Sunday, January 16, 2011

18 New Testament Misconceptions No. 5

#5 Curse of the Torah

First, here are some Scriptures that are rarely taught in a church setting:

“And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse (umqalelcha). And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3)

“You will receive a curse (kelawlaw, qalalah) if you reject the commands of YHWH your Elohim and turn from his way by worshiping foreign mighty ones” (Deuteronomy 11:28)

“Then afterward he read all the words of the Torah, the blessing and the curse (kelawlaw, v'haq'lalah), according to all that is written in the book of the Torah” (Joshua 8:34)

Each of these instanses, the root word is "qalal" which has a meaning of "curse"

Most understand very well that Torah was not invalid during “Old Testament” times; it is crystal clear, then, that the “curse of the Torah” does not cause Torah itself to pass away! Nor is it tenable to suggest that a curse is something invented among the apostles, who were allegedly trying to divorce themselves from their own Hebraic roots. With this in mind, let us examine a familiar verse:

“All who rely on observing the Torah of Mosheh are under a curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Torah’” (Galatians 3:10)

This portion of Galatians is, in fact, so critical that it is necessary to go line by line to uncover the true nature of Rav Shaul’s argument. Again, if this was the first time “curse of the Torah” was being discussed, perhaps  the idea that Torah was passing away might be a little more plausible – and yet Torah remained in force during the many centuries since the passages in Genesis, Deuteronomy and Joshua were written. In addition, if Shaul was actually trying to undermine the authority of the Torah, it would be very foolish of him to quote almost verbatim from Torah while also teaching Torah as his authority!

“Clearly no one is justified before Elohim by the Torah, because the righteous will live by faith” (Galatians 3:11).

Again, if Shaul says no one is justified by the Torah, and he is quoting from the Torah, or, the faith in Torah’s divine origins that justifies us. Mashiyach redeemed us from the curse of the Torah by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:

“The Torah is not based on faith; on the contrary, the man who does these things will live by them” (Galatians 3:12)

The Torah then, as Rav Shaul says, is merely the instruction manual. It is acknowledging, though, the faith in Torah’s divine origins that justifies us. Mashiyach redeemed us from the curse of the Torah by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:

            “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13)

To properly understand this verse, we must understand the source of Rav Shaul’s quote:

“If a man is guilty of a capital offence is put to death and is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him  the same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under Elohim’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:23)

In other words, the only way Mashiyach could “become a curse” is by being put to death in the manner of a criminal. Make no mistake about it, Mashiyach was completely innocent of all charges levied against him! He committed no capital offence; however, he died in the manner of a criminal:

“I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is turned to wax, it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me. They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. People stare and gloat over me. They divide their garments among them, and cast lots for my clothing” (Psalm 22:14-18).

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9)

Concluding this portion of Galatians:
“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Mashiyach Y’hoshua, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14)

“The promise of the Spirit” is that YHWH spoke to Abraham, and when Abraham did as he was instructed, he procured the blessing of YHWH on the entire world for his obedience. This is also the promise that Shaul says was not nullified at Sinai, because the giving of the Torah to Mosheh was simply  another step in a lengthy promise which was working itself out for centuries prior to Mosheh even being born. Now, the Gentiles, who previously did not know the true Elohim, were allowed to come near to Him by faith in His Son.

Therefore, all the Scriptural evidence clearly points to the idea that the “curse of the Torah” is simply that Torah shows us what sin is and sets a standard for perfection. However, the Torah also points us to Redemption, Salvation and Deliverance and a time of reckoning when those who are dead will awake to everlasting life or everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1-10). Enoch and Elijah are two exceptions who did not taste death; therefore, the “curse of Torah” does not automatically apply to physical death. Both of these men were righteous and observed Torah according to how YHWH intended by Faith, and because of their Faith they did not see death.

“Do we then nullify the Torah through faith? Not at all! Rather, we establish the Torah” (Romans 3:31)

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