50. Torah

Clifford Denton

In every area of life we ask the question, “What shall we do in this situation?” There is often a right way and a wrong way, a safe way or an unsafe way. Decisions are part of life and we base our decisions on the philosophy of life we adopt. We can be humanistic, selfish, caring, safety conscious, health conscious and so on through a multitude of motivating factors. We can be laissez-faire, of course, and possibly adopt the relative morals of a loose living society. There is no doubt, however, that we have to make decisions, because each area of life has its alternative paths. Even if we make a decision not to make a decision we have to end up taking one path or another, and this can be decided by the forces around us by default.

Furthermore, every decision has its consequences. In family and community life we cannot live only to ourselves. Our freedom must be limited by consideration of the freedom of others. Indeed true freedom has clear boundaries. Freedom without law can be a licence for every selfish motive and its outworking. When the Hebrews came out of Egypt they were given freedom with law as the pronouncements were made by God Himself at Sinai. Freedom without law led to the Golden Calf and rampant disorder and immorality even as Moses was receiving the stone tablets on the mountain. What a contrast! What an important message! Of course the carnal man misunderstands God and also His fallen nature causes him to resist God and His teaching. The carnal man wants to decide for himself and do things in his own way and experiment with the consequences. Thus there is a great misunderstanding, even today and even in the Church, of what Torah is and what is good for us and pleasing to God.

In the last issue of Tishrei we explored the topic of Education and highlighted the fact that there is a Wisdom from God which can only be received from Him and which is the goal of our lives of faith. This is the wisdom that He will give to our children if we will teach them to follow in His ways. Worldly methods and worldly decision making is devoid of God’s Wisdom and reaps what is sown eventually. Look at the whole of the history of the pagan nations to prove this and within the context of the climax of history which we are living in our day.

Thus the fundamental questions of life still revolve around the best way to live and the most effective set of principles, when all things are taken into account, whereby we might govern our lives and societies. Where else can the seeker after the One True God go to find this but in the Scriptures? Surely it is an obvious starting point to realise that the fundamental impetus to our lives of freedom and security in the redeemed community is to find out how to Love our Lord God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves. Herein lies the fruit of right living. Thus Torah is the key issue, the way God has taught us to live, how He has instructed us through His Word and through His deeds among the people of Israel. What a privilege that He has made His ways known to us.

If we have rejected Torah it is because we have not understood it. If we think that the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach came to demolish what was already established as the right foundations for the faith then we have misunderstood Him. We must find ways in the community of believers to seek the deeper truths of Torah, that which was given so that we might live, to discover how Yeshua fulfilled Torah, being the highest part and promise of Torah. We trust that this issue of Tishrei will kindle a fresh desire to probe the depths once more. It is a key time in history. Lawlessness is abounding and deception is rising. I wonder if the deception in the world could even steal branches of the church, and these branches might be the ones that Paul talked about in Romans 11, broken off through pride and boasting against the true branches. In humility we must address the issue of Torah in an environment where both Jews and Gentiles can co-operate. Perhaps the best will come last in the body of believers because something special has been reserved until now when it is possible for Jews and Gentiles to swap notes as never before.

Why is so little written about ‘Spiritual Warfare’ in the Old Testament? Is it because there is a legal side to the interaction between the Kingdom of light and the Kingdom of darkness expressed in the blessings and cursings relating to Torah, but which we don’t need to know about if we are living as God intends? If we go God’s way then surely He keeps us. Why is there so much emphasis on ‘Spiritual Warfare’ in the Church today? Is it because we have misunderstood what the sword of the Spirit really is and have gone off on our human campaigns, having misunderstood the role of Torah for the Church? Is it not true to say that even nations that have adopted the fundamental principles of Torah in their government, education systems and community and family life have been kept by God in a real way just as Israel was promised? This is a difficult topic, because there is only one Covenant Nation of Israel that was particularly given the Torah. Yet history does show that God upholds a nation that upholds His Torah. This should cause us to stand in awe of God and His Son, who is the focal point of Torah.

We avoid many forms of syncretism in the Church (though multi-faith compromise is growing in a disturbing way). Yet there is a form of syncretism that we do not usually place in that category. It is the syncretism between the faith handed down to us through the Patriarchs, the Apostles and the Prophets, and humanism. Humanism is the seeking after the ‘glories’ of Greece and Rome. This was always a seductive power and still is. In our day it leads to a philosophical sort of Christianity that can easily lead to a misunderstanding of the Hebraic background to Scripture, particularly the reading of Torah and its implementation as a lifestyle.

I propose that we get into deep study and consultation on Torah before we slip much further, led by the false spirits of the age. Perhaps we could promote Bible study in a new and invigorating way, taking our starting points from the weekly Torah portion that Yeshua Himself would have read and which are in step with the yearly cycle of Feast days and Sabbaths. Certainly lifeless legalism is not our aim, but there is a freshness and richness that we are losing in our day from Scripture, and spiritual protection is not so easy to find as it was even in the Church. However, just because we avoid lifeless legalism it does not mean that we avoid rule and law, which we willingly submit to for the good of the community and our love of God. Let us use the freedom that we have in Yeshua to find our deep heritage in Torah (His teaching) so that we can truly say, like David, “Lord I love your Torah, I meditate upon it all day long!”

(Reprinted from Tishrei Vol 3, No 2, Summer 1995, Torah)



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