Discovering Jesus in The Torah, the Law of Moses
Jesus in the Torah vs. New Testament
Many people who desire to know Jesus (Yeshua) and His teachings spend the majority of their time in the New Testament, where His life is recorded, but Yeshua often pointed to the Law of Moses as the key to knowing Him.
If we miss the first several chapters of a good novel, the rest of the story becomes clouded and confusing. Although we may piece together events and follow the general theme, the real reasons for specific actions and events are unknown — the same holds true with the Bible.
One of the most controversial topics in Jewish and Christian relationships is how to view the Law of Moses or “Torah” (the first five book of Moses). Jews receive it as a gift from God to honor, but many Christians view it as obsolete or inapplicable. At its core, the issue comes down to a misunderstanding of what the Hebrew word Torah means.
Any language is based on its culture. Even when two different cultures have the same language, there are often linguistic differences that, at times, need clarification. The good news is that to learn Hebrew culture, you do not need a Hebrew scholar — all you have to do is simply read the Bible. The Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) was intended to be “God’s culture,” or the way God wanted Israel live to grow, thrive, and interact with Him. By uncovering and applying simple words, we’ll rediscover God’s character and find there is life in the “law.”
“If you believed Moses, you would believe me”
In John 5:46-47, Jesus gives us a key to knowing Him when He says, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” If we want to know the Lord and the basis for His teachings, we need to start with what Moses wrote. If Jesus can be seen throughout these books, then the front of our Bibles should be worn, tattered, and dotted with early morning coffee stains as we search for His likeness.
Torah is the Hebrew word often translated “Law.” Our western concept of Law is that of rigid regulations and unforgiving rules, resulting in firm consequences for offenders. This is not the heart of the Bible. While “torah” is often translated as “Law” of Moses, look at how “torah” is used elsewhere in the Bible:
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (torah);” Proverbs 1:8
“Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction (torah).” Proverb 4:1-2
In these verses, “torah” is used to describe a parent’s loving instructions and guidance. The Torah was given by a loving Father to Moses to guide His children Israel in the best way to live. While there were consequences for not following “the law,” it comes from a different motivation that of a western authority. If Israel did not follow His instructions, God was not waiting to angrily squash them, but had already warned them of where certain actions or attitudes would lead that would be detrimental to their lives. Likewise, today we teach our children our “personal life experience” so they can avoid life’s pitfalls, while giving them the opportunity to make their own choices.
The Sermon on the Mount and the Torah
As believers we want to follow the Messiah. If He’s in the Law, we want to find Him. Simply pursuing spiritual knowledge without a firm focus on the Lord will lead us to be proud, self assured and religious, just like the Pharisees Yeshua confronted. Without the Lord, we tend to stockpile spiritual ammunition to unload on those that disagree with our viewpoints, causing greater division among us. Neither will lead us to the life that God intended.
As a Rabbi, Yeshua simply taught what Moses had already instructed Israel. The Sermon on the Mount was firmly rooted in the book of Exodus. Some of His teachings were given during the feasts commanded in Leviticus 23. When Peter asked about the signs of His return, Yeshua began making parallels to events in Exodus and Numbers. The Great Commission was simply the beginning fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Yeshua continued to point to the writings of Moses to prove who He was. If we do not understand the Torah, there are much greater depths to which we can know Yeshua.
In Luke 24, it had been a discouraging week for two travelers on the road to Emmaus. The mighty prophet from Nazareth who had demonstrated public signs and wonders and in whom they had hoped would redeem Israel was betrayed, humiliated and crucified with criminals. To add to their confusion, some women from their company were now claiming that His body was gone and angels were declaring He was alive. And how was it that their new traveling companion that was now walking with them had no idea of these events? And so began one of the most comprehensive teachings that Jesus gave about Himself. Look at where the Lord began. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27)
Jesus fulfilling the Torah
Later when Yeshua walked through the wall and into the room where the disciples were meeting, He reminded them again.
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)
With this understanding in mind, let’s consider other verses that use the word “Law.” When we read the word “law” and think “God’s instructions” and these verses will carry new revelation:
Psalm 119 is about God’s Law:
- The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Ps 119:72
- For Your law is my delight. Ps 119:77
- O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Ps 119:97
Jesus said “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Matt 5:17). After all, how could God’s Messiah abolish or reject God’s instructions on how to live without contradicting His character?
Paul wrote in Romans 10:4- “For Christ is the end [or goal] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” In other words, the point of the God’s instructions leads us to Christ.
With new understanding, let’s pray Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” Do the words wonderful and Law go together in our minds? They did for David, a man after God’s own heart, and if we are going to know the Lord and His heart for Israel, they will for us as well.