Why The Law Of יהוה?
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am יהוה. Leviticus 18:5
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!
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as יהוה my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 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 יהוה 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?
In A Nutshell
The purpose of this website is to catalog the Torah in a concise and useful manner for those that want to understand how it all fits together. Included within the pages are New Testament references, and how Yashua the Messiah applied the rules.
In the Bible, morals begin and end with the two greatest commandments: Love God, and love your neighbor. In the New Testament, this is supplemented by the Golden Rule: do to your neighbor, only what you would want him to do to you. The other rules in the Bible are commentary and clarification of how to keep these basic three.
How do we love יהוה? We start by giving Him exclusive worship in the manner in which He desires. We don’t make graven images, and we don’t bow down or worship graven images. We observe the Sabbath day and make it holy by not working on it. At the same time, we realize that the Sabbath was made for man, and the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath. Yashuah is our high priest, and the Bible declares that we are all priests and kings. Thus, learning the rules for priests is very instructive. Yashua was our ultimate offering, but much is to be learned also from a study of the offerings. We observe the rules of uncleanness to keep ourselves holy, and also for the benefit of our health. If we want to dedicate ourselves to יהוה’s service for a time, we take the vow of a nazarite. The nazarite avoids the dead, and the fruit of the vine, and doesn’t cut his hair during his service.
How do we love our neighbor? We don’t murder him, for murder is the end result of hatred. We don’t commit adultery with his wife. We don’t steal his things, or even covet them. We don’t bear false witness against him to wrongfully accuse him. If we are masters, we don’t abuse our servants. If we are servants, we honor our masters. We honor our parents. If we go to war, we follow certain rules and protocols of war. We show mercy. We judge righteously, whether the defendant is rich or poor.
The Old Testament covenant was made with Israel; they were specially chosen to receive the holy legal code. If they obeyed it, they were blessed. If they transgressed, there were curses. Anyone of us can make the same covenant with יהוה, partaking of the blessings of righteousness and being mindful of the curses. Yashua the Messiah came so that we who transgress can receive mercy. Still, breaking the rules has natural consequences. Even under the New Testament, obedience to the code of the Bible brings greater happiness. The ethics and morals of the Bible are designed to maintain the joy of the people, individually, and collectively.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are the only books of the Old or New Testament which purport to give legislation straight from the mouth of יהוה. The rest of the Bible demonstrates how the blessings of obedience and the curses of transgression were applied to Israel. These are encapsulated in the covenant of Deuteronomy 27-28. At a glance, Genesis sets the stage of our relationship with the divine family. Genesis gives us the covenants of Adam, Noah, and Abraham. Exodus extends the covenant to Israel. The Ten Commandments deal with graven images, the Sabbath, murder, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting. Following these are rules for servants and masters, the Jubilee, marriage, etc. The remainder of the book deals with observances for priests and the priesthood, and the construction of the tabernacle. Leviticus gives us the burnt offerings and rules of uncleanness, and rules of marriage. The book of Numbers is largely the journeys and adventures of Israel in the desert. It gives us the nazarite, rules of war, and vows. In Deuteronomy, Moses retells the story to Israel and expounds on the legal code. The prohibitions of murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness are repeated.
Why the Law?
Since time began, יהוה has given to the human race two very special gifts. One was the Holy Torah that teaches men how to live in harmony with their neighbors. The other precious gift was the Grace of Jesus the Christ, Yashua the Messiah. This grace allows fallen men, who by committing transgressions have incurred upon themselves the wages of sin which is death, to be mercifully granted the ultimate gift, eternal life with the Father. The Law was never intended to grant eternal life, in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. Abraham “rejoiced to see” the day of Messiah, and he saw it. It was his faith in the grace of Messiah by which he was counted faithful to enter into eternal life– not his good works.
The greatest tragedy to befall mankind since the fall of Adam, is the degree to which Law and Grace have been perceived as somehow incompatible with each other. That to have one, you have to negate the other. On the contrary– one cannot exist without the other. For without the ordinances, there is no sin and no need of mercy. Without Grace, every transgressor is eternally lost so there is no reason to keep the ordinances after you have once transgressed them.
Just as the commandments are useless in granting eternal life, Grace is useless in granting temporal security. The purpose of Grace, or mercy, is to allow eternal life to transgressors. The purpose of rules, divine or human, is to maintain order in a human earthly society. Human nature, if left to itself, always brings disorder and strife. Read the book of Judges and notice what happened when “every man did what was right IN HIS OWN EYES.” Without rules there can be no functional human society. So the only question then, is what ordinances will provide the most orderly human society?
In the books of Moses we read that יהוה gave Israel a code of ten commandments plus statutes so righteous that nations would envy them for their legislation. These rules were consistent with the principles of human nature which were created in every human being since time began. In 6000 years of Biblical history human nature has not changed one iota. And neither has the Torah changed that was given to provide human beings with a high level of happiness in spite of their natures. When Israel came out of Egypt, they had no preconceived notions about what would be good legislation. All they had known was bitter oppression. יהוה could have given them ANY ordinances. The judgments he chose to give them were the ones which would give them the most temporal happiness, individually and nationally. Millennia later, we are again in a civil condition where we do not know what is right or wrong. We do not know what is good or bad ethics. We are accustomed to certain legislation, and we know it horribly fails to produce order.
To accept any system of ethics or morals requires an act of faith. The judgments that were given to Moses are not very understood. One may look at various minor statutes and ordinances and ask, “What’s the point of that legislation?” Keeping those ordinances requires us to express faith in the One who made those ordinances. He wouldn’t have made them without good reason. It is not necessary to understand the reason for every statute, in order to justify keeping it. The same is true of human legislation– theoretically, they are made by people with good intentions so as to bring about order in a society. But who is it that understands every human statute, and the reasons behind it? Yet we keep those rules. Why? Partly because we don’t want to be punished, but partly because we have faith in the intentions of the people who made those judgments. It is not a stretch to assume that Yahweh’s motives as a legislator are infinitely purer than those of any man, and that His code is infinitely wiser than the legislation put forth by any man. If we accept as true that Yahweh himself gave the legislation to Moses, then we should also accept that he did not create the Torah whimsically.
The Torah was not given to “get people into heaven” but rather to create “heaven on earth.” A society where people might commune with Him. Such a society would be truly awesome in any time period. Such a society can never exist under the ordinances of man. I would challenge any and every nation on earth to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Put away all other gods. Observe His commandments. Do these things, and their wisdom will become evident.
How does the Torah apply to individuals?
Every judgment that יהוה gave Moses was for the happiness of individuals in society. Some ordinances provide us with health and long life. Some provide us with harmonious relationships with our family and neighbors. Some legislation brings us closer to Yahweh. It is all there to be discovered. By giving the Biblical instructions, Yahweh not only reveals every aspect of our human natures, but at the same time he reveals his own nature in great detail. To learn to understand the Torah is to learn to understand the One who gave it. Therefore, observing יהוה’s statutes and meditating on them is one means to enlightenment. If you doubt this, read Psalms 119:1-176. I would challenge every individual to keep the Torah in its entirety for one full year. At the end of the year, you will have more understanding of the ways of God than you did before. Also, you will have a much greater understanding and appreciation of Grace. One who is not aware of transgression cannot be aware of mercy. And the judgments make us painfully aware of transgression.
Paul said that the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. Can we come to Christ without the schoolmaster? One may be granted eternal life, not being aware of the Law. That is the power of Grace. But understanding the Torah increases our understanding of Christ and mercy. This is the power of the schoolmaster.
I hope these pages are a help to those who desire to know and understand the judgments of יהוה.