Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Has the New Covenant Done Away With the Old?
WHY did Yeshua the Messiah come as a Messenger of a "New Covenant"? What was WRONG with the old one? Was it flawed? Did YEHOVAH God make a mistake? Was the Old Covenant a harsh, cruel, rigorous set of do's and don'ts; a legalistic, complex system of laws that were impossible to obey; a heavy burden on the backs of poor, suffering people who could never measure up? The Old Covenant was a formal AGREEMENT concerning performance, and IS, THEREFORE, NOT A SYSTEM OF LAWS!
by HOIM Staff
It's a question that we are
commonly asked: "Why are you keeping all these Jewish days? Don't you know that
all those Old Covenant ordinances passed away with the coming of the New?"
On the contrary, while the Old Covenant was indeed replaced by the New (or rather, is IN THE PROCESS of being replaced -- complete replacement will not happen until all Israel is saved and within the New Covenant, to whom it was promised originally), the Torah itself is still YEHOVAH God's Law. Let's start by looking at the exact promise of the New Covenant, given in Jeremiah 31 and quoted at length in Hebrews 8:
"See, a time is coming -- declares the LORD -- when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them -- declares the LORD. But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days -- declares the LORD: I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, 'Heed the LORD'; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me -- declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures).
So when does this New Covenant take effect? At the end of the age when YEHOVAH God Himself returns to this earth to live among His people Israel! At the time when the two houses of Israel will be united (the two sticks) and living according to YEHOVAH's Teaching that has been inscribed upon their hearts! At the time when YEHOVAH will be their God and united Israel will be His people! Until this occurs -- the New Covenant is NOT yet in effect!
The Biblical Covenants
Before we get into this article there is something that we should be aware of: There are not two, but eight major covenants in Scripture, and only ONE of them is specifically replaced by the New Covenant:
The Edenic Covenant (Genesis 2):
In this covenant Man was given dominion over the earth and told to subdue it, be fruitful, and
multiply. While one might make the case that Man broke this covenant by
disobeying YEHOVAH God (though not eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was
never mentioned as a part of this covenant), this covenant most certainly was
not made "in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of
Egypt," and so is not in view as the "old" covenant.
The Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3): This covenant proscribed curses for sinning as well as the first promise of the Redeemer, from the "seed" of the woman, was given. Again, this promise was not made in the desert when YEHOVAH brought Israel out of Egypt .
The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9): In this covenant YEHOVAH promised never again to destroy all life by a flood, and a renewal of the command to be fruitful and multiply was given. In this covenant, YEHOVAH God commanded Man to carry out the death penalty for murder, and permitted the eating of meat. It was sealed by the sign of the rainbow. Again, this covenant had nothing to do with coming out of Egypt .
The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15): Here YEHOVAH God unilaterally promised to give the Promised Land to Abraham through his natural seed ("from your own body") who will eventually number as the stars in the sky. This covenant was sealed by the sign of circumcision (Genesis 17), and renewed through Isaac and Jacob. It was not subject to being broken by Israel 's disobedience to the Torah (Galatians 3:17). This covenant did not come about when YEHOVAH led His people out of Egypt -- just the opposite in fact, since this covenant prophesied the 400 years of oppression in Egypt.
The Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 24:1-8): The people of Israel, upon hearing YEHOVAH's commands, said as one, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do" -- in other words, to keep the Torah. This covenant included curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience (Deuteronomy 28-29). This is the only covenant which came in conjunction with the liberation of Israel from Egypt. It is also the only covenant in which anyone but YEHOVAH God promised to do anything. Therefore, it is the only one subject to being broken by the people of Israel . This covenant, and no other, is the subject of Hebrews 8.
The Levitical Covenant (Numbers 25): As a reward for his zeal, YEHOVAH God promised in this covenant that the Levitical priesthood belonged to Phinehas and his descendants forever. This was reiterated in Jeremiah 33, which links it to the Davidic Covenant (see below). While it might be said that this promise is linked to the salvation of Israel from Egypt it, in fact, took place nearly forty years later. Furthermore, Phinehas made no promises, so this covenant is not subject to being broken on his end.
The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7): In this covenant YEHOVAH God promised that David would never lack a man to sit on his throne; that is, the throne of Israel. This was reiterated in Jeremiah 33 and in numerous other Messianic prophecies. This promise continues to be fulfilled by the royal family in Britain. Again, it has nothing to do with Egypt, and could not be broken if anyone had wanted to.
What, Exactly, Was the Old Covenant?
Writing of the Old Covenant, the apostle Paul said, "In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first [one] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13).
WHY did the Messiah come as a Messenger of a "New Covenant"? What was WRONG with the old one? Was it flawed? Did YEHOVAH God make a mistake? Was the Old Covenant a harsh, cruel, rigorous set of do's and don'ts; a legalistic, complex system of laws that were impossible to obey; a heavy burden on the backs of poor, suffering people who could never measure up?
Notice what dictionaries say a covenant is: "A solemn agreement between two or more persons or groups to do or not to do a certain thing: compact. 2. Law. a. a formal agreement that is legal, especially one that is under seal. Contract."
So, is a covenant a law? No, read the dictionary definition again. A covenant is an AGREEMENT -- not a law! Store that away in your mind and understand what YEHOVAH God's Word says about His New Covenant that He proposes between Himself and ALL mankind! A covenant is an agreement about certain obligations: "to do or not to do a certain thing." A covenant is a formal agreement concerning performance, and IS NOT A LAW!
Notice the moment in time when all Israel listened to the terms and conditions of YEHOVAH's Old Covenant:
"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:4-6, NKJV).
YEHOVAH's proposal was that Israel should "indeed obey My voice"! Why? So that they would become a SPECIAL TREASURE in YEHOVAH's sight -- His chosen people! He said, "for all the earth is Mine." Any agreement has two facets. One party says, "I will do such and such if you will do so and so." The other party agrees to perform his part. This agreement becomes the covenant.
After Moses had explained in great detail all the laws of YEHOVAH God pertaining to fair and equitable human relationships; laws governing landmarks, inheritances, marriage, diet, crime -- wonderful laws that would guarantee Israel's happiness, "...he took the Book of the Covenant [the book represented the "Torah," or the first five books of the Bible. It is the book "of" or about the covenant, BUT IS NOT THE COVENANT! The covenant is the agreement between YEHOVAH God and the people], and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, 'All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient'" (Exodus 24:7, 8, NKJV).
THEIR AGREEMENT WAS THE COVENANT!
Was There a Flaw in the Old Covenant?
Now that we understand that the Old Covenant was the AGREEMENT between YEHOVAH God and Israel, why was there a need for a New Covenant? Was there a flaw in the Old Covenant? If so -- what was it?
YEHOVAH God said:
"Indeed, if the first covenant had not given ground for faultfinding, there would have been NO NEED for a second one. For God DOES FIND FAULT WITH THE PEOPLE when He says, 'See! The days are coming,' says Adonai [YEHOVAH God], 'when I will establish over the house of Israel and over the house of Y'hudah [Judah] a NEW COVENANT. It will not be like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by their hand and led them forth out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, DID NOT REMAIN FAITHFUL TO MY COVENANT; so I, for My part, stopped concerning Myself with them,' says Adonai [YEHOVAH God]" (Hebrews 8:7-9, JNT).
Clearly, there was NO "flaw" present, either in the perfect, righteous LAW of YEHOVAH God, or in the AGREEMENT between YEHOVAH God and the people of Israel. The flaw -- or fault -- was with the PEOPLE! They were hard-hearted and stiff-necked. They were rebellious toward YEHOVAH God. They went back on their word and FAILED TO KEEP THEIR PART OF THE AGREEMENT!
YEHOVAH had said, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and ALWAYS KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, THAT IT MIGHT BE WELL WITH THEM and their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29, NKJV).
But, unfortunately, they were carnal minded, rebellious, stiff-necked. YEHOVAH says, "For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, BECAUSE IT DOES NOT SUBMIT ITSELF TO GOD'S TORAH [LAW] -- indeed, it cannot" (Romans 8:7, JNT). It was simply not in their carnal, human nature to obey YEHOVAH God -- to keep the laws He had given them for their great good.
As a result, YEHOVAH God proposed the following:
"'For this is the [new] covenant which I will make with the house of Israel AFTER THOSE DAYS,' says Adonai [YEHOVAH God]: 'I will put My Torah [Law] in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be My people...because I will be merciful toward their wickednesses and remember their sins no more'" (Hebrews 8:10, 12, JNT).
Therefore, this NEW Covenant not only DOES NOT do away with YEHOVAH's laws, but makes them become a PART of the very minds and hearts of those who repent, accept Yeshua the Messiah and receive YEHOVAH God's holy spirit! This is the epitome of YEHOVAH's love for us!
Terms of the New Covenant
Now read carefully the terms of the New Covenant. Does it say that the Torah -- the commandments, the feast days, etc. -- would be done away with? No. Instead it says, "I will put My Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts." Ezekiel promised the same in different terms:
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them" (36:25-27).
So then, shall we say that
promise to write the Torah on our hearts, to cause us to walk in His statutes
and keep His judgments by the power of His spirit means that His Torah, His
statutes, and His judgments are done away with? So from where did this theology
that if YEHOVAH God writes His Torah in our hearts it ceases to be the Torah come from?
Certainly not from the Bible!
Since YEHOVAH God Himself gave the Torah, only YEHOVAH God Himself could change it -- no prophet (or even apostle) has that authority. But what did Yeshua say about the Torah?
"Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot (commandments) and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19, JNT).
The last time we checked, the Heaven and the Earth were still here, so the Torah is still in effect! That's not to say that every commandment is applied the same way to all people -- the High Priest had to follow certain commandments that the common Levite did not, the Levite followed commands that the rest of Israel did not, and circumcised Israelites had to keep commands that the aliens living among them weren't held responsible for -- but we cannot simply say the Torah is the "old" covenant and should no longer be followed!
The Yoke of the Torah
"But," one might object, "didn't the apostles call the Torah a yoke too heavy to bear (Acts 15:10)?" Not at all! First, let us consider what the Torah has to say about itself:
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far away from you. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who shall cross over the sea for us and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?’ But the word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart and in your hand, that you may carry it out" (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
In other words, there is nothing
about the Torah that is arduous or humanly impossible to keep -- and in that lies
our just condemnation under YEHOVAH’s Law. If keeping His commandments was
impossible, then He wouldn’t hold us accountable for keeping them; but having
given us a Torah that we could keep, our true rebellious nature is made
Yeshua himself, though endorsing every last letter of the Torah and saying that those who taught against keeping the least command would be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven (note that the issue is false teaching), said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV). He did not regard the Torah -- properly interpreted and applied -- to be a burden.
No, this heavy yoke must be something else; and by carefully studying the debates between Yeshua the Messiah and the Pharisees, it's not hard to say what it was. Yeshua never once criticized a single commandment of the Torah, but vehemently opposed adding commandments to the Torah so as to make it a burden or pervert its meaning. For example, He condemned the Pharisees for judging others on how (or if) they ceremonially washed their hands, or for gleaning a bit of food on the Sabbath, or for allowing one to sidestep their oaths and their obligation to care for (honor) their parents by way of legal loopholes. It was the addition of literally thousands of extra-Torahic commands, too many for any other than a scholar to even keep track of, which made the Torah a burden -- and it was that culture of legalism that the apostles wished to protect the Gentile converts from -- NOT the Torah itself!
We have been accused many times of being rabbinic. Nothing could be further from the truth. We like to get the rabbis' input on certain issues, just to have the additional perspective, but we certainly don't feel bound by it. We respect the Jewish (extra-Biblical) traditions and even observe some, like the details of the Passover dinner, but we are certainly not bound by them the way we are bound by YEHOVAH’s commandments in the Scripture, nor do we judge anyone on them. If, for example, we don't rest on the Sabbath in a rabbinically-correct way because we drive ten miles to attend Sabbath services, we nevertheless rest from our regular work and study and teach on the Sabbath as Yeshua and the apostles did. Doing what YEHOVAH God has commanded us to do out of love for Him is far more important than trying to be more (rabbinically) Jewish than a born Jew (cf. 1 Colossians 7:19).
The truly sad thing is that most conservative churches do observe -- and even quote from -- about 90% of the Torah. Nobody in these churches, we are sure, thinks it's alright to steal, for example, or commit adultery, or practice occultism, or cheat in business, etc. Yet take someone like ourselves, who find it a delight to observe the Feast days that YEHOVAH God Himself ordained, and suddenly some of these people get offended!
Let us be clear about this: we are not trying to foster an attitude of legalism or to dictate to anyone, "You have to do this and that in just such a way to be saved." Heaven forbid! What we are trying to accomplish with this article is to change a basic attitude: Instead of saying, "Oh, that's the Law! We're under Grace, so it doesn't apply anymore," we would that the Church as a whole would say, "We are under Grace, and having been shown so great a grace, let us both hear and carry out YEHOVAH's teachings." (The word Torah, which comes from the word yarah, has more the connotation of "teaching" than "law.")
We must also avoid the artificial division Christianity as a whole tends to put on the Torah, saying, "Well, the moral law still applies, but the ceremonial law doesn't." That's simply not true, as we can see from the example of the apostles. Nor are the ceremonial commandments more arduous to keep than the moral commandments -- just the opposite! There is great joy and blessing in observing YEHOVAH's appointed times.
But even more importantly, such a division creates a rather strange attitude: That the commands that tell us how to love our neighbor (the moral law) are more important than those which tell us how to love YEHOVAH God! Somehow, over the centuries, YEHOVAH God the Father has been left out of the picture!
Loving YEHOVAH Your God
"That's Jewish! You're trying to
earn your salvation! That's the Old Covenant, we're under the New! Those old
rituals were just the carnal shadows of the things to come!"
It's an objection that rings down through the ages, but is it really true? Did the Messiah do away with all shadows in the ceremonial commands? Let us consider for a moment those commandments which every Christian would still consider binding:
"And one of them, versed in the Law, asked, testing him: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' He said to him: 'You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, 'You must love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:35-40, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures).
Love then -- first for YEHOVAH God and then
for our neighbor -- is the core principle of the whole Torah. As Rabbi Hillel
said, "The rest is commentary. Now go learn it." That is, the Torah tells us how
to love YEHOVAH God and our fellow human being in practical terms. And how do we love
our fellow man? "Thou shalt not steal, bear false witness, commit adultery,
murder, or covet" while we should "honor your mother and father." These
commandments all give specifics on how to love our fellow man. So do the
commandments to help our enemy if we see him stranded on the road, to take
community responsibility for an unsolved murder, or to care for the widow, the
orphan, or the alien in the land (or the visitor to our congregations, for that
matter) constitute "carnal shadows of things to come"? I can't think of too many
"Christians" who think of such things as
"living in the shadowy world of the old covenant, with its carnal symbols."
How do we love YEHOVAH God, then?
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome" (2 John 5:3, NKJV).
The first four commandments of the Decalogue all deal with the love of YEHOVAH God:
1) "I am the LORD your God, who
has brought you out of the land of Egypt , out of the house of bondage."
Many people think the first commandment is the injunction against other gods or
idolatry. It isn't. The first command is to know who YEHOVAH God is and what He has done
for you. How many people understand the Shekinah Glory, for example?
2) "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make to yourselves any graven image..." Knowing who YEHOVAH God is, we shall not show Him hatred by worshiping anything made by our hands, whether Baal, Moloch, Zeus, our house, our car, our job, our favorite sport or hobby, our church, our orthodox theologies -- nothing.
3) "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. For the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain." Here is a most misunderstood commandment. We don't think it has anything to do with cursing. The command is literally that we should not take YEHOVAH's Name, His reputation, upon ourselves for nothing. We must show who we are in our every deed.
4) "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God...For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it." The Sabbath is the first Feast day (cf. Leviticus 23), the first appointed time, of the LORD. It was not to be a burden, but a gift from YEHOVAH God to man -- and not just Israel, but to the whole world. It was important because it prefigures the "Sabbath rest" of the seventh Millennium.
Let's summarize: We love YEHOVAH
God by keeping His Commandments: To know Him and know what He did for us, to not
worship anything else, not to take His Name upon ourselves for nothing, and to
observe the weekly Feast day
that He gave us to rest as a gift.
What about celebrating Passover? How is that loving YEHOVAH God? We think this one would be obvious: It's a celebration of YEHOVAH's deliverance of us from both Egypt and sin by His miraculous work and Yeshua the Messiah's willingness to make himself our Passover Lamb, so that we might be spared by his blood from death. Just as we eat bread without leaven (which symbolizes sin, cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8) for seven days, we are cleansed of all sin completely by Messiah Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice.
Firstfruits? The apostle Paul himself explains this one when he calls Yeshua "the firstfruits of them that slept." And just as Yeshua, the firstfruits of the dead, was resurrected and glorified, so we, the latter harvest, will be resurrected in his likeness.
Pentecost? A memorial of when the ruach haKodesh, the holy spirit first descended upon the "firstfruits" of all the Church in the upper room in the Temple precincts, assuring us that we latter fruits would receive the same spirit.
What about Rosh Hashanah? It is a memorial in advance of the Second Coming, when YEHOVAH God Himself shall return on the clouds of the sky with a loud trumpet (shofar) blast to raise the dead and take us to be with Him in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God here on this earth (I Thessalonians 4:17).
Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement? A day to prayerfully consider our sins and repent of them, remembering that Yeshua is our High Priest -- presently in the heavenly Holy of Holies. Also prophetic of physical Israel's future reconciliation to YEHOVAH God.
What about celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles? This Feast day celebrates the coming age, when the YEHOVAH God Himself, in His Shekinah Glory form, will rule over the earth from His Temple in Jerusalem; it was so joyful, and so important, that it was often called simply the Feast. It will be compulsory to celebrate in the Millennium (Zechariah 14:18-19).
What about wearing a tzitzit, or blue thread or tassel, on one's clothing? It's a reminder to follow YEHOVAH's commandments, not unlike the WWJD bracelets that were so popular a few years ago.
As we can see, all of these "carnal shadows" many Christians speak against are all about continually reminding us of YEHOVAH God's plan and YEHOVAH God's commandments -- celebrating what He has done and what He will do, and actively loving Him for them in our hearts, souls, and bodies. By keeping them physically -- in the right spirit, of course -- we are loving YEHOVAH God with all of our might. By meditating upon YEHOVAH's Word, we are loving Him with all of our soul, or mind. But before all that, we had to receive a new heart, so that we could love Him with all of our heart and worship Him in spirit and truth, for the natural heart "is deceitful above all things."
By keeping all of these "carnal shadows," we have seen dry theology turned into a living culture. Pure theology is noble, if directed properly, but when YEHOVAH God presented Himself to Israel, did He give them theology, or did He give them commandments, celebrations, a culture? When Yeshua the Messiah walked the earth, did he write the statutes, or did he reinforce YEHOVAH's commandments, celebrations, and culture -- and moreover, did he not infuse all of those with new meaning?
YEHOVAH God did not give theology because theology would keep proper worship of Him solely in the realm of the intellectual elite. Instead, He gave a culture so that everyone, from the most brilliant mind to the severely retarded, from the white-haired to little children, from the eclectic to the simple, could all know Him for who He is. YEHOVAH, with the Messiah's help in the 1st century, thus infused every element of their lives with meaning, from the keeping of the time to the clothes they wore to the food they ate.
That is Torah. And to keep it is to love YEHOVAH God, and to learn, a little bit each day, how to be like Him.
Torah in the New Testament
The Torah was not replaced in the New Covenant, but was written on
our hearts by the Ruach HaKodesh, the holy spirit. Yeshua the Messiah put
his personal endorsement on every last letter and pen stroke of the Torah, and we
have seen that when it is not being added to and when it is understood that it
is YEHOVAH's grace received by trusting His Messiah, the Torah is not a burden too
heavy to bear. And we saw that the "Jewish," or ceremonial, parts of the Torah
tell us how to love YEHOVAH God, just as the "moral" commandments tell us how to love
our fellow man.
What then about the apostles? Didn't they say that keeping the Torah was putting one's self "under the Law" instead of under Grace?
What is sin? According to the apostle John, "Everyone who practices
sin also practices lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4) -- or to put
it another way, since nomos nearly always means "Torah" in the New Testament: "Everyone who
practices sin also practices Torah-lessness, for sin is Torah-lessness."
And again from Paul: "What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? Let it not be said! But I did not know sin except through the law. For also I did not know lust except the law said, You shall not lust" (Romans 7:7). The Torah tells us what is sin, so that we may avoid it. It also tells us what is good, that we may be more like YEHOVAH God. Every Biblical Christian would agree with that in regards to not stealing or avoiding idolatry.
We are not saying that one has to be Jewish to be saved but to grow in one’s TRUE Christian walk. YEHOVAH God likes variety (see the second half of Revelation 7), and He loves you just as much as a Gentile. And we are certainly not saying that Torah-keeping is a prerequisite for salvation; it's not. But neither should you preach against keeping YEHOVAH's commandments!
Moreover, in falsely teaching that Yeshua the Messiah came to do away with the Torah, we have put a stumbling block between the Jewish people and their Messiah:
"Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32, NKJV).
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you LOVE the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst" (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, NKJV)
Now consider the perspective of
an observant Jew: He hears of this Jesus fellow, who came with all these signs
and wonders and prophecies, but who, according to the "Christians," came to do
away with the Torah and start a new religion based on worship of him rather than
worship of the One true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Based on the information
being given him by the vast majority of "Christians," the Jew would be right to
reject Jesus according to the Torah.
But Yeshua never did away with the Torah! What he did away with were the curses the Torah pronounces against those who do not keep it. Being thus freed from the curses, we can now follow the Torah out of love and a legitimate desire to be like YEHOVAH God instead of out of fear of punishment. Having no fear, and having instead received the spirit of adoption, we don't have to add fences around the Torah lest we accidentally violate it -- and it was those fences, all those additional laws and traditions, which would be codified centuries later in the Talmud, which were the "yoke too heavy to bear," the "heavy burdens" that the Pharisees tied up on others' shoulders and refused to help them carry.
Nor did Paul, who told others to imitate him as he imitated the Messiah (1 Corithians 11:1), ever say that the Torah was done away with. On the contrary:
"For it is not merely the hearers of Torah whom God considers righteous; rather, it is the doers of what Torah says who will be made righteous in God’s sight" (Romans 2:13, JNT).
"Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the Torah, won’t his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? Indeed, the man who is physically uncircumcised but obeys the Torah will stand as a judgment on you who have had a b’rit–milah [circumcision] and have Torah written out but violate it!" (Romans 2:26-27, JNT).
"Does it follow that we abolish Torah by this trusting? Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah" (Romans 3:31, JNT).
"So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good" (Romans 7:12, JNT).
"For we know that the Torah is of the spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave" (Romans 7:14, JNT).
"For in my inner self I completely agree with (Gr. sunedomai, lit. "delight in") God’s Torah" (Romans 7:22, JNT).
"For Christ is the end (Gr. telos, "goal," not "termination point") of the Torah for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4, NKJV).
"Being circumcised means nothing, and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments" (1 Corinthians 7:19, JNT).
"Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24, NKJV).
"We know that the Torah is good, provided one uses it in the way the Torah itself intends..." (1 Timothy 1:8, JNT).
"All Scripture [including the Torah] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).
Paul was never opposed to the
Torah, nor to keeping it. What he was opposed to was the misuse of the Torah, in
Torah-keeping as an end unto itself, as if one could keep YEHOVAH’s Law well enough
to earn the salvation that YEHOVAH God has freely offered by His grace.
And if none of that makes sense to the reader, then we have one last argument: Yeshua the Messiah kept Torah, therefore we strive to keep Torah -- not for salvation or rewards, but so we can be like him. Yeshua the Messiah kept the food laws, therefore we keep the food laws. Yeshua the Messiah wore tzitzit (tassels with a blue thread) on his clothing, so do we. Yeshua the Messiah celebrated the Feast days, therefore we celebrate the feast days. Yeshua the Messiah kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the lunar week, and so do we. Yeshua the Messiah observed Hanukkah (John 10:22), and so do we.
It's as simple as that.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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