Genocide, Slavery, and the Heart of Man

Jennifer H. Lau's autobiography of her childhood during the Cambodian Genocide, Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge

Everyone knows about the Holocaust, in which many millions of Jews, Romani, Slavs, and other “undesirables” were systematically exterminated by the Nazis during World War 2, but that was neither the first nor the last atrocity of its kind.

In 1975 the Khmer Rouge, a communist revolutionary group under the leadership of Pol Pot, took control of Cambodia. They executed the wealthy, professional, educated, and foreign people, and enslaved many millions of the poor and working classes. For around five years, they terrorized, murdered, and starved their own people.

As with all genocides, the numbers will never be known with any certainty, but the Khmer Rouge probably killed around two million people.

I recently read Jennifer H. Lau’s autobiography of her childhood during that terrible time, Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge (affiliate link). Throughout this detailed and intimate story of her family’s survival under extraordinarily harsh conditions, I was constantly struck with how vicious ordinary people can be and how kindness often comes from unlikely sources.

Impoverished subsistence farmers became benefactors. Next door neighbors became executioners. Protectors became thieves. Arch enemies became saviors.

People are fickle and desperation drives reasonable people to horrific behavior. No nation or race is exempt. Every people has been guilty at one time or another, and the same stories emerge from every genocide.

We have lived in such amazing peace and prosperity in America for so long that it’s easy to forget it isn’t normal. We have lulled ourselves to sleep and to dream that we are immune to the ubiquitous human tendency to force our will on others, to use people like just another resource to be consumed and discarded as needed.

Even as America prospered throughout most of the 20th century, the rest of the world reeled from genocide after genocide. The Khmer Roughe in Cambodia, the Nazis in World War 2, the Soviets in numerous times and places, the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians and Greeks, and so many others. There were genocides in every other century too, of course; modern technology just made us so much more efficient at it.

However, no matter which century, no matter which group of people are killing which other group, every genocide has this one inevitable fact in common: The belief that some people have absolute authority over others. The people exist for the benefit of the state or the party or the king, and the superior has the right to force the inferior to work, to relocate, to contribute, to live, or to die.

Although some forms of government (communism, for example) are founded on the belief that one person or group of people can have unlimited authority over other people, every form of government can be infected by this disease. It starts small: one person prospers, while another person suffers, so a third decides to take from the first in order to feed the second. It’s only fair. But once you have decided that you have a right to redistribute property based solely on your own (or the majority’s!) determination of what is fair or necessary, the only remaining moral barrier to redistributing life itself is entirely imaginary. If, in my own mind, I have a right to my neighor’s labor and property based on a vote or a pragmatic determination of my own, then I have a right to his life as well.

Every tree is known by its fruit, and communism is one of the most clearly evil schemes of government ever devised by man. There is no such thing as a decent, honest communist. By definition, they are thieves and murderers, at heart if they haven’t yet gained enough power to make their dreams into reality. Socialism is communism for people who haven’t completely killed off their consciences yet, and pure democracy merely distributes the guilt over more heads.

Many people criticize God’s Law because it allows a form of slavery. Yes, God recognizes authority, but he also says that all authority is only delegated by him and only temporarily and for limited purposes. Kings, priests, judges, husbands, fathers, mothers, and elder siblings have legitimate authority over other people, but that authority is always strictly limited. In God’s Law, life and property are sacrosanct. Nobod–not even a king–has the right to take another person’s life, labor, or property without a clear divine mandate or a conviction after a trial.

Of course, people, who reject God, also reject his law and, necessarily, all objective standards of morality. There can be no absolute law without an absolute Lawgiver. They say we have “evolved” beyond slavery and the archaic mandates of the Bible.

They are deluded.

We have not evolved. We are the same murderers and slavers that we have been from the beginning. The only difference is that we have accumulated knowledge and technology and more refined justifications for our atrocities.

If that sounds too grim a prognosis for you, then you need to read Mrs Lau’s book. You can get it here at Amazon.


Full disclosure: American Torah’s links to Amazon products are usually affiliate links. I earn a very small commission if you make a purchase after following one of my links.

The Woman and the Girl: A Parable of Israel

The woman with the issue of blood and the young girl who died are both Israel.

Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43, and Luke 8:41-56 all tell the same story regarding an older woman and a young girl who were both healed by Yeshua. In each account, a pious Jewish man named Jarius asked him to heal his twelve-year-old daughter who was on the verge of death. As Yeshua followed the man to his house, a crowd gathered around him, and a woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years touched his tzitzit (on the hem of his robe) and was instantly healed. Yeshua acknowledged the woman and then continued on to the man’s house where he brought the young girl back to life.

These seem like two separate events connected only by Yeshua and a shared moment in time, but the Gospel writers deliberately made the older woman’s story a part of the girl’s story by keeping it in the middle. The Gospels aren’t always told in chronological order, so there was no particular reason to maintain the order of events here unless there was a deeper significance. I believe that, while the story is completely true, it is a parable of Israel told through real life events.

Two Aspects of Israel

In the parable, the woman and the girl both represent Israel, as illustrated by the twelve years, but in different aspects or segments.

The older woman was that part of the nation that was/is conscious of her status as the chosen people of God. Her illness is a reflection of the people’s sterile spiritual state. Long before Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, the Jews had abandoned following much of the Torah as it was given by God to Moses. They still studied and revered it, but they had also adopted “the tradition of the elders,” which, through its myriad rules, rendered the real Torah “of no effect” (Matthew 15:1-20). Still today, the Jews follow their rabbis and traditions in direct opposition to the Written Torah. They claim to follow God’s instructions, yet they don’t.

When the woman touched Yeshua’s garments, she wasn’t just touching the cloth. It wasn’t his clothes that she was after, it was the tzitzit fastened on the four corners. Tzitzit represent God’s Law, the Torah, and whenever we see them, we are to be reminded to whom we owe our allegiance and our obedience. The woman, healed through touching the symbol of the Torah on Yeshua’s garment, represents the Jews (and those from the nations who have joined themselves to them) who were/are being/will be restored to spiritual health by faith in God. Their faith will be evidenced by acknowledgement of Yeshua as their Messiah and returning to Torah as he taught it.

The young girl was that part of the nation which remained scattered among the nations. They lived in idolatrous unbelief and had forgotten their identity as children of Jacob. Her father was an Israelite, and she lived twelve years in his house, but her life and awareness was gone by the time Yeshua reached her. Her descendants in the world today are being restored to life through Yeshua along with multitudes of gentiles, but they are neglecting God’s instructions. Like the Jews, they elevate man-made traditions above the commandments of God. The only difference in this respect is the specific set of traditions that have supplanted Torah.

Two Important Lessons

I want you to notice two other things about this story:

First, only those who were conscious of their illness were healed. Someone had to be willing to say, “Yeshua, heal me!” (or in the case of the young girl, “Heal my daughter!”) before they could be healed. People who don’t know that they are sick or who refuse to acknowledge their degraded spiritual state will never call out for salvation. Yeshua once sarcastically told the Pharisees that “Those who are well have no need of a physician.” A very large segment of the physical descendants of Jacob have been cut off and will never return because they refuse to acknowledge their illness and need of a Savior.

Second, after Yeshua raised the young girl, he didn’t tell her to go her way as he did with the older woman. He instructed the people of the house to feed her. In Scripture, food often represents spiritual instruction (See John 21:16-17, 1 Corinthians 3:2, and Hebrews 5:12-14). When the spiritually dead have been brought to life in Yeshua, it is vital that they be taught from the Scriptures or else they will die again. They must be made into disciples, taught to live as Yeshua lived.

Whether native born Israelites or grafted in from the nations, we have all inherited lies from our ancestors, traditions that confuse or entirely eclipse God’s commandments. “By your traditions, you have made the commandment of God of no effect.” We are saved from damnation by the grace of God and not our obedience to Torah. However, once saved, we require nourishment in the form of sound teaching and obedience to sustain our lives.

There will come a day when the New Covenant is in full effect and no person needs to instruct another in the ways of God, but that day isn’t here yet. We are obligated to love one another by keeping the commandments ourselves and by teaching others to do likewise.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving YHVH your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that YHVH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20


For more on the divided house of Israel watch my Who Is Israel series:

The Oil, the Spirit, Good Works, and the Light of Israel

Let your light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens. Matthew 5:16

Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.
Exodus 25:2 ESV

The materials to build the Ark and the Tabernacle were to be donated. That particular collection was a one time event, and no one was forced to give anything.

The olive oil for the Menorah was different. God said, “And you, you are to command the children of Israel to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.” (Exodus 27:20 TS2009) In order to fulfill the purpose of the command, this had to be an ongoing tax to be collected for as long as the Menorah should remain burning.

If you didn’t have olive trees of your own, then you would have to work out a deal with someone who did. Maybe you would donate some labor or your community would all pitch in together to buy oil. However the gathering and donation of oil happened, it wasn’t optional. God didn’t give the people a choice.

I am reminded of two of Yeshua’s commands. The first command is this:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14,16 ESV

The second command is this:

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Mark 16:15 ESV

Oil, the Menorah, and light are all metaphors of the Holy Spirit, and James told us that good works are the evidence of the working of the Spirit. We are to continually be a light to the world by preaching the gospel and doing good works wherever we go. We can never say, “I told someone about the Gospel once, so I’ve done my part.”

In order for the oil of the Spirit to be constantly replenished and our light to continually shine, we must always be looking for opportunities to serve, to tell of God’s faithfulness, to show his love to the world around us. Those good works are the visible light of the Spirit within us.

A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work

Daniel Botkin, A Heart to Pray and a Mind to Work

Recently I asked a group of congregational leaders about their biggest concerns and challenges. Their responses didn’t surprise me.

  • How can we teach on controversial topics without stepping on too many toes? What really matters and which topics can be safely avoided?
  • How do we handle false doctrines and the general craziness that people pick up on the Internet?
  • How should we handle conflicts and troublesome members?
  • What do we do when we’re accused of wrongdoing? What do we do when we are actually in the wrong?
  • How can we promote a spirit of gratitude and faith in our people?
  • How do we manage expectations and integrate people with different levels of faith and relationship with God? How do we find a place for everyone who wants to serve?

Every congregation faces these questions (and many more) at some point. If you’re doing God’s work on earth, you can’t expect the enemy to ignore you. He will take notice and start probing for weak points he can use to attack you and undermine your ministry.

As Messianic and Hebrew Roots congregations multiply and grow, we are facing more crises of leadership than most other believers. We are treading “new” ground–at least in today’s culture–of the old paths. Our people are struggling with the bitterness of realizing they have inherited lies, and they often lash out at their fellow heirs rather than at the original father of those lies.

“If you feel any anger or bitterness toward Christians, understand this: Chances are, you were not deliberately lied to. Chances are, your former pastors and teachers were good men who loved the Lord and sincerely believed the erroneous doctrines that they taught you. Chances are, they were simply misinformed by the misinformed leaders who taught them, and those misinformed leaders had been misinformed by the previous generation of leaders. So put away any anger and bitterness you have toward Christians. Direct your anger toward the Devil, the deceiver who persuaded them to believe the misinformation.”

Daniel Botkin, A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work

Our tendency to blame our fellow victims rather than our mutual enemy, leads many of us to reject authority, to reject all teachers and scholars, to strike out on our own as lone theological wolves. But we aren’t supposed to be wolves, whether lone or in a pack. We are a flock, and like every flock that wants to survive, we need shepherds, and we need each other.

I first met Daniel Botkin at a conference of Torah observant believers in Dallas, Texas. I attended his lecture on leadership in the congregation, and–the first chance I could get–found him in the merchant hall and bought his book, A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work.

As I began to read it over the next week, it immediately struck me as a vitally important work in the community of Torah observant followers of Yeshua. Botkin has more knowledge of the Scriptures and more experience in congregational leadership than the vast majority of us will ever have, and we need to take full advantage of the wisdom he has to offer.

I believe that what we are doing in this Torah movement is right. We are shedding centuries of lies and rediscovering the biblical roots of our faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the way back is treacherous. The Enemy doesn’t want us to make it, and he will do everything in his power to keep us distracted, divided, and off course. We need help to stay out of the ditches and swamps that lie on every side. We need common sense guidance on spiritual leadership, and I believe Botkin’s book is an important part of that guidance.

So I offered to narrate it and make it available as an audiobook. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. I’m not a voice actor or professional narrator. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in a professional studio. (I recorded in my bedroom closet with a usb microphone and a cheap laptop!) I’m sure the task could have been done better by professionals, but the professionals just weren’t going to do it, and this book needs to be available from as many retailers and in as many formats as possible.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t do all this work for free, but I’m not making a bunch of money from it, either. My share will probably come out to around $1 per audiobook sold. The bulk of the revenue goes to pay for the servers and bandwidth at the various audiobook retailers, and most of the rest will go to support Daniel Botkin’s ministry.

If you are as tired of the bickering and controversy as I am, consider buying either the paperback or the audiobook. Botkin’s website (GatesOfEden.Online) has links to purchase the paperback of A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work as well as others of his books. I’ll post links below to various audiobook retailers as they add it to their catalogues over the next few weeks.

Audiobook retailers carrying A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work:

Libro.fm Get 3 books with your first month’s membership ($14.99/mo) when you use the code AMERICANTORAH to sign up at this link first!

Patriarchy, Feminism, and the Government of a Godly People

The antidote to feminism isn't patriarchy, but repentance.

And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable. For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”; in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.”

…My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths. The LORD has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples. The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord GOD of hosts. The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts….Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground.

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Isaiah 3:4-4:6 (abbreviated)

A Nation of Weak Men

This prophecy in Isaiah concerned the ancient nations of Israel and Judah as well as the coming Messiah and His Kingdom, but there are still lessons for us to learn from the example. Look at the sins that brought about this punishment from God: men refusing to take leadership, teachers leading the people astray, oppression by selfish rulers, oppression of neighbor against neighbor, promiscuity, vanity and dominion of women.

When the men God called to leadership refuse to take it, women, children, and fools take it instead. God brings down the proud and avenges the oppressed. He will not sit idly by forever. In time, God will purge His people so that only those worthy and those willing to accept His ways will survive. Men will accept the role that God assigned to them as the heads of their families and the leaders of their people. Women will accept the role that God assigned to them as their husbands’ assistants and supporters.

“In that day, seven women will take hold of one man,” the prophet says, and today’s western Christian immediately recoils in horror at the thought. “What!? Women subjecting themselves to the authority of a man?” But this is not a part of the sin, this is a part of the healing process. When men turn to God and accept the leadership He desires for them, and when women turn to their men and accept the headship that God has placed over them, then we will begin to truly see what God can do with His people.

The Symptoms of Decline

These things are specifically listed in Chapter 3 as being good things that God would take away as punishment for their sins; they are the support and sustenance of a nation:

  • Food and water
  • Strong men and soldiers
  • Judges, prophets, administrators, elders, military commanders, honorable men, skilled craftsmen, and eloquent speakers

These things are listed as either sinful or the terrible consequences of the absence of those things listed above:

  • Government by women, children, and weak-minded men
  • Infighting
  • Disrespect for elders
  • Elevation of the disreputable above the honorable
  • Prideful and vain women

The pattern should be obvious. The first list is typical of a well-ordered, patriarchal society. The second is typical of a feminized democracy. Except for the judgeship of Deborah when no man was willing to stand up for the whole people, God’s mandated leadership throughout all of Israel’s history was masculine. Every one of God’s specially appointed kings, priests, elders, and judges (with that one exception) was a man. The only times when women led the nation were times of turmoil and weak-willed men.

Feminism Is an Effect, not the Cause of Trouble

I do not mean that no woman should ever be in a leadership position, or that it is somehow a sin for a woman to have authority over men. Some women are well suited for leadership, and some leadership positions are best occupied by women, and there is no command in God’s Law against women holding leadership positions. We should thank Him that there are competent and willing women available to take charge when all of the men have advocated their responsibilities!

None the less, any society with a significant percentage of its leadership positions–civil, business, family, or religious–occupied by women is already in serious trouble. A healthy society will always be governed primarily by godly men.

Humble Righteousness Is the Cure

If weak and selfish men are the disease and feminism a symptom, what is the cure?

Repentance.

In Isaiah 4, the healing begins with the repentance of women, but if that’s as far as it went, then there would have been no real healing at all. Ultimately, national healing requires the humble repentance of men.

We could take back the reins of power, take the vote away from women, and re-establish men-only universities and clubs… But without godliness, that would only replace one tyranny with another.

The solution to crime, corruption, and decaying public morality isn’t patriarchy in itself, but humble, righteous men picking up their divinely appointed staffs and mantles in their homes, churches, and synagogues. Be the men that God intended for you to be. Live righteously. Keep the commandments. Ensure justice for the oppressed–the legitimately oppressed, not people who merely imagine themselves to be oppressed–the widows and orphans.

When we obey God, when we follow his standards in our personal lives and in our homes, the rest will fall into place naturally.

What Is the Fear of the LORD?

Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and understanding. But what does it mean to fear God? On a basic level this is saying that no matter what else you know, no matter what else you think you understand, you’ll never have true understanding, you’ll never have true wisdom until you’ve learned to fear God.

This is the most basic level of wisdom.

So what does it really mean to fear God? Does it mean that that God is waiting in the sky to smite wrongdoers and you have to be on your toes at all times, always watching what you’re doing? Maybe you do need to, but no that’s not really what it’s talking about.

God isn’t up there waiting for us to do something wrong so that he can knock us around. We don’t have to be afraid that he’s vindictive and capricious.

Instead think about God more like you would an intense furnace or a nuclear reactor. You treat it with respect, never casually. Never abuse it. You follow its rules because, if you don’t, you could be burned; you could be destroyed. Not because it wants to destroy you but because, by its nature, it is so powerful, so holy, so different from anything else you know, that have to treat it with that level of respect.

The fear of the Lord is the fear that a child has for a stern, but very loving father.

God doesn’t want to be treated casually. He doesn’t want to be treated like your boyfriend or your buddy. God is an unimaginably powerful force, and you will never understand what it means to have wisdom, to have understanding…you’ll never really understand the universe until you understand God’s power and until you learn to fear it and fear him and respect him as your creator.

Moses, the Wedding Photographer

The tabernacle and the priesthood were given to build our relationship with God.

My wife and I had two photographers at our wedding, my sister Regina and a professional that we hired for the day. They wandered around ahead of the big event, snapping photos–both candid and posed–of the preparations. They took many more pictures of the ceremony, capturing the moments and expressions, the dresses and flower arrangements, and of the celebration afterwards.

When the digital images were available online, Paula created a photo book from the best pictures, and we keep it on the living room coffee table to this day. A few pictures are in frames and on walls in other rooms. Tucked away somewhere, we also have copies of our vows and invitations, the guest list, and all of the cards that we received from family and friends.

Everything about our wedding held significant meaning for us. We put many hours of thought into our vows, the choices of colors and flowers, the guests we invited, the design and ingredients for the cake, the embroidery on my tallit, and many other elements. Our vision for our coming life together was, in many ways, symbolized by the ceremony and trappings of our wedding, even the higher-than-predicted wind that gave so many of the family portraits a mildly comical flavor. It was a beautiful day–one of the most important of our lives–and we wanted to remember it all.

We are fortunate to live at a time when technology allows us to record important events in minute detail. We have computer records and photography and video so that we can go back and see the expressions on individual faces decades later. People used to have to rely solely on their memories and the written word. There are pros and cons to both, I suppose.

These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
Exodus 38:21

Why Is the Tabernacle Important?

Precious metals and stones, threads and fabrics, skins, wood, oil, spices, measurements, directions, and rituals… Then more of the same. And more again. Sometimes it seems like the last third of the Book of Exodus reads more like a hardware store inventory than a work of spiritual truths, but it’s actually the record of a wedding (or of a betrothal ceremony, depending on how you look at it).

God is timeless and unimaginably powerful; he created the universe with only a few words. Be assured that he doesn’t do anything frivolously, and every detail that he told his prophets to write down for us is elegantly profound even when it appears to be drab. He wants us to remember the events at Sinai with all their pageantry and to meditate on them frequently. He wants us to search out the many dimensions of meaning in the forms and functions of Priest and Tabernacle, meaning both to him and to our relationship with him.

In the Exodus description of the Tabernacle and the priesthood, God used words, colors, materials, and measurements to paint a picture for us of his plan for us and our relationship with him. Our sins and his gracious forgiveness, our worship and his love, our failures and his Messiah, all laid out with gold and silver, crimson and blue, incense and oil, in more dimensions that we can perceive and probably more than we can understand.

God’s thoughts are too complex–incomprehensible, even–to be reduced to mere words, instead he primarily communicates to us through stories, objects, people, and events. The interplay of the varied elements over time is like an animated work of art carved into the heart of a gemstone that reveals a different aspect of the same story in each separate facet.

God’s Religion Is All about Relationship

Studying the Tabernacle and priestly service can be difficult, but as you read the technical-sounding words, remember the divine subtext: God loves us and desperately wants to share his life with us. He betrothed us to himself and gave us this living album to remember that day, to enhance and develop our relationship with him over time, and to remind us of what it promised, a new and better covenant sealed by the blood of Yeshua.

All of these things and much more are recorded in the description of the Tabernacle in Exodus and of the Temple in Ezekiel. Even if you don’t understand what they mean now, keep going back to them, keep meditating on them. Some day when the events of Yeshua’s return begin to unfold around us, you will remember the four pillars before the Most Holy Place or the crown about the rim of the Table of the Presence, and you’ll suddenly think, “Ah! That’s what that meant!”

(The feature image was modified from an original by hillary h at flickr.)

Tzitzit, Part 2: Messianics, Hebrew Roots, and Torah

Regarding tzitzit, where does the commandment end and tradition begin?

Recall from part 1 that tzitzit are the tassels that God commanded the Israelites to tie onto the four corners of their garments in Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12. Tallits are the prayer shawls to which Jews attach their tzitzit.

See Part 1 here: The Torah and the Rabbis. Make sure you read that before reading this article, because I make some references here that might not make a lot of sense if you haven’t.

The Messianic and Hebrew Roots Application

Messianic Jews, Hebraic Roots believers, and Torah observant Christians have a much wider range of beliefs regarding tallits and tzitziyot than the various flavors of modern Judaism do. Most people who describe themselves as Messianic Jews will tend to adhere to rabbinic Judaism’s rules, but that is far from universal. People who describe themselves as Hebrew Roots will tend to more liberal standards.

Like Jews, Hebrew Roots people often wear tallits for prayer and special occasions and will usually follow rabbinic traditions when they do. However, many believe that tzitzit can be made of any kind of thread, wrapped and tied in any pattern, although the Ashkenazi and Sephardic patterns are very common.

Their tzitzit could be any color, but white, black, and tan are most common, so long as there is a single blue thread. Some believe that the blue (tekhelet) thread must be colored with the traditionally identified dye, while others agree with the Karaites that the dye can come from any source.

Many Hebrew Roots people believe that tzitzit should be worn visibly at all waking hours, often interpreting “four corners” to mean four points or four sides of an outer garment. They might wear a tallit katan for this purpose or they might attach their tzitzit to the hem of a shirt or even temporarily attached to belt loops. A few will wear a small rectangle of cloth suspended on one hip from the belt, called a “micro tallit”.

Where Does the Commandment End and Tradition Begin?

The Material of the Tzitzit

The written Torah doesn’t say what tzitzit should be made of. The rule in Deuteronomy 22:12 is immediately after a rule against wearing garments of mixed fibers in 22:11. Mainstream Jewish rabbis believe this is intended to imply an exception to the mixed fiber rule for tzitzit, while Karaite Jews believe it is intended to underscore the importance of the tzitzit being of the same material as the garment.

The preceding rules in Deuteronomy aren’t just about mixed fabrics, but also about mixed crops and plow animals, while the following rules are about marital troubles, sexual sins, and people who are not allowed to be mixed with Israel. I don’t believe that verses 11 and 12 make up a discrete, separate unit from these other rules, but that they are a coherent whole.

Verses 9-11 forbid certain mixtures of plants, animals, and fabrics. These commands are literal, but are also object lessons against mixing the wrong kinds of people.

Verse 12 commands the wearing of tzitzit “on the garment with which you cover yourself”. It emphasizes “covering” to remind Israel that God’s commands are given for their protection. The tzitzit say, “Keep these instructions, because they protect you from danger.”

Verses 13-21 contain instructions on how to handle a dispute between spouses of very different moral character. The married couple and their families were not careful to keep the commandments against mixing diverse types, and they reaped sorrow because of it. If only they had worn their tzitzit, they might not be in this trouble.

Verses 22-30 forbid certain sexual relationships. The Talmud contains a famous story of a man who resisted temptation because of his tzitzit. I’m sure you can find it if you search.

Verses 1-8 in chapter 23 describe who may and who may not enter the assembly of Israel. This passage looks back to verses 9-11 in chapter 22. It concludes the series by forbidding the mixing of pagan foreigners with Israelites.

Tzitzit are ultimately about relationship between people and God.

I don’t believe the command concerning tzitzit is placed here to say anything at all about the material of the tzitzit. It’s about people. Those who keep the commandments, including wearing tzitzit, are suitable marriage and community material. Those who do not keep the commandments are not suitable.

I take a position somewhere in the middle between the Karaite and Orthodox: If you permanently attach your tzitzit to your garment, then they are a single garment and should be of the same material. If they are not permanently attached, but are removable, then I don’t think it matters what they are made of.

I also don’t believe that the strings used in your tzitzit need to be specifically manufactured for that purpose. That is purely a tradition of man with no Biblical basis.

The Source of Blue

Torah doesn’t specify any particular color for tzitzit and even many rabbis will say that white is only traditional. It’s a good tradition, but you are free to use whatever colors suit you. However, I would avoid using blue, so that the single blue thread that God commanded will stand out.

The Hebrew word for blue, tekhelet, might (or might not) be derived from the name of a particular mollusk that was used to create a blue dye in the Ancient Near East. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the word can only refer to that one, particular dye. In modern English we have many color words that were originally derived from the source of a dye or some object of that color. The words have evolved to refer to the color itself, regardless of the source of dye. Crimson, for example, originally came from the name for an insect used to create a deep red dye, but very few modern English speakers are aware of that etymology, let alone adamant about restricting the use of the word to that dye derived from that original source.

Other sources of blue were known in the ancient world. For example, woad and indigo were both used to make blue dye for clothing, and the Babylonians and Egyptians used a mineral-based blue pigment for paints and construction materials. Tekhelet is the only Hebrew word used in the Bible for the color blue, and it’s used in widely different contexts. The same word is used to describe cloth used in the wilderness Tabernacle (Exodus 25-39), in the Jerusalem Temple (2 Chronicles 2:7 and 3:14), in Persian curtains and robes (Esther 1:6 and 8:15), and in the courts and markets of kingdoms around the known world (Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:7 and 27:24).

I think it is extremely unlikely that all of these things were only ever colored with a dye derived from a particular Mediterranean snail. More likely, the name for the color had long ago lost any real connection to the snail. Many centuries after the Torah was given at Sinai, someone mandated that a particular dye be used either because they had a financial interest in the industry or they felt a particular shade of blue was more meaningful than another.

The blue thread in the tzitzit is probably intended to remind us of the blue of the sky or else the sapphire pavement of heaven described by Moses in Exodus 24:10. Is it supposed to be the pale blue we know of as sky blue or is it the deep blue of the night sky? Probably sky blue, but the text isn’t explicit. If it’s blue and it reminds you of Heaven, that I think that’s sufficient.

Knots and Windings

Torah says that your tzitzit must be twisted or wound cord. I agree with the rabbis on this, that the exact manner of twisting is unimportant. It needs to be done so that it won’t come apart during normal wear, but otherwise, do it how you like.

Some people braid their tzitzit, while others like to get creative. I usually use the Sephardic winding and knots (see part 1 for a description of Sephardic and Ashekenazic windings) because it is derived from the four-letter name of God, YHVH, and so reinforces the purpose of the tzitzit and is easier to remember.

Tallits and Beltloops

Does “corners” literally refer to corners or to extremities? In the Bible, the Hebrew word kanaph usually refers to the wings of a bird or cherub, and twice refers to the extremities of either the land of Israel or the Earth. In none of those cases, can it be reasonably interpreted as a literal corner. It either means a pointed end (wing), or the farthest reaches (earth). When it is used in relation to clothing, it usually makes sense to translate it as corner, but does it necessarily have to mean that or can it be interpreted more loosely as in the four corners of the earth?

Most historians say that the outer garment commonly worn at the time was similar to a poncho, a simple rectangle of cloth with a hole in the middle for the head and a belt or girdle to cinch it around the middle. If the standard garment had been a wrap that was wound about the body instead of draped over the shoulder, would God have commanded Israel to switch to a rectangular outer garment or would he have told them to attach tassels on four evenly-distributed points on their hems or belts?

I don’t know the answer. The literal meaning of the command is to attach them to four corners, but I think it’s reasonable to attach them to four “sides” of your whatever outer garments are commonly worn in your time and culture rather than to adopt a new and foreign form of dress.

I don’t believe that the micro tallit fulfills the requirement of the commandment because all four tzitzit are on one side of the body. Torah says that they must be seen, and this purpose, plus the instruction to attach them to four corners requires that they should be seen from every direction. For this same reason, a tallit worn only on special occasions and a tallit katan worn completely hidden from the world are also insufficient.

I attach my tzitzit to my beltloops or to my belt because otherwise I would have to start wearing a tallit katan or else alter all of my shirts. Wearing a tallit katan doesn’t seem like a huge imposition for an office worker like myself, and I can imagine myself adopting that practice at some point.

I do not agree with the rabbinic rules about the minimum length of the garment or the percentage of separation in the seam to qualify as a valid corner. These are rules adopted as practical matters over the millennia probably because someone had an argument about it in the forgotten past, not because obedience to the command actually requires it.

Tzitzit Are Intended To Be Seen

And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
Numbers 15:39-40

Tzitzit are not a ceremonial or “Levitical” command. They are moral. They are intended to help you and everyone around you to keep all of God’s Law, not just the sacrifices.

As I already pointed out, the Deuteronomy passage shows that they help protect against joining God’s people with unbelievers. The longer tzitzit command in Numbers 15:37-41 is similarly situated between descriptions of intentional, “high-handed” sins. The passage that comes before, Numbers 15:30-36, describes a man who despised the immediate presence of God and intentionally violated the Sabbath. The passage that follows, Numbers 16, describes the rebellion of Korah. The clear intent of placing the commandment concerning tzitzit between these two stories is, first, to illustrate that we need constant reminders to keep us focused on what is right, and, second, to point out that those, who commit blatant sins in the presence of constant reminders to the contrary, are not merely weak or mistaken, but are openly rebellious.

If everyone who believes in God and keeps his commandments is wearing tzitzit, then those people who do not and those people who sin in spite of the tzitzit are clearly marked by their behavior as unsuitable for marriage or leadership within God’s people.

I Don’t Need to Wear Tzitzit Because I Know the Torah

Recently, I saw a video of a discussion in which several nominally Torah-observant believers all agreed that they had outgrown the need to wear tzitzit because they had memorized the Ten Commandments and no longer needed memory aides. I was stunned that these people appear to have read and seriously considered Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22 and somehow came away with the impression that they were free to ignore one commandment because they had memorized ten others.

Tzitzit are not about memorizing anything. They are not training wheels. They are about resisting temptation. Everyone is tempted. Everyone needs reminders to resist temptation.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
Luke 4:1-2

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment [his tzitzit], and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
Luke 8:43-44

Yeshua, the Son of God and full of the Holy Spirit, was tempted and wore tzitzit. Only one man has ever lived a sinless life. So long as the unresurrected flesh remains to tempt us away from the path that God has laid out for us, we need every help we can get to remain faithful to our God and Savior.

I have studied the Torah for decades, yet I still wear tzitzit every day. I am still only human and need minute-by-minute reminders to keep my mind and heart focused on things above.

If you say that you have outgrown the need for tzitzit, then you are claiming to be above all temptation, and more righteous even than Yeshua.

Tzitzit Throughout the Bible

I could spend the next year writing about coverings and tassels from Scripture and probably not run out of material. Garment corners and fringes are a recurring theme in the histories and prophecies and even in the Apostolic writings. They reveal profound truths about the relationships between husband and wife, God and the world, Messiah and Israel.

I encourage you to look back at the words used in these commandments, to study other passages where they are used. Even if you are determined that tassel-wearing is a “Jewish thing” and not for you, I guarantee that you will gain valuable insights from the study.

Tzitzit, Part 1: the Torah and the Rabbis

When it comes to tzitzit, what traditions really matter?

See Part 2 here.

What Are Tzitzit?

Tzitzit are one of those distinctively “Jewish” things, like tallits and kippahs, that most Christians are aware of at some level, but don’t really understand. Tzitzit is the Hebrew name for the tassel or fringe that many Jews, Messianic Jews, and Hebrew Roots people wear on their clothing. The plural form is tzitziyot—tzitzit is singular—but most people today use the singular form for plural also, like a collective noun.

Tzitzit are also called tassels and fringes. Either of those words might be used in various places, depending on which English translation you are reading.

If you don’t know very many Jews or Torah observant Christians yourself, you’ve probably still seen some people—usually men—with white strings hanging from under their shirt or jacket on television or at the airport without giving it much thought. It’s just part of a religious or ethnic costume, so it tends to get lost in the overall picture of “those people”.

Tzitzit appear either explicitly or by implication in many passages in the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, and in the Gospels. Despite this fact, churches rarely teach anything about them. As far as most Christian pastors and theologians are concerned, tzitzit are just one of those things that Jews wore to make sure they looked different than other nations, and since “there is neither Jew nor Greek” in Christ, we don’t need that kind of thing anymore.

Or so we are taught.

That’s really a shame, because tzitzit are connected to some really important spiritual principles. It’s also completely wrong. God didn’t give reasons for all of his instructions, but he did for this one, and it had nothing to do with looking different.

Tzitzit in the Torah

The primary passages that define tzitzit are Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12.

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”
Numbers 15:37-41 ESV

You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.
Deuteronomy 22:12 ESV

These commands were given to Israel in the Wilderness. The Numbers 15 command was given at the beginning of the forty years, right after the 10 spies brought a bad report of the land, and the Deuteronomy 22 command was part of a recap of the whole Law delivered by Moses just before the people began their conquest of the land.

What Do the Tzitzit Commands Actually Say?

Let’s examine the Hebrew words in these passages so we know what they are really saying.

Make, in both cases, is from the Hebrew word asah, which can be reasonably interpreted to mean make (as in manufacture) or attach. Some people believe this means you should make your own tzitzit, while others believe it’s fine to buy pre-made tassels as long as you attach them to your garment yourself.

Tassel

  • In the Numbers passage the Hebrew word is tzitzit. It refers to a corner or point, and comes from tzit, which means flower or petal. A tzitzit is the pointy end of a tzit.
  • In the Deuteronomy passage the Hebrew word is gedil. It’s only used twice in the Bible, here and in 1 Kings 7:17 to describe wreaths that were carved into the tops of pillars.

Garment is from the Hebrew word beged. It is used throughout the Hebrew scriptures to refer to all kinds of clothing.

Put is from the Hebrew natan. It means to give, put, set, assign, etc.

Cord is from the Hebrew patiyl, and means strand, lace, or ribbon. It is related to the word patal, which means to be twisted, implying that a strand in this sense consists of multiple threads twisted together.

Blue is from the Hebrew tekhelet. The word might have been derived from the name of a mollusk or snail which was used to make a blue dye. Many people believe that it only refers to that blue dye and no others, but there are good reasons to believe it can refer to the color blue, no matter where the dye came from.

Corner is from the Hebrew kanaph. It refers to a wing, extension, extremity, or border. Corner is a reasonable translation in context, but wing or extremity is probably more literally accurate. Since the standard outer garment of the time was probably a large rectangle with an opening for the head, “four extremities” and “four corners” would be synonymous.

A harmonized rendering of the command from the two passages might read like this:

Make/attach tassels on the four extremities of your garments. Include a strand of blue with the tassel of the extremities. When you look at the tassels, they will remind you of all the commandments of YHWH, so that you will obey Him instead of following your own desires.

Although the commandment seems straightforward, there has always been disagreement on exactly how to apply it.

The Traditional Jewish Application

Judaism has a very long history of cumulative interpretation and application of these commands, and has developed detailed regulations on how tzitzit are to be made and worn. Most of these rules are derived from implications of the Biblical text or from practical considerations at one or another time in history. Few of them are based on explicit instructions in the written Torah.

The Materials of Tzitzit

Tzitzit should be made of white wool, and may or may not have a blue thread, depending on whether or not you believe that the specific mollusk from which the dye was originally extracted in Biblical times has been rediscovered or not. The threads that make up the tzitzit must be manufactured specifically for the purpose and may not be used for anything else.

Karaite Jews believe the tzitzit should be made of the same material as the garment to which they are being attached and that any blue dye can be used for the servant thread.

The Form of Tzitzit

There are a few different traditional methods of winding or twisting a tzitzit. The only firm requirements are that there are four white threads doubled over to make eight, and one longer thread (the blue one, if you include it), called a servant thread, is wrapped around the others. These are the two most common patterns:

The Ashkenazi Tzitzit has a double knot, seven windings, a double knot, eight windings, a double knot, eleven windings, a double knot, thirteen windings, and a double knot.

The Sephardic Tzitzit has a double knot, ten windings, a double knot, five windings, a double knot, six windings, a double knot, five windings, and a double knot.

Both methods use five double knots, one between each set of windings and one on each end to secure the whole, with the loose strings at the end twice the length of the knotted section. There are other methods, but the vast majority use one of these two.

Ashkenazi (white) and Sephardic (blue and white) styles of tzitzit windings and knots. See  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tzitzith.jpg for source information.
Ashkenazi (white) and Sephardic (blue and white) styles of tzitzit windings and knots. See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tzitzith.jpg for source information.

The Placement of Tzitzit

Tzitzit must be attached to the corners of a four-cornered garment worn on the upper body. The garment can be made of any material, but wool and silk are preferred. In order to qualify as four-cornered, the garment must have a significant split along the side seam, usually interpreted as at least half the length of the garment or 18-24 inches. A full tallit gadol satisfies this requirement by being completely open on the sides and long enough to be draped over the shoulders so that the corners hang down in front and back.

The tzitzit must be permanently affixed to the corners, by a hole placed one to two inches from the edge. Tallits have a square of cloth on each corner as reinforcement for this purpose. Jews only wear the tallit gadol during prayer times or on special occasions, such as Yom Kippur and weddings.

A tallit katan is made more like a t-shirt but with the seams joined for only a short length under the arms in order to be sure there are four legitimate corners. Unlike the tallit gadol, it is intended to be worn as an undergarment during all waking hours. The tzitzit can be worn hanging out from beneath a shirt so they are visible or else completely hidden.

Do Women Wear Tzitzit?

In Orthodox Judaism, only men are required to wear tzitzit, but women increasingly wear them also, especially in Reform Judaism. Opinions on whether or not women should wear or are allowed to wear tzitzit change with time and culture. They rarely appear in ancient and medieval art as obvious tassels, but when they do, men and women are both depicted wearing them. Claims that women never wore tzitzit until the modern era are obviously false.

An image from the Codex Rossianus, dated 1453, showing men and women both wearing tzitzit.
An image from the Codex Rossianus, dated 1453, showing men and women both wearing tzitzit.

Most rabbis believe that women are not required to wear them, but may if they desire to do so. Strict Orthodox Jewish rabbis are likely to be more opposed.

Summary and Introduction to Part Two

In this installment, I examined the text of the two commandments to wear tzitzit and surveyed Jewish traditions about making and wearing them.

I know that this will seem dry and pointless to most Christians who do not themselves believe they should be keeping Torah, but we know from Paul’s instructions to Timothy that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine and reproof.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Joshua concurred and read the entire Torah to the native born Israelites and sojourners alike after they had conquered Jericho and Ai.

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
Joshua 8:34-35

If you desire to know the mind of God and the manner in which he wants his people to live, then even these seemingly minor matters should not be neglected.

In the next installment, I’ll describe the Wild West of Messianic and Hebrew Roots tzitzit and return to the Torah to add some historical and scriptural context. That is where you will see the real purpose and value of tzitzit.

Continue to Part 2.

Did the New Covenant Make the Old Covenant Obsolete?

Did the New Covenant make the Old Covenant obsolete?

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first [old covenant] obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 8:13

In the course of a respectful (not sarcasm!) conversation on Facebook, a friend made this statement:

Based on other interactions, it’s clear that you hold that the New Covenant did not make the Old Covenant obsolete, and therefore you must have an alternative explanation to Hebrews 8:13 which – in English – appears to plainly state that the New Covenant DID make the Old Covenant obsolete.

I thought readers of American Torah might also appreciate my reply:

It depends on what you mean by “obsolete”. Whatever the author of Hebrews meant, it seems that he didn’t mean it was completely gone (annulled) at the time he wrote, decades after Jesus’ resurrection, because he wrote that the “old is ready to vanish away”, not that it had already vanished away.

In my opinion, Hebrews is the second most misunderstood book in the Bible (Revelation being the first). I’ll use a couple of metaphors to explain two core concepts that the writer discusses.

One, the writer compares Jesus’ priesthood with Aaron’s. Two, he compares the New Covenant with the Old (Sinai) Covenant. (I say one and two, not first and second, because he jumps back and forth and all around in making his points, which convinces me that Paul was the author, possibly through an intermediary.)

Two Priesthoods

Metaphor One: Think of the two priesthoods as a hammer and screwdriver. A hammer is great for driving nails, but terrible for driving screws. In fact, if you try to use a hammer to drive a screw, you’re likely to make a mess of the wood and break the screw, possibly a finger as well. Hammers were intended to drive nails, and that’s fine as long as you’re only nailing things together. But if you have a new task that requires driving screws, you’re going to need a new tool to drive them.

If the task at hand involves certifying a leper as clean or making a burnt offering in worship, you go to Aaron. That’s what he’s good for. The Aaronic priesthood is fine for what it does, but it was never capable of mediating eternal salvation. Aaron was completely incapable of permanently removing the stain of sin and restoring us to a right relationship with God for all eternity. If that’s your goal, then you need a new tool, a new priesthood: Jesus.

Hebrews doesn’t say that the Melchizedek Priesthood replaces the Aaronic. It says that, if you are dealing with a different covenant, altar, and domain, then you need a different priesthood too. One doesn’t replace the other, but operates in parallel on a different, higher level.

Two Covenants

Metaphor Two: Picture the Sinai Covenant as a full moon and the New Covenant as the rising sun. As the sun rises, the moon doesn’t cease to exist. It continues to “rule the night” and to influence the tides, but it does fade in comparison to the much brighter light of the sun. The moon gives light both at night and in daytime, but when the sun rises, the moon’s light becomes superfluous–osbsolete, one might say–as if it has faded with age.

Just like the moon, the Old Covenant has no light of its own. It is a reflection of a much greater covenant, that the Scriptures anachronistically call the New Covenant. It’s “new” because, although it was promised and existed in principle from the very beginning, the sacrificial blood that sealed it was shed relatively recently, and it is still not fully risen. Until the promise of Jeremiah 31 (quoted in Hebrews 8) is fulfilled, we can’t really say that the New Covenant has reached its zenith:

“And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”

Hebrews 8:11 & Jeremiah 31:34

When Will the New Covenant Be Fully in Effect?

According to Jeremiah and Hebrews, one of the distinctive qualities of the New Covenant is that God’s Law will be written on the hearts of the people. They will no longer need a written Law because they will know God’s character instinctively, and will know right from wrong without having to be told. This presupposes that the Law as written in the Old Covenant is an accurate reflection of God’s character and what he considers to be moral behavior.

As we internalize his Law, we obey what the Law says without having to continually reference the written word. This absolutely does not mean that we are free to throw out all of the moral standards detailed at Sinai because we have the Law written on our hearts. If we believe that, then it is clearly NOT written on our hearts and we still need to be told what to do.

“The Law was written for sinners, not for the righteous.” But “If any man says he doesn’t sin, he’s a liar and the truth isn’t in him.”

I believe that when–or sometime after–Jesus returns, he will complete the process of establishing the New Covenant. We will finally have God’s Law fully written in our hearts and nobody will need to tell anyone “Know God” because we will all know him at every level. When that happens, we can say that the Old Covenant has finally become completely obsolete because its light and purpose has been fully subsumed into the light of the Sun of the New Covenant.

More Information…

A related post on Galatians: Galatians and Torah, the short version.
And for more on the false dichotomy of “Grace vs Law”: Grace vs Law.