Conversation with a Christian
The following conversation with a Christian is imaginary. It is a compilation of actual conversations that took place between teachers at The Refiner's Fire and various Christians who have written to us over the years who attempted to challenge the idea of Torah observance.
Christian believer: Torah does NOT pertain to Christians!
Messianic teacher: So, you're saying God's Divine Instructions in Righteousness - which is what Torah is - have no meaning for you?
Christian believer: Sure, but Torah - "the Law" - is "Old Testament" stuff that pertained only to the Jews. We have been freed from that.
Messianic teacher: You've been freed from God's Divine Instructions?
Christian believer: As I just said - the Old Testament doesn't pertain to us.
Messianic teacher: Aren't the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament? Isn't tithing "Old Testament" stuff...yet every pastor demands tithes....
Christian believer: Yeah, but we don't have to keep those original 613 commandments anymore. Those were strictly for the JEWS!
Messianic teacher: Er...no, not really. Nobody was ever expected to keep all those original 613 commandments! Most of them were for the Levite priests, some were only for men, some only for women. I mean, let's get real: Did the MALE priests have to keep the niddah commandments that tell women to live outside the camp during their periods? Do women today - who have hot and cold running water and ways to "keep clean" - still have to live "outside the camp?" It just takes some common sense to figure out which ones to keep today.
Christian believer: So, which ones do you keep?
Messianic teacher: The ones that have the word "forever" or "throughout your generations" attached to them, such as the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Feasts.
Christian believer: Brother, the death of Jesus set you free! Why do you insist on holding onto that old stuff?
Messianic teacher: Jesus set me free from God's Divine Instructions?....
Christian believer: NO! You don't get it! He set you free from the bondage of the Law, which is what your Torah is. You don't need to cling to the Mosaic Covenant anymore. You are FREE!
Messianic teacher: Okay, I can see that you don't understand Torah at all, so let me give you a little background: Torah comprises the first five Books in the Bible. But, in the most simple sense, Torah does NOT mean "law"; it means "instruction/teaching". Torah was never "bondage." It is YHWH's initial instructions to mankind, beginning in the Garden of Eden when He gave a few commands to Adam and Eve. They were the first ones to break a Torah rule, and you know the result of that...Which is actually the first time we see the importance YHWH placed upon His Torah!
And yes, Torah - which comprises the first five Books of the Bible and gives us an insight into YHWH and what He expected of mankind - wasn't written down until Moses. But what people can't seem to grasp is that Torah isn't "the law of Moses" - it's the Divine Instructions straight from God, who told Moses to write down everything He commanded:
Exodus 24:1 To Moshe [ADONAI] said, "Come up to ADONAI -you, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, and seventy of the leaders of Isra'el. Prostrate yourselves at a distance, 2 while Moshe alone approaches ADONAI -the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him." 3 Moshe came and told the people everything ADONAI had said, including all the rulings. The people answered with one voice: "We will obey every word ADONAI has spoken." 4 Moshe wrote down all the words of ADONAI. (CJB)
Without Torah, we would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living! How can that be "from Moses" or pertain only to the Jews? What you're suggesting by your insistence that Torah was "only for the Jews" is that only Jews are supposed to be holy/set apart! It was never just about "the Jews" but about ISRAEL - and YOU are part of Israel!
Christian believer: Okay, okay, you really need to move forward and come out of the OLD Testament....
Messianic teacher: No, we MUST know the "Old Testament" in order to understand the New! It's imperative to understand that, first of all, there were no "Jews" in the beginning; and after the Exodus, God wasn't addressing just "the Jews" in the desert. He was addressing the 12 Tribes of Israel AND the Gentiles who had followed Moses out of Egypt who had been absorbed into the Tribes!
There were no Jews until our Third Patriarch, Jacob, had one of his 12 sons whom he named Yehudah (Judah), where the term "Jew" originated - yet EVERYONE who knew about YHWH was Torah observant! While in Egypt, YHWH's people were known as "Hebrews" and they ultimately became known as "Israel" - which included the Gentiles who had followed Moses out of Egypt. Do you get it now? Gentiles...absorbed into the Tribes...Same God, same rules?
Christian believer: I hear you; but I'm saying we Christians - emphasis on CHRISTIANS! - are NOT "under the law" anymore. We're under grace - a better covenant. Jesus came to deliver us from the bondage of the LAW!
Messianic teacher: SIGH! Okay - let's go back to the beginning for a moment. In Genesis 3 we saw how Adam and Eve obeyed YHWH's Instructions - until they decided to disobey Him and were consequently kicked out of the Garden for it. Adam and Eve weren't "Jews." Neither were Cain and Abel who knew to present animal sacrifices as outlined in Genesis 4; and in Genesis 7:1-3, we saw that Noah knew the difference between "clean and unclean" animals, birds and fish.
NONE of them were "Jews" including our first three Patriarchs, Abraham (who was a pagan Chaldean when YHWH chose him to "become a great nation" in Genesis 12), and Isaac and Jacob - whose son Judah, became the Tribe of Judah, which God chose to take Torah into the nations (once Israel was scattered) where they were to safeguard and preserve His mitzvot - His Word/Commandments. For more, check out Genesis 49:10 and Micah 4:2.
So, there were no Jews until Genesis 29:35 after Judah was born, yet ALL Believers since the very beginning were Torah observant; they OBEYED God's Divine Rules! That's what Torah is all about: His Instructions in Righteousness. We even see in Numbers 15:13-16 how God personally reiterated FOUR TIMES IN A ROW that the pagans who came out of Egypt with Moses and accepted Him as God, were to do "exactly as" HIS people did! He said there was no difference between His people and the "outsiders" who accepted Him! So, brother, please tell me why Torah wouldn't pertain to Christians today, because you as the "grafted in branches" had no right to change anything about the "Olive Tree" which represents Israel and the God of Israel.
Christian believer: Wow, you don't get it! You can't seem to come out of the OLD TESTAMENT long enough to realize you are trying to put people back under the law! Christians are under the NEW Covenant! Read the New Testament for yourself, and you'll see what I mean.
Messianic teacher: My brother, I'm merely trying to make you aware of some things you'll never hear in your church. What you choose to do at the end of our conversation is up to you, but please hear me in the meantime, and really think about what I'm saying.
Christian believer: What I hear you saying is, it's all about Torah and not Jesus. Consequently, you're missing the whole point of Jesus' death on the cross to save us.
Messianic teacher: No, that's NOT what I'm saying at all! I'm saying the death of Yeshua had nothing to do with changing God's original Divine Instructions. YHWH sent us Yeshua, who was our Final SIN Sacrifice (and much more), to make it easy on people to gain eternal life, merely by their "belief" in Him"...Revelation 5:5 tells us Yeshua will return as "The Lion of Judah" one day to rule and reign for a thousand years....But that did NOT change man's need to OBEY God! It never changed God's Torah! God has always had rules to follow, and we will continue to follow them right into the Millennium....
Christian believer: Well, the thing is, we DO follow rules! We follow the Ten Commandments AND we have Jesus who came to deliver us from the bondage of the Law...I say again: Christians are under grace - we have a NEW and better covenant.
Messianic teacher: Have I not yet made it clear enough that Torah isn't "bondage"? Torah has nothing whatsoever to do with "covenants"....And you keep mentioning "grace." Has it ever occurred to you that man has ALWAYS been "under grace?" If he hadn't been, then God would have killed Adam and Eve on the spot, instead of allowing them to continue living outside the Garden.
Christian believer: Yes, but what I'm trying to get through to you is the grace He gave us is in His Son, Jesus, who kept the Law perfectly so we don't have to!
Messianic teacher: Oh my gosh...Wow!....Do you realize Jesus did NOT bring some religion called Christianity? He didn't bring ANY "religion"; He came to personally show people how to be holy via His Father's Torah commands! He came to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH and do everything His Father commanded, as we see in Deuteronomy 18:18, Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1 and John 6:35-40. He wasn't a Christian; He was a Torah observant, Seventh Day Sabbath and Feast keeping, Tallit-wearing JEW. In Luke 4 we see that when confronted by Satan in the wilderness, Yeshua quoted NOT His own words from your beloved "New Testament", but from Torah - specifically, scriptures from Deuteronomy!
Christian believer: Fine and dandy, but He also brought with Him the NEW COVENANT!
Messianic teacher: ...Yeah - about your "New Covenant" - have you ever noticed that Jeremiah 31:31-32 reveals God did NOT make His "New Covenant" with the Gentiles but with the Torah observant Houses of Israel and Judah?
Christian believer: Jesus broke that wall down and told us we're One in Christ (Galatians 3:27-29)!
Messianic teacher: Bingo! We ARE one in Messiah...There is no Jew nor Gentile, nor slave nor free...And yet Christians keep insisting they got a better deal which somehow exonerates them from bothering with God's Divine Instructions!
Christian believer: I'm not saying we're exonerated. We KEEP the Ten Commandments, don't we? I'm trying to get through to you that, thanks to Jesus that we're NOT UNDER BONDAGE anymore!
Messianic teacher: Do you guys keep the Fourth Commandment, the Seventh Day Sabbath outlined in places like Exodus 20:8-11, which happens to fall on Saturday on our Gregorian calendar, which is a SIGN between YHWH and His people according to scriptures such as Ezekiel 20:11-12? No, you don't! You insist - even though you absolutely cannot back it up with scripture - that the death of Jesus somehow abolished the need for God's people to keep His Seventh Day Sabbath....
Christian believer: SIGH! Do I have to say it again?
Messianic teacher: What? That it was "Old Testament stuff aimed only for the Jews?"
Christian believer: YES! You keep talking mostly Old Testament stuff, and it simply doesn't pertain to us! It was bondage. BONDAGE!
Messianic teacher: Okay, explain "bondage" to me. Please tell me why YHWH in his grace took the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, just to put them BACK in bondage via his Torah....
Christian believer: The LAW is bondage! We are not under the Law anymore! Look at Matthew 5:17 and Ephesians 2:14-15; Romans 10:4; and Galatians 3:23-25 and you'll see that Jesus fulfilled the Law and freed us from bondage! There are 66 Books in the Bible. Those first five, written thousands of years ago, are null and void because 2,000 years ago Jesus brought us the New Covenant!
Messianic teacher: Fine. Let's examine those scriptures in their original context:
Matthew 5:17 Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P'rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Aramaic English New Testament - AENT)
So - has everything that "must happen" happened yet? Have "heaven and earth passed away? The verse that says, "So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven" is key, because it it's talking about YHWH's commands! Whoever disobeys the least of His commands and teaches others to do so will be called "the least" in heaven! What commands are they? TORAH commands - those that have the word "forever" or "throughout your generations" attached to them! "Forever" hasn't ended yet! Not to mention, "fulfill" never meant "to put an end to." It means, Yeshua came to do His Father's will and to fulfill "the next thing on the agenda".....
Next, let's look at Ephesians 2:14-15 in context: 14. He is himself our peace, who has made the two (become) one, and has demolished the wall which stood in the midst, and the enmity, by his flesh; 15. And in his flesh (the) enmity and regulations of commands (contained) in his commandments are abolished (so) that in himself (an occurrence of the divine nature, or qnoma), he might make the two into one, establishing peace. (AENT)
Summing up a couple of footnotes from the AENT, the grammatical structure of these sentences fully guarantees that the Aramaic word, namusa, is referring to "customs" as in the traditions of the Pharisees, not Torah itself. Messiah abolishes the "enmity" (hatred or animosity) that has been brought against YHWH by religious tradition and false interpretations of Torah, which was a heavy burden that people could not bear. Christian theologians, however, twist this verse and teach that it was YHWH's Torah that brought the hatred and that Messiah did away with Torah, which is a very reckless and evil theology! Messiah sent the Holy Spirit to write YHWH's Torah upon the hearts of his people, not abolish it. Furthermore, Aramaic word qnoma can mean "core substance" or "occurrence." Although Greek reads "self" Aramaic does not; "self" leads to assumptions of "personhood" which breeds idolatry.
Christian believer: Um...I don't care to learn another language here...
Messianic teacher: Not expecting you to learn another language. I'm simply trying to show you that the Greek Bible versions have all been twisted in various ways. For instance, you mentioned Romans 10:4 which in Greek versions suggests Messiah was the "end" of the law. The original Aramaic says: "For Mashiyach is the GOAL of Torah for righteousness to everyone that believes in him."
And check out the Aramaic for Galatians 3:23-25: 23. But before faith came, Torah was guarding us while we were confined from the faith about to be revealed. 24. Torah was therefore a tutor for us, going towards the Mashiyach that we, by faith, might be made righteous. 25. But since faith came, we are no longer under tutors.
Christian believer: It says the same thing - that we are not "under the law."
Messianic teacher: Not exactly. Again, let me sum up some footnotes from the AENT for that passage which reveals that, in this regard, "Torah" can be compared with any righteous values a soul voluntarily imposes upon himself. However, as a spiritual relationship is established with YHWH and His Messiah, a soul is elevated to much higher levels of spiritual awareness and accountability. Therefore, it is a complete farce to claim you are following Messiah, when you are willfully violating Torah according to your denominational authorities. See Matthew 7:23 which says: "And then I will profess to them that from everlasting, I have not known you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity!"
Iniquity is lawlessness - which means, "without Torah"! Psalm 119:53 says, "Horror has taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Your Torah." Each and every teaching of Yeshua is based on Torah! To be anti-Torah is to be anti-Messiah; therefore every "authority" will be judged according to whether they uphold Torah or not. According to Matthew 7:21 and 12:50, Yeshua says Torah is "the will of My Father."
My friend, without the Torah of YHWH, there would be no Standard with which to prove Messiah; therefore NO Messiah!
In the Galatians passage, Torah is being contrasted against false tutors, the Pharisees, who put their oral tradition above the written code of Moses and the Prophets. This is a common refrain of Yeshua as well in places such as Matthew 15. Unfortunately, this passage was twisted into a "proof text" by anti-Torah Christians who wanted to distance themselves from the Faith of Avraham, Yitzak and Ya'akov.
Christian believer: Okay, you know what? I've really heard enough now. Just stop right there, because I don't believe in using anything but the King James Version.
Messianic teacher: Right. Never mind that King James twisted meanings, added words and made God look like He contradicted Himself in passages like Leviticus 12:8, 15:29 and Numbers 6:10 where KJV mistranslated the SLANG word for "TURTLE DOVES" (as sin sacrifices) using simply the word, "turtles" instead....The problem is "turtles" could NOT POSSIBLY be used as sin sacrifices because they're not kosher!
But, hey, I digress. Let me ask you this: How is obedience to GOD's Divine Instructions "bondage"? Is it bondage to refrain from lying, stealing or coveting our brother's wife or possessions? Is it bondage to be told not to have "other gods" or to keep YHWH's commanded Seventh Day Sabbath which is a SIGN between YHWH and His people, according to Ezekiel 20:11-12? Is it bondage to keep His commanded Feasts/Appointed Times, which are full of prophecy?
Yeshua has so far only fulfilled the first 4 of the 7 Feasts, and the next one will be a future Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) when He will call up HIS people for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and we will accompany Him back to to earth to defeat the Antichrist and his minions. At that point, our Messiah will remain with us to "tabernacle" among us; thus "fulfilling" the last three Feasts! Does that sound like "bondage" to you?
Christian believer: Wait a minute - you're mixing apples and oranges. I told you, we ALREADY KEEP the Ten Commandments! I'm talking about your Torah that was nailed to the cross along with all the other Old Covenant stuff....
Messianic teacher: And I already showed you at least ONE commandment that you are breaking, because Christians absolutely refuse to acknowledge the SEVENTH DAY SABBATH!
Christian believer: I don't know what you mean by that. Sunday is our Sabbath!
Messianic teacher: Yes, and Sunday is the "first day"; not the Seventh! The Seventh day is to be a day of REST. Are you "resting" by going to church and listening to an hour-long sermon, and then going out to lunch with friends, afterwards - or going back to the office to finish up some things you didn't complete last week? Or mowing your lawn? Nowhere in the entire Bible are we ever told that Messiah Yeshua would come to abolish the Seventh Day REST or ANY of His Father's Torah. Yes, YHWH gave us a new COVENANT - He gave us LOTS of covenants since the beginning, but that had nothing to do with changing His INSTRUCTIONS to mankind to live a holy life! NONE of those covenants changed His Torah. Torah is eternal.
And that "bondage" you keep talking about....Well - let me put it this way: Did Paul say God's Laws, or Torah, was nailed to the cross?
Colossians 2:14 - He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake 15 stripping the rulers and authorities of their power he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by means of the stake. (CJB)
The answer is - No! He wiped away the documented opinions of men (bill of charges) against us and took them from our midst....The Torah is holy, righteous and good. To suddenly have it "nailed to the cross" would mean that the Divine Instructions of God were originally evil, something to be done away with! Paul also said, concerning the opinions of men:
Colossians 2:16 - So don't let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh or Shabbat.
This doesn't mean Rav Sha'ul was negating Torah! He was warning about the opinions of men concerning these things - NOT giving permission to transgress or dismiss them. Do you see what I mean?
Christian believer: Okay, okay. All right - enough! The fact remains, the Jews disobeyed Him and were consequently scattered into the nations. Jews have ALWAYS disobeyed God; that is why Jesus came to establish His Church, made snow-white by His blood. That is why Christians are under grace, not under the law! Jesus came to deliver us from bondage. To coin an adage, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
Messianic teacher: Oh, now you're saying "the church" replaced "the Jews" as God's Chosen?
Christian believer: Have you ever read the New Testament?
Messianic teacher: I certainly have! I've read the entire Bible many times over. Have you?
Christian believer: I went to seminary for a couple of years.
Messianic teacher: Have you read the Bible from cover to cover?
Christian believer: ...Not every word, but I've read enough to know what it says and doesn't say.
Messianic teacher: I see. Is that how you read novels, too? You just graze your way through and read certain passages?
Christian believer: I don't have to dignify that with a response!...You know what? This is going nowhere! Mister, the Law IS a curse! Paul said so in Galatians 3:10!
Messianic teacher: Oh my goodness...That's yet another thing you've totally misunderstood! Most Christians insist TORAH is a curse, but you have no clue what the actual origin of that verse is. Here it is - I'll spell it out for you:
Deuteronomy 11: 26 "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse - 27 the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of ADONAI your God that I am giving you today; 28 and the curse, if you don't listen to the mitzvot of ADONAI your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known. (CJB)
When read in context, this verse clearly shows that Torah is not the curse, but that you are cursed if you don't listen to and obey the Mitzvot of YHWH. Throughout the entire Torah, He keeps reiterating the need to obey His commands! After all, without Torah, how can we possibly know what constitutes SIN and moral, holy living - as is amply explained in 1 John 3:4?
Yeshua was "accursed" by his accusers, but Christians teach that YHWH and Torah accused Yeshua! Yeshua was the Perfect Lamb who never broke Torah; therefore He could never come under any curse of Torah. We come under the curse when we sin and refuse to turn to YHWH!
My goodness...I should have known I couldn't have a conversation with a Christian without hearing about Paul. After all, Christianity is based upon what you guys THINK Paul said! Never mind that you're viewing the writings of Paul through a Greek mindset....
Christian believer: Okay, I'm really done with this discussion. The bottom line is - as I mentioned before: JESUS, the Word of God, lived the Torah - He perfectly walked out the Law so we don't have to! If you don't want to believe that, then feel free to STAY under the law and ignore Jesus who died to save YOU!
Messianic teacher: Yes, of course; that makes perfect sense: Jesus was holy so WE don't have to be. We don't have to do a thing but "believe in Jesus" because somehow His death as the Final SIN Sacrifice automatically makes US holy.
Christian believer: Look - according to Hebrews 8:10, Christians have the law written upon our hearts!
Messianic teacher: Ahhh yes. Unfortunately, "written upon" means "memorized" which means you have to KNOW it, first - which means you have to have studied it first....Please check out this scripture and pay close attention to what it says about this law you think is written on your heart:
Jeremiah 31: 31 "Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. 33 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more." 35 This is what ADONAI says, who gives the sun as light for the day, who ordained the laws for the moon and stars to provide light for the night, who stirs up the sea until its waves roar -- ADONAI-Tzva'ot is his name: 36 "If these laws leave my presence," says ADONAI, "then the offspring of Isra'el will stop being a nation in my presence forever." (CJB)
Christian believer: ...Like I said. I'm done with this. This is going nowhere.
Messianic teacher: Well, it sounds like we've finally come upon something we can agree on! Matthew 7:13 and 14 says it all....
For more information, please check out the following articles on The Refiner's Fire:
What is Torah?
The original 613 commandments - didn't Jesus abolish them?
What parts of Torah are applicable today?
So, what about that Seventh Day Sabbath?
How do I know Saturday is still the Seventh Day of the week?
About the Feasts
Have I misunderstood the writings of Paul?
But PAUL said....
How do I become Torah observant?