Free In Christ?
The Torah is not bondage. It is ADONAI’s handbook to keep us well physically, mentally and spiritually, and keep us in a right relationship with God and man.
It absolutely makes no sense for God to take Israel out of Physical Egyptian bondage only to put them into another form of bondage, a Spiritual bondage called the Torah (Law). That would make God out to be cruel and sadistic!
There are not just 10 commandments as most people think, but 613! There are 248 positive (commandments) that is said to correspond to our body, organs and sinews. Positive commands that are ways to get closer to God, the, “Thou shalts,” and 365 negative (commandments) which correspond to the days of the solar year, which also are ways to get closer to God, the “Thou shalt nots.” Yet, not all 613 apply to one person. Some are for men, some are for women, some for kings, some for Levitical priests and the
, which currently
is no longer standing, and some for farmers in Temple . Israel
Our Sages (Talmud: Makkot 23b) explain that this verse also serves as the source, which teaches us the exact number of Mitzvot.
The numerical value of the Hebrew word Torah, is 611.
Moses conveyed 611, to the Jewish people.
The first two of the Ten Commandments - "I am the Lord, your God," and "You shall have no other gods before Me," we heard from God, Himself, at Mount Sinai.
Thus, there are a total of 613 mitzvot, which the Jewish people are commanded to observe.
Daniel Botkin, in his article; “Christians Keeping Old Testament Commandments? Not a Yes/No Question, but a Question of Which Ones” writes:
“So how many commandments are Christians still supposed to keep? Or we might ask, How many of the “613” commandments can we still keep? Years ago, Chafetz Chayim listed all the Torah commandments which can still be observed today…. The Chafetz Chayim lists 77 positive commandments (things we are still commanded to do), 194 negative commandments (prohibitions), and 26 commandments which apply only in the land of Israel. That makes a total of 271 for people outside Israel, and 297 for people living in Israel. That’s 316 less than 613. What happened to the other 316 commandments? These are, for the most part, commandments which pertain to the Tabernacle/Temple service and sacrifices which were administered by the Levitical priesthood.”
What is 6 + 1 + 3? 10. And what is 1+ 0? 1. So the 10 commandments sum up the 613 and the greatest of the commandments and the second that is considered equal to the first: “Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu, Adonai Echad.” “Hear oh Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You are to love the LORD your God with all your heart…soul…mind…and strength…” (Deut. 6:4-9) “…and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40), Sum up the 10 and the 613 (Matt. 7:12).
You think 613 commandments are a lot? Dake’s Annotated Bible lists 1,050 commandments in the New Testament!
“The Issue is did Messiah Yeshua change Judaism to a new form of religion? Or, did He intensify the Judaism of the Torah? If one says as some of the Christians do that he replaced the Torah then He also created a new religion, if this is true then the God of Israel changed. If this is true then we are all in trouble.”
-- Anon. Nazarene Rabbi
The bondage spoken of in the Renewed Covenant is not talking about Torah, but about the additions to the Torah. The customs, traditions and doctrine of men (Pharisees) and of demons (Col.2:8, 1Tim. 13:9) which were added (Mk. 7:9-13, Deut. 4:2,12:32, Rev. 22:18,19) by men and raised to the level of authority of Torah itself, which in some cases nullifies the Torah.
Yeshua agreed with the Pharisees in all points except divorce (Mt. 19:19) and traditions elevated to Torah status (Mk. 7:1-13). Rav Sha'ul (Paul) whom many use out of context to say the Torah has been done away with said that the Torah is good (Rom. 7:12). Moreover, regarding the terms “under the law”, and “curse of the law”, these refer to the penalty under the law that has been done away with and “nailed to the cross (Col.2:13-14).” That penalty is death. That is what grace is all about. Our sin debt is what has been nailed to the cross, not the Torah (Law). The Torah was never the problem, our hearts were. The Torah was not imperfect, our hearts were. Regarding the phrase, “works of the law” in the Renewed Covenant, this refers to one counting on their Torah observance, their works, to secure their salvation. Some know this as, “Legalism”. This is the negative definition of that word. Nevertheless, when someone accuses me of being “Legalistic” I say, “I am guilty as charged!”, because I see, and use “Legalism” in the positive sense. In other words, I would rather be “Legal” than “Illegal”!
There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; it is a free gift from God. Yet, it is our responsibility to maintain our salvation by obedience to Torah. This is what the religious term sanctification means! To set apart and maintain. It is like winning a car from someone by them simply pulling your name out of a hat. You in no way earned the car; it was a free gift to you. However, to keep the car, you cannot just drive and drive and drive and drive, and never check the oil, change the fluids, fill up with gas, air up the tires, get a tune up, etc. If you do not do these things you will lose the car, it will either blow up or break down. You need to MAINTAIN the car which you got by no merit of your own. It is the same with your salvation. As my Former Rebbetzin (Rabbi’s wife) has said, “We are saved by Grace, kept by Works.” Again this is the picture and definition of Salvation and Sanctification.
Having listened to and spoken with over a thousand learned Christians scholars this is the gist. What Christians are really trying to say is, that "Christ died for our sins and that this death removed not only our sins but also magically removed the cause of our sins the law. Now, we are set free from the control of the law and able to have peace with God, through the blood of Christ. You must understand it was the law itself that was weak and ineffective, and therefore had to be removed. Really, you are damned if you try to live by the law, and not by faith. For the Holy Spirit of God will come into you and change your heart so that no matter what you do, God can't see the sin in you, or the sins you commit. Most importantly anyone who tries to tell you to live a Torah obedient life or keep any part of the law is a Judaizer and is evil."
Okay, so obviously I do not agree with this view… Your mom says to you when you are a kid, "Don’t drink the chocolate milk before dinner." Being a kid, you drink it, and your mom catches you. However, after you beg not to be punished, and she extends mercy and does not punish you, does that mean that from now on you can get a glass of chocolate milk before dinner? Of course not! Unless she says, "Okay, from now on you can get a glass of chocolate milk before dinner," otherwise, the rule still applies.
There once was a man who had two sons; he wanted to give them joy, so he thought to do a magic trick for them. He placed a small soft red ball in his hand, made a motion, closed his hand and said some words, then swoosh opened his hand and it was gone. The shock and amazement on his sons’ faces as they looked and the wondrous joy they expressed was the reward he wanted, as the boys scurried off to tell their friends. The truth however is that the ball never went anywhere it is simply in the other hand.
This is Christianity in a nutshell. The law is the little red ball. The old man is the Catholic Church; the children are unlearned disciples. The illusion is that the law is gone, poof. The sons are none the wiser and tell others what the old man did.
Scripturally you cannot do away with the law anymore than the man could make the ball truly disappear, yet that is what they want you to believe, that they have made the law to disappear. For Yeshua Himself said 'heaven and earth will pass away before one yod (jot) or tageen (tittle) of the Torah would disappear.’
Very simply said, if there is no law, why would you confess to breaking it? I will not go into my rant on the book of Hebrews. Suffice it to say this is the book that is used and misused by so many to confuse and twist the truth. If as Christians claim the book of Hebrews teaches that the law was weak and ineffectual, then the Christian God is weak and imperfect. How and why would the true EL (GOD) create a defective set of laws for us to follow, having then to send the Messiah to be slaughtered, just to be able then to remove it? This all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, all-just God would not be so powerful, loving, knowing, or just, huh? Could this be why so many people are now leaving the Catholic and Christian churches? Christians cannot understand why the Jews do not get it. I understand why, you see, you cannot have a perfect God, and then have him not so perfect. You cannot have the TeNaCK (Old Testament), and then have the works of Paul translated in a way that contradicts the TeNaCK. Unless something is lost in the translation, this may be why we supposedly only have Greek translations of the ReNewed Covenant (New Testament) texts.
Adonai's word however, never changes. How could a perfect EL (GOD) give something of Himself, and have it be weak and ineffectual? It is not the Torah that is weak, it is us; we are the defective part, made that way by original sin. Messiah Yeshua comes and shows us how to live the Torah, and then cleanses our hearts so that we would be able to have the Torah written on them. Then we will be able to live in the Way that HaShem (the LORD) intended, in a right way, in a right standing, righteous. The Torah is not the enemy of the Christian, but the Christian can be, and usually is, the enemy of the Torah. The Messiah did not come to give us a new Torah. No, He came to cleanse us, to give us a new heart so that we could keep the Torah. Yochannon (John) did not say, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away that weak and ineffective Torah." No, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the SIN of the world.” Sin is what you get when you break the Torah, the evidence that the Torah remains in effect. Can you see the wind? No, but you see the effects of the wind blowing. The same is true of the Torah. You know it is still in effect because of sin. If there were no Torah, then there would be no sin; no wind, no breeze, it really is that simple. The Torah Remains, Baruch HaShem (Praised be His Name)!
The only thing left is for you to determine where you will stand. Will you stand on the side of Torah or on the side without Torah? Anomia is the Greek word for “without or against law”. The word literally means against or without the Torah. It is from the word Anomia that the best translators derive the English word lawlessness. Lawlessness--let us break it down; Law+less+ness, lawless is pretty clear: less the law, or without the law, ness: meaning being in a state of. Therefore, lawlessness is to be in a state of, against or without the law. Yochanan (John) says that all sin is lawlessness. Putting it back in Hebraic thought, sin is being in a state against or without the Torah. There can be no lawlessness if there is no law. No law would therefore mean no 'man of lawlessness' as Paul predicted.
Therefore, where do you, or where will you stand. May His peace seek you out and overtake you, and may you grow in a deeper walk with Yeshua, and may the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) empower you for the walk.” – Anon. Nazarene Rabbi
The “legalism” Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) and the other apostles were concerned about was the additions to the Torah, the fences around the law that were elevated to Torah status, or nullified a Torah command. The laws men made up which were imposed as bondage upon the common people, a heavy yoke, impossible to keep (even the Pharisees who made up many of these “fences” could not keep them) and the false notion that salvation is based on works and not faith (Lk. 11:45-46, Acts 15:10).
Christians have argued,
“Obviously no one can keep the whole Torah. No one is perfect. Therefore, we should not try to keep the Torah because it is too difficult.” Moses must have foreseen our faulty logic. Therefore, he insists in no uncertain terms that, “This commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.” (Deuteronomy 30:11) The Apostle John agrees saying, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) It’s not about being perfect, it’s about loving God.” –FFOZ (First Fruits of Zion): Nitzavim: Choose Life, 2007
The LORD said this about the Torah: “You can do it!” (Deut. 30:14, Rom. 10:8) If you want to call following Torah legalism, or legalistic, call me a “Legal Eagle.” But, wouldn’t you rather be legal, than illegal?
We also must remember that in the Hebrew and Greek of Rav Sha’ul's day, there were not any words to express things like the negative idea we know of in religious circles as “legalism,” being saved or justified by ones works alone. Therefore, he had to use the same word in the Greek he used for Torah, that word is, “Nomos.” Thus, it is of the utmost importance when reading and interpreting the Scriptures dealing with Torah in the Renewed Covenant, that we look at the context and usage of the word “nomos” translated “law.” Is it talking about Torah, or a secular legal system, or a man made legal system imposed upon the Torah? Is it talking about depending upon the Torah to obtain salvation? Torah is not bad (I Tim. 1:8, Rom. 7:12), man’s misuse and misunderstanding of it is the problem. The examples in the Renewed Covenant (New Testament) are too numerous to mention and it is not the purpose of this work to tackle and iron out all misunderstood and misinterpreted passages of the Renewed Covenant. However, to help us in this area, it is always good to keep in mind again, that if our interpretation causes the Torah to be done away with, our interpretation is wrong! Period!
Not all of the “fences” around the Torah are bad, only those imposed upon people as if they were Torah commands themselves. Some people need “fences” so as not to break the actual commandments. For instance, a man may put extra software on this computer to keep him from accessing improper web sites. He knows that going to those certain sites is wrong, and has no desire to, and does not plan to visit those sites. But when tempted, why have an open door to it? So he erects a “fence” to keep himself from getting to those sites. Or, it is like a mother saying to her children, “No cookies before supper,” just as they come in from a hard day of playing. That is her “commandment.” They know it would be wrong to eat a cookie before supper, but they are so hungry, and the cookie jar is just in reach. So, Mom comes into the kitchen and puts the cookie jar on a high shelf, or in a cabinet to where they cannot get to it. Mom erected a “fence” for her children, to help them keep her “commandment.” An A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) sponsor can be seen as a type of “fence.” They can be called upon to help a person not to “fall of the wagon” and drink when a person is tempted.
The four laws given to the Goyim (Gentiles) in Acts 15 were not exhaustive or the only laws they were to keep. The purpose of these starter laws was to: 1) Help Gentiles make a clean break with the pagan world. 2) Enable Jews and Gentiles to fellowship and eat at the same table without making the Jews ritually unclean and unable to participate in Temple worship. And 3) Set them up to learn the rest of the Commandments as they attended Synagogue through the year (Acts 15:19-21). These Laws were taken from Leviticus 17-18, called by the Rabbis, the “Heart of the Torah.” I often ask those who believe that these four laws are the only laws Gentiles are to keep:
“Do you buy beef at the store?”
“It’s saturated with blood right?”
“But you rinse it off and fry it up anyway, in direct opposition to Acts 15. If it were kosherly slaughtered, there would be no blood in it. So you don’t even keep the four laws in Acts 15.”
Most Christians do not even keep all of the 10 Commandments. At best they keep 9, but we will cover that a little later.
Just because not all the 613 commandments are covered in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) does not mean that the laws not mentioned have been done away with. The books of the Renewed Covenant (New Testament) were written with the idea that these 613 laws were firmly established, a given, so there was no need to mention them again. The only things Yeshua and Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) and others did were to clarify the priority of certain laws and bring them into a greater understanding.
The Nazarene Sanhedrin headed up by Ya’akov (“James,” Yeshua’s half- brother) knew the Goyim (Gentiles) would end up learning the whole Torah at the Synagogue every Sabbath, through the annual Torah reading cycle. (Acts 15:19-21) They would eventually learn and live all 613 mitzvot (commandments). This would culminate into the Gentile who learned Torah for a whole year to have the opportunity if they so desire to convert officially to Natsarim Judaism by undergoing circumcision and a mikvah (baptism).
Daniel Botkin in the same article mentioned above states:
“For most Christians, the commandments which they have a problem with are commandments which deal with the Sabbath, Feasts, dietary laws, and miscellaneous things like tzitziyot (fringes), mezuzahs, beards, etc. These things are dismissed as “Jewish rituals, just for the Jews to do until Christ came.” Yet the Bible nowhere singles out these commandments from the rest of the Torah and says that they are just for the Jews. Nor does the Bible say that the coming of the Messiah would abolish these commandments. People think of these things as Jewish practices only because Christians abandoned them centuries ago, and the Jews have continued to practice them. But the Bible does not give one set of rules for Jews and a different set of rules for non-Jewish believers. “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am YHVH your God.” (Lev.24:22).”
So, now that we have established a clear precedence that God’s Instructions, His, Laws and Commandments have not been done away with, let us look at some common problematic issues many people have with certain commandments such as circumcision, the dietary laws and the Sabbath and the Sacrificial System.