Several days into my ninety-day Bible plan, I realized I was reading slowly and thinking about the text, so I decided to disregard the schedule and take my time. That said, if you would like to follow more of my day-to-day thoughts, you can do so on Instagram. It has been twenty-one days, and I just finished the book of Deuteronomy, so I thought I’d share my thoughts from my journey through the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).
There are three major themes throughout the first five books of the Bible; God, the law of God, and the people of God. When we think of God, we think of the Creator of the universe, the judge of the world, and maybe some other things. God is hard to define; I believe that’s why the name He told Moses was, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, which means, I am/will be what I am/will be1.
THE NAMES OF GOD
God is infinite; to limit Him to one name would hinder our ability to see His greatness and power. Throughout the Bible, He reveals Himself through various titles, including compound names.
“In Hebrew thought, a name was not just a way of identifying a person; it was a way of revealing his or her very identity and essence. Each name of God is like a curtain or a window. When the curtain is drawn back, the name becomes more fully known and glimpses of God can be seen. It [the Names] represents the Hebrew conception of the divine nature or character of God, as well as the relation of God to his people.”Article: The Names of God, Complete Jewish Study Bible, pg. 3
Genesis 14:18-20 CJB “Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El ‘Elyon [God Most High], 19 so he blessed him with these words: “Blessed be Avram by El ‘Elyon, maker of heaven of earth. 20 and blessed be El ‘Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you.” Avram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Genesis 16:13 CJB “So she named Adonai who had spoken with her El Ro’i [God of seeing], because she said, “Have I really seen the One who sees me [and stayed alive]?”
Genesis 17:1 CJB “When Avram was 99 years old Adonai appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai [God Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted.”
Genesis 22:14 CJB ” Avraham called the place Adonai Yir’eh [Adonai will see (to it), Adonai provides] — as it is said to this day, “On the mountain Adonai is seen.”
Exodus 15:26 CJB “He said, “If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your God, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.”
In these few Scriptures, we see different names of God and what it means for God to be God. Through these revealed names, we understand that God is Most High; He sees us, provides for us, and heals us.
Jesus said that we nullify the Word of God through man’s tradition2. Wrong teaching has elevated suffering over blessing when Scripture does not teach that trials negate the favor of God. The life of Joseph proves that in Genesis 39-50. As we see promises of God revealed in the various names of God, we should take hold of the assurance and not allow fear, doubt, or misapplied Scriptural understanding to negate the good nature of God.
THE PEOPLE AND WAYS OF GOD
Another thing tradition has done is changed the everlasting covenants and ways of God. Many in the Church today mistakingly believe that we have replaced Israel and that Jesus came to do away with the law.
This lie has been perpetrated throughout church history, from reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin to the famed Wesleyan commentator, Adam Clarke.
I reject replacement theology because God’s covenant with Abraham is an everlasting covenant. (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 17:1-22; 22:17-18; 28:1-15, Exodus 6:1-8, Deuteronomy 4:1-14, 30-31). There are many more Scriptures I could cite, but the best way to be convinced of this truth is to read the Bible for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the truth and the ability to set aside all false teaching you have let into your heart and mind.
Even though this post is on the Torah, I encourage you to read Romans nine through eleven at face value. Israel is not the Church, and Romans chapter nine does not teach a Calvinistic understanding of predestination, but we will have to leave that for another post.
GOD’S PROMISE TO THE GENTILES (CHRISTIANS)
Genesis 12:1-3 CJB “Now Adonai said to Avram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Galatians 3:13-14 CJB “The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.” 14 Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might receive what was promised, namely, the Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:11-16 CJB “Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth — called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised — 12 at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Isra’el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise. You were in this world without hope and without God.13 But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood. 14 For he himself is our shalom — he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us 15 by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, 16 and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity.”
Romans 11:12-19 CJB “Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world — that is, if Isra’el’s being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter — how much greater riches will Isra’el in its fullness bring them! 13 However, to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work 14 in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them! 15 For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! 16 Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. 19 So you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
From beginning to end, the Jews have been God’s chosen people and it was always His plan that they would spread His teachings throughout the world. Through Jesus, we have been grafted into a Jewish olive tree, and we can’t boast against the natural branches.
The blessing of reading through the Torah has been immense. We serve a good and faithful God; who desires to bless us. Just like Israel, God will discipline us out of love to get us back on track. The law is for our good; let’s receive it as a blessing.
“However, all this will happen only if you pay attention to what Adonai your God says, so that you obey his mitzvot and regulations which are written in this book of the Torah, if you turn to Adonai your God with all your heart and all your being. For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach. It isn’t in the sky, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’ Likewise, it isn’t beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’ On the contrary, the word is very close to you — in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it! “Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil — in that I am ordering you today to love Adonai your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings ; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you are drawn away to prostrate yourselves before other gods and serve them; I am announcing to you today that you will certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to enter and possess. “I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving Adonai your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him — for that is the purpose of your life! On this depends the length of time you will live in the land Adonai swore he would give to your ancestors Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov.”
Deuteronomy 30:10-20 CJB
- Exodus 3:14 CJB “God said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.’”
- Mark 7:13