Isaiah clearly states that Yahweh’s Word will not return void, but will accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:11). Well, I’m certain that I am not the only one who has at times failed to see this scripture ring true. But it certainly is not that the Word of God has failed! Instead of growing discouraged by the apparent lack of results, I set out to understand how it seemed that at times my experience contradicted the Word. I found that the real problem originated in my misunderstanding of the purpose of God’s Word. His Torah is like a line drawn in the sand, it separates the holy from the profane, the good from evil, and the just from the unjust. I discovered that our response to His commands will determine our result. Many people view Torah as a curse. Our Father intends that obedience to His Torah brings blessing.
“If we do things God’s way, we get His results.”
As we progress through this series, train yourself to think of Torah as any of Yahweh’s instructions, teachings, or commands that He gives to His people. In fact, everything our Father says to us forms a part of His Torah. Whether one reads in Leviticus or 1 John, the Father remains intent on teaching and commanding His children to walk His path of obedience so that we may reach the goal of living like Messiah Yeshua. Like the arrow traveling its path to hit the mark, so we must travel the path that Torah shows us. Our heavenly Father teaches that obedience to Torah brings blessing. Look at how Proverbs explains to us that Yahweh’s Torah lights this way of life.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.
Despite beautiful Scriptures like this, the sad reality in much of Christianity today is that God’s laws (Torah) are taught as something from which we need to be freed. Pastors instruct that Jesus died to free us from the law. The law is presented as a slave driver, and Jesus is the one who came to liberate us. I want to investigate these claims scripturally to see if they can be validated or refuted. As we consider these positions, I want to ask you one key question to ponder before we continue. Like always, thoroughly examine yourself in light of this question.
- Do you view God’s laws as rules from a lawgiver demanding obedience or else there will be consequences? Or do you view His Torah as a set of instructions a Father gives to His children for their good?
Legislative or Parental
Of all the titles and names of God, the single most important one is Father. The heart of God longs for children who obey Him simply because they love Him. In fact, Yahweh places such emphasis on the family structure that He sovereignly chose to begin the Bible with the Hebrew letter “Bet / ב ” (In Hebrew, the word for Genesis is “Bereshit”- the first letter being “Bet”). “Bet” originates from the Semitic word for house or home. So when God in His wisdom decided to give us His eternal Word, He started it all with the idea of the home.
Yahweh the Father, Not Prosecutor
The most important unit in society is the family. Satan and the spiritual hosts of wickedness attack the family unit with such force. Today a healthy, godly family appears to be an anomaly. To start, divorce, fatherless homes, and sexual immorality run rampant, even amongst members of the church. These factors create an atmosphere where most believers suffer from not understanding how to relate to God as their Father. Furthermore, many having not experienced a good earthly father, see God as distant, harsh, and ready to judge when they fail. Some pastors even teach that the “God of the Old Testament” stands ready to prosecute, while Jesus’ sacrifice helps us escape His judgment. It’s easy to see how these experiences inevitably lead us to see God’s Torah as external requirements to please a harsh master. Even if our perception doesn’t venture this far, it remains difficult to comprehend how we respond to our heavenly Father having rules and instructions for His children. Finally, through a lifetime of bondage to this cycle, people develop a view of God’s Torah from a legislative perspective.
- The impact of this mentality is twofold:
- We rebel against our Father’s instructions because we refuse to submit to Him.
- We transgress His commands, and due to fear of punishment we hide our sin.
Our Father’s True Nature
Yahweh never desired that His character and Torah be treated with such contempt. We must be careful to not interpret the Word of God through the lens of our unreliable experiences lest we are guilty of profaning God’s great name. Our Father goes to great lengths to teach us His character and the nature of His commands. Remember that despite what some men teach, we must trust the scriptures as the authority.
Yahweh speaking to Moses on Mt. Sinai is one of the most majestic events recorded in Scripture. During this encounter, Moses requests to see Yahweh’s glory. Yahweh responds by saying that His goodness and glory will pass by Moses (Wow!). At this time Yahweh says that He will proclaim His name. “Name” here is better interpreted as character. In other words, the Creator of the Universe tells Moses, “I will tell you who I am; I will tell you my character and nature.” Do you feel the weight of this experience? This passage demands our utmost consideration. God, Himself tells us who He is. Not Moses, not man, not tradition nor lore, but Yahweh! Whew, this is exciting! Let’s read.
6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Meditate on this. Memorize it. Let this passage change you. Yahweh our Father tells us that He abounds in love, faithfulness, patience, grace, mercy and justice. It angers me and should anger you as well when the great name and reputation of our heavenly Father undergoes a profaning that seems to discredit and pervert His true nature.
For Your Good Always
Remember that during this time as God reveals His name and character to Moses upon the mountain, another transaction transpires. God gives His children His Torah. Now you immediately need to start reconciling who God literally just revealed that He is versus what He now tells Moses He requires from His children. Did He seemingly shift from loving to harsh, patient to exacting, and merciful to merciless in a matter of moments? Or have we completely misunderstood why He gave His Torah? His laws and commands actually issue forth from His nature. Love is His nature, for God is love. So I venture to suggest that ALL of His Torah, everything He teaches and requires, issues forth from His great love for His children. This next passage shatters church history, traditions, and theology that teach that the law as difficult, impossible, and a burden. Listen to what our awesome Father reveals as His motive for giving His Torah.
20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And 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 we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’
Re-read that. Now re-read verse 24. Our Father, who never lies nor exaggerates, affirms that every command, instruction, and rule is ALWAYS, 100% of the time, for our good. Wow. Your heavenly Father, who does everything from love, wants you to know that all of His Torah is for your good, always. This is not the message I have heard from pulpits my entire life. But this is the message that we see from Yahweh, our Father, everywhere in Scripture. Let’s look at another passage.
12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
Our loving Father gives His children specific instructions on how to live, and if they obey, it will turn out for their good. This idea shouldn’t be foreign or even difficult to understand. Having 5 children of my own, I can honestly attest that this same motive is why I give my children rules. It’s not to be harsh, to show them their wickedness, or to prove to them they will never be good enough. Nonsense! I instruct and require obedience because I want what’s best for them. And honestly, at ages newborn through 6, I don’t trust my children’s judgment enough to keep themselves out of harmful situations! They need a loving father to teach them right and wrong. Then, they need me to enforce discipline when they disobey so that they will be trained in the right way of doing things. The fruit they will get is a lifetime of blessing. My prayer every day is that my children do not have to eat the bad fruit of wrong choices like I had to. I don’t want my children to suffer because of rebellion and stubbornness. I want them to enjoy Yahweh’s blessings!
Do Not Lightly Regard the Discipline of Yahweh
Let’s examine what we have learned thus far:
- Yahweh our God and Father’s nature is love, amongst other beautiful qualities.
- Everything He does issues forth from His loving nature
- As a Father, He gives His children instructions and rules for their good, always.
At this point, it should be clear that we need an ideological shift in how we view the “Old Testament”, especially “The Law.” From here I want to touch on: what does God do when we disobey? He disciplines us. So much of what we suffer from today, individually and corporately, stems directly from our decisions to spurn the laws of God. Personal conflict, bitterness, immorality, idolatry, church splits, covetousness, and other things we experience produces rancid fruit in our lives and churches because flawed theology has taught us that we do not have to obey God’s commands, especially those that occur in Genesis through Deuteronomy. We need to see all the bad fruit that exists in modern day Christianity and receive the rebuke and discipline of our Father. We have strayed from His ways. Yeshua certainly didn’t live like life was a free-for-all and that we can do whatever we want as long as we do it in the name of “love” or “freedom”! Yeshua was at all times completely submitted to the will and commands of His Father.
We can live lives that produce good fruit. We can have healthy relationships, marriages, and families. We can have the true blessing of Yahweh through living like His Son Yeshua, the Word made flesh. All we must do is repent, receive discipline, and submit to God’s laws.
Our culture hates discipline. We do not enjoy the long road of chastening and training. But it is the only road that leads to holiness. I am reminded of what the writer of Hebrews teaches,
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
This scripture packs a punch. Discipline is for our good and leads to us participating in God’s holiness. Well, where does He define His holiness? His Torah, of course! So those who would have us ignore and lay aside the Torah of Yahweh will have a difficult time defining His holiness, let alone participating in it! In fact, I would suggest that discipline requires God’s Torah. Torah is any of God’s teachings or instructions, those found in Genesis through those in Revelation. Take heed to the Psalmist regarding discipline.
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
The path of obedience produces the blessing of Yahweh.Let’s revisit the account in Deuteronomy when Moses introduces the “Written Torah” (what is traditionally taught as The Law) to Yahweh’s children. Notice how discipline occurs so that the people may learn to keep Yahweh’s paths. Additionally, observe the link between discipline and testing. Often, Yahweh tests us so that we may see what is in our hearts. Without these tests, we would remain blinded to our rebellion.
1 “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.
If we let discipline complete its work in our lives, we can be sure that we will enjoy the peaceable fruit of righteousness! God wants discipline to return us to His paths so that we may walk in His ways and fear Him all of our days.
Obedience to Torah Produces Blessing
I hope you have seen thus far the reason our Father gave His children His instructions. I am fully convinced that God still honors His Word. He will not turn away a heart that obeys Him because they trust Him. Do you trust that He knows what He is doing? Do you believe that which He said to His children is the wilderness of Sinai is still applicable to you in the wilderness of this world? Do you believe that every command, even the ones we may not understand, are for our good…always? May Yahweh grant us understanding even as the Psalmist wrote:
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Whew, this has been quite the journey. Alas, we must end where we began. Is Yahweh’s Torah a blessing or a curse? Our answer is found when Moses was teaching the children of Israel the very same things we learned in this article. He instructs them by saying,
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
The decision is yours. How will you respond to the loving instructions of your Father? Remember that Yeshua came to destroy the works of the devil, not the works of His Father! Will you be like Paul and submit to the law of God, or in rebellion will you kick against the goads?
O, come let us return to Yahweh and to His ways! He will heal us, He will bind up our wounds. Yeshua paid our penalty for sin; He freed us from its power. We can now serve Yahweh in spirit and in truth. Submit yourself to God’s law, learn to make it your delight. It will guard you and keep you from the wickedness of this world. The flesh does not want to submit to God’s law, but you are not in the flesh if, in fact, the Spirit of God dwells within you. Amen.
For we know that the law is spiritual
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being
So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.