In keeping with previous articles on this blog regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, the following article serves to further illustrate the severe and often deadly error in the religious teachings of the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). It clearly contrasts the deceiving practice of Torah Observance, as practiced by the HRM, against Christianity.
It draws our attention to the fact that the HRM does not complete or compliment Christianity, it does not fill in missing pieces, but rather it downplays and nullifies the atonement of Christ and overthrows the New Covenant and the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God. The teachings of the HRM remove all possibility of salvation by grace through faith.
The HRM and Christianity are not similar faiths that differ in non-essential aspects. The HRM and Christianity do not simply read from the same Book and interpret essential doctrines in different ways. Christianity does not lack that which is found in the practices and belief system of the HRM. Torah Observance is not an alternative form of Christianity and it cannot be practiced in conjunction with Christianity, it is a regressive form of religion in which there can be no forgiveness of sin or salvation.
The HRM distinctly opposes the very heart of the Gospel and their teachings and rituals are by no means biblical. By continuing to observe the Torah, they oppose God and follow blind men. Professor Malan states in the article: “What purpose will it serve if we start conforming to them [the HRM] while they still practise fulfilled and obsolete rituals which are devoid of the presence and light of the Messiah?”
The article has two sections. First is a call to Torah Observance from a Hebrew Roots perspective. The second part is a valuable summarized biblical refutation of the deceptive teachings and beliefs of those who hold to Torah Observance in the HRM.
The following is a call to Torah observance by believers:
The Holy One is not a cruel taskmaster, and His Wonderful Words of Torah are not some burdensome system of laws we should seek to avoid or escape. They are instead a beautiful Divinely-illuminated pathway of life, health and peace which we should run to embrace. See Psalm 119:12, 18, 20, 24, 35 and 47.
Every syllable of each story in the grand narratives of Torah as well as every single Hebrew letter of every single Divine Pronouncement found in Torah contains a precious, precious gift which the Holy One had bestowed upon mankind out of the depths of both His Great Wisdom and His Great Love. See Psalm 19:7-11.
In His precious Torah the Holy One both challenges and empowers all persons who enter Covenant with Him to become people of ever-increasing beauty and purity. Torah is His protocol for the Ultimate Divine Bridal Make-Over through which He intends to transform ordinary human beings like us from a motley crew of self-centered slaves and shrews to a fitting help-meet for Himself – a Bride without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any such thing. Psalm 119:9, 11, 97-105.
Part of the changes the Holy One intends to bring about in us are internal; merely changing the inside of us, however, will not be nearly enough to accomplish His lofty Purposes for us nor to testify to the world of His amazing goodness, grace, and love. He therefore sets out to change the outside of us as well as the inside of us. To demonstrate His Manifest Wisdom, Power, and Artistry the beauty and purity He is calling forth from His Beloved ones simply must be both internal and external.
The natural product of ever-increasing consecration to the Holy One and ever-increasing immersion in His Word and His Ways.
So, are the meditations of your heart and the thoughts of your mind ever-increasing in beauty and wisdom?
Are the words of your mouth and the expressions of your face toward others ever-increasing in beauty and grace?
Are the garments and ornaments you wear ever-increasing in beauty and modesty?
And is your dwelling place ever-increasing in beauty and hospitality?
Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkanotecha Yisra’el? [How lovely are your tents, O Jacob – your dwelling places, Israel?]
What is our part in the process the Holy One has set in motion for internal and external transformation? It is our inestimable privilege to actually cooperate with Him and with His Make-Over protocol on both internal and external level.
Neither the beauty nor the purity He calls forth from us is something we must create – His Words of Life themselves are fully capable of accomplishing this in us. All He calls forth from us is respect and some cooperation.
Why on earth would we not respect Him Who has done so much for us? Why in the world would we not want to cooperate with Him?
Ah Beloved, it seems there is a little bit of slave and a whole lot of shrew in the best of us.
Comments by Johan Malan (www.bibleguidance.co.za)
It is a perplexing phenomenon that so many sincere believers in Christ would become devoted Torah observers during New Testament times. Rather than becoming Messiah worshippers of the New Covenant, they portray Yeshua as the ultimate example of Torah worship and the One who merely died as the Lamb of God to atone for the sins of those who are in contravention of the Law. The entire spiritual orientation of these people is not only determined by the Torah, but also severely restricted by it.
The fact is that the Messiah has fulfilled the Law. He said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17). According to the Strong’s Concordance, the word fulfil (Greek: pleroo) means “to finish (a period or task) … accomplish … complete, end, expire, fill up, fulfil, make full”.
Is it so hard for people to understand that Yeshua has fulfilled the Torah in every respect, thereby accomplishing the task which no other human being could do? The standard of holiness required by the Torah was beyond the reach of all Israelites who lived under the Old Covenant and consequently condemned them because of their repeated sins which are all breaches of God’s Law: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20).
The Lord Jesus did not abolish and destroy the Law as there is nothing bad or unethical about the Law. In His sinless life Christ was the epitome of Law observance. However, He brought a complete end to the dispensation of the Law since the Law became a curse to all people who failed to comply with its demands, “for the law made nothing perfect” (Heb. 7:19). AllIsrael’s efforts towards Law observance were in vain; neither could their sins be forgiven through animal sacrifices, “for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). They were in a spiritual wilderness.
The Messiah then introduced the New Covenant in His blood (1 Cor. 11:24-25). This covenant completely replaced the old one, which had expired. The Old Covenant’s demands were not met, and its sacrifices were only of a typological nature, pending fulfilment by the once for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
Far from stating that the Law and the Prophets are irrelevant under the New Covenant, we say that their demands were fully met by the Messiah; consequently, we can only meet God’s standard of justification and sanctification by embracing the new life which is offered to us through Yeshua. He is the expression of God’s love and righteousness, and the only Saviour of lost humanity. He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14; 3:16); “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
We are regenerated by the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ as our Saviour by faith, and the agape love of God is also poured out in our hearts by His Spirit (Rom. 3:24-25; 5:5). What a wonderful gift of God’s grace! If our behaviour is guided by divine love we are in Christ and have therefore fulfilled the Law and no longer need the written code of the law: “Love … is the fulfilment of the Law” (Rom. 13:8-10). In fact, we are supposed to live on a spiritual level which is far beyond the demands of the law. The dynamics of agape love are such that we are enabled to pursue lofty ideals of Godliness which are not even mentioned in the Law, e.g. perfect holiness, continued prayer, being witnesses for Christ, to be the salt and light of the world, to prevail over all the power of the enemy, and to be more than conquerors in Christ.
If we restrict ourselves to the level of Old Testament Law observance we will miss many of the great blessings which Yeshua has prepared for us under the New Covenant. When Paul challenges the Ephesians towards greater Godliness he does not even once refer to Law observance, but only to the need of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and to be established in the power and love of Him who has fulfilled the Law:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).
Those who are truly rooted in His love have fulfilled the Law and therefore only observe the New Testament law (or principle) of love (Matt. 22:36-40; John 13:34). All other commands in the New Testament emanate from our obligation to follow Christ by walking in the Spirit and leading a life which is in accordance with Christ’s nature of divine love instilled in us by His Holy Spirit. We are in a relationship with the Messiah who has fulfilled the Law – not in a relationship with the Law.
Reverting now to the statements in support of Law observance in the introduction, it is obvious that the author is seriously in error in the following respects:
1. In order to attain the “Divinely-illuminated pathway of life” he only refers his readers to Psalm 119, without even once mentioning the only One who is “the way, the truth and the life”, and though Whom alone the lofty ideals of a godly life can be realised. In fact, in his entire discourse on godliness there is not a single reference to Yeshua or any New Testament statements.
2. He perpetuates the Old Covenant under the Torah, despite the fact that Paul clearly states that we are no longer under the law but under the Messiah’s grace in the New Testament (Rom. 6:14; 10:4; Gal. 5:4). He also says that the Law prepares the bride of Christ: “In His precious Torah the Holy One both challenges and empowers all persons who enter Covenant with Him to become people of ever-increasing beauty and purity. Torah is His protocol for the Ultimate Divine Bridal Make-Over…” How is it possible that the Messiah’s work of grace is not mentioned with regard to sanctification? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to quote the following Scripture? “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27; cf. 2 Cor. 11:2). Instead of emphasising the pre-eminence of Christ’s redemptive work through His atoning death, the author underscores the role of the Torah as God’s protocol for a divine make-over. “Protocol” refers to a set of rules and formalities according to which something must be done. In terms of this deceptive argument we should be guided by the rules and procedures of the Law. Where do the Messiah, the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit come in? If the latter are significant to him, he should at least have made some mention of them.
3. The very common mistake among Hebrew Roots supporters is to exalt and imitate Israel, in stead of exalting and following Yeshua. They endeavour to become more like Israel, also in respect of Law observance (Old Testament feasts like the Sabbath, etc). The author expresses this approach as follows: “Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkanotecha Yisra’el? [How lovely are your tents, O Jacob – your dwelling places, Israel?]. What is our part in the process the Holy One has set in motion for internal and external transformation? It is our inestimable privilege to actually cooperate with Him and with His Make-Over protocol on both internal and external level.” As in the previous instances, the Messiah does not even feature in his appeal towards Godliness; neither did he feel the need to quote from the New Testament.
Hopefully, devoted Christians will realise that we are not called upon to become more conformed to Israel and their Torah oriented culture, but instead to become more like the Messiah. Because of their unbelief, Israel (the natural branches of the olive tree) were cut off and Gentiles (branches of the wild olive tree) were grafted into the trunk of the olive tree. The trunk of the olive tree refers to the Messiah, who is the Root of David (Rev. 22:16). He is the seed of Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed (Gal. 3:14). The Messiah is the source of our blessing – notIsrael. In as far as believing Israelites are servants of the Lord they are indeed a blessing to us (Rom.3:1-3), but the true source of our blessing is the Holy One of Israel. We are grafted into Him, much in the same way in which John says that the disciples of Christ are like branches grafted into the true vine, Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8).
Paul says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts” (Rom. 13:14; cf. Gal. 4:19). Our command is to provokeIsraelto jealousy by the way in which we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the Messiah (Rom. 11:11). They should become more like us, not the other way round. What purpose will it serve if we start conforming to them while they still practise fulfilled and obsolete rituals which are devoid of the presence and light of the Messiah?
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