Torah - Instructions
If you were given everything needed to make dinner, a pot, water, rice and fire, without following instructions there may not be anything to eat. Knowing the instructions for making rice, we would put the rice in the pot with water and then put it on the fire. Surely any other instruction would not bring a good result. Rice in the fire, covered with water and then add the pot will not bring a good result, the correct instructions must be followed. YHWH created us and gave us instructions so we can live the life He has decided for us. When we live according to His Torah there are consequences, His blessings come on us and overtake us. Lets study the Torah and learn the instructions that YHWH has set before us. May the Torah find its way into your heart, your mind and your hands.
The Torah is one of the greatest gifts ever given by YHWH. It is often misunderstood and therefore not appreciated. It is so misunderstood that the word Torah is not used in most translations of the Scripture, it is replaced with the ominous word ‘law’ which appears 207 times in the Tanakh (Torah - instructions, Nevi’im - prophets, Ketuvim - writings). In the Renewed Covenant it is referred to many times as the Law, the law of Moses and the Commandments. h$wtis the Hebrew for Torah, which means teaching or instructions. The four Hebrew letters that spell Torah are tav, vav, reysh, and hey. Hebrew letters are actually pictures and these letters tav - sign, cross, vav - hook, nail, reysh - head, man, hey - what comes from, breath, tell us that Torah is ‘what comes from the man nailed to the cross’. Its root word h$y
yarah means to point the way, to shoot an arrow, while ajhchata means to miss the mark or sin. It is YHWH’s plan for Torah to help us hit the mark, that is to fulfill our purpose.
The Torah is more than just instructions, it is history, example, direction, justice, and revelation of our Creator. Torah is a gift from the Father to teach us who He is and His holiness. Usually described as the first five books of the Scripture, the Torah is truly the foundation of moral law in most societies today. Most important is how YHWH instructs us about Torah. Deuteronomy 6:6- 7:6, And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, 7 and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 31:19 And now write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel. Put it in their mouths, so that this song is to Me for a witness against the children of Israel. Torah should be in our minds, our hearts, and our mouths, it is a witness of YHWH. It testifies of Him. Torah is not grievous and unkeepable instructions, it is no more difficult to live in Torah than to live with out.
One part of Torah is the direct instructions, what most refer to as commandments. These instructions generally direct our conduct in a specific way. For example, Exodus 20:13 forbids anyone from committing murder, this is very direct and certainly pertains to the general population at large. Other instructions are more specific to a particular individual. For example, Genesis 6:14 Noah is instructed to make an ark of gopher wood. Was this a command from YHWH? Certainly, but not to everyone, only to Noah. Leviticus 21:11 instructs the high priest to not enter in a place where there is a dead body, including his own mother or father. Again this is a command, but not for everyone. There are instructions for everyone, instructions for specific groups, and instructions for specific individuals, these instructions are not grievous and burdensome. They first are to reveal YHWH and the His purpose for your life. Everyone has been called to live a holy and righteous life and this can only be obtained through Torah. Thankfully He has given us grace, the empowerment to follow Torah so we may walk in the joy of keeping His Torah and be a light unto the world.
The ancient scholars have categorized and listed 613 commandments which are usually referred to as the Oral Torah. While there is Scripture that is the basis for these commandments, are they actually Torah commandments we should be obedient to? Chronologically , the first is Genesis 1:28 be fruitful and multiply. When you look at the Hebrew words for fruitful and multiply the yare two very different things. Being fruitful can be accomplished without multiplying and multiplying can be done without being fruitful. So, are these actually two commandments or one? Being fruitful speaks of having a productive life while multiplying is having children. Is it one commandment because it was given at one time or should it be two separate commandments? Is it a commandment for everyone or was it specifically given to Adam and Eve? Additionally the sage writes ‘take a wife’, as a third part of the commandment. Rather than critique the sage’s 613, I prefer to study Torah and have it definitively answer these questions. In this study I will begin with focusing primarily on the instructions that would apply to everyone, both the Jew and the Nations. I posted the 613 commands by category and are for reference only. Do not read them as Scripture, as they are often bits and pieces taken out of context.
Beginning in Matthew 22;37 - 38 Yahshua said to him, ‘You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great command. Yahshua was summarizing the first few verses of Exodus 20 as the first and great commandment. In this verse the word used for first does not necessarily have the specific meaning of first as in number one with others following. It could mean the primary one or main one, the one that is the foundation for all others, that is the main one. No matter how you look at it, it is unquestionably the first whether or not the first chronologically within all Scripture. As we begin to look at the Scripture looking for Torah instructions is this the place to begin? Should we not apply instructions found before Exodus 20 or should we begin there? The Torah is filled with instructions, Adam and Eve were instructed to tend the garden and commanded to not eat of the Tree. Noah was instructed to build an ark, Abraham was instructed to leave Babylon. These are all Torah and there are things in each of these examples that everyone can learn from. Taking lessons from these stories would make the sage’s count of 613 merely a beginning. What are the instructions that must be followed? Where should we begin? Taking the word ‘first’ from Matthew 22 literally or figuratively, the place to begin would be the first few verses of Exodus 20, since this is the first direct mention of the commandment to love YHWH with all of your heart, soul, and mind.
Exodus 20:1 - 17 And Elohim spoke all these Words, saying, 2 ‘I am YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, out of the house of slavery, 3 You have no other mighty ones against my face. 4 You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth, 5 you do not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, YHWH your Elohim am a jealous El, visiting the crookedness of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me., 6 but showing kindness to thousands to those who love Me and guard My commands. 7 You do not bring the Name of YHWH your Elohim to naught, for YHWH does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught. 8 Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. 9 Six days you labor, and shall do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath of YHWH your Elohim. You do not do any work - you , nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart. 12 Respect your father and mother, so that your days are prolonged upon the soil which YHWH your Elohim is giving you. 13 You do not murder. 14 You do not commit adultery. 15 You do not steal. 16 You do not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You do not covet your neighbor’s house, you do not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor.
Well there they are, the 10 Commandments, you will notice in this particular translation it reads ‘you do not’ instead of ‘thou shalt not’. Shalt, an old English word means ‘do’, but it is often mistaken for shall, which suggests more of a choice than a command. These great words spoken by YHWH are not suggestions, the yare commands for life, He spoke them and said ‘You do not’, He chose these words carefully with purpose. He said to me, ‘you do not steal’ which means I do not steal, just like when He said ‘let there be light’ there was light! YHWH has empowered me to not steal by speaking His word to me, GRACE! Many years ago I was in bondage to smoking cigarettes, I wanted to be free, I would quit and struggle with the desire to smoke constantly. I had failed over and over again, one morning in prayer I said ‘I don’t want my will for my life….I want your will’ and YHWH spoke to me and said ’you are not a smoker’ . He did not say, ’I want you to quit’ praise His Name, He said ’you are not a smoker’ and just as darkness could no longer exist when He said ’let there be light’ I could no longer smoke. The desire was completely gone, I was free because He said so! When He says it , it is done. He said ’Remember the Sabbath’ I remember the Sabbath, He said ’Respect your father and mother’ I respect my father and mother, He said ‘do not murder’, I do not murder. I hope you get understanding of this, He says it, it is done. He is not asking us to keep these instructions, He is telling us we are keeping these instructions. If the old man rises up to be contrary to His word, crucify the old man and cry out for forgiveness. Read these instructions again and replace you with I, speak His words so you can hear them in your own ears.
I will have no other mighty ones in YHWH’s face. I will not make any carved images or likenesses and bow down to them or serve them. I will not bring the Name of YHWH for naught. I will remember the Sabbath day and set it apart. I will respect my father and mother. I will not murder. I will not commit adultery. I will not steal. I will not bear false witness. I will not covet.
This is were the Torah begins, in your heart, then your mouth, and then your hands. This is a good place to start, Exodus 20, read it over and over, mediate on it, allow it a place in your heart, teach it to your children, talk about it when you sit in your home, talk about it when you walk down the street, talk about it when you lie down and when you rise up.
In Matthew 22 when the Messiah says to love YHWH, yet in this verse it does not tell us how. Does the way we love Him matter? Of course it does. As a child when we love our parents we find different ways to show them, form making them cards or drawing pictures to being helpful and obedient. As we start to mature that changes, our helpfulness might broaden to more significant tasks about the home to even getting a job to contribute to the household budget. Today as an older adult, with only my mother awake, I make sure she knows that I am available for anything she might need and I carefully listen to everything she wants to tell me. These are things that please her. The first proof of love is not desire, it is giving pleasure. How should we love YHWH? If we love Him we will want to please Him. The Torah teaches us how. Many have heard that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach (I do not agree with this) but as an example, surely you would not prepare food he dislikes, you would learn what he likes and how he likes it. If we truly love YHWH we will learn what he likes and dislikes. This can be learned from the Torah. Throughout the Torah there are instructions for worship and offering. Scripture teaches what pleases YHWH. In Exodus 20 the first commandment begins by telling us to not put any other gods in His face, love Him by having no others. This pleases Him, us being faithful to Him and Him alone. Exodus 20 goes on to give us prohibitions, so we can love Him by maintaining His standards in our life. Love Him by respecting your parents, by not murdering, by not being adulterous… by following His Torah as He instructed in Deuteronomy 6. Torah can answer any question you have about how to love Him. As His child allow His Word to teach you and with a child like faith allow His grace to empower you to follow His life giving instructions.