Torah Questions with Answers from Scripture

DOES JEHOVAH’S TORAH STILL DEFINE RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR TODAY’S BELIEVERS?

My interpretation of the scriptures is based on three of Jehovah’s qualities:

  • His righteousness (The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Psalm 147:17),
  • His steadfastness (For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6),
  • His lovingkindness. (For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:5)

Based on Jehovah’s righteousness, can we conclude that every command of Jehovah is righteous? (My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. Psalm 119:172) Is righteousness randomly assigned by God to certain behaviors, or does He truthfully tell us right from wrong? (Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Psalm 119:142) Based on His righteous nature, can we expect Him to keep every promise or covenant that He has ever made without altering the terms of the contract? (God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19)

Based on Jehovah’s steadfastness, can we trust that His standards of righteousness maintain their righteousness throughout the ages? (Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Psalm 119:160) Are believers of all generations expected to love His Law? (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) Can we conclude that His standards are the same for all peoples? (Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 24:22) Can we expect His Son, His apostles, and His prophets to speak only words that align with Jehovah’s instructions? (To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20) Does anyone have the authority to alter God’s Law? (He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25)

Based on what we know of Jehovah’s lovingkindness, do we believe that He gave His chosen people instructions for their own good? (And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13) Is Jehovah’s plan to redeem Israel still intact? (Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. Psalm 106:43-45) Does He expect His people to have blind faith in Jesus Christ, or does He use fulfilled prophecies to prove that Jesus is the Messiah? (Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7) Why would God tell us His plan ahead of time? (Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. Isaiah 41:26) Does the Father give us any indication that His covenant would one day be abolished? (For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10) Does He give His people a foolproof method to discern a true prophet from a false one? (If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deuteronomy 13:1-4)

JEHOVAH’S RIGHTEOUSNESS, STEADFASTNESS, AND LOVINGKINDNESS ARE INTERCONNECTED

Because Jehovah is righteous, He is perfect in defining righteousness for His people. (The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7) Even the heathens would recognize the rightness of the Law. (Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Deuteronomy 4:6-8) Righteousness leads to life, and unrighteousness leads to death. (See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:15-19) He wants His people to live eternally (O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Deuteronomy 5:29), which is not possible (But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:17) for physical bodies that have committed unrighteousness. (For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23) When Jehovah promised the Messiah through Abraham, He told Him that all nations would be blessed by means of his seed. (And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:18) I believe that Jehovah was, in essence, explaining to Abraham that the Messiah would walk perfectly and reap the blessings of righteousness, while implying that His righteousness and those blessings would be imputed to people of all nations. (And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Philippians 3:9) But how would He accomplish this seemingly impossible feat? (Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. Zechariah 8:6-8) When Jehovah called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but provided a substitution instead, He was teaching Abraham more about the plan of redemption.( And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. Genesis 22:8)

Was Jehovah righteous to command His people to walk perfectly before Him, and to make a life-and-death covenant with them that He knew they would not keep? (Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 29:24-28) By making this covenant with them, was He setting them up for failure? (Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? Ezekiel 18:25) Was the Law too difficult for them? (For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. Deuteronomy 30:11 ESV)

My perspective is this: Jehovah always keeps His end of the covenant. (What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Romans 3:3 ESV) Mankind failed to keep their end. (They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psalm 14:3) (God knew this would happen.) (And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. Deuteronomy 28:64) Because of His lovingkindness, He wants to bless us with eternal life anyway. (Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Exodus 34:7) However, He is perfectly righteousness and just, He can’t just give us eternal life when we deserve death. (The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16) Rightfully, eternal life only comes to those who have never done anything to bring death on themselves. (Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15)

Amazingly, Jehovah is powerful enough to bless mankind without compromising His righteousness in the process. (Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: Isaiah 59:1) Praise Jehovah! (I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. Psalm 118:17-21) He sent His only begotten Son to fulfill man’s part of the covenant. (And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:15) His Son did not earn the death penalty because He lived a perfect life according to the Law. (For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21) In other words, Jesus earned eternal life in accordance with the promise given through the Law. (Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5)

We sold ourselves to sin. (And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:32-34) In other words, we traded away life for the temporal pleasures of sin, earning death in our bodies. (For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. Romans 7:5) We had a debt to pay. Thankfully, and rightfully, Jehovah makes a provision in His Law for redemption: a near kinsman is legally allowed to pay a debt in behalf of the debtor. (If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. Leviticus 25:25) When Jesus, as our next of kin, paid a debt He did not owe, He freed us from our debt. (There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4) By keeping the commandments, Jesus inherited all of the blessings that God gave His people. (And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. Luke 18:18-20) Through the obedience of Christ, all of the terms of the original covenant are fulfilled. (Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Matthew 5:17) Does this fulfillment mean that the Law is no longer valid? (For 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. Matthew 5:18) God forbid. (Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31) Jehovah and humanity are now reconciled in the covenant as though it had never been broken. (Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:9)

In light of the aforementioned qualities of Jehovah, how should we interpret the writings of Paul? First of all, we should test everything he says against God’s instructions. (These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11) If Paul had been a false prophet or had merely been mistaken, we would still be required to uphold God’s commandments, not man’s doctrine. (He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:6-7) However, Paul was not a false prophet; he never says anything contrary to the Law of Jehovah. (Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: Acts 26:22) In fact, Paul remains Torah-observant even after believing on Christ for salvation. (Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. Acts 21:24) When Paul says that we are no longer under the Law, he means that we no longer owe our debt. (For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2) He is not saying that the Law is sin. (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, Thou shalt not covet. Romans 7:7) The Law is good. (Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Romans 7:12) The definition of sin is the transgression of the Law (Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. I John 3:4), and Paul never implies that it no longer matters whether we sin or not. (God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:2) When he speaks of the curse of the Law, he is referring to the curse that we earned through our disobedience (death). (Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13) The curse of the Law (death) also looms over your head if you try to rely on your own works for salvation. (For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Galatians 3:10 ESV) This is not a defect in the righteousness of the Law, but a defect in man’s willingness to keep it. (Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Galatians 3:21) God renewed His covenant with Israel after finding fault with the people, not with the Law. (For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Hebrews 8:8) Many people had the wrong impression about what Paul was preaching. (And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. Romans 3:8) They mistook Paul’s message of salvation by faith as a message of lawlessness. (And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 2 Peter 3:15-17)

One response to “Torah Questions with Answers from Scripture

  1. Pingback: Concerns from the Book of Hebrews | Full Circle Homeschooling

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