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 Is The Torah For The Gentiles?, From the Tree of Life in Knoxville, TN
dryvby
Posted: Dec 31 2008, 12:41 PM


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Is The Torah For The Gentiles?
Aliens, Foreigners, Sojourners -Gentiles
By Richard Bailey

INTRODUCTION
Sadly, we must plow through nearly 1800 years of false teaching and anti-Semitism in order to determine how Gentiles, who are “grafted” into Israel, are to apply God’s commandments (Torah) to their lives. When Yeshua (Jesus) was here, there was no debate, it was very clear. The Torah of God was perfect, is perfect, and will forever be perfect, applying to all men (Psalm 19:7, James 1:25, Psalms 119:142).

We need to view the Torah through the eyes of first century believers in Messiah Yeshua. Why? History testifies that shortly after the apostles died, the infiltration of “Greco-Roman ways” and “anti-Semitism” terribly distorted how the true body of Messiah should worship. Remember, Yeshua is our example and NO ONE ELSE!

WHAT IS TORAH?
If understood from the Rabbinic Jewish view, the word Torah means both the written Torah and the oral Torah. The written Torah is the first five books of the Tanakh (Older Covenant). It is also referred to as the Books of Moshe (Moses). The oral Torah consists of additional instructions given orally to Moses by God on Mount Sinai and then passed down through the centuries by word of mouth.1 Our discussion here will only be about the written Torah.

The literal meaning of the word TORAH is as follows: “teachings, instructions, point out as aiming the finger, to lay a foundation.” As you can see, the word “LAW” is missing from this definition. In modern English translations, because of the lack of a good English word, Torah is commonly translated as “Law” from the Greek word “nomos.”2

Our English word “Law” does not have the same meaning as the Hebrew word “Torah.” Law implies a jail sentence or severe fine if broken. On the other hand, Torah is best understood as “guidelines and instructions” that were given to God’s people for guidance on how to live a godly life and is what identifies them with the Holy One of Israel. Kefa (Peter) states in 1 Peter 1:15, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” [also see Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2, 20:7]

Now with this understanding of the word Torah, I believe we can safely say that ALL of the Bible from Geneses to Revelation is Torah. II Timothy 3:16 supports this when Rabbi Paul states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Again, keep in mind that the Brit Chadasha (the Renewed Covenant) WAS NOT in place when Rabbi Paul wrote this. He only had the Older Covenant! In Romans 15:4 Paul states, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

NO! WE ARE NOT SAVED BY THE KEEPING OF THE TORAH (LAW). According to Rabbi Paul’s teaching on Abraham, salvation has never been earned through the keeping of the Torah, but by faith. We know that salvation is only gained through faith in the atonement/shed blood of Yeshua for the remission of sins alone (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation is a free GIFT from God. HOWEVER, after we accept God’s salvation, we must uphold ALL of His Word! Romans 3:31 states, “Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law.” Therefore, there must be evidence of our salvation through obedience to His Word. Romans 2:13 states, “For it is not he hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified.”

YESHUA (HEBREW FOR SALVATION)
Now, if the Hebrew word TORAH means “instructions and guidelines” and the Hebrew word YESHUA means “salvation,” then we can safely say that they are NOT in conflict with each other. The Torah should be seen as “God’s instructions to TEACH us HOW to live our lives AFTER we have received YESHUA (salvation).”

Many forget that God’s salvation (Yeshua) was there in the beginning as was His Torah. The two are synonymous. The apostle Yochanan (John) wrote in John 1:1-4, speaking of Yeshua, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Here we see that Yeshua is the WORD made flesh. Through the prophet Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 2:3 we read, “And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Here we see a future event (the Messianic era) when both Jews and Gentiles will be learning Torah from Yeshua. Notice that LAW (or Torah) is interchangeable with WORD. To deny any part of the Torah or Law or Word or Commandments is to deny Yeshua who is the Torah!

ALIENS, FOREIGNERS, SOJOURNERS - GENTILES
Is there one Torah for the Jews and another for the Gentiles? No, we see God requiring the same of each form the beginning. In the book of Numbers 15:13-16, we see that Gentiles (aliens, foreigners, sojourners, or strangers) who attach themselves to Israel were required to “do exactly” as “native-born Israelites…You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord: The same Laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.”

We see this throughout the Torah. In Leviticus 24:22 God states, “Ye shall have ONE manner of Law, as well for the stranger as for one of your own country; for I am the Lord your God.” This is repeated in Exodus 12:49 and other places in Scripture.

In the days of the prophet Isaiah for future generations: “…And the foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve Him and to love the name of the Lord, and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” (Isaiah 56:1-7)

Does the Br’t Chadasha (Renewed Covenant) teach differently? No, Rabbi Paul upholds this understanding in the book of Romans (11:17) where he states that Gentiles are “grafted in” to Israel. They are no longer aliens or foreigners, but JOINT HEIRS (Galatians 3:29), ONE body, with no class distinctions (Ephesians 3:6, Romans 8:17). As the Apostle Kefa (Peter) states, all of the body of Messiah is “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). No one is excluded!

Again, Rabbi Paul states in Ephesians 2:17-22, “…For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, your are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…”

Therefore, obeying Yeshua’s commandments (Torah) for the Jew or Gentile is not optional. In 1 John 2:3 we read that, “We know that we have come to know Him if we OBEY His commands…But if any one OBEYS His word, God’s love is truly in him…Whoever claims to live in Him MUST walk as Yeshua did.”

YESHUA AND THE TORAH
What did Yeshua teach about the Torah?
Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Third Edition, J.P. Green)

In the Jerusalem Perspective, March 1988, Number Six, Dr. David Biven, puts the Greek back into Hebrew and in its Hebraic and rabbinic context states that the Hebrew equivalent of the Geek verb translated “destroy” was used in Yeshua’s day as a technical term in scholarly debate. “When a sage felt that a colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, ‘You are canceling the Torah!’” In other words, you are “misinterpreting in a way to negate or cancel a part of the Torah.” The word “fulfill (le-ka YEM)” was used in the sense of “to preserve or sustain.” Here, as a rabbinic technical term, it means “to sustain by properly interpreting.” Thus, Yeshua was saying that He came to add the correct understanding of the Torah through His teachings, NOT to cancel or destroy it!

Yeshua said:
“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear that for the least stroke of a pen to drop of the Law (Torah).” Matthew 5:18 (Luke 16:17)

“...Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of...” - Matthew 5:19

“Not every one who says to Me...Depart from me you who work against the Law (TORAH).” (Matthew 7:21-23) [INIQUITY - Greek for “anomia” - lawless, anti-law, or against the Law]

Also, we know that Yeshua attended and taught Torah in the synagogues as seen in Matthew 4:23, 13:54; Luke 4:16; and Mark 1:21.

WHAT ABOUT RABBI PAUL?
Today, many credit Rabbi Paul with starting a “new religion.” The reality is that he did NOT! He upheld ALL of the Torah. He states in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Messiah.” From this Scripture, we know that Paul, like Yeshua, honored the Torah. Many have misinterpreted Paul’s fight against “salvation legalism” (belief that salvation is gained only through keeping the Torah) in the book of Galatians and used it to mislead people about the Torah. But, Paul states in Romans 7:22, “I delight in the Law of God.” Therefore, he would not say that the Torah has been destroyed/abolished! In Acts 21:24-26, we see Paul after being accused of teaching others to not follow Torah, going to the Temple and making sacrifices to prove to others that he was indeed UPHOLING the Torah and teaching others to do the same.

Dr. John Fischer, Messianic Rabbi and President of Menorah Ministries, states in his paper, Jewish View of Galatians: “…Paul faced a radical party which insisted that Gentile Christians must keep the Law or they could not enjoy salvation or belong to the Messianic community. His thrust is against WORKS or LEGALISM, not against the Law.” Dr. Fischer’s understanding here must be true since Paul states in Romans 7:12, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” Paul refutes the attitude of LEGALISM and clearly upholds the Torah at the same time. Also noted in Dr. Fischer’s paper, there are seven different meanings for the word “law” in the book of Galatians. Do NOT apply them all to Torah!

Some more quotes from Rabbi Paul concerning the Torah:

“However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law (Torah) and that is written in the Prophets...” Acts 24:14

“King Agrippa...you are well acquainted with all Jewish customs and controversies...the Jews all know the way I have lived since I was a child...I lived as a Pharisee...” Acts 26:2-5

“…My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors..” Vs. 23, “..and tried to convince them about Yeshua from the Law of Moshe and from the Prophets.” Acts 28:17-23 [Here the great apostle in his last days states that not only did he follow the written Torah, but he also kept the oral Torah (i.e., customs)]

YOCHANON (JOHN) AN APOSTLE OF YESHUA
How did this “beloved” disciple (taught one) of Yeshua view the Torah?

“This is love for God: to obey His Commandments. And His commands are not burdensome...” 1 John 5:3

“Every one who sins breaks the Law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we OBEY his commands and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21

YA’AKOV (JAMES), BROTHER OF YESHUA, A LEADER IN THE FIRST CENTURY JERUSALEM MESSIANIC SYNAGOGUE

“If you really keep the royal Law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” James 2:8 (SEE Leviticus 19:18)

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the Law and judges it. When you judge the Law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.” James 4:11

THE MISUNDERSTOOD DECISION OF THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
Many use the Scripture in Acts 15 to state that the Torah does not apply to Gentile converts. If we examine this Scripture carefully, in verse 20, we see that the four requirements (from the Torah) were given as a “beginning” point for former pagans (Gentiles). In verses 16-18, James quotes Scripture from Amos 9:11, when speaking of HOW, not IF, Gentiles are to live Torah-observant life. Amos said:

“After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who do these things that have been known for ages.”

WHAT HAS BEEN KNOWN FOR AGES? THE TORAH! And in Acts 15:21 Peter states, “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” [see Acts 13:14, 15, and 27]

Messianic Rabbi Michael Silver’s summation of this Acts 15 meeting states the correct interpretation: “But, because the non-Jew was attending synagogue services on the SABBATH with the Jews in the synagogue, give them MINIMUM requirements to be accepted in our fellowship and as they are TAUGHT the Torah by being in the SYNAGOGUE EVERY SABBATH (for Moses hath in every city them that preach him…), they will learn, study, and understand how to be more and more Torah observant.”

SUMMARY
Clearly, we have seen through our study that Yeshua, Rabbi Paul, the Apostles, and first century believers upheld the Torah because of their love for our Heavenly Father. They didn’t look for ways to “cancel or destroy” the Torah, as many do today, but they showed us the correct way to uphold or establish it in our lives; not with legalism, but with the right attitude of obedience, love, mercy, and grace. The Torah is the foundation for which to build upon. It gives us guidance on how to point our lives in the right direction, a direction that hits the mark, a direction that will please Yeshua and lead us to holiness and everlasting life! Hebrews 12:14 states, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

BEWARE – WE WERE FOREWARNED BY RABBI PAUL….
“For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work…” II Thess. 2:7


References:
1Torah Rediscovered, Ariel and D’vorah Berkowitz
2Jewish New Testament, Dr. David H. Stern
New International Version, Zondervan Bible Publishers
King James Version of the Bible
Complete Jewish Bible, Dr. David H. Stern
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Third Edition, J. P. Green

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