Yitro - יתרו - "Jethro"
TORAH : EXODUS 18:1-20:23
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
GOSPEL : MATTHEW 19:16-26
Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel. (Exodus 19:3-6)
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
This week’s Torah Portion gets us to the point where God begins to teach Israel His ways. Many people struggle to find what the true purpose of Torah is in our lives today. There are a lot of people out there who believe that with the death, burial and resurrection of our King and Savior Yeshua, that the Torah no long holds much weight in our lives today. This understanding is primarily based on misinterpretations of the writings of Paul. In order to get to the root of what is Biblical truth, we must first look into the root of these beliefs and compare them against the entire Bible.
The belief that we will look at is the theory of “Dispensationalism.” Dispensationalism is the theory that closes all gaps when people question the writing of Moses. It introduced the idea that the Torah is only written for Israel and that all the commands needed for a believer of Yeshua is all in the New Testament. This theory excludes all “non-Jews” from needing to follow Torah. This theory is also where the idea that the church is a second elect of God comes from.
Although the theory of dispensationalism resolved a lot of unanswered questions for Christianity, it did not answer them all. Out of the teaching of dispensationalism, a more extreme theory was formed called “Antinomianism.” Antinomianism is correct in believing that there is only one elect group for God, however, they believe that the church has replaced Israel as God’s elect. Antinomianism says that since Israel rejected Yeshua, God turned His back on them. With antinomianism, since Israel is no longer God’s elect people, Torah has been completely abolished, done away with. Just like it’s father dispensationalism, antinomianism believes that all we need to know to please God is in the New Testament.
Recently I had a conversation with a former business partner of mine who is a believer of Yeshua. He was telling that he feared being caught in the “powerful delusion” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and he also referred to what Yeshua says in Matthew 24:24 about the elect being deceived. I told him that it has already begun in the teachings of Dispensationalism and Antinomianism. Many of our brothers and sisters in the world who believe that Yeshua has risen and is Lord are trapped under those two dangerous theologies that takes us away from the importance of Torah in our lives.
We have looked at the two theories that strongly oppose the use of Torah as a lifestyle for the modern believer, now let us look at what Torah truly is.
Most people do not realize that Torah translated into English is not law. The Hebrew word Torah properly translated into English is “teachings” or “Instructions.” The reason why it is translated into law today is because around 300 years before Yeshua was born, Hebrew scribes translated the Tanakh into Greek. This translation is called the “Septuagint” or LXX for short. In the LXX, Torah is translated as the Greek word “nomos” which means law. Paul, along with all who contributed to the New Testament were simply following what was already established as a proper Greek translation for Torah. Back then, nomos, or law, did not have the negative connotations that our modern society has attached to it.
Back then, when people heard the word nomos, it was a very positive word which meant order, justice and goodness; everything that the Torah stands for. Now that we have a clearer picture of what Torah is, does it truly make sense to say that God’s teachings have been abolished? Or that we do not have to worry about following the instructions of God?
So far we have learned about the root theologies that teach the believers of Yeshua not to follow Torah. We also have covered what Torah truly is, now let us take some of the teachings of dispensationalism and antinomianism and see how they stack up against the Bible.
Both Dispensationalism and Antinomianism Teaches:
The New Testament teaches new commandments for the “New Testament Christian”
The Bible Teaches:
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:27)
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
The church is separate from Israel
The Bible teaches:
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Jesus (Yeshua) never told us to follow the law.
The Bible Teaches:
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. (Matthew 23:1-3)
The church is God’s elect now because the Jews rejected Jesus (Yeshua).
The Bible teaches:
“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6)
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. (Romans 11:1-2)
People who follow this antinomian view forget the fact that the “church” was all Jewish for the first 10 - 14 years.
Dispensationalism and antinomianism tells us to ignore this week’s Torah portion. If you are serious about seeking the face of God, how can you ignore when He says, “If you keep My commandments,I will be your God and you will be my people.” Exodus 19:3-6. If you are serious about loving God and wanting Him to love you back, how can you ignore, “for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6.
The biggest problem with those who accept the teachings of dispensationalism and/or antinomianism is the fact that they often refuse to examine all scriptures in proper context. They choose to ignore the fact that Paul says that Torah shows us what sin is(Romans 7:7), nor the fact that John clearly says that sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The forget the fact that when Paul and John wrote those verses, there was no “New Testament” part of the Bible. All the answers are there in the Bible, all we have to do is open our hearts and minds to the truth.