Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dissecting the verses that supposedly say Torah observance is no longer necessary

In this post I will refute five Bible verses that Christians use to argue that Torah law is no longer applicable to us.

Verse(s) #1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-4

Torah Observant point of view:
Paul is addressing asceticism here, the belief that you could get closer to God by denying yourself worldly pleasures. In verse three when he says "certain foods" he is talking about "foods". To qualify as a "food" it could not be one of the forbidden meats in the Old Testament. Those wouldn't have been considered food to begin with.

An equivalent false interpretation is: I can eat poison mushrooms and Adam and Eve could eat from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as long as it's done with Thanksgiving.

Verse(s) #2:
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'"...After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' Mark 7:14-15, 17-23

Torah Observant point of view:
The Pharisees had been arguing with Jesus about ritual purity, not Kosher foods. There is nothing to suggest that when Jesus was talking about "food" he was redefining it to include un-kosher meat. The true subject matter of this Bible verse was spiritual prioritizing, which the Pharisees had been doing incorrectly. Jesus was not contradicting the ceremonial laws, but instead demoting their importance. The unclean foods under discussion were not the forbidden foods of the Torah, but instead the tradition of handwashing before eating. "And when [the Pharisees] saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen hands, they found fault"

Verse #3:
For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.") Mark 7:19

Torah Observant point of view:
The parentheses isn't even in all translations. It was an editorial comment that was added after the fact. Whoever added it, didn't make a very convincing argument for overturning the Torah, since he used the Greek word broma, which simply means food. The Greek word, kreas, "meat—animal flesh" would have been far more appropriate.

Verse(s) #4
Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Torah Observant point of view:
One might think that the bolded part is negating the Torah command to not eat meat sacrificed to idols. Why then, would the New Testament uphold these laws in Acts and 1 Corinthians?
You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. Acts 15:29
...the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 1 Corinthians 10:20-21

So, the intent of this verse, seems to be to affirm "faith over works" but not to overturn the importance of works.This is a repeated message of the New Testament.

Verse(s) #5
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (That done in the body by the hands of men) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility abolishing in his flesh the law with it's commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross... Ephesians 2:11-16
Torah Observant point of view:
This verse is really about Gentiles uniting with Jews, being adopted into the family of God. The "law, commandments and regulations" it is referring to are all the ones that previously separated Jews and Gentiles. Not only were Gentiles excluded from the Jewish community, but in the Old Testament there was a hierarchy within the Jewish community: Isreaelites, Levites, and Preists, each able to get a little closer to the Holy Tabernacle. Something miraculous happened the moment Jesus died though. The heavy curtain that separated everyone from the Holy Tabernacle ripped in half!! God was clearly telling everyone that we could now go in ourselves!
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom... Matthew 27:50-51

When he talks about destroying the law, he isn't talking about earthly consequences of the law.  Does gravity still make things fall? Yes. Do liers still lose their reputation? Yes. Do thieves still have to repay their debt when they are caught? Yes. Because Earthly consequences were not broken by Jesus' blood. Those aren't very important anyway. The spiritual consequences were the important ones. But we are under those consequences no more! Jesus ripped the curtain and invited everyone in: Not just the priests, but also the Levites. Not only the Levites, but also the rest of the Isrealites. Not only the Isrealites, but all the Gentiles may come in now too! The law is still relevant. The eternal consequence of breaking the law is no more. 

Here's another verse that talks about the tabernacle rules.

For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies— physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established. Hebrews 9:9, 10 (NLT)
Jesus established the better system. Now we can all go into the Holy of Holies.

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