When I started this journey back in October, I believed it would be a one and done. However, as we start this the third installment, the picture of what I thought obedience was and how Jesus fulfilled the law has expanded to a depth, hard to find words to describe it.
I used to tell my son to not spill his milk, because I was afraid he would spill the milk. I never saw past it and constantly repeated that phrase and scared him. I tried to prevent an experience I thought was bad and missed an opportunity to grow deeper with my son. As we discuss the Torah, understand this is not about preventing us from living, but learning how to live the life God gave each of us.
What I believe should be required reading for all Christians and what I will be referring to in this teaching are the two following books:
- Restoration- Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus by D. Thomas Lancaster found at First Fruits of Zion
- Pagan Christianity-Frank Viola and George Barna
Pagan Christianity is a book I read a few years back that shows where many of our cherished traditions are rooted. You will be surprised to find, as I was:
When a Pastor says they are a Bible believing church;
from a pulpit;
elevated above the congregation,
how far from the New Testament Church that really is.
Restoration was another book that just happened to fall in my lap in December, I was captivated from the first sentence. As I read each page, my spirit leapt from my chest and amazement reigned once again. God presented a way to open my eyes; all I had to do, was say YES to the possibility that I might be mistaken in my once held opinion! This fellow believer, very simply put, demonstrated what the Torah actually was to me as a follower of Jesus Christ and how God had revealed Himself to Moses and people. But like all things when we get our hands on something, we screw it up.
It is in the “time” that these two bookend (B.C. and A.D.), that illustrates how through man’s best intentions, he moves himself farther from God. So before you jump to conclusions, understand that Jesus wants His bride to be pure, like any husband would want. A husband wants to enjoy his wife and a wife wants to enjoy her husband. For any successful marriage the past must be reconciled so they can move forward together as one. At the end of this teaching I hope you will see that. We all want the same goal but along the way many of us trip, say we will never do that again, and forge a new path the same apparent end.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Words like these came from Jesus Christ, to whom we should submit to. He is arbiter for GOD!!! This is not an analogy or a hyperbole. Jesus either spoke the truth or gave a parable to describe how to see the deeper meanings into the Word and His purpose. If we utilize these words to steer clear of the Torah as the foundational basis for our belief, what else are we discounting. This is what we are going to discuss.
On December 21, 2015, right before going to bed and sharing communion with my wife, I called out to God and asked him to remove a deaf and dumb spirit that has been plaguing me. Since I started writing about obedience and letting go of needful things which separate the church and myself from a deeper relationship with Jesus; I have asked Jesus and the Holy Spirit to reveal in me those areas that need cleansing. While my flesh may want to stay connected to the world, there is a battle being waged between the seen and the unseen as Paul eluded to. Unlike the high priest, who went into the Holy of Holies annually to sprinkle blood on the altar, with a rope around his foot so that he can be dragged out, in the event he dropped dead due to sin in his life that was un-repented; I need to accomplish the opposite and remove any tendrils from the real world, as best I can, to enter into it. This is the only way I knew of how to do that and then this book; Restoration fell into my lap. Our goal is to walk into our faith sanctified, regenerated not just reformed.
Now that I live under the Covenant of Grace, and some of the external formality that the Jewish leaders required in Jesus’ day has been removed, our approach to the Father however hasn’t, reverence and Fear of the Lord is still a requirement. Internal preparation is the key for gaining access at a deeper level not external preparation. Once the Truth has been revealed in our spirit, there is no going back. Just like an alcoholic; accepting their disease, their drinking career is ruined. You have been warned, after this point, you are accountable for your relationship with the Father. It falls squarely on your shoulders. Any behavior you partake that intentionally moves you away from God, is a transgression. That is why the Written Torah of God is still important. If it was important to Jesus and the disciples, it should be important to you.
BUT before you jump to the conclusion that I am asking you to convert to Judaism; You must understand these key points about the Torah.
- The Written Torah is comprised of the first five books of the Bible given by God to Moses.
- The Oral Torah (The Tradition of the Elders) are the reams of human laws added to written Scriptures by the Pharisees passed down over generations and considered on par with the Scriptures.
- The Torah both Written and Oral can be broken down into three areas
- If you are a Gentile Christian, you are probably already keeping most of the Torah. Just by living a Christian life….. Marital fidelity, and basic honesty are all commandments of the Torah with universal application…. Prohibitions on violence, injustice, theft, homicide, sexual deviancy and occult practices-…. are basic moral statutes that comprise the laws of Torah and apply to all believers-Restoration
- Civil Government
- Jesus is the Living Torah, the Word Incarnate, as John 1 clearly points outs out.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God…….
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (NASB)
Millions of Christians throughout the world are leaving the old, accepted ways of “doing church” for even older approaches…..
These are rooted in the Holy Scriptures, borne out of a desire to return to our Lord with authenticity and fullness. It is a thrust to bond with Him through the Word of God, the Kingdom of God and the Spirit of God. Pagan Christianity pg. XXV
If you keep these points in mind, it will help you understand how to move closer to God. Without an actual Temple or sitting Sanhedrin, many points of the Torah regarding civil government and some of the ceremonial points, can’t be instituted. BUT aside from that there are many areas where if we were to take closer look, we would see that it is a matter of choice, which parts of the Torah we would follow. Many denominations over the years have not taken the time to understand the Torah. Whatever the reason, this has led many to misunderstand God through His commandments, me included.
Now according to the Written Torah, in the Bible that you possess whichever version, we are commanded to celebrate Passover, Leviticus 23 and in the Gospels. We should know the historical event which prompted this celebration.
5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:5-13 NASB)
Passover is about the blood and being spared. To be saved, God told the Israelites they needed to act corporately and perform their sacrifice a certain way and mark their homes with the unblemished male lamb’s blood. As I said in part two of this teaching, Jesus was upset that they were selling the best of the leftover blemished animals in His Father’s House and drove them out upon his arrival to Jerusalem for Passover.
It was a religious system out of control, relying on reverence to the rules instead of reverence to the Father. Jesus was quick to point out, while following the Written Torah, how out of touch, the Pharisees with their Oral Traditions, actually were with their spirits. These are the same issues Paul spoke, honoring the Written Torah, while arguing for the inclusion of the Gentiles.
Today we have a new set of Oral Traditions, they are called denominations, sects and cults which define their version of Christianity. Each has a doctrine they follow and in some way or another differentiate themselves from each other. Just like the Sanhedrin and Pharisees had different views about God and His statutes, the same holds true today; Each sect or denomination is trying to argue themselves into the proper position among men as it pertains to God.
Now during the first Passover, God said to cover the post and lintel with lambs blood and the angel of death will pass over them. As Jesus’ heart pumped its last ounce of blood and the veil was torn. He welcomed us and invited us through the veil so the Angel of Death would pass us over. You see when we are born again we are His first born. As first born we inherit His kingdom and because of the spilling of His blood and the Veil being torn we all have equal access to the Holy of Holies, not literally but spiritually through our heart. So now it not only was the High Priest who could access God’s secret place. There is still an immense reverence required. When we accept His spilt blood, to be placed on our doorposts, we are shielded from death. So while we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead on Easter, a lot can be said that we should equally celebrate Passover prior to His resurrection, thanking God for the Passover Lamb and shielding us from the Angel of Death. Communion did come from the Passover meal prior to His death. Something to think about and ponder.
This access never meant we could walk in willy nilly, perform a jig and jump for joy, not yet at least. It meant we had access to the secret chamber of God, that up to that point only a chosen few had entered. That secret chamber where we meet God, is our “Promise Land”. We still need to demonstrate a reverence to the Trinity prior to entrance. Ceremonial practices sound phenomenal to prepare ourselves and show reverence, but determining how high one must wash his hands or just say three Hail Mary’s and two Our Father’s and call it good is just plain foolishness. While all these extra-biblical practices mean to make us feel good, it distracts us from God’s True Plan for His followers. For those who take this lightly Jesus assuredly said.
23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:23-30 NASB)
While spilling Jesus’ blood (the Passover Lamb) tore the veil and allowed entry, there will come a time when the veil will be resewn not of our doing but of God’s. Nowhere in the scriptures were we given permission to live in spiritual anarchy, to follow our own direction, walk in and out of His Grace whenever it is convenient. No!!! We were to follow Him. He led the way into that secret place.
26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (NASB)
18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Oral tradition equals religious differences and today in our society, as Christians, we spend a great deal of effort in our sermons and Bible studies to make Scriptures relevant to us. Perhaps it is time to make our lives relevant to the Scriptures. (Restoration)
I am not asking for everyone to stop what you are currently doing. What I am saying is if you really want to know God and what He expects from us, as respect to the law that Jesus fulfilled; A closer look at the New Testament from the context of the Torah, with an open mind, might deepen your relationship. At the very least honor it…just that act alone will engage your heart with the Father’s. If you feel it necessary to shun or ignore parts of the Torah, like I did in past, then I find it hard to believe you would rise above the Law and have it etched on your heart. The goal here is to have a more intimate relationship with the Father, not just a marriage of convenience.
Don’t become like the rich man who wanted to get close to Jesus and inherit eternal life; When Jesus told him what he needed to do he walked away sad.
For Believers, the Torah is not a sterile lists of rules. It is a written version of our inner identity…… It is the soul mirror…. James said the person who reads the Torah but does not do what it says is like the person sees his reflection but forgets what he or she looks like…. It shows us with which we must deal, commandments to keep, dangers to avoid, and areas in our lives that need to be set right. What we do with that information is up to us. (Restoration)
Something else to ponder, there were three days before Christ had risen from the dead. The veil was torn, the earth rumbled, and the sky grew dark; this should have been the sign for Jewish elite to take pause, potentially admit their failings for not seeing the significance in the event. After Jesus’ death, disciples did not understand what they were feeling, seeing and remembered. They didn’t have a New Testament to read to find out how it will all worked out in the end. They had to struggle with their eyes, mind, soul and spirit. They questioned their faith, they were lost. When the prophecy was fulfilled, how many of the disciples, said to themselves, “Why did I doubt Him?”
We have it easy, we have books upon books, a history clearly defined, yet many do not believe, and if they do believe they believe in doctrine(s) easy to obey, but not what God prescribes. Obedience only gets you access to experience God. The Israelites, slaves to Pharaoh, obeyed God and covered their door posts with the blood and they witnessed the miracle. Jesus’ spilt blood tore the veil. The Israelites were told to stay under the cover of the blood to save the first born from death. As new creatures in Christ we are all first born. When we obey Jesus Christ and stay under the covering of His blood, we pass through the veil and are spared from death. This is not a question.
When you break apart the Torah in its three major parts and apply all that pertain to you, you will have a script for the way you need to live your life, as God deemed. The world is living in the dark and we are all in the desert. Figuratively, we are living the three days between His death and resurrection. There was/is great confusion amongst His disciples and the church until His reappearance and then after. Many in the church follow Jesus, but see Him dead in their spirit. They try and follow the New Oral Traditions of Men in hope they will find the answer to the questions;
- When will you return?
- Where are you?
- Why does living hurt so bad?
The Law bridges the gap where we, in the dark, wait for God to meet us. When we do not obey God, we follow self-will which leads to death. Obedience is the key which opens the door unto life. If we do not submit ourselves wholly to God, why should we expect to receive all He promises. Yes we are forgiven, but have you tapped into the power of the Holy Spirit, as the early Apostles did. What are you holding on to, that prevents you from being a new creature, breathing the Living Word, instead of a reader of the written Word. These are not words for a new follower of Christ, who must make amends to those he has hurt in His life. This is the for seasoned follower, whose life seems as if it is in good order and the wonder of walking with God is but a memory.
We have all heard the age old adages, “We need the right tool for the job.” or “Train for the event.” or “Don’t go looking for bread in a hardware store.” How many times did we start a project with the tools we found lying around, and refused to get the right one, only to toil on through trial and error; the wrench that was a tad smaller than what was needed, the wrong type of drill bit or wall anchor. We have all been there; determined to make it work. It wasn’t until many attempts failed and we pushed our pride to the side and got the right tool that the project ended quickly with less resistance. Stating out loud, “Why didn’t I do that to begin with?”
As a runner, and when I decide to prepare for a race. I don’t run 220 meter sprints for a 10K race. I run 10K’s, 5k’s, intervals and 12K’s to teach my body what to expect, so when I push harder at race time, my body knows what is happening. When I do not prepare myself, in the middle of the run, the voices start. You are tired, this hurts too bad, you can’t keep this up, just walk for a bit and the loudest one of them all, if you don’t stop you will die. Those are the dark moments I spoke of earlier, when they come (and they will come) what will we do? If you train properly for the event, then you will be able to work through the pain. More times than not, while I was in the middle of a race, I hear in my head, “Why did you do this, you could do this at your own pace if you didn’t sign up. You don’t need to race again.” When I train for the event, I know what to expect and have enough information to adapt to the conditions.
As a seeker of Truth, if I want legal advice I go to an attorney, financial advice an investment specialist or how to lose weight a dietitian. But for how to get closer to God, in my lifetime, receiving the instructions drove me in the other direction. My spirit knows what it means, but my soul shrieks “I can’t do that”. I then immediately seek the advice of some group/church that has the same spiritual desire as I do. A belief system that they can sign up for, tailored to MY needs. BUT is not what the Father said to do. More times than not, I would like 10K credit for a 5K effort.
When we submit our lives to Jesus Christ, and honor all that he spoke of as it respects God’s law, we will rise above it as Paul said. He never said to forget it. Appointed by Jesus himself, his mission was to bridge the gap and graft in the Gentiles into Christ’s church. However much as Paul was a leader in the church, I can’t rely on his words solely, to satisfy my comforting opinion, I must run everything through the filter of the Trinity.
Case in point. We are all familiar with the commandment that says, “Thou shall not commit adultery. Now Jesus, the walking, talking living Torah said,
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28.
When we hear that, we all know it is true. We can draw the parallel and see that instead of an external issue of obedience we have an obligation to purify our thoughts. No longer was talking the talk sufficient, but now at a deeper level one has to walk the walk. As a follower of Jesus, a higher standard was being set and when Jesus departed and foretold of the arrival of the Holy Spirit everything would change. Did we think it would be a walk in the park to follow Jesus. He said that Holy Spirit would convict our Spirit. Convict is a far cry from suggesting. Where does our moral code come from? The Father. He said He would etch His statutes on our hearts.
Finally let us understand what “the law etched on our hearts” means, as mentioned in Ezekiel 36. In regard to the relationship with my wife, we considered ourselves a happily married couple. We dealt with many issues on both sides of the fence, some needed God’s intervention. A year ago I would have said that we had addressed every issue in our marriage; that would have been a lie. The item we did not fully surrender was our finances. We spoke about it, forged a plan, prayed words over it and asked God to bless our finances and God did through our obedience.
As I said throughout this teaching, Obedience places you at the door to His presence.
Our financial obedience was done out of a sense of obligation, not obedience (to God’s law about debts and marital submission). She had her money and I had mine to spend however we pleased. We were responsible for our assigned bills and as long as each of us obeyed Mr. Invoice, in our own way, life was good. As long as our financial actions did not hurt the other you do pretty much anything you want without having to discuss it, outside of houses, loans, cars, boats etc…. (This train of thought is prevalent in today’s society surrounding the enjoyment of personal sin, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.)
Even though we discussed Marriage Income, each, deep down, really wanted to keep our Personal Income. As I write it now, it sounds like leftover lamb.
(SEPARATE FINANCES WAS A NEEDEDFUL THING MY WIFE AND I POSSESSED. WE DID NOT WANT TO GIVE THEM UP, DUE TO PAST HURTS IN OTHER RELATIONSHIPS SURROUNDING MONEY)
Recently, Rita said, “Lets combine our finances.”…I was speechless. “Sure go ahead, but keep your account open. That way any money you make out of your furniture sales you can have.” I was still trying to find a way out; she pressed the issue and I agreed. After one month, bills previously past due were now paid ahead. Where we had no rainy day fund, provisions were made. We figured out a way to track spending within the checking account etc…. A combined budget was established. “It was good,” as God declared. We had combined our finances; no more secrets.
Then something unexpected happened, when I inquired about an upcoming money decision, she replied, “You’re in charge of the money, just tell me what you want me to do.” It wasn’t the words, it was her. I sensed her heart had changed. For the first time in our marriage, I sensed my wife looking “to me” to protect and provide. She was entrusting me with everything she had.
She was no longer being obedient, she had submitted. When I realized what was happening, I was immediately inspired to become a better husband. More loyal, obedient at a different level. I could not disappoint her. I wanted to live up to the man she saw, not obedient, but out of love. She did not see an ex-drug addict-alcoholic who struggled with pornography and violated vows through lust. At that moment, I saw the sin in my life, how I truly disobeyed God in the past and how I had dishonored her.
I saw my heart, in its true state, and she saw the man Jesus propitiated Himself for. She loved me, all my blemishes, scars, shortcomings and she trusted me. I no longer was obeying my marriage vows….they were etched on my heart. Now, I was responsible, to turn away now would be blasphemous to our marriage vows.
covers us like a husband to a wife;
provides the provision; and
died for us so that our lives would be spared.
Jesus propitiated before God and said our account is in good order, not was in good order. On the night of Gethsemane, God revealed to Jesus the pain associated with the sin we all try to wriggle out of and cut deals about to get our sentence reduced for good behavior. Jesus even asked God if he might be spared; God was silent as Jesus took the full weight. Through His death on the cross, Jesus appeased God on our behalf. There was no other way, no sacrifice was good enough to purify our hearts, we had tried and fell short. He paid the ransom, our debt, and if you realize that in your heart, there is only one thing to do; Follow Him. There is nothing else.
If our relationship is like a bride to the groom, it only fits that we submit to Jesus; then WE ARE etched on His heart. Just like I wanted to provide more for my wife once I sensed her heart, Jesus will provide more for us. If we believe in “On Earth as it is in Heaven”, then I understand what that means through my own marriage. I used to obey my vows the best I could, now I live to honor them. I would die to save my wife’s life, Jesus died to save mine.
When you decide to submit to Christ, I promise, His love will submit to you like mine for my wife.
Many say Jesus is the key to our salvation, I disagree; we hold the key, He is the lock.
When we understand what Jesus did for us in our hearts and not our minds and submit to HIM, the kingdom will no longer be near, it will be here.
Hey, but don’t just believe me, Oswald Chambers said it all in less than five hundred words.
Oswald Chamber Dec 19 from Utmost for my Highest.
Never be sympathetic with the soul whose case makes you come to the conclusion that God is hard. God is more tender than we can conceive, and every now and again He gives us the chance of being the rugged one that He may be the tender One. If a man cannot get through to God it is because there is a secret thing he does not intend to give up—“I will admit I have done wrong, but I no more intend to give up that thing than fly.” It is impossible to deal sympathetically with a case like that: we have to get right deep down to the root (the “secret thing”) until there is antagonism and resentment against the message.
People want the blessing of God, but they will not stand the thing that goes straight to the quick. If God has had His way with you, your message as His servant is merciless insistence on the one line, cut down to the very root, otherwise there will be no healing. Drive home the message until there is no possible refuge from its application. Begin to get at people where they are until you get them to realize what they lack, and then erect the standard of Jesus Christ for their lives—“We never can be that!” Then drive it home: “Jesus Christ says you must.” “But how can we be?” “You cannot, unless you have a new Spirit” (see Luke 11:13). There must be a sense of need before your message is of any use. Thousands of people are happy without God in this world. If I was happy and moral till Jesus came, why did He come? Because that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level; Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself.
Jesus honored His Father, He said so himself. He said He did only what the Father told Him. The law was etched on His heart even as a child and He was sinless. The Written Torah instructs each of us how that is accomplished, to ignore it leaves an unopened present under the Christmas tree. Moses asked God to reveal Himself to him. On Mount Sinai God did and yet Moses still disobeyed Him in the end and was not allowed to enter into the Promise Land.
Moses still made it to Heaven, but did He fulfill His destiny on Earth? He accomplished a lot for God there is no denying that, but in the end, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promise Land. Many heroes in the Bible started strong and because of their disobedience fell hard. When you stretch yourself to know the character of God, through prayer, meditation and the study of HIS Word you will have prepared yourself for an encounter with God.
I’ll ask you this, would you be a better disciple of Jesus if you did as the Father said or did what you wanted Him to say?
When you look at the world around you what do you think is happening? What exactly is everyone listening to or reading. Did you know that each Hebrew King was required to copy the Torah so they would know exactly what was required from them and understand they were not above the law down to smallest jot.
I love you all and there is nothing you can do about it.