Salvation is of the Jews. Yeshua [Jesus] said that, in John 4:22. He was talking to a Samaritan, of the former Kingdom of Israel, the 10 northern tribes. A Gentile.
Just like that woman, people get all caught up in who their spiritual teacher is, other than the Messiah, and they get bogged down in manmade doctrine and identity religion.
Yeshua is the King of the Jews, and He alone is the vessel of Life. He provides a clean slate, what some call “justification”, which basically means one’s record in the Court of Heaven has been expunged. That is what is meant when Paul wrote to the Colossians, “has been nailed to the stake,” which was NOT the written Torah, but the ‘handwriting that was against us,’ or, the record of our sins. Check the greek.
So, He has taken away the record of our sins. That record was a written account of every command we broke. For the believer, it is gone. Judgment is by and through Yeshua, who measures us against His Torah, the one God wrote by Moses to Israel through Him. If we trust in Him, we have no record anymore! If we do not, that record remains, and justice must be done. If we trust in Him and LIVE, then our reward is measured against His Torah and how we have kept it!
Many understand that Yeshua is indeed “The Word of God made a Body/Flesh”, but they cannot, for some reason, perceive that the Word is the Torah. The Torah is the foundation of the Written Word of God that we call “The Bible”. Paul explained this very plainly in Ephesians:
“For He is our shalom, who has made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the “dividing wall” between them; and He has abolished by His body the enmity, and the teaching of regulations in its commandments, that He may create, from the two [Jew and Gentile], one new man in His image, thus making shalom; and He reconciled both [Jew and Gentile] in one body with Elohim, and with His stake He destroyed the enmity; and He came and declared shalom to you who are far away, [Gentiles] and to those who are near [Jews]. Through Him we both [Jew and Gentile] are able to draw near, by one Ru’akh [Breath/Spirit], to The Father. Thus from henceforth you are neither strangers nor foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the consecrated ones [Saved Jews], and children of The House of God; and you are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, Yeshua The Messiah Himself being the cornerstone of the building: and through Him the whole building is fashioned and grows into a Consecrated Temple in יהוה , you also are built up by Him for a Sanctuary of God through The Ru’akh.”
The “Old Testament” of Christians is inherited from the Jews. It is called by Jews, “The Tanak”. תנך is a mnemonic, and it means “Torah [ת] , Nevi’im [נ], K’tuvim” ’[כ / ך], or “Law, Prophets, Writings”. In Yeshua’s day, He referred to all of the scriptures together as “Torah”, seen in John 10:
34“Yeshua said to them, “Is it not so written in your Torah, “I said, you are elohim [gods]?” [Quoting Psalm 82] 35If he called them gods because the THE WORD OF GOD [Torah] was with them, and the SCRIPTURE cannot be broken, 36why to the one whom The Father consecrated and sent to the world, do you say, ‘You blaspheme,’ just because I said to you, ‘I am The Son of God.'”
So when Paul wrote that the Congregation of Jews joined by Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel was founded upon the Apostles AND on the “Prophets”, he then equates Yeshua the Messiah to the Torah, the CORNERSTONE of the Faith of the Congregation. By saying that the faith was founded on the “Apostles”, the twelve plus one who were sent to declare His Gospel in power, he is referring to their declaration, and thus also their scriptures, which are the gospels and the letters. And he adds under that The Prophets, and under that, The Torah, Yeshua, as a whole FOUNDATION.
Since deep in antiquity, however, Christianity has cast off that cornerstone. Most Christians do not read the Torah, certainly not to learn from it how to live life more like “Christ.” “Christ” is from Hebrew, “Messiah”. The Messiah of the Jews was prophesied to have been the “Law-giver”. In several prophecies about Messiah, it was said that He would teach the Torah, disseminate it to the world, and judge the world by The Torah:
“The scepter shall not depart from Yehudah [the namesake of our Jewish people], nor the ruler’s staff/LAWGIVER from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his donkey’s colt unto the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his vesture in the blood of grapes; His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” Gen 49
Most Christian theologians understand this to be Messiah, but they do not ‘see’ that the Messiah is the Lawgiver, the one who rules by “Statute”. The Torah is the ‘law’, and it contains ‘commands,’ ‘statutes’, ‘precepts’, and ‘laws’. The Hebrew word there for “ruler’s staff” and/or “lawgiver” is מְחֹקֵק , and contains the word ‘statute’ within it. “One who interprets statute”. This is clearly a job of the coming Messiah, which most Christians understand, that this passage is about Him; but they ‘choose’ not to understand it fully.
Next, Isaiah gives us further explanation of this concept:
“‘Come, and let us go up to The Mountain of יהוה , to The House of The God of Ya’akov; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” For out of Tzion shall go forth the Torah [ways], and the D’var יהוה [Word of the LORD] [paths] from Yerushalayim. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” 2:3-4
Isaiah is clearly speaking of the Messiah. Most Christian Theologians agree. And, Isaiah is clearly calling the Torah the WAY of the Messiah, the teaching of the Messiah, the PATH of the Messiah; and, he is clearly calling the Torah, THE WORD, which eventually becomes flesh and bone in the man Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
And that is clearly what Yeshua did and taught: Torah. He kept it. He is seen keeping all the feasts of God, including The Sabbath in the Synagogue [Luke 4:16], and not ONE time observing a ‘sunday sabbath’, or christmas, or easter, which are NOT in the Bible, except for their times and observances to be condemned as pagan practices.
In the very beginning of His teaching, He expressly said that He came to teach the Torah, and not to abolish it:
“Do not expect that I have come to nullify the Torah or the Prophets; I have not come to nullify it, but to confirm it. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one yod [smallest Hebrew letter], nor a stroke [of the pen] shall pass away from the Torah until everything comes to pass. Whoever therefore tries to nullify even one of these smallest commandments, and teaches men so, he shall be regarded as small in The Kingdom of Heaven; but anyone who observes and teaches them [mitzvot, commandments of the Torah], he shall be regarded as great in The Kingdom of Heaven.” Matt 5:17-19
So, in order for one to ‘walk’ the paths of the Messiah, and to keep the ‘way’ of the Messiah, who is predicted in Isaiah 2, then one must acknowledge that the Messiah would be a Torah Teacher. Hence, He is called a “Rabbi”. For us, He is our only Rabbi. And, He is clearly seen teaching the depth of the Torah, throughout His ministry, referring to the scriptures of the Jews often, and He Himself embodying the nature of God’s Word in His life and behavior.
So, when Yokhanan, John, Yeshua’s closest friend writes this:
“He who says “I know Him” [Messiah] and does not keep His mitzvot is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His D’var/Word, in Him truly is the love of Elohim perfected. Hereby we know that we are in Him: he who says “I am in Him” ought himself also to walk His halakha.”
he was asserting that one must follow the Torah as Yeshua taught it. “Halakha” is a Hebrew concept which means “how a Rabbi walks the Torah”. Different Rabbis all have different “halakha”, or what they call “Halakhic” conclusions. Our one Rabbi should be Yeshua, the only one in scripture who is actually called “Rabbi”; not even Sha’ul/Paul, who had been a Rabbi, is actually called “Rabbi”, by himself or anyone else.
Yeshua taught and lived “His Way”, which is how He walked the Torah and expounded it to us. Anything that goes beyond what He teaches is error. That does not mean that Christians who do not follow the Torah are lost, it means that they are not much in His Kingdom, according to His own words.
Following Yeshua as your Rabbi, or ‘torah teacher’, comes at a cost:
“When they persecute you in this city, escape to another; for truly I say to you, that you shall not finish converting all the cities of The House of Yisra’el until The Son of Man returns. No talmid [Torah Student!/disciple] is more important than his Rabbi, and no servant than his Adon. It is enough for a talmid to be like his Rabbi, and for a servant to be like his Adon. If, then, they have called the Adon of the house “Ba’al Zevuv,” how much more those of His household?
Remember, Gentiles have been made a part of the commonwealth of Israel, the Household of God.
So, keeping the Sabbath and Passover, and Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, and Trumpets, and Yom Kippur, and Booths, is NOT about ‘securing salvation’, it is about loving the Messiah and following His example AND His teaching. His teaching was the ‘hard stuff’; these feasts are the easy stuff, and are seen as His example! Both of them [teaching and example] are the whole body of His instruction to us. Even today, teachers are encouraged to ‘model’ somehow what they are teaching. So did Yeshua. “What Would Yeshua Do?” What He actually did is clearly seen.
Paul wrote this:
“You, then, should imitate me, even as I also imitate Mashi’akh. Now I praise you, my brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the customs as I delivered them to you.”
Paul did not create christmas, nor easter. They are not in scripture. They did not emerge for nearly 400 years. But, Paul kept the sabbath, and all the feasts, all of which can be seen in the book of Acts, over and over. Again, those are the easy parts of keeping the Torah. The ‘customs’ he delivered are in fact Torah practices, and that is seen even in the greek, where the word is “paradosis”, or ‘Jewish Ritual Law’ or customs. Those are the ‘how to’ of keeping His feasts and commandments, as Yeshua taught Paul.
Many Christians do indeed keep the Torah in regard to the ‘tough stuff’, as best they can, without reading the Torah. Yeshua did teach those tough things quite a bit. But, He did not throw away The Way that God wants us to worship Him, and the times and seasons He established forever.
We, the “Messianic Community”, are not the first in History ever to cast off Christmas and Easter and Halloween, and other pagan practices blended with the faith. In fact, most of the earliest colonists had also done so, so much so that in most of the colonies those holidays were forbidden, and were illegal holidays, even after the nation was founded! That’s right, George Washington did not observe christmas! But, one generation casts off what is wrong, and the next generation, who reaps the benefits of the purity prescribed in the Bible and employed by a new generation, then takes up the very things their fathers cast off. That is the nature of sin: it creeps in unawares. It repeats itself. As a dog returning to its vomit.
Our desire is not to condemn the Christian community, but to do the very same thing Yeshua did in the seven letters to the Congregations, whose symbol was a Menorah: to encourage the One congregation to “OVERCOME!” In those letters, Yeshua condemns pagan practices, identity religion, laity versus clergy [Rabbi, Father, Pastor etc. vs. people], prosperity gospel, and sinful sexual behaviors. He encourages returning to ‘first love,’ which is The Word of God as taught by Yeshua! Ephesus was the congregation that Paul taught the scriptures, the Torah and The Prophets, for two years, and that was their first love. Obeying His commands. They were gentiles who did not have the Torah and Prophets. They were taught the Torah and Prophets, and customs [1 Cor 11:2]
Most of Christianity cast off a holy, ‘set apart’ life, and took up mixture behaviors, blending the worship of God with the worship of other deities, even in very ‘minor’ and ‘harmless’ ways. Yeshua did not come to establish a new religion, but to bring Gentiles into the Torah, to walk with Jewish people as one people. Our Jewish believers are failing by mixing the teaching of Rabbis who do not believe in Yeshua as the Son of God with Yeshua’s teachings, and of making Gentiles feel like ‘second class sons of god’. Our Gentile believers are failing by casting off the beauty of His Torah, and mixing worshipping God with pagan rites and ritual, and calling it holy. They are both wrong. There is indeed one way, straight up the middle, simple, and pure, and it is His Way, the Torah under Yeshua’s light. That is what we desire and pray to communicate to His People.
“He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Tzion shall go forth the Torah, and the D’var יהוה from Yerushalayim.”
Torah = Word = Yeshua