Is there really such a thing as "Torah Observant"? Does God expect us to try and keep the Sinai covenant's commandments under the New covenant of Yeshua?
When we renovated the second floor of our facilities, we forgot to take into consideration how much we love coffee; for this reason, you will find a tiny kitchenette poorly situated in the middle of a narrow hallway. This hallway is always messy and crowded with thirty of us walking by and, of course, stopping to make coffee. One day we hope to replace this tiny kitchenette with a spacious, beautiful, perfect, fully-functioning kitchen. But until that day comes, we must make do with what we have, and make the extra effort to keep things in order. Our boss established several rules regarding the kitchenette: Keep quiet so as not to disturb your co-workers working nearby; clean up after yourself immediately, because the sink is so tiny; and do not prepare meals in the kitchenette—meals result in noise and unwanted odors. These rules will help us maintain order (and keep our boss happy)—until that glorious day arrives when we have a new kitchen! When that day comes, there may be new principles we can implement in our lives and in our new kitchen, but most of the old kitchenette's laws will no longer be applicable to the beautiful new kitchen.
The Greek word, τέλος (telos), can be interpreted in the following ways: "end", "purpose", "goal", “to set out for a definite point”... This word τέλος was used by Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and was also used in the New Testament by Paul, the author of the book of Romans.
He states in Romans 10:4 that the Messiah is the τέλος of the Torah. The Messiah is the goal, the purpose, the end, and the definite point which the Torah was moving towards.
Did Yeshua command us to follow the traditions of the Rabbis? Did not Yeshua Himself tell us to listen to the rabbis and follow their laws in Matthew 23:2–3 which says, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you’”?
It is not wise to build a comprehensive and wide-reaching theology over a single verse, taken out of context. At this point, Yeshua is speaking before the New Covenant is made. After all, if Yeshua wanted us to follow the rabbis (Pharisees and scribes), He never mentions it anywhere else in the Gospels; neither do the apostles teach us to follow the rabbis. Yeshua demonstrates in His own life the exact opposite. He did not wash His hands according to the tradition of the Second Temple Period (Matt 15:1–9). Elsewhere He clearly states: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9).
Just for the sake of argument—can Israel keep the Law and\or be justified by it?
Well, even if we wanted to give it a try, it is simply impossible. There is no priesthood, no temple, and no sacrificial system—all of which comprise the heart and essence of the Law. You see, we cannot separate the Sinai Covenant from the Law. The laws are merely an outgrowth of the covenant; they cannot stand on their own, just as eating mayonnaise and mustard is pointless without the sandwich itself. The covenant was ratified by the shedding of blood (Exod 24:8) and was maintained by the blood of the sacrifices upon the altar (Exod 30:10). Without the sacrificial system we are unable to keep the Sinai Covenant. All we can do is keep a few leftover laws, which are not related to the temple, the priesthood or the sacrificial system. Moreover, while these laws continue to speak to us as inspired Scripture, many of these laws were given to Israel 3,500 years ago in order to establish a nation in the context of the Ancient Near Eastern world. If we were to establish a new nation today, we would give its people laws and rules (traffic, family, taxes, torts, civil, labor, etc.) according to their situation, lifestyle, era and location. However, many of Moses' laws are practically impossible to keep in our day and age, due to the current reality in which we live: for example, issues concerning slavery or purification rituals are no longer relevant.
This little lump of charcoal is a fragment of a scroll which was found 45 years ago near the Dead Sea, at a place called Ein Gedi. It was found in a burnt out synagogue that was destroyed in the late sixth century. If you look closely, can you read what it says? No? Neither could anyone else, until just recently, when new technology enabled experts to make a 3D scan of the document and electronically “unscroll” it in order to make the contents readable. The charred scroll hasn’t been read for 1500 years! Would you like to know what they found?
The three weeks between the dates of 17th Tammuz and 9th of Av, (that is, 4th-25th July this year) is known as the time “בין המצרים” or “between the straits”. The phrase “between the straits” means to be forced to thread your way between grave dangers on both sides - like a ship trying to squeeze through a perilously narrow path and trying to avoid the almost inevitable shipwreck. Have you ever felt caught in this sort of situation? Israel certainly has once or twice! What hope does God's word offer in perilous times?
I was taught by a rabbi that when reading the Bible, it is critical to ask good questions. We need to keep our eyes peeled and observant to see all that God wants to highlight to us in the text, and to ask good questions of it. For those of us who have the advantage of knowing God personally through his Messiah, we can also count on the help of the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us. A.W. Tozer said, “The Bible is a supernatural book, and can be understood only by supernatural aid”. We can read the Bible in companionship with the author himself, and with his help, steady observation, and an inquiring mind that seeks to know more of God, we can learn a great deal even from familiar passages, or that might seem strange to those who don’t know God’s ways. So it was in this way that I stumbled across the Biblical meaning of bronze...
You may well know the verse when Yeshua tells Peter, "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against us (Matt 16:18). But have you ever noticed that it's an odd thing to say? Are we being attacked by gates? What a strange picture! Or perhaps we are not understanding who is doing the attacking.... Gates are for defence, not attack. Yeshua is saying that the enemy will not be able to stop the Kingdom of God and the power of the gospel. When we come against the kingdom of darkness with the liberating truth of Yeshua, we can break down the doors and set the prisoners free, and he will not be able to stop it. His efforts to protect his territory and keep people captive will ultimately fail. God's kingdom is surely advancing here in Israel, but we want you to know about some recent attempts keep people imprisoned, and away from the truth.
Rabbi Yaakov Ades writes: “The more we know about the value of the Law and of our soul, the more strength we will have to strive and overcome in the work of the LORD. Therefore, we need to know the great value of the Law and the commandments. The Vilna Gaon explains, that the entire purpose of creation, the giving of the Law and the choosing of the people of Israel is that we connect to the LORD, blessed is He, and the Law is the medium, and is the most important in the world, and the entire world is nothing compared to studying the law, and compared to keeping a commandment, as nothing compares to the Law.” (Yeshiva.org.il)
We have no doubt that the biblical Law is the word of God, but from the rabbi’s words, and from what the rabbis have been saying for thousands of years, they seem to have got the impression that the commandments of the Torah (Law), are THE most important and central thing to God. But would God agree that the commandments are the main point of these first five books?
This year's graduation ceremony was particularly special, as it marked 25 years since the founding of Israel College of the Bible. Here is a translation of the address originally given in Hebrew by Dr Erez Soref, President of One For Israel.
As a friend once said in a similar situation, “Victory is in the air, and the victory is the Lord’s”. This is a day of happiness, and a milestone in the lives of our graduates, for Israel College of the Bible, and also for the body of Messiah in Israel.
What can we as the body of Messiah in Israel, in all our diversity, offer to Israeli society? Quality of life? Hope for a better financial situation? Freedom from problems? No - none of these things. The truth is that what we have to offer to those around us in Israel is not an idea, but a person; the Messiah himself.
Hopefully most people know that 20% of Israel’s population is Arab, both Muslim and Christian. But there are other ethnic minorities living in Israel who also need Yeshua!
One of those minority groups has been in the headlines lately, due to peril at Israel’s northern border with Syria. There are approximately 130,000 Druze people living in Israel today and many more in surrounding countries, and each and every one of them is precious to God.
In fact, the Druze are very important people in Israel, and we'd like to show you why.
It is only by God's supernatural grace, in the name of Yeshua, that both Arab and Jew can find salvation, hope and unity in the conundrum here in the Middle East.... but the good news is that this is exactly what is happening here at One For Israel!
“And you shall call his name...” announced the angel Gabriel, “Jesus”.
No he didn’t. He said “Yeshua”. But then again, Gabriel wasn’t really called Gabriel either - in Hebrew it sounds different: “Gav-ree-el”. Mighty one of the Lord. But at least Gabriel sounds a BIT like Gav-ree-el. It’s at least recognisable! How in the world did Yeshua, the actual Hebrew name for our Lord and Messiah, turn into Jesus? It sounds nothing like Yeshua! And does it really matter what we call him?
By Arlie Francis
"Correctly understanding God’s irrevocable promises made to Abraham and his physical descendants through Isaac and Jacob is a key principle for unlocking what the rest of the Bible teaches”, writes Arlie Francis from Disciple Daily , who shares his perspective on the challenge that lies before the younger generation in this guest blog.
What do a harvest festival, 49 days, and a passionate love story have in common?
Shavuot means 'weeks'. God said, "Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you" (Deuteronomy 16:9-10). Offerings of barley and wheat are made, and the 'seven species': pomegranate, grapes, olives, wheat, barley, figs and date honey are celebrated. It's a thankgiving time for the goodness of the land. It's a time of 'bikurim' or firstfruits. It's the time that the Torah was given to Israel and they agreed to follow it, making them a covenant community, and it's also the time that the church or body of Messiah was born at Pentecost. New birth... First fruits.
Traditionally, the book of Ruth is read during the feast, because the story is set at the time of the barley harvest, and Shavuot occurs between the barley and wheat harvests. Also, it is in the instructions for how to celebrate Shavuot that God includes this commandment: “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22). This was the set up for the love story. Well - part of the love story...
Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak states that Jesus is not the Messiah based on the following claim: “I am a rational person, so I say wait a minute, if the Lord, blessed He, gave [the covenant of the Law] to the people of Israel, witnessed by millions, and let’s say that he decided to then say: I’m really fed up with you, I don’t want you anymore, now I choose Jesus and whoever follows him. That is possible, right? Why would you do it the first time in such a public way but this time do it in secret, like a thief whispering to him behind the mountain? If you want to declare and announce [a new covenant], then it should be done in public, at the very least as public as it was the first time.”
The rabbis think this is a very strong argument. But there are a few gaping holes in this line of thinking...
Rabbi Daniel Asor claims that the story of Jesus is a copy of Eastern stories of pagan idols such as those found in Hinduism. The rabbi attempts to prove this by presenting “similarities” between Jesus and various idols or characters from Eastern religions. In order to do so, the rabbi quotes some out-dated ideas from about two hundred years ago, but he’s unable to quote even one single modern source. Why not, you wonder? Because there are no such sources. Today, informed scholars understand that these ideas do not hold water. These ideas, which appeared in the 19th century were refuted long ago, some even by Jewish biblical researchers and historians due to several archaeological findings, such as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of Qumran.
One of the original ways certain rabbis are now attacking the New Testament is by referring back to old claims of biblical criticism from the seventeenth century. These claims have long since been refuted, due to discoveries in archaeology and historical research developments, but that doesn’t seem to trouble some rabbis in their quest to discredit the teachings of Jesus. Here are a few examples of their criticisms along with the refutations:
To this day, when the rabbis are asked about Jesus, they always refer to a story tractate Sota 47 in the Jerusalem Talmud, where it is says that Jesus was a disciple of the President of the Sanhedrin, Joshua ben Perahiah. The story is about how Jesus was a bad, lustful, unkind yeshiva student who fell into idol worship and led others astray. But there are a number of reasons why we can be certain that this story has been fabricated - including an embarrassing oxymoron. The Talmud really shot itself in the foot when trying to put the dirt on Jesus.