Grafted In, Part 5
1. When an individual enters the kingdom of God by faith, he also enters the Abrahamic Covenant. The Scriptures are clear in their teachings on this truth: this is the only relationship necessary for salvation. However, in order to live out that salvation, the individual must live according to God’s covenant with His redeemed. This, then, is where the Mosaic covenant comes in. “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Exodus 24:7). This covenant is where the believer enjoys his relationship with God through his obedience.
2. The Torah, then, was designed as a covenant both between the individual members of that community and between those members and God (the other party in the covenant). God’s plan for this community was that it would be light to the nations (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). When the nations saw this light they would be drawn to it and join the covenant community, not start their own.
3. Deuteronomy 7:7-11 and 10:15 make it clear that love is what motivated God to make the covenant at Mt. Sinai. In turn, He desired love in return from His people – whom He, by virtue of regeneration, made capable of both receiving and returning love. The stipulations, laws, and decrees that He taught them were not only descriptions of their identity as the people of God, but also the genuine expressions of the love of their “new-creation” hearts for their Redeemer. This applies to everyone He calls His own.
The Torah is not a law code, but rather a covenant. The explicit covenant formulation of Exodus 19-24 and Deuteronomy stands as strong, direct evidence that this is a treaty/covenant and not a code of laws. This shows that the Torah is the grace of God!
The Torah: A Wedding Contract
The Torah is set up as a marriage contract. In Jewish traditions, this contract was signed by the two parties entering into marriage. In Hebrew it’s called a ketubah. Ketubahs are still used today.
In any marriage, you first have to be engaged. Exodus 6:6-7 describes this engagement, or the betrothal, between God and His bride. It is the basis for the marriage contract or Ketubah.
- “I will bring you out.”
- “I will deliver you.”
- “I will redeem you.”
- “I will take you for My people.”
To break off a betrothal would take divorce proceedings. God set apart His bride. This phrase, “to set apart,” is sanctification.
Setting Apart His Bride
The exodus from Egypt was God delivering His bride and setting her apart from every nation. He made her His special treasure (Exodus 19:5-7). God tells his bride that she is His special possession among all peoples. In Hebrew the term is segulah. A segulah was a special treasured item or items that a king had that was very special to him and was guarded and taken care of. God speaks of His bride being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, holy meaning set apart.
Exodus 19:10 & 14 tells that the people cleansed themselves before God met with them. This cleansing is still used today. It is called the mikvah. The mikvah is a pool of fresh water. The people would immerse themselves in this water for ceremonial cleansing. This tradition is still used today by the bride, and many times the groom, before they get married.
Another Jewish wedding tradition which is still used today is the chuppah. The chuppah, or “canopy,” was used to cover the bride and groom. The actual wedding service takes place under this canopy. In Exodus 19:9, God was their canopy. He said, “Behold I shall come to you in a thick cloud.” Other references to the chuppah are Joel 2:16 and Psalm 19:4b. The canopy was symbolic of a house. To God, this represented that He was their eternal home. Exodus goes on to tell us that God had them build the tabernacle, which was a copy of our heavenly home.
The Ketubah, or the marriage contract, was read and signed during the wedding ceremony. So what was the marriage covenant between God and His bride? The Torah! God lays out the contract in Exodus 6:6-7 and ends in Exodus 20-24. God ratifies this agreement in Exodus 24:1-8 with the reading and the sprinkling of blood.
With This Ring I Thee Wed
No marriage agreement is complete without an outward sign. Where is the ring? Exodus 31:12-17 tells us, “You shall surely observe My Sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations as a perpetual covenant.” The Sabbath was, and still is, the outward sign of the covenant, the Ketubah of the bride and the groom, Yeshua. Matthew 5:17-20 tells us clearly that Yeshua gives His approval of this ketubah. Then He backs it up in chapters 5-7 on his Torah teachings, which we call the Sermon on the Mount.
The Marriage Feast
Don’t forget the banquet! That’s coming… Revelation 19:7-9 tells us, “Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Then he *said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
The Renewed Covenant
The prophet Jeremiah speaks of a day when God would renew His covenant with his people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Understand that God was not going to nullify His previous covenants, but rather renew them. It was quite common with ancient covenants to make changes to them. This time, God was going to write His covenant on the minds and hearts of the people. He would restore them spiritually; in other words, they would be “new creations” and He would once again call them His people; this time, they would be redeemed and blood-washed.
This new covenant would be ratified by Messiah Himself, and the sign of this covenant would be His blood (Matthew 26:28). Note that this does not nullify any other covenant, it only adds to the previous ones; it has been renewed with additional promises. The concept is sort of like how we make amendments to legal documents today. God was adding His son now to the agreement, which gave us even more promises and blessings.
If faith was the condition for the promises of Abraham and obedience was the condition for the promises of Moses, then what was the condition for the blessings of the renewed covenant? The Bible tells us clearly that we are saved through our faith in the Messiah and that it is a free gift. Yet Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commands” (John 14:15). We see here the two previous covenants at work: our faith saves us, but our love motivates us to be obedient to God’s commandments.
Paul speaks about the continuation of the covenants in Galatians 3:17, “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.”
Conditional (What people Do) and Unconditional (What God does) Elements in the Renewed Covenant.
Ezekiel 36:27 says, “ And I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances.”
Jeremiah 31:33, “For 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 write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Ezekiel 36: 28, “ And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”
Jeremiah 31:34b “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.”
Ezekiel 36:31 speaking of repentance, “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your wrongdoings and your abominations.”
Ezekiel 36 25, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
So this is the renewed covenant as spoken in Jeremiah 31:33-34, “For 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 write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.” with Ezekiel 36:26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Yeshua and the Torah
So what exactly did Jesus say about the Torah? First, we must establish that Yeshua was a Jew. His name was Yeshua. He dressed like a Jew, He went to the synagogue and prayed like a Jew, He even ate kosher like a Jew. We have this Hellenistic idea of Yeshua, that He was something other than a Jew. Yeshua kept the Torah. We must remember that at the time of Yeshua and the apostles, the Hebrew scriptures were the only canonized Word of God. The Bible says Yeshua was the word made flesh (John 1:14). What word is this? Of course, it is the Torah, the only word of God at the time when John was writing his Gospel and Epistles.
Nothing Yeshua ever said or did contradicted the Torah; perhaps it may have shed more light or revelation onto a particular subject in the Torah, but it never contradicted it. In Luke 2:47 we read how the teachers of the Torah were amazed at what Yeshua knew about the Torah when He was twelve. Yes, Yeshua even received His Bar Mitzvah just like other Jewish boys. Yeshua used the Torah to rebuke the devil in Matthew 4, and He followed the Torah correctly in the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Yeshua’s main concern was that the Torah was interpreted correctly. Matthew 5:17 deals with exactly that.
We must remember that Yeshua was a Jewish rabbi (meaning teacher), and He taught Jewish people who were accustomed to the teachings of the rabbis. This way of teaching was called rabbinical thinking. The rabbis also used stories when they taught. In rabbinic and Jewish thought, certain words meant certain things which we today would not understand unless we would put the Hebrew customs and traditions back into the Bible along with the correct Hebrew interpretations. Matthew 5:17-19 is exactly one of these situations. This passage has been misinterpreted throughout the years because of our lack of knowledge in rabbinic thought. Yeshua said, “I did not come to destroy the Torah but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished! Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” When someone was accused of misinterpreting a certain Scripture, the others would say that person was destroying or abolishing that particular Scripture/command, but to say they were fulfilling that Scripture was saying that they were correctly interpreting it. Paul also was a Jewish rabbi who understood rabbinic teaching and understood what Jesus was saying. He instructed Timothy in the same manner in
2 Timothy 2:15, urging him to show himself as an approved workman to God by “analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (Amplified Bible).
Yeshua had a love for the Torah because it was the Word of God and He was the living Torah (The Hebrew Scriptures and the Apostolic Scriptures). To do away with the Torah would be to do away with Him. Jesus, the living Torah, is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but not one part of a single letter of God’s Word will ever pass away, for Yeshua the living Torah is forever.
The Torah Can’t Be For Me!
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation (this is the wall that divided the Gentiles from the Jews in the outer court of the Temple), having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances (Colossians 2:14 tells us of these ordinances) so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
“Also, you Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut away from it and because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree.”
The Temple Warning
In 1871 two archaeologists discovered what is called the Soreg. The soreg was a warning that was posted in the temple area. It said, “No foreigner is to enter the barriers surrounding the sanctuary. He who is caught will have himself to blame for his death which will follow.” Let’s look at Paul once again in Ephesians 2:11-22 but this time let us look at His whole thought. “Therefore remember that previously you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the people of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who previously were far away have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the hostility, which is the Law composed of commandments expressed in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two one new person, in this way establishing peace; and that He might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
We were separated from God, but through the Messiah yeshua we have been brought near, but only because we have been grafted in.
So if we have been grafted in and made one, then what exactly have we been grafted into and made one with? Paul says that the Israelites had the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the service of God, and the promises, and that Messiah is over all (Romans 9:4-5). But didn’t God replace Israel with the church because they did not accept Jesus? Paul answers that with “No!” Romans 11:26-32 makes it clear that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Aren’t you glad that when God promises you something He doesn’t renege because you were not faithful? (2 Timothy 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Hebrews 10:23).
So if the Jewish people are going to be saved, and we have been grafted into the promises and blessings of the covenants, then should we be making blood sacrifices? No, this is what the renewed covenant is all about.Yeshua was the fulfillment of all the sacrifices, He was the Passover Lamb, He was our Atonement; no longer the blood of goats and bulls, but His blood washes us clean. He made reconciliation with us and the Father. But He did not do away with God’s Word. He is the Bridegroom, and we are the Bride (Jews and Gentiles alike). Throughout the Scriptures it says, “to the Jew first and then the Gentile.” The promises of Abraham have to still be in effect or else we could not be grafted in. The promise to Noah has to still be in effect, or else the next time it rains, beware!
The promise to David has to still be in effect, or else Jesus will not be sitting on His throne in Jerusalem. If all of that is still in effect, then the promises given at Mt. Sinai must also be in effect.
Peter tells us that, “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation set apart as God’s special people (the Bride)” (1 Peter 2:9), to the Jews first and then to the grafted-in Gentiles, not replaced, but as one redeemed people, the people of God.
As Paul writes, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:34).
We have been given the blessings of God to enjoy, but we must then keep the covenants, and all of God’s statutes in order to receive those blessings. As Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, “I offer you this day life or death, now choose life…” Yeshua the living Torah, said His words were life in
John 6:63, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” And we need to respond as Peter did and say “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Let’s then be careful to do all the words the Lord has commanded us to do.
Once again Paul tells us
“ I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” Romans 11:13-18 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:19-21