Myth 1: the Law is Obliterated
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
Yeshua says that He did not come to destroy Torah. Why would someone think he taught this? Well, imagine that you are trying to be good for goodness sake – and God lets some unspiritual person win the lottery! The good people can easily feel gypped. Yeshua had been healing people indiscriminately –regardless if they were religious or irreligious (Matthew 5). Naturally, as He was healing whoever came to Him, one might think that He lowered the standards of Torah. Since He is healing sinners or lawbreakers, is He not contrary to the Law and in fact setting the Law aside?
Some still think that Yeshua and the New Covenant are opposed to the Torah of Moses. They are not. Believers are called to live holy lives and to follow a holy God. If Yeshua lowered the standards, that lowers the standards for life and relationships. To lower the standards on holiness is to diminish God’s holiness, since His word reflects His nature and not ours. God is still holy and His standards are still found in His word. He did not come to repeal the Law any more than he came to repeat it. A destroyed torah is unfulfilled truth.
Myth 2: The Law is Obsolete
“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)
Torah’s fulfillment is standard for Messiah’s kingdom, and is permanent through His kingdom rule. Some people think that while not destroyed, its actually passed away, or is not for today - in other words, irrelevant. Yet the idea of not one letter passing away confirms the eternal standard of righteousness in Torah. As the smallest letter would stand forever, so the standard of righteousness that the letters represent would as well.
Since heaven and earth are the witnesses to the charge of Torah obedience (Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19), the creation therefore would have to pass away before the law did! The Torah of Moses will remain until Olam HaBa, the world to come (Rev 20:11; 21:1). “Until all is accomplished” means that all that the Law contains will take place and that is when heaven and earth pass away. So also though marriage is only for this world and not for the next world (Matt 22:30), we are nonetheless to live out God’s eternal values in this earthly arrangement. Marriage has not passed away. Neither has the Torah.
All the Scriptures point to Yeshua (John 5:39). He is the redemptive program that the Feasts celebrate and that we observe. Thus God’s redemptive program, from Passover through Booths, will be accomplished.
Myth 3: The Law is Optional
“Therefore whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
Many believers think of Torah as optional, that Messiah came and died so that we can disregard the small stuff. However, liberty does not make the Law optional. He who annuls the least is least. He who keeps the least is great.
There are rewards for faithfulness to the Lord. Being in Messiah’s kingdom is not based on faithfulness to the Law since even those who are inconsistent with respect to the Torah – and that is all of us - are said to be in the kingdom! Rather least and great refers to the rewards of faithfulness.
What is meant by “the least”? Later Messiah speaks of the minimal importance of tithing “mint, dill, and cumin,” in comparison with the “weightier matters of the law,” justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). A primary issue of loving your neighbor is not the same as a secondary issue like tithing, but both are Scriptural matters. Our book Messianic Foundations gives more on how the New Covenant helps us apply Torah.
Myth 4: the Law is Orthodox Judaism
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
Pharisees have not entered. How this must have floored some Pharisees (others like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethia trusted in Yeshua)! These were the professionals; Biblical standards were what they were about. How could the religious be out and yet the law breakers be in? Yet, the best and most religious are not our standard.
You must exceed them to enter. This would have floored His disciples. Your righteousness must exceed that of Billy Graham, as well as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Rabbi Shneerson. The righteousness required by the Law to enter the presence of God was a quality only God has. Yeshua lived it out in the flesh, and by faith it is deposited to your account (2 Corinthians 5:21). And it is to be lived out. So the standard for the home, friendships, and even our careers is Torah through a New Covenant application.
The Torah Is Fulfilled
It is because of Yeshua that the Law is fulfilled and will therefore not pass away until it is accomplished in Him. Thus it is His fulfillment that is the standard through the Kingdom period. His fulfillment is to be taught and done. Those who teach something other than a Yeshua-fulfilled-Torah are teaching false torah.
Some understand “fulfill” as to conclude, as in no longer applicable, but the passage means the exact opposite. Yeshua’s fulfillment of the Law is truly a profound matter, which cannot fully be addressed here or perhaps in this world. Here are some considerations for edification. .
- He came to fulfill as in living the Torah and not annulling its guidance: He is a lamp unto our feet.
- He came to fulfill as in completing the Torah and not annulling its meaning: a deeper righteousness. The word is used when days of pregnancy or a job is completed (Genesis 25:24; Genesis 29:21; Luke 21:24). It is a fulfillment of a promise (1 Kings 2:27) in that it demonstrates a faithfulness to a promise. He came to fulfill –that is fulfill its requirements, promises and its purpose, since He is the righteousness of that torah–it is inspired and profitable. Thus the righteousness required is fulfilled and completed in Messiah.
- He came to fulfill as in fruit of Torah and not annulling its aim: a new covenant. To be fulfilled is to be satisfied (Psalm 81:10; Ecclesiastes 1:8; 6:7) and so Yeshua fully satisfied the Torah demands and expectations. In some cases the meaning of prophecy is only fully known in its fulfillment (Matthew 2:15; Isaiah 7:14). So fulfilling all righteousness was not known to the prophet but only to the Lord (Matthew 3:15). Torah is the root; Yeshua and the New Covenant is the fruit.
If you realize that you have failed to keep the Law and fall short of its standard, then turn to Yeshua! He is the word incarnate even as Scripture is the Word inscribed. Because Yeshua is Torah, the Word of God, He is Torah’s only fulfillment. You cannot understand or follow Torah apart from Him, He is its meaning and its fulfillment, and apart from Yeshua you can do nothing, John 15:5. He does not give a deeper meaning to Torah –He gives its only true meaning, the real meaning to all of God’s will. Only His teaching is the true meaning of Torah. The New Covenant writings are His authorized meaning and application of Torah.