Before you either click away or cheer as a result of seeing the headline, please stick around and read what I am about to write. What I am writing today is vitally important to the body of Messiah and needs to be not only read, but understood. Thanks in advance.
Let me begin with the requisite disclaimers: No, I do not believe that obedience to a list of commandments will set anyone right before G-D, nor will it make one righteous. Our only righteousness comes through having trusting faith in Messiah Yeshua. No, I do not believe that anyone can or should even try to keep all of the commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai; it is impossible for any person, even Yeshua, to keep every commandment in the Torah.
No, I do not believe, nor do I teach that Jews and non-Jews have the same obligation to all of the commandments in Torah. No, this article isn’t about who should be or shouldn’t be keeping or not keeping the commandments.
This article is about the absolutely fundamental truth that there is only One Torah, period. It is about the truth that the Torah doesn’t begin with a long list of commandments spoken from the Mountain by G-D. Torah begins in Genesis, not in Exodus. The teachings of the Torah began before there was an Abram and Sara, before there was a Noah, before there was an Enoch and before there was an Adam. Torah’s instructions begin with the word proclaiming that G-D spoke the entire world into existence.
I know this seems very fundamental, and it is, but it is also important because until, and unless we, the body of Messiah, understand that there is only one Torah, we will continue to fight between each other and we will continue to build walls of division between each other that were once broken down, as we read in Ephesians 2:14-15:
“For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility—the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom …”
Two things to note in the above verse: One, that it was G-D who broke down the middle wall of separation, and two, it wasn’t the law code of mitzvot or commandments that were made powerless; it was the hostility of that code.
The Torah, which was supposed to be the way Israel lived in relationship with G-D so they could be a light to the nations, and by doing so draw people from the nations to the G-D of Israel, and ultimately to Messiah Yeshua, had become a tool of division.
Instead of Israel being a light that would shine brightly showing the way to G-D, Israel used their light primarily to make sure those of the nations could clearly see the boundary or border line.
When G-D created within Himself the One New Man, He didn’t do away with the differences and distinction between the people of Israel and the people of the nations. Notice the verse says “He created within Himself.” This means that this creation took place spiritually, not physically. G-D didn’t make Jews into Gentiles, nor did He make Gentiles into Jews, nor did He make “Jewtiles” or “Gentews.” G-D supernaturally created the unity of the body of Messiah that He desired and prophesied to Abraham in Genesis 12:3:
“My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
With the growth of the modern Messianic Jewish movement, we have begun to see an end time revival drawing and uniting Jewish believers and non-Jewish believers into the one body, as Yeshua prayed for in John 17:22-23:
“The glory that You have given to Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me.”
However, the Torah, G-D’s Word, the very thing that should unify us as one, has become a tool of division, as some try to rebuild the hostility of the wall of separation once again. Some are saying that there is a Torah for the Jew and a Torah for the Gentile. Or maybe it would be better to say a Torah and New Testament for the Jew, and only a New Testament for the Gentile. As long as we keep promoting the concept that the Torah is only for Jews, we will never become the one new man G-D wants us to be.
While there is only one Torah for all, and one message of redemption for all, and one Messiah for all, that doesn’t mean that every commandment is for every person, nor does it mean that we can apply each verse or each story out of context into the lives of every person. The Torah is much too complex for such a simplistic rendering.
But it does mean that the creation story is just as important to a non-Jewish believer as it is to a Jewish believer. The promise given to Noah is just as important to a non-Jewish believer as it is to a Jewish believer. The story of the deliverance from Egypt is just as important to a non-Jewish believer as it is to a Jewish believer.
The giving of the Torah on Sinai is just as important to a non-Jewish believer as it is to a Jewish believer. The rebellion of Korach, the water from the rock, the manna from heaven are all just as important to a non-Jewish believer as it is to a Jewish believer.
When I say just as important, that doesn’t mean that Jews and non-Jews will equally relate to each Biblical event in the same way. Of course, there are differences in the way Jews and non-Jews relate to our shared biblical history, but Torah is our shared history. So, while we may relate to the Torah from different perspectives, there is only one Torah that we can relate to.
Eric Tokajer is the author of Overcoming Fearlessness, What If Everything You Were Taught About the Ten Commandments Was Wrong?, With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians and Galatians in Context.