The New Testament Believer and the Commandments of God

By James King

HALLELUYAH MINISTRIES       

 

Revised January 9, 2007

 

In this article "Yeshua" is used instead of "Jesus" out of respect for His real, actual name in the original Hebrew language.

In Bible quotations, the words of God and Yeshua (Jesus) appear in italics.

What does the New Testament say about our relationship to God's commandments in the Old Testament? Most of them are found in the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which are sometimes called the Torah, a Hebrew word that means "God's teaching and instructions."  It is usually translated in our Bibles as "the Law."

We have a responsibility to study and correctly understand the Scriptures and to handle them appropriately:

2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Before we go any further I want to make one thing perfectly clear. We do NOT believe or teach that salvation can be earned by obeying the commandments in the Torah. The Bible plainly states this (cf. Psalms 84:10-12, Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, 3:21, 2 Peter 1:1). To say we can earn our salvation by obeying the law of God is false teaching.

On the other hand, the idea that a person can be in a good, right relationship with our Father in heaven and totally disregard His commands is equally wrong. There are numerous Scriptures that teach us the importance of obeying His commands, and we will look at some of them. Here is one example:

Proverbs 28:9 (NKJV) One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

An abomination is something that is hated and disgusted. Other translations say the prayer of one who won't listen and hear the law is detestable. You can't just ignore God's law and expect your prayer to be answered. Also, remember that in the Hebrew way of thinking, the word "hear" includes the idea of obedience. So this verse says that the prayer of one who doesn't at least try to obey the Torah are detestable. (This would not apply to a sinner's prayer of repentance).

This study assumes the authority of Scripture over anything else. Some Christians give the ultimate authority to the church leaders such as the Pope; others base their beliefs on religious traditions more than anything else. It is our position that the only objective and totally trustworthy authority is the Word of God, the Scriptures, the Holy Bible.

God's Word, Covenants, Law, Commandments, and Statutes Are Eternal

Psalms 89:34 (NASU) "My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips."

Psalms 119:151-152 (NIV) Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true. 152 Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

Psalms 119:160 (NIV) 160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Isaiah 40:8 (NASU) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

1 Chronicles 16:14-17 (NASU) 14 He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. 15 Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, 16 The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. 17 He also confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.

Some people teach that the Torah (the Law) was canceled when Yeshua (Jesus) died. Later we'll see what Yeshua Himself said about that. The Apostles wrote New Testament verses long after His death and resurrection that clearly show the Law was still in effect:

James 2:9-12 (NASU)   9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," also said, "DO NOT COMMIT MURDER." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

James says (in the New Testament) that we can become a transgressor of the law and can be convicted by it. How can anyone transgress and be convicted by the law as a transgressor if it has been abolished?

The Apostle Peter reaffirmed (in the New Testament) the statement from Isaiah 40:8:

1 Peter 1:25 (NKJV) But the word of The LORD endures forever."

Remember that the "word of the LORD" to the first century believers was the Hebrew Scriptures, what people today know as the "Old Testament." In the New Testament, God's word and law is still eternal.

1 John 3:4 (NIV) Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness

The Apostle John says here (in the New Testament) that sin is breaking the Law, so we shouldn't break the Law. Simple enough, isn't it? Think about that for a moment. Sin is breaking the Law of God, the violation of Torah. If the Law had been abolished when Yeshua died, then there is no sin anymore, and everyone born since then could not have committed any sins! It would have been impossible. They would not have incurred any penalty needing forgiveness if there is no law. If this is true, then Yeshua could not have died for your sins or mine, only for the sins of the people who lived before the Law was "canceled". If there is no law, we have not sinned and don’t need forgiveness. These notions completely contradict the plain teaching of Scripture:

1 John 1:8-10 (NASU)   8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

The truth is that the New Testament does not replace the Old Testament. It is a continuation of it. The word "new" could have, and probably should have been translated "renewed." Our Creator doesn't change, and neither does His word nor His Son:

Malachi 3:6a (NASU) "For I, the LORD, do not change…"

1 Peter 1:25 (NKJV)  But the word of The LORD endures forever."

Hebrews 13:8 (NASU) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Yeshua (Jesus) Taught That We Should Obey the Commandments of God

Yeshua taught that obedience to the commandments in the Torah is definitely involved with having a deeper, closer relationship with God; He said this is how we show that we love Him, which He said is the greatest commandment of all:

Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV)  36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  38 This is the first and greatest commandment."

Yeshua said that the most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And how do we do that? Here’s how He said to do it:

John 14:15 (NKJV) "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

John 14:21 (NKJV) "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." 

John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

John 15:10 (NIV) "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."

John 15:14 (NIV) "You are my friends if you do what I command."

Scripture clearly states that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and the way that we do that is by observing His commands which are found in the Torah. Yeshua did not have a set of commands different from those in the Torah. His commands are the same commands that God gave in the Old Testament. It would be self-contradictory and totally inconsistent with the unity of the Father and Son for them to have different commands. Their teaching, their words, and their commandments are the same:

John 10:30 (NASU) "I and the Father are one." 

John 12:49-50 (NASU) 49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.  50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."

John 7:16 (NASU) "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me."

John 14:24 (NASU) "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me." 

Our Lord's commands and words simply cannot be different from the commands of the Father in the Torah. Yeshua taught His followers to keep the same commandments, the same Torah that God gave to Moses at Mt. Sinai before Israel entered the Promised Land.

Another reason for us to obey the commandments of God is found in the Torah itself:

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NIV) 26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse —  27 the blessing if you obey the commands of The LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of The LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today

To show God that we love Him and to put ourselves in position to receive His blessings – those are good, Biblical reasons to obey His commandments. Not to become saved, but because we are.

Many people have trouble with this statement of Yeshua:

John 10:27 (NASU) 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…" 

Many people think they have trouble "hearing His voice." Here's the key - from the Hebrew perspective, the phrase "hear my voice" means "obey my teaching." Learning this detail changes the meaning; Yeshua was saying that His sheep, His followers, obey Him.

I want to ask you an extremely serious question: where do you place a higher value – on the commands of God or on your traditions? Yeshua asked it this way:

Matthew 15:3 (NIV) Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"

Mark 7:8-9 (NIV) 8"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. 9 And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!"

Yeshua also said:

Luke 6:46 (NASU)   "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

Matthew 7:21-23 (NASU)  21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  22 Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'  23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" 

Notice – in verse 21, the Bible says that "only those who do what my Father in heaven wants" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What does the Father want? He wants our obedience!

Deuteronomy 11:1 (NIV) Love The LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.

Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV) It is The LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Deuteronomy 26:18 (NIV) And The LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands.

Deuteronomy 27:10 (NIV) Obey The LORD your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today.

Joshua 22:5 (NIV) But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of The LORD gave you: to love The LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul."

1 Kings 8:61 (NKJV) Let your heart therefore be loyal to The LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments…

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Corinthians 7:19b (NASU) …what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 John 2:3-6 (NIV) 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1 John 3:21-22 (NIV) 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

1 John 5:3a (NIV) This is love for God: to obey his commands

2 John 6 (NIV) And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Let's look again at what Yeshua said in Matthew 7:

Matthew 7:21-23 (NASU)  21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  22 Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'  23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" 

Notice – in verse 23 Yeshua says that He will tell those "who practice lawlessness" (those who do not obey the law of God, the Torah) to depart from Him, that He never knew them! "Lawlessness" is the definition of sin, found in 1 John 3:4. Remember that sin is not only doing what you shouldn’t do, but also not doing what you should do:

James 4:17 (NASU) Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Those who advocate ignoring the laws of God and who say we don't need to obey them are not pleasing God! Yeshua Himself said it this way:

Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV) 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Some people think that the Law was fulfilled in the sense of fulfilling a contract, thus ending it and making it a thing of the past. They’ll say, "See, it’s fulfilled, complete, it’s over, it’s done, it’s finished, abolished." But if you read the entire passage carefully, Yeshua distinctly said that He did not come to abolish the Law and that nothing would pass from the Torah "until heaven and earth pass away." And they are still here.

Also, it is helpful to understand that in this time period, the sages and Rabbis used the same idioms (figures of speech) that Yeshua used in verse 17. If they were listening to a teaching and considered it to be correctly interpreted, they would say that the teacher was "fulfilling" the Torah. By saying that He came to fulfill the Law (the Torah), Yeshua was saying that He came to rightly interpret it. Then verse 19 tells us we should obey the commandments and to teach others to do so. We can see from these verses that Yeshua clearly taught that we should keep the commands and obey the Torah.

Moses instructed Israel to not add to or subtract from God's commandments:

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NASU) "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of The LORD your God which I command you."

Anyone, including Paul or even Yeshua Himself, who would add or take away from the word of Moses would be violating the clear command of God. Therefore, to be consistent with the word of God and obedient to Him, both Yeshua and Paul had to obey this command. Neither Yeshua nor Paul could have added a teaching that said believers no longer needed to obey the Torah without violating this command. It would have been considered false teaching. According to this Scripture, no one was to teach anything that tries to take away from the Word and commandments of God. Anyone who did that would have been considered a false teacher.

This is so serious to God that His Torah states that any prophet or teacher who tries to persuade the people of God to abandon the following of His commands should be considered evil and should be put to death! Here is how the Bible says it:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (NASU) "1 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for The LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love The LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow The LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against The LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which The LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you."

Even though this passage primarily speaks about going after other gods (the sin of idolatry), in a sense any sin is idolatry because you are placing some other false "god" above the one true God, even if that false god is yourself. If you put your own desires ahead of what God has told us to do, that's one kind of idolatry. Anytime you obey the will of anyone instead of God's will expressed in the commandments, that's idolatry. If you put anything above Him, it is contrary to His will and His purpose for you.

This warning from the Bible would apply to anyone and everyone, even the Apostle Paul. If he had taught anything contradictory to the commands of God in the Torah, he would have been considered a false prophet and would have been put to death.

Did you notice that even someone who performs signs and wonders is included in this condemnation? That means that even if the greatest miracle worker of all time, Yeshua Himself, had taught that His followers do not need to obey God's commandments then He would have been a false prophet and certainly could not have been the Messiah!

Before we look at what the Apostles said about observing the Torah, I want to address the notion that it is impossible, or at least too difficult, to keep the commands of the Torah. If you believe that, you are in disagreement with Scripture! Here is how Moses put it, referring to all of God's commands and statutes written in the book of the law, the Torah:

Deuteronomy 30:11(NASU) "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach."

And if you need a New Testament verse to support this, here you are:

1 John 5:3 (NASU) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

The Apostle John Wrote That We Should Obey the Commandments of God

The Apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:3-6 (NIV) 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1 John 3:4 (NASU) Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:21-22 (NASU) 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

1 John 5:3 (NIV) This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…

2 John 6 (NIV) And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Revelation 14:12 (NIV) This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

The Apostle Paul Wrote That We Should Obey the Commandments of God

The Apostle Paul is perhaps the most misunderstood writer in Scripture. It is thought by many that he advocated NOT keeping the Torah, at least to Gentiles, and that he taught in Scripture that non-Jewish believers did not need to be concerned with the commandments. But we can see that Paul supported the Torah in statements he made in the book of Romans:

Romans 2:13 (NASU) …for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

This concept is confirmed by James:

James 1:22 (NASU) But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Back to Paul's statements:

Romans 3:31 (NIV) Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Romans 6:15 (NIV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

Paul clearly says we should not sin just because we’re under grace. And remember the Bible’s definition of sin:

1 John 3:4 (NASU) Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

So just because we’re under grace does not mean we have the right to keep on sinning, to keep on breaking the law, violating the Torah.

Romans 7:12 (NASU) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 7:22 (NIV) For in my inner being I delight in God's law.

Romans 15:4 (NIV) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

In a discussion about circumcision, Paul makes a very important statement:

1 Corinthians 7:19 (NASU) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

He very clearly stated here that what matters is the keeping of God's commandments! How could he have made it any more plain, any easier to understand?

Some people mistakenly think that Paul knowingly taught something different from what Yeshua taught and that his message was different. But listen to what he said to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASU) Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

How could he have taught something different from what Yeshua taught and be an imitator of Him?

Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:3-4a (NASU) 3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing;

All correct teaching must agree with the words of Yeshua (Jesus). We've already seen that Yeshua taught His followers to obey the commandments. All correct teaching must agree with that! For Paul's teaching to agree with the teaching of Yeshua he had to support obedience of God's commands (which are found in the Torah) as Yeshua did. Notice that Paul also said that anyone who does not agree with Yeshua understands nothing.

Here an exercise in LOGIC and CLEAR THINKING: FACT #1: Yeshua taught that His believers should keep the commandments. FACT #2: Paul supported obeying the Torah and said that if anyone teaches differently from Yeshua, he understands nothing and is a false teacher. CONCLUSION: the teaching that we don’t need to keep the commandments is false teaching. Think about it – even if Paul had taught that believers no longer needed to obey the teaching and commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament, the Torah), his doing so would have put him in direct contradiction with both John and Yeshua! And even if he had done that, who would you depend on – Yeshua, who taught the same obedience that had been taught for hundreds of years, or someone who all of a sudden started teaching that obedience to God's commandments was not important? It would be unsettling, perhaps even frightening to me, to side with someone who taught the opposite of what Yeshua taught. How could anyone feel comfortable with that? It is sad that many people, perhaps even most people, aren’t even aware of the alleged difference in their teachings, a difference that comes from misunderstanding the words of Paul, or from a perverted theology resulting from a scheme to make the idea of becoming a disciple of Yeshua easier to accept, by interpreting Paul’s words to mean that Gentiles do not need to be concerned with Torah observance. Paul did not teach anything contradictory to what Yeshua and Moses taught.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

1 Timothy 1:8 (NIV) We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.

Now how would someone use it improperly? By approaching it with a legalistic mindset, which means obeying it and thinking that it is the obedience that makes us righteous in God’s eyes, rather than repentance and faith in Yeshua.

Paul also wrote to Timothy about the role of the house of God in relation to the "truth":

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (NASU) 14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

The church is supposed to be the pillar and support of the truth. What is the truth?

Psalm 119:142 (NASU) Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.

Seems pretty clear, doesn't it? The truth is God's Law, His Torah, and the church or assembly of God is to be the pillar and support of the truth. It would be impossible for God's people to support the truth while teaching that it is no longer relevant or needed. His word is the only thing that is true! His truth is eternal! And God's people are supposed to support it, not say that it has been canceled. That's one big reason that Jews don't accept Christianity; most Christian teachers say that God's eternal, permanent Word, His Torah, has been abolished. They know better.

Paul wrote that ALL scripture is relevant to believers:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASU) 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

At the time Paul wrote this, the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) were virtually the only Scriptures in existence! The New Testament did not yet exist; it was not assembled for the church until hundreds of years later. And even if the New Testament had been completed when Paul wrote this verse, he said "ALL Scripture…" which means from the front to the back, ALL OF IT. Paul was primarily talking about the Old Testament.

Consider these statements by Paul about traditions:

1 Corinthians 11:2 (NASU) Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NASU) So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The Bible discusses Paul teaching the Thessalonians:

Acts 17:2-3 (NASU) And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, " This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."

Paul used "the Scriptures" to persuade them about Yeshua. What Scriptures did he use? The New Testament did not exist yet. His teaching came from the Old Testament.

Acts 17:11 (NIV) Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

The people of Berea compared Paul's statements with the Scriptures to see if what he said was true. Think about it – what Scriptures did they have? All they had was the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament; remember, the New Testament had not yet been completed and assembled. The Bereans checked Paul's teaching against the Torah; it had to be in agreement with it. Paul absolutely supported the observance of Torah, and taught believers to do the same.

In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders there because some men from Judah had been spreading the false teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Torah BEFORE they could be saved. At that meeting Peter, Paul, and Barnabas all spoke of how God was doing miracles and wonders among the Gentiles and made it clear that they should hear the gospel and believe. After they made their case, James declared the verdict of the counsel:

Acts 15:19-21 (NKJV) 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

Verse 21 suggests that they expected the Gentile believers to go to the congregation in whatever city they lived in to hear the writings of Moses, the Torah. The Gentiles were not expected to be living in complete obedience to the Torah BEFORE they could become part of God’s family, but it certainly was expected that they would attend the synagogue every Sabbath (Saturday), hear the reading of Moses' writings from the Torah, and start learning how to live by God’s principles for His people expressed in the commandments of Torah.

The writer of Hebrews made an interesting statement about the Law and anyone who rejects it:

Hebrews 10:28 (NKJV) Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Have you heard that we're not under law but under grace? This comes from the book of Romans:

Romans 6:14 (NSAU) For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace .

This is commonly misunderstood to mean that we are not expected to try to obey the Old Testament commandments. This is not what Paul was saying at all. In the very next verse he said:

Romans 6:15 (NASU) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace ? May it never be!

"Shall we sin" means "shall we break God's Law," or "shall we break the commandments." And the answer is NO! The word "law" doesn’t always mean exactly the same thing. The translators used "law" for different words in the original languages that had different meanings. For example, it can be used to describe principles such as sowing and reaping. But it usually means the Torah, but a better definition of Torah is "God’s teaching and instruction." But it does include some rules, and is sometimes called "the law." Sometimes the word refers to the entire body of commandments in the Torah, sometimes it is used to refer to the Ten Commandments, sometimes just one law in particular. The word "law" can also refer to "the law of sin and death," meaning the principle that sin results in death as punishment.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death…

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

It is the law of sin and death is that are no longer under. This means that we are not under the condemnation and punishment of the Law IF we have repented of sin and come to faith in Yeshua. But it does NOT give us license to sin, to break the commandments, the Law, the Torah. We must be careful to understand what is meant when we see the word "law." Otherwise we may get off track and lose the intended meaning of an entire verse or passage.

Commandments That Most Believers Ignore That They Should Be Obeying

 

 

Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

 

Leviticus 23:1-3 (NIV) The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD."

 

Luke 4:16 (NIV) He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.

 

Acts 18:4 (NIV)Every Sabbath he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks (Gentiles).

 

PASSOVER (Pesach) and FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD 

Leviticus 23:4-8 (NIV) 4 "'These are the LORD's appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present an offering made to the LORD by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.'"

 

FESTIVAL OF WEEKS (Shavuot)

Leviticus 23:15,16,21 (NIV) 15 "'From the day after the Sabbath [after Passover]…count off seven full weeks. 16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath…21 On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.'"

 

PENTECOST

 

DAY OF ATONEMENT (Yom Kippur) 

Leviticus 23:26-32 (NIV) 26 The LORD said to Moses, 27 "The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. 28 Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. 30 I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath."

 

FEAST OF TABERNACLES (or Feast of Booths) (Sukkot)

Leviticus 23:33-43 (NIV) 33 The LORD said to Moses, 34 "Say to the Israelites: 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD's Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. 37(These are the LORD's appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire — the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD's Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.) 39 So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. 40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"

 

RABBIT, PORK

Leviticus 11:1-8 (NIV) 1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 "Say to the Israelites: 'Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3 You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. 4 "'There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you."

SEAFOOD, FISH

Leviticus 11:9-12 (NIV) 9 "'Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales. 10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales — whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water — you are to detest. 11 And since you are to detest them, you must not eat their meat and you must detest their carcasses. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be detestable to you."

Note: "Abhorrent" means offensive, detestable, repulsive; these verses mean we should not eat catfish, shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams…any water creature without both fins and scales.

 

How the Church Came to Believe the Torah Has Been Canceled

Jews have been hated by other nations from the beginning, and anything Jewish was hated as well. Non-Jewish people didn’t want anything to do with Jews (many still don’t). Even early Gentile church leaders tried to distance the Church from the Jews and the Jewish culture, even going so far as to label Jews as heretics and Jewish practices as heresy.  Here’s an example of that, a quote from Ignatius, who was Bishop of Antioch in the second century:

"To profess Jesus Christ while continuing to follow Jewish customs is an absurdity. The Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism looks to Christianity...." (Magnesians 10)

This anti-Jewish mindset grew and grew and eventually led to persecution beginning in the first century after the life of Yeshua, continuing in the Crusades (1095-1270), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1808), and, of course, the Holocaust (1933-1945). Sadly, anti-Semitism continues today.

This also led to the development in the churches of "Replacement Theology," which teaches that the Christian church has replaced Israel as our Father’s chosen people, that the church is the "new Israel." The truth is that all believers become part of Israel. See discussion on page 13.

This anti-Semitic thinking has even influenced most English translations of Scripture. It has been translated in many instances with an anti-Semitic bias just because the Jews were hated so much and the translators wanted to distance themselves from them. The growth of the early church was primarily Gentiles who did not want to associate with Jews or be associated with them by others, and they didn’t want to worship in Jewish ways; this led to the change from Sabbath to Sunday worship, which was made official and binding by Roman emperor Constantine and the early Roman church in the fourth century. When the Bible was finally translated into English the anti-Semitism was firmly in place in much of the world, and it came through in the translation.

For example, many names were changed from the original Hebrew or Jewish names to Gentile names; "Ya’akov" became "James," "Yousef" became "Joseph," "Miriam" became "Mary," "YHWH" became "the LORD," "Yeshua" became "Jesus," and all the names of the books of the Bible changed, too. At the time of King James (17th century), Gentiles were forbidden by law to use Jewish names, and Jews couldn’t use Gentile names when naming their children. This was one of the reasons for tension between the authorities and the Puritans, ultra-religious people of the time who loved Jewish names and wanted to use them.

One of the rules that the King James English translators were instructed to follow was that "good" people got Gentile names and "bad" people could be called by their Jewish names. They didn’t want to give the impression that a Jewish person could be a "good guy" and they tried to separate him from his Jewishness. In other European languages the name Ya’akov was translated into a recognizable variation of that name (like Jacob), but James is nothing like the original. Most major English versions I’ve seen follows the pattern set by the KJV. Exceptions include The Scriptures, the Complete Jewish Bible, Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition, and a few miscellaneous Sacred Name versions, but all the most popular versions like NIV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, etc. follow that pattern of name changing, and by doing so they deny some of the Jewish elements in the original text. If you see the name JAMES in Scripture, that itself is anti-Semitic in a sense.

In addition to changing names, they changed TORAH to "law."  And THIS change is very confusing sometimes. It’s not totally incorrect, as the Rabbis who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek Septuagint used the Greek word for "law," but to our modern, Western mindset it suggests a very different idea than what it originally meant to the Israelites, which was "God’s teaching and instruction."

Eventually the early Gentile churches started teaching that believers no longer needed to obey the Torah, contradicting Scripture. The leaders gave themselves authority over the Word of God and changed the doctrines to further set them and their churches apart from the Jews. The common people didn't know the difference; hardly anyone had a Bible of their own to check what the leaders said. Besides changing the Sabbath (which the Roman Catholic Church freely admits doing and accepts total responsibility for), the other Holy Days (festivals) and dietary laws in the Torah were abandoned. Eventually most of the Old Testament came to be regarded as a history lesson with prophecy and some devotional passages.

These changes in theology, reinforced by biased translations of Scripture, have led the majority of Christians today to be taught a version of how to properly relate to our Creator that is very different from what the original Scriptures say and mean. And this false teaching has been promoted so heavily and accepted so much by so many that now the truth of God’s word is not recognized by most people, and it is even rejected when they do hear it. How tragic.

All Believers Are Part of Israel

If you are not Jewish, why should you be concerned with the Bible's commands that were given to Israel?

The prophet Moses told the Israelites that God considers them to be His special, chosen people:

Deuteronomy 26:18 (NASU) "The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments."

People usually think of the "church," the body of Messiah, as being non-Jewish. And they usually think of "Israel" as being only the Jews. First, a clarification: Israel was composed of twelve tribes; the Jews came from one of the twelve, the tribe of Judah. All Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. It's like saying that all Oklahomans are Americans, but not all Americans are Oklahomans. Many Israelites came from the other tribes, so lots of Israelites are not Jews, although sometimes the words Israelites and Jews seem to be used interchangeably.

An extremely important principle that we must establish is that ALL believers become part of Israel, at least in a spiritual sense, when they repent and accept Yeshua and what He did for us. Here are some Bible verses to support this statement:

  1. Isaiah the prophet wrote that the Gentile who joined himself to the people of The LORD should not be considered as separate from His people, the people of Israel:

·         Isaiah 56:3a (NASU) Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to The LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from His people."

  1. Yeshua Himself said that if a believer falls into sin and refuses to repent, then the status of that believer changes to that of a Gentile (a non-Israelite):

·         Matthew 18:15-17 (NASU) "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.  17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

So, according to Yeshua, if a believer sins (which means disobeying the Torah), then he loses his status as an Israelite and becomes a Gentile. On the other hand, if a believer is faithful to Torah, he or she remains part of Israel!

  1. Yeshua also made another statement indicating that two groups of "sheep" would be combined to form one flock:

·         John 10:16 (NASU) "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

He was speaking to Jews, so the "other sheep" of a different fold are not Jewish. Therefore, those He brings from other Israelite tribes, known collectively as Ephraim, and from the Gentiles, are all added together with the Jews; they will become one flock, not two flocks. The one flock is Israel.

  1. Romans 11:17-21 clearly tells us that the believing (born again) Gentile believer is grafted in among the natural branches, the Israelites.

·         Romans 11:17 (NASU) But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

·         In Ephesians 2:11-13 the Bible says that Gentiles were (past tense) excluded from citizenship in Israel but now through Christ they have been "brought near":

Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV) Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands —  12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

  1. In Ephesians 2:19 and 3:6 we read that the Gentile believer becomes a fellow citizen and a fellow heir with the faithful Israelites, and becomes a member of the household of God:

·         Ephesians 2:19 (NASU) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household...

·         Ephesians 3:6 (NASU)  ...to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel...

  1. Galatians 3:7 says that believers are in the family of Abraham:

·         Galatians 3:7 (NIV) Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.

  1. Galatians 3:29 confirms this: If you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s descendants!

·         Galatians 3:29 (NASU) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

  1. In John's vision in the book of Revelation, he describes the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven where Yeshua and His followers will live together, and John describes the gates to the city:

·         Revelation 21:10-12 (NASU) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

Notice that the twelve gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel.
There is no gate named "Gentiles" or non-Jews" or "non-Israelites."

  1. Many believers think that Gentiles (non-Israelite believers) are living under a new covenant that somehow eliminates God's law. It is described for us in Jeremiah 31. Let's see who this covenant is for and what it says about His law:

·         Jeremiah 31:31-34 (HCSB) "Look, the days are coming" — this is the LORD's declaration — "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt — a covenant they broke even though I had married them" — the LORD's declaration. 33 "Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days" — the LORD's declaration. "I will place My law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people."

This passage clearly shows that the new covenant is "with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." Nothing is said about Gentiles; to participate in the new covenant, one needs to belong to one of those houses, Israel or Judah. Also, notice that God said that when He makes this new covenant, He will write His law on people's hearts. This means that they will know it thoroughly and will be obedient to it.

All repentant believers are part of Israel. Therefore, any commands in Scripture given to Israel are given to all believers. We already saw that God makes it very clear in numerous passages of Scripture that He wants Israel to obey His Torah, His commandments. Here are two examples:

Deuteronomy 5:1 (NASU) Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully."

Deuteronomy 6:1-3a (NASU) 1 "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which The LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear The LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as The LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you…"

Another point to consider is that even if believers were not considered to be part of Israel, the word of God states that there is one law for all, whether Israelite or  "alien" (foreigner, stranger):

Numbers 15:15-16 (NASU) 15"As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. 16'There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you."

Here’s what Yeshua about it said in His Great Commission:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)  19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

These were His final words before ascending to Heaven. His final instructions would have been the most important things that He most wanted His followers to do. Obeying His last commands is our mission. As we teach about salvation, we also must teach all people to obey His commandments. Coming to eternal life through repentance and faith in Yeshua is just the beginning of what God wants for His people.

HALLELUYAH MINISTRIES

 

Ministers Jim and Connie King

223 E. 117th Street

Jenks, OK 74037    

(918) 298-5464

www.hallelluyahministries.net

Join us each Sabbath (Saturday) for worship and Bible study at 1:00

 

 

Why Saturday? The Bible says the Sabbath, the day for "sacred assembly," is the SEVENTH day.

This was never changed in Scripture – see Exodus 20:8-11, Leviticus 23:1-3, Luke 4:16.

 

"Halleluyah" (original spelling with a "Y" instead of a "J") is a Hebrew word that means "praise God."

"Hallel" means "praise," and "Yah" is a short form of God's name in Hebrew (Yahweh).

 

Sources (in addition to the Bible)

Dowsett, Pastor Frank W. The Covenant Vision Ministry website,
http://homepage.idx.com.au/fdowsett/balaam03.html
(excerpt from The Parables of Balaam)

Koniuchowsky, Rabbi Moshe. Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition

Koster, C.J. Come Out of Her, My People

McKee, John. The New Testament Validates Torah

The Scriptures

Master Key, volume 24, number 3

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

First Fruits of Zion. Torah Club audio tapes