Monday, November 22, 2010

But...What is the difference between God's written commandments (the Torah or 'instructions' given by the One True Living God) and man's oral traditions (which were/are NOT God given)

I began today to write up a post about Stephen, the believer whom we read about in Acts 7.
I started to write out the post and then kept going off the track to explain bits and pieces and thought, you know, instead, i should write up a little series on some of the basics of what we are learning about Torah and THEN in light of that being laid out plainly, I will share my thoughts about Stephen. These are thoughts from my heart about our Torah journey.

So, here is part one.

What is the difference between God's written commandments (the Torah or 'instructions' given by the One True Living God) and man's oral traditions (which were/are NOT God given)

We've been taught that Jews kept the 'old law'. This is not entirely true. While some of the Jews (a term which really refers to those from the house of Judah) kept some of the Torah, on the whole, they had been taught to ALSO keep the rabbinic traditions and oral laws like the Talmud and the Mishnah. The body of all these laws all squashed up together is called the Halacha. Mixed in with God's written laws are these man made ones which, Yeshua Messiah Himself called 'burdensome' and a load too difficult to carry. He never called the Torah of God burdensome (in fact he said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light).

These latter two (Talmud and Mishnah) are NOT the written Torah (instructions) that Yahovah gave His people. Rather, these are what is oft referred to as the 'fence' laws which were put around the Torah instructions so that people would not break the commandments or even come close to it! Instead of just taking God at his word, those in charge of the people thought it best to put other measures in place. What may have begun as a 'help' for the people really did turn instead into a 'hindrance'. The customs and traditions were often being put in place of the commandments (instructions) which God lovingly gave as a daddy to his kiddos! Safe boundaries if you will, since He is soverign Creator and knows what is best for us. Who is man that he thinks he can 'add to' or 'take away' from God's instructions?

Check out Mark 7 for what Yeshua (Jesus) says about this. It's a perfect example. The Pharisees begin looking down their noses at him because he was not holding to 'the traditional of the elders' regarding hand washing (Mark 7:3) You will NOT find anywhere in the God given Torah that you need to ceremonially wash your hands/jugs/cups/etc. He did NOT give that commandment anywhere.

That was a tradition of men!

The Pharisees ask, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean hands'?" (Mark 7:5). Do you notice that Jesus is NOT breaking the Torah (God's written instructions) but is NOT obeying man's traditions?! Isn't He fantastic! He refuses to bow down to what they are pressuring Him to do which are man made commandments rather than God-given ones! What does He tell them? Firstly, he calls them 'hypocrites' and quotes from the Tanakh (old testament scriptures) and then He says, get this, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe you own traditions!" Notice He didn't say, " I am going to do away with the commandments of God". Then He quotes Moses. And finally says, "Thus you nullify the word of God by your own tradition that you have handed down. You do many things like that". See, man's traditions were NULLIFYING or making void, God's commandments and Jesus came to set that straight! That's what it means by he came to 'fullfil the law' (in Matthew 5:17). You can check it out in the Blue Letter Bible yourself (link the sidebar) and see that the word 'fullfil' here in its context is Strong's Number 4137. It comes from the Greek word 'pleroo' and is a verb (a doing word!) He was coming to 'fill the law up to its full measure' to interpret the law correctly! He himself said He didn't come to do away with even the smallest stroke of the Torah and that none of it would disapear until heaven and earth pass away....and they are still standing!

Yeshua (Jesus) said so many things like this! Check out Matthew 23 as another example. Far out, this blew me away when I read this for the first time in light of Torah.

'Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything that they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on the men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them".

Moses' seat was a place that had been established from which the Torah was read. Read Exodus 18:13-16. Moses sat down to 'judge' between the people and to 'make known the statutes of God and His laws' (Ex 18:16). What was read from Moses' seat was the instructions given to The Torah of God! The Pharisees were SAYING the Torah of Yehovah (God) but were DOING something totally different! They were adding to it! They were taking away from it! They were tying up on men's backs heavy loads that they were not doing themselves! Remember that we are NOT talking about the God given commandments here but the added ones.

Once again, we only need to look at what our Messiah Saviour Yehsua (Jesus) said...Do what they say according to Moses but don't do it how they do it. No wonder he called them hypocrites and blind guides.

And what, ultimately, were these Jews saying to the other believers? That unless they did these extra things, they would not be saved. Paul says it beautifully in Romans 3: "For we maintain that a man is JUSTIFIED by FAITH apart from observing the law (Romans 3:28)...Do we then nullify (get rid of) the law by this faith? NOT AT ALL! RATHER, WE UPHOLD THE LAW" (Romans 3:31)

Before I finish off, I just want to say that before I came to know the freedom and beauty in Torah, I too had the understanding from years of hearing teaching on it, that the Torah  (God given commandments) were 'old', 'done away with', 'burdensome', 'too difficult to bear' etc etc.

But is this REALLY what the Scriptures teach?

Let's let the Scriptures speak for themselves....

"Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away" (Matt 24:35). He is the Living Word, the Living Torah. The Torah made flesh.

"Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man". (Ecclesiastes 12:13. This coming from the wisest man who ever lived).

"Keeping God's commands is what counts" (1 Corinthians 7:19)

"Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law". (Romans 7:7)

"The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good". (Romans 7:12) Why would Paul say these things if in fact 'the law had been done away with' as we are often taught?

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

In Nehemiah 9 when the people are returning to the covenant of Torah with Yah (God), the people declare that it is a "covenant of love" (verse 32) and that "a man will live if he obeys them (the commandments)" (verse 29). How beautiful.

Well, I hope and pray that even one person out there in Blogland will be encouraged to search deeper into the Scriptures through this little mini look into God's commandments vs the traditions of men. And may you only settle for the Truth of His Word...for the Truth shall set us free.

Much love,
Lusi x


Kip said...

Good work Lusi, your so good at explaining it. :)

jono vandor said...

Brilliant Lus! So true it is! A wonderful post. Keep them coming.

Praise our Creator for His instructions by which we are set-apart and blessed! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this Lusi. It is helping the ponderings of my heart xxx

lusi said...

Jono and Keiran - thanks for your encouraging words! Praise Yehovah for His truth and great mercy! Bless you guys!

And Anonymous, you are more than welcome. May He meet with you to show you the Truth of who He truly is! Much love!

Lus x

kathy said...

Thanks Lusi I am being asked so many questions about all this at the moment and I can never seem to put it into tge right words. I will just send them a link to this post!

Mommy Set Free said...

You know those "blog awards" people like to pass around? I really donlt fiddle with them...But I had to giggle when I saw this post. This one would have certainly won the "Longest Blog Post Title Ever" Award. :-)

Seriously, Lusi - this was a great post! Well written and all SO TRUE.

lusi said...

Hi Kathy :)
I'm glad it will be useful to you mate. Loads of love to you x

And Pamela; too funny! I was thinking it was a very long title too! lol! Thanks for your encouragement too.

Love Lus x

lusi said...

That's encouraging thanx keiran. I was hoping it would make sense.
Bless you mate!

singing mama said...

Loved this post Lusi , so clear and easy to understand!!! Love to you!!! Bring on more just like it :)
Luv Donna

lusi said...

Oh I'm glad Donna :) Thanks so much for your encouragement.
Love to you!

Anonymous said...

Read 2 Corinthians 3: 5-18 the other morning regarding the new covenant, and though I had it sorted in my head, but reading this again has me wondering. There seems to be scriptures saying the law still stands and then others saying we are free from it. I want to live in obedience, yet avoid legalism. So much to still ponder and learn. Thx Lusi.

lusi said...

I think this last comment is from you Gail?
I will be doing another post soon about the new covenant but in fact the 'new' word here is in context the same as 'renewed'. It is a 'renewed covenant' just as in there is a new moon each cycle but it is not a brand spanking new moon but a renewed moon.
The covenant that it is referring to is mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31 and then again in Hebrews 8 and 10. These things that make up the new covenant haven't all happened yet. For instance, in the 'renewed covenant' in both the 'old and new' testaments, it says that 'no longer will a man teach his neighbour for all will know Me". That hasn't happened yet; people are teaching their neighbours all the time - that's why churches have envangelism ministries etc because certainly yet, not all know Him. So we know for sure that not all of what has happened in the 'new' or 'renewed' covenant has come to pass. What we do know is what it says in 2 Cor 5:5 that we now have the 'deposit of the Holy Spirit'. We have a deposit now and this is the same, I believe, for the new covenant. We are just yet to see the complete fulfillment of this covenant...but we will! WooohooOOO!
Just as a side note, you've probably read this before but just while we are mentioning the Holy Spirit....Ezekiel 36:26 gives us this promise, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." He puts His Spirit in us so that He we will be moved to follows His instructions (His Torah)! Amazing :)
Anyway, not sure any of that helped but there you go.
Love to you my dear friend!
Lus x
Ps: I posted some comments on your blog but they all bounced back at me :( Not sure why!

lusi said...

Oh and I forgot to say that whenever we read about the 'law' in the new testament we have to ask ourselves what the context is so that we can determine which law it is talking about. Quite often when it says that the law has been done away it is talking about the law of sin and death (Romans 6 + 7 +8) and other times it is talking about the oral law (Col 2:16-23). For example, we can tell this one in Col is talking about the oral law because it tells us in the passage that the 'rules' are 'based merely on human commands and teachings' (col 2:22) We know that God's Torah (instructions) are not based on human commands, rather they were spoken and given by the mouth of God Himself! This is completely different to the oral laws of Rabbinic Pharasiaic Judaism which are all made up by men!!! We are never told to keep these ones!
It does make it hard to distinguish between the two sometimes but it is there in the context.
Paul says in Acts 24:14, "I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets". He celebrated the feasts and shabbat (sabbath) he gave to the poor (in accordance with the Torah) and even sacrificed in keeping with the Torah of Numbers 6 which you can read in Acts 21. He did NOT however submit to the man made rules of the Pharisees and opposed Peter to his face when he began acting like them (Gal 2:7-19) because it was not in keeping with the message of the Gospel Truth (which is that all men regardless of their birth status can have a covenental relationship with God, following in the manner of Yeshua Ha Mashiach - Jesus the Messiah).
More on this another time :)
Love to you G!
Lus x


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