So speak and so do as those who are to be judged by a Torah of freedom. For the judgment is without compassion to the one who has shown no compassion. And compassion boasts over judgment. James 2:12-13
What is the Torah of freedom? What is the teaching of freedom? There is so much I could talk about from this portion of James, but I’ve decided to zero-in on this. In context, James is talking about favoritism, and loving your neighbor. So if we are judged by the Torah of Freedom, what is it? What is freedom? Well, Yeshua says
“If you stay in My Word, you are truly My taught ones, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are the seed of Aḇraham, and have been servants to no one at any time. How do you say, ‘You shall become free’?” יהושע answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone doing sin is a servant of sin. And the servant does not stay in the house forever – a son stays forever. If, then, the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:31-36
In other words, the Torah of Freedom is freedom from serving sin. Wow. Our cultural understanding of freedom is quite different, isn’t it? Yeshua talks a lot about serving and servants here. What is the context here? Actually, the word servant/serve/service is used over and over again in Exodus. The scriptures were crafted with high detail to the words used and how they were used, and use of the word “service” is a device YHWH used in Exodus. So let’s go back there. (I’ll be changing some of the words of the ISR translation to highlight where the Hebrew word for serve pops up.)
And the Mitsrites made the children of Yisra’ĕl serve [by the whip], and they made their lives bitter with hard [service], in mortar, and in brick, and in all kinds of [service] in the field, all their [service] which they [served in them](made them do) was with harshness. 1:13-14
Service to Egypt, Mitsrayim doesn’t pleasant at all, does it? Note: The root word for Mistrayim means adversary. The Israelites were physically enslaved to Mitsrayim, but also figuratively enslaved to the adversary, to sin. We were enslaved to sin. How does Yahweh respond to our servitude?
And YHWH said, “I have indeed seen the oppression of My people who are in Mitsrayim, and have heard their cry because of their slave-drivers, for I know their sorrows. And I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Mitsrites, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Kena‛anites and the Ḥittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Ḥiwwites and the Yeḇusites.“ 3:7-8
2. He knows our sorrows.
3. He has come down to deliver us from sin.
4. He has come to bring us into a land that is good and spacious, abundant in blessings, a place formerly inhabited by our enemies.
Wow, that is a dedicated Father. That’s the actions of a super hero! He does all of the work to get us out of Egypt. YHWH makes it abundantly clear that He and He alone is responsible for getting Israel out.
And Mosheh said to Elohim, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Yisra’ĕl out of Mitsrayim?” And He said, “Because I am with you.“ 3:11-12a
“And I shall stretch out My hand and smite Mitsrayim with all My wonders which I shall do in its midst. And after that he shall let you go. And I shall give this people favour in the eyes of the Mitsrites. And it shall be, that when you go, you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask from her neighbour and from the stranger in her house, objects of silver, and objects of gold, and garments. And you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters, and shall plunder the Mitsrites.” 3:20-22
“Say, therefore, to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am YHWH, and I shall bring you out from under the burdens of the Mitsrites, and [I] shall deliver you from their enslaving, and [I] shall redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments,and [I] shall take you as My people, and I shall be your Elohim. And you shall know that I am YHWH your Elohim who is bringing you out from under the burdens of the Mitsrites. And I shall bring you into the land which I swore to give to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Ya‛aqoḇ, to give it to you as an inheritance. I am YHWH.’ ” 6:6-8
“And Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, and I shall lay My hand on Mitsrayim, and bring My divisions and My people, the children of Yisra’ĕl, out of the land of Mitsrayim by great judgments. And the Mitsrites shall know that I am YHWH, when I stretch out My hand on Mitsrayim. And I shall bring the children of Yisra’ĕl out from among them.” 7:4-5
“For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, see, the hand of YHWH is on your livestock in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the cattle, and on the sheep – a very grievous pestilence. And YHWH shall separate between the livestock of Yisra’ĕl and the livestock of Mitsrayim, and let no matter die of all that belongs to the children of Yisra’ĕl.” 9:2-4
(and my personal favorite)
‘You have seen what I did to the Mitsrites, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.’ 19:4
Wow. That is amazing!! We can even add to the list from earlier.
6. He blesses us with riches and provides for us.
7. He redeems us.
8. He takes us as His people.
9. He protects us.
The Israelites were not “under the law” or “saved by the law”, as some people may think. It has always been, still is, and always will be grace. Papa does all of the work. He has saved us, He redeems us, He blesses us. With all of that work, He must want something in return. What does He ask for?
When you have brought the people out of Mitsrayim, you are to serve Elohim on this mountain. 3:12b
We are to serve God! Wait, what? Freed to serve again? Yup! Let’s look at more passages.
“And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus said YHWH, “Yisra’ĕl is My son, My first-born, so I say to you, let My son go to serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, see, I am killing your son, your first-born.” ’ ” 4:22-23
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Yeshua said, “And the servant does not stay in the house forever – a son stays forever.” We are YHWH’s children! How do we respond as children? “Let my son go to serve Me.” Let’s look at even more scripture.
And afterwards Mosheh and Aharon went in and said to Pharaoh, “Thus said YHWH Elohim of Yisra’ĕl, ‘Let My people go, so that they keep a festival to Me in the wilderness.’ ” And Pharaoh said, “Who is YHWH, that I should obey His voice to let Yisra’ĕl go? I do not know YHWH, nor am I going to let Yisra’ĕl go. And they said, “The Elohim of the Heḇrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness and slaughter to YHWH our Elohim, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 5:1-3
“And you shall say to him, ‘YHWH the Elohim of the Heḇrews has sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, so that they serve Me in the wilderness,” but see, until now you have not listened!” 7:16
And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus said YHWH, “Let My people go, so that they serve Me.” 8:1
This phrase repeats again in verses 8:20, 9:1, and 9:13.
‘You have seen what I did to the Mitsrites, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.’ 19:4-6
YHWH is pretty clear. He has brought us out of Egypt, out of sin, to serve Him, to obey him. That is the teaching of freedom. We have been freed from serving sin to serving YHWH. We are now free to serve Him!! We are free to live our lives for Him! We are free to live radical lives for the good news that He has released us from sin!
Too often we simply preach the forgiveness of sins. But the forgiveness of sins only looks in one direction – backwards. We were not forgiven of sin to move forward in the same life, but we are given new life! We are born again into a new life! A new life of atonement!
Today is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, or the day of coverings. Although this day is prophetic of the Marriage of the Lamb, it also is a day to remember the work of Yeshua. It is a day to be at one with our Father, YHWH. It is a beautiful story, is it not? Our Father has done all the work to redeem His children so that we may be ONE with Him. HalleluYah!
I’d like to digress for a moment and then I’ll return to James. YHWH’s plans were even bigger than the redemption of Israel.
“Let My people go, so that they serve Me, for at this time I am sending all My plagues unto your heart, and on your servants and on your people, so that you know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. And for this reason I have raised you up, in order to show you My power, and in order to declare My Name in all the earth.” 9:13b-16
“Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, so that I show these signs of Mine before him and that you relate in the hearing of your son and your son’s son what I have done in Mitsrayim, and My signs which I have done among them. And you shall know that I am YHWH.” 10:1-2
“And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What does this service mean to you?’ then you shall say, ‘It is the Passover slaughtering of YHWH, who passed over the houses of the children of Yisra’ĕl in Mitsrayim when He smote the Mitsrites and delivered our households.’ ” 12:26-27
“And I shall harden the heart of Pharaoh, and he shall pursue them. But I am to be esteemed through Pharaoh and over all his army, and the Mitsrites shall know that I am YHWH.” 14:4
Yahweh wants His name to be known! He made a demonstration of the super power of ancient world. Egypt knew his name, and all the surrounding tribes were scared. They knew YHWH was a powerful God who did mighty and wondrous things to Egypt. And they knew that His people were coming to claim their land! Wow. There is more to be said on this topic, but I’ll touch on it another time.
But now that we understand the Torah of freedom, I want to briefly revisit James.
My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? This belief is unable to save him. And if a brother or sister is naked and in need of daily food, but one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” but you do not give them the bodily needs, what use is it? So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works. You believe that Elohim is one. You do well. The demons also believe – and shudder! But do you wish to know, O foolish man, that the belief without the works is dead? Was not Aḇraham our father declared right by works when he offered Yitsḥaq his son on the altar? Do you see that the belief was working with his works, and by the works the belief was perfected? And the Scripture was filled which says, “Aḇraham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” And he was called, “Elohim’s friend.” You see, then, that a man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone. James 2:14-24
James is pretty insistent here that it’s not faith alone. Of course He would be. He knew the Exodus story better than I do! He lived the Exodus story every year as his family celebrated the spring feasts. He knows that we were rescued to serve YHWH, to obey YHWH. Even the demons believe that YHWH exists, but do they obey Him? The Egyptians knew that YHWH exists, but did they obey Him? The Canaanites knew YHWH exists, but did they yield to Him?
But let’s not take James out of context. What is He talking about here? He’s talking about living out Kingdom. He’s talking about loving your neighbor. He’s talking about not showing favoritism. He is reminding us that we were not brought out of sin to judge people who are still in sin. We were not brought out of sin by our own might, but by YHWH’s power. We have been brought out of sin to move in love! We are now free to love. We live under a law of love. What does it look like to move in love?
Yeshua is what it looks like to move in love.
Note: How do you like the red text? If it’s obnoxious, let me know.