‘“You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (command). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot (commandments).” (Matthew 22:37-40)
“I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other.” (John 13:34)
“If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love – just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love. I have said this to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (John 15:10-11)
In this post I want to clarify my understanding of the impact of the commands in the Tanakh on the teachings and commands of Yeshua found in the Brit Hadashah before digging into the actual commands of Yeshua.
Respect for the Tanakh
As I stated in the first post in this series, I firmly believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Too many Believers think that the Tanakh is no longer applicable to us and fail to even read it.
A friend of mine recently sent me an email in which he stated: “The Law of God is not ‘done away’. If it were there would be no sin in the world because the existence of God’s Law is the only platform from which sin is defined and exposed.” I certainly agree with his sentiment.
I categorize the commands of the Tanakh as they apply to a moral code, civil or social code, and commands regulating Temple worship and sacrifices.
Clearly, those commands regulating Temple worship and sacrifices were fulfilled when Yeshua died on the execution stake. As recorded by Yochanan, “After Yeshua had taken the wine, He said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting his head droop, he delivered up his spirit.” (Yochanan 19:30) Many English translations use “finished” to translate the Greek word for ‘accomplished.’ What was He saying? The single Greek word here (translated “it is finished”) has been found written on papyri receipts for taxes, meaning “paid in full” (see Colossians 3:13-14). Yeshua fulfilled and accomplished once and for all the commands of God for the shedding of blood for the atonement of our sins. Matthew records that after giving up His spirit, “The parokhet (curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple) in the Temple was ripped in two from top to bottom; and there was an earthquake, with rocks splitting apart.” (Matthew 27:51) No longer would Temple sacrifices be conducted.
I have always been fascinated that much of the civil or social code contained in the Tanakh has found its way into the Judeo-Christian concept of jurisprudence. Many of the commands in the Tanakh in this category are very similar in our legal system, especially in the area of civil litigation. Because of this fact, however, we cannot individually observe these commandments. A good example is Leviticus 24:16 “Whoever blasphemes the name of Adonai must be put to death; the entire community must stone him. The foreigner as well as the citizen is to be put to death if he blasphemes the Name.” Our governmental authorities have usurped our ability to observe these commandments for the common good.
That leaves the moral code of which the Ten Commandments are foremost. The first four commandments help us understand how we are to fulfill the commands of Yeshua in Matthew 22:37-38 and the next six commands help us understand how we are to fulfill the commands of Yeshua in Matthew 22:39. In this foundational passage for this series, I find it extremely interesting that Yeshua is quoting directly from the Tanakh. He is quoting His own Words given centuries earlier to Moshe (see Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18). Many people believe that the commands of the Tanakh have been abolished and are no longer applicable to us to today.
How then do they reconcile the fact that Yeshua sets forth these two commands from the Tanakh as the two greatest commands of His? How do they reconcile Yeshua’s declaration in Matthew 5? “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud  or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P’rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 5:17-20)
Yeshua says He came to fulfill or complete the Torah and the Prophets; it is often taught or understood that “fulfill” means to come to an end, it is finished. Nothing from the Torah changes until heaven and earth pass away. Therefore fulfill cannot mean “to be completed” or “finished”. Instead it means to be made full, filled full of meaning, fully preached. Yeshua was the Word made flesh who taught and showed by example what the Torah meant in its fullness and how it was to be applied. When we look at Yeshua’s commands in Matthew, He frequently said “You have heard that our fathers were told…” He then goes on to quote a command from the Tanakh and then provides the interpretation of what was meant versus the Rabbinical interpretation that had been established by the Rabbis over the years trying to put a hedge around the Torah to prevent the Jews from violating any of God’s commands.
All this is to say, that I believe the Torah is still valid for the most part and we should continue to study it and obey it certainly not to earn our salvation, for that is a free gift of God by grace for those of us who have put our faith in Yeshua’s atoning death; but to demonstrate our love of and for God and our neighbors.
In my next post, we will begin to dig into the actual commands of Yeshua.
 The 10th and smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet (similar to our apostrophe). Some translations use ‘tittle’ or ‘stroke’ to identify for example the little line underneath the number one or at the top left of the number one identifying this footnote. Now, that is small. Further, if you knew the Rabbinical mandates for copying a Kosher Torah scroll, you would have a better understanding for the essence of what Yeshua was saying. The slightest, smallest mistake renders the copied scroll worthless and must be destroyed.