In Parashat Bamidbar, we read the following, Bamidbar / Numbers 1:5-15, ה וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר יַעַמְדוּ אִתְּכֶם לִרְאוּבֵן אֱלִיצוּר בֶּן-שְׁדֵיאוּר: ו לְשִׁמְעוֹן שְׁלֻמִיאֵל בֶּן-צוּרִישַׁדָּי: ז לִיהוּדָה נַחְשׁוֹן בֶּן-עַמִּינָדָב: ח לְיִשָּׂשֹכָר נְתַנְאֵל בֶּן-צוּעָר: ט לִזְבוּלֻן אֱלִיאָב בֶּן-חֵלֹן: י לִבְנֵי יוֹסֵף לְאֶפְרַיִם אֱלִישָׁמָע בֶּן-עַמִּיהוּד לִמְנַשֶּׁה גַּמְלִיאֵל בֶּן-פְּדָהצוּר: יא לְבִנְיָמִן אֲבִידָן בֶּן-גִּדְעֹנִי: יב לְדָן אֲחִיעֶזֶר בֶּן-עַמִּישַׁדָּי: יג לְאָשֵׁר פַּגְעִיאֵל בֶּן-עָכְרָן: יד לְגָד אֶלְיָסָף בֶּן-דְּעוּאֵל: טו לְנַפְתָּלִי אֲחִירַע בֶּן-עֵינָן: טז אֵלֶּה קְריּאֵי [קְרוּאֵי] הָעֵדָה נְשִֹיאֵי מַטּוֹת אֲבוֹתָם רָאשֵׁי אַלְפֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל הֵם: 1:5 ‘These then are the names of the men who shall stand with you: of Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; 1:6 of Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; 1:7 of Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; 1:8 of Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; 1:9 of Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; 1:10 of the sons of Joseph: of Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud; of Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; 1:11 of Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; 1:12 of Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; 1:13 of Asher, Pagiel the son of Ochran; 1:14 of Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel; 1:15 of Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan. 1:16 ‘These are they who were called of the congregation, the leaders of their fathers’ tribes; they were the heads of divisions of Israel.’ (NASB) Here the Lord calls the head of the household out by name to help Moshe in numbering the people. What this suggests to us is how the Lord knows each of us by name and He has a plan for each and every one of us. It is important to know this since God does know each and every one of us as being called according to God’s plan (His Word) and how each of us are responsible to obey His Word with consequences for disobeying the Word of the Lord. Compare the nations and their ways. One example may be taken from Israel’s history in 1 and 2 Kings with Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Jeroboam was a member of the Tribe of Ephraim of Zereda. His mother was named Zeruah (צרוע “leprous”) and was a widow. (1 Kings 11:26) He had at least two sons, Abijah and Nadab, who succeeded him on the throne. Jeroboam rebuilt and fortified Shechem as the capital of the northern kingdom, and fearing the people would make pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem, that this would weaken his kingdom, he built two golden calves, one in Bethel and the other in Dan, and caused the people to sin in worshiping these idols. After Jeroboam made this new form of worship, he also made priests of anyone who could bring their own sacrifices to be sanctified as priests. The Torah however explains the Lord God Almighty chose only one clan, the Levi to be priests. (Note also how we see a modern manifestation of the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat in the Catholic church in the replacement theology and making priests of anybody who is willing.) What this teaches us is the concept of replacement is very ancient and has occult origins that lead back to the sin of the golden calf. Note also how the Lord God gave Jeroboam a chance to repent and turn from his sin, but he would not. (1 Kings 13:33-34)
According to the Torah, the people were delivered from Egypt, the land of slavery, bondage, and sin, by their faith, brought through the Red sea, and to the mountain of Sinai. After the people had been redeemed and delivered, and believed by faith, it was only after these things that God had given them His Torah (His Instructions) as a way of life for a chosen and holy people. The basic narrative of the deliverance and redemption of Israel lays out the Gospel Message! This speaks contrary to the typical theological mandate that man earned his salvation under Torah, teaching that now we are under grace based on the NT. The truth of the matter is, from the beginning of the Bible we are told how we enter into a relationship with God by faith, and after having been redeemed by faith we are given the Torah as a way of life. This is how and why the author of the Book of Hebrews used the Torah as a source text to draw upon when speaking about the great men of faith. (See Hebrews 11) The Torah was given as a way of life (a way of living) because the Lord God of Israel is walking and living in our midst (His Spirit dwells inside of us). The Torah was not given such that a man may earn his way to redemption or get himself into a relationship with God. Just as we see here in the priesthood, the tribe of Levi was chosen, in fact, all of the first born of Israel were chosen, (Bamidbar / Numbers 3:13) they did not earn their way into a state such that they “could be chosen.” What we read here in the book of Bamidbar / Numbers fits the same pattern we see in the Exodus deliverance and redemption of Israel. God has a plan for His people, and He also has a plan for you and me. The nations on the other hand prescribe a method to “get” into the priesthood, as we see in the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat in the replacement theology of creating his own priesthood in the service and worship of the golden calves. We are told that anyone who wanted to be a priest could be a priest, all he had to do was bring the prescribed sacrifices. This occult perspective of earning one’s way into the priesthood, is a very prevalent approach in world religions, so much so that it has made its way into the theological constructs of Christianity today, and continues to be preached from the pulpit as truth and is related to replacement theology, and the teaching that Yeshua changed the Law of God by doing away with the Torah being substituted with new commands. These deeply rooted concepts of replacement theology for example are illustrated in the typesetting of the bible as the “OLD” and “NEW” testaments. The point of the matter, in Yeshua the Messiah we have a renewed covenant upon which God will write His Torah upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The covenant in Christ is not something that does away with “the old” which is so often taught today.
The basic tenant of the religious, occult, or pagan practice is that man constructs his own understanding of who God is and then earns his way by his actions into heaven (i.e. Isalm, performing the five pillars and Jihad). When we consider the modern theologies that are being taught today in the Church, in Seminary, and at the pulpit saying man earned his salvation in the OT by keeping the Law of God, and Jesus changed this in the NT by giving us new commands, grace, and dying on the cross. The Scriptures however teach something strikingly different. The pioneering theology that teaches “LAW vs. GRACE” is the theology of Dispensationalism. This is coupled to the pagan idea that man earned his salvation in the Torah and that Yeshua did away with the command. These things may be understood more clearly from the Torah command the Lord God Almighty saying that we are not to serve him the way the nations serve their gods. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:4 and 12:31)
Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:4
ד לֹא-תַעֲשֹוּן כֵּן לַיהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:
New International Version
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.
New American Standard Bible
“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God.
King James Bible
Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:31
לא לֹא-תַעֲשֶֹה כֵן לַיהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי כָל-תּוֹעֲבַת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר שָֹנֵא עָשֹוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי גַם אֶת-בְּנֵיהֶם וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵיהֶם יִשְֹרְפוּ בָאֵשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם:
New International Version
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
New American Standard Bible
“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
King James Bible
Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
The NIV translation connects what one does (תַעֲשֹוּן, תַעֲשֶֹה) with worship unto the Lord (translating לֹא-תַעֲשֹוּן “do not do” as “you shall not worship”). The way this is translated may suggest that the way we live is considered a form of worship! This is why the Rabbis emphasize the importance of Torah study coupled to the application of God’s Word to one’s life? The NASB and KJV are closest to the Hebrew text saying “do not do/act thus/like-this unto/toward the Lord your God.” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:4) And how do the nations serve their gods? A basic survey of the religious practice of the nation’s demonstrate a performance-based religion and entrance into heaven by the way of their works. Christian tradition also teaches that Judaism (the OT practice of faith and faithfulness to God in the Temple services) teaches a works-based faith, each man had to keep the commands in order to be saved. The coupling of this idea of works based salvation has led to the theology that the Lord God has now changed this by bringing His son Yeshua the Messiah, and we have entered into the age of grace (a dispensationalist approach). The significant error of this interpretation is in the belief that God established a way of worship and service by works in the Torah just as the nations have established in their religious practices (by works). This is a serious problem in light of the Scriptures that state we are not to do as the nations do, we are not to serve or worship the Lord the way the nations serve their gods (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:4 and 12:31). Note, the procedures listed in the Torah in the Temple service are drastically different from the religious practices and services of the nations, however, this concept of the Lord requiring works for salvation is of a pagan influence. So the idea that Yeshua has done away with God’s commands is rooted in a worldly perspective, and of pagan origin.
When we study the NT Scriptures, it becomes clear the Torah is an integral part of the very fabric of NT thought. The apostles never taught that the Torah was superfluous or that grace was a license to sin. In addition to this, according to John 10 we read Yeshua saying many things, and the people recognized what he was claiming about himself and his opponents picked up stones to stone him. Yeshua said in John 10:32 “… I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” He then went on to quote from the Psalms, and in John 10:35 he said “If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside.” (NIV) Notice how Yeshua says “Scripture cannot be set aside” however, this is the very thing that is taking place in the theologies that teach replacement and the Law of God is done away with. Is this not a serious error in the interpretation of Scripture? Therefore, the teaching that the Messiah has done away with the Law of God is of pagan origins, and the idea of ascribing a works-based salvation to God’s Torah is also of pagan origins. Note how in the world religions, the burden is on mankind to do something to achieve something, or to comply with someone or something, in order to earn or find heaven, nirvana (Buddhism), salvation, happiness, Brahman (Hinduism), etc. Whatever it’s called one has to do something in order to gain entrance into heaven, such as the Islamic paradise, where upon entrance one then indulges in immorality and lust by receiving 72 virgins. (Notice how this type of narrative is not found in the Biblical account of heaven!) According to Biblical truth, the people of Israel were redeemed and delivered, they had a relationship with God and the Lord God gave them His Torah as a way of life after having entered into a relationship by faith in the God of Israel. The commands are therefore a fundamental aspect of what it means to be faithful unto God. Because of these things, we are told in the Scriptures that the Babylonian captivity was the result of Israel’s failure to keep the Torah. Because of this the Lord God sent Babylon to carry them away. This is connected to Parashat Bechukotai, last week’s Torah portion and the blessing and the curse for obedience or disobedience, respectively. This is also related to faith and faithfulness. Can we claim to have faith but remain unfaithful to God and His Word? This is why the study of the Torah held the highest priorities and was considered the highest form of worship to the God of Israel in the first century. Each synagogue had beside it or as a part of it a Bet Midrash (a house of study) which was often more highly esteemed than the synagogue itself. We see this high commitment to studying God’s Word in Paul’s admonition to Timothy saying, “Study to show thyself approved by God” (2 Timothy 2:15). According to the Scriptures the biblical construct for seeking God is to repent and seek the Mercy of God for the forgiveness of sins. The Lord God Almighty calls our hearts to repentance and the need for forgiveness of sin. This is the gospel message, we believe in the Lord God and His Messiah by faith, we enter into a relationship with God, and He gives us His word to live by as a people who are holy and separate unto Him, and He gives us His Spirit to empower us such that we have faith and are faithful! He sends His Spirit to dwell in our hearts, to help us to overcome the world, and to overcome sin in our lives such that we can bring glory to His Name! This is a Torah based perspective and this is why the Torah and the Gospel Message go hand in hand!