WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL TO STUDY THE
HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
REDISCOVERING THE HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE EARLY
CHRISTIAN CHURCH, CIRCA A.D. 60
THE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN “THE LAW” OF GOD, GRACE, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Neale Johnson
For 2000 years over the age of Christendom through to today, the concept of the “Law of God” has been doctrinally misrepresented by being referred to as either “the failed Law” or “the imperfect Law” that could not bring redemption to mankind. This precept began to be developed after the age of the Apostles (95 A.D.) by many Roman clerics such as Marcion and Origen of the second century who declared that the Law of God was imperfect Law that must be “replaced”. Their errant conclusion became so entrenched by the Roman church that by 1236 A.D. Pope Gregory actually condemned the Law of God as “satanically inspired.”
By attacking the divine inspiration of the Law of God (also known by the ancient Hebrews as “the Word of God”) a theological justification was developed to declare the “imperfect Law” as “done away” and “abolished. In this Roman theology, the Law was replaced by grace, as administered by the Holy Spirit.
The result has been to produce a widespread mentality within Christendom that the Law of God and the Grace of God stand virtually in opposition to each other. Further, since the body of “The Law” of God is revealed in what has noxiously become known as the Old Testament, most people today have been given to believe, to varying degrees, that this collection of books has likewise been “done away with”, and no longer deserves to be read or studied.
This form of thinking and teaching runs from the subtle to the virulent, but the bottom line is that it is a broad mind-set that has become so deeply ingrained in much of our Christian culture that many current day believers accept it without even giving it a thought. Many only study the New Testament, and many maintain an attitude toward the “Old Testament” that varies from indifference to disdain.
Coupled with this is a similar attitude toward the people of the Old Testament: the Israelites, who are commonly referred to today as “the Jews”. Since they - as a people - are so inextricably connected to a relation to God through His Torah (Law), they are also seen within Christendom as a flawed people who failed in their relationship with their God. They too are largely thought of or characterized as “cast off” and rejected by God from His covenant relationship.
However, when you examine all this logically, and use the Scriptures as your source of truth and understanding, what you find is that these beliefs and mind-sets are completely and utterly unbiblical. Further, they are inconsistent with the nature and character of God Himself as we will see.
Our God does have an opponent, and that opponent has been incredibly effective at causing deception, confusion, division and animosity that has persisted for centuries.
SEEKING FOR TRUTH
First let’s do some clarification. Clear definitions are important as part of the process, so we need to take a clear look at this phrase, “the Law of God”.
The word “law” that is used in our present-day Bibles is a translator’s word, but it is not the meaning of the word that is being translated from Hebrew. To get to the root understanding we have to go back to that book that some malign, The Old Testament, to get our orientation.
And while we are at it, let’s also clear up that name, it should correctly be called the “Hebrew Scriptures” or the “Hebrew Bible,” not the Old Testament. In the New Testament it was actually referred to by Jesus as “Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” which today functions under the Hebrew acronym of “Tanach” which means exactly the same thing. Paul referred to them as “the sacred writings” or Holy Scriptures (see Acts 28:26).
There was no such concept at the time of Jesus as “the Old Testament”; that identity came about hundreds of years later and was the contrivance of men who were motivated by influences other than the Bible.
Here is the conclusive, definitive, objective and verifiable fact: The only collection of writings to which Jesus ever referred - - the word “only” being used here in the intended meaning of absolutely, utterly, and exclusively - - was the Hebrew Scriptures.
Contained within the Hebrew Scriptures is what is known by the translators as “The Law”.
So what exactly is “The Law”.
To begin with, the far better rendering of the root word is “instruction”, and not “law”. In fact, in the Hebrew Bible the word that is always translated as “Law” is actually “Torah” which is best understood to mean “instruction”. Interestingly, this word occurs 220 in the Hebrew text, but is never once rendered as Torah or instruction by later Gentile translators, but always as “Law”.
Contained within the Torah of God is an instruction subset of which we are much more familiar known of as “The Ten Commandments”.
In Hebrew thought in the time of Jesus, a reference to the Torah [Law] of God might be just to the Ten Commandments or it might be to the entirety of the Torah - which is the first five books of our present day Bibles: Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is up to the reader to understand the context of the narrative to draw a conclusion as to which of these two renderings the reference is being made.
Unfortunately, translators, in using the simple Greek-rendered term of “law” in the New Testament, also use it to make reference to “the traditions of the elders” which is the man-made law of that day in Jewish culture (that is, not a reference to Roman law). This puts even more pressure on the reader to read with discernment to understand whether any given occurrence of the word “law” is a reference to the Ten Commandments, or to the entire Torah (also known then (as now) as “Moses” since these were the writings of Moses as inspired by God), or to the body of man-made law known then as the traditions of the elders or as the “oral torah”. Both of the latter two phrases are better understood today as rabbinic law.
WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES SAY ABOUT GOD’S TORAH?
The present day dismissive attitude to the “Law of God” is perplexing when you see how the men of the Bible wrote about it in their day. On the contrary, the commandments and instruction of God are seen as beautiful and perfect and as the bearer of great blessings.
Deut. 4:6 "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
7 "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?
8 "And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Torah [law] which I set before you this day?”
Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the Torah [law] of the LORD, And in His Torah [law] he meditates day and night.
Psa 19:7 The Torah [law] of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psa 37:31 The Torah [law] of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide.
Psa 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your Torah [law] is within my heart."
Psa 94:12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, And teach out of Your Torah [law]
Psa 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your Torah [law].
Psa 119:72 The Torah [law] of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
Psa 119:97 Oh, how I love Your Torah [law]! It is my meditation all the day.
There are many, many more examples besides these, but you cannot miss the unmistakable conclusion that the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures loved and embraced the Torah of God as intrinsically vital and beneficial to life; as instruction on how to walk with God in purity and righteousness.
So what has happened between then and now that love has been replaced by indifference or even animosity?
Did something change in the time of Jesus that should turn us against the Law, the Torah of God, and see it as something to disdain?
WHAT DID JESUS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE “LAW”?
There are those teachers today who say that “Jesus did away with the Law”, or they at least imply as much if they do not come right out and say it.
But this is where things get really strange because Jesus, in fact, says exactly the opposite.
Here is His indisputable statement from the Gospel of Matthew:
Matt 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law [Torah] or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
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.
19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Then many times more throughout His ministry He states over and over that He has come to fulfill the words of the ancient Hebrew prophets who are foretelling of the Messiah to come.
He says this most emphatically in the Gospel of John when He says in John 5:46 to 47,
"For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
In this context, a reference by a Jewish rabbi to “Moses” was an explicit reference to the Torah.
What Jesus is unmistakably saying is that the substance of the Torah is all about Him.
Logically, this must also be true since Jesus makes it clear that He and His Father are One, and in
John 8:28, He states, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.”
Jesus cannot be in conflict with His Father Who is perfect. Nor would He contradict or deny anything that the Father had taught Him. They are not divided against each other as some theologians today would have you believe, but they are in total harmony with each other.
How else could Jesus admonish His followers as He does in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 7:21), "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
What is the “will of My Father in heaven?” It is God’s instruction to us, His Torah, or as the translators would have it, His Law. Jesus is making an unqualified statement that for those who seek to enter the kingdom of heaven, they must function in faithful accordance with God’s will which is His Word, His Instruction, His Torah, His Law.
Jesus is not functioning in conflict or contradiction with His Father, God, and to state such a thing or to teach others to think this way does violence to the Word of God.
ALL SCRIPTURE MUST BE CONSISTENT AND WITHOUT CONFLICT
To do “the will of My Father in heaven” is the singular goal of Jesus. This is an absolutely consistent understanding directly from Scripture without one single statement of Jesus to be found to even imply anything else. He and the Father are in total accord.
As you acquire this viewpoint of what Jesus is saying and teaching, you cannot miss the consistency of what God says and what Jesus says concerning the Torah of God. The Torah never goes away, it is never “done away with”, and in fact just the opposite is true. It is eternal and unchanging and perfect just like our God. It is His Word.
Look again at more statements of Jesus regarding Himself. When He appeared to the two disciples who were leaving Jerusalem in despair after the crucifixion of their Messiah and returning to their home in Emmaus, He rebuked them and said this (Luke 24:25-27),
"O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"
27 And beginning at Moses [Torah] and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Shortly after, in the same chapter of Luke, Jesus appears to all of His disciples after His resurrection and underscores this statement once again (Luke 24:44-45):
Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses [Torah Moishe] and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”
Without any possible question He is directing us all to the Law of Moses which was a specific reference to the Torah (or instruction) of God. He also directs us to “the Scriptures” which in that day had only one possible meaning: The Hebrew Scriptures or Hebrew Bible (errantly referred to as the Old Testament today).
DID PAUL CHANGE THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE LAW?
The Apostle Paul was not one of the original twelve disciples, but he was pointedly chosen by Jesus after His resurrection to be a special emissary to the Gentile world.
The majority of the books and letters contained in the New Testament are either about Paul or are directly written by him so his influence in the development of Christianity is highly important.
The book of Romans - which is actually a powerful doctrinal letter to the believers in Jesus who live in Rome - is one that is often cited from a few select places to falsely show that Paul is teaching that “The Law” has been done away with presumably as something failed and imperfect.
We must remember at this point upon what dangerous ground such a conclusion is drawn. It is not supported anywhere else in Scripture, it contradicts the Word of God and the clear statements of Jesus, it suggests that a perfect God and all-powerful God has devised an imperfect plan which has utterly failed. What does that say about God? What does that say about the nature of God and the reliability of His eternal promises?
Clearly something is wrong because this kind of conflict with God from one of His chosen Apostles cannot be true.
So what is the answer?
WHEN DID THIS ERROR BEGIN; WHAT WAS IT’S SOURCE?
Fundamentally the answer comes from the source that wished to subvert God’s instruction to His creation and subvert His plan of salvation - the opponent: Satan. His deception is manifested in the most unlikely and unsuspected source: what is known as the Early Church fathers (NOT THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES). These are men such as Augustine and Marcian and Origen who had a background founded in Greek philosophy (as opposed to the Hebraic thought of the Apostles) before they became believers in Jesus as their Savior. This Greek background gave them a disdain for what they considered to be inferior cultures and philosophies. One of these that they held in particular disdain was the Hebrew culture and - with that - the Hebrew Scriptures. They considered the Hebrew Bible to be a collection of Jewish writings, stories and myths, and they considered “the God of the Old Testament” to be an angry and wrathful God totally unlike the gentle and loving Jesus. In this way they actually differentiated between the one true God and His only begotten Son. They rejected the Hebrew Scriptures and concentrated on the collection of Gospel accounts and letters that eventually formed the New Testament.
This is why the two portions of the Bible are given the names they bear today. The Hebrew Scriptures were considered inferior and failed just like the Jewish people themselves about whom the books were written. These Greek-based church fathers believed that both the Jewish people and their covenant with God had failed and been discarded by God to be replaced with a new people and a new covenant.
The Old Testament was to be forgotten, and the New Testament was to replace it.
This philosophy became imbedded in what became the Roman Catholic Church which dominated and controlled Christian life for approximately the next 1500 years. This is history, not opinion.
Free thinking and discussion were not tolerated. Only the teachings and dictates of the “Church” were permitted to stand. Any disagreement with Church teaching was defined as “heresy” and met with harsh persecution, imprisonment or death.
When the Protestant movement occurred in the late middle ages, it slowly opened the door for more and more people to study the Word of God, and, eventually, to actually own a Bible of their own. The private ownership of a Bible is something we take for granted today, but prior to the Protestant movement, the unauthorized possession of a Bible or even a fraction of one (which was practically impossible to happen) carried an immediate death sentence. This is hard for us to imagine in the freedom we enjoy today, but this was the reality of totalitarian life under the auspices of a brutal church authority. Again, this is the record of history, not opinion.
This breakaway was definitely a move in the right direction, but it was incomplete.
Although the Protestant movement broke away from the Catholic past in many excellent ways, the one area that it never restored was the importance of the Hebraic roots precepts of the Bible. Nor did it reverse the corrupted thinking about the relationship of the two major portions of the Christian Bible. The same antagonism toward the Jews and all things considered Jewish continued and permeated the thinking of almost all reformers. This provided the anti-Semitic mentality that still persists to this day in varying degrees within much of Christendom.
So what does this have to do with Paul who was - by his own description - a Jew and a Pharisee, meaning a Jew who had been highly trained in the Torah of God and in the rabbinic law that had been extracted from God’s Law?
THE NEED TO TAKE A CRITICAL LOOK AT BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
The answer is that it is not about Paul so much as it is about the translators who have provided us with the translations in western languages that we require to be able to read the Bible today.
(You will read a much more indepth discussion of this subject in Chapter 15.)
These translators, being permeated with the Replacement Theology of the early Roman church fathers, tended to cause their translations to line up with their theology rather than to render the translations exactly as Paul had intended them. Today we call this “spin”, but it amounts to twisting the words or facts of others to provide a meaning or outcome that you desire to see.
These are not bad men or evil men who are doing this; they are well-meaning men who did the best they could with honorable intentions. But the result is flawed regardless of the intentions.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS, AREN’T THERE BIBLES WE CAN TRUST?
People tend to inherently trust their Bibles, and will quote them emphatically in the process of making points to show “exactly what God, or Jesus, or Paul or any other Bible person said”.
What they fail to realize is that what they are quoting is a translation of a translation of a translation from ancient manuscripts written in foreign and/or ancient languages. Further, virtually none of the original manuscripts exists and the ones we have are copies of copies of the originals.
You can see for yourself beyond any shadow of a doubt just using simple logic that if men had the ability to perform perfect translations of the original inspired Word of God we would only have one Bible translation, not the thousands that we have today. The mere fact that so many translations exist is overwhelming testimony to the fact that there is not accepted unity to the rendering of the early manuscripts into our present languages. Each individual reader must study the Bible in toto and call on the Holy Spirit of God to help him or her grasp the full, correct and inspired meaning of each sentence. It is advisable to use and compare several different translations as you study and look up individual words in a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Always be very cautious to trust in any specific translation as being perfect.
As you start reading a variety of different translations you cannot help but be struck by how differently many scriptures will read. For many scriptures the translations will be very similar or almost identical while others will read with wildly different variations. But what is more subtle is just the change of the rendering of a single word, or the emphasis placed on a phrase, or the sequence in which words are written; in some cases just the use of punctuation can substantially alter the meaning of a sentence. Collectively, this can be so subtle as to be nearly unnoticeable by the casual Bible student, but it is in these occurrences that the greatest faults occur.
Now you have to ask yourself, “which translation can I trust?” The hard truth is that not one of them is perfect. They are all filtered through the mind of man and, as such, are inherently flawed.
I’M ASTOUNDED! WHAT EXAMPLES OF PAUL’S TEACHING CAN YOU SHOW?
So what are some examples? Let’s look at a few which are some of the more noteworthy of translator bias.
Going back to the writings of Paul, let’s look at two examples from the book of Romans. This is a book in which Paul has many discussions about the Law of God and the Grace of God, and it is in these discussions that a very negative rendering of his thoughts about the Law [Torah] of God takes place.
For example, in Chapter 7, Paul is pointing out that the written Law of God brought us knowledge of our sinfulness, but could not bring us to restoration of life with God. It is important to see here that Paul is not saying that the Law of God failed or is imperfect, but rather that man is imperfect and not able to keep God’s Law.
However, the translations and teaching based upon them present a picture of the Law of God having failed due to it’s imputed imperfection, and that God had to replace the Law with Grace. Consider this verse from the NIV translation of Romans 7:6,
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? If you read only this verse or heard it taught in a sermon from the pulpit, this certainly would sound as though the Law of God was holding us back and causing death even to those who desired to be righteous. How much better to be able to be “released from the Law”, and be able to serve in the Spirit. It would be hard to conclude anything else other than that the Law was at best flawed or at worst evil and was causing us death.
But that is not what Paul means nor is it actually what he is saying because later in the same chapter he goes on to say:
11 “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.”
So does Paul both teach that the Law brings death and also that it is holy and good? No, not at all. The problem is the “spin’ of the translation that makes it sound that way if you just read selective scriptures. What Paul is truly saying is that the Law of God makes Him aware of his sin, and it is his sin nature that makes it impossible to live out the Law of God with perfection.
His answer is that the Spirit of the Law needs to live within us and conform our sinful nature to the will [Torah/Law] of God. Only in that way will sin lose its control over us and we will then, and this is what the words really say, we will then become a slave to righteousness. If we are a slave to righteousness, which means that we are conformed to God’s Law, there is no longer any place for sin to have any control over us.
The vastly important point here is that the Law of God is not done away with, but just the opposite. It becomes so much a part of us that it becomes our very nature. In this way we become the sons of God that He desires. We are born again as new creatures now fully formed in His image and conformed to His will.
This is the rendering and understanding that is fully consistent with all of Scripture, yet there are massive doctrines built up today that teach a great untruth about our God and about His plans. They imply that God is imperfect, that His original plan failed, that His original covenant people failed, that His Law is flawed causing death, and that only a “New Covenant” found in Jesus is the answer.
Without question it is the sacrificial, atoning death of our Messiah that brings the Grace of God to us and the possibility of restoration to Him. It is the implication that the Law of God has been done away with and replaced by a “New” covenant where the problem lies.
Let’s go back to another quote from Paul in Romans to see exactly how this happens. This is in the tenth chapter, and what we are going to look at is one scripture that is widely cited as the basis for what is known as Replacement Theology:
Rom 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
The teaching that comes from this one line which is widely mistranslated in this way is that Christ has put an end to the Law. Both the translation and the conclusion are patently wrong.
Hopefully you see the problem here.
Jesus Himself has categorically stated that He has not come to put an end to the Law, but rather to fulfill it. He repeats this over and over without exception as we have noted earlier. The Law is all about Him and looks forward to Him. So if He does away with the Law He - in effect - must do away with Himself. You see the logical problem here.
Something is wrong and it is the translation and the mind-set of the translators.
Look at the New Living Translation of the same verse:
Rom 10:4 “For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the law. All who believe in him are made right with God.”
Or the Wycliff New Testament
Rom 10: 4 For the end of the law is Christ, to rightwiseness to each man that believeth.
Or God’s Word Translation
Rom 10:4 Christ is the fulfillment of Moses’ Teachings so that everyone who has faith may receive God’s approval.
Now you see a more clear understanding emerge. The truth is that the word so typically rendered as “end” in many translations actually has a different meaning in the original Greek. Literally it means, “the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by implication.) the conclusion of an act or state (termination [lit., fig. or indef.], result [immediate, ultimate or prophetic], purpose)” [quotation is from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance - Hebrew/Greek dictionary].
So Christ is the point aimed at by the Law. He is the culmination and perfection and embodiment of the Law of God. This is the understanding that is consistent with the entire Bible. Christ has not put and end to the Law of God, but rather, He is the perfect representation and manifestation of it.
To cement this understanding beyond any possible doubt, just take a look a two other quotes from Paul.
In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul as a prisoner in Rome has invited the local Jewish leadership to come to see him and learn about “The Way”, the followers of Jesus Christ of whom Paul is an Apostle. Here it says in Romans 28:23 “So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses [Torah] and the Prophets, from morning till evening.”
If Paul believed that the Law of God was failed, faulty or done away with, why would He use it so robustly to teach about Who Jesus is? The answer is because the Law of God is about Him, and the two are inseparable.
Similarly, here is another quote from Paul wherein he is teaching his successor Timothy to stay focused on the source he has known from his youth:
2 Tim 3:14 “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures [the Hebrew Scriptures containing the Torah or Law of God], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture [Hebrew Bible] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
No question can remain as to what Paul is teaching about the Law of God if he finds that it is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
To conclude this view into a better understanding of God’s Law, let’s look at the most profound definition of it’s ultimate meaning to be found in Scripture.
At the very beginning of the Gospel of John, John offers us this powerful and unequivocal insight into the nature of Jesus:
John 1:John 1:1 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.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The Bible is the Word of God. Remember, at this time, the New Testament had not yet been formulated into a canon and was not yet considered to be a part of the Bible, so John can only be referring to the Hebrew Bible at this time. In the Hebrew mind, the Torah - The Law - is the Word of God. This statement by John makes it undeniably clear that Jesus is the Word of God.
Then he goes on to complete the connection in John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us!
That means that Jesus is the living embodiment of the Word of God; He is the living manifestation of everything spoken by God.
That is a concept that is overwhelming for the mind of man to absorb, but that is the clear statement of Scripture, and, again, it is the one that is continuously consistent with all Scripture from beginning to end.
This is the way we must approach the Word of God with reverence and awesome respect. It is God’s instruction to us, His creation, to set us on the path of righteousness that leads back to Him.
It is a path that was created from the foundation of the earth, and it has never changed, failed or been replaced by some other path.
The final summation of this understanding comes from the statement of Jesus Himself, as found in the Gospel of John, as He speaks to those Jewish leaders who seek to kill Him:
“For if you believed Moses [Torah], you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” [John 5:46-47]
The word “Moses” when used in this way was a specific reference to the writings of Moses, the Torah Moishe, that is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (the same as what we now call the “Old Testament”). The Torah was universally accepted by all Jews as the Word, or instruction, of their God as given to His covenant people as they were assembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai in the wilderness. The top of the mountain was covered in thick clouds, lightening flashed, a great Shofar sounded, and the entire mountain shook as God spoke to His people.
According to Jesus, the words which God spoke at that time were about Him.
This is a rifle shot by Jesus taking us back in time to the time of Moses to see how God was already beginning to reveal His plan of redemption and the ultimate source of that redemption: His only begotten Son.
It was only by the atoning death of the Son of God - the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice - that the Holy Spirit of God could be released to indwell those covered in the blood of the Lamb.
The work of the indwelling Spirit is then to carry out the words of God with respect to the new covenant:
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house if Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My Law [Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV
This is identically the same statement that is repeated in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament defining the “new” covenant.
Clearly, God has no intention of rejecting or replacing His Torah, but rather He will use it as the means of transforming the hearts and minds of those who have desired in their hearts to be His people. This is the work of the Holy Spirit: to inscribe the Word of God within us; to transform our basic nature. Ultimately, it is to give us the nature of His Son.
The Law of God does not stand in opposition to the Spirit of God or to the Grace of God. The Law of God represents God’s will and it is only by the Grace of God that He will place His Law, His Word, His Torah, His Instruction, within us. The Torah of God, the Spirit of God and the Grace of God all work together to produce the completed and transformed believer.
It would be impossible for them to be in conflict with each other or in opposition to each other. To even suggest such is to do huge damage to the character of our God.
Jesus categorically stated: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father.” [Matthew 7:21]
There is only one way that we can do the will of the Father, and that is by being transformed by the Holy Spirit so that His Word can be written on our hearts and in our minds.
That is when we truly become His, and it is only through His grace that this can occur.
copyright Ariel Ministries 2010
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