One Saturday in April this year, I and my neighbor Mark visited a torah school and farm in Tulare county. We toured their farming operation then attended their Saturday Sabbath celebration which was held in a large tent, then followed by a shared potluck style meal. We sat for the meal with Bryan Barnes the Director, and discussed the operation, goals and details of the ministry, Growing In Torah. Several times Bryan used the phrase “when I found Torah” when giving his testimony.
So I asked him, “Bryan, I noticed several times you used the phrase you ‘found Torah’, could you tell me what you mean by that?” He went on to explain, that to him, Torah refers to everything from Genesis to Revelation as he held up his Bible. So I threw out several questions on works based salvation, Sabbath keeping, election, etc. We agreed that works follow salvation, day keeping is totally voluntary, and God is both the author and finisher of our salvation. This seems contrary to most of what passes for Hebrew Roots Torah groups. Bryan went on to admit that there is much error in the movement.
I came to the conclusion that Bryan, individually at least, was reformed in theology, despite what I seemed to hear earlier from the message/teaching of the Torah by Jon or Gary?, who was teaching on pregnancy statutes from Leviticus? And I put question marks there because I’m not sure of the name of the teacher, or exactly what the point of the Torah teaching was – though I listened intently. Perhaps I was trying too hard.
Moving forward, we need some definitions here.
Torah: Torah has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. This is commonly known as the Written Torah. It can also mean the continued narrative from all the 24 books, from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh. Wiki.
The word “Torah” is a tricky one, because it can mean different things in different contexts. In its most limited sense, “Torah” refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings. https://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htm
As I had suspected, for the most part, the Hebrew Roots Movement’s main focus is on the Old Testament laws, regulations, and instructions given to the Nation Israel in the Exodus and at Sinai.
And I have observed that the New Testament is used to uphold the Old, rather than to reform it, in most of the teaching that I have perused. I however prefer Bryon’s definition for the use in my title for this article, Reformed Torah, second to the first word:
Reformed theology gets its name from the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, with its distinct theological emphases, but it is theologically based on the Bible itself. I have come to many of the same conclusions by my own reading of the entire Bible. I have since read many of the great reformed theologians, and have been awed by their insight as well as comforted by their humanity and even their error. They were men, much like the men that God used to lead his people and pen His word even as He exposed their faults. We should all alike find great comfort there!
Now lets put it together:
As it seems that I have coined a phrase here, I guess that means that I get to define the phrase: As brother Bryan expressed, that to him the Torah encompasses Genesis through the Revelation, so I hold that the Old Testament is Reformed by the New.
It would seem that revelation after all, is progressive. The Old is not cancelled or done away with by the New. The Old is better understood by the New, and the two should be harmonized with that understanding. So, Reformed Torah is the complete New and Old Testament.
Context is everything here. When God spoke to the Israelites in the exodus, he was not speaking to me. He was speaking to a called out nation, that Paul called “the church in the wilderness.” This Nation was the visible church on earth. Daniel the Prophet, by the word of God, prophesied the end of this church nation. “70 weeks are determined”, the 70th and final week of which, the promised Messiah showed up on the scene and said, “I will build my church” and proclaimed a New and everlasting Covenant written in His own blood.
He did away with the entire Levitical Preisthood, all of the ceremony, all of the rules and regulations (including calendar keeping). Everything having to do with the Levitical functions and sacrificial system, is fulfilled in Christ’s once for all sacrifice and the introduction of the New Testament. They were all a shadow – Christ is the substance. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or the sabbath: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ.” (Col 2:16 -17) The meaning here is that Christ is the body, of which the shadow was cast. The Levitical Priesthood was the shadow – the priesthood of the individual believer with the one great High Priest is the substance. In Christ the saints are above the need of outward ordinances, which were the means of their preparation for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When the end is attained, the means are no longer needful.
So we come to it: The regulation of keeping days, the calendar. So I expressed my conclusion from the Reformed Torah (the whole Bible) that no one is compelled nor prohibited from keeping a certain sabbath or any certain religious “holy days” – only that we are to meet regularly as a church body, to not forsake the gathering of ourselves together. To my pleasant surprise, it seems Bryon agreed with me. Whether some meet on the 7th or 1st day, whatever the contemporary days names may be or how numbered, matters not. No one is merited nor condemned thereby. It is however a merit to simply show up and meet regularly as the body of Christ.
Consider that the Hebrew Sabbath was NEVER commanded until the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt, and that it was never even demonstrated by any of the patriarchs before that: God was not speaking to the New Testament church in the exodus. Also consider that the only time that the Holy Spirit did address what were “necessary things” that the gentile Christians should be bound to as regarding the Law of Moses, the Sabbath is conspicuously left out by the very Hebrew Apostles:
Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: And,
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Act 15:24-29)
Obviously very specific questions were addressed in the above. Still some will accuse, “What about the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath there?” Murder, adultery, theft etc.? Calm down now! Jesus raised the standard above the mere act. And, you will find every one of those commandments upheld throughout the New Testament Epistles, except for the one that is again conspicuously absent, the sabbath, which falls under regulation of “holy days” and is specifically addressed several times in the epistles. (see Rom 14:4-6 and Col 2:16 -17)
Easter, Passover, or The Lords Supper?
The KJV does include the word Easter one time, but does Identify it as a Roman Pagan festival. I prefer not to keep it. But I may participate in a “resurrection celebration”, but will not participate in the symbols of fertility worship identified with the pagan rites, which many do ignorantly. Personally I would have no problem, and would rather celebrate Jesus, my Passover – a reformed Passover, as Jesus did with His disciples, The Lords Passover Supper, which He commanded that we do in remembrance.
Another day, supposedly the extra biblical celebration of Jesus birthday, which everyone knows is not true and has pagan origins. I choose not to celebrate or participate in the pagan symbols or “mass” of any kind, but according to the command, I also refuse to condemn others for celebrating on any particular day.
I personally do not partake, I rather think that the dietary laws were given for the good health of God’s people, rather than to deprive them of the wonderful taste of bacon. Modern science seems to confirm this, and I don’t think that Jesus died for bacon! There is some instruction in the New Testament, which I choose to follow. When in public gatherings I always ask when in doubt about the meat in a dish. I would ask that unclean meats be excluded from church community meals if it were my place. There is plenty of good food out there, so I don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything. But again, according to the command, I will not condemn others for indulging.
I will: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. ” (Gal 5:1)
Never use your liberty as an occasion for the flesh.
This Article written by Nicklas Arthur and may only be shared in whole or part with attribution and a link to it.
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