He does require us to keep the "New" Commandment He gave to us of course, but not at the expense of all other commandments! In Matthew 23:37-40 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Yahshua did not negate the law on covetousness, or the law re. the seventh day Sabbath, or the law requiring us to honour our parents; on the contrary, He was stating that if we loved Yahweh with all our heart and mind, we would desire to keep His Sabbath, we would not idolise any person or thing, we would desire in fact to keep all His laws to show our love, and if we loved our neighbours as ourselves, we would not covet their goods, or hurt them in any way, thus fulfilling the laws saying ‘thou shalt not…’
It is an attitude of the heart. In order to love YHWH we surely have to read about what pleases Him, and that actually means, reading his Laws and what He expects of those who love Him!
Seriously, some of us misguided folk have formerly and even now think that as long as we sort of ‘care about others’ and this can be meant in the loosest of terms, that we can please ourselves when it comes to the old testament (Tanakh, Hebrew Scriptures) and just as long as we feel we are being ‘led by the spirit’ (and in some cases we could ask ‘which spirit?’) we will be O.K.
I even heard of someone saying, ‘we are not under the law, are we, I’ll just go and do my shopping on the Sabbath…’ Does this mean that being led ‘by the spirit’ negates all the law? The holy Spirit would never go against Yahweh’s laws. Could she have said, and I joke, ‘we are not under the law, are we, I’ll just go and murder someone…’ Silly, isn’t it, to think that the commandments are not just as important today as they ever were to the ancient Hebrews. After all, it is the same God whom we are serving. A person once quoted, "I’m a prophet, called out by a prominent christian minister, so you will not bring me under the Biblical Sabbath!" How misguided and sad people can become.
Yahshua said ‘unless your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not…’ Note also that in John 15:10 He says, “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
Thus Yahshua was a commandment keeper, and exhorted us to be the same. He talks in this chapter of loving Him meaning loving His Father. Also, our interpretation of this scripture is so simplistic, as the word is in fact plural. ‘Commandments.’ Which commandments, plural, did He therefore mean?
Being believers in the Messiah, Saviour, Yahshua (Jesus ) we believe that He is the Son of Yahweh (YHWH, God). We believe that He is in fact the Word of YHWH (God). Therefore, we believe that He existed from the beginning – “In the beginning was the word, and the word was in YHWH and the word was YHWH.
He was more than a mere man. He was the One who appeared to Abraham, to the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. Who was it then in fact, who talked to Moses ‘face to face’ and who was it that appeared to him on Mount Sinai and gave him the Commandments?
The scriptures are adamant. ‘No man has seen YHWH at any time’. Therefore, it was His Son with whom He deals with mankind. Yahshua is the son of YHWH, with Him in the beginning. The Commandments are His.
Yahshua Himself kept the commandments and laws of the old covenant. In fact, He kept them and more so. He expanded on them, He filled them full of meaning. Read Matthew 5 for yourself. He mentions a commandment, and then says, ‘but I say to you’ and expands the meaning, he makes it watertight, he makes it harder, not easier, to keep. Not only should we not commit adultery, but if we look on a man or woman with desire, thinking of them with lust, it is the same thing, we break the commandment ‘thou shall not commit adultery…’
So Yahshua not only advocated keeping the Law, He expanded on it. He also said, ‘Not one jot or the smallest part of a letter shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled’ and He meant just that. Some even give the excuse (anything to keep us from actually being obedient…) that because Yahshua has come already, all is fulfilled, so this is another reason they think that we can ignore the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) But Yahshua coming to earth as a human being was not fulfilling everything. What about the perfect Bride? What about Jew and Gentile becoming one in fact, for all to see on the earth? What about the restoration of Israel? The city of Jerusalem being safe again? There is so much more to be fulfilled.
There are so many references to law in the scriptures. Here I mention a few: The Law and the Prophets, the Law of Circumcision, the Law of the Scribes and Pharisees, the Law of Sin and Death. We need to understand what law we are required to keep, and what we and the scriptures are referring to when law is mentioned.
For this we need to understand the meaning of the word ‘law’ in any given scripture. Galatians is a good book. We (believers in Messiah, in Yahshua, Jesus) tend to use it as a ‘cop out’ for not worrying too much about Exodus, and especially Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy etc. There is a scripture in the New Testament, in 2nd. Timothy 3:16 which says; ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" What ‘scripture’ was being referred to here? Well, the early church did not have the New Testament as such, because it was not yet written, so the ‘scripture’ mentioned here, I’m sorry (why should I be sorry? We should rejoice in this piece of information and direction) to say, that this must have meant, and still means, the scriptures of the (shock shock) Old ( Note: Did you know that the work ‘old’ mentioned here actually means ‘ancient’ ‘as in something to be treasured’ ). Testament. Hmm.
We ‘enlightened’ church goers and believers in Yahshua don’t need to read, teach, or keep all those laws do we?
Yahshua said, ‘if you love me, keep my commandments’. Pretty straight talking. This is obviously a directive statement. Once we know Him (and this is the most important thing of all –
While all the fullness of a walk of sanctification is available, through keeping the commandments, we are only dependent on His work on Calvary, His shed blood applied to our lives, His New Life, available in water baptism, and His power, available from being filled with the holy Spririt, to be a candidate for eternal life. ‘He who believes and is baptised shall be saved’and to the penitent thief on the cross, ‘today you will be with me in paradise’.
No, our salvation does not depend on the keeping of the commandments in their entirety, but once we are delivered from our sins, once we do acknowledge Him as our Saviour, Messiah, Redeemer, then there is more, oh, so much more for us to walk in, explore and enjoy. Does this mean we all have to become Orthodox? Do we have to begin to perform the rituals of washing hands, saying certain prayers, not switch the light on on Saturdays? Does it mean we have to learn about saying certain prayers over certain foods, what we can or cannot carry or do on the Sabbath? do we have to fast twice a week? Perform Kiddush, etc.? No, and no and no!
We love our those who have gone before us. We know we owe everything to them. We understand they are the ‘apple of His eye’ the faithful keepers of Torah (the Law, the Scriptures as we see them). The ones who kept the Sabbath sacred, who taught and still teach us many things, but…….. in their great, sacrificial effort (and so many thousands paid for this with their lives…) to keep the Law sacred, they put a great hedge of teachings around it called the Oral Law. It was these of the Pharisees which Yahshua was against, as they took away from the true Law given through Moses by adding others,which became heavy weights for the people to bear. Many of these laws, or similar ones, (reviewed and changed over the centuries by various rabbis) are in existence today, and are included in the now much expanded teachings of the: Halachot, Takanot, Ma’asim and Minhagim.
This hedge of teachings, called the oral law, kept them from breaking the commandments, and to keep the law from being damaged, but it has, it is sad to say, sometimes become a stumbling block, so that people have thought more of the hedge than the precious thing within it, the Law of YHWH, the Torah itself. Yahshua had a problem with this fact. He was quite scathing in His comments regarding these laws of men. He did not in fact condone them, but rather criticised those teaching this hedge of laws, and said that they had lost sight of the actual truth and were teaching others their laws rather than Moses’ law, the law that Yahshua came to establish. He said things like, and he was quoting Isaiah, ‘Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandments of YHWH, ye hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Full well you reject the commandment of YHWH, that you may keep your own tradition…’ Mark 7:7-8. The Pharisees did not understand Yahshua and watched him closely, and resented the things He said and did. Yahshua’s disciples followed Yahshua’s teachings, and later, Paul. This is where we come to Galatians. Paul spoke and taught in Aramaic, and his letters were translated into Greek later. The word ‘law’ many times referred to not the Tanakh, but the oral law. The Law written about in Galatians is mostly meaning the hedge aforementioned, the oral law, the one criticised by Yahshua.
How easy it is for people (as in the average christian) to say "We are no longer under the law, but under grace" from Romans 6:14, The average christian believes this scripture frees them from the obligation of keeping what is within Torah. We do not realise that when we forget to give something back, it is stealing, when we feel jealous of someone or when we desire something strongly it could be envy, or when we ignore our parents or work on Saturdays we could be breaking the true law, the law of Yahweh! ‘We are no longer under the law but under grace’ Romans 6:14 is only true within its context! We are only ‘under the law’ when we are trusting the law alone for our salvation. Once we have the life of Messiah within us, we, both Jew and Gentile believers in Messiah are able to conform to all that the law requires, naturally, by the empowering of the holy Spirit. (“Not the hearers of the law are just before YHWH, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law…” Romans 2:13-14)
This does not mean that we shouldn’t spend time reading what the law requires, and as the holy Spirit illuminates and emphasises the true meaning, walk in what is revealed to us. This brings about Sanctification.
When Paul says in Galatians, chapter 1v.14 ‘…zealous of the Traditions of my fathers…’ Here Paul is referring to the oral law.
Originally Paul taught and spoke in Aramaic and not Greek. You can see this from many references in Acts which mention his speaking in Hebrew, not Greek. See 21:40 and 22:2. His letters were probably later translated into Greek, and because of the very nature of the differences in vocabulary, and the meaning of words have distorted the text somewhat.
Some ‘favourite’ scriptures for us Gentile believers which we quote in order to ignore the old testament requirements are:
1. Galatians 3:13 reads, ‘But Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming accursed for us, for it is written; “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’.
So many of us invalidate the law by quoting this scripture in a wholly misguided way.
The curse of the law is talking about the curses included in the law for not obeying it (as in Deut. 27). Not talking about the law itself. He never gave mankind a curse to follow! Yahshua took our curse, because He was the One who hung ‘on a tree’ a curse, for our sins.
2.Galatians 4:10 ‘Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.’ This gives the average ‘christian’ the ‘proof’ he thinks he has found that means he does not have to observe the Biblical Feasts as found in Leviticus 23. (Why do we seek for reasons not to keep His laws? Simply because we are self-willed Gentiles still at heart, not being fully converted to a submissive and sanctified life. These things are foreign to our Gentile nature, we still insist on going our own way.) Thank YHWH He is a merciful Elohim (God).
This scripture regarding the times and days being observed is referring to Rabbinic teachings added to the law to make it ‘water-tight’ and safe, the hedge to which I referred earlier.
Paul was, essentially talking to people who still insisted in following these man-made laws even to the extent of invalidating the true Yahweh-given Torah, a truth to which Yahshua often alluded to when He said, ‘you follow the commandments of men’.
As we are mentioning Galatians 4, if you read this closely, from verse 19 to verse 31 Paul is discussing the difference between following the fleshly rules and regulations of men (i.e. the hedge of Rabbinic doctrines and rules) and the freedom of serving the spiritual laws of YHWH. He says the difference can be likened to the self effort of Abraham producing his son Ishmael through Hagar before waiting for the child of the promise, the child YHWH promised him through his wife, Sarah. The works of the flesh being the rules and regulations of the Scribes, Pharisees and Rabbis.
3. Galatians 5:18 ‘But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.’ This is a favourite of the law-less Goyim, we Gentile believers who insist on doing our own thing. John 16:13-16 states ‘When he the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: …for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it to you.’ Yahshua is here stating that the things He taught are simply the things of the Father, i.e. the Tanakh. He states that when the holy Spirit comes into our lives, he will lead us into all these truths. We are not, in fact, ‘under’ the law, but fulfilling it through Yahshua, who has placed the principles of it in our hearts, it is ‘written’ on our hearts, as the holy Spirit illuminates the full meaning of it to our spirit and mind, and gives us the power to keep it. Have we got it wrong!