Saturday, June 1, 2013
IT IS WRITTEN
"It is written..." This is one famous line of Jesus in quoting the Torah. In defeating the devil (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).
What is Torah? Glad you asked. It could mean several things, such as the Old Testament, or the Laws of God in it. The word 'Torah' means 'teaching' or 'instruction' --- a manual for walking with God. God (Yahweh: personal name), the God (Elohim) of Moses is the author of Torah and commissioned Moses to put it in writing, hence the first five books of the Bible came to be known as the Book of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
Who defines Torah? Ah, we can clear up the confusions surrounding it by discovering the proper definition for Torah. For this who better to consult than the author Himself: God. Are you ready to receive it? Let us turn to Joshua 1:7-8 (God speaking)...
"Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the TORAH, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
This book of TORAH shall not depart out of thy mouth; but that thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Is it clear now? The first five books are called Torah by God Himself. God commissions Moses to write it and Commands Joshua to meditate daily on it and observe the teachings. The New Testament counterpart would be the Great Commission wherein Jesus commands the disciples to teach and observe "all things whatsoever I have COMMANDED you" (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus lived and taught the Torah. In essence Jesus Christ is the New Testament. All the prophets in the Old Testament uttered their warnings on the people based on whether the nation or individuals were living according to the Torah. For example, the wickedness, spiritual adultery and apostasy of Israel was because the Torah was not taught to the people. They were not only losing out in blessings, but perishing in ignorance. Why? Because the priests ignored the Torah: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou has forgotten the TORAH of thy God, I will also forget thy children" (Hosea 4:6).
Historically, after the reign of Solomon, the Kingdom split into two: ten tribes in the North as Israel and two tribes in the South as Judah (Jerusalem as capital). The apostasy of Israel reached the point of no return and God gave them over to Assyria in 722 BC. After another 100 plus years of warnings by prophets, Judah will not repent and so God allowed Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon to conquer and exile the people, beginning in 606 BC and completely by 586 BC. The two nations failed to study and observe the Torah!
Did God abandon the Torah after punishing these two rebellious nations? No. While Judah was being punished (Yes the loving God punishes rebellious people), God announced through prophet Jeremiah a New Covenant: "Behold... I will make a new covenant..." [ And what is in the New Covenant? The TORAH! ]... "I will put my TORAH in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:31-33). (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
This verse is quoted in Hebrews 8:10; 10:16. Listen up grace preachers, don't run away from the Torah and peddle a 'prosperity gospel' that is not sanctioned in the Bible. Except for circumcision, dietary rules, Levitical service, and laws pertaining to ancient agricultural close-knit society, all the principles and commandments of the Torah are still applicable to followers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-14; Luke 24:25-27; Acts 17:1-3; etc). Paul the grace preacher said: "We establish the law" (Romans 3:31). Did you know that it is from the Torah that we learn we are to love God and our neighbor? (Matthew 22:36-40 --- Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).
No one can be saved by keeping the Law (Galatians 5:4), a message to the Jews; all Gentiles are sinners and in need of a Savior (Romans 1:18-32). All have sinned (Romans 3:23). Jew or Gentile, Jesus is the Savior of all (John 14:6).
Only after receiving salvation by grace, we follow the Law as obedience to the ways of God contained in the Bible. Grace delivers you from the power of the Law, but grace does not give you license to break the Law. Check the Ten Commandments for a summary of all that God designed for His children to follow. To maintain your 'Liberty' in Christ (Galatians 5:1), avoid 'Legalism' (Galatians 5:4) and 'License' (Galatians 5:19-21). A balancing act with LIBERTY between legalism and license.
I needed to interject with the insert above, otherwise many people get confused about Grace and Law (grace without law can turn into license, and law without grace is legalism) and live in vagueness, thereby opening themselves to wolves in sheep's clothing who come to preach only the positive or feel good side of God and take their money. These wolves steal the glory of God (celebrity status and bragging of their favor with God) and the hard-earned money of the gullible listeners. These wolves will avoid warnings of hell, sin, repentance, abomination, sexual purity, judgment, trials, holiness. They will promise a Santa Claus god blessings to the people and brainwash them into sending money for their lavish pay, perks, and lifestyle. Stop chasing after prosperity preachers and repent before Jesus convulse with disgust and throw up all the distortions spewed by them (Revelation 3:14-22). O yes, Jesus the Lion of Judah can get angry; you better believe it (Mark 11:15-19; John 2:15-17; Matthew 23:33; etc). Repent!
The word 'prosper' in Joshua 1:7-8 is contextually not talking about increase in wealth. It is referring to the wisdom Joshua will learn and be successful in achieving his mission. Then some measure of prosperity might follow, not as a priority but as a reward of obedience in minutely learning the ways of God and strictly observing them. Do not be fooled by prosperity preachers who will distort this promise by claiming the prosperity without learning and obedience of the Torah. Keep the priority straight and keep meditating... "... but his delight is in the TORAH of God..." (Psalm 1).
Let the Torah thoroughly convert your soul (Psalm 19:7; 119:105; James 1:21). Shalom!