Today we have been in the Old Testament. Specifically the first 5 books. Looking at the concept of Torah.
And it has been a mind-opening, Spirit-speaking, completely-impacting day.
We were challenged to see the Torah as more than the Law, but rather that the law is one genre within these books which also contain stories, narratives, poetry, law and song. It’s so much more.
Our Old Testament lecturer challenged us to think about how we viewed the Torah. Because how we view the Torah will influence how we view God. If we read the Torah only as law, then we can easily see God as a taskmaster with a list of behaviour that He requires in order to love us. If we see the Torah as God-made-flesh in the Word, as the very self-revelation of this God, as demonstrating the tenderness of God… Then we see God as the one who claims His people and His children. We see Him more fully. We read the Torah as it was written. And we see why the writers of the Psalms described it as sweeter than honey and of greater worth than gold.
Because when Jesus claims that He is the ’embodiment of the Torah’, we understand that He is literally proclaiming, ‘If the God who wrote the Torah was to become human, it would be me!’ It’s dazzlingly beautiful!
Old Testament righteousness is inspired from within. Righteousness literally means how like God we are. And the Torah shows us how God chooses and redeems a people as His own, how He sees them as His precious jewels, how He places such deep value on humanity.
And then we explored why Torah, law and all, is still the inspired, relevant and application Word of God and completely relevant today. In it’s entirety. We looked at whether the legal parts of it are interpreted as indicative or prescriptive. Because seeing the law as prescriptive can throw up some problems which mean people dismiss entire parts of the Bible as irrelevant. Whereas if we see the law in Torah as showing God’s salvation as a gift prior to the behavioural requirements, then we can also read the law as revealing the nature of an Unchanging God, and apply every verse indicatively to our lives. We don’t ignore it. We treasure it and value it and find joy in it. We understand that the principles in Leviticus 19 are stunning. They teach us about a God who stands so differently from any other gods, and calls His people to be different. He calls his people to reflect Him.
To what extent do we look like Yahweh?
Prescriptive understanding tells us to obey. And if we can’t directly see a way to do this, we ignore it or get around it. And we can’t honest read the entire Old Testament and New Testament Scripture this inconsistently.
Understanding the Torah in its fullness and applying all of it indicatively requires us to know God and be a child of understanding. To know who God is and to live that out. To realise that books in the Torah were never meant to be minimised to ceremonial law about beards, and food and procedure… They show us the fullness of Yahweh. The beautiful, radically different, culture changing call of God.
And I love finishing with that challenge.
The Word is beautiful to me.