or less saved by following or not following it. But it can still teach us how God defines sin, how He deals with sin, what He deems holy, what is unholy, what is righteous, and what is unrighteous.

Yes, I do not have to observe Torah, but I WANT to. We are living in a fallen and broken world. We cannot depend on man’s judgment for what is right and wrong. It doesn’t matter how “right” or “good” a philosophy sounds, if it doesn’t agree with scripture, it’s wrong. And Torah in fact is quite simple. Moses says so in Deut. 30:11. Actually, Torah means instruction, not Law. There was just no other way to translate it into the Greek. Yahweh gave Moses the Ten Principles on Mt. Sinai, and the rest of the instructions teach on how to live in those principles, or otherwise, how to foster holiness.

But of course I do not need a priest to perform sacrifices for me. As the writer of Hebrews is quite clear on, Yeshua is now our High Priest and the sacrifice. (That is what the letter of Hebrews is all about.) And the observance of Passover doesn’t call for blood, that was only for the first (I think, I haven’t had the opportunity to observe it yet. I’m still new to this.) And also, Acts 15 is specifically talking about circumcision. Paul says that they should not circumcise full-grown men, because it is too painful. But in the end of the council, they decide on some basic things to instruct the gentiles on, because they will learn the rest in synagogue (verse 21.)

And you’re right, it is confusing how much of Torah to follow, and I’m still trying to figure it out. But remember that Yahweh did not give it as a curse or as a burden to the people, but as a gift. It is a gift, teaching us how to love Him, and how to be Holy as He is Holy. But I think there are some parts that came before the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai. For example: Yahweh made Sabbath Holy at Creation, thus it’s a law for all creation. Similarly, God gave Kosher to Noah, and thus it’s for all mankind. And a lot of the law deals with idolatry, which is an obvious one. Unfortunately, the modern church is full of pagan idols.

To revisit my comment about Jesus briefly, in studying Torah I discovered the Jewish Yeshua. I fell in love with Him! He is someone I want to follow, someone I want to have a conversation with. The Greek Jesus was someone that I’d rather not focus on, and frankly it annoyed me when people talked about Him. If you research stuff on the Hebrew Yeshua, it’s really quite beautiful.

So in summary, I observe Torah because it is a delight to me. I honestly feel joy in Sabbath, in Kosher, in modesty. Yahweh tells us that it is good for us, that it brings blessing. I have no reason not to follow it, and nothing to encourage me to stop it. I feel more alive in my faith, and more in love with God, than ever.

Shalom!

Genevieve

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19 thoughts on “Why Torah?

  1. You have given a beautiful explanation why to follow Torah. Your summary, “I observe Torah because it is a delight to me. I honestly feel joy in Sabbath, in Kosher, in modesty. Yahweh tells us that it is good for us, that it brings blessing. I have no reason not to follow it, and nothing to encourage me to stop it. I feel more alive in my faith, and more in love with God, than ever.” Is exactly how I feel. I began this journey a couple of years go. It is such a blessing to follow His ways. It is not always easy, but it is worth it as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling and pursue holiness. Blessings!

  2. “Following Torah” is really a lot more complicated than it might seem on the surface, for Jewish people and certainly for non-Jewish believers. I haven’t responded to your comment on my blog yet, but as ProclaimLiberty said there, Acts 15 makes it fairly clear that we are not obligated to the Torah in the manner of the Jewish people.

    To describe what we are obligated to would take volumes and the answer we receive in churches might not entirely fit what the Council in Acts 15 intended. It’s a study I continually pursue and I probably will keep honing my understanding of my relationship with God (which is what we’re really talking about here) for the rest of my life.

    “Following Torah” is something most Christians do to a large extent anyway, we just don’t call it that. Do you give to charity? That’s Torah. Do you visit the sick? That’s Torah. Do you comfort people when they’re sad and grieving? That’s Torah. Probably any act of goodness and kindness you commit is in the Torah somewhere. God wants us to treat each other well as an outgrowth of our relationship with Him.

    Which like I said, is what we’re really talking about here.

    As far as any not-so-nice things we say about “the Church,” please remember that I wrote the blog post “The Christianization of Acts 15” as a Christian who regularly attends church services and Sunday school. Yes, the Church (big “C”) has done a lot wrong, but it has done a lot right, too. If you or I, from a particular perspective, believe we have a message about God and the Bible that the Church could benefit from, how will we get that message across unless we associate regularly with other Christians?

    It isn’t for everyone, but it’s the path that I’ve chosen (or maybe God chose it for me) for now. It’s enormously frustrating but sometimes rewarding. A good and wise friend of mine once told me not to seek Christianity and not to seek Judaism, but to seek an encounter with God. The Torah is not above God and what the Torah is includes many things, not all of them designed for Christian consumption (such as wearing tzitzit, for example). But the best one-word translation for “Torah” is “teaching,” and what we should desire is to sit at the feet of our Master and to learn his Torah, his teachings. That’s why we read the Bible. Then we try to practice what we’ve learned.

    If you want to “follow Torah,” that’s a good place to start.

    • Hi James! Thanks for your lengthy comment. I love the way you put “following Torah.” I haven’t thought about it in those words before. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing charity and Kosher, Sabbath, etc. as two different parts of the teaching, rather than of the same teaching. I guess I should clarify in future discussions that I’m defending why I do things that most Christians see as Jewish, like Kosher and Sabbath.

      And I too am still regularly attending church, and find it really important. As frustrated as I get, I also know it’s not right to just break off and be by myself. I know Church has done a lot of good things too, but I guess at the moment I have a complicated relationship with it. I go to be among the body and to share, but lately I don’t feel like I’m getting much back. I feel like I’m going out of discipline, but not out of a desire to be there. How do you feel in your church?

      And I hope, I pray, that I am seeking God in all of this. Thank you as always for your good words.

      • How do you feel in your church?

        I feel a lot of things. I feel frustrated a lot but since I walked back into church with my eyes wide open, I should expect this. I guard my comments in Sunday school, making only a few points that I think are important, because otherwise I’ll seem argumentative.

        My Pastor has asked me to meet with him on Wednesday evenings to discuss our views on scripture. We’re going through the book of Galatians, he from a traditional fundamentalist point of view and me from a Messianic Jewish perspective. We disagree a lot but I can say that I’m also learning a lot. I haven’t spent a lot of time in a traditional church, so it’s something of a revelation to see who people understand the Bible.

        One of the main points I’m trying to get across is that the church isn’t something that stopped being a Judaism in the first century, nor was it intended to. The Gentiles were allowed to enter into the Jewish religious stream of “the Way” and to be reconciled with God for the first time in human history without having to convert to Judaism or otherwise give up their Gentile identity. That didn’t invent a new body of believers, it was the culmination of the Messianic imperative to be a light to the nations.

        There wasn’t a split between that stream of Judaism and “the Church” for a few more centuries when Jerusalem fell, the Jewish people were scattered, and the Gentiles, by strength of numbers, became the guiding force of the Messianic assembly, steering it away from its Jewish origins.

        Why am I in church. To provide my small effort, in accordance to God’s will, to begin to build a bridge between where the Church is now and where the body of disciples in Messiah are supposed to be when he returns.

      • Thanks for your honest answer James. I like your point about us not being split between Judaism and church. I think it’s really cool actually. If only it were so easy for other people to understand.

        To building bridges! Shalom ❤

  3. Hi Gen. If you don’t observe torah how can you please the father. You said that you don’t have to, but yahuah says different. It’s true that you should want to do it too (not because of feeling obligated)I used to believe that works can’t save you, but it can, and by this I mean that doing what ha ab said is his condition of deliverance. Nothing is unconditional, there’s always repurcussions for going against the grain, and in this case the grain is an anti-thurah lifestyle. Shalum. (btw, littlebtomato’s right, you do have a sweet and beautiful writing style.)

    • Thank you for the compliments on my writing style.

      You say that, “by this I mean that doing what ha ab said is his condition of deliverance.” And yet, in Exodus we see that He delivered the Israelites before He gave them Torah. Deliverance comes first. Obedience does not bring us salvation. They are two parallel concepts, not cause and effect, although salvation can certainly bring us to obedience.
      It’s important to remember that much of the body is already following 60-70% of the weightier matters of Torah, like caring for the poor and healing the sick.
      The father is well pleased with you Arnold, and you don’t need to do anything to receive His love.

  4. I understand what you’re saying (the father blessing us with his favour.) But what was the point of providing torah to the freshly liberated desert dwellers if it wasn’t needed. Plus the guidelines to living morally was in place long before the captivity in mitzraim. As for ha ab loving a sinner no matter what, i don’t see the logic. A man whose wife keeps bedding other partners and then asks for the man’s forgiveness and then an hour after asking for it activates the repeat cycle after being warned time and again to quit it (since she knows what’s wrong and what’s right) deserves to be kicked out or left to pursue her path of betrayal. You have rules that you expect your seed to obey, and when those rules are taken to heart and put into practice doesn’t that show that your child regards you as worthy of honour. Isn’t that love. When that child continously rebels against your authority and you reach the point where admonishments have come to a dead-end, you have to decide whether you’re gonna go down the route of drastic measures or whether you wearily going to keep mopping up the gravy of disobedience and tikuah that somehow your child will have a change of heart (which he possibly could, but probably won’t.) Turning your back on someone for wronging you repeatedly doesn’t nescessarily mean you don’t love them anymore. The opposite is true. The one who tramples on your love is the hater, and in time you WILL have to distance yourself from that negativity, but that’s though is all a matter of choice. Just like the observance of torah is. Do you do its suggested uplifting bidding, or do you just assume that doing what you think is right trumps Torah.

    • I was using the Exodus example as a parallel to the work of Yeshua, but there is a difference. I agree with you that absolutely YES the Torah was necessary for the Hebrews fresh out of Egypt. And the issue that I’m addressing in this blog post is Gentile obligation, because I am a Gentile. Of course Jews are still obligated to Torah, and the blogger James discusses that topic at length in his Return to Jerusalem series: http://mymorningmeditations.com/2013/02/05/return-to-jerusalem-part-1/

      The problem is that you’re looking at the Father logically, through the Greek system of thinking. (Yes, Western logic is Greek.) To understand the Father analogically, through analogy, we must look at how Jesus portrayed the Father. The greatest example is the story of the Prodigal Son. How is that story logical, ie, how does it make sense? The answer is – it doesn’t!

      Yah’s love is not meant to make sense. He doesn’t love us in a way that we can understand because it’s beyond comprehension. His ways are not our ways, His ways are *higher *than our ways, Thank Yahweh. So it is best not to think of him through human behavior.

      And yes, Yahweh did NON tolerate the cheating and the Paganism, which is why He scattered them in the 6th century BC. But Yeshua came to bring them back! We are released from the curses of the law, the punishment of the law (Galatians 3). Isn’t that joyous! Now we are free to follow the law, to have a relationship wit the Father, and not to suffer the punishment! There is no longer any punishment of the law, in the sense of stonings or exiles.

      That is not to say there are not ramifications, Yahweh clearly lays that out in Exodus 34, talking to Moses at Sinai: YHWH, YHWH, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and childrens children, to the third and fourth generation. What does Papa emphasize here? His *love and compassion.* Yes, the guilty are not left unpunished, but thankfully His compassion is *greater* than his judgment.

      Papa is not a task-master, expecting us to complete a set of tasks. He is our Father, our Lover, our Friend. He wants our love, our devotion, our obedience, our holiness. To expect obedience of the minor aspects of Torah, kosher and prayer shawls for example, in a new believer is putting a burden on them. That is not love.

      I do not disagree with you that all of those things are important. But it is not our duty to force it on anyone, just as it is not our duty to convict anyone. All of that is for YHWH to do Himself through His Ruach Hakodesh. Our job is to love, to love, and to love. Rules don’t change hearts, love does.

      Genevive

  5. I still don’t agree with alot of what you’ve said (Torah being a curse for one, plus i believe that when you’re a gentile and put yourself under the protective wings of Torah you’re just as much an israelite as those that were born into actual bloodline.) But I won’t overstep my boundaries by being pushy. So thanks anyway for hearing me out.

    • Thank you for not being pushy, I just want to clarify that I do *not* think Torah is a curse. However, Torah has blessings and curses (Deut 28, punishments for not following the law.) The curses of the law is a semitic idiom that refers to that. Of *course *I think following Torah is a blessing, that’s what the original post is about. Please don’t misunderstand me.

      Genevive

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