Should Christians Be Torah Observant?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Should Christians Be Torah Observant?

By Larry R. Lasiter

© 2015

In the 1960's a movement began by Jews to bring Jews to Christ. However, most all Jews had been taught that it was impossible to be a Jew and also to be a Christian. Most Jews could not even entertain the thought of going to a Christian "Church" even if they had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

 In an effort to attract Jews, the leaders of this movement changed the term from "Jews for Jesus" to "Messianic Christianity" then on to "Messianic Judaism." Some Pastors even began to refer to themselves as "Rabbi" and taught Torah Observance as it's creed. A person no longer went to "Church" but to "Synagogue."

 However the experiment has not produced the desired results, since almost 90% of those attracted to this movement have been non-Jews. Hundreds of congregations of non-Jews learning Hebrew, wearing Jewish dress and pledging allegiance to the Torah, while real Jews failed to be convinced. Messianic Christianity had given way to Messianic Judaism and now to the Hebrew Roots Movement.

 Because, it is predominately non-Jews who have joined, the movement today has morphed largely into what we know as Hebrew Roots. The original intent was to accommodate Jews in order to bring Jews to Christ, yet as many believe, it has had the opposite affect, and has served to bring many Gentiles to Judaism. Torah observance is on center stage in each arm of the movement. This is the reason for our study.

From the Gospels to Revelation the New Testament Scriptures are filled with exhortation to keep Godís Commandments. Clearly receiving salvation by grace through faith should not be interpreted that Christians may live lawless lives. After all Jesus said, -"If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments." John 14:15 But does keeping Godís Commandments mean observing all the Laws of Torah? Is Torah observance a part of the New Covenant? And if so, are Christians required to observe all 613 Laws of Torah; or is it permissible to pick and choose only what we believe to be relevant to being a Christian?

WHAT IS THE TORAH?

The Torah is the written Law given to Israel and recorded in the first five books of the Bible which were written by Moses.

The Torah was written as a scroll on animal parchment.

The Torah was ratified by sprinkling upon it the blood of animal sacrifices. Exodus 24:8

The Torah is referred to in Scripture as the "Book of the Law" in Joshua 1:8, and as the "Book of the Covenant" in Exodus 24:7.

Although there is no agreed upon definitive list, it is generally accepted that there are 613 Laws in the Torah.

While the stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written and placed under the Mercy Seat inside the Ark of the Covenant, Moses commanded that the Book of the Law be placed outside on the side of the Ark. Deuteronomy 31:26

The Laws of the Torah constitute the terms of Israelís obligation to the Covenant given to them at Mount Sinai. To continue in Covenant with God they were required to be Torah observant.

 

As it came time for Moses to die, he assembled the people, men, women, children and the alien and said to them, -"be careful to observe all the words of this Law." Deut. 31:12 After receiving the Law, Moses recounted them to the people and the people said -"All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do." Exodus 24:3 Notice further in Exodus 24:7-8, -"Then he took the book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ĎAll that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!í So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ĎBehold the blood of the Covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."

"All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do"

To do and be obedient to all the Laws of Torah was necessary to not break the Covenant. So merely keeping the Ten Commandments, observing the Sabbath, food Laws and Holy Days does not make one Torah Observant. As we read, the requirement is that all the Laws of the Covenant written in the Torah must be faithfully kept or the Covenant is broken. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:15, when a Covenant "has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it." So you cannot set aside a Law nor can you add to it a Law.

 "no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it"

 

MORTGAGE AGREEMENT EXAMPLE:

For example, your mortgage is a covenant between you and your lender. After it has been ratified by the signature of both parties no changes can be made. If your payment is $1000 per month the lender cannot later insist that your payment be increased to $1200. And you cannot later decide that $1000 is too much and insist it be reduced to $800 per month. The terms have already been sealed in the covenant contract, and nothing can be added or removed. So, if you stop paying $1000 a month and attempt to pay only $800 a month you have broken the contract and will soon face foreclosure. However, both parties can agree to set aside the old contract and make a new contract with new and different terms.

 

As Christians we acknowledge the New Testament Scriptures as well, so letís read what James wrote concerning the necessity of keeping the Law, -"For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ĎDo not commit adulteryí also said Ďdo not commit murder.í Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law." James 2:10-11

"For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point,

he has become guilty of all"

It appears that James is emphasizing that the Laws of a Covenant are like a chain. As a chain is broken when one link fails, so the Law of a Covenant is broken with one transgression.

 

SO OUR QUESTIONS ARE:

1. Is observing all the Laws of Torah a part of the New Covenant which Christians have entered into?

2. Can you truly be Torah Observant if you do not observe all 613 Laws if transgressing just one breaks the Covenant?

3. And, is it possible for we as Christians to be faithful to Messiah, His Apostles and the New Covenant while being Torah Observant?

 

THE SIGN OF THE COVENANT

The first problem we have in attempting to harmonize the Torah with the teachings of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles is found in the very SIGN of the old testament Covenant itself - that of circumcision.

When God made the Covenant with Abraham, He said -"Now as for you, you shall keep My Covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My Covenant, which you shall keep between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the Covenant between Me and you. . .thus shall My Covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting Covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My Covenant." Genesis 17:10-14

Notice that the sign must be in the flesh and that any person who would not

submit to circumcision has broken the Covenant

 God also commanded Abraham to circumcise any foreigner who was one of his servants. Notice further, that there was no provision given to substitute a circumcision of the flesh with a circumcision of the heart.

 

 NO PASSOVER FOR UNCIRCUMCISED:

According to Torah every male must have the sign of the Covenant in the circumcision of his flesh in order to partake of the Passover. Notice, - "But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same Law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you." Exodus 12:48-49

Thus far, we have learned that two of the Laws of Torah is that all males must be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin in order to enter into the Covenant, and that a male had to be circumcised to qualify to eat the Passover whether he was a native Israelite or was a stranger among the Gentiles.

With this in mind, itís easy to understand why certain Pharisees who had believed, stood up at the Jerusalem Council and insisted that the new Gentile converts be circumcised and directed to keep the whole Law of Moses, meaning to be Torah Observant.

"Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ĎUnless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. And Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them." Acts 15:1-2

These men were only teaching what we have just read in the Torah yet Paul and Barnabas were in disagreement with them.

Because of the confusion and dissension, the Gentile converts asked for a council so that the matter should be cleared. Since the Council convened in Jerusalem, James, the brother of Jesus who was the Bishop of the Churches there served to oversee the order of the meeting.

When the council began a sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." Acts 15: 5

The Apostle Peter was the first to challenge this claim by testifying that God had made no distinction between the circumcised and the uncircumcised but freely gave the Gentiles the Holy spirit while they were uncircumcised. Then he said to the Pharisees, "Now therefore, why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are." Acts 15:10-11 This unbearable yoke that Peter is referring to cannot be circumcision since the Pharisees he was debating had been circumcised since the eight day of their birth.

 "Now therefore, why do you put God to the test. . .?"

The contrast is easy to see, the believing Pharisees held the belief that the converts to Christianity must be circumcised and be Torah observant to be in Covenant for salvation, while Peter stated that both Jew and Gentile are saved through the grace of Jesus, not by circumcision and the Law.

At the conclusion of the Council it was clear that a understanding was reached and James ruled that the Gentile converts were not required to be circumcised or directed to keep the whole Law, but instead wrote them to observe four essentials from the Law. "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath." Acts 15:19-21

Now Paul and his fellow workers had already taught the Gentiles to keep the Ten Commandments including the Sabbath, the Holy Days and Food Laws, as witnessed in Acts and the Epistles. Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 14:12 clearly identify Christians as those who keep the Commandments and hold the testimony of Jesus. Though the Gentiles were not Torah Observant, they were not lawless either.

Because James mentioned that Moses is preached in every city, some have concluded that the Gentile believers attended the Jewish Synagogues and would be taught Torah Observance there. However, this view presents a number of problems. If the Gentile converts were going to Jewish Synagogues to learn the Law of Moses, the very first doctrine they would have been taught is to be circumcised. They also would be taught that they must go to the Temple in Jerusalem for the feasts three times a year and offer sacrifices - yet uncircumcised males were not allowed in the Temple. They would have been taught to keep the very Laws of Torah that Jesus taught His followers not to in Matthew 5. And most important of all, they would have been taught that Jesus was not Messiah.

Aside from the fact that Jesus said that His followers would be cast out of the Synagogues, Romans 16 and 1 Corinthians 16 show that the brethren were meeting in their homes for services. Think about it - the epistles were read publicly to the brethren during services, do you really believe they were reading them to Christians and Jews sitting in a Synagogue together? Wouldnít you think that the Jews would become highly offended when they heard themselves referred to as "blind guides of the blindí in Matthew 15:14, the "false circumcision" and "dogs" in Philippians 3:2, and to hear that "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" in Romans 2:24?

Had the Gentile Church been meeting in Jewish Synagogues and learning the Law from non-Christian Jews it is highly unlikely that Paul would have called unbelieving Jews enemies of the Gospel in Romans 11:28 or would have written this to the Church at Corinth, -"Therefore having such hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the Old Covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over his heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:12-16

"But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over his heart"

The Torah, the writings of Moses, were and are still read in the Synagogues. Paul is clearly saying that when and where Moses is read there is veil that covers the heart, and this veil can only be removed by Christ. We know and understand that Paul and the other Apostles read the writings of Moses and taught from Torah rightfully - so this can only mean when the Torah Laws are read and misapplied to New Covenant believers.

 

Ephesians Chapter 4 tells us who Christ has set in His Church to teach, disciple and shepherd, -"And He gave some as Apostles, and some as Prophets, and some as Evangelists, and some as Pastors and Teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the Body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-13 Further, the Jews believed that Paul was a heretic and hated him, even persecuting him from city to city.

In Galatians 2 we see that Paul went to Jerusalem and met with the Apostles there and presented to them what he had been teaching the Gentiles and they added nothing to him. So why did James mention that Moses is preached in every city? It must be in connection with why James added some essentials from the Book of the Law, especially concerning blood and meat sacrificed to idols. If the Gentiles were to ignore these things it would be highly offensive to the Jews whom the Apostles of Jerusalem were trying to reach with the Gospel just as Paul was working as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Galatians of his experience at the Council, - "But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised." Gal. 2:3 Obviously the arguments which the Pharisees had made did not convince Paul or Titus.

Paul taught the Corinthian converts, - "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the Commandments of God." 1 Cor. 7:19 If we are to apply the "keeping of the Commandments of God" here as being Torah observant, then we must ask why Paul is not teaching the need for circumcision since it is the very Torah Law that was given as the sign of the Covenant? It appears that Paul is making a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the whole Law of Torah.

And to the Galatians he wrote, - "For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. . .For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." Galatians 6:13,15

"For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves"

When Paul said "Those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law" he cannot be referring to the Law of circumcision because they were already circumcised, -he had to be addressing the Law which follows circumcision, to become Torah Observant. There can be no doubt that the men troubling the Galatians were Jewish converts which held the same position as the believing Pharisees at the Jerusalem Council -that the Gentiles "Must be circumcised and be directed to keep the whole Law of Moses."

The discussion here is not solely about circumcision itself, but also about what it means - that is, to enter into a Covenant based upon Torah observance - keeping the whole Law. Remember, Paul did emphasize keeping the Commandments while saying circumcision was nothing.

Notice Galatians chapter 5, - "Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace." Galatians 5:2-4

Paul to the Ephesians said, - "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh." Ephesians 3:2-3

In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and in chapter 11 we find that Paul taught the Gentile converts to keep the Passover while uncircumcised which is contrary to Torah. These Christians were not observing the Passover as taught in Torah, but as they were instructed by the Apostle Paul.

The New Testament believers did not kill a lamb or come together to eat a seder meal on the Passover. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul told them that when they came together it was not the eat the Lordís supper, but to eat His Body in the bread and to drink the wine which symbolizes the Blood of the New Covenant. In verse 23 he says that what he is delivering to them was what he had directly received from the Lord.

The Torah says that the Passover is a memorial of the death angel passing over their houses which were protected by the blood of a Passover lamb. The Torah also commands that when our children ask why we keep the Passover that is the story that we were to tell them. But Jesus said, -"Do this in remembrance of Me" and Paul wrote that by keeping the Passover, "you proclaim the Lordís death until He comes." What the Passover means to a Jew is much different than what it means to a Christian.

The Torah teaches that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a memorial of God delivering Israel out of Egypt so quickly that their bread didnít have time to rise. But in 1 Corinthians 5 Paul wrote -"For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the Feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Christians celebrate this feast with the joy of knowing that Christ our Passover has made us unleavened, meaning without sin.

God used Jeremiah the Prophet to reveal His plans to make a New Covenant with Israel. Jeremiah Chapter 31 is quoted and upheld as true in the New Testament book of Hebrews chapter 8, notice, - "Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; Not like the Covenant which I made with their fathers. . .For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord, I will put My Laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. . .And I will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8: 8-12

We see here that the New Covenant would not be like the Covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai - but that in this Covenant God would write His Laws within their minds and hearts and would remember their sins no more. Notice also that the New Covenant is not a lawless Covenant where all of Godís Laws are done away with. However, what is also painfully obvious by the teachings of the Apostles, is that the Law of circumcision was not one of the Laws written in the minds and hearts of the true believers in Christ.

 

CONCLUSION ON CIRCUMCISION:

I think it is clear that we cannot follow both the Torah and Christís Apostles on the subject of circumcision. Paulís teaching is exactly the opposite, therefore we cannot harmonize the New Testament teaching regarding circumcision and the Torahís teaching regarding circumcision. What makes this so significant is that circumcision in the flesh is the very sign of the Covenant, and to be uncircumcised breaks the Covenant, thus making it void.

 

WHAT JESUS TAUGHT

In Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus boldly proclaims that He had not come to abolish the Law and that not even a comma would pass from it until heaven and earth pass away. I think we can rest assured that heaven and earth is still here. Proponents of Torah Observance believe that the Law here is Torah and itís 613 Laws.

Notice Matthew 5:17-18, - "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until it is all accomplished."

Initially this seems to settle the issue regarding whether Jesusí followers should observe all the Laws of Torah. But again we find a problem. When we read on we see that Jesus actually adds to two of the Ten Commandments, expanding their meaning, and then later in the Chapter makes changes in some of the other Laws of Torah.

Jesus added a prohibition to lust after a woman to the Commandment forbidding Adultery, and added a prohibition against unrighteous anger to the Commandment forbidding Murder. What makes this revolutionary is that Torah Law forbade adding or taking away of what was written in it, Deuteronomy 12:32, - "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it." Jesus clearly added to these two Commandments.

Reading on in Matthew 5, we see in verses 31-32 that Jesus quoted the Torah regarding its teaching on divorce and then changed it by His own authority. Quoting Deuteronomy 24:1, Jesus said - "It was said, ĎWhoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce" but then He followed by saying, -"but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Again, we see a clear and deliberate change in Law.

The next five verses deals with the subject of swearing an oath or a vow. In Deuteronomy 6:13 the Torah says to worship God and to swear by His name. Numbers 30 is the Law of Vows Chapter of the Torah-giving proper instruction in making vows and holding to them. But Jesus addressed this practice in this passage saying repeatedly to swear no oath or vow at all. He concluded with, -"But let your statement be, ĎYes, yes, or No, no;í anything beyond these is of evil." Jesus not only does away with the Law of vows here but says that to swear an oath or a vow is evil.

James taught this same teaching to the Church, -"But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment." James 5:12

Jesus quotes another Law from the Torah in verse 38 and then gives a different commandment in verse 39. Quoting Exodus 21:24, Jesus said, -"You have heard that it was said, ĎAn eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.í But then says, - "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." Again, a clear change.

In Matthew 5: 43-44 Jesus referred to Deuteronomy 23:3-6, when He said, -"You have heard that it was said, ĎYou shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Again Jesus is making a radical change in Law. Speaking of your enemies, Deuteronomy 23:6 says, -"You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days." This is a Torah Law that a Christian could not practice.

John 8:3-11 records an account where the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery and said, - "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" Initially, Jesus said nothing in response but stooped down and began writing on the ground with His finger. After the Jews persisted, Jesus stood up and replied, -"He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again, this was a clear change. The Law did not require a sinless person to cast a stone at a condemned person. The Jewish elders walked away and the requirement of the Law was not executed. In Chapter 1 John wrote, -"For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." John 1:17

 

CONCLUSION ON THE POSITION OF JESUS

How can we reconcile Jesus saying that He had not come to abolish the Law, with Him adding to two of the Ten Commandments and abolishing four of the Laws of Torah in this Chapter alone? It is clear that you cannot follow all the Laws of Torah and obey Jesus. In Matthew 15 Jesus said that if you keep His Commandments you will abide in Him as a branch abides on a vine. But if you do not keep His Commandments you cannot abide in Him.

You cannot practice the Torah Laws of Swearing an oath, divorce, an eye for an eye,

and love your neighbor while hating your enemy and abide in Christ.

 If you abide in Torah in these Laws you are not abiding in Christ.

Perhaps the Laws that Jesus had not come to abolish were the Laws, Commandments and Statutes which Abraham kept, and had not come to protect the Laws which were added because of transgressions 430 years later at Sinai. This would explain why Jesus magnified two of the Ten Commandments while abolishing some of the Torah Laws which came later. Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant, -"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better Covenant, which has been enacted on better promises." Hebrews 8:6

Notice also Galatians Chapter 3 verse 15 followed by verse 19, -"When (a Covenant) has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it." This is referring to the Covenant promised to Abraham 430 years before Israelís Covenant at Mt. Sinai. "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions. . .until the Seed should come to whom the promise had been made." The Laws added at Sinai do not apply to a Covenant previously ratified. Notice here, that these laws were to only be in effect until Jesus, the Promised Seed came who would ratify a New Covenant.

"Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions. . .until the Seed should come to whom the promise had been made."

The ruling on divorce, an eye for an eye and the animal sacrifices were obvious Laws which were added due to transgressions. Another Law which was added for transgressions was the command to wear tassels on the corners of a garment. As recorded in Numbers 15, a man was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath and was sentenced to death by stoning. Because of this transgression, God added the Law to wear tassels for the purpose of reminding them to keep His Commandments - when they would see a tassel hanging from their garment it was to remind them to obey God. This is actually a very sad thing - itís like a husband tying a string around his finger to remember his wedding anniversary. They needed this because under their Covenant they did not have Godís Commandments written in their minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit.

We must be joined in Jesus to enter into this Covenant. Until we are born again of the Spirit we cannot enter the New Covenant, nor be an heir of the Kingdom of God. Nicodemis thought he was an heir of the Kingdom because he was a descendant of Abraham, but Jesus told him that he must be born again of the Spirit to see the Kingdom. It is not enough to be born of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be an heir of the Kingdom as promised in the Covenant -a new birth in Christ is necessary. 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

Paul exhorted the saints at Corinth to examine themselves to ensure that they were in Christ, -"Test Yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test." 2 Corinthians 13:5

Now letís read Paulís warning to the Church at Galatia again, -"Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace." Galatians 5:2-4

Being severed from Christ is a frightening thought!

How could being circumcised and keeping the whole Law of Moses

sever someone from Christ?

 The only possible answer must be viewed in terms of the Covenants - leaving the New Covenant ratified by the Blood of Jesus for the Sinai Covenant ratified by the blood of animals. Christ and His redemption is only in the New Covenant.

The Sinai Covenant, which received the Levitical priesthood and included all the Laws of Torah, was ratified by animal blood and was to be in effect until Jesus, the Promised Seed should come to ratify the New Covenant with His Blood. Hebrews 8:13 says, -"When He said, ĎA New Covenant,í He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." On the last Passover Jesus gave His disciples the cup and said, -"This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My blood." Luke 22:20

Speaking of two separate Covenants Paul wrote, -"Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ĎAnd to seeds,í as referring to many, but rather to One, ĎAnd to your Seed,í that is Christ. What I am saying is this; the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a Covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise." Galatians 3:16-17

Notice that the promises were not made to the natural descendants of Abraham

but to Christ, the Promised Seed

When we are born again of the Spirit and enter into Christ, we also enter into a New Covenant with itís own set of Laws and promises. These Laws are written into our minds and hearts by the Spirit of God. Surely the Holy Spirit has not written the Torah Laws of "circumcision", "sacrificesí, "an eye for an eye" or "love your neighbor and hate your enemies" into the minds and hearts of believers.

 

OTHER OBVIOUS DIFFICULTIES IN BEING TORAH OBSERVANT

* Paul told Timothy that the Law is good as long as it is used lawfully. He gave an example of this in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, -"For it is written in the Law of Moses, ĎYou shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.í God is not concerned bout oxen is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops." I donít think any Torah teacher would have shared Paulís view and understanding in this, but would have insisted that this Law was about the ox not being muzzled as he worked.

* Many of the Laws of Torah are centered around worshiping God at the Temple in Jerusalem involving the Levitical priesthood. Hebrews 7:11-12, -"Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another Priest to arise according to the order of melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change in Law also." Notice that the Laws of the Torah were given to Israel on the basis of the Levitical Priesthood.

"For when the priesthood is changed,

of necessity there takes place a change in Law also"

In Matthew 23:37-28 Jesus said, -"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" Less than 40 years later Jerusalem was sieged by the Romans and the Temple was destroyed. Suddenly the Levitical priests lost their place of service and the people had no altar to offer their sacrifices. It has been almost 2000 years and the Temple has not been rebuilt. The Levites have no Sanctuary or service to perform today.

*Torah commands sacrifices to be made at the Temple-something that has been impossible for two millennia. The New Testament says that those sacrifices had no power to remove sin, but served only as a reminder of sins, -"But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Hebrews 10:3-4 Verse 10 says that Jesus was our sacrifice once for all.

Jesus spoke of a time when the true worshipers would need not go to a mountain or to a Temple to worship God. A woman in Samaria complained to Jesus saying, -"Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Then Jesus said to her, -"an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . .But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth." John 4:21-24

*The New Covenant does not teach us to take an offering to a Levitical Priest at a Temple in Jerusalem. And good thing since the Temple isnít there today. And the New Covenant does not require Christians to travel to Jerusalem to keep the annual Feasts of the Lord. Though the New Testament Church observed these Festivals, they celebrated them in their own locale as witnessed in the book of Acts. And though we do not appear before the Lord empty handed, we certainly do not bring animal sacrifices.

* The Torah appoints a Levitical Priesthood - while the New Covenant believers are a priesthood of the order of Melchezedek.

*The Torah commands that the tithe belongs to Levi, yet what Christian tithes to a Levitical priesthood? The Christian brotherhood is a priesthood itself of the order of Melchizedek and Godís tithes belong to it.

* Torah teaches to stay away from the other nations of the world to prevent being corrupted - Jesus taught His followers to go to all nations with the Gospel and make disciples of them.

* Torah appoints Aaron and his sons as High Priest - The New Testament recognizes Jesus as our High Priest who lives to make intercession for us.

* Torah directs the High Priest to enter through the veil into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for sinners once a year - In the New Covenant believers step boldly beyond the veil because Jesus has already atoned for them once and for all.

* Torah promises protection, health and a land flowing with milk and honey - The New Covenant promises eternal life, citizenship in the New Jerusalem and a heavenly country.

* Torah says that observing all its Laws shall be righteousness to you - The New Testament says that righteousness is by faith in Christ Jesus.

* Torah commanded that the Ten Commandments be written on stone and the Torah be written on animal skins - In the New Testament the Laws of the New Covenant are written in the minds and hearts of the saved.

* In Torah we are commanded to go to the Temple - In the New Covenant we are the Temple

* In Torah we are commanded to appear before God at His House three times a year - in the New Covenant we are Godís House and He and Christ live in us.

* In Torah the sacrifices remind sinners that they are sinners - In the New Covenant our sins are remembered no more.

 

CONCLUSION

First it must be said, that all the Laws of Torah

are righteous, holy and directly from God

 The Apostle Paul loved the Law of Moses though he wrote that it must be used lawfully when applying it to New Covenant believers. Before Governor Felix, Paul said, "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets." Acts 24:14

Paul is explaining, that to use the Torah lawfully is to subject it to the Way, that is,

the Way of Christianity as defined by the terms of the New Covenant.

We see in Acts chapters 21 through 26, that though Paul was accused of teaching Jews to not practice circumcision and to forsake Moses, he testified that this was not true. The truth is, Paul was the Apostle Jesus sent to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles while Peter, James and others were sent to preach the Gospel to the circumcised. Paul would never have interfered in undermining their efforts. He loved his kinsmen according to the flesh, and desired above all that they might be saved.

In Acts 21:24, Paul did not say that he was Law observant, James did. I think Paul was just trying to accommodate James in his efforts to bring along the Pharisees who had accepted Christ as Messiah. James actually makes it appear that while the Gentiles were not obligated to keep the whole Law of Moses, the Jewish converts were. But we know this is not true by what Peter testified at the Council in Acts 15 when he said that both Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same way and that God made no distinction between them. We see the same in Galatians 2.

One thing we must always remember is that the fullness of the understanding of the Gospel and the teachings of the Way were not completed until John wrote his writings-that is until the last Apostle of Christ finished the Work.

Until his vision Peter still thought it was unlawful for him to enter a Gentile's house. And until the Council it was not clear whether the Gentiles were to be circumcised and directed to keep the Law of Moses. So what James said in Acts 21 is not a reflection of the fullness of the truth of the Gospel-revelation was still taking place.

In Acts James asks Paul to participate with two Jewish converts in animal sacrifices associated with a Nazarite vow. This required these men to swear a vow, but later when James wrote his epistle he said "above all, do not swear." Clearly he had received understanding between Acts 26 and from when he wrote his epistle. And of course by the time Hebrews was written they fully understood that animal sacrifices were not a part of the New Covenant.

In 2 Peter 3 we see that although Peter acknowledges that Paul's writings are "scripture" he said that the wisdom which had been given to Paul was difficult to understand.

But again,  Paul was the Apostle Jesus sent to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles while Peter, James and others were sent to preach the Gospel to the circumcised. Paul would never have interfered in undermining their efforts. He loved his kinsmen according to the flesh, and desired above all that they might be saved.

Paul wrote of the terrible consequences of offences, and exhorted the brethren to not become stumbling blocks for others through carelessness. Paul would have certainly made great efforts to not offend those among the circumcised, whom his fellow Apostles were trying to save. But Paul did not withhold his true thoughts about the judaizers who were troubling his congregations.

 He referred to them as the "false circumcision" (Phil. 3:2) and as "false brethren" (Gal. 2:4) who preached a "distorted Gospel." (Gal. 1:7)

Paul also taught that it is not natural Israel who are the true heirs of the Kingdom but those who are born again of the Spirit. "It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the Promise are regarded as descendants." Romans 9:8 Paul referred to the Church as the "Israel of God" at the end of his letter to the Galatians, and as the"true circumcision" in Philippians 3:3, notice, "For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."

Concerning the coming of the New Covenant of Promise, the writer of Hebrews wrote, -"When He said, ĎA New Covenant,í He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." Chapter 8:13 This was written just prior to the fall of Jerusalem which means that the Old Covenant, though obsolete, was still being practiced, but was ready to disappear when Godís House became desolate.

And disappear it did with the destruction of the Temple and its Priesthood. Hebrews 7 tells us that the Law was given on the basis of the Levitical Priesthood. This shows us the temporary nature of the Old Covenant. The Laws given for a Temple and itís sacrifices, a Priesthood, a land and a sovereign nation cannot be kept if these institutions have passed away.

A Christian or even a Jew cannot be fully Torah Observant even if they wanted to. Many of the Laws of Torah are in need of a sovereign land, the Temple, and the Levitical Priesthood to be observed. New Testament Christians were not taught to go to Jerusalem, go to the Temple, or accept Levites as their priests. Christians were told to look to the Jerusalem above.

Israel as a sovereign nation could obey the civil Laws of Torah but we cannot do those things living in America or in any other western countries. In fact, Israel today does not practice many of these Laws. False prophets, sorcerers and rebellious children are not being stoned in Israel today. History shows, that Israel was unable to practice some of their Laws while they were under captivity to Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, because they, themselves were subject to the civil Laws of those nations.

All the Laws connected to the Temple and the Levitical Priesthood obviously

cannot be observed since they no longer exist.

But if they did, as Christians, we couldnít offer sacrifices in good conscience or even enter the Temple if uncircumcised. If the Laws of Torah as a Covenant stand or fall together, then there is no doubt that they have fallen. The Old Covenant and the Laws pertaining to it has given way to the New Covenant of Promise. A Covenant of Grace through faith, but not a lawless one.

Genesis 26 tells us that Abraham kept Godís Laws, Commandments and statutes,

 but we see also that the vast majority of the Laws of Torah were added 430 years later because of transgressions.

 We have also seen that these Laws were only to be in effect until Jesus the Promised Seed came to ratify a New Covenant in His Blood and based upon better promises. With the New Covenant comes a new Priesthood of the Order of Melchezedek. And as we learned in Hebrews 7, with a change in Priesthood there is of necessity a change in Law also. These Laws are written into the hearts and minds of the true believers. The New Testament reveals the promises and the conditions of the New Covenant.

The New Testament upholds the Ten Commandments - John 14:21 / 15:10 / 1 Cor. 7:19 / 1 John 2:3-4 / 5:2-3 / 2 John 6

And upholds Sabbath observance - Hebrews 4:9-11. The Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments and James said that to break just one makes a person a transgressor of the all. Jesus and His Apostles kept the Sabbath. Though there was a controversy regarding circumcision and the whole Law of Moses, there is no such controversy about whether the Sabbath should be kept in the New Testament writings.

The N.T. Scriptures also show that the Apostolic Church observed Godís Holy Day Feasts Ėthough they made no annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to keep them. -1 Corinthians 5:7-8 / 16:8 / Acts 20:6,16

The N.T. upholds the Food Laws - Though Acts 10:9-23 / 1 Timothy 4:1-5, are often used against the Food Laws they actually make the case for them. When Peter was told to eat unclean meat he refused, saying that he had never defiled his body in that way. Peter later realized that his vision was given to teach him that the Gentiles were no longer unclean. In 1 Timothy 4 verse 5, it states that we can eat anything that is sanctified by the Word of God. "Sanctified" means to be set apart by the Word of God. So, this means that only food that is set apart by Godís Word can be eaten. Leviticus 16 is the only place in Godís Word where certain foods are set apart as clean and unclean.

And finally, Tithing - Abraham tithed to Melchezedek. And as we see in Hebrews 7:9-12 , this Law was changed from belonging to Levi to belonging to the Priesthood of Melchezedek, to which the tribe of Christians belong.

None of these Laws were added because of transgressions

And are clearly supported in the New Testament Scriptures

 

Related Materials

"The Two Covenants, From Law to Faith"

 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries