Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Universalistic Torah: 3 Evidences for the Universality of the Torah of Moses





"And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is Torah for mankind (Torat ha-Adam), O Lord GOD!" (2 Sam 7:19) 
"I'd rather be happy" -- Conan O'brien, late-night talk-show comedian, on why he sought out psychiatric help and medication for his depression

Everyone has dealt with depression at one time or another.  Some people try to fill the void with medication, some with accomplishments, some with material possessions, some with identification with a certain cause, some with an obsession with their looks, some with achieving social acceptance.

But all these efforts are really an attempt to ease the pain that we feel from being separated from our Creator.

Reality check #1:  all those things listed above, the G-d replacements, they can all be taken away--possessions, looks, acceptance.  Only one thing can never be taken away:  your relationship with G-d.

Yet many people believe they can achieve a relationship with G-d on their own terms.

Reality check #2:  G-d gave a very specific set of instructions--a set of terms--that must be honored in order to have a relationship with Him.  Any other approach to G-d is really just idolatry.

The struggle for us Messianics is that we're stuck between 3 groups of people who are constantly tellings us that G-d's instructions do not apply to us:  Christians say we can pick and choose commandments and basically "do what feels good"; Exclusionist Messianics say that only Jews are required to keep the commandments and therefore Gentiles may pick and choose commandments provided they consist of commandments that are not "too Jewish" (whatever that's supposed to mean); non-Messianic Jews say that Gentiles need only observe the Noahide Laws (i.e. sit and do nothing because G-d doesn't really want a relationship with you).

The effect of these Christian and Exclusionist Messianic teachings is simple:  confusion and misery.

I'd like to propose that there are 3 fundamental evidences that show (1) G-d loves you regardless of your ethnicity; (2) that He desires a close relationship with you and; (3) to that end He wants you to walk according the Way of Life that He has instructed to all mankind in the Torah of Moses.  This Way of Life results in healing, wholeness, peace, understanding, and joy!  And, as Messianics, we believe in a Messiah (Yeshua) who wants to help us along the Way so that we may experience these blessings as members of His People (Israel).

So, without further ado, let's look at 3 fundamental evidences for the universality of the Torah:


UNIVERSAL #1:  THE BIBLE IS ADDRESSED TO ALL MANKIND


While many people acknowledge the rather obvious fact that the Bible begins with mankind's universal ancestor, Adam, they fail to grasp that the rest of the Bible is addressed to mankind.  The false teachers will say that the remainder of the Bible contains a majority of passages addressed only to Israel.

But what if Israel is actually continuing the universal story by becoming the Adam (Israel) that returns to Eden (the Land of Israel)?


Observe that the result of Adam's rebellion was being separated from the Tree of Life:
"He drove away the man, and stationed the cherubim at the east of Eden, along with the revolving sword blade, to guard the path of the Tree of Life," Gen. 3:24
This Tree of Life is actually the Torah:
"She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed," Proverbs 3:18
And:
"1.
A.  Said R. Abba b. Eliashib, '[The reference at Lev. 26:3 to statutes is to] statutes which bring a person into the life of the world to come.
B.  'That is in line with the following verse of Scripture:  'And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem' [Is. 4:3] -- for he is devoted to [study of] Torah, which is called the tree of life.'
2.
A.  It has been taught in the name of R. Eliezer, 'A sword and a scroll wrapped together were handed down from heaven, as if to say to them, 'If you keep what is written in this [scroll], you will be saved from the sword,
B.  'and if not, in the end [the sword] will kill you.'
C.  When is that proposition to be inferred?  'He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life' [Gen. 3:4].
D.  'The [first] reference to 'the way' refers to the rules of proper conduct, and the second reference, '[the way to] the tree of life' refers to the Torah,'" Leviticus Rabbah XXXV:VI:1f
And one day mankind will be restored to Eden (Israel) and finally have access to the Tree of Life:
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood," Revelation 22:14,15
And:
A. R. Abbahu in the name of R. Yose bar Haninah:  'It is written, 'But they are like a man, they have transgressed the covenant' (Hos. 6:7).
B.  'They are like a man,' specifically, like the first man.
C.  ' 'In the case of the first man, I brought him into the garden of Eden, I command him, he violated my commandment, I judged him to be sent away and driven out, but I mourned for him, saying 'How...'.
D. ' 'I brought him into the garden of Eden, ' as it is written, 'And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden' (Gen. 2:15).
E.  ' 'I commanded him,' as it is written, 'And the Lord God commanded' (Gen. 2:16).
F. ' 'And he violated my commandment,' as it is written, 'Did you eat from the tree concerning which I commanded you?' (Gen. 3:11).
G.  ' 'I judged him to be sent away,' as it is written, 'And the Lord God sent him from the garden of Eden' (Gen. 3:23).
H. ' 'And I judged him to be driven out.' 'And he drove out the man' (Gen. 3:24).
I.  ' 'But I mourned for him, saying, 'How? ...' ' 'And he said to him, 'Where are you?' '(Gen. 3:9), and the word for 'where are you?' is written, 'How?...'
J. ' 'So too in the case of his descendants, I brought them into the Land of Israel, I commanded them, they violated my commandment, I judged them to be sent out and driven away but I mourned for them, saying, 'How?...''
K.  ' 'I brought them into the Land of Israel.' 'And I brought you into the land of Carmel' (Jer. 2:7).
L. ' 'I commanded them.' 'And you, command the children of Israel' (Exod. 27:20).  'Command the children of Israel '(Lev. 24:2).
M.  ' 'They violated my commandment.' 'And all Israel have violated your Torah' (Dan. 9:11).
N. ' 'I judged them to be sent out.' 'Send them away, out of my sight and let them go forth' (Jer. 15:1).
O.  ' '...and driven away.' 'From my house I shall drive them' (Hos. 9:15).
P.  ' 'But I mourned for them, saying, 'How?...' ' 'How has the city sat solitary, that was full of people?' (Lam. 1:1).' (Genesis Rabbah XIX:IX.2) 

UNIVERSAL #2:  THE BIBLICAL INSTRUCTIONS CONTAIN UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND APPEAL TO A COMMON RATIONALITY



Our Creator created mankind with a common rationality which can appreciate the compelling rationality of His commandments and universal truths contained therein:
" 'Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?'" Deuteronomy 4:6-8
Ultimately mankind will be unable to resist converting to this Torah:
"Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you," Zechariah 2:11 
"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," Micah 4:1-2 
"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.  O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord," Isaiah 2:1-5

And only those that hold fast to the covenant and Torah of Moses will be brought to the Temple meant to be a House of Prayer for everyone:
"...keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me and take hold of my covenant....all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it...these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my House of Prayer," Isaiah 56:4,6-7
In the Messianic Era, the uncircumcised will not be permitted to enter into Jerusalem:
"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean," Isaiah 52:1

UNIVERSAL #3:  POSITIVE COMMANDS ARE FOUND ONLY IN THE TORAH OF MOSES AND THE TORAH OF MOSES IS AN INTERDEPENDENT SYSTEM OF LAW THAT CANNOT BE CUT UP INTO SEPARATE, SELF-CONTAINED SETS OF LAWS FOR JEWS AND GENTILES





Just as G-d took positive steps in showing His love for mankind (e.g. creating the earth, creating man in His image, providing food and clothing for man), G-d expects man to take positive steps in showing His love for G-d.  Man cannot "sit and do nothing" (i.e. the Noahide Laws) but rather must keep positive commands (e.g. "Love the Lord your God...") in order to show love to his Creator.  There's nothing intimate in merely refraining from doing bad things but rather intimacy is found in doing the good things required in the Torah of Moses.

Christians and Exclusionist Messianics like to teach that Gentiles may simply "cut out" the bad commands and keep the good commands.  But, pray tell, where are these dotted cutting lines in Torah?  For more on this see my earlier post.

CONCLUSION

In the end, the choice is yours.  You may choose a life of idolatry trying to fill the void in your soul with possessions, popularity, pursuits, but you will end up confused, miserable, and isolated from the Creator.  However, if you choose a relationship with G-d, this cannot be taken away from you and will experience a life of peace, power, and purpose.

The choice is yours.

Shalom,

Peter



2 comments:

  1. I really like this piece, Peter. As you do so often and from so many angles, you again prove One Torah for all people. Thank you and keep pressing forward.

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    1. Praise G-d that we live in a time when He is beginning to raise our awareness to the wonders of His Torah. It's a great time to be alive! : )

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