Monday, May 4, 2015

Scripture is not served a la "Burger King"!

Our blog post on May 3, 2015 entitled "What does it mean to 'be holy'?" brought an admonishment from a well-meaning (I assume!) reader saying:
Ha! The jokes on you! Torah is a curse! Read Galatians 3:10!  And you can't keep all those 613 "laws" anyway!
We responded:

Thank you but you seem to think the Bible is "Burger King" and you can "have it your way", picking  and choosing scripture to agree or disagree with.  You cite Galatians 3:10, evidently with the intent to prove that you don't have to obey the Torah, and say "you can't keep all those 613 'laws' anyway" apparently to imply you don't have to obey any of them!

If you are going to cite Galatians 3:10, then why don't you try first to understand it?  It does not say "Torah is a curse"!  It says people are cursed if they don't live by Torah!  (The curses and blessings on the people are found in Deuteronomy 27:15 to 28:68.)  Please go back and look at how Paul says the same thing in Galatians 2:16 as he does in 3:10.  You see, if you'd only start reading Galatians from the beginning, you might come to understand who Paul is, and what he, himself is identifying as the problem in the congregations of Galatia (see Galatians 1:6 to 2:13). 

The Jews in the community were putting on the Gentiles, the same "mandates" they had learned and had grown up with.  These "mandates" meant that the Jews were insisting the Gentiles "live like Jews" (Galatians 2:14).  And the way Jews lived was by the requirements of the rabbis who mandated how they had to live to "be justified"!  In other words, though the Messiah had brought eternal life to ALL (Jew and Gentile alike) through faith, the Jews were still teaching that one must "do this and do that".  But Paul and all the apostles understood that Torah itself does not "justify", and that Torah is not meant to be a "must do this and must do that" sort of thing!

That "must do" mentality is called strict religious halakha.  You can study the meaning of halakha, but in a nutshell, it is from a Hebrew word that means "to walk" and what it means in the phrase "strict religious halakha" is that rather than simply obeying Torah because YHWH asked us to, (and doing so with the joy of our heart), your "walk" is instead burdened because obeying Torah had become a "you must to what the rabbis say" sort of thing.  Simple commands like "obey the Sabbath day" became instead a stressful thing because the rabbis declared what you could and could not do on the Sabbath! (Sabbath is suppose to be a Joy!)

So Paul is not condemning Torah! What he goes on to say is that if you have accepted the Messiah by faith, and have received the "Spirit", then your walk is by the Spirit, and you willingly follow YHWH's Torah, and you no longer want to be "your old self" when your life was dominated by the disgusting practices of the world and your old, gentile (pagan) ways.  What he is saying is that no "way of the Jew, prescribed by the rabbis" which, he knows is a problem, even for the Jew (Paul is a Jew), must be forced upon the Gentile.

We could go on here, but let us close with some final points.  If you insist on thinking that "Torah is a curse", and continue to get your verses from Burger King, then you need to sit down and reconcile why other scriptures in the New Testament, written by Paul and the other apostles, completely contradict your own conclusion.  Take for example James 2:17 which says: "faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.Actions are what you do in your day-to-day life to demonstrate your love of YHWH!  And you should do something to demonstrate your love!  YHWH has offered you eternal life!  You certainly don't want to blow it!  In exchange, all you have to do is live your earth-bound life without sin, and honor YHWH!  But if you have dismissed Torah, then you have no way to measure if you have sinned!  You are wandering through life without a guide to what YHWH measures as sin - sin which which can negate your eternal life!

This is because sin is transgression of Torah (1 John 3:4), and without Torah all you have is YOUR definition of "sin", or someone else's!  But by offering you eternal life, YHWH did not at the same time give you or anyone else the authority to define sin.  If YHWH is your God, and Yeshua is your Messiah, and you have accepted what the Messiah did for you,  then you are obligated to define sin the way He does!  Indeed, John wrote earlier:  "And by this we will be sensible that we know him, if we keep his Commandments.  For he that says I know him [Messiah], and does not keep his Commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.  But he that keeps his Word, in him is the Love of Elohim truly completed: for by this we know that we are in him.   He that says “I am in him” is bound to walk according to his [Messiah's] halakha." (1 John 2:3-6, AENT).  The Messiah's walk (halakha) was in Our Master YHWH's Torah!

And to your charge: "you can't keep all those 613 'laws' anyway!" - no one ever said you could or even had to! You only need to keep the commands that apply to you!  You can read which ones in the Old Testament, Genesis through Deuteronomy, they're pretty simple.   (They are also detailed in this article:  But, didn't Jesus abolish the Law and those 613 original commandments?)

There is a wonderful appendix in the Aramaic English New Testament that says: "For those who do not have a relationship with YHWH, Torah might be viewed as a book of do’s and don’ts, but in reality Torah is a love letter from a Father to his children that provides instruction and wisdom for life."

Maybe you'd do good to do some serious scripture study and learn what Torah is before you ever again call it a curse.   We believe you might even find it to be a blessing.

2 comments:

  1. Well said and explained. A rebellious heart that is not fully surrendered to Abba YHWH and doesn't recognized Y'shua the Messiah will have difficulty understanding what you have written.
    Shalo b'shalama!

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  2. I am so sorry for the unkind response. I have Jewish roots in my Christian faith and believe YHWH would want us to speak the truth in love.

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