Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How is Yeshua Both the Written and Living Word of God?

When Yeshua was asked what the greatest commandment was in Matthew 22, He quoted Deuteronomy chapter 6 which is the centerpiece of Jewish theology and teaching.

Matthew 22:36-38 NKJV 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment.

Deut. 6:4-5  NKJV “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

What is it that Yeshua came to teach us?  Did he come to start a “new religion”?  Or did He come to reiterate the Father’s instruction of how to live and draw near to Him?  Yeshua came to renew the covenant given at Mt. Sinai.  He came to secure our relationship to God the Father by His perfect sacrifice.  But what does His atonement really accomplish, and how does it work?

In order to properly understand it, we have to clearly identify who Messiah Yeshua is.  We have to have a clear understanding of his true identity, unclouded by conventions and doctrines invented over the centuries since His death and resurrection.

The Gospel of John does the best job of identifying Messiah as the “Living Word of God”.

John 1:1-3 NKJV 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. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Later in John’s Gospel, these words of Yeshua are recorded.  

John 14:6 NKJV “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Now this is perhaps the single most abused scripture in history! Christians, not understanding the Hebrew, Biblical context of this statement, have throughout history, used it to justify despicable acts of all kinds against the Jews and other so called "non-believers". It was used to justify the crusades and the Spanish inquisition, and in the last century, the Holocaust. But when we understand this statement by Yeshua in light of the Hebrew mindset, a deeper understanding and the true meaning emerges. Yeshua was a Jewish man teaching His Jewish disciples about the Jewish scripture, the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, the Tanakh, or what we commonly call the Old Testament.  So maybe we ought to pay attention to His Jewish instruction from that point of view.

I believe very strongly that we must read and understand all of scripture from within its cultural and historic context in order to clearly understand the intended message.  Let's take a closer look what Yeshua was saying here and see how His Jewish followers of the 1st century would have understood it.

What is the way?

Ps 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law (Torah) of the LORD! (NKJV)

And what is the truth?

Ps 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law (Torah) is truth. (NKJV)

And what is life?

Pr 13:14 The law (Torah) of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death. (NKJV)

So what is the Torah?

Pr 7:2 Keep my commands and live, And my law (Torah) as the apple of your eye. (NKJV)

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

Mal 2:6 The law (Torah) of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. 7 “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law (Torah) from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law (Torah). You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the LORD of hosts. 9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law (Torah).” (NKJV)

Ps 1:2 But his delight is in the law (Torah) of the LORD, And in His law (Torah) he meditates day and night. (NKJV)

Ps 119:97 Oh, how I love Your law (Torah)! It is my meditation all the day. (NKJV)

Ps 119:44 So shall I keep Your law (Torah) continually, Forever and ever. 45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. (NKJV)

Isaiah 51:7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: (Torah) Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults. (NKJV)

In all the scriptures above, the word translated as “law” in our English bibles is the Hebrew “Torah”.  The word Torah is defined in the Strong’s Concordance #8451 and means precept or statute. It is derived from #3384 which means to teach, instruct, to point out or to inform. The Torah is God’s divine instruction. It does not mean “law” as we understand law in our modern western society, it would be better translated as “teaching or instruction”.  Yeshua came to teach, instruct, to point out and to inform us of the ways of the Father.  He is the perfect embodiment of Torah.  Remember the scripture in Matthew

Matthew 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (NKJV)

In the Greek manuscripts of the NT writings, the word “law” is the Greek word “nomos”.  This is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint, the 3rd century BCE translation of the Tanakh, to translate “Torah.”

A Hebrew word picture of “Torah”:

The original Hebrew language was written as pictographs and each letter had a meaning in and of itself. The Modern Hebrew that we are familiar with today, was formed in the middle ages but still retains the original pictographic meaning of the letters and words. Hebrew is read right to left and the word Torah is as follows:

Torah: תורה = Tav, Vav, Resh, Hey.

Tav: ת =Cross, covenant or sign of the covenant
Vav: ו = Nail, tent peg, to secure
Resh: ר = Person, especially the highest person, head
Hey: ה = Reveal. At the end of a word hey can mean what comes from or out of, belonging to

Torah: The covenant secured by the highest person revealed or, if read backwards, that which comes from the highest person nailed to the cross.

So when we meditate on the Torah, when we listen to the Torah, when we speak the Torah, walk in Torah, seek Torah, delight in Torah, then the Torah is our heart. Yeshua is both the written and living Word of God and there is liberty in the Torah! For the Torah is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Did God the Father decide His past teaching was wrong?  Did He send His Son Yeshua, our Messiah, to eliminate or render invalid His instruction in righteous living, His Torah given at Mt. Sinai?  He did not!  His Word, both written and living, will stand forever!  When we understand that the written Word, the Torah and the Living Word, Yeshua are one and the same, we then come to the proper cultural and historic understanding of His profound statement in John 14:6. and we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

When Paul wrote to Timothy in 2nd Tim 3:16, he was referring to the body of scripture known as the Tanakh.  What we know as the “New Testament” was not written yet and was decades away.

2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (KJV)

Our “doctrines”, our “reproof”, our “corrections” and our “instruction in righteousness”, all derive from the Torah, both written and living.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at:  www.moedministries.com

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