What is Torah Study?
I believe the Tribe of Judah has kept the Words of God, as is their purpose, and we as Believers in their Messiah, should understand what the basis of our Messiah’s teachings are. This understanding is only found in the Torah.
By Torah I mean the Teachings of Righteousness.
The Law has been a misused phrase in Christianity, and one I think will cease to be negative if understood in its full context. Torah is a word which points to the Teachings within the first five books of the Bible. These first five books are what spawned every other Scripture.
Without our Greek logic telling us that we are masters of our own truth, we will cling to the Torah as the life preserve we need. If Jesus is truly the Living Torah as John proclaims him to be, then why do we not embrace the Torah, not because it gives us righteousness but because it is essential in understanding who our Messiah truly is.
Paul explained that righteousness is faith in the Messiah, not following what to do but believing in the One who gave the Torah and was the Living Torah. Within the written Torah we can find the proper way to follow, rather than building on sinking sand, we will have solid foundations.
Without these five books of teaching there could be no other ones. It just makes sense to study these books how the people who know them the best study them. I do not believe that by studying Torah anyone becomes super Christians, or do I believe Judaism is better than Christianity, nor do we as believers even need to call ourselves Christians, Jews, or Messianic. I believe that when our hearts have been changed by the Living Torah then we will choose to become involved with what the Messiah of Israel and His followers were concerned with.
I also believe, without understanding Torah Principles, our life of Discipleship is not as strong as it should be and we short-change our children in respect to a legacy of truth. I know that understanding the Torah better, helps us to be better followers of Jesus.
Academic learning is only one part however, heart understanding and doing is the other. To have this true understanding, requires us to know the foundations Jesus took for granted.
Most of the Sages, Torah Scholars, and those who study the Torah in depth and with the same principles Jesus used are from the Tribe of Judah, now known as Jews. Which means that to understand the Torah as Jesus did we need to avail ourselves of the knowledge they have.
In Israel however, most of the Jews believe that the lost ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel have always been within Israel. Most, not all, do not want to believe there are actual lost tribes who will eventually be returned by God to Israel. I think that this is very important to see and understand, there are different distinct tribes of Israel and each one said they would do and obey the Torah on the foot of Mt. Sinai so long ago.
I believe this is a key for Gentiles to see as we study the Torah because the Torah was specifically to the Nation of Israel not just one tribe, but all 12 (or 13) Tribes, however you break them down, and it is within this context you study Torah properly.
Some messianic groups say the Physical Torah Commands are for the Gentiles just as much as they are for Israelite, I think this misses much of the mark. This also misses the Sages teachings about Gentiles which cannot be discounted because they study from the same foundations Jesus and the Apostles uses.
Just because certain truths are for everyone's benefits, does not mean they are specific commands to everyone. To be grafted into the vine of Israel, in my opinion, does not mean that we somehow have to follow all of the 413 Torah Commands as someone who is of the lineage from the original people who stated to God that they would do and obey the Torah. There is great debate on this subject and I do not believe my opinion is the only valid one, but it is my opinion and I wanted to share it here.
I believe that the Gentile Nations rejected the Torah at MT. Sinai; therefore will never be able to properly fulfill the commandments, because for the most part the important commandments are physical and relegated for people who Worship in an Earthly Temple which has been destroyed now for over 2000 years.
If the Nation of Israel rebuilds a Temple then they will again be bound by their original oath to fulfill the commands of Worshiping God in the way He prescribed within the Torah, I do not believe Gentiles are bound to do this, but again this is a very large topic and one which has not been discussed honestly and openly since the time of the Apostles.
One thing we all as humans need to understand is that when you do the Torah commands it does not constitute Salvation. When Moses came down with it in his hands and heart, it did not constitute salvation then, and neither does now.
Belief in the Torah (Jesus is the Word of God right), and submitting to its (or His) commands is what brings salvation. Jesus made this clear in his admonition to His Disciples, and Paul explained what belief and proclamation does in respect to salvation (John 14:12-17, 15:5-25, Romans 10:9-10, and Eph. 2:8-9).
In principle, the written Torah, contains God's definitions of morality, how to love, how to work, how to act, how to be in this World, but its PHYSICAL commands are largely only to the Israelite. This is the sticky part of Studying the Torah, separating what it means to the Gentile and to the Israelite.
The Church struggled with this after the Apostles were martyred, or died, and decided to follow a Roman Path of philosophy rather than a Hebraic way. I think this was very detrimental to fully understanding what Jesus wanted for us.
Not everything in the Bible is to specific people or groups, but everything is for all of us, if we can understand in context everything that Jesus did and taught we will have a much better understanding of what He called us as Disciples to do.
When we look through Greek glasses and think in a linear manner (which simply means thinking in a straight line), it makes scriptures contradict one another. I do realize that you can compartmentalize Scripture and make everything into a dispensation, or systematize it and say some things are now over, and some things have not begun, you can make Scripture make sense in a linear manner, but you empty it of its real meaning and power to change. In my opinion, to follow scripture in a linear way detracts from Scripture, and introduces a God who is inside of a box, thus not God.
As an Example we will look at Galatians Chapter 3:1-10 the one verse the Linear Church uses to say the Torah is bad to follow.
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
This in context, like the whole book, has little to do with saying the Torah is evil as the Church of Linear thought would say, and more to do with what real righteousness does in our hearts. It says that unless we accomplish every command perfectly we can never be righteous, we can strive and strive to "do works of Law" and think that these accomplishments makes us righteous because it is about believing that the Author of the words has brought us salvation.
The doing is only a representation of the belief which has activated in our hearts. Simply put, if we believe our works are what bring us into right relationship with God, then we are under a curse, as we are putting what we do as the key, where the Apostle clearly teaches the key is belief. If we see in context we also have to remember that this letter was specifically to a Gentile group of believers who seemed to be confused about what constitutes salvation.
In my reading, this clearly has nothing to do with the Torah being evil, it has to do with our evil, and desire to believe what we do supersedes what God has done for us.
To be free is to realize that our righteousness was paid by Christ, not by works we can do. Just like Israel was brought out of Egypt by God not because of what they did, we also as Gentiles are brought out of our old fleshly lives by the Holy Spirit (or Ruach Ha Kodesh). The Torah principle in this teaching is what Abraham learned, everything hinges on faith.
This then generates the question, why do we have to do anything if it does not constitute salvation; what do we need to do after attaining salvation? I think Paul explains this in the very next Scriptures of this book of Galatians 3:11-14
11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
To live by the Law means we live by our own strength, it doesn't mean the Torah is evil, to say the Torah is evil and of the flesh is to say that Jesus as the Living Torah is evil.
The Torah is perfect, but we cannot be perfect. We can live, believe, and follow as best as we can. To think we bring ourselves close to God y our actions, is to think we are better than God. This can never be. What we are to do is allow our actions to come into line with what God says is righteous living. Our job is to say we will do and obey, not to think we can build a Mountain of Good Works and reach God.
Torah Study shows us why we need faith to be near God, as it is truly impossible to do on our own. Without Torah we have no standard to realize we are not God, this is the most important thing about Torah Study.
The Linear Church wants to do away with the Torah because its a standard they can never attain, this standard of learning by believing not doing. They make a standard the Apostles never taught, their standard of conduct comes more from Roman Religious practices than Scriptural Principles.
As believers in the Messiah of Israel we need to understand Scripture, Prayer, who God is, who we are, and how we are to conduct ourselves by how Jesus believed and taught, not how Greek Philosophers taught. Torah Study will bring us back to an authentic understanding of what Jesus has given us.