Over the last decade, as I have delved deeper into the Scriptures and spiritual things, I have become more and more convicted that I need to keep Torah, the laws of God as delivered through Moses. But even as I have obeyed God’s voice and laws, I have had to defend myself against ever increasing accusations of legalism, judaizing, and whatnot.
The most important thing to understand is that Judaizing really has very little to do with the keeping of God’s laws and everything to do with the keeping of man’s laws. Judaism teaches that the rabbis have the authority to change the Torah, and elevates the oral tradition of the Pharisees above the written laws of God. Some of the teachings of the Pharisees have value, but all of them should be regarded with skepticism and weighed carefully against actual Scripture. I do not teach that anyone need (or even should) obey the Jewish rabbis or the mountains of man-made law that they have heaped upon the Torah. I teach that we should obey God’s laws, because “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.” (Matthew 5:19)
Paul wrote that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) He defined “all scripture” as the scriptures that Timothy had learned as a child, in other words, the Greek Septuagint, including the Torah. If Paul did not mean that the Torah is still valid for doctrine, then why did he say it? In fact, Paul often explicitly based doctrine on Torah:
- Romans 7:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 are based on the law of the levirate (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) among others.
- Romans 7:7 is based on Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21.
- 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 is based on Deuteronomy 25:4 and other laws regarding the Temple services.
- 1 Corinthians 14:34 is based on Genesis 3:16.
- Galatians 4:22-31 is based on Genesis 16-17.
He taught other doctrines based on the Torah and the Prophets besides these, as did Yeshua. Obviously neither of them thought or taught anyone to abandon the Torah as a valid source of doctrine.
The New Covenant does not replace the old so much as it overlays it. Abraham’s covenant did not overturn Noah’s covenant, which did not overturn Adam’s covenant. Hebrews says that the high priesthood was transferred (the Greek word translated as “changed” in the King James Version is closer to “transferred” in today’s English) to Yeshua and that there was a transfer of the law also. This transfer isn’t a change in the requirements of the law, but a transfer of our allegiance. Like Paul, we are under the law for Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21) rather than under the law for the law itself. We are not to be lawless, but to continue to keep Torah as a sign of our allegiance to our Messiah. Yeshua said that he did not come to abolish the law, and Paul continued in that same vein when he wrote that we do not make the law void through faith, rather we establish it.
The Torah is an expression of God’s character in that it defines his standards of behavior. If God never changes (Malachi 3:6), then neither do his standards. The Torah says that no one can add or remove anything from its rules. (Deuteronomy 4:2 & 12:32) If any prophet were to preach against the Torah, leading people away from the proper worship of God, then the Torah commands that he be stoned. If Yeshua taught against Torah, then he was a sinner and ineligible as the Messiah. If Paul taught against Torah, then he too must be disqualified as a prophet of God. If Stephen taught against Torah, as only false witnesses were able to testify, then his punishment was just. (Acts 6:13-14) Since no true witnesses could be found to testify either against Stephen or Yeshua, the only logical explanation is that they never did teach against Torah. Even the Temple sacrifices only appear to have been suspended and not forever done away with. Ezekiel prophesied that the daily sacrifices will resume under the direct supervision of Yeshua our Messiah. (Ezekiel 40:41-43, 46:20) We are not made whole or justified by such sacrifices, but we never were, because Yeshua’s death was sufficient for all human rebellion from the beginning of time. (Hebrews 11, Revelation 13:8)
Jeremiah prophesied specifically that the Torah would carry over into the New Covenant, only transferred from tablets of stone to hearts of flesh. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) In that prophecy, God based the continuity of his covenant with the nation of Israel on the heavens and the earth. As Yeshua said, “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.” Well, heaven and earth are still here, and all has not been fulfilled. The Messiah has not yet returned the second time, Israel and Judah have not yet been reunited in the land, and men still have to teach each other about God.
All scripture is inspired of God and profitable for doctrine. None of it has been annulled. Obedience to God’s laws is required under both the old and the new covenant. Through faith I will continue to establish the Law (Romans 3:31) and repudiate lawlessness. Through faith in Yeshua and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will continue to try to live closer to God’s standards of perfections every day that I am able. So long as one man tells another to know God, so long as the earth continues to move through the heavens, I will continue to put my faith in God and his eternal standards rather than in the love of transient men.