Installment 20 Appendix: Theology

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This installment is not in the vein of the other installments, it’s more of a sidetrack, a tangent discussion, hence appendix. This installment contains some of my early correspondence and meditations about the topic regarding the Torah and the Old Testament and its relationship to both believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

The topic of Torah can be quite argumentative. Discussing the Torah with the church is about as difficult as discussing Jesus as Messiah with the Jews. But the topic of Torah is important, and without Torah, believers, whether Jew or Gentile, would not have Jesus.

These are some of my early thoughts regarding the theological nature of the Torah. Some thoughts may be incomplete. Other thoughts may spark further inquiry. I encourage readers to see my website Faith and Conviction for more in depth presentations. What follows are several journal entries.

 
In my journal of November 17, I said that back on November 14, 2011 [someone] posted a link [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQbe1v8QZWc] to a video presentation of “Should a Christian have any relationship with the Ten Commandments?” I responded with the following:

Watched the video, he says that the problem is “mental gymnastics” with that I agree. However, I cannot agree with his underlying theology, which seems to be Replacement Theology, and Replacement Theology breeds arguments. He quotes and quotes and references and references, but he is right about one thing, it is how we interpret.

So I affirm that we are to have a relationship with the OT, because this is what Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 10.1-12. Also, the Jerusalem Council affirmed (Acts 15.13-29) this relationship because James insinuates that the Gentiles gather on Sabbath in order to learn from Moses (Acts 15.21).

Salvation was not, is not, and will never be found in “doing the law [of Moses],” salvation is and has always been found in Christ, and this is what is affirmed in the video, and what I affirm as well.

To further address the question: if Christians are to have no relationship with the OT? Then what are we to do with 1 Timothy 1.8 that says “we know that the law [of Moses] is good, if a man uses it lawfully”? In short, the OT is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness” because the 10 and the OT “are” part of “all Scripture” (2 Timothy 3.16).

The law [of Moses] is a touchy subject, arguments can abound, but understanding our “relationship” to it seems essential.

The Jerusalem Council:
James – Acts 15.13 and the “us” (Acts 15.28)
“Us” – the Apostles (Acts 15.22), the [Jerusalem Church] elders (Acts 15.22), the [Jerusalem] Church (Acts 15.22), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15.28).

After that response, my journal continues with the following:

I make record of this because about eighteen to twenty-four months ago, I made a private affirmation to God that I would assert the need of the Law [of Moses] and the OT, this came upon the heels, the conclusion of my OT in the NT study [about September through December 2009], which cost me [my ministry] work.

I found it highly interesting that on Saturday November 12, [2011] I said I would stand with Jewish believers and three days later, if one begins on the twelfth (12-1, 13-2, 14-3), that I am “tested”.

I saw the [Facebook] post, wanted to leave it alone, but felt reminded of my commitments, so I posted [my comment]. It was one of the most succinct posts I have ever given on the topic. I find interesting, that at present [November 17, 2011] further comments are yet to be.

Personally, I did not take my affirmation to God too seriously until 2012. I would discuss the Torah and its relevance, but only on a hit and miss basis. My discussion of Torah was not consistent, for no other reason than the discussion automatically creates theological unrest, but hey, without Torah you have no Jesus, that’s truth.

 
My journal entry from November 19, 2011 entitled: The Gentile and the Law [of Moses]

Earlier this week, I began reading the Gospel of Matthew. As I read about Jesus and his baptism, Jesus told John “Let it be this way now, because we should do everything righteousness requires.”

Yeshua [Jesus] told Yohanan [John] this because Yohanan recognized the purity of Yeshua and that Yeshua did not need to be immersed for the remission of sins. This struck me, as application for the Gentile and the law [of Moses].

Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council, for all eternity, declared that Gentile [believers] do not have to submit to circumcision or the law of Moses to be saved. Salvation is by faith, complete trust in Yeshua redeemer.

So even though a Gentile believer is not required to be adherent to the law of Moses, the Gentile [believer] can submit himself [herself], by choice, to the notion of “we should do everything righteousness requires”. If a Gentile believer truly does torah living for “righteousness sake” then it seems proper to conclude that doing such would help provoke the Jews to jealousy [Romans 10.19, 11.11].

But the Gentile [believer] must keep in mind that “fulfilling righteousness” by torah living cannot and does not save – FAITH in Yeshua the Messiah saves.

The relationship between the Gentile and the Law of Moses is difficult. But based upon just the Book of Acts, the Gentile believer is to have at least a familiarity with the Law of Moses (Acts 15.21), even though Acts 15 makes it clear that Gentile believers are NOT required to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses.

Yet, my meditation has some parallel merit. The ONLY thing is that *IF* the Gentle believer was convicted in their own heart to either be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses, then it seems based on Jesus’ example that a Gentile believer could very well do those things. BUT according to Acts 15, if the Gentile believer does those things, they cannot compel any believer, Jew or Gentile, to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses.

 
My journal entry from November 21, 2011 entitled: Yeshua, the Law [of Moses] and the Prophets

This comes because I was reading Matthew 17 today, and spent some time in The Mount of Transfiguration.

There on the mount with Yeshua, Moses and Elijah appear (Moshe and Eliyahu). Yeshua is standing with Moshe (the Law) and Eliyahu (the Prophets) – interesting that the Writings are not represented – Peter wants to honor all three [Moshe, Eliyahu, Yeshua], but God says “This is my son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (CJB)

[Note – the Writings is the third part of the Hebrew Canon, beginning with Psalms. The Hebrew Bible consists of 22 books: The Torah (the Law, the Five Books of Moses), the Nevi’im (the Prophets), then the Ketuvim (the Writings). Collectively, the three sections: Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim are referred to as the Tanakh.]

[The Mount of Transfiguration] has been taught to me that Jesus replaces the OT [meaning: Moses and Elijah] that now makes [Jesus] “the law” for the NT. But I am struggling with this because that simply does not seem fitting for 1 John 5.2-3 where John says “keep God’s commandments”.

So I spent some time talking with Mary about this passage and this issue of reconciling Yeshua with the law [of Moses] and the prophets. She felt that her thoughts were solid, but she fell into replacement theology without knowing it. Her basic premise was that we listen to Yeshua first, but the law [of Moses] is good.

However, I argued that does not seem proper. The basis of understanding this dilemma is knowing how a Jew of the First Century C.E. [Common Era] would understand this Transfiguration.

One of the means by which this is achieved is to know that Jews believe that Messiah will clarify all teachings. As such, [the Messiah] provides clarity of the Sages/Rabbis, that [was] taught up [until and] to his [Jesus’] (the Messiah’s) arrival.

Jesus Yeshua therefore as the way, the truth, the life, provides the mechanism for true understanding of the law [of Moses] and the Prophets. He shunned traditions of men that violate or negate (even if partially) the power of God’s law [which is called: the Law of Moses] as seen in Matthew 15.3-6 (violation and negation) [to give] clarification of intent of purity Matthew 15.10-11.

Knowing this, Yeshua does not usher in a ‘new’ law but he becomes the mechanism to understand the law [of Moses] and the Prophets.

Later, as I was talking with [another person], it occurred to me that “the writings” [the third part of the Tanakh] were not represented with Yeshua [on the Mount of Transfiguration] and began to wonder what that meant. So [that person] asked who I thought might represent “the Writings” and I offered up King David. I did not explain this to [that person] but my thinking was that David’s psalms are used by many NT speakers, and somewhere [cf. Luke 24.44] when referring to Jesus being proven it came from “the law, the prophets, and the psalms,” hence my rationale. But, on the contrary, Jesus is a King in the Davidic line, so perhaps “the Writings” could be represented by someone else, like Solomon, but Jesus said he was greater than Shlomo [cf. Luke 11.31].

 
My journal entry from November 23, 2011:

… Since my world opened up for me to reality beyond the bubble of my [religious] heritage there has become an awareness of how much I cannot truly answer. But I am becoming convinced that what torah living means for disciples of Christ [a general reference to all Christians, it is NOT a reference to the denomination of the same name] is that the Galatian Heresy is alive and well, well not “well” but in existence anyway.

It seems that some Christians are still misunderstanding the role of Yeshua as Messiah, and the role of the Law [of Moses] and the Prophets. While it is true that through faith in Christ the believer finds complete reconciliation with God, the OT has its importance. Some seem to be taking the value of the OT and examining the NT and walking away thinking that by becoming obedient to commands that they can find justification – how unfortunate.

Hebraic Scripture, even Judaism [with application to Judaistic Traditions] itself, are valuable. For without Judaism there would be no Seder, and because there would be no Seder there could not be “communion” – the Lord’s Supper. So both the Scriptures and Tradition are important.

At some level faith, as in trust, must overtake confidence in commands. In some ways, trust usurps the command, but trust does not really usurp the command because before there was the command of the Law [of Moses], there was faith found in Abraham. Without faith there can be no Law [of Moses]. It is not equally valid to say [that] without [the] Law [of Moses] there can be no faith, because faith pre-dated the Law [of Moses] by 430 years. According to linear revelation faith comes/came first, then [the] Law [of Moses], and not the other way around. It then seems appropriate to affirm that [the] Law [of Moses] instructs faith, [the] Law [of Moses] matures faith, [the] Law [of Moses] guides faith. Yet [the] Law [of Moses] prophesies of a Messiah. This then becomes the next question: since faith predates [the] Law [of Moses], what is the purpose of Messiah?

Since I accept on faith (trust) that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Promised Messiah of the Scriptures, I will forego defending that position. However, I still ask: what does it mean for “torah living” in the New Covenant, in essence: what is the purpose of the Messiah?

There are some who teach that Gentiles are to observe Torah. Why? I ask: Do [Gentile believers] have to observe Torah? [The] Torah was never given to the Gentiles, [instead Torah] was given to the Israelites (later known as the Jews), and if a Jew comes to believe in Yeshua that Jew had better still be found faithful to the Covenant of Israel because it is required just as much as a Jewish male is to be circumcised on the eighth day. But what about Gentiles?

First, Jews were not “freed” from the Law [of Moses], [in Yeshua] the Jews were “freed from the curse” of the Law [of Moses (cf. Galatians 3.13)]. There is a major difference – irrespective of what most of Christendom affirms. So this becomes one purpose of the Messiah, to free his kinsmen from the curse of the law [of Moses]. What a beautiful picture for the Israelites.

In that vein, though, the Gentiles were never under any curse of the law [of Moses] and the Messiah cannot redeem those who were never under the curse [of the Law of Moses]. Unless, of course, a Gentile became a proselyte to the Israelite [covenant], then that proselytized Gentile would need to be redeemed from the curse of the Law [of Moses].

Yet, the Law [of Moses] commands that there should be one law for the Israelite and the stranger (the Gentile)…. So, how does this command become fulfilled in the New Covenant? My initial thought is Leviticus 19.18 “love your neighbor as yourself” which Paul says he does by becoming a Jew unto the Jew. So, then does the Gentile fulfill the “one law” by becoming a “Jew unto the Jew”? I answer with Timothy’s circumcision. Yet, Titus does not seem under the same constraints. Was Titus working with only Gentiles while in Crete? Yet, John teaches that we know we love the children of God when we keep God’s commands, and his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5.3-4).

For any Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, to affirm that under the New Covenant, the disciple is not to have any association with the Law [of Moses] is to completely misunderstand, or worse, ignore the prophecy of Jeremiah 31.31-34 were God said he would put the law [understood as the Law of Moses] on their heart. If a disciple ignores the law [of Moses] how can the law [of Moses] be on their heart? I know that the New Covenant is with the House of Israel [i.e. Northern 10 Tribes] and the House of Judah [i.e. Southern 2 Tribes], but the OT also says that all the nations will come to Zion. So, it seems that the law [of Moses] and the Prophets have their place in the New Covenant, but secondary to faith because faith saves, not adherence to commands.

I wrestle with this topic for many reasons. One of which is that I promised God that I would stand up for the OT, and two, I promised under Promise Keepers Israel, to stand with Jewish believers. So, I have cultivated, probably better said, God has cultivated me to present the need for Christians to understand and appreciate the need and relevance of the OT. The first time doing so, it cost me my [ministry] work, but that is the price to be paid.

So, in light of these promises, understanding the law [of Moses] and its role is critical. What comes to mind now is something that Mary said to me, just a few days ago. She was making comments about dreams, when the statement turned to encompass the idea to pray for wisdom, and it seemed directly aimed at me.

I prayed heavily for wisdom early on in my ministry, and God delivered. But I felt so overwhelmed after a while that I quit praying for and asking for wisdom. Yet, in light of the complexities of the New Covenant, the Law [of Moses] and the milieu of traditional interpretations [about the Law of Moses] I need God to provide me with much wisdom on this issue.

 
I recorded a journal entry on December 17, 2011 entitled: Moses read every Sabbath

As I was getting around this morning, my mind was brought to understand Acts 15.21 (KJV): For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

This verse is describing the Parashah readings.

As I was doing some research I found a wikipedia link/page about “Weekly Torah Portion” and I read “In Judaism, the Torah is read publicly over the course of a year, with one major portion being read each week in the Shabbat morning service.” This made me thing of Paul’s statement to Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” – in reflection of my attendance to [the Messianic Synagogue] this is exactly, or nearly identical, to what they are doing. That passage was 1 Timothy 4.13.

Here is some of the Wiki information for “Weekly Torah Portion”:
“The weekly Torah Portion (Hebrew: Parashat ha-Shavua, popularly just parashah or parshah and also known as a Sidra) is a section of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) read in Jewish services. In Judaism, the Torah is read publicly over the course of a year, with one major portion read each week in Shabbat morning services.

“Each week’s Torah Portion adopts its name from one of the first unique words in the Hebrew texts. Dating back to the time of the Babylonian Captivity (6th century BCE) public Torah reading mostly followed an annual cycle beginning and ending on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, with the Torah divided into 54 weekly portions to correspond to the (unisolar Hebrew Calendar, which contains up to 55 weeks), the exact number varying between leap years and regular years.

“There was also an ancient triennial cycle of reading practiced in some parts of the world. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many congregations in the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements have implemented an alternative triennial cycle in which only one-third of each weekly parashah is read in a given year; the parashat read are still consistent with the annual cycle but the entire Torah is completed over three years.

“Due to the different lengths of holidays in Israel and the Diaspora, the portion that is read on a particular week will sometimes not be the same inside and outside Israel.

“Division into weekly parashat:
“The division of parashat found in modern-day Torah scrolls of all Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Yemenite communities is based upon the systematic list provided by Maimondies in Mishnah Torah, Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzah and Torah Scrolls, chapter 8. Maimonides based his division of the parashat for the Torah on the Masoretic text of the Aleppo Codex.”

Application: since Acts 15.21 and 1 Timothy 4.13, Acts specifically and 1 Timothy indirectly, refer to parashat readings, it seems that this study, weekly study and reading, of Torah is to be practiced by the ecclesia.

Posted to the Faith and Conviction page at Facebook:
“For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15.21 ESV

That statement is from James during the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15.4-29) reconciling the Gentile’s responsibility to the Torah.

The Council determined that Gentiles, like Jews, are saved by the Gospel (Acts 15.7-11). While it is true that circumcision and keeping Torah (the issues that caused the Council to be convened – Acts 15.1, 5) are not salvation, James’ statement in Acts 15.21 does describe the traditional arrangement of weekly Parashah readings done every Sabbath.

My question: How influential would it be if the church gathered on Sabbath to hear Moses read?

For more information see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekly_Torah_portion

 
I recorded a journal entry on December 22, 2011 entitled: A stunning thought found about “The Way”

As I was researching Hasidic Judaism, it referred to Rabbinic Judaism, it was within the information about Rabbinic Judaism that I saw, “Much Rabbinic Jewish literature concerns specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law [of Moses]; this body of interpretations is called halakha (the way).” My mind stopped. “The way.” Yeshua claimed he is halakha. So I looked up halakha.

That page, in part, said, “Halakha is often translated as “Jewish Law,” although a more literal translation might be “the path” or “the way of walking”. The word derives from the Hebrew root that means[:] to go or to walk.” So my mind screams at me, “No wonder the Jews, at least some of them, hated Yeshua.” He claimed that Rabbinic Judaism in all of it halakha was incomplete, stating that he was the true halakha. This has many applications, the first of which is that Yeshua teaches how to interpret [the Law of] Moses, which is what the Rabbinic taught via the passing down of [the] Oral Torah. Second, this means that Yeshua claims his understanding of halakha is supreme which means that his “lakha”(way) was [is] superior. Third, following Yeshua as halakha meant that Rabbinic halakha could, in places, be ignored like some rituals of cleansing hands. So, I can better see why they asked, “From where did you get this authority?” Yeshua’s halakha directly confronted Rabbinic Judaism’s halakha.

The information went on to say, “The name halakha is derived from the Hebrew word halakh, which means ‘to walk’ or ‘to go’ thus a literal translation does not yield ‘law,’ but rather ‘the way to go’. The term halakha may refer to a single law, to the literary corpus of Rabbinic texts, or to the overall system of religious law. The root may be Semetic agga, meaning ‘to be true, be suitable’.

“The halakha is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of human life, both corporeal and spiritual. Its laws, guidelines, and opinions cover a vast range of situations and principles, in an attempt to realize what is implied by the central Biblical commandment to ‘be holy as I your God am holy’. They [halakha] cover what are better ways for a Jew to live, when commandments conflict how one may choose correctly, what is implicit and understood but not stated explicitly in the Bible, and what has been deduced by implication though not visible on the surface.”

That information becomes tremendously valuable, because this is exactly what Jesus is doing when he answers: What is the greatest commandment? and his presentation of the Golden Rule.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasidic_Judaism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbinic_Judaism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halakha

Made the following post to my Facebook “Faith and Conviction” page:
Had a new insight today about John 14.6 where Yeshua says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.”

Followers of Yeshua recognize the exclusivity that goes with Jesus’ statement being “the way,” but I was not aware that the Hebrew word halakha means “the way”.

Consider this. Rabbinic Judaism claims the historic right to derive the means of walking more righteously by the Oral Torah (Law), believing Oral Torah to be inspired by God just as much as the Written Torah, which God gave Moses at Mount Sinai.

What I saw today is that there is a confrontation of “the ways”: Yeshua’s halakha and the Rabbi’s halakha. Which Halakha will the Jew, then the Gentile, follow?

Halakha does not mean “law” but “the way to go”. For us, this means that Yeshua’s claim to be halakha challenged, and still challenges, the halakha derived by the Sages and Rabbis, or any religious leader for that matter.

This means more than Jesus being “the way” to the Father, this understanding of halakha means that Yeshua’s halakha (his way) of interpreting [the Law of] Moses *is* the way (halakha) to interpret the Written Torah [which is the Law of Moses, the Pentatuech].

Also linked to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halakha

Blessings and Shalom

2016.02.23

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