I had one the other day. It's this. There are only two things we have to do in life and these two things are our very reason for being! They are the two reasons we're here experiencing this mortal life, as it were, in training for an immortal life with Yehovah. What is even more striking is that the entirety of God's biblical text has this theme running throughout, from Genesis (B'resheet) to Revelation.
Here they are, stated simply and directly:
We must get ourselves "right" with God and we must get ourselves "right" with each other.
I know, I know - too simple and obvious. But if you take a good look at the Bible, this is thematically and literally what it tells us through and through. Perhaps you've heard the acronym, B.I.B.L.E., Believers Instructions Before Leaving Earth?
My more liberal friends are saying now, "See, I told ya, love the LORD God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself!". However, it's much, much more than this summation described in Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Remember, all the law and the prophets are built on these two. My liberal friends go on with life and continue to live as they did without realizing the significance of these words. They believe that grace is a license to keep sinning.
So, these two things we must do in life are things we must do AFTER we have accepted the free gift of saving grace, through faith, not through the works of the law, but through the Holy Spirit - while realizing the law defines sin, that we must NOT continue to sin, being assisted to fight sin through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. (this is basic Judeo-Christianity, folks!)
What "instructions" do we have to get ourselves "right" with God and Man? Our LORD starts His Word with that very set of instructions - it's called TORAH! After all, the 10 Commandments have 4 instructions which deal with God and 6 which deal with man's relationship to each other. Now, I realize that the 5 books of Moses have much more than just, "10 Easy Steps to Get Right with God and Man" in it, so we'll look at this subject under the light cast by the B'rit Hadashah AND the Tanahk, the "New" and the "Old".
To get "right" with God we must love Him. If we love Him, we will follow His commandments, His "miztvot", to use the transliterated Hebrew. (Yochanan-John 14) What are His miztvot? Why, they are laid out in Torah!
At this point it may be helpful to point out some seminal differences between traditional Judaism and Christianity. As a person deeply interested and appreciative of my Hebraic roots (and ALL Christians should be), it is obvious that Judaism does not believe in the Messiah called Yeshua (Jesus). They look forward to the coming Mashiach in the likeness of King David. We believers in Yeshua say the Messiah came already, in the likeness of Joseph, the suffering servant, and will come again - in the likeness of King David. But, as one Rabbi stated, "The return of the Messiah is not part of an installment plan!" After all, the fullness of the Mashiach's prophetic accomplishments have not all come to fruition, as described in the Tanahk! Therefore, the point of this blog entry is not to argue over Judaism vs. Christianity or debate the ONENESS of God vs. the triune nature of the Holy One. We honestly don't know how our LORD can be both ONE and MORE THAN ONE at the same time. We don't truly understand how Yehovah can also be Yeshua! (Yochanan-John 8, John 10:30)
I would also argue that NO Christian will have any disagreement with the "Sh'ma" (D'varim-Deut. 6:4-9). Our LORD, Yehovah, is ECHAD - that is, ONE! Nor will any Christian disagree with the "Vehaya" (D'varim-Deut. 11:13-21). You will find that my argument will always be of a coming together, Jew and Gentile, as one - under God.
However, as believers in Yeshua we understand that the chosen people have failed in their duty to spread awareness of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob throughout the world. Forgive me for even thinking I know the mind of God, but I believe Yehovah saw this coming from the beginning and had to send Himself to earth to allow the fullness of the nations (gentiles) to occur and for the gentiles to play their part. (Romans 10:19, 11:11)
I bring this subject up because people argue with me over following Torah!
A friend recently said to me, "So! Tiger! Did you sacrifice any bulls this Saturday?", in an obvious slight toward my attempts at adhering to Torah. I responded, "As you should already know, Jesus was our atonement for sins, our sacrifice, and the Temple was destroyed long ago." BTW, my friend later admitted he didn't do anything concerning the LORD over the weekend, but still insisted Christ was all about "grace". I mentioned to him that the Tanahk is full of God's grace as well and that he should read it sometime!
(Note: the sacrifice of God for our sins is another major disagreement between Judaism and Christianity)
Throughout the Tanakh and the B'rit Hadashah we are reminded that: if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (D'varim-Deut. 11), and that the law has not been forsaken; God forbid! (Romans 3)
So, how do I try to "get right with God and Man" through Torah?
Well, besides staying away from every sin one can read about in scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course, I went straight to Vayikra-Lev. Ch. 23. Why? Because this is where the Feasts of the LORD are described and laid out. Understanding that my faith will result in good works, that good works in themselves DO NOT save a person, I have endeavored, because of my love for Him, to follow the Feasts. (Search on "good works" in the New Testament) An extraordinary plethora of awareness has opened up for me by studying the Feasts! If it were up to me ALL Christians would follow the Feasts and ALL churches would require this study. I pray that ALL churches move away from the pagan practices they have inherited, such as Christmas and Easter. However, as we know, belief and religious practice come from love - not force!
As a practical matter, following the Feasts of Yehovah is a tremendous way to enhance and improve your personal relationship with God and Man. Besides, it's a mitzvot (commandment)! Most Christians and Jews are unaware that the 4 spring Feasts have been fulfilled by Yeshua and that the 3 fall Feasts will be fulfilled at the End, by Yehovah-Yeshua - who's name will become ONE! (Z'kharyah-Zech. 14:9)
(Spring Feasts: Pesach-Passover, Hag HaMatzot-Unleavened Bread, Reishit Katzir-Firstfruits, Shavu'ot-Pentecost) - (Fall Feasts: Yom Teru'ah-Trumpets, Yom HaKippurim-Atonements, Sukkot-Tabernacles)
Again, will the "work" of following Torah and the Feasts of the LORD earn any saving grace for you? No, not at all. But it will surely inspire you to get closer to the ONE who matters. It will help you "get right" with Him and Man!
How did I come to this point? That is, looking into Torah? It's because of Yeshua-Jesus. Jesus is a Jew. Many Christians forget that. My liberal friends say that by following Torah I'm being legalistic. People ask a popular question sometimes, "What Would Jesus Do?", WWJD. The better question is, "What Did Jesus Do?", WDJD. Let's examine that and see.
(Note: An excellent online reference - many thanks to John J. Parsons of HebrewForChristians)
1. Yeshua kept the Sabbath and even the authority of Shabbat came under Him. (Yochanan-John 13:13, Mattityahu-Matt. 12:8, 28:18, Romans 14:5-6, Col. 2:16-17)
2. Yeshua Himself defined legalism and what it is by example. It was the Takanot and Ma'asim of Rabbinical authority. While Rabbinical authority claims many rules concerning the Sabbath, for example, Yeshua said the following could, and sometimes should be done on Shabbat:
- saving a life (Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9)
- healing others (Luke 6:1-10, Mark 3:1-5, John 5:9, 9:14, Luke 13:10-16)
- conducting b'rit milah (circumcision) (Yochanan-John 7:23)
- teaching (Mark 1:21, Luke 4:31, Acts 18:4)
- serving at the Temple (Matt. 12:5)
- rescuing an animal in distress (Matt. 12:11, Luke 14:1-6)
- caring for animals (Luke 13:15)
- carrying a bed (John 5:9-16)
- showing acts of compassion (Matt. 12:1-4)
- meeting the needs of others before fulfilling religious obligations (Mark 2:27-28)
Takanot and Ma'asim goes on and on: ritualistic hand washing, associating with sinners, etc. These man-made traditions are what Yeshua defines as legalism. To follow Torah IS NOT to be legalistic. Remember, Jesus is THE LIVING TORAH!
Jesus and ALL of His disciples followed Torah! To continue:
- Yeshua was circumcised, dedicated, and named (Luke 2:21-24, 39-40)
- Yeshua kept the Feasts of the LORD (online ref.) (Luke 2:4, 9:28-36, John 10:22-23)
- Yeshua was Torah knowledgeable (Luke 2:46-52,)
- Yeshua was "mikvah-ed" (baptized) (Matt. 3:13-17)
- Yeshua kept Sabbath (Shabbat) (Luke 4:14-21)
- Yeshua went to the Temple (Luke 19:47)
- Yeshua went to the Synagogue (Luke 4:16,44)
- Yeshua read and taught a portion of the annual Torah and prophetic reading cycle (Parashat) (Luke 4:14-21)
- He most likely prayed the ancient set of Jewish prayers, prayed 3x's a day,
called the "Amidah" meaning, "To stand." He refers to this very prayer in Mark 11:25-26, "When you STAND to pray...."
- He said the Shema the Jewish declaration of Yehovah's Oneness said every day by faithful Jews, from Deut. 6:4, Mark 12:29,30
- He was a Rabbi (Luke 10:25-28, John 20:16)
- He taught Torah (Luke 24:44-45)
- He wore tzitzit (fringes) (Luke 8:43-44, John 19:23-24)
- He kept Torah (John 15:10)
- He taught us to live out Torah (Matt.. 5:17-20, John 14:15, Luke 5:14)
- He lived and died as a Jew (John 20:6-8, 19:40)
- He left as a Jew (Luke 24:50-51)
- He is returning as a Jew (Rev. 19:13,16)
- He will reign forever as the Jewish Messiah (Rev.21:1-6, 22:3-5)
(more online ref.) (many thanks to Messianic Rabbi Yehudah Ben Shomeyr)
Matt. 5:17-20 paints the TRUE picture of the Messiah, that non-believing Jews
NEED and MUST see! Are you "Taking Yehovah-Yeshua's Name in vain" by living WITHOUT TORAH, contrary to His Word, Thus Soiling His Name? Or are you living like Yeshua, the Jewish, Torah observant Messiah? Will you, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may SEE YOUR good WORKS, and glorify your Father in heaven"? (Matt.5:16)
Even the Rabbis say Yeshua brought the God of Avraham, Yitz'chak, and Ya'akov to the world. - when the Jews could not. Does that mean He has abandoned Jews or Israel? Absolutely NOT! We are ONE, the natural and unnatural branches, in the Olive Tree, called Israel. The Church HAS NOT replaced Israel!
Please understand, I'm a man who used to believe the Church replaced Israel and that to follow Torah was to be legalistic. On my knees, I thank God He has been patient with me and my ignorance and I beg His forgiveness. I consider it my solemn duty now to correct my error and let my brothers and sisters know better.
All of us have to decide. Are we going to follow and to try to understand all of scripture, or are we going to take only the parts we like? Are we going to read and understand Torah, as taught by the Living Torah Yeshua, or are we going to follow man and his tradition?