Kingdom not Legalist observance of Torah
It is interesting that when you read the Gospels Yeshua speaks of the law or the commandments in only two or three places. Usually this is when he is asked a question pertaining to the law. Of all his teachings that is concerning the law and how we are to approach it, Matthew 5 is the largest and in it he is expounding on an entirely different approach to the law which was Given through Moshe and administered through the P’rushim. The Torah as it was given is transformed to a new Torah which is suited for the Kingdom of God. It is the Torah that Jeremiah says is written on our hearts.
Yeshua speaks of the Kingdom of God and how to be in a Kingdom relationship with God literally dozens of times. He begins with his first mission message of “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”, and gives many teachings and Parables about the importance of learning to enter the Kingdom of God through a new nature during the 3 ½ years of his ministry. He speaks to Nicodemus about the need to be born again stating that without being born again no man will even see the Kingdom of God. He sends his disciples out to preach the message that the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” After his resurrection he comes and speaks to the disciples for 40 days and the subject again is the Kingdom of Heaven. And his final commission is to preach the Gospel (of the Kingdom) to all nations.
When we make our emphasis of faith and religion the legalistic observance of Torah, walking in the commandments following Jewish traditions observing Jewish customs, then we have missed the point of what the Messiah was all about. He didn’t come to return Israel to Moshe’s Torah, numerous prophets were sent to do that before. He came to institute the Kingdom of God and make a way for us to enter it and live in it to establish his Kingship in our midst as we await his return. And it all happens through being born again by the spirit and becoming a new creature. All the disciples including Paul point us to this new relationship that is evidenced in Love and not by perfect observation of the commandments of the Torah in Rabbinical ways. The New Testament (Covenant) is, (not to surprisingly) all about the New Covenant and how we are to live within it.
The Moedim Point to the Kingdom
The seven festivals are:
Passover: Our deliverance from the powers of Satan, the world, the sin nature, the law of sin and death. Messiah was crucified on this day to accomplish these things.
Unleavened Bread: A Call to live without sin, Holiness, taking our life from Gods spirit and provision for us.
Firstfruits: The resurrection of Messiah the first of those raised from the dead into the Kingdom, and our becoming the early harvest and sample of the final harvest that is to come in the final resurrection when the Kingdom will come to earth in fullness.
Shavuot: The giving of the New Covenant, washed with water, born of God’s Spirit so that all who receive Messiah will know God, having the Torah, Instructions, teachings written on our hearts. The anniversary of the Sinai Covenant,
Feast of Trumpets: The Revelation of Messiah to the world, the resurrection of the righteous of all ages, the Final Harvest of the men of Earth, the coronation of the King and the beginning of the Kingdom.
Yom Kippur: When God sits upon his throne and judges the nations to test each man whether he is found to be worthy of life in the Kingdom. Those who have been atoned by the blood of Messiah have already been judged and found innocent, their sins washed away.
Sukkot: God dwells with man, the King reigns on Earth as he already is in heaven. God makes His abode with his children, the final harvest of all the ages is completed. Was the birth of Messiah Yeshua.
All the Moedim show the progression to the final events, culmination of the plan of God to establish His Kingdom in the middle of his creation and rule over it. It is a Holy Kingdom where all men live by a new nature born of God’s spirit where love for God and others is the standard for all. Let’s look at some lessons from the Scriptures.
Some Messianics say that Messiah came to empower us to keep the Torah of Moshe perfectly and that “Torah is the goal”. It was never meant to be the goal. It was a compass to point us to the goal. The goal is life in Messiah and his Kingdom. The Kingdom is not just a restoration of the nation of Israel to some former glory. Yes Israel the nation will be restored and will be part of the Earthly Kingdom, in fact the very capital of the Millennial Kingdom. But it will not be like before. In Hebrews we are told that the old Covenant and its Torah could never bring us to the Goal and that is why a New Covenant was needed. So how could the Torah of Mose be the goal if it could not itself bring us to the goal? And how could the nation of Israel be the Kingdom if it does not have Messiah? We learn from scripture that “The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink but righteousness peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit.” There will be differences between the New Torah and the Old. In Jeremiah it says that the New Covenant will not be like the old one made at Sinai which is broken. And the nation of Israel may be restored and even have a temple and sacrificial service, but it too is not the same as the Old nation and the sacrifices are different becoming memorials more than prophetic shadows.
In the prophecies of Ezekiel it speaks of the Kingdom and the New Temple service but there is no Atonement sacrifice. That sacrifice was a place holder until the perfect was made which is the sacrifice of Yeshua. Can you imagine the insult to God if you were to sacrifice a goat and reject the sacrifice of Yeshua? It would be saying that you are going to wait for a better sacrifice. Without the Atonement sacrifice the Torah of Moshe is ineffectual, because it all climaxes right there on that one day each year. Without that it is only a map to something else. And that something else is the New Covenant and it’s Torah made through Messiah, that is to say, life in union with God through Messiah.
Torah is not the end Goal or the prize.
If your father gave you a gift would you anxiously unwrap it and toss the gift aside and cherish the paper it was wrapped in? Wouldn’t that seem strange? Wouldn’t the father feel hurt especially if he had given you the most precious and expensive gift he could ever give. If you choose the Old Covenant and the Torah of Moshe over the New Covenant and Torah which is written on the heart by the spirit as the gift of Messiah, that is what you are doing, cherishing the paper the greatest gift came in more than the gift itself!. That is what “Torah Observant Messiancs” do when they place keeping the Torah of Moshe in all it’s details over the life in Yeshua. When the Lord comes and he is teaching the nations from the New Covenant Torah will these people stand up and shake the old Torah at him and say “No we must keep THIS Torah of Moshe, it is the Goal!” ? I would hope not. But that is what the Pharisees did to Yeshua, they shook Moshe in his face and ultimately used the perversion of the Torah of Moshe and their own traditions, to write a death warrant for Messiah. Will Messianics who desire to be under the Torah of Moshe do the same? Will they do as some others have done in the past and totally renounce Yeshua so that you can pursue perfection through the observance of Moshe’s Torah? I pray I never see it again.
Here is how the New Torah of Messiah works.
There was a rich young ruler who came and asked “ What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Yeshua said, “You know the commandments” and begins listing from the 10. The young man confesses “All of these I have done from my youth.” And Yeshua says, “ You have done well. Now go sell all you have and give it to the poor. . ..” Does the Torah of Moshe forbid us to have wealth? Does it call for us to give everything to the poor? NO! NO!!! You see the Torah of Moshe has limitations. It was not able to bring us to the goal and it certainly was not itself the goal. The Goal is a life in union with Messiah. The Torah of the New Covenant is written on the heart and knows both the will of God and the condition of our hearts and makes a change in us that we need to obtain eternal life in Messiah and to be in his kingdom. The Lord was showing the young man how his wealth and status was actually separating him from coming into the fullness of what God had for him, kept the man from loving and trusting God and loving his neighbor as he should. That is what the New Torah does, it is written on the heart and makes the changes there where we need it.
The Old Torah is a compass. It is what leads us in the right direction. It’s laws teaches us about who God is, what He is like, what God wants in a general way, teaches us principles, but does not bring us fully to the Goal. That is the purpose of the Torah of the New Covenant which is administered by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. That is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness peace and joy in the holy spirit.
I would like you all to understand that I have not said ever that we are not to do the things in the Torah of the Old Covenant. They serve their own purpose. But they are not the Goal as some believe. It is a map or compass to direct us to the goal which is Messiah in us. We do those things in the old covenant which keep us moving toward the goal, but ultimately we must examine ourselves by the New Torah in the heart. And some of the things which in the old were only types and shadows no longer need be done, because we have come under the greater Torah of Messiah. Do I still need to wear Tzitzi to remind me of his law if His laws and will are ever before my site? If I live by the spirit, are the Tzitzi not sewn upon the four corners of my heart? I can still wear them outwardly, but unless there is the other and more perfect set sewn on my heart, I am not changed .It is only a legalist observance of the Torah which does not of itself save us or change us. I can wear them outwardly, but they are only a shadow or reflection of what needs to be on the inside, and can not by outward wearing bring me to the goal.
Look at the sermon on the mount and you can see clearly how more exacting the New Torah is compared to the old. And it is a very personal Torah designed for each man according to his needs. It changes us at the heart where we need it. Like the rich young ruler I can keep all of the Torah of Moshe and then come before the lord like those in Matt 7 and say “look at all the fine works I have done in your name”, and the Lord might say, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity for I never knew you.” Because unless I have submitted myself to that New Covenant Torah written on the heart, I have not been judged by its laws administered by the Holy Spirit, which brings us into the Kingdom of Messiah. I can keep all the laws of Moshe and still be faulted, vile and evil in my heart and fall short. And our goal is to stand before the Lord perfect by His New Covenant Torah written on our hearts which is changing us within; So that he says “come and enter, my faithful one.”
Our New life is bound up together with the life of Messiah in the holy spirit that is given under the New Covenant to live within us. Whatever we do by the old covenant may be only a map or a shadow of the truth of the greater and perfect thing that we must find through submission to his New Covenant Torah administered by the Holy spirit. This is the path to the Kingdom, life in God through Messiah and not the outward keeping of rituals, traditions and commandments . Those things are only a compass and map to start me off in the right direction. Some of those things will remain for the Kingdom, like Sabbath, and Kosher food the ten commands, for they are in the prophecies of the Kingdom. We must discover and keep the Kingdom Torah of the New Covenant. It has many things in common with the OLD, but is not word for word with it. It is greater built upon better promises, having no Levite for high priest but instead Yeshua the Messiah, not administered by angles but by the living Holy Spirit of God who dwells within us.
Hebrew 7:  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
. . .  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.  For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. . . .
HEB 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;  A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. . . .
 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
There are many differences between the Torah of the New Covenant and the Torah of the Old Covenant. We need to get a hold of the Torah of Yeshua given for the Kingdom and let go of the Expired Covenant of Sinai and it’s Torah of regulations for the nation of Israel. We are not that people. We are not living under a Torah that was administered by Levites who are no longer on earth for two millennia. We are under the Torah of Yeshua which is administered by his life in us by the spirit. And as I have said before, there are points in common with both Torahs like Sabbath, and Kosher diet, and ten commandments, moral codes and such, but there are other things that simply passed away with the old Covenant and we do not do. We do not go to the priest to be sprinkled with ashes of the Red Heifer, we do not kill our children for talking back to us, we do not stone adulterers, we do not offer animal sacrifices, We do not sell our daughters as slaves.
Yeshua is the best Torah teacher that has even lived. And he gave us his New Torah for the New Covenant in which we all now live. That is the one we must keep.
Israel had already been unable to keep the Torah as it was Given by Moshe and being administered through the Levites. If Yeshua came to simply make the Law more difficult such that now you are guilty of murder by being angry with a brother and guilty of adultery by looking at a woman with lust, then where is the Good News in that kind of Gospel? There is none, only a death sentence! The good news lies in the fact that while the New Torah is more exacting it is given in conjunction with the Holy Spirit who is able to bring us to the new Goal by his working in our hearts to make us new creatures in Messiah and to bear Good Fruit for God.
Thanks be to God that we were set free from this system of perpetual sin and death.
God in his mercy forgave our sins, and literally condemned the sinful nature in our flesh which will one day die, and then showed us the real depth of Torah but gave us the spirit to live in us to change us from within so that He Himself keeps us from sinning and breaking this New Torah by placing his life giving spirit in us. And when we do slip and fall he is ready to hear our confession and to forgive us once again and to cleanse us from the permanent stain on our record, which was before under the law being held against us. He nailed that list of transgressions to his own cross, paying our debts for us. WOW! What an incredible God we serve.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Jewish adventures in the diaspora.
Scripture, ethics and spiritual formation