We Need the Torah

August 28, 2017

When I talk about the Torah I mean the first 5 books of the Bible, but all the Tanakh is useful. Perhaps, the first thing we need to know is that the Torah is God’s words and therefore is practical for all of life. Also we should look at some of the attitudes of those who don’t believe that the Torah is still applicable today. Some say it is outdated, others don’t believe in God and can’t see what can be gained from the Tanakh, and some Jews and Christians say that it is no longer to be practiced. Not believing in the Torah is not a problem for all people.

 

For some that believe in God, they don’t need to be convinced that the Torah is applicable. The Bible says that we need to hear the Torah read and so some simply want to obey God. For others, it is something that they’ve done their whole life and they enjoy hearing the Torah read. Still yet for others, it is part of their heritage. What really matters most is that the Torah came from God, it is still applicable to our lives, and the Bible says that we are to obey it.

 

When we read the Torah we find out that Moshe (Moses) received the Torah from God and was given specific instructions from God. Moshe says, “Therefore, you are to love ADONAI your God and always obey his commission, regulations, rulings and mitzvot” (commandments). Deuteronomy 11:1 CJB. God knows all and is perfect. Since He is the creator, He should know how we should live. And, since He is God He can back up His words and convey blessings to those who follow His commandments. “As for God, his way is perfect, the word of ADONAI has been tested by fire; he shields all who take refuge in him;” Psalm 18:31 CJB. Let’s now consider some of the reasons why some people say that the Bible is not relevant today.

 

One of the first things that people say about the Bible in general is that it is an old and out of date book of fiction that lacks anything scientifically useful. Even though it is an old book, it has a lot of laws in it that have been the basis for laws in countries that protect freedom. The law against bribing others in the Torah keeps justice from being subverted. For example, a person who has a lesser means of defending themselves could be at the mercy of a person who had the means to get away with wronging them if bribery is permitted.

 

The law about just weights and measures allows us to provide for free and just sale of goods. In the Torah we see a system of prosecution and reimbursing others for damages. A person is not to be unjustly prosecuted or if someone damages someone or their property they are to be compensated. It is interesting that just a few simple laws can be so important. There are lots of pertinent laws in the Torah.

 

Next, is the Bible a book of fiction? Archeology has proved that the Bible characters and sites in the Bible existed. I  watched an amazing video online about Israel crossing the Red Sea.[1] The archeological video shows the place where the Egyptians distributed grain in Egypt during the famine described in the Bible some 3,700 years ago, where the biblical character Joseph was buried, the exodus route that Israel took some 3,300 years ago, and even the place where Israel crossed the Sea when God parted the sea before them and they crossed through the sea. The Bible says the Egyptians tried to go after the Israelites and the Sea closed over the Egyptians. There are actual chariot parts encased in coral on the bottom of the sea floor where Israel crossed. You can see them in the video I mentioned.[2]

 

The archeological evidence is too numerous to mention. Even the places and fauna that Moshe (Moses) describes place Israel where the Bible says they were. The writing format that Moshe used places Moshe in the period of time (around 1,300 BCE) that the Torah was written so that we know that Moshe did in fact write the Torah. Archeology has proved this because it has seen that the style of writing changed shortly after 1,300 BCE (BC).   

 

Also, the Bible is not a book of science, but a book about God and His relationship with mankind and how He has cared about man and wants to help mankind. Some maintain that the Bible can be a useful tool for science and there is some evidence for that. For example, the Torah said some 3,300 years ago that we should not eat fat and it wasn’t until the 1900s that medicine determined that fats clogged the arteries and caused heart disease.[3] Science has derived scientific information and made interesting scientific suppositions from the Bible even though the Bible is not intended to be a scientific text.

 

What about people who don’t believe in God? I think there is a lot of evidence for God and I encourage those who don’t believe in God not to give up on God. It says in Jeremiah 29:13-14 CJB, “When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly; and I will let you find me, 'says ADONAI.” I sought God and I have experienced Him and my experiences with God have been thrilling at times.

 

Also, some people who don’t want to believe in God are good people and they are accepting of others, but some engage in caustic philosophies and name calling. Anyone can make up a philosophy that denigrates others and I would hope that even though a person doesn’t believe in God, they would treat others with dignity. People have used name calling and hurtful attitudes over the centuries to control, dehumanize, and to slander. The same verbal abuse can be done to those who practice verbal abuse and the Bible says that we should treat others as we want to be treated.

 

Just recently, I talked to someone who doesn’t believe in God, but believes in ghosts, and there are others who don’t believe in God, but practice spiritualism that believes in the extra ordinary and supernatural. Why don’t they believe in the true God? They need the instruction of the Bible. The Bible talks about miracles and the acts of God as well as demonic forces that can cause harm. The Bible is a good guide for doing what is right and staying out of trouble.

 

The Tanakh (Old Testament portion) documents that Israel experienced many miracles. Yeshua (Jesus) performed many miracles and healings including the healing everyone in some towns. The book of Acts has accounts of miracles. And, miracles still happen today. The philosopher Hume said that miracles don’t happen. When confronted with the fact that many miracles that still occur, he said that miracles don’t happen because we know they don’t happen. Some people simply don’t want to believe, but Yeshua the anointed one said that if we believe, we will see. God does not expect us to have “blind” faith as some say; namely, God does not expect us to have faith without experiencing God.

 

Also, the Bible has been carefully copied and scrutinized to present an accurate text from which to make translations. The biggest problem in understanding the Bible to date is placing the Bible in its proper context and not reading into the Bible through our modern mindset; the Bible was written by Jews and within a Jewish culture, both the Tanakh and the New Testament portions. Understanding the Bible with a Hebraic understanding and cultural context is necessary for a proper interpretation of what is written.

 

The Bible says that the scriptures came from God and God should know the best way we are to live. Although commentaries like the Talmud and other commentaries can be helpful, they are not the scriptures and can lead us in the wrong direction. They may include extra ideas on how to follow the Bible that are not necessarily true to the biblical text. Fads and good ideas are not God’s words. The most important thing we should be doing is to live the way we are supposed to live. Moshe said not to add anything to the Torah: “In order to obey the mitzvot (commandments) of ADONAI your God which I am giving you, do not add to what I am saying, and do not subtract from it;” Deuteronomy 4:2 CJB.[4] Extra laws can be helpful at times, but are not binding. Extra laws can also place unnecessary exacting burdens on those who wish to follow God and can prevent people from believing in God and following God.

 

In Conclusion

The Torah came from God and can give us relevant direction for life. Some Jews and some Christians don’t regard the Torah as being useful, but it has stood the test of time and has even been the source for developing governments that value the rights of people. The Bible has recorded miraculous acts that have been verified by archeology. Although the Bible is not a formal science text, it has some useful scientific information in it. And, although some treat others who believe in God poorly, the Bible has good advice for them too; treat others as you want to be treated.

 

There are people who believe in the supernatural, but don’t believe in God. Perhaps they should give God a chance, after all, He should know the best way for us to live. The Bible has been accurately copied over the ages since it is regarded as God’s word. Commentaries can be helpful, but not if they lead us in the wrong direction. A lot can be written about the Torah; I think thousands of books have been written, but the whole purpose of the Torah and the Bible is to bring us into a relationship with God. Rabbi Shaul (Paul) says that is the most important thing in life.

 

We as a people need to return to God. Zechariah the prophet said, “Therefore, tell them that ADONAI- Tzva'ot says this: ‘Return to me,’ says ADONAI- Tzva'ot, ‘and I will return to you,’ says ADONAI- Tzva'ot;” Zechariah 1:3 CJB. Rabbi Shaul said about the Tanakh, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work;” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 CJB.[5] (see note) The Tanakh is valuable and can be helpful in every area of our lives.

 

[1] You can watch a very good brief video of the Red Sea Crossing at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4RV8unY7GE

[2] You can watch a very good brief video of the Red Sea Crossing at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4RV8unY7GE

[3] “Avoid overindulging on ice cream, whole milk, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, egg yolks, fatty meats, fast food, fried chicken, breaded chicken or fish, pastries, and chips. These foods tend to contain saturated fat and trans fats.” - http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307285,00.html#the-usual-suspects-0. More specifically, the Bible is actually referring to fat from meat, but it is also a good idea to not eat too much of foods that contain a lot of fat because God said we should not be eating fat, (see Leviticus 7:23) not to mention that medicene says overindulging in fatty foods is bad for us.

[4] Immediate context and intent is important when understanding the scriptures. For example, when Israel is told not to light a fire on Shabbat it is in the context of doing work on the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting in the desert. It is the only place in the Bible that not lighting a fire on Shabbat is mentioned, so we know that it is connected to the context. Because the context is about working on the Mishkan, Moshe was warning the people not to work on the Mishkan on Shabbat. We could properly imply that any work that is unnecessary should not be done on Shabbat. If it can wait for tomorrow, I wait to do it tomorrow. The commandment not to light a fire is not a commandment not to light a candle, drive a car, or turn on a light. How wasteful is it to leave lights on in the house so you won’t make a spark. There are many ridiculous laws that have been added to the Torah because of a lack of understanding of context and intent. These extra laws add unnecessary burdens on people who believe in God and even keep people from God. Yeshua the anointed one quotes Isaiah and says, “Their worship of me is useless, because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines;” Matthew 15:9 CJB.

[5] There was no New Testament portion at the time when Shaul (Paul) wrote his letters to Timothy, so Shaul had to be talking about the Tanakh and primarily the Torah. The context of this verse is about the Torah. Again, context and intent is important here. Shaul tells Timothy in the previous verse, in verse 15, “Recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures;” 2 Timothy 3:15 CJB. We know Timothy had a Jewish mother so she would have taught him from the Torah. Then in the very next verses after verses 16 and 17, Shaul says, “I solemnly charge you before God and the Messiah Yeshua, who will judge the living and the dead when he appears and establishes his Kingdom: proclaim the Word! Be on hand with it whether the time seems right or not. Convict, censure and exhort with unfailing patience and with teaching. For the time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching;” 2 Timothy 4:1-3 CJB. The Torah is “sound teaching” and contrary to some who misunderstand Shaul, Shaul expected believers in the Messiah (the Anointed One) Yeshua to keep the Torah.

 

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