“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26, NKJV)
The above verse is probably the most familiar in the Bible. On Sunday mornings in many churches, it is the final benediction or blessing before people leave the service. On the Sabbath (Saturday) in synagogues around the world, this particular blessing is also used as a way to end the service. However, it doesn't stop there but is also carried on into the home. For example, when the Sabbath starts on Friday night, parents say this blessing over their children. Today, Jews who are in attendance for morning prayers will have this blessing said over them by the rabbis.
"Baruch At Hashem, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu La'asok B'divrei Torah."
"Blessed are you, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to actively Study Torah."
The above is a blessing of the Torah that Jews pray every morning. I have been learning about Jewish prayers through Rabbi Gidon Ariel of Root Source. This morning the Rabbi said something in his lesson that really struck a chord with me. He explained that the Jewish people pray this prayer because they have a holy commandment (a task) to actively study the Torah. As a nation, the Jewish people should, therefore, actively be studying the Torah. The Rabbi then asked, "So, what happens if you don't actually learn anything? If it goes in one ear and out the other?" It then becomes, according to the Rabbi, a blessing that shouldn't have been said. For example, the prayer above is a commandment from God to the Jews to actively study the Torah. If the prayer/blessing is simply repeated without putting it into action, then you have said the whole blessing in vain.
Today I am reading Jeremiah 11:1-8. The Lord is reminding Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, about the terms of their covenant. Right away I wondered what those terms were and for about the last two hours I have been making a blessings and curses list, (based on Deuteronomy 28) of what would happen to the Israelites if they obeyed God and what would happen if they didn't. And I have to say, the blessings were awesome! But the curses? Let's just say that I am more appreciative of Jesus' sacrifice for me because these curses are terrifying. They amplify the fact that the Jews would have to be completely ignorant of the laws of God, or a fool to willingly break them. I have created a list of all the blessings and curses for you to download if you like. It is available at the end of this post and it is fascinating.
Reading the list clearly shows the supremacy of God, His authority and His holiness. It also shows us how serious God was about the Jews being His people. They were to be an example to the nations of how people were supposed to live before a Holy God. In a day when other nations surrounding them worshipped idols of wood and stone, the "Jewish" God would be magnified and exalted above all false gods due largely in part by how His people were living and obeying Him. That was the original plan, but unfortunately God's chosen people disobeyed Him, broke their covenant with Him and the consequences were severe. But God had a plan for their redemption and ours by sending Jesus. Which leads to this question:
Did Jesus Abolish the Law?
This is an argument that never seems to go away amongst Christians. One group says, "We are saved by grace through Jesus' blood so we no longer need to obey the laws." The other group says, "Jesus never stopped obeying the laws, so they still apply to us." Which one is right? They both are. Jesus made it very clear that the Laws of God still stand. However, He also made it very clear that He fulfilled them.
“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. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20, NIV).
Jesus made it very clear, the laws God gave the Jews have not been abolished. In fact, He said that if anyone teaches others to set aside even the least of the commands, that person will be called "least" in the kingdom of heaven. An example of this kind of disobedience is when the Catholic church changed the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday and encouraged others to obey. They were deliberately breaking one of the ten commandments. Since that time the entire church body, both Catholic and Protestant, have followed in disobeying God by not keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day. However, some might say that if we were truly going to honour the Sabbath then we should also honour all the rules (laws) that the Sabbath brings with it. Changing the Sabbath to another day was a deliberate act to disobey God. Which requires repentance on the part of the church. Stumbling in the law or unintentionally sinning is completely different.Yet Jesus knew that whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Deliberately sinning is not stumbling. It is a conscious decision to act against God. Stumbling implies not knowing all 613 laws. This is why Jesus said our righteousness had to surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law to be able to get into heaven. Which would be impossible. This is why Jesus' sacrifice fulfilled the law and made it possible for all people to be saved (not just those who followed Jewish laws). Ephesians 2:14-16 explains it this way:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
There are approximately 613 laws in the Torah. A majority of them are commandments for priests, but there are laws on purity, cleanliness, how to come before God with an offering, what to eat, what not to eat, and because God knows the heart of a person, He even included laws on what to do if you sin unintentionally against Him. Sin is serious to God. The Laws help us to remember that and show us how holy God is and why He is to be revered. They also show us why Jesus' death was needed. We cannot on our own keep and remember 613 laws, only one man has ever done that and it is why He was the perfect sacrifice. Jesus never sinned and He obeyed all of God's laws thus becoming the fulfillment of them all. So are the laws abolished? No, they still stand and are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Can I share with you an excerpt from my latest book? I am very excited about it because this Bible study is the first in my new Digging Deeper series. The Book of Daniel reveals a man (and his friends) who knew how to stand firm in their faith. But it is also a book that is historical and prophetic in nature.While writing it I stumbled upon something that I had taken for granted for years: that Daniel 9:25-26 was talking about Jesus, our Messiah. What I found however, sent me on a hunt to discover how such an innocent word like "mashiach" was so badly misinterpreted. The following is a snippet on what I found out.
Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince,
(Notice that the word Messiah is missing and replaced with “anointed” in the Jewish version of this verse. This is because the Jews never saw the word “Messiah” in their scriptures. They saw the word mashiach, which means “anointed.” It comes from the root word mashach, which means to “smear, rub, spread a liquid, or anoint.” It does not mean “Messiah” or “Saviour” as we Christians interpret it. It simply means “anointed,” nothing more. In addition, you will notice that the JPS has the word “one” before the word “anointed,” whereas, the NASB says “Messiah the Prince.” The NIV translates this part as “the Anointed One” and places the word “one” after anointed. Why is this important?
I go on to discuss this issue further in the book if you want to look at it further. One Amazon reviewer said:
"I gave this book five stars not because it is thoroughly researched, although it is very thorough indeed. It gets five stars not because it interprets Daniel in the light of scripture in its entirety from Genesis to Revelation, although it does that very well. It gets five stars because it is a theologically sound book you can hold in one hand with your Bible in the other hand and say, "Ah, now I see: I always wondered what that meant." This is not a book of Ms. Davis opinions. Every significant statement is backed up with proof - she lets scripture interpret scripture. - Dave F.
If you are interested in purchasing a paperback copy of Unlocking the Truth of Daniel visit www.amazon.com and let me know you purchased it. Why? Because I will send you a free ebook of my last book He Who Has an Ear, Who the Seven Churches of Revelation are Today and I will also throw in an ebook of Unlocking the The Truth of Daniel so that you can read it on your tablet as well.