Do we need to follow the Torah
In Biblical times, what has been termed as the Law of Moses regulated almost every aspect of Jewish life. Collectively the first five books of the Old Testament is collectively called the Pentateuch, or Old Testament Law, or Mosaic Law, or just The Law.
The Ten Commandments and many other laws defined matters of morals, religious practice and government. It regulated the army, criminal justice, commerce, property rights, employment, slavery, sexual relations, marriage and social interactions. It required circumcision for males, animal sacrifices, and strict Sabbath and annual Feasts observance. It provided for the welfare of widows, orphans, the poor, foreigners and domestic animals. The Law divided animals into "clean" and "unclean" categories. Clean animals could be eaten; unclean animals could not.
The Law comprises four distinct sections. There are the Civil Laws, Ceremonial Laws, Sacrificial Laws and Moral Laws. Like life in those times, many appear to us now as harsh and cruel compared.
By the time of the life of the Messiah, the Law the Father had given to Moses had been turned into hundreds of ceremonial rules and interpretations. These rules were not the Law, they were man made rules that were an exceptionally heavy burden for people to comply with. The Messiah criticised the pharisees regularly for the enforcement of these rules onto people. The pharisees led people to think that they were living holy lives if they just obeyed all those rules. What matters is what the Messiah really said, and whether we’re going to believe what He said. In Luke 11:46, the Messiah said
Luke 11:46 And He said, “Woe to you also, you learned in the Torah, because you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
How reminiscent is this of denominations today, where doctrinal rules are imposed on members, and those rules are not contained in the Scriptures.
The Messiah did not abolish the Torah that had been in effect from the time of Moses, but he clarified that requirements stay in effect until they were fulfilled. As we will see, the Gospels shows that while the Messiah disagreed with the religious leaders, He didn’t disagree with Old Testament Scriptures. For instance, refer to Matthew 5:17
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. 18 “For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one yod or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. 19 “Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens. 20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens. (refer also to Matthew 23:28, 5:3-9, Mark 7:7-13, John 7:19, Acts 7:53, Romans 2:23-27, Galatians 6:13.)
These verses are an unambiguous statement about the importance of the Law.
In Matthew 5:18, the Messiah likened the continuance of the law to the permanence of heaven and earth. He is saying that the law is immutable, inviolable and unchangeable and can only be fulfilled, never abrogated. The Messiah did not say that he had come to cancel the law or end it or destroy it, but he did criticise the pharisees doctrine. The letters to the churches contained in Revelations also criticised churches for errors in their beliefs.
The Messiah, as did the disciples, kept the Torah exactly and did not bow to the pressure of the Pharisees. The Messiah instead showed the spiritual intent, purpose and scope of the Torah which is what the pharisees should have been teaching.
The Messiahs sacrifice fulfilled the Sacrificial Law, His sacrifice did not end it, the Messiah became our sacrifice for atonement for our sins enabling us to be forgiven without having to make our own blood sacrifice. We call on the Name of the Messiah and his sacrifice for forgiveness. Refer to Matthew 26:28
Matthew 26: 28 “For this is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Just before the Messiahs ascension to Heaven, he again noted to his discsiples that the Torah had to be fulfilled about Him
Luke 24:44 And He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all have to be filled that were written in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it has been written, and so it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise again from the dead the third day,
But the requirements of the other Laws in the Torah have not yet completed. For instance the Messiah fulfilled theSpring Feasts, but the Autumn Feasts (the scond coming of the Messiah) are yet to be fulfilled. Until the Laws are fulfilled we are still expected to comply with these. The Messiah met the Torah’s requirements by obeying it perfectly in thought and deed, both in the letter and in the intent of His heart. The Messiah emphasised and quoted these Laws to people, and in both John 14:15 and 21 quoted Exodus 20:6
Exodus 20:6 but showing loving-commitment to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands.
John 14: 15 “If you love Me, you shall guard My commands………. 21 “He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.”
By the time of the life of the Messiah, the great moral principles the Father had given to Moses in the Ten Commandments and the Laws throughout the Torah had been turned into hundreds of ceremonial rules. Similar ceremonial requirements and other rules are placed on believers in many denominations by many churches even now. These requirements are doctrines and are not supported by the Scriptures. The rules that the Pharisees bound people with were not the Torah, they were man made rules that were an exceptionally heavy burden for people to comply with. The Messiah criticised the pharisees regularly for the enforcement of these rules onto people.
The pharisees had led people to think that they were living holy lives if they just obeyed all those rules. But the Messiah clearly disagreed in Matthew 5:20 and 15:3
Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens.
Matthew 15:3 But He answering, said to them, “Why do you also transgress the command of Elohim because of your tradition?
The same questions could be asked of many denominations today. Through His teachings and actions, the Messiah revealed the true meaning and intent of the Torah. He clarified the requirements stating that obedience must be from the heart (our attitudes and intentions) rather than just technical observance of the letter of the Torah, or disregard, or selected observance, or addition to the Torah.
Now if the Laws in the Old Testament were ending, the Messiah would not have been quoting them or following them, the Messiah coninually quoted the Torah in the records in the Gospels, and his parables included actions that illustrated compliance with the Torah. If the Torah had ended with the Messiah, the Messiah and his disciples would not have been following them.
But the Messiah did follow the Torah, and his disciples followed the Torah, and so did the early believers. The New Testament did not exist, only the Pentateuch and the Books of the Old Testament existed. The Scriptures referred to in letters of the New testament can only have referred to the Old Testament Books. For instance, the new testament did not exist at the time Paul wrote to Timothy, and yet Paul wrote
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by Aluah and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness,
When Paul came to Jerusalem in Acts, the reference is to believers coming to the Torah
Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they praised the Master. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of people there are who have believed, and all are ardent for the Torah,
Paul also went to great lengths to prove that he followed the Torah. One really notable comment from Paul is in Romans 3:31
Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Torah through the belief? Let it not be! On the contrary, we establish the Torah.
And another about Paul keeping the Torah in Acts
Acts 21:24 “Take them and be cleansed with them, and pay their expenses so that they shave their heads. And all shall know that what they have been informed about you is not so, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Torah.
If you are reading and follwoing the New Testament, you cannot take the view that the Torah no longer applies, when the Messiah, Paul and the disciples all followed the Torah. Believing that the Torah does not apply to spiritual Israelites (believers) that are graafted into Israel, is exactly opposite to what the New Testament writers have recorded.
The fact that the Messiahs teaching built on both the Ten Commandments and the Law is irrefutable proof that the requirements of Ten Commandments and law still exist. Not paying regard to, and not obeying the Law, places salvation at risk and yet disregarding the Torah is something that is included in many doctrines, and taught in many churches. How many people keep the Sabbath? How many people keep e-a-s-t-e-r instead of the Spring Feasts. How many people keep c-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s but ignore the Autumn Feasts? These Feasts set out the Salvation Plan for mankind, bending them into pagan festivals is removing the message and power of the Fathers Salvation Plan for mankind - now who would want to mislead people deliberately and do that?
Mainstream Christianity has misunderstood or misinterpreted the Messiahs message regarding the purpose and value of the Old Testament Laws. In the early church (pre 400AD), only the Old Testament could be used as the textbook for instruction as the collection of books known as the new testament did not exist. The New Testament also contains many examples where Paul instructed the Gentiles to follow specific Old Testament laws.
Paul taught that the Gentile believers became united with the Jewish believers as full citizens of Israel (the descendants of Jacob). In the Messiah, there was no difference between Jewish and Gentile believers.
So what Scriptures did the early believers use? – only the Old Testament existed. We need to study and obey the Laws, and all of the books of Scripture including the Old Testament as the early believers did. Do not get diverted and encapsulated in a doctrine that blinds you to the truth of the Torah, the Old Testament and the Messiahs message to us. Such doctrines is not of the Father and was clearly not the belief of the Messiah. Disregard any doctrine that tells you that the Old Testament and Laws do not apply. Apart from the sacrificial law, the Torah applies as all has not yet been fulfilled. The Spring Feasts have been fulfilled, but the Autumn feasts are yet to be fulfilled.
We need to read and understand the Fathers requirements of us, these are conained in the Old Testament Books as well as in the Messiahs teaching in the New Testament Books, if we want we want to jointhe Salavation Plan offered by the Messiahs sacrifice.