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This essay will attempt to show my understanding of what the Torah is what its purpose is and the various functions it serves to the community of G-d. Because my knowledge and understanding of these issues came first from the book “Torah Rediscovered” and has now been enhanced and expanded on through the continuation of “Torah Rediscovered” in the book “Take Hold”, my essay will focus on the questions themselves and not necessarily the content of any one of these books. The definition of the word Torah is “G-d’s teachings” or “instruction”. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts that are designed to cause animosity between Gd’s people and the nations of the earth. It was G-d’s intent to use these teachings to bring the nations into the understanding of who He is and show them how they too could live as the people of G-d. The Torah is a unique document given to both the physical and spiritual seed of Abraham. The Torah serves many purposes depending on the stage of spirituality and understanding one has in the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’cov. The first purpose of Torah is to teach us what G-d wants us to know. The second is that it is a covenant that is legally binding upon those with whom the covenant was made. Deut 29:9-15 says that the covenant was made with not only the Children of Israel, and not just the men of the camp, but with the women, children and the strangers (gentiles) that dwelt within Israel. It goes on to say that the covenant was not given to just their fathers or to those who stood that day in the hearing of the blessings and the curses, but also with those who where not there with them that day, implying that this everlasting covenant would be in effect for both Jews and the gentiles who sought the G-d of Israel for generations. In making this covenant, G-d legally bound himself to keep his word, which he spoke in the covenant.
Israel too is also bound by this document to follow the word of G-d as well as the strangers and foreigners who come to believe in the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’cov through His Son Yeshua. The second purpose of Torah is a national constitution for the nation of Israel. The specific wording and principles of Torah are similar in content to contracts and treaties written in the same time period between nations and their conquered or vassal nations. In ancient Hittite treaties, one finds a Preamble, Historical Prologue, Stipulations, Blessings and Curses, Witnesses, Means of Succession, Provision for Depositing the Covenant. The Torah too contains these same provisions: Preamble: Historical Prologue: Stipulations: Deut 1:1-5 is an introduction to the Book of Deuteronomy. Deut. 1:6-4:49 gives the historical background of the great things G-d has done for Israel Deut. 5:1-26:19 many call this the “law”, however these are the commandments that G-d has given his people to Blessings and Curses: Witnesses: Succession: Deposit/Readin g: maintain this covenant. Deut. 27-30 these are G-d’s promises to us if we keep or break this covenant. Deuteronomy 30:19 G-d calls upon heaven and earth to witness this covenant between him and HIS people. Deut. 31:1-8 G-d provides for Joshua to follow Moses when he dies. Deut 31:9-13 G-d delivers the covenant with the priest and tells them where to keep it.
In parts of the Torah, there are hints that it is also another kind of document. That document is the marriage contract or Ketubah. A Ketubah is the contract that spells out the provision between a man and the woman his father has chosen for him to marry. This document also has several parts that are legal and binding for both parties. In ancient times the woman did not have any say in whom she would marry or when. She had no rights, no security, no protection or provision. She was purchased at a price like a slave
and forced to live with whom ever her father could get the highest price. However, through the Ketubah, “G-d provided women with a little more assurance that the bridegroom would work for, honor, support and maintain his bride in truth. The father of the bridegroom would present the father of the perspective bride with a contract, spelling out the provision of the contract to give protection, security, clothing, food, and so on to the bride. This was a legally binding contract which was serious, final and sealed in blood”.1 In Exodus 6:7 G-d uses the terminology that he “will take” the people of Israel as His people and He calls Israel His “treasured possession above all other people” (Ex 19:5-7) indicating His betrothal to them as His bride. Thus the Torah serves as a Ketubah spelling out the provision G-d promises to his bride at Sinai. The Torah also serves as a way of life. It is a reflection of G-d’s holiness, goodness and righteousness (Romans 7:12). It teaches us what G-d considers clean and unclean, holy and unholy without which we would not know how to live within the boundaries of the freedom that we receive through our faith in G-d. In the Torah G-d points out the sin of the world and teaches us His better way to honor Him. He knows that as humans we need reminders to live according to the standards that He has set, therefore, He includes these reminders in His teachings by giving us Holy Days to observe and worship Him through. Each Holy Day also lays out His plan of redemption for His people, of whom He already knew would have trouble holding up their end of the covenant. In Numbers 15:37:40, G-d provides for yet another reminder of His covenant by commanding that His people put tzitziyot (tassels) upon the corners of their garments and each fringe will have a blue cord. This is done so that it will remind them to obey G-d’s mitzvot (commands) and be Holy for their G-d. Many references of this garment with tassels are misunderstood because of most people’s lack of knowledge regarding this garment. For instance, the corners of this garment are called the “wings”2. The term wings is an idiom used to describe the obedience to Torah as a
comfort and shelter. Thus when David declares that he will dwell in the shelter of Your wings he is saying that he lives Torah and remembers G-d’s covenant with him. Additionally, scripture tells us that healing is in the wings of the righteous one of Israel the Son of G-d (Mal 4:2). Yeshua is the Torah (Word) who became flesh, therefore, by abiding in the Torah (Word) we abide in Yeshua and all that He embodies. Yeshua was the ultimate obedient servant of Torah, obeying, correcting and teaching it according to G-d’s word and not the interpretations of man. Thus the woman with the issue of blood who reached out in faith to touch the tassel on the corner (wing) of Yeshua’s garment knew that He was the one in whom the scripture spoke of healing in His wings. Another reminder that G-d has given us is the weekly Shabbat. This is a time each week when we stop our labors and set aside time to reflect on the truths of G-d and enjoy the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. The Shabbat is also the sign of the covenant that was given to us at Sinai. It is like the engagement ring that the bride receives upon her betrothal. It is a promise that more of the blessings that we receive during this time of rest will come upon us when our Messiah comes. Isaiah 66:23 tells us that in the future, that is when the new heaven and earth are made by G-d, we will all celebrate Shabbat in Jerusalem by worshiping G-d. Revelations 21:1 confirms that the new heaven and earth are in the future, therefore, as Sha’ul pointed out that the Holy Days are shadows of things to come. Many of these shadows have not yet come, consequently our celebration of Shabbat and the Holy Days, which are also reminders of G-d’s covenant, are indeed to be an everlasting covenant and have never been removed from the covenant given by G-d to His people or altered in the giving of the new covenant. The Torah is often looked on, somehow, as bad and legalistic when it is in fact a document of freedom, that is freedom from the bondage of slavery
and sin. If one attempts to follow it without faith in G-d in order to attain merit or approval from G-d it then becomes the legalistic form of life that does not give freedom, but bondage to the letter of the law. It must be remembered that “Torah was not given to Israel while they were still in bondage. Rather, God set them free and delivered them before He gave them Torah. This fact is critical to understand of the Torah's relationship to salvation. If God had given Torah before Israel was redeemed, it might be suggested that redemption could be achieved through obedience to the Torah. However, that is clearly not so. The Torah was provided after the exodus, after the slavery had ended, after they were called out of darkness. Its purpose was not to provide salvation through obedience, but to teach the children of Israel how to enjoy their freedom, their deliverance and their new life with God. Torah is the teaching of the Redeemer to the redeemed on how to live as the redeemed community.”
So, why follow Torah? The first reason is because G-d says so. I remember when I was young my mother would tell me to do something and I would balk and ask why? My mother’s response was “I am your mother, I said so!” Sometimes we as children can not see the bigger picture that G-d sees and therefore, need to hold the Word of G-d in awe rather than vilify it as being legalistic or bad because we can not see G-d’s purpose in it at our point in our walk with Him. Another reason to follow Torah is that it gives us definition as the people of G-d. G-d said to be separate from the world. He called us out of the world, but we muddy that calling by excusing the Word of G-d, Torah, as being “Old” and no longer in effect. The Torah tells us who we are. We are new creations in G-d. Torah is G-d’s instructions on how His new creations are to live. The provision of the New Covenant, is that now instead of trying to follow G-d’s commandments according to the written Word which G-d gave, His Spirit writes them on our hearts so that we know, if we are in the Spirit, what is of G-d and what is not, what is Holy and what is not, what is clean and what is not. This is the change and provision given in
the New Covenant. The New Covenant is like a codicil to a last will and testament that gives greater clarity in which we are to behave on behalf of the giver of the testament, G-d. It does not make the older covenant void, nor does it replace the covenant, but it changes some of the stipulations in how the covenant is to be carried out. G-d realized that without His Spirit we could not keep the covenant He made with us. His Spirit brings in the factor of our love for G-d and His Son as a motivating entity and allows us to learn through the Spirit what it is that G-d wants from us. The topic of Torah is all encompassing and could fill volumes of pages, but I hope that I have adequately given you some sort of idea of what my understanding of Torah is in this short essay.
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The Ancient Jewish Wedding…and the Return of the Messiah for His Bride; By Jamie Lash Yeshua, A Guide to the Real Jesus and The Original Church, by Dr. Ron Mosley Take Hold, by Ariel & D’vorah Berkowitz
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