There is a huge controversy taking place in the Christian world today over the role of “the Law” in the life of a follower of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). This argument can be debated with Greek and Roman based theological doctrines till one is blue in the face. However, there are several Hebrew keys that help us unravel the doctrines and find Kingdom Truth.
With Shavu’ot just two weeks away it is appropriate that we take some time to consider the Torah – the written Word of God. For Shavu’ot (Pentecost) is the celebration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai upon two tablets of stone and God’s Words written down by Moses in Genesis – Deuteronomy. Shavu’ot is also the day Yeshua sent to us the Holy Spirit to write God’s Word upon our hearts and in our minds, empowering us to once again become His Light in the world and take the Good News of His Kingdom to all mankind.
The very first key in solving our “Law” dilemma is to understand the Greek and Hebrew words that the English translations render “Law”. What we will discover is that there is a world of difference between a Greek approach and a Hebrew approach to “the Law of God” and to all of Scripture. In fact, they are completely two separate cultures and mindsets that seldom intersect.
The translators of our most commonly used English Bibles use the word “Law” to refer to the commandments and teachings of what they have labeled the Old Testament. These Scriptures are called the Tanakh by the Hebrew people. (Note: The Hebrew written language uses no vowels so Tanakh is spelled TNK: T for Torah, the first five books called “the Song or Books of Moses” which contains the commandments of Yahweh; N for Ne’viim, the Prophets; and K for Ketuvim, the Wisdom Writings.) The Tanakh has always been the Bible of the Hebrews and remains so today. The Tanakh was the only Scripture that Yeshua taught from and the only Scriptures that the Apostles constantly referred to. In fact, 85% of the “New Testament” refers back to Tanakh teachings and principles, often in direct quotes. The historical truth to be embraced is that Yeshua, the disciples (apostles) and the early church had as their Bible only the Tanakh. At any point in the New Testament writings that you read the words “scriptures”, “prophets” or “writings/it is written” it is the Tanakh that is being referred to. There would be no actual “New Testament” as we know it for centuries to come.
In Hebrew-written Scripture texts, we find only the word Torah, never the word “law”. In the Greek Old and New Testament texts, rather than Torah we find the word nomos. Most commonly nomos is translated to English as “the law” or “Law”. According to Strong’s, the word nomos can also be translated as regulation, procedure and principle.(Strong’s #G3551). Our understanding of the English word “law” is tied very strongly to “rules and regulations” that carry penalties if broken. Law then is often perceived as binding and restrictive. Yet Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary provides a much broader picture for us – one that more closely resembles “the law” as defined by the Hebrew.
Strong’s tells us that the Greek root word for nomos is nemo, meaning to parcel out like food or grazing to animals. With this understanding, God’s Torah h would be like food or a pasture parceled out to nourish and keep strong those who eat of it! Though “law” is listed as a correct translation, it is then qualified by a further definition. “Law” is described as being a “prescriptive usage” – a set of codes or principles that govern the affairs of men. One might say “the law” is a prescription a doctor would write out for what ails us with the goal of getting us healthy and living well again. “The law” is given to be corrective or even preventive so as to ensure our safety, healing, and well-being.
According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary, Torah can be translated as precepts or statutes. Interestingly, the Hebrew word “Torah” is then described by Strong’s as much more a verb (action) than as a noun (descriptive)! Here is what Strong’s defines as Torah: The Hebrew root of the word Torah is yarah, meaning to flow as water or rain. Torah also means to lay or throw, as in shooting an arrow; to point out as in aiming a finger; and to teach. Strong’s tells us that Torah can also be translated as archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teacher and teaching. (Strong’s #H851)
Do you see the pictures in the word “Torah” that give us the Hebrew understanding of God’s Word? His Word – the books of His instructions, guidelines, principles and Kingdom decrees – flows like water or rain, giving life to all who will drink it in. His Word lays out or throws before us a Path of Life to follow. His Word is our archer – shooting straight as it aims to place God’s truth into our hearts. Our Father, the King of the universe, wants us to learn to “shoot straight” at the goal – living on earth by what exists in heaven! By the work of His Spirit within us, He is resolved to help us, not condemn us! His Word only condemns those who ignore or deny it. He is the King of a perfect Kingdom – and those who chose not live the life of His Kingdom are simply not welcome to be citizens. No secrets. No surprises. No bolts of lightning sent destroy those who claim Him as their Father and King. The King’s judgements are given to help steer us back on track…designed to deliver us, not condemn. Through them He says to those He loves and corrects, “Choose to step back in the flow, child. Receive My forgiveness and return to Me. I will help you get your arrow straightened out so that you can successfully aim for living life in My Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”
There is another Hebrew root word that is part of the word Torah. It is or, translated as light and meaning lumination or luminary (including lightning, happiness, etc.); bright, clear, day, light, morning, sun. The Torah, by Hebrew definition, is most commonly known among the Jews as The Principles and Instructions (Teachings) of Yahweh. But it is also called by many other idioms such as the Light, the Way, the Truth, the Life, Living Water, the Rod and Staff, and Bread from Heaven. The Torah is not only central to daily life. It is the center of universe in which we live.
The Hebrew images of flowing water and clear, bright light are powerful, aren’t they? That God’s Word is also called the Bread of life and the Way, the Truth and the Life are no less incredible. Consider all of these in connection with who Yeshua claimed to be! “I am the Light of the world.” “I am the Living Water.” “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” “I am the Bread of Life.” Do we not call Him “the bright and morning star (the sun)”? Could it be the He is the Torah? If so, then we need to reconsider what He is saying to us. “If you love me, keep my commandments [my principles and instructions].” We must reconsider the current popular teaching that we no longer need or are subject to the Torah. We are treading on dangerous ground! Think seriously upon this. If Yeshua is the Living Torah then are we then thinking and claiming that we no longer need or are subject to Him?
This is serious, dear friend. Be careful! Can we reject the Torah in written form without rejecting the Living Torah, Yeshua HaMashiach? Can we honestly claim that He is our King and that we are citizens of His Kingdom, and then reject the principles, instructions, and functions of His Kingdom? This is much more than a Law vs. Grace issue! This is a deep “heart of the Bride” issue. Do we accept or reject our Groom and King for who and what HE says that He is? If we cannot receive and accept Him in His full identity, then He by no means has to receive and accept us either. He was serious when He said that upon His return many will say “Lord, Lord!” but He will say, “Go away from me. I do not know you.”
Several years ago I realized that if the Torah and Yeshua are one and the same then I cannot have one without the other. That is simply and logically not possible. I came to a conclusion and made my choice on this matter.
I encourage you to seek out truth for yourself, dear friend. Read and research past the Greek and into the Hebrew. As you study, pray. Ask Him to reveal all of Himself to you in His Truth, not in man’s doctrines. He will. He isn’t hiding anything from those who are seeking him with their whole heart. There is far too much at stake to simply take any one’s word on this…including mine. Don’t be afraid to start anew in your walk of faith with Him. Don’t worry about what others might think or how they will respond. I promise you, it will be worth the effort!
Keep this one last thought in mind. Scripture tells us that God never desired or destined His people to have a man for a king (or a woman for a queen). He is to be their only King, their only Sovereign. Therefore, from Genesis to Mt Sinai, He gave to those who belonged to Him a way of life with a very well defined lifestyle, diet, and days of celebration. He gave them regulations for worship, cleansing, offerings, and sacrifices that would keep them pure and able to be in relationship with Him. He eventually gave them a geographical land with established boundaries in which they could live unlike any other nation on earth and defend themselves against those who would try to destroy them for following His Ways. The King of the Universe laid out a secure way of life by which His people could self-govern, with a system of justice by which communities could protect individual and family rights. He established everlasting guidelines by which they could preserve a peaceful and prosperous life. As long as both individuals and communities in His Kingdom lived by what He gave to them in His Word they would have no need of a human king or human laws. His people needed only a handful of godly, wise judges who adhered to His Ways to settle disputes and keep their communities on track.
It was the people who demanded to become like the other nations and have a king over them. They no longer wanted to be different and set apart. God warned them that such assimilation to the ways of the world would be to their demise. They refused to listen, so He gave them their desire. First came Saul. His pride became his demise as he threw Israel into wars and civil conflict. Then came David, almost destroyed by a personal failure but able to repent and return to God. Then Solomon, who began in great Godly wisdom but fell away from the very wisdom that he taught. Solomon’s sons split Israel into two kingdoms. Then Babylon invaded. Within four generations, Israel – the nation chosen by God to bear His Light in a dark world – lost everything. Because of His immeasurable mercy, grace and faithfulness to His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation for all mankind would still come from Israel…from David’s own descendants. Yeshua, the promised Messiah, the Lion of Judah – and the one who will sit on David’s throne forever. Yahweh indeed will always deliver and redeem that which belongs to Him.
“For I know what plans I have in mind for you,” says Yahweh, “plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me you will find me, provided you seek for me whole-heartedly; and I will let you find me,” says Yahweh. “Then I will reverse your exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (Complete Jewish Bible)
Deborah Munson May 24, 2019