Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shaleeakh Va'etchanan "And I besought"


Devarim (Deut.) 3:23- 7:11

Through history unification of believers has been difficult to maintain. Unification of believers has been difficult to maintain because of the enmity that exists between Torah observant believers and believers who believe that grace has replaced the Torah. During the time of the apostles this enmity did not exist. First century believers believed that Torah observance was compatible with grace. As a result, first century believers were unified in one belief. When the early messianic community grew to a larger number of non-Jews than Jews the division between Torah observance and non-Torah observance also grew. Pagan influences began infiltrating congregations and diminishing the value of the Torah. What had started as unity between Torah observance and grace became disunited. In 321 CE, Constantine realized that a religion that is disunited does not function effectively. Therefore, Constantine decided to unify Christianity under his authority. Constantine did not return to the teachings of the apostles. Instead, Constantine decided to create a new religion that did not appear to have any link to the Torah. To distance the new religion from the Torah Constantine first declared Sunday "a day of rest." (Wetzel). In 325 CE Constantine's next action was to assemble The Nicaean Council. The Nicaean Council's mission was to formulate standard practices for Christians. One change The Nicaean Council made was to exalt Sunday to the official day of worship. A Chronology of Biblical Christianity states on pages 83-84 "Sunday was the day of worship" (Wetzel). Constantine's actions diminished the authority of the Torah in many Christian congregations. Sunday began to replace the Shabbat as the day of rest and the day of worship. Constantine's actions created a rift between Torah observant believers and those who were not. Today the fruit of what Constantine started can still be seen. For example, many individuals believe that Torah observance and grace are incompatible. In Va'etchanan we can clearly see that HaShem's plan is for observance of the Torah, and grace to be compatible. In fact, Va'etchanan exemplifies how the Torah is actually an extension of grace. Therefore, we can see in the Torah the attributes of grace which are love, salvation, and unity.

The Torah is an extension of HaShem's grace because it demonstrates HaShem's love for His people. For example, Yisrael was not delivered from Egypt because they were strong and powerful nation. HaShem delivered the Children of Yisrael from Egyptian bondage as an act of love. Therefore, deliverance from Egypt is an extension of grace. Because deliverance from Egypt is an extension of grace HaShem expects His people to be grateful. The best way to show this gratitude is through obedience. Devarim 7:9-11 states, "The LORD did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations". Yeshua also expects, His followers to demonstrate their love for Him through obedience. John 14:21 states "He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." In the Brit Hadashah and in the Torah it is taught that keeping the commandments of HaShem is an outward expression of our love for Him. This outward expression allows us to manifest Yeshua and the Father to the world.

The Torah is an extension of grace because it allows us to manifest the love of HaShem to the world through our obedience. The Torah is an extension of HaShem's grace because it is linked to salvation. Devarim 6:24 states, "the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day." Living a Torah lifestyle is for our physical welfare. Observing HaShem's commandments protects us from the problems of the world. Devarim 28:45 states, "Moreover all these curses shall come on you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, till you are destroyed; because you listened not to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee" Torah observance gave Yisrael the promise that they would be secure from the plagues and the curses that the ungodly nations experienced. Besides the physical benefit of Torah observance, Yeshua linked Torah observance with eternal reward. Mathew 5:18-19 states, "verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

The Torah is an extension of grace because it gives us physically salvation and provides us with the hope that obedience brings eternal reward. The Torah is an extension of HaShem's grace because it unites HaShem's people. The Torah brings unity to believers by the creation of a standard. Devarim 6:25 states, "it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us."The Torah was given to reveal sin. Therefore the Torah should be the benchmark for righteous living. Rav Shaul explains this Romans 7:6-7 which states, "now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, you shall not covet." When a sin is revealed the sin can be dealt with through the power of the Ruach HaKodesh. When we do not use the Torah to reveal sin, there is not godly standard to determine what is a sin. Therefore, people often establish their own guidelines. Constantine, The Nicaean Council and many other individuals have made the mistake of rejecting the Torah and establishing new guidelines. As a result, many religions today do not have a Godly standard. Therefore, who is to say people like Constantine and The Nicaean Council are wrong when Sunday replaces the Shabbat as the day of rest and worship. Without the authority of the Torah as the ultimate guide any sin can be made acceptable. The Torah is an extension of HaShem's holiness and grace because it unifies all believers under the authority of one Godly standard. Through the Torah all people are accountable to HaShem in the same way.

The Torah teaches us the attributes of HaShem's grace through the examples of love, salvation, and unity. The Torah exemplifies HaShem's love for humanity and allows us manifest His love to others. The Torah brings salvation to HaShem's people by physical protection and the hope that obedience brings eternal reward. The Torah unifies believers under one standard guideline for sin. As a result, the Torah gives believers a definitive knowledge of what HaShem considers sin. Therefore, all people can be held accountable to the same standard. Acts 10:34-35 states "'Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he who is fearing Him, and is working righteousness, is acceptable to Him;" HaShem's desire is to place the Torah in our hearts so that we will understand His grace and all His people will become Torah observant. Then all HaShem's people will understand that living a Torah observant life is compatible with grace. Than unbelievers will know that HaShem truly is dwelling in hearts of His people.

Works Cited

Wetzel R.C. Dr. (1995) A Chronology of Biblical Christianity. The Ages Digital Library. The Reformation History Library (Version 2). 83 Retrieved July 24, 2006, from AGES Software. Albany, OR USA

Wetzel R.C. Dr. (1995) A Chronology of Biblical Christianity. The Ages Digital Library. The Reformation History Library (Version 2). 83 Retrieved July 24, 2006, from AGES Software. Albany, OR USA

By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ­ ABOUT Torah

© 2010 About Torah

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