I am often amazed at the responses I get when I remind people that Jesus is Jewish and that his Hebrew name is Yeshua. “Well, yeah – I suppose he is.” “Yes. I know that, but why is that important?” “No way. He is definitely not a Jew.” “Well maybe so, but if He was at one time he didn’t remain one. He became the first Christian.” Seriously?! Frankly, I wonder if these folks have ever really read their Bible, or have bothered to seriously reflect on the record of Yeshua’s life as found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The genealogies provided should alone be more than enough to verify Yeshua’s Hebrew lineage.
So much of what we have been taught from the pulpit, in books, and in our Bible colleges and seminaries has left out “the Hebrew factor” of Yeshua’s identity and purpose. This is tragic because that is so very pertinent to our understanding of who Yeshua is and how that affects our lives as His followers. Over the centuries our concepts and mental images of Yeshua have lost their Hebrew-ness. Even our artwork depicts Him looking much more like a Greek or Roman god rather than a Hebrew rabbi and descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…not to mention in the lineage of kings David and Solomon. I readily admit that I too fell for this misrepresentation of my Messiah. Somehow I thought modern Christianity was His idea. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yeshua was a Torah believing and Torah living man. He lived the Torah and taught the Torah to perfection. He taught his disciples to do the same.
Apostle John made Yeshua’s true and deepest identity perfectly clear. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory [character, attributes, and lifestyle] the glory of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-14 NKJV) The Word was God and became flesh and dwelt among us! Every Jew in that day – and today – knows that the Word of God is the Torah and that the Torah is the very mind and will of God spoken by Him and recorded for our instruction and benefit. God and His Word are one in the same – inseparable and never changing. The Torah was the only Word of God that John and the disciples knew about, lived out, and had access to. John, a Jew, was telling his Jewish readers that this very Word – God himself – became human and lived on earth before our very eyes. One might say John was proclaiming that Yeshua was a walking, living, breathing Torah scroll. The God who shook the ground, sounded as thunder and descended as fire at Mount Sinai to give us his heart and mind in the Torah, has now come to His people as a servant and teacher, full of grace and truth. Mindboggling!
I have grown so weary of hearing preachers and teachers proclaim that Yeshua came to do away with “the Law” – the Torah. Yeshua WAS and IS the Torah. Are they trying to tell me He has done away with himself? Have they not believed His own words spoken as “the Word dwelling with us”? “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law [Torah] or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass away from the law [Torah] till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17) He did not come to destroy or abolish the Torah – the eternal Covenant between Yahweh and His people. He came to fulfill it. The Hebrew definition of fulfill is not a once and for all event. To fulfill a covenant is a never-ending walk that brings with it greater and clearer understanding. Covenants honored and kept deepen and enrich a relationship. A good and perfect covenant brings joy and delight to everyday life.
Think of the Torah as a wedding covenant (the Jews do). Groom and Bride enter into an eternal covenant – a “till death do us part” covenant. There are terms and conditions to this covenant. Both pledge their fidelity – no other lovers. Both pledge to honor one another. Both promise to remain together through good times and hardships, in sickness and health. They receive wise and sound instruction for their relationship. They exchange their “I Do’s”. They seal their covenant with the blood shed in those private moments of consummation. They have “cut a covenant” that is to last to death. If they both keep (guard, honor, and celebrate) the terms of their covenant, theirs will be a long and happy life dwelling together.
Now – let’s see how they fulfill this. Let’s say that on day one after their wedding, they both perfectly fulfill (in western thinking) their wedding vows. Well then, done deal! They don’t need to walk in that covenant anymore. They fulfilled it! Now they can do whatever they want with whomever they want. Certainly they are still married, aren’t they? Shouldn’t they abound in grace toward each other despite how many times they break their covenant? Seriously?! Do you see the weakness of our western thought about what it means to fulfill a covenant – to fulfill the Torah?
Yeshua stated that He came to fulfill the Torah. He came to live it out day by day – just a husband and wife fulfill their covenant day by day. If we are wise and pay attention to our Rabbi and Messiah – our Groom – he will reveal to us, day by day, an ever deepening understanding this walk that will lead to the abundant life of blessings and favor that are written into our “marriage covenant”, called the Torah. He will teach us by His words and His actions how a lifestyle that fulfills our Wedding Covenant with Him is to be lived out. Our relationship with Him will be increasingly intimate and rich. We will become known by our love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Our Groom’s heart, mind, and lifestyle will become ours.
Yeshua did not abandon, abolish or destroy the Torah. He can’t, for to do so would be to break His own Word – His own wedding covenant with His people. He would have to break His promises and be unfaithful – and He is not about to do that. It is not is His character. He would become a liar – and God is not a liar. In fact, based on John’s revelation of the “Word made flesh”, if He were to do away with the Torah, He would have to do away with himself. Poof! Gone.
Folks, Yeshua is going to marry us! We are His Bride. This isn’t a “until death do us part” covenant. He is eternal. Our Groom is not going to die again. He did that already, so that we would regain our purity and able to marry Him. If we confess Him as our Salvation and Our King – and our Groom – we aren’t dying either. Our covenant is found in Him – The Word made flesh, who was with God and is God. Our Covenant was, is and is to come.
Friends, please stop calling Torah “the Law” as if it were some horrible thing that condemns us. The Torah is Yeshua! Do you truly think that of Him? Yeshua literally embodies our Wedding Covenant. Just as He is, the Torah is filled with promises of protection, provision, blessings and favor that belong to His faithful Bride! He has taught us and shown us with His own life what He wants His Bride to look, think, and act like. Shabbat, the Feasts, the honor, the love, the grace and mercy – all found in the Torah – are to be found in our lives.
Yeshua, our Messiah, is and always will be our only means of salvation. That is what His name means – Yeshua – “Our Salvation”. No one can be saved – forgiven of sin (dishonor) – without the atoning blood of the Perfect Lamb. Yet that moment of receiving our salvation is only the beginning. We have been purified and brought back to our Wedding Covenant with Him. Our life with Him only begins at the cross. We have been resurrected – restored, made alive, and given a new life – a fresh start. It’s time to start living like His faithful Bride! Has He not told us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments [Torah – our Wedding Covenant].”? He deeply desires to fulfill His Covenant with you. Do you desire the same toward Him?