Law - 'Versus' - Grace
by Rev. Allan Moorhead
Let me start by saying, this is one of the finest Bible teaching I've heard in a long time on the subject of "Law 'versus' Grace." In a recent 4 week Adult Shabbat School Bible Study at Beth Yachad Messianic Congragtion, the Rev. Allan Moorhead shared this awesome teaching with many of us. I told Allan I really wanted a larger audience to read his notes and to hear what he had to say about this subject because it was just so good. Hence his 4 week teaching is now a 4 part article which Mayim Hayim is happy to put up on the web for the world to read. If you would like to get Rev. Moorhead's 4 tapes, you may order them from Beth Yachad Messianic Congregation's web site. Just ask for the tapes, "Law vs Grace" by Rev. Moorhead. I'm not sure what the coast will be, but it will be worth every penny. Just send them an email asking for the 4 tapes.
There has been a tug of war for too long over the subject, Law 'versus' Grace! The question to ask is this, "Are these 'versus - contra'?" When you read Rev. Moorhead's study you will find out that there not at all at odds with each other and never were. Enjoy!
Shalom, Rev. Barbara Di Gilio
Law Vs Grace
In today's society we see a break down of law. The whole world is becoming lawless. In the government, there are constant attacks against the Laws of God especially in the form of the Ten Commandments. Everywhere groups like the ACLU are attacking the scriptures whether it is the Ten Commandments or just a single scripture displayed in public view. Of course with more and more areas being considered public, it won't be long before no scripture can be displayed because of offending someone. A million people may agree on something but if one is offended then it must be corrected. Of course being offended by the scriptures isn't new because God's word shows sin being exceedingly sinful and the wicked don't like that.
The Church is another area where the scriptures and more explicit, and the Law of God is being removed or compromised. For 1800 years the Law of God has been dismissed in many churches as no longer valid. It is believed we are in an age of Grace so Law must be pushed aside. The Law of God is neither gone nor invalid, as some would have you believe.
This subject is a very difficult subject to teach because of the past 1800 years of misunderstanding of the Law. It is a subject that provokes high emotions with many opinions. I ask that you gracefully listen to this teaching and search these things out for yourself. There are many great scholars who disagree with each other on this topic. So, I certainly understand if there are parts large and small that you too may disagree with. Because of the difficulty of this subject I certainly don't have all the answers. I hope that I have some. I humbly approach this subject and please don't shoot the messenger.
This teaching will come in three major parts:
1. The Torah - (part 1 & 2)
2. Paul and the Torah and other misunderstandings - (part 3)
3. Believers relationships to the Torah then and now - (part 4)
Meaning of Torah
Let us begin with the term Torah. Most of you know from previous teachings that the Law of God is referred to as Torah. Torah comprises of the first five books of Moses. It is the actual spoken word of God given to Moses. Torah also can mean the whole 'Old Testament', which is generally referred to as the Tenach. The Tenach includes the first five books of Moses, the Prophets writings, and then the other writings such as Psalms and Proverbs. Included with Torah are the teachings of God in the form of the commandments, ordinances, rituals, precepts, statutes, prophetic utterances and more. So Torah has a wide range of applications from the word of God. Torah comes from the root word 'Yarah'. 'Yarah' means 'to shoot straight', 'to hit the mark', 'to teach or instruct' and 'teacher'. So what we have in the Torah is a gift from God as our teacher, instructing us to learn how to hit the mark. It is a teaching from God. It literally is the word of God. It is interesting to note that one of the Greek definitions of sin means 'to miss the mark' (hamartano). So to disobey Torah is to miss the mark... God has given us instruction through the Torah on how to 'hit the mark.'
In the Greek, the word used for law is 'nomos' which is used in the New Testament. This Greek term for law was the only word used to translate Torah. Unfortunately, 'nomos' is a very poor term for 'law'. It doesn't come anywhere near having the same concept as Torah, which conveys God's grace and love toward his people. Unfortunately, nomos indicates a strict regulation with mostly a negative connotation, but it was the only word at that time that could be used to describe Torah.
What does the scriptures say about Torah?
Psalms 1:1-3 says this: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law (Torah) of the LORD; and in his law (Torah) doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Does this sound like it is a bad thing to follow the Torah of God? We are blessed to follow Torah and we shall prosper according to this scripture. The Church today, in many circles, teaches that to follow Torah is bad and to do so will place you under bondage of the law. These are all misunderstandings, as I will attempt to explain over the next several teachings on the subject. Sometimes you think that Satan himself gave the Torah when you listen to some of these teachers speak on God's Torah. The hate that is expressed concerning Torah by some teachers is very disheartening. No doubt Satan would love to destroy Torah because he knows exactly what it is and its purposes. We should do as the Psalmist tells us and that is to delight in the Torah of God.
Psalms 19:7-11 says this: "The law (Torah) of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandments of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."
This scripture tells us so much about Torah.
1. It is perfect. God is absolutely clear that Torah is perfect and without fault. Romans 7:12 tells us that "wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Sometimes when one would read the scriptures in the New Covenant, you may get the idea that Torah is anything but perfect. Again this is due improper interpretation of Saul's (Paul) letters, which will be addressed in part two of this teaching.
2. Torah converts the soul. Many believers would be wise if they would use Torah to witness with. Try using the Ten Commandments when witnessing to a non-believer. You may be surprised how they respond when they realize they too need a savior.
3. Torah is sure (faithful, steadfast, trusty, true, certain, and permanent). Does this sound like something that is now finished, done away with, void of any application?
4. Torah is wise. Wisdom comes from Torah. Have you asked God for wisdom lately? Try Torah.
5. Torah is right (straight, just, equity, and most upright)
6. Torah causes rejoicing in the heart. Torah makes you happy.
7. Torah should be desired more than gold. Torah is the most precious thing you can have.
8. Torah is sweet. Torah is food to us. It is sweeter than honey.
9. Torah warns us. Torah lets us know when we miss the mark. Certainly if you were in danger of judgment, you would probably like to know. Torah is the grace of God toward his people to let them know to repent and turn back on the path. After death is not the time to find out you missed the mark. This is the part of Torah that many individuals don't like. That is, to be shown their sin which is only one part of the purpose of Torah.
10. The keeping of Torah results in great reward. The keeping of Torah blesses individuals in this life. I also believe that the keeping of Torah can also affect the believer in the next life. More on that later in part four.
By now you may be thinking "Ok we are getting a little deep with this Torah stuff" "I'm beginning to feel a little uncomfortable with this subject". Stay with me please...
Let me quickly say that we are saved by the grace of God through Yeshua and he alone is our Salvation. By the great mercies of God we have entered into His Kingdom... Believers are priests and kings before our LORD. Great are the things God has for those who trust in him. I hope that ease anybody's fear that I might be going into legalism or bondage of the law. Before I continue let me say this to further ease your mind: Since Torah is the Word of God. Who else do we know that is the Word of God? Of course you know it to be Yeshua (Jesus). He is the Word of God come in the flesh as spoken in the first chapter of the book of John. This makes Yeshua the Torah in the flesh. It is Yeshua who came to correctly present the Torah and show God's grace and mercy. So to follow the life example and teaching of the Torah in the flesh, who is Yeshua, is to follow the Torah under its new manifestation with the New Covenant. Whether they like it or not, anti-law teachers are following the Torah if they are following the teaching of Yeshua.
Psalm 119 speaks more about the wonderfulness of Torah than any other book and chapter. It is the longest Psalm, 176 verses. Obviously time will not allow us to read this chapter of Psalms, but I encourage you to read it when you can. Just about every way the Psalmist could possibly say that he loves the Torah is expressed in this chapter. (If you have time to read now just click here: Psalm 119).
Yeshua and the Torah
Deuteronomy 4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
Yeshua was a Torah observant Jew. Many Jewish writers when writing about Yeshua all agreed that he was definitely a righteous Jew as far as the Torah goes. Of course we know that he had to follow Torah because if he didn't, then he would not have been sinless and thus, he could not be the sinless Lamb of God. Yeshua understood well the meaning of Deuteronomy 4:2 when he was challenged about the Torah. Matthew 5:17-19 is a very important key to understanding Torah's role today.
Yeshua says "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise, pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Some understanding of Yeshua's words needs to be expressed. The terms 'destroy the law' and 'fulfill the law' are Pharisaic arguments. When someone disagrees with a Torah teacher they accused him of 'destroying the law' even on a little point. Usually the teacher will respond that he is 'fulfilling the law' by correctly interpreting it. Thus Yeshua was responding to those who disagreed with his teaching by saying that he was correctly interpreting or establishing the law and thus, 'fulfilling the law'. Yeshua said that not one jot (an apostrophe-like a Hebrew letter known as a yod) or a tittle (a Hebrew decoration atop the letter) would pass away until heaven and earth pass. Since Heaven and Earth are still here in its current form, I would say that the Torah is still in effect. Verse 19 is a sobering warning to those who teach others to break any commandment in the Torah. To teach others to break even the least of these commandments would result in being called the least in the kingdom of God. This is one example of what can happen when teaching others to break God's Torah. God did not say they will lose their salvation, but they will still pay a price. God help those who are teaching others to break the larger Torah commandments. By the way the least of the commandments is mentioned in Deut 22:6-7. It was forbidden to take the mother bird and her offspring at the same time for food. Later this was also taught that you could not even take the eggs or offspring in front of the mother bird. This showed God's compassion to ease the anguish of animals when they lose their young. The last part of Yeshua's teaching here says that if you do and teach the Torah, you shall be great in the kingdom of God. Let us be careful not to condemn the Torah as so many have and teach it instead.
Remember that Yeshua was an observant Jew. He was sinless. If he violated any part of Torah he would not have been sinless and thus could not be the Lamb of God. Yeshua followed the Torah perfectly!
Matthew 7:21 tells us to do the will of Yeshua's father. What is the will of God? Certainly, it is obedience to his Word or Torah. Yeshua says in John 14:15 to keep his commandments if we love him. Remember that Yeshua is the complete embodiment of the Torah. To keep his commandments is to follow the Torah and to show love to him.
In Matthew 28:20 Yeshua tells us to teach mankind to observe all that Yeshua taught us, which is the Torah in its current manifestation. That is, Yeshua's death and resurrection did cause a greater fulfillment of the Torah from the letter of the law to the law of the spirit. There are parts of Torah that have a greater manifestation since Yeshua. The priesthood, sacrificial and ceremonial part of Torah had a greater fulfillment through Yeshua and no longer applicable to believers.
The book of Hebrews teaches that the old is fading away and there is a new covenant (Hebrews 8:13). Hebrews isn't talking about Torah fading away but that there is a new manifestation of the sacrificial, priesthood, and temple ceremonial systems of the Torah through Yeshua. This is the subject Hebrews is talking about throughout the book. Keep in mind that Saul sacrificed after believing in Yeshua but once the temple was destroyed, sacrifices and temple ceremonies could not be performed. There is no need for sacrifices today even if the Temple was rebuilt because they would be meaningless since Yeshua is the more perfect sacrifice that lasts forever.
Yeshua was a Torah keeping Jew. He broke no laws but showed how to correctly follow them. There were some traditions of the Pharisees he didn't follow. These were fences around the Torah and some Oral Laws that were man-made and not of God. It has been said that the way Yeshua taught the Torah is more restrictive than the written Torah. This is because Yeshua looked at the spirit of the Torah and the heart and not just the letter of the Torah. Oral Laws were laws passed on, as some claim, from Moses on how to follow the written Torah. The Oral laws have some problems. Yeshua even followed some of them and others he did not. But we have no time to go into the complete background of the Oral Laws at this time.
In Romans 10:4 we read, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Many teachers have used this verse to say the Torah is gone and done away with. The word 'end' means 'goal' or 'point aimed at', 'purpose', 'result of', etc. It also can mean termination or conclusion. So we have to reason here with rabbi Saul. Is rabbi Saul disagreeing with Yeshua when Yeshua said the Torah would not go away? Of course not! So the proper definition would be that Yeshua was the goal or the point of the Torah. This is also backed up by Romans 3:31. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Saul says that the law is not voided or ended but established. Saul stands by the law. 'Established' is to 'stand for' or 'stand by' the law.
Future Millennial Torah Expectations
Now having said that, let me point out that sacrifices will come back before Yeshua comes back and will exist during the millennial reign. Surprised! In Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, and Matthew 24:15 there is mention of the abomination of desolation. This is when the anti-messiah will stand in the holy place of the temple. So this tells us that the temple will be rebuilt. Daniel also mentions in the same scripture that the evening sacrifices will be stopped. So this means that sacrifices will be back. Will they be accepted and be holy? In order for an abomination to occur, it has to be holy first. So yes, they will be holy sacrifices. This is a mystery. We can only guess why this will be. In Ezekiel chapter 40, the prophet is getting orders from God on rebuilding the millennial temple. Here he is told to build tables for burnt offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings (vs 39 and 41). Ezekiel 44:11 and 46:24 also mentions the priests conducting sacrifices for the people. Remember that things will certainly be different during this period. It is during this period that Isaiah spoke of:
"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isaiah2:3)
During the time that Yeshua reigns in Jerusalem, it appears that even the priestly, ceremonial, and sacrificial parts of Torah are back into effect. We will have to wait and see. Remember that we will not be in the flesh or bound to the earth at this time, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The point here is to say the Torah is not gone as many have taught.
In Zechariah 14:16 God commands the nations to honor and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles: "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." Here is a direct command to honor one of the feasts during the millennial reign of Messiah. What will be our role as saints in this? We do not know, but it will be great. If Torah has been abolished, why is this command given?
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