Appendix 1: Laws That CAN Be Kept
Volume 3: Appendix 1
Laws That Can Be Kept
I have noted many times that much of the Torah cannot be kept today, no matter how much we might want to. Although I haven’t done a formal survey, it appears that about three quarters of the Law of Moses depends for its literal performance upon the existence of a working temple or tabernacle (the latest version of which was destroyed by Titus Vespasian in 70 AD) and a Jewish priesthood, something Emperor Hadrian scattered to the four winds along with the rest of the Israelite populace in 135.
Before the temple was razed by the Romans, there was a raging controversy among believers in Christ as to whether one must convert to Judaism first to become a “follower of the Way” (as Christianity was then known), or if a gentile could simply believe. After all, our faith was considered by all to be a Jewish sect; Yahshua (a.k.a. Jesus) had been a Jew, crucified (according to Pontius Pilate) for claiming to be the “King of the Jews.” Furthermore, Christ Himself had said, “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) So the case could be made (and was by some Jewish Christians) that the Torah was the foundation of Christianity. Should it not therefore by honored by all believers? They had a point.
But then Paul, one of the most well-qualified Torah scholars of his generation, came along and pointed out the uncomfortable truth that nobody had ever kept the Law of Moses perfectly—and that’s what it would take to attain salvation through its observance. He wrote as if the Torah were a ball and chain, something that would prevent a gentile believer from enjoying true freedom in Christ: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing….” Circumcision, here as in Acts 15, was chosen as the “test case,” a sign that the participant intended to live by the Torah’s precepts as if he were a Jew dwelling in the Land.
“And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” That is, not by works—not by keeping the Law. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:1-6) You can’t have it both ways, he says. Either you have to rely on the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah as your salvation strategy (grace through faith), or depend on your own performance of the Torah’s myriad precepts. Of course, about fifteen years after Paul wrote to the Galatians, the Romans besieged Jerusalem and tore down the temple—rendering a large portion of the Torah undoable under any circumstances, and making the whole controversy rather a moot point.
Still, we can’t ignore the fact that the Torah is the very Word of God—revealing His standards (and His heart) on a wide range of issues common to mortal man. The bottom line on Paul’s teaching on the subject might be succinctly stated thus: The Torah is valuable and holy—a priceless guide to the mind of God. But it is worthless—even counterproductive—as a soteriological strategy. One cannot be reconciled to Yahweh by attempting to keep its precepts. Rather, the Law serves as an “Owner’s Manual” for successful living to those who have already chosen to become children of God by grace through faith in Christ. As he wrote to Timothy, “We know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” (I Timothy 1:8-10)
Those who insist that keeping the Torah is mandatory for salvation, or required to prove they revere Yahweh, must keep several facts in mind:
(1) Only theocratic Israel was commanded to keep these statutes. 283 times in the Torah we read the words, “And Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and say…’” (or words to that effect); but God never went on record commanding gentiles from the surrounding nations to do anything.
Why? Because there was no conceivable set of rules that could reconcile anyone to God, once they had fallen into sin. That could only be achieved by grace through faith in Christ—which (through its exhaustive matrix of symbols and metaphors) is what the Torah described. Israel, then, was to keep the Torah; and the rest of us were to observe them, ponder their practice, and come to the inescapable conclusion that the God they followed was Salvation personified. It would have been a whole lot easier to see if Israel had simply obeyed Him.
(2) The whole context of the Torah clearly reveals that it is written to a tight-knit agrarian society living in a relatively small geographic area—as witnessed (among other things) by the requirement to travel to a central location within the Land of Promise to observe certain rites and rituals three times every year. This would be the height of impracticality if they were spread out over the whole world. But that—the exile of the Jews—is precisely what happened, leaving us nothing but the Instructions to ponder.
(3) Foreign gentiles were welcome to join Israel, revere its God, and keep His commandments—but only within the Land of Promise. As far as Torah observance is concerned, being a proselyte to Judaism in New York City is sort of like being a Republican living in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t count for much.
(4) Because the majority of the Torah requires a temple and priesthood for its literal performance, it has not been possible to keep it (or even “observe” it in its entirety) since 70 AD. For that matter, the Ark of the Covenant has been missing in action for the past 2,600 years or so—since before the Babylonian conquest—making it impossible to literally perform the crucial rites of the Day of Atonement.
(5) Recourse to the life, death, and resurrection of Yahshua the Messiah—fulfilling the symbolic requirements of the priestly portions of the Torah (just as He promised He would in Matthew 5:17)—is the only way historical reality can be reconciled with God’s Law. To believe otherwise is basically to call God a liar. This was Paul’s premise, and it’s all the more obvious today, almost two thousand years after the temple was destroyed.
All of that being said, it is still possible to keep some of the Torah’s precepts. We must bear in mind that much of this has a symbolic component (e.g., “murder” is a scriptural euphemism for preventing someone from having eternal life through Yahweh’s plan for our redemption), even though the literal meaning of the statute is still binding and beneficial. Also, since the original audience, theocratic Israel, was a compact agrarian community (a bit like the Amish in America today), we must look beyond the agricultural metaphors (for instance, stealing a sheep, harvesting a field, or helping a fallen donkey) to find applications germane to our own lives. In other words, these principles are not pointless or invalid just because you’re not a farmer.
The “rules” governing which Torah precepts were included in this compendium (and those which were not) are as follows:
(1) The precepts listed were delivered exclusively to Israel, their godly ancestors, or their God-appointed leaders—not to pagan gentiles.
(2) They are meant to be applied to Israel on a national basis—i.e., to everyone, not just a few individuals.
(3) They were commanded in the Torah—primarily in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. (Genesis records pre-Israelite events, and Numbers is mostly historical.) Clarifications or expansions by later prophets, Apostles, or Christ Himself will not be listed.
(4) The precepts are clearly meant to be carried out on an ongoing or recurring basis, not just once or in response to a temporary or sporadic situation.
(5) They are possible to do today in a literal, physical sense. That is, no priesthood or temple is required for their performance, nor is the Promised Land (or its conquest) exclusively in view. (This is not to say they’re actually legal in most countries. You’re not allowed to stone adulterers, for example.)
(6) Strictly symbolic precepts (like circumcision or the wearing of tsitzit) may be included, but only if they don’t involve the priests or temple.
(7) Not included by definition, then, would be such things as the tithe (because of the involvement of the Levites), sacrifices and offerings (administered by the priests), “holy wars” against the heathens (with the attendant plundering of the vanquished), and “cities of refuge” (sanctuary cities). I have not included passages where the instruction is simply to “Know this…” or “Remember that….” Nor have I included “covenant” passages, in which “If you do this, I will do that.”
A few notes on format: I have listed these precepts by broad subject, and each subject has been broken up into sub-categories. The main headings are (1) The Ten Commandments, (2) Attitude, (3) Relationships and Behavior, (4) God’s Schedule (that is, His prophetic holidays), and (5) the Mortal Body. Within each sub-category, the Torah precepts are listed in the order they appear in the Pentateuch. As you will see, there are surprisingly few “Laws,” for Yahweh tends to say the same thing over and over again when a matter bears repeating. Ironically (or not), the most oft-repeated “precept” in this listing (mentioned almost fifty times) is to “Heed God’s Laws.”
As always, I will put God’s word in a boldface font, to distinguish it from my own commentary (which I’ll endeavor to keep to a minimum). Where helpful, I have cross-referenced precepts with passages elsewhere on this website. (TOM is The Owner’s Manual, WMM is What Maimonides Missed (a.k.a. TOM, Volume 2), and TTC is The Torah Code.) As is my habit, I have consistently replaced “the LORD” in the text with the name Moses actually wrote: “Yahweh” (יהוה).
Note that there were often several headings under which it would have been appropriate to place a given precept: I have tried to organize this as logically as possible. Any repetitions are God’s, not mine: if He finds these things worth repeating, I must assume they’re worth closer attention or further inquiry. And forgive me, but the nature of the project necessitated that I detach some of these statements from their broader context. Feel free to look them up on your own.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Easily the most succinct compendium of statutes is the passage known as the “Ten Commandments,” found initially in Exodus 20, and repeated almost verbatim in Deuteronomy 5. Supporting passages litter the Torah from one end to the other, however, and they are listed where appropriate.
First Commandment: The Exclusive Worship of Yahweh
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2-3) The implication is that because Yahweh freed us from bondage (read: sin), we are to worship Him alone. Nothing else in all of creation can accomplish that—and that, being sinless, is required if we wish to stand in the presence of a holy God.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18) TOM ch9, #334. The point here is that sorcerers, sorceresses, wizards, necromancers, etc. all lead people away from the reverence of (and trust in) Yahweh, one way or another—often invoking demons directly.
“You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of Yahweh, he shall be put to death.’” (Leviticus 24:15-16) TOM ch1, #3. Stoning meant the whole congregation’s participation in the execution of the criminal, meaning in turn that the whole congregation had been harmed or endangered by his blasphemy.
“I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7) TOM ch1, #1. Egypt is used as a consistent metaphor for bondage in the world. And bondage is a euphemism for sin.
“Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one! You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) TOM ch1, #6, #7. According to Christ, this is the greatest commandment of them all.
“Beware, lest you forget Yahweh who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear Yahweh your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.” (Deuteronomy 6:12-13) One would naturally “take oaths” on the name of the highest authority possible. That’s why we “swear on the Bible.” If you merely “affirm” your testimony, you have made yourself your God.
“You shall seek the place where Yahweh your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.” (Deuteronomy 12:5) TOM ch13, #544; TTC 1.2.3. Eventually, this place was defined as Jerusalem.
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yahweh your God is testing you to know whether you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after Yahweh your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which Yahweh your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) TOM ch1, #14, #15. Literally obeying precepts like this today, of course, will get you thrown in prison for murder. For that matter, many college professors and political pundits are only alive today because we can’t really keep statutes of this nature. But we can at least beware of them—knowing that they’re living under Yahweh’s sentence of death.
“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-11) TOM ch9, #325, 326; TTC 3.3.13. The primary reason for imposing the death penalty on people who would lead us away from Yahweh is not punishment, but deterrence.
“If you hear someone in one of your cities, which Yahweh your God gives you to dwell in, saying, ‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods”’—which you have not known—then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock—with the edge of the sword. And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for Yahweh your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that Yahweh may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, because you have listened to the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 13:12-18) TOM ch9, #323; TOM ch7, #246. Again, outside of theocratic Israel, this one’s doable, but not terribly practical. What can be done? Be discerning. I live in Central Virginia. I can no longer visit Washington D.C. (about a two-hour drive) without a palpable feeling of depression and dread falling upon me—so I avoid the place. God will deal with its evils soon enough, I fear.
“Yahweh your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ And Yahweh said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) TOM ch9, #309; WMM ch2, #659. In case you didn’t catch it, that “Prophet” turned out to be Yahshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This Prophet is “for them” (an advocate, not an enemy), “like Moses” (that is, attuned to the will of Yahweh), and “from among their brethren” (in other words, an Israelite).
Second Commandment: Idolatry
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6) TOM ch9, #312; TTC 1.2.5. Yahweh was planning to introduce His own “graven image,” the One who would be a perfect representation of what He was like, but in a “less lethal” format. It’s another way of describing the promised “prophet like Moses.”
“You shall not make anything to be with Me—gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.” (Exodus 20:23) TOM ch9, #313. Interesting that within two months of hearing these words, Israel was caught worshiping their golden calf.
“He who sacrifices to any god, except to Yahweh only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20) TTC 3.3.13. Be careful what you spend your money on. As Yahshua said, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.” (Exodus 23:24) TOM ch5, #164. Anything you “worship” is a “god” to you. And think beyond idols and images. “Worship” is any act of devotion or sacrifice. What don’t you think you can’t live without?
“You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.” (Exodus 34:17) TOM ch9, #314. Even if you’re thinking, “This is only to remind me of Yahweh, the One True God,” don’t do it.
“You shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 18:21) TOM ch9, #333. “Passing your children through the fire” was an entrenched pagan custom in which one’s child was burned alive in the outstretched arms of a heated metal statue of Chemosh (a.k.a. Moloch, a.k.a. Ba’al), in hopes of securing material prosperity. The modern equivalent is the practice of abortion, in which as many as 45 million children per year worldwide are brutally murdered in the womb for similar reasons.
“Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:4) TOM ch9, #331. In order to worship to false gods, you have to turn away from Yahweh.
“You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:26-28) TOM ch9, #335. Tattoos have become very popular of late—even for believers. At the very least, they’re a slippery slope.
“Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:31) TOM ch9, #337, 338. There is no such thing as “innocent” dabbling in the occult. Yahweh is on record as forbidding it.
“Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech.” (Leviticus 20:2-5) TOM ch8, #286. Again, the modern world “worships Molech” through the practice of abortion, whether they know it or not. The motivation is identical.
“The person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am Yahweh your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am Yahweh who sanctifies you.” (Leviticus 20:6-8) Again, communication with demons, even if you think it’s all innocent fun, is dangerous.
“A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27) WMM ch2, #674. . Remember, these precepts were commanded of theocratic Israel alone. Over the centuries, this one has been misused and misapplied countless times by evil men with evil motives. And note: Israel was commanded to stone witches, not burn them at the stake. These days, it’s best to wait on God’s judgment.
“You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it, for I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 26:1) TOM ch2, #25. This would include your television, cell phone and other electronic devices, folks.
“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when Yahweh spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.” (Deuteronomy 4:15-19) TTC 3.2.16; TTC 3.2.9. Wonderful things in God’s creation are not to be used as stand-ins for God, even “merely” as reminders of His greatness. And note the subtle but crucial bit of information: Yahweh is neither male nor female. Gender roles are just symbols He uses to teach us about “His” attributes. Yahweh is spirit, and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth.
“Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Yahweh your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which Yahweh your God has forbidden you. For Yahweh your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:23-24) TTC 4.1. It’s a covenant, a contract. For His part, Yahweh saves us from the bondage of sin, reconciling us to Himself. For our part, we revere Him alone. It’s not all that complicated.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:8-10) The Deuteronomy 5 “Ten Commandments” list is practically identical to the original one in Exodus 20. These things bear repeating. That “third and fourth generation” notice doesn’t mean that He punishes the children for sins of the fathers. It’s merely an acknowledgement of the fact that we parents tend to pass our beliefs and attitudes down to our children, whether we mean to or not.
“You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for Yahweh your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of Yahweh your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 6:14-15) WMM ch12, #894. “When in Rome, do what the Romans do” is a dangerous heresy. How about, “When on Earth, do what its Creator instructed.”
“You shall destroy all the peoples whom Yahweh your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” (Deuteronomy 7:16) WMM ch2, #680. Echoes of the conquest of Canaan here, but the premise still stands: don’t serve gods other than Yahweh.
“You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God. Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.” (Deuteronomy 7:25-26) TOM ch9, #315; TTC 4.1.11. Idolatry extends to the raw materials they’re made of. “Gold and silver” can be worshiped for their own intrinsic worth—they needn’t be shaped into little statues and bowed down to in order to function as idols. In other words, covet neither money nor the things you can buy with it. Godly ambivalence toward wealth is the ideal.
“You shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship Yahweh your God with such things.” (Deuteronomy 12:3-4) Today, all we can really do about this is to ban such idolatry from our own hearts. But we are specifically warned not to use the world’s methods to facilitate the worship of Yahweh.
“When Yahweh your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship Yahweh your God in that way; for every abomination to Yahweh which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-31) WMM ch12, #912; TTC 3.3.13. Ecumenicism is to be avoided, and we needn’t feel like we need to emulate the godless to attract the godly. Our God is not the deity of the lowest common denominator.
“You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to Yahweh your God. You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which Yahweh your God hates.” (Deuteronomy 16:21-22) TOM ch9, #350; TTC 3.3. There’s nothing wrong with planting trees. But everything is wrong with using them as a focal point of worship. In other words, don’t confuse environmentalism with holiness. By the way, “Christmas trees” run afoul of this statute.
“If there is found among you, within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of Yahweh your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-7) TOM ch7, #259. You aren’t to kill godless idolators outside of theocratic Israel, but you certainly don’t have to give them a platform and a microphone, either. Since we are mortal, God has no problem with the death penalty where appropriate. All it does is speed up the inevitable demise of people who are a danger to others. But notice two things: (1) Two witness, or preferably more, are required to convict in a capital case, and (2) the witnesses themselves have to participate in carrying out the execution.
“When you come into the land which Yahweh your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to Yahweh, and because of these abominations Yahweh your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before Yahweh your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, Yahweh your God has not appointed such for you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) TTC 3.2.14. We are to be separate from the societies in which we live: holy. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” are two dangerous and potentially deadly heresies.
“The prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) TOM ch9, #320. If you speak in the name of Ba’al, Zeus, or Allah, you are proclaiming your own death sentence. But if you are speaking for Yahweh, the truth of what you have said will vindicate you—even if that truth doesn’t come to light for many generations. Most of the Old Testament prophets issued statements about the coming Messiah that weren’t proven true until hundreds of years later, when Yahshua finally walked the earth. And some of what they said still hasn’t come to pass, because fulfillment is scheduled for His second advent.
“There shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of Yahweh your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 23:17-18) TOM ch3, #69; TTC 4.1.9. The “worship” of the pagan gods of Canaan involved ritual prostitution—both female (harlots) and male (perverted ones, “dogs”). Money procured through the worship of Satan could not be used to honor Yahweh. Feel free to extrapolate that principle to today’s worship practices.
Third Commandment: Respecting God’s Name
“You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) TOM ch6, #204; TTC 4.1.1. Yahweh wants us to know and use His name with reverence. Forgetting it altogether out of disuse—the removal of the self-revealed divine name Yahweh from our scriptures and replacing it with an anemic title, “the LORD”—is a violation of this crucial precept.
“God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: Yahweh, God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” (Exodus 3:15) WMM ch2, #660. The self-assigned name Yahweh basically means “I Am,” that is, “I am self-existent—no one created Me.” There can be no more majestic a concept.
“In all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth.” (Exodus 23:13) TOM ch9, #320. Yahweh is not one “god” among many. He is holy, matchless, and utterly unique.
“You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel.” (Leviticus 22:32) TOM ch1, #4. Do not treat the name or character of our Creator lightly or without reverence. After all, we owe Him our very existence.
“You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Deuteronomy 5:11) The Third Commandment might be paraphrased, “We are not to accept or advance anything that is false, deceptive, or destructive in Yahweh’s name, or associate these things with His character, or say that they’re His word. He won’t ignore it when we choose to worship counterfeit gods, for He is holy—separate from His creation.”
Fourth Commandment: The Sabbath
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Yahweh your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11) TOM ch4, #109; TTC 2.7. Don’t look now, but God’s incessant harping about “keeping the Sabbath” has far less to do with resting one day of the week than it does with revealing His timeline for the redemption and reconciliation of fallen mankind. Beginning with the sin of Adam, there are to be six one-thousand-year “days” for us to “work things out” with our God, but on the “Seventh thousand-year Day” (the Millennial reign of Christ—see Revelation 20:4) we must “rest” in Him. Not “should,” but must.
“Moses said, ‘Eat that [manna] today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.’ Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And Yahweh said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For Yahweh has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:25-30) In the end, we can’t work for that which God provides. Any “Salvation” we provide for ourselves will be proven false and inadequate on the seventh day—the day in which we must rest in Christ’s finished work.
“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:10-12) TOM ch6, #211; TTC 3.3.5. The same Sabbath lessons apply on a yearly basis. It’s the principle of the thing: we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (as Paul put it) for the first six thousand years following the fall of Adam into sin. But in the end, we must rely upon what Yahweh has provided.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahweh. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’” (Exodus 31:12-17) As I said, the Sabbath is a sign. It means something. It signifies the end of our “six days” of “trial and error,” and the beginning of our rest and reliance on God’s plan.
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” (Exodus 34:21) Even when it doesn’t seem “convenient,” we are to observe the Sabbath principle. Grace, after all, is completely counterintuitive.
“Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to Yahweh. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:2-3) TOM ch8, #303; TTC 2.5. He who does not participate in Yahweh’s rest is not alive. “Kindling a fire” indicates exercising judgment: there will be no judgment on God’s Sabbath—the judgment takes place prior to it.
“Keep My Sabbaths: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:3) The reason we are to keep the Sabbath (that is, what the Sabbath signifies) is that Yahweh is our God. It’s an expression of our trust in Him.
“You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:30) The “sanctuary” symbolically describes God’s plan for our redemption, so it is natural that He would link it with the Sabbath.
“Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of Yahweh in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:3) A “holy convocation” is a sacred appointment we are to keep with God. He will be there. The question is, will we show up?
“Yahweh spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to Yahweh. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the Sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.” (Leviticus 25:1-7) TTC 2.7. The Sabbath—indicative of our rest in Christ—affects more than us personally. Our salvation through grace has a direct impact on everything we touch, for the love of God is contagious, so to speak. Even the ground beneath our feet will experience a reversal of the curse of Adam during Yahshua’s Millennial reign.
“If you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?’ then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.” (Leviticus 25:20-22) Translation: God’s salvation is sufficient for all time—even into eternity.
“You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 26:2) The link between Sabbath and sanctuary is repeated: this is important.
“Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day…. Then Yahweh said to Moses, ‘The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’” (Numbers 15:32, 35) In theocratic Israel, Yahweh is very serious about His pictures, symbols, and metaphors. The man was gathering firewood—suggesting (whether he knew it or not) that judgment is part of the Sabbath paradigm. But it is not. The definition of spiritual death is not keeping God’s Sabbath.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Yahweh your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15) TTC 3.2.5. Note finally that He said absolutely nothing in all of that about on which day of the week we should meet for worship.
Fifth Commandment: Honoring Parents
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) TOM ch 3, #59; TOM ch14, #559; WMM ch12, #892; TTC 1.2.6; TTC 4.1.3. If you see Yahweh as our “Father” and the Holy Spirit as our “Mother” (not biologically, of course, but functionally, as revealed by the roles they play in life of mankind), then this precept takes on larger-than-life proportions. Our literal fathers and mothers are to be honored because their roles in the family mirror and reveal those played by God Himself.
“He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:15) TOM ch3; #60. Lashing out at God is a really bad idea.
“He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17) TOM ch3; #61; TTC 4.1.3. If we comprehend that this is actually a picture of cursing God, then this is not as extreme as it sounds at first blush.
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” (Exodus 22:28) TOM ch7, #239; TOM ch1, #3. The word translated “God” here (Elohim), while correctly applied to Yahweh’s “job description,” can also mean rulers, judges, or even angels. This is binding on several levels.
“Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father.” (Leviticus 19:3) Reverence for one’s parents (because they’re symbolic of Yahweh) is not just for “religious people,” but is something required of all mankind.
“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:32) The elderly are to be respected, partly because they can be presumed to have valuable wisdom and experience to impart, and partly because Yahweh has chosen to keep them alive enough to pass it along to the younger generations.
“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9) TTC 4.1.2; TTC 4.1.3. Reverence for our parents mirrors reverence for God. If we do not revere our Creator, we have pronounced a death sentence upon ourselves.
“Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16) TTC 4.1.3. The promise attending the precept ties honor to our parents (read: God) to prosperity (or longevity, as it’s phrased in the parallel Exodus 20 passage) in the Land of Promise—a prophetic euphemism for the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, if we revere Yahweh, we will enjoy a blessed eternity in His presence. And vice versa.
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) Although this could be done today, it would tend to get the parents in big trouble with the local law enforcement officials. Still, the precept would serve as an effective incentive. On the symbolic level, it speaks of God’s prerogative to reject and banish a disobedient human.
“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.” (Deuteronomy 22:6-7) (See TOM Chapter 5, #160, 161.) The relinquishing of the hen’s “young ones or eggs” is a picture of God’s sacrifice of the Messiah. But “taking the mother with the young” is a picture of usurping the place of God while practicing a religion based on the sacrifice of Christ. Alas, the majority of Christendom is guilty of this, to one extent or another.
“A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor uncover his father’s bed.” (Deuteronomy 22:30) Adultery is a particularly intense form of disrespect. But this permutation is metaphorical (once again) of usurping the rightful place of Yahweh by seducing Israel, or causing the bride of Christ, the church, to sin.
“Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.” (Deuteronomy 27:16) WMM ch12, #923. We are reminded of the sobering words of Christ: “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32)
“Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.” (Deuteronomy 27:20) WMM ch12, 923. Incest of this sort is bad enough, but what he’s really talking about here is appropriating for your own purposes what belongs exclusively to God, whether Israel or the church.
Sixth Commandment: Murder/Manslaughter
“Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:5-6) WMM ch11, #877; TTC 4.1.4; TTC 3.2.6. Our mortal lives are precious to God. Even though they’re not built to last forever, these lives are a gift of time in which we are expected to make the choices that will determine our eternal destinies. Therefore, to cut short this time—to kill a person before his natural lifespan is over—is serious matter in God’s eyes.
“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) TOM ch8, #278; TTC 4.1.11. Literal murder is a metaphor for preventing someone from having spiritual life. This is why Yahshua called Satan “a murderer from the beginning” in John 8:44—and why He tarred Satan’s minions, the Pharisees, with the same brush.
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.” (Exodus 21:12-14) WMM ch11, #866. God distinguishes unintentional manslaughter from murder. Accidents happen, though we are to take every precaution to avoid them. But premeditated murder is to be met with purposeful execution.
“Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17) WMM ch11, #865. Because of what murder means, God is on record as favoring (actually, insisting upon) the death penalty, bearing in mind the rules of evidence (two or more witnesses, no coercion, etc.).
“Whoever kills a man shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:21) WMM ch11, #881. What about killing someone in battle? Yahweh never specifically authorized going to war against anyone who was not actively trying to compromise His people spiritually (e.g., the seven nations of Canaan)—that is, preventing them from killing us. And soldiers seldom have a choice as to who they face—or why. But all too often, wars are fought out of hatred or paranoia or good old-fashioned greed on the part of those in power. The higher up in the chain of command one is, the more heavily this precept should weigh upon him.
“If he strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he strikes him with a stone in the hand, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. The avenger of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. If he pushes him out of hatred or, while lying in wait, hurls something at him so that he dies, or in enmity he strikes him with his hand so that he dies, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.” (Numbers 35:16-21) WMM ch11, #867. Here God defined “murder,” as opposed to manslaughter. The defense, “Yes, I hit him with a brick, but I didn’t mean to kill him” doesn’t fly. The excuse, “Yes, I was angry, but only for a moment” is equally invalid. The explanation, “Yes, I got drunk and tossed a rock off the freeway overpass, but I didn’t think anybody would get hurt” doesn’t hold water in God’s court. There is no such thing as “second-degree” murder. In theocratic Israel, there were no police, jails, or criminal courts per se. So justice was meted out by a designated “avenger of blood,” someone near of kin to the murder victim. This is another of those features of Torah law that is now illegal in our society.
“If he pushes him suddenly without enmity, or throws anything at him without lying in wait, or uses a stone, by which a man could die, throwing it at him without seeing him, so that he dies, while he was not his enemy or seeking his harm, then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments. So the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood.” (Numbers 35:22-25) WMM ch11, #868. Although the “cities of refuge” were strictly Promised-Land phenomena (thus not applicable today), the principle of not executing those guilty of unintentional manslaughter still applies.
“These things shall be a statute of judgment to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings. Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty.” (Numbers 35:29-30) WMM ch16, #988. Witnesses are notoriously unreliable. Several of them are required to bring a guilty verdict. In principle, forensic science could act as one of the witnesses God requires. But in a capital case, circumstantial evidence—even a preponderance of it—should not be enough to convict.
“You shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.” (Numbers 35:31) TOM ch8, #292. Today, it seems, it is all too easy for the rich and powerful to “get away with” their crimes. But in the end, vengeance belongs to Yahweh: He will repay, even if we are not able to impose justice on the guilty.
“You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17) We don’t need gun-control laws, hate-crime legislation, or super-max prisons. In the end, all we need is for this simple rule to be observed—in every conceivable way—by everyone on earth. Don’t look now, but during the Kingdom age (coming soon to a planet near you) this law will actually operate as it was intended to.
Seventh Commandment: Adultery
“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) TOM ch3, #102; TCC 4.1.1.; TCC 4.1.11; TCC 4.1.8; TCC 4.1.9. Because adultery is symbolic of idolatry (i.e., giving to another what rightfully belongs exclusively to one’s spouse), God forbade it.
“You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.” (Leviticus 19:20) WMM ch8, #807; TCC 3.2.3. Note that adultery defiles you. It degrades, desecrates, and pollutes the participants. Paul points out that it is a sin against your own body.
“The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10) TOM ch8, #286; TCC 4.1.8. Again, the death penalty in theocratic Israel reveals the seriousness of what the crime means on a spiritual-metaphorical level.
“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of Yahweh was aroused against Israel. Then Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before Yahweh, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of Yahweh may turn away from Israel.’ So Moses said to the judges of Israel, ‘Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.’” (Numbers 25:1-5) In this incident, the equivalence of adultery to idolatry was demonstrated in literal terms. It was understood (as it seldom is today) that having illicit sex with the pagan Moabite women was tantamount to worshiping their false god.
“You shall not commit adultery.” (Deuteronomy 5:18) It bears repeating, so God did.
“If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 22:22) WMM ch11, #872; TCC4.1.8. As with murder, mere suspicion was not enough for a conviction. The adulterous couple had to be caught in the act. Both participants were equally guilty—it didn’t matter who had seduced whom.
Eighth Commandment: Theft
“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) WMM ch11, #878; TOM ch6, #174; TTC 4.1.11. Theft betrays not only a lack of trust in God’s provision, but a lack of love for one’s neighbor—the victim of the theft.
“He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16) TOM ch8, #298. The word translated “kidnap” here is ganab, simply meaning to steal—especially by stealth or deception. The Torah specified a range of penalties for different types of theft, usually from two to four times the value of the stolen item, depending on the circumstances. But “stealing” a human being bought you the death penalty—your life in place of the victim’s.
“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Leviticus 19:11) TOM ch7, #271, #272, #274. These are all related concepts—and they all betray a lack of reliance upon God’s provision.
“You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him.” (Leviticus 19:13) TOM ch8, #281; TOM ch6, #184. All of these things are wrapped up in the second-greatest commandment: you shall love your brother as you do yourself.
“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35-36) TOM ch6, #181. Pride says, “I will do whatever I can to elevate my status over that of my neighbor, even if it means cheating him to gain an unfair advantage.” Love, on the other hand, says “I will do whatever it takes to be fair and equitable in my business dealings with others—even if it puts me at a disadvantage. After all, I answer to Almighty God, not myself.”
“You shall not steal.” (Deuteronomy 5:19) The inevitable Deuteronomy restatement.
“If a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and mistreats him or sells him, then that kidnapper shall die; and you shall put away the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 24:7) WMM ch11, #873. We belong to God, not to men. So if we kidnap someone, hold him (or her) for ransom, or sell him into slavery, we have stolen that which belongs to Yahweh.
“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which Yahweh your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16) TOM ch6, #183 Note that the same blessing for compliance (“that your days may be lengthened…”) that characterized “honoring your father and your mother” is promised to those who deal justly and fairly with their neighbors. In the end, this is indicative of eternal life.
“Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.” (Deuteronomy 27:17) WMM ch12, #923; TTC 4.1.11. You can’t just put a piece of real estate in your satchel and walk off with it. But if you want to steal your neighbor’s land, all you have to do is move the boundary marker farther onto his side of the line, making him think what is his is actually yours. It’s theft, and God forbids it.
Ninth Commandment: Perjury
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) TOM ch7, #241; TTC 4.1.11. It doesn’t matter why. We are not to tell lies in order to gain an advantage—for anyone.
“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” (Exodus 23:1) TOM ch7, #243. Conspiracy to lie (or hide the truth) is forbidden, as is gossip. Let your yes be yes, and your no, no—no matter who stands to gain (or lose) due to your honesty.
“You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.” (Exodus 23:6-8) TOM ch7, #254, #258. Enticement to perjury is as bad as perjury itself. And I think we can safely read into this a prohibition against using legal trickery, loopholes, and so forth to subvert justice.
“You shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:12) TOM ch6, #205. Review the Third Commandment. “Do not accept or advance anything that is false, deceptive, or destructive in Yahweh’s name, or associate these things with His character, or say that they’re His word.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Deuteronomy 5:20) It’s worth noting that both parties in any dispute are your “neighbors.” Just tell the truth.
“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15) TOM ch7, #247; TTC 1.2. This is not just for cases of murder. Any matter needs more than one witness (although I would suggest that solid forensic evidence should serve as one of those witnesses).
“If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before Yahweh, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deuteronomy 19:16-21) TOM ch7, #247. This is my personal favorite. If we could implement this precept consistently in our nation’s laws, justice might actually be served.
“Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.” (Deuteronomy 27:25) WMM ch12, #923. If two or more witnesses are required to establish a matter—in this case, murder—then some would be tempted to simply buy themselves some eyewitnesses. This is the very ploy the chief Priests and Pharisees used in order to convict Yahshua. But God forbids it.
Tenth Commandment: Covetousness
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17) TOM ch8, #280; TTC 4.1.11. Like theft, covetousness betrays an unwillingness to trust God, not to mention revealing a lack of love for your neighbor. In this case, however, mere intent is enough to make you guilty—you don’t actually have to take what you covet in order to run afoul of this precept.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Deuteronomy 5:21) TOM ch8, #283. Admiration is not the same thing as covetousness. I (being a guy) could admire your custom car or chrome-encrusted motorcycle all day long. This does not mean I want one for myself—especially yours.
Love, Mercy, and Compassion
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21) TOM ch2, #54; TTC 4.2.4. I believe one of the reasons Yahweh let Israel languish in Egypt for four centuries is so they’d have some sort of institutional memory of what it’s like to be oppressed and mistreated without cause. God didn’t want them—or us—to oppress any of His children.
“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:22-24) TOM ch2, #40. I can’t help but reflect that the practice of abortion surely must qualify as the ultimate expression of “afflicting a fatherless child.” The world can’t say we haven’t earned the wrath of God.
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” (Exodus 23:2) Majority rule—a polite way of saying mob rule—is not to govern the course of our affairs. We are to do good (according to God’s Law) no matter what everyone else is doing.
“You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.” (Exodus 23:3) Under “Perjury” we were instructed not to “pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute.” Here we see the converse—don’t take his side because of his poverty. Let the facts speak for themselves, regardless of the financial status of the plaintiffs or defendants. This defines “affirmative action” as a sin.
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.” (Exodus 23:4-5) WMM ch11, #882; TTC4.1.11. Help the helpless, regardless of their prejudices.
“Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9) WMM ch11, #883; TTC 4.2.4. This is a corollary to the “golden rule.”
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am Yahweh your God.” (Exodus 23:9-10) WMM ch11, #883; TTC 4.2.4. This is the heart of Yahweh’s “welfare system.” Something was to be reserved for the poor, but he still had to work for it.
“The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:13-14) TOM ch8, #280; TOM ch6, #184. Pay your bills—before they’re due. Be kind to everyone, whether they know it or not.
“You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:15-16) TOM ch7, #252. We are to be biased toward neither the rich or poor, the powerful or helpless.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:17-19) TOM ch2, #30; TTC 4.1.11; TTC 4.1.1. This was identified by Christ as the “Second-Greatest Commandment.” Note that loving others does not include tolerating their sin, but helping them to overcome it.
“If a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34) TTC 4.1.11. This gets complicated. See TTC 4.2.6—the chapter on Strangers & Foreigners. The bottom line: strangers are invited to be guests in the Kingdom of Heaven. They may join us in blessing; we are not to join them in apostasy.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 23:22) TOM ch2, #41; TOM ch6, #214; TTC 4.2.4. . No one was to starve to death among God’s people. A portion of the harvest was set aside for the benefit of people who owned no land of their own. They were allowed to reap and enjoy the bounty of the Land, but they had to show up and work for it, like everybody else.
“Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19) Israel got “empathy lessons” in Egypt for four hundred years. It was a lesson they were never supposed to forget.
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which Yahweh your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to Yahweh against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11) TOM ch2, #51. Every seven years, all debts were to be forgiven (a picture of God’s forgiveness of our sins during the Millennial Kingdom—the ultimate Sabbath). In practical terms, this meant that if your neighbor got in trouble and needed a loan right before the Sabbatical Year, it was more likely to be a gift than a loan. Yahweh insists that we help out anyway. Be generous: you have nothing that wasn’t given to you by God, one way or another.
“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.” (Deuteronomy 22:1-4) TOM ch7, #276; TTC 4.1.11. These are practical examples of how to implement the golden rule: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Take risks; incur expense on your neighbor’s behalf; go the extra mile if you see your neighbor in need. In short, love one another.
“When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” (Deuteronomy 23:24-25) TOM ch2, #46; TOM ch6, #185. God drew a fine line between welfare and theft. A traveler walking through your vineyard, orchard, or field was free to satisfy his hunger at your expense, but the limit of your generosity would be whatever he could carry away in his stomach (about a quart).
“No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one’s living in pledge.” (Deuteronomy 24:6) TOM ch6, #176. Exercise compassion and trust when receiving collateral for a loan. Treat every loan you make as a potential gift, for you possess nothing that wasn’t a gift to you.
“When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 24:10-13) TOM ch6, #177. Don’t rob a borrower of his dignity. He feels bad enough having to ask for a loan in the first place.
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to Yahweh, and it be sin to you.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15) TOM ch6, #188. If you have employees (or others who are relying upon you in some way), meet your obligations promptly and fairly—even if it puts strain on your own finances. To “look out for Number One” is tantamount to oppression in God’s eyes.
“You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and Yahweh your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18) TOM ch6, #180; TOM ch7, #257. Mercy and compassion trump “sound business practices” any day of the week.
“When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that Yahweh your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:19-22) TOM ch2, #50; TTC 3.5.5. Welfare rules again. God commands us not to “run lean and mean.”
“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) TOM ch6, #202; TTC 3.2.5. In other words, pay the lowly a living wage.
“Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.” (Deuteronomy 27:18) WMM ch12, #923. In other words, do not take advantage of another’s weakness in order to further your own goals. Don’t cheat somebody, just because they’re gullible.
“Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.” (Deuteronomy 27:24) WMM ch12, #923. God sees everything we do.
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which Yahweh your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20) TOM ch7, #227. God entrusts judgment to man. We are made in God’s “image and likeness,” which means we know justice when we see it. We are therefore not to pervert such justice for our own gain.
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16) TOM ch7, #244. You can’t be saved (or lost, for that matter) for someone else.
“If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.” (Deuteronomy 25:1-3) TOM ch8, #304. Punishment, even though deserved, must be neither cruel nor humiliating. In God’s world, the punishment must fit the crime, being neither too harsh nor too lenient. And God would rather see a guilty man go free than see an innocent man punished unfairly.
“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) TOM ch7, #265. Don’t let your wife fight your battles for you. It will not end well. Nor should the church presume to inflict Christ’s wrath.
“Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.” (Deuteronomy 27:19) WMM ch12, #923; TTC 4.2.4. The powerless in this world must be protected by the law, not oppressed by it.
Debt and Redemption
“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.” (Exodus 22:25-27) TOM ch6, #173. Don’t make mercy a for-profit endeavor.
“If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.” (Leviticus 25:35-37) TOM ch6, #171. You can call it a “loan” if you want, since it allows the one who’s fallen on hard times to maintain his dignity. And as a borrower, you should have every intention of paying it back. But as a lender, just assume you will never be repaid. That way, when the one you’ve helped gets back on his feet and repays the debt, it’s like found money—a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called Yahweh’s release. Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, except when there may be no poor among you; for Yahweh will greatly bless you in the land which Yahweh your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-4) TOM ch2, #51, 57; TOM ch6, #217. It’s a corollary to the Sabbath Law (in which we are forgiven our sins against God and man as we rest in the grace of Yahshua). As a practical matter, if a lender hasn’t been able to overcome whatever caused his poverty in six years, chances are he never will. It’s not business, its mercy.
“You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that Yahweh your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20) TOM ch2, #58. The overt meaning of “your brother” here is obviously a fellow Israelite living in the theocratic society. But thinking symbolically, we should realize that one’s real brother is a child of the same father—in this case, our Heavenly Father, Yahweh. We should be ready and willing to forgive any debt, any sin against us, perpetrated by fellow believers. But what does “charging interest” mean in this context? Perhaps it is indicative of holding a grudge, of cutting off fellowship in the interests of self-preservation. You do the math.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.’” (Genesis 17:1) WMM ch13, #935; TTC 4.2.1. “Blameless” here (Hebrew: tamim) doesn’t really imply sinless perfection (as great as that would be), but rather indicates something that is complete, sound, intact, having integrity and sincerity.
“An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.” (Exodus 20:24-26) The life-blood of the sacrifice, not the religious ritual attending it, is what’s important to God. In fact, “mystery religions” in which devotees ascend into higher orders by degrees are an anathema to God.
“Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.” (Exodus 34:12-16) WMM ch3, #695; TTC 4.1.8. Do not compromise with the world’s values. Note the fine print: we are not to “tear down their altars” where they live, but where we live. That is, don’t allow anti-Biblical practices to make inroads into your faith. But what about the Great Commission? We are to invite them to receive the Gospel; it is pointless and counterproductive to compel them. When they receive God’s grace, it will be up to them to “break their sacred pillars and cut down their wooden images.” Remember, if you baptize a pagan, all you get is a wet pagan.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I Yahweh your God am holy.’” (Leviticus 19:1-2) TOM ch3, #62. The reason we are to be set-apart to Yahweh is that He, being the one true God, is distinct from all other things that might be worshiped—unique and matchless.
“You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.” (Leviticus 19:19) TOM ch13, #358, 359; WMM ch10, #849. The idea here is separateness. These are all practical examples of what it means to be “holy.”
“You shall be holy to Me, for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” (Leviticus 20:26) Believers should comprehend that although they have to live in the world, they don’t have to let the world live in them. God is commanding us to be “separated from the peoples.” It is up to us to choose whether or not to obey Him.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am Yahweh your God.” (Numbers 15:37-41) TOM ch1, #18; TOM ch8, #284; WWM ch15, #972. These tassels, or tsitzit, had no function other than to remind the Israelites of who they were in relationship with Yahweh, every time they saw one another. That single blue thread in each tsitzit represents (if I’m not mistaken) Yahshua the Messiah—the One to whom the whole Torah points, one way or another. It is telling that modern Orthodox Jews purposely disobey the Torah by leaving out the blue thread on a technicality.
“Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, ‘This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded: If a man makes a vow to Yahweh, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.’” (Numbers 30:1-2) TOM ch6, #207. Christ would expand that: don’t make oaths at all; just do what you said. Keep your word. Tell the truth.
“If a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and Yahweh will release her, because her father overruled her. If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself, and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and Yahweh will release her.” (Numbers 30:3-8) This isn’t saying that compared to men, women are silly and frivolous. It’s purely symbolic: fathers and husbands are supposed to be acting out the role of Yahweh in the home, while daughters and wives are analogous Israel and the church—we who are under God’s protection. See the chapters on Sons, Daughters, Husbands, and Wives in TTC Volume 4.
“Any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.” (Numbers 30:9) If a woman is not under the protection of a father or husband (symbolically, read “Yahweh”), then she (like any man) must be prepared to suffer the consequences of her actions. That is, if we (any of us) are not indemnified by the blood of Christ, we will be judged on the basis of our own works.
“If she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath, and her husband heard it, and made no response to her and did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and Yahweh will release her. Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void. Now if her husband makes no response whatever to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her; he confirms them, because he made no response to her on the day that he heard them. But if he does make them void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” (Numbers 30:10-15) TTC 4.1.10. He’s not saying that “men are better than women,” but that they represent God’s place (leader, protector, and provider) in the family structure as He ordained it.
“You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to [people who hate Yahweh]. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of Yahweh will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 7:2-6) TTC4.2.5. This should be compared to passages like Leviticus 19:33-34 (listed under “Love, Mercy, and Compassion,” above). The “strangers and foreigners” we are to welcome with open arms are those individuals who wish to embrace our culture, our values, and (need I say it?) our God. But if they are our enemies, sworn to destroy us and our Christ-centered way of life (like today’s Muslims, for example), then we are not required to compromise or ally ourselves with them. Loving one’s neighbor does not include committing suicide for him.
“You are the children of Yahweh your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God, and Yahweh has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:1-2) TOM ch9, #347; TTC 4.1.5. Don’t emulate the world. There’s nothing particularly holy about dressing half a century out of style. But how we dress or groom ourselves should not announce “I am trendy, insecure, and narcissistic.” What’s inside your heart—a loving, peaceful, gentle spirit—will make a more lasting impression than anything else.
“You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.” (Deuteronomy 22:9-11) TOM ch9, #362, #363, #364, #367; TTC 3.2.5, 3.3.9. As in Leviticus 19:19 above, these are practical examples of what “holiness” looks like. We are not to mix faith in God and His Christ with any conceivable alternative. Our worship should be pure and unadulterated.
“You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12) Can people tell who you worship, just by looking at you?
“When you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for Yahweh your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to Yahweh your God what you have promised with your mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:21-23) It doesn’t matter whether you “swear on a stack of Bibles” or merely make a statement of fact. A signed legal contract and a promise sealed with a handshake carry exactly the same weight before God.
Heeding and Teaching God’s Law
“One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (Exodus 12:49) “Among you” is the key. People who don’t revere Yahweh or His Messiah aren’t expected to do what He says. We, on the other hand, are.
“Diligently heed the voice of Yahweh your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes.” (Exodus 15:26) TTC4.1.6. This precept, one way or another, is the most oft-repeated single theme in the Torah. Basically, this says “the most important law is to keep the Law.” The whole Law.
“If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” (Exodus 19:5) TOM ch16, #583, 586. The point was that if Israel would keep Yahweh’s commandments, they would be a light and testimony to the whole world—who would then naturally enquire as to why this tiny nation was so blessed. The whole thing—the upside and downside of the covenant—would be considerably harder for the nations to perceive if Israel did not obey Yahweh’s voice.
“Observe what I command you this day.” (Exodus 34:11) Ironically, “keep My commandments” is the most oft-repeated precept of them all.
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am Yahweh your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am Yahweh your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 18:2-5) TOM ch9, #332; TTC 4.1.8. The reason we are to keep the Law is that the lawgiver is not man, but Yahweh—God Almighty. His statutes were created not out of logic, reason, or as a reaction to problems that arose, but were crafted by our Creator (who knows us better than we know ourselves) to meet our needs.
“You shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am Yahweh your God.’” (Leviticus 18:30) The customs of both Egypt (the place they were leaving) and Canaan (the place to which they were going) were considered “abominable” to Yahweh—things that would defile the Israelites, even though they were all they had seen for the past four centuries. No wonder Yahweh was so specific and comprehensive in His Instructions.
“You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out.” (Leviticus 20:22) WMM ch2, #678; TTC3.1.9. The Land was about to “vomit out” the seven Canaanite nations. Yahweh was putting Israel on notice that the same spiritual emetic would work on them if they failed to follow God’s Instructions.
“You shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 22:31) TOM ch1, #5; WMM ch6, #758. No other reason was necessary for keeping God’s precepts. The identity of their God—not some manmade local deity, but the very Creator of the Universe—was (or should have been) quite enough.
“You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 24:22) WMM ch11, #875; TTC 4.2.4. Gentiles were always welcome within Israelite society, as long as they embraced Yahweh as their God and adhered to His precepts. In fact, a “mixed multitude” of gentiles accompanied Israel out of Egypt at the exodus (see Exodus 12:38). Racial prejudice was never part of God’s modus operandi.
“Walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them.” (Leviticus 26:3) WMM ch3, #705; TTC 1.3.6. This wasn’t for God’s benefit, but for the people’s. Good things were promised if they complied—and vice versa.
“If you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will [punish] you.” (Leviticus 26:14-16) As you might expect, there are consequences for breaking God’s Law. But the broader context (as well as our own experience) reveals that Yahweh’s “punishments” most often manifest themselves in His refusal to shield us from the natural consequences of our own actions. He needn’t be proactive in dispensing His wrath—though He reserves the right to be.
“After all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” (Leviticus 26:18) Leviticus 26 (like Deuteronomy 28) describes a pattern of escalation in the severity of punishment if the people do not repent. These passages seem focused on national or corporate response, not individual sins.
“If you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.” (Leviticus 26:21) The next escalation is described. The “blessings and cursings” of Leviticus 26 were proclaimed soon after Israel left Egypt. The miracles of the exodus were still very fresh in their minds. A second, and more extensive, recounting of the same subject is recorded in Deuteronomy 28, when they were about to enter the Promised Land—almost forty years later.
“If by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.” (Leviticus 26:23-24) A fourth level of punishment is decreed. Yahweh was offering Israel (and by extension, us) a very clear choice.
“After all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.” (Leviticus 26:27-28) A fifth level of punishment escalation is declared. It’s hard to envision how a nation who truly believed Yahweh was God—after they had seen indisputable proof with their own eyes ten times over—could fail to continually honor Him. But then again, the same could be said about America, could it not?
“If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:40-42) The remedy for God’s escalating wrath is not for everyone to suddenly become perfect and sinless. That isn’t going to happen, and God knows it. Rather, it is confession of our sins, admission of our past unfaithfulness, and humility before a Holy God. The three-quarters of the Torah that can’t be performed today focuses on the forgiveness of sins (and cleansing from contamination) that are inevitable features of the human condition. One way or another, those precepts were all prophetic of the life and mission of Yahshua the Messiah. Without recourse to Him, the goal of attaining righteousness before God is hopeless.
“One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before Yahweh. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.” (Numbers 15:15-16) The bottom line here is that the path toward salvation is exactly the same for gentiles as it is for Jews—based not on the Law (which was given exclusively to Israel), but on what the Law reveals: the righteousness of Christ.
“The person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on Yahweh, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of Yahweh, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.” (Numbers 15:30-31) WMM ch1, #636; TTC 3.3.2. In case you missed it, we have all sinned “presumptuously.” We are all “cut off.” The only way back to righteousness is to “borrow it” from the Messiah.
“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which Yahweh God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2) TTC 4.2.4, 3.2.1. God’s word is sufficient and inerrant. If we don’t find “the answer” here, we aren’t looking very hard.
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as Yahweh my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as Yahweh our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8) Israel was intended to be a witness to the world. Their observance of the precepts of God was to precipitate a reputation for being blessed due to their wisdom and understanding, leading to a realization that their God was the source of all of this.
“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before Yahweh your God in Horeb, when Yahweh said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10) WMM ch12, #899. We can win the battle by honoring God. But we risk losing the war if we fail to pass our reverence on to our children.
“Know this day, and consider it in your heart, that Yahweh Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which Yahweh your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:39-40) WMM ch12, #892. The only reason we really need for doing what Yahweh says is that He is actually God—the Real Thing, not some manmade phony invented by kings and clerics in order to keep their people in line.
“Moses called all Israel, and said to them: ‘Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them.’” (Deuteronomy 5:1) He then recapped the Ten Commandments, as we saw above. These encapsulate and summarize God’s “statutes and judgments.”
“Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29) One might guess that Yahweh’s words here had been in response to Israel’s promise to obey and observe the Torah. But they weren’t. Rather, Israel had just expressed their sheer terror at seeing and hearing Yahweh’s awesome pyrotechnics on Mount Sinai at the giving of the Law to Moses. The people begged for an intermediary (so they wouldn’t have to experience God’s glory quite so vociferously), and Moses complied (see Exodus 20:18-19). But later, Moses revealed that the role of this Intermediary would be fulfilled by “a prophet like me” (see Deuteronomy 18:15), a prophetic reference to Yahshua the Messiah.
“You shall be careful to do as Yahweh your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which Yahweh your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33) Once again, Israel’s national prosperity and length of tenure in the Promised Land was tied to their willingness to heed Yahweh’s Instructions.
“Fear Yahweh your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” (Deuteronomy 6:2) This truth is repeated many times in the Torah. Even if the original exodus generation understood and heeded these things, they failed to pass them on to their “sons and grandsons.” History reveals the ugly consequences of this failure. And alas, I fear the modern world (especially my beloved America) has dropped the same ball—and will suffer the same consequences.
“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) TOM ch1, #19. Reverence for God and His precepts is not to be restricted to weekly gatherings for corporate worship. It is to be an ever-present reality in our lives, 24/7/365. We are to keep Yahweh’s truth before us at all times.
“You shall not tempt Yahweh your God as you tempted Him in Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of Yahweh, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as Yahweh has spoken.” (Deuteronomy 6:16-19) TOM ch1, #9. Don’t look for loopholes, work-arounds, or technicalities. If you want God’s blessing, just do your best to do what He said to do.
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which Yahweh our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and Yahweh brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and Yahweh showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And Yahweh commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear Yahweh our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before Yahweh our God, as He has commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25) WMM ch12, #896. The natural curiosity of the children as to the nature of Yahweh’s Instructions was intended to open a dialogue through which they would learn of God’s mercy, love, and deliverance. It’s all one subject.
“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which Yahweh swore to your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 8:1) Again, performance of the Torah is linked to prosperity in the Land of Promise. The ultimate lesson is, “These precepts reveal how My Anointed One will save you through the atoning of your sins. If you observe them, you will live. If you don’t, you won’t.”
“You shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” (Deuteronomy 8:6) WMM ch12, #907; TTC 3.3.5, 3.3.11. The most oft-repeated of God’s commandments is “Keep My commandments.” They are not there for God’s health, but for ours.
“Beware that you do not forget Yahweh your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest [when you have become prosperous]… you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember Yahweh your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:11, 17-18) TOM ch2, #24. If nothing else, performing Yahweh’s precepts is the perfect way to keep Him in the forefront of your mind—right where He should be. We must never mistake Yahweh’s blessing for our own efforts. He is, at the very least, the One who gave us the ability to work hard in His world.
“What does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of Yahweh and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) TOM ch12, #916. Compare this to Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does Yahweh require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” These things are perfectly compatible.
“You shall love Yahweh your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.” (Deuteronomy 11:1) Keeping God’s Instructions is not just for worship gatherings or holy days. It’s an “always” sort of thing—all day long, in good times and bad. And it all begins with our love for Yahweh our God and Creator.
“You shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong.” (Deuteronomy 11:8) WMM ch12, #917. It’s like bodily exercise: the more you “work out,” the stronger you’ll get. The more we obey our God, the easier it gets. And vice versa.
“You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21) TTC 1.3.7. It is awfully hard to walk in a godly manner if you aren’t intimately familiar with His Instructions.
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32) WMM ch12, #913. Alas, Rabbinical Judaism, especially from Akiba forward (that is, about a century after Christ) is built entirely on the twin evils of subtracting from and adding to the Word of God.
“Carefully obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 15:5) “Care” is mentioned twice here, because these things are not as intuitive as simply following one’s conscience. We must go out of our way to learn what God has said, and then heed His words. Observation leads to obedience if “care” is applied.
“When you come to the land which Yahweh your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom Yahweh your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for Yahweh has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” (Deuteronomy 17:14-17) TOM ch16, #582; TTC 3.2.14. Yahweh made it clear (in I Samuel 8:7) that Israel’s desire for a human king was in reality a rejection of His direct rule through the precepts of the Torah. But knowing what they would eventually do, He laid down ground rules for royal behavior, basically forbidding the pursuit of power, sex, and money. I’m pretty sure there has never been a ruler of any nation, during any epoch, who has kept this statute wholeheartedly—not even David, God’s favorite human. But we can also be assured that this will describe Yahshua the Messiah, in his coming role as King of Planet Earth.
“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20) TOM ch16, #587. There’s no evidence to suggest that any king of Israel ever did this, but what a difference it would have made. At the very least, they couldn’t claim they didn’t know what Yahweh wanted. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if American presidents were required by law to hand-write a copy of the Sermon on the Mount for their own use before taking the oath of office?
“This day Yahweh your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 26:16) God isn’t particularly interested in begrudging compliance. The ideal, rather, might be characterized as enthusiastic reverence.
“Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people, saying: ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you today.’” (Deuteronomy 27:1) WMM ch12, #921. As this truncated precept list is demonstrating, “all” is impossible today, for lack of a temple and priesthood. Today, all we can do is observe them—that is, examine and ponder them with an eye toward comprehending what Yahweh meant to teach us. If we do this, we’ll see Christ written between every line.
“Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.” (Deuteronomy 27:26) WMM ch12, #923; TTC 4.1.9. Notice two things: (1) we confirm (approve, endorse, and ratify) God’s word by observing His precepts; and (2) we are “cursed” if we fail to do so.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that Yahweh your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2) TOM ch3, #63; TTC 2.9; TTC 1.3.8, 4.2.4. Whenever in her long history Israel has honored Yahweh (for instance, under the reigns of David and Solomon), she has found herself in a powerful position vis-à-vis her national neighbors. But Israel has never been “set high above all nations of the earth.” Yet. This, however, is a two-edged prophecy: during Christ’s Millennial kingdom (coming soon to planet Earth), Israel will (1) carefully observe all of Yahweh’s commandments (which point directly toward Yahshua the Messiah-King), and (2) find themselves as a result “set high above all nations of the earth.” All of them.
“It shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” (Deuteronomy 28:15) It bears repeating: for the most part, the “curses” for systemic national disobedience are merely the natural results of failing to heed Yahweh. If you jump off the roof of a tall building, you can’t blame God for your gruesome death; nor can you blame the architect, the sidewalk, or even gravity. You can only blame yourself.
“If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, Yahweh your God, then Yahweh will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues.” (Deuteronomy 28:58-59) TOM ch11, #450. As far as Israel (the recipient of the Torah) was concerned, learning to fear (i.e., reverence, respect, stand in awe of) Yahweh would have been sufficient impetus to heed the Instructions. They didn’t have to know that the whole rest of the world was watching. There is a parallel lesson here for the church, I’m thinking. Does the world blaspheme God because of what it sees us doing?
“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) Yahweh didn’t owe Israel an explanation for the fine points of the Law. He was under no obligation to elucidate the metaphors and symbols that shaded so much of what He commanded them to do. It’s like having small children: we don’t have to explain why they have to make their beds, clean up their rooms, and brush their teeth. It is enough that they do as we say.
“For Yahweh will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-10) The imperative here is to do as He prophesied: obey Yahweh, keep His commandments, and turn to your God, so that He could then remove the long-standing curse and “rejoice over Israel.” Don’t look now, but this is the single most often-repeated prophecy in the entire Tanakh. As unlikely as it looks (even at this late date) it will happen.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) TTC 3.3.14, 4.1.3, 4.2. It’s a matter of life and death. Why is that so hard for us to comprehend? It is no accident that there are well over twice as many “Laws” saying “Obey God’s Laws” as there are precepts covering any other single subject.
RELATIONSHIPS AND BEHAVIOR
Marriage, Procreation, Legacy, and Divorce
“God blessed them [the man and the woman, Adam and Eve], and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28) WMM ch11, #872. This is the first “commandment” in the Bible. Satan would have you believe that sex is dirty (unless it’s perverted), and families are obsolete. But the very first thing out of God’s mouth was, “make love, you two: have lots of children, so you (the resulting human race) can supervise, utilize, and enjoy my entire earthly creation.”
“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) WMM ch13, #928. Men are to be joined to women in marriage, and their offspring are literally “one flesh,” a blending of the genetic makeup of the father and the mother. The fact that we didn’t understand how this works until almost six thousand years after God revealed the truth doesn’t change anything.
“God said to [Jacob]: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.” (Genesis 35:11) I’d take the “be fruitful” command as a universal law.
“So you shall serve Yahweh your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:25-26) TOM ch2, #22. Service to Yahweh tends to result in prosperity, health, fecundity, and longevity.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Yahweh, and you shall not bring sin on the land which Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) TOM ch16, #605; TTC1.3.3, 4.1.8, 3.3.12, 4.1.9. If you follow the logic through to the end, this means that God Himself may not “remarry” unfaithful Israel. That is, she must become a “new creation in Christ” (as Paul put it) in order to be reconciled to God, who divorced her for her infidelities (see Jeremiah 3:8). That being said, God hates divorce.
“When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) TOM ch3, #72. Everybody loves the idea of a year-long honeymoon. But nobody keeps this commandment.
“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’” (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) TOM ch3, #79; TTC4.1.8, 4.1.9. The joke here is, “Make sure your brother marries a super-model.” Seriously, though, this precept (although it would get you in big trouble in most countries) demonstrates that Yahweh is vitally interested in our fruitfulness. Life is a relay race: there has to be someone to whom we can pass the baton.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.’” (Exodus 13:1-2) TOM ch12, #459; WMM ch14, #958; TTC 4.1.7. All of our eleven children (biological and adopted) were “dedicated” to God—that is, we promised God that we would raise them in “the nurture and admonition of Yahweh.” That’s about as far as we can go with this precept today. In theocratic Israel, however, consecration of the firstborn took on far more literal proportions. Firstborn children were redeemed by Levites, firstborn clean animals were sacrificed, and firstborn unclean animals were either swapped for clean ones or slain. It was an issue of faith, reminiscent of Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of Isaac, and prophetic of Christ’s ultimate death and resurrection on our behalf.
“It shall be, when Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to Yahweh all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be Yahweh’s. But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:11-16) TTC4.1.7. Yahweh’s “firstborn” is Yahshua. This is all a picture of redemption through sacrifice—His sacrifice on our behalf.
“The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” (Exodus 22:29-30) TTC 4.1.9, 4.2.1. “Seven” is symbolic of the entire relationship between Yahweh and mortal man—from the fall of Adam to the last day of Christ’s Millennial kingdom (itself the ultimate Sabbath). The “eighth day,” then, is prophetic of the eternal state, in which we will “belong” to Yahweh in immortal bodies that can actually survive the encounter.
“All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.” (Exodus 34:19-20) TTC 3.2.5, 4.1.7. In the end, none of us may appear before Yahweh without having been redeemed by the blood of His Firstborn, Yahshua.
“All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctify to Yahweh your God; you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock.” (Deuteronomy 15:19) TOM ch12, #459. It is not our labors or good deeds that are of value to God, but our very lives.
“If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” (Deuteronomy 21:15-17) WMM ch11, #886; TTC 4.1.7. Israel was called Yahweh’s “firstborn” (see Exodus 4:22). They were also the “wife” He was forced to “divorce” due to her spiritual adulteries. This precept, then, restricts God Himself from dumping Israel in favor of somebody He likes better—like the church. Those who hold to the odd doctrine of “Replacement Theology” need to rethink their position.
“Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal.” (Leviticus 24:18) WMM ch11, #881. These precepts will demonstrate God’s attitude: He is always just, fair, and logical—and He expects us to be as well.
“And whoever kills an animal shall restore it.” (Leviticus 24:21) WMM ch11, #881. The repetition of the precept is a signal for us to pay attention. God is quite serious about this. Life is precious.
“The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24) TOM ch6, #226; TOM ch7, #267. Although each family in Israel was given an inheritance of land, ownership of the land remained Yahweh’s. So you could “lease” your land in order to raise cash, but technically, you couldn’t sell it. Such leases would expire automatically at the Jubilee, which took place once every fifty years, unless the lessor or his kinsman had redeemed the land before that time.
“If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.” (Leviticus 25:25-28) WMM ch11, #885. The value of a piece of leased land was calculated on the time left before the Jubilee, based on the number of crops that could be grown on it. In the bigger picture, the Jubilee is symbolic of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness and grace. That is, if we don’t take advantage of Yahweh’s generosity within our lifetimes, there will be no opportunity to do so afterward. So much for the doctrine of purgatory.
“If a man sells a house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year he may redeem it. But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee. However the houses of villages which have no wall around them shall be counted as the fields of the country. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee.” (Leviticus 25:29-31) TOM ch7, #269. The Rubicon here is the presence (or not) of a city wall. Look at it this way: if we are “open” to God’s grace, our sins will be forgiven. But if we have “walled ourselves off” from His mercy, then forgiveness will elude us if we wait too long in our state of stubborn unrepentance.
“If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the relative closest to him in his family, and he shall possess it.” (Numbers 27:8-11) TOM ch7, #232; TTC 4.1.6. Because of the symbology of the thing, God characterizes daughters (and wives) as being under the protection of their fathers (and husbands)—just as Israel and the church are to be submissive to Yahweh and Yahshua. Satan has tried to convince the world that this means God considers females to be second-class citizens. While this is true in Islam, it is a blatant lie in the case of Biblical theology. And this passage proves it.
“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you to possess.” (Deuteronomy 19:14) TOM ch7, #270. Moving a landmark is tantamount to stealing real estate.
Liability and Restitution
“If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted. But if the ox tended to thrust with its horn in times past, and it has been made known to his owner, and he has not kept it confined, so that it has killed a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. If there is imposed on him a sum of money, then he shall pay to redeem his life, whatever is imposed on him. Whether it has gored a son or gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him. If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.” (Exodus 21:28-32) WMM ch11, #884; TOM ch5, #162; TTC 3.2.5. We are supposed to be in control of the things we own, and the damage they do is our responsibility—as if we had done the deed ourselves. The option is given for the owner of the ox to pay a fine, but there is no limit on how much he must pay; the sky’s the limit. The question being asked is “Just how much is your life worth to you?” Also, note that the value of a servant is set here—the same price Judas Iscariot was paid to betray Yahshua.
“If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it, the owner of the pit shall make it good; he shall give money to their owner, but the dead animal shall be his.” (Exodus 21:33:34) TOM ch7, #233. Moral traps—enticements to temptation—are dangerous. You break it, you bought it.
“If one man’s ox hurts another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the money from it; and the dead ox they shall also divide. Or if it was known that the ox tended to thrust in time past, and its owner has not kept it confined, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall be his own.” (Exodus 21:35-36) TOM ch7, #234. We are responsible for what we own, whether or not it has a mind of its own. Your dog should be well trained and kept on a leash when appropriate; your car should be well maintained; your front walk should be rendered safe and passable in icy weather. You get the idea.
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.” (Exodus 22:1-4) TOM ch7, #275; TTC 3.2.5. Crime doesn’t “pay” in God’s economy. It doesn’t even break even.
“If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.” (Exodus 22:5) TOM ch7, #235. Restitution is made from the “best” the guilty party has. There is simply no way to “get ahead” at the expense of your neighbor. But then, of course, if you truly love your neighbor, why would you want to?
“If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.” (Exodus 22:6) TOM ch7, #236. What would happen if we applied this to forest fire arsonists, whether negligent or purposeful?
“If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods.” (Exodus 22:7-8) TOM ch7, #230; TCC 3.3.12; TCC 4.1.11. This should apply to any kind of trustee, financial manager, or bank. And for my money, it ought to be applicable to government agencies as well.
“For any kind of trespass, whether it concerns an ox, a donkey, a sheep, or clothing, or for any kind of lost thing which another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whomever the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing it, then an oath of Yahweh shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good. But if, in fact, it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it. If it is torn to pieces by a beast, then he shall bring it as evidence, and he shall not make good what was torn.” (Exodus 22:9-13) TOM ch7, #238. Property entrusted to us is our responsibility, but we are not responsible for what we cannot control. God is always fair, except when He’s showing mercy.
“If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good. If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good; if it was hired, it came for its hire.” (Exodus 22:14-15) If you borrow something, you are responsible for it. But if you rent it, the owner assumes his share of liability.
“If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.” (Leviticus 24:19-20) WMM ch11, #874. What could be more fair than this? Of course, the usual rules of testimony and evidence apply: two witnesses, preferably three. Note also that the punishment is to fit the crime precisely—it may not exceed it.
“Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel: When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against Yahweh, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.” (Numbers 5:5-7) Again, crime never pays. At the very least, there is a 20% surcharge.
“When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.” (Deuteronomy 22:8) TOM ch7, 263. We are to take reasonable precautions with the things we own, to protect our neighbors: guard rails, good brakes on your car, fences around swimming pools, a leash for your dog—you get the idea.
“If men contend with each other, and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but is confined to his bed, if he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck him shall be acquitted. He shall only pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for him to be thoroughly healed.” (Exodus 21:18-19) TOM ch8, #299. Acquittal from attempted murder charges, you’ll note, does not preclude being held liable for the injuries you afflicted upon your adversary. Nobody “wins” such a fight. We are commanded to love our neighbors, not duke it out with them.
“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:22-25) TOM ch8, #285. Here’s another open-ended liability issue. It’s best just to shut up and walk away, guys.
“Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.” (Exodus 21:1-11) TTC 3.3.3. For a compete discussion of slavery from a Biblical perspective, see TTC 4.2.7. The point is that we are all slaves to sin, so God allowed the practice of slavery continue to exist (though tightly regulated) to teach us valuable lessons about our own bondage.
“If a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.” (Exodus 21:20-21) WMM ch11, #876. The only thing that makes this “work” is the spiritual application. God is not going on record as being in favor of abusing slaves—even though slavery is a “fact of life” that He chose to let stand because it represents our common condition as slaves to sin. The spiritual equivalent of “beating your slave with a rod until he dies” is taking it upon yourself to punish an unbeliever under your control for his sin beyond what Yahweh authorized of human governments (for example, the death penalty for murderers). In a society without actual slavery, it’s hard to imagine a direct equivalent. But the point is clear enough: we are to show mercy, compassion, and justice to those who wrong us.
“If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.” (Exodus 21:26-27) Again, mercy trumps justice in God’s mind.
“If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.” (Exodus 21:32) WMM ch15, #964. There it is again: the price of a slave—the same as that paid to Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Christ.
“If one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:39-43) TOM ch6, #190. Among Israelites, the master-servant relationship was more like an employer-to-employee association. There was a contract between them, up to six years in duration (or even until the next Jubilee). But the master didn’t “own” the servant—God did.
“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.” (Leviticus 25:44-46) The difference had to do with God’s extensive matrix of symbols and metaphors—the subject of The Torah Code. “Israel” symbolized “God’s family,” while gentile strangers or foreigners (who could be “owned” by Israelites) were by definition outside the family—though they were neighbors: guests, invited to join God’s household.
“Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself. Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him. If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought. And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption. He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight. And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 25:47-55) TOM ch6, #193. People sold themselves into bondage because they were poor—they needed the money. This afforded God a perfect opportunity to teach us all about redemption—the “buying back” of our service contracts (read: our sin) by a “kinsman-redeemer” willing to pay the price. The ultimate Redeemer, of course, is Yahshua.
“If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what Yahweh your God has blessed you with, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” (Deuteronomy 15:12-15) TOM ch6, #194, #195, #190. When a man is released from the bondage of his debt (i.e., his sin) after six years (symbolically: the age of choice, from the fall of Adam until the reign of Christ), He is to be given whatever he needs to keep from getting in trouble again. Beyond the obvious temporal application, I see here our new “immortal resurrection bodies” like those spoken of in I Corinthians 15—“human 2.0,” so to speak. We will never again fall into sin/debt, because these new bodies are incorruptible, built without the sin nature we inherited from Adam.
“If it happens that he [a slave you own] says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. It shall not seem hard to you when you send him away free from you; for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years. Then Yahweh your God will bless you in all that you do.” (Deuteronomy 15:16-18) WMM ch11, #887. If we are “slaves” of God, we can’t be owned by our sin.
“You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.” (Deuteronomy 23:15-16) TOM ch6, #200; TCC 3.2.11. This refers not to an Israelite “bondservant,” that is, one who is “under contract” to another Israelite (and thus due under Law to be released either at the Sabbath year or Jubilee), but to a slave of a pagan master.
“Now Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month [Abib/Nisan] shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:1-2) TOM ch4, #107. For some odd reason, Jews today celebrate “Rosh Hashanah” (literally: the “head of the year”) as their New Year’s Day, in the autumn at the fifth of Yahweh’s Feasts, Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets. But God put “New Year’s” in the spring, before Passover, and He never changed His mind.
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh.” (Exodus 23:14-17) TOM ch4, #112; TOM ch12, #471; TTC 3.2.4. Several times, Yahweh pronounced that all of the males of Israel were to gather together to celebrate His holy convocations. The first gathering took place at Passover-Unleavened Bread-Firstfruits (a weeklong celebration in the spring), then at the Feast of Weeks (a.k.a. Pentecost) in the early summer, and finally at the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
“Three times in the year all your men shall appear before Yahweh, Yahweh—God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh your God three times in the year.” (Exodus 34:23-24) The Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement were left off the “gather-together” schedule, for reasons that would only become apparent when the prophetic ramifications of these two Convocations were revealed: the rapture of the church, and the second coming of Christ.
“These are the feasts of Yahweh which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day—besides the Sabbaths of Yahweh, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 23:37-38) TTC 3.3.6. The “problem” with the Feasts of Yahweh is that they can’t really be kept without a temple and a priesthood. But they are central to the revelation of the Plan of God for the salvation of all mankind. In fact, three times in Leviticus 23 (the first passage where all seven convocations are listed in order) Yahweh commanded Israel that they were to keep these “throughout their generations.” As usual, these precepts must be kept, but cannot be without reference to the Messiah who fulfilled them.
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before Yahweh your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before Yahweh empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of Yahweh your God which He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17) TOM ch4, #114; WMM ch8, #799. The issue with this precept is that the gathering place is designated as “the place Yahweh chooses,” which is obviously Jerusalem—and has been for the past three millennia. People who think they’re “keeping the Torah” because they hold a Passover Seder or erect a sukkah in their backyard during the feast of Tabernacles, while I congratulate them on their faithfulness, are misled. If you don’t show up in Jerusalem three times a year, sacrifice in hand, you aren’t literally doing what God instructed. On the other hand, the place Yahweh really chose to make His name abide is in our hearts, souls, and minds.
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Yahweh’s Passover.’” (Exodus 12:3-11) TOM ch12, #460; WMM ch14, #949; TTC 3.3.3, 1.3.7, 3.2.16. Trying this with a leg of lamb you bought at the meat market isn’t really following the precept. But this all makes sense if we realize that Yahshua is the Lamb, and that this is all prophetic of His self-sacrifice on our behalf. The tenth day of Nisan (when the Lamb was to be brought into the household for four days of inspection) was fulfilled with the Triumphal Entry—Palm Monday, 33 AD. The “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was then offered up, as required, the following Friday, Nisan 14.
“Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For Yahweh will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, Yahweh will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which Yahweh will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” that you shall say, “It is the Passover sacrifice of Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.”’” (Exodus 12:21-27) The “lintel and doorposts” of the house were pictures of the cross upon which Yahshua was crucified—where His blood was shed for our sins.
“Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it.’” (Exodus 12:43:45) TOM ch12, #464, 465; WMM ch14, #956. Since Passover was a picture of the self-sacrifice of Christ, only those trusting Him for their salvation—no matter their station in life—can benefit from it.
“In one house [the Passover Lamb] shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.” (Exodus 12:46-47) TOM ch12, #466, #467; WMM ch14, #957. None of Christ’s bones was broken (as was a common procedure) when He was crucified. See also Psalm 34:19-20 for prophetic confirmation.
“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.” (Exodus 34:25) We can’t make sacrifices at all, but Christ’s Passover self-sacrifice fulfilled this, if we understand that leaven (yeast) is a metaphor for sin: He was sinless.
“These are the feasts of Yahweh, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is Yahweh’s Passover.” (Leviticus 23:4-5) It is no coincidence that Yahshua was crucified on the fourteenth day of Nisan, in the year we reckon 33AD, dying so close to sunset that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had to hurry to entomb Him before the Sabbath (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) began.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep Yahweh’s Passover. On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of Yahweh at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin.” (Numbers 9:9-13) We have a choice: either Yahshua can bear our sins, or we can carry them ourselves.
“If a stranger dwells among you, and would keep Yahweh’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land.” (Numbers 9:14) WMM ch9, #833. Both Jews and gentiles may avail themselves of the atonement provided by the definitive Lamb of God. The basis of our salvation is identical (though seen from a different angle): it’s the blood of Christ, and the grace this affords us through our faith in its efficacy in atoning for our sin.
“Observe the month of Abib [a.k.a. Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar, in the spring], and keep the Passover to Yahweh your God, for in the month of Abib Yahweh your God brought you out of Egypt by night. Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to Yahweh your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where Yahweh chooses to put His name.” (Deuteronomy 16:1-2) WMM ch9, #835. The entire procedure, of course (Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits) was prophetic of the Passion of the Christ, when the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was slain for our sins in Jerusalem.
“You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you; but at the place where Yahweh your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall roast and eat it in the place which Yahweh your God chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents.” (Deuteronomy 16:5-7) WMM ch9, #835. As I said, God specified that keeping the Passover wherever you happen to be is not allowed. Jerusalem is the only place where the Passover Lamb may be sacrificed. And not coincidentally, it is the very place where Yahshua the Messiah was sacrificed, precisely on God’s schedule. If nothing else, this makes Yahshua a hard act to follow for any of the “false Christs” we are told to be on the lookout for.
Feast of Unleavened Bread
“This day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:14-20) TOM ch12, #469; WMM ch14, #950; TTC 3.1.6, 1.3.6. The deadline for removing the leaven from one’s home was sunset on Passover. What followed was a week of life without leaven. Since seven (days, in this case) indicate completion or perfection, and leaven represents sin’s corruption, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is prophetic of the complete and permanent removal of our sin—due to what happened on Passover. Not coincidentally, Christ spent the first day of this Feast in the tomb.
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to Yahweh. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what Yahweh did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.” (Exodus 13:6-10) TOM ch4, #123; WMM ch14, #954. Egypt is symbolic of “bondage in the world.” There is thus a direct symbolic correlation between sin, bondage, and leaven (all of which were eliminated via the sacrifice of the Lamb of God). The complete removal of yeast from the home (and diet) during this seven-day feast was said to be a sign—signifying that our sins had been completely and permanently removed by whatever had happened just before sundown on Passover, that is, the slaying of the perfect lamb. Why the scribes and Pharisees of Yahshua’s day couldn’t see this is beyond me.
“The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.” (Exodus 34:18) It is a common fiction that the Hebrews simply “didn’t have time” to prepare their bread dough in the usual manner (leavened) on the morning they were evicted from Egypt—after the Tenth Plague, the death of the firstborn. But Exodus 12:14-20 makes it clear that the removal of yeast from their houses was planned ahead of time by Yahweh. Leaven was a picture of sin: it was important to forever associate freedom from bondage with the removal of sin in the minds of Israel.
“On the fifteenth day of the [first] month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.” (Leviticus 23:6-8) TOM ch4, #117; TTC 3.1.6. It’s no coincidence that the definitive fulfillment of this prophetic Convocation took place in a year (33 AD) in which the first day of the Feast fell on a natural (that is, not merely “designated”) Sabbath. Yahweh is not making this stuff up as He goes along. It has been planned in every detail from the foundation of the world.
“You shall eat no leavened bread with [the Passover Lamb]; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.” (Deuteronomy 16:3-4) TOM ch4, #126. Simply put, there is no relationship between what the Lamb represents (Yahshua as sacrifice) and that for which leaven is a metaphor (sin). And the “leftovers”? Christ’s body was not allowed to hang on the cross beyond sunset (as was the gruesome Roman custom). Ironically, the Jews themselves saw to that.
“Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to Yahweh your God. You shall do no work on it.” (Deuteronomy 16:8) WMM ch9, #839. This looks forward to the (yet future) Millennial reign of Christ, the ultimate Sabbath, in which we must rest in Yahshua’s finished work.
Feast of Firstfruits
“You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices.” (Exodus 22:29) TTC 4.1.9, 4.2.1. The Feast of Firstfruits is predictive of the Resurrection of Christ. He did not “delay,” but rose when He said He would, on the third day after His death. God is on a schedule, one we would be wise to study.
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of Yahweh your God.” (Exodus 23:19) TOM ch5, #163; TOM ch12, #472; WMM ch7, #773; TTC 4.1.3. The first to be harvested of a seasonal crop was a promise (of sorts) that there would be more to follow. On the day following the Sabbath commencement of the definitive Feast of Unleavened Bread, the slain Messiah rose from the dead, becoming a spiritual metaphor for the “firstfruits” of Yahweh’s eventual harvest of souls. Thus it is reasonable to assume that the form He took after His resurrection—the sort of body He now inhabited (not at all like that of the mortal one in which He had been crucified)—will be the same type of body with which we will be equipped when we are “harvested.” (See I Corinthians 15:20-58.)
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of Yahweh your God.” (Exodus 34:26) TTC 4.1.3. Originally, of course, the “House of Yahweh” was the tabernacle or temple. But now (since Pentecost), our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And because the “firstfruits of our Land” ultimately represent the risen Christ, we are to “bring Him” within ourselves—allowing Him to abide within us.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to Yahweh. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.’” (Leviticus 23:9-14) TOM ch14, #552; WMM ch9, #840; TTC 3.1.1. None of this can literally be done today, requiring, as it does, a functional priesthood (not to mention residence in the Land of Promise). But it does explain why the church habitually gathers for worship on the day after the Sabbath—on the first day of the week: Sunday. We are, in fact, celebrating the Feast of Firstfruits, which was prophetic of the resurrection of Yahshua our Messiah. All of the sacrificial and celebratory elements mentioned here are symbolic of various facets of what Christ accomplished by rising from the dead.
Feast of Weeks/Pentecost
“You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.” (Exodus 34:22) Since the Feast of Weeks was fulfilled on schedule (in 33 AD) by the birth of the church (witnessed by the filling of Christ’s believers with the Holy Spirit), “observing” the Feast is now tantamount to becoming a believer in Him.
“You shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to Yahweh. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to Yahweh. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to Yahweh, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to Yahweh. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Yahweh, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” (Leviticus 23:15-21) TOM ch13, #521; WMM ch9, #843; TTC 3.1.6, 3.2.1, 1.3.6. The priestly components, of course, cannot be kept today, no matter how much we might wish to. All we can do now is sort out the symbols God has embedded here. (1) The “day after the Sabbath” is Sunday, resurrection day. (2) The multiple Sabbath references underscore the principle of grace: we cannot work to achieve our salvation. (3) The presence of leaven indicates a “come as you are” mindset. (4) The blood sacrifices keep Christ’s passion in view. And (5) the familiar “throughout-your-generations” requirement tells us that this soteriological strategy will never become obsolete.
“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Yahweh your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as Yahweh your God blesses you. You shall rejoice before Yahweh your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where Yahweh your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.” (Deuteronomy 16:9-12) WMM ch9, #842; TTC 1.3.5. More symbolic components of Pentecost: (1) We are to make freewill offerings commensurate with our perception of how much God has blessed us. That is, if we really comprehend what He has done for us, our whole lives, fortunes, and energies will be devoted to His honor. (2) This realization that we owe Yahweh everything is cause for rejoicing. (3) No one is excluded from this joyful celebration of our salvation, either on the basis of race, sex, wealth, education, or social status.
Feast of Trumpets
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh.’” (Leviticus 23:23-25) The imagery of the Feast of Trumpets correlates perfectly with that of the rapture of the church. It would appear that the Feasts of Weeks and Trumpets are the “bookends” of the church age. Only after the church has been extracted from the world will Yahweh resume His direct dealing with the nation of Israel, as revealed in the Daniel 9:25-27 prophecy. Features of this Feast include (1) the blowing of trumpets (or shouting, either in joy or alarm, depending on who you are). (2) The Sabbath component reminds us that we can’t work for our salvation. (3) The “offering by fire,” as always, is a reference to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf—the one thing that makes our salvation by grace through faith possible. (4) This is the only Feast of the seven that happens on the first day of the month, that is, at the new moon—the time of maximum nocturnal darkness. That is, I expect the forces of darkness to have reached unprecedented strength in the world when Christ raptures His church. Bad news, good news.
Day of Atonement
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.’” (Leviticus 23:26-32) WMM ch14, #948. There is a vast amount of Levitical Law surrounding the performance of the rites of Yom Kippurim, or the Day of Atonement—none of which can be done without a temple and a priesthood. Of special note is that this Convocation requires the use of the Ark of the Covenant, housed within the Most Holy Place—a piece of temple furniture that went missing half a millennium before the time of Christ. Nevertheless, we see once again that Yahweh commands the faithful to observe this statute “throughout your generations”—as long as Israel exists. The key directive here is to “afflict your souls” (Hebrew: anah), a word that denotes not only showing remorse and repentance, but also means “to answer or respond.” Elsewhere in scripture (notably Zechariah 12:10-14) it becomes clear that this celebration is prophetic of the Second Coming of Christ.
Feast of Tabernacles
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Yahweh. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.’” (Leviticus 23:33-36) TTC 3.2.3. The seventh and last of Yahweh’s Holy Convocations is the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths), falling only five days after Yom Kippurim on the festal calendar. It represents the Millennial earthly reign of Yahshua the Messiah, and is the only Feast that is singled out as one that must be kept worldwide during the Kingdom age (see Zechariah 14:16-21). As with Unleavened Bread and the Day of Atonement, there is a huge amount of Levitical ritual required for Tabernacles—none of which can be performed today for lack of a priesthood, but all of which was (or will be) fulfilled in either the first or second of Christ’s advents.
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yahweh for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your God.’” (Leviticus 23:39-43) WMM ch10, #864. The “booths” people were to build and live in for the week are a prophecy: Christ—God Incarnate—is “camping out” among men. The four types of branches or boughs listed symbolically indicate the various populations that will inhabit the Kingdom, beginning with Christ and including redeemed Israel and the church-age faithful—some mortal, and some inhabiting their new, immortal resurrection bodies (see #862).
“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to Yahweh your God in the place which Yahweh chooses, because Yahweh your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15) TOM ch4, #113. The nature of the Feast is celebration of the harvest, but in reality what’s being celebrated is the harvest of souls into God’s eternal Kingdom. The harvest itself is rejoicing!
“Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before Yahweh your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear Yahweh your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear Yahweh your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) TOM ch6, #220. There’s no reason at all we can’t gather our families together once every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles and read the entire Torah. Alas, nobody does this. How different things might be if we did.
“You shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.” (Leviticus 25:8-12) TOM ch6, #221; TTC4.1.11, 2.7, 4.1.9. Jubilee was sort of a “super-Sabbath” God instituted to preview His agenda of redemption and reconciliation. It was a year-long celebration that was to take place after seven Sabbath-year cycles, or once every fifty years—once in a lifetime, for practical purposes. It was marked by liberty to those in bondage and the repatriation of lands that had been sold (actually “leased”) to others out of dire financial need during the preceding period. Basically, then, it’s a picture of our salvation, driven by grace, love, and the concept that in reality, Yahweh owns everything.
“In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you. According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops. Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 25:13-17) TOM ch6, #170; TOM ch7, #229. When Yahshua said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” He was referring to the same principle of mercy that underlies Jubilee. Not coincidentally, the last recorded Jubilee celebrated in Israel was at the beginning of Bar Kochba’s rebellion in 133 AD—making Christ’s passion in 33 a Jubilee year as well (as we might have assumed). And don’t look now, but if you do the math, the next one (from our perspective) will take place in 2033. It will mark the fortieth Jubilee since Christ’s redeeming sacrifice for us (forty being the Biblical number of trial, testing, and judgment). If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, maybe you need new batteries in your pacemaker.
THE MORTAL BODY
“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (Genesis 17:10-11) TTC 2.9. This is the perennial “test case,” the One Thing that everybody seemed to recognize as being “doable” (and that therefore must be done). This issue was discussed at length in the Acts 15 council, the decision being that non-Israelite Christians need not be circumcised, nor are they bound to keep the Torah, in order to be saved. Genesis 17 is the Bible’s first mention of the rite, spoken to Abraham before Isaac was even conceived. Circumcision is specifically said to be “a sign of the covenant” between Yahweh and Abraham. For His part, Yahweh promised that (1) He would be the God of Abraham and his descendants forever (v7), and that (2) the Land (whose borders were defined elsewhere) was promised in perpetuity to the same people (v8). So technically, it makes no sense to physically impose this sign on people who are neither Abraham’s biological descendants nor in his household.
Prophets from Moses onward, however, would draw a distinction between being circumcised in the flesh and being circumcised in the heart. That is, the sign itself was a picture of something—something that had nothing to do with genealogy or one’s place of residence. It was symbolic of a far larger and more significant covenant—one that defines the spiritual state of all believers: the separation of that person from his sin. When the foreskin of a male’s penis is cut off (a process involving blood and pain) it cannot be reattached, nor does it grow back. Ever. This is a picture of what happens when we receive God’s covenant of grace (i.e., being circumcised in our hearts): our sins are separated from us, permanently and completely. But we can’t earn our salvation: it is Christ who shed the blood and endured the pain pictured in the circumcision rite.
“He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:12-13) To fine-tune and further explain the metaphor, the circumcision rite was extended to everyone who lived in Abraham’s household—even if they were only slaves. From a spiritual perspective, every Christian should be able to see his connection (and obligation) to the house of Abraham, the father of our faith, even if we are not biologically descended from him. As always, Israel was to perform the rite, and the gentiles were to observe it, ponder what it might mean, and honor the God who instituted it for the edification of all.
“The uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (Genesis 17:14) The converse of the sign is also significant: if we retain our sins (which is what not being circumcised would represent), then we cannot be a part of the household of faith.
“If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:2) TOM ch15, #564. In the Torah proper, it was the mother’s responsibility to have her baby boy circumcised on the eighth day of life. The chronological symbology is transparent enough: we mortals will remain unclean for “seven days,” that is, as long as we live in our fallen state—from the sin of Adam until the conclusion of Christ’s thousand-year reign. The “eighth day” represents the eternal state that will follow the Millennium. Our sin, then, will finally be removed from our race—the fact will at last catch up with the promise—when the last mortal believer has received his or her immortal resurrection body (as described in I Corinthians 15).
“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16) Supporting scriptures for further exploration: Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Ezekiel 44:7; Romans 2:25, 28-29; Colossians 2:11, etc.
Illicit or Pre-Marital Sex; Rape
“If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.” (Exodus 22:16-17) TOM ch8, #300. Adultery would have been a stoning offense, but pre-marital sex is not “adultery” (technically) if the young woman was not promised to another. The Inventor of hormones, after all, knows how it works. But pre-marital sex is tantamount to marriage—if the girl’s father allows it to go forward. (For more on this, see Deuteronomy 22:29, below.)
“Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Leviticus 19:29) TOM ch6, #196. That seems pretty clear on the face of it. But I guess the question on my mind is, “How can you prevent your daughter from becoming a harlot when you are living a land that is already “full of wickedness”? Sigh.
“If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) TOM ch3, #75. I’m afraid that although we could do this, the result would be genocide in our morally corrupt culture. Virginity at marriage? Forty-eight percent of “first children” worldwide are born out of wedlock, and the percentages of births to unmarried women have doubled or tripled over the past half century. The mare has already left the barn—it’s too late to close the door. What makes this even worse is that fornication/adultery is a scriptural euphemism for idolatry—of giving to “another god” what rightfully belongs only to Yahweh.
“If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you. But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-27) TOM ch8, #288. Israelite gated cities were small and compact. If a girl screamed, it was taken as a “given” that any number of townsmen would immediately come to her aid. Out in the countryside, however, you might scream all day and no one would hear you. So this was (in Israelite society) deemed the simplest way to differentiate between rape and adultery. Note that rapists, as well as adulterers and adulteresses, were to be stoned to death. Victims, however, were presumed innocent. But the marriage status (betrothed vs. non-betrothed) played a part as well. Read on…
“If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) TOM ch8, #301, 302; TCC 4.1.5, 4.1.8. If a non-betrothed virgin had sex with a man, it was presumed to be consensual, but with a twist. When found out, the man would have to pay the traditional bride-price for her hand in marriage—but her father still had the option of deeming him a rapist (or merely a loser). If the father (heeding his daughter’s word—and remembering his own youth) decided that the marriage could proceed, it did, with the provision that the new husband could never divorce his bride—his whole life, for any reason. This presumably kept the hanky-panky down to manageable levels.
“None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am Yahweh. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness. The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or elsewhere, their nakedness you shall not uncover. The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for theirs is your own nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your father—she is your sister—you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is near of kin to your father. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is near of kin to your mother. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother. You shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law—she is your son’s wife—you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness. Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.” (Leviticus 18:6-18) “Uncovering someone’s nakedness” is a thinly veiled euphemism for sexual intercourse. Extra-marital sexual contact generally is handled under other laws (such as the Seventh Commandment). But occasionally the opportunity arose for a man to marry a close relative, or perhaps the widow of a close relative. Here, then, such incestuous relationships are defined—and forbidden. God is (among other things) warning us about potential medical dangers we wouldn’t understand for another 3,500 years—the emergence of debilitating recessive genes.
“The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:11-12) There’s more to it than preventative medicine, of course. There are also the overlapping issues of honor and symbolism. Sex symbolizes the fruitful covenant relationship between God and mankind. Anything that violates this picture is forbidden.
“If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.” (Leviticus 20:14) Multiple wives were allowed, for Yahweh would have parallel covenant relationships with both Israel and (through Yahshua) the church. But Christ cannot be the husband of (for example) the church and Islam at the same time.
“If a man takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, and sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a wicked thing. And they shall be cut off in the sight of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness. He shall bear his guilt.” (Leviticus 20:17) More incest rules. Ironically, Abraham’s wife Sarah was his half-sister.
“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister nor of your father’s sister, for that would uncover his near of kin. They shall bear their guilt. If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness. They shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They shall be childless.” (Leviticus 20:19-21) The intended end result of sexual partnerships was to bear children. But certain potential relationships (and I’m sure you can perceive the spiritual application here) are doomed to remain fruitless.
“Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.” (Deuteronomy 27:22) That is, his half-sister. Recessive genes again.
“Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.” (Deuteronomy 27:23) Ummm, okay.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) TOM ch3, #103; TTC 4.1.1. There’s nothing new about homosexuality. It is the prototypical perversion—sexual contact without the possibility of fruitfulness, thus a violation of the very first commandment God gave the human race: “Multiply and fill the earth.” Yahweh calls it “an abomination,” the strongest language in the entire Bible. How telling it is, then, that homosexuality has become a point of pride today for people who reject Christ—the celebration of a pointless, dead-end life.
“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13) TTC 4.2.1. If I may quote a paragraph from The Torah Code (4.2.6): “All of these sexual sins are symbolic, one way or another, of idolatry—of giving the reverence and devotion due to Yahweh alone to someone or something else. With adultery, it’s another “deity,” some “god” other than Yahweh. With incest, it’s apparently the worship of something “like God,” but not actually God Himself, making it (if I’m seeing this correctly) a picture of man-made religion—a form of godliness bereft of its power to save. With homosexuality, it would appear to be reverence for one’s own kind—in other words, it’s a euphemism for today’s secular humanism, the worship of man. That would make bestiality a picture of the direct worship of Satan—adoration of the beast. All of these things, then, are examples of sexual relationships between people (or things) other than husbands and their wives. And all of them are symbolic, one way or another, of unfaithfulness to Yahweh—the path of corruption, sterility, illegitimacy, and/or death.”
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) TOM ch13, #366. For some reason, God never specifically forbade lesbianism (although we may safely infer from Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 that it’s a bad idea). But He did go out of His way to prohibit “cross-dressing,” the purposeful confusion of sexual identity. Of course, Moses could never have dreamed of (nor did he have the vocabulary to describe) the lengths to which this perversion has been taken recently. The idea of surgically and/or chemically altering one’s sexual characteristics (with the goal of changing one’s sexual identity) is surely a sign that we are nearing the Last Days. The symbology of gender roles (fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters) is a well-developed Biblical theme—which explains why Satan is so keen to blur the lines between the sexes. For more on this area of study, please see The Torah Code, Volume 4, Unit 1, elsewhere on this website.
“Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 22:19) My analysis of this bit of weirdness is quoted above: “Bestiality [is] a picture of the direct worship of Satan—adoration of the beast.”
“Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.” (Leviticus 18:23) TOM ch3, #104. Satan works very hard these days to make what God defines as “perversion” seem normal and acceptable. So there is a choice implied: in the end, it’s either “worship Yahweh,” or “worship Satan.”
“If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:15-16) If I may quote myself again (this time from The End of the Beginning, Volume 4, Appendix 6), “All of this begs the question: if you can only get a sexually transmitted disease from someone who was infected before you, how did these diseases begin in the first place? You’re not going to like the answer, I’m afraid. I was only able to track down a few of them, but they point toward parallel perversions. Syphilis is from a bacteria that lives naturally (and harmlessly) in sheep; and the HIV virus was first contracted by humans having sexual contact with primates—apes—in Africa. Chlamydia is caused by bacteria carried by dogs. Herpes is endemic in chimpanzee populations. In other words, the problem is bestiality. I’m having trouble seeing the attraction, but I’m told it exists.”
“Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.” (Deuteronomy 27:21) Lest there should be any confusion, bestiality is not just weird, not just perverted—it’s cursed behavior.
Diseases and Bodily Functions
“Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. And this shall be his uncleanness in regard to his discharge—whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness. Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. He who sits on anything on which he who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And he who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean. Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening. He who carries any of those things shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whomever the one who has the discharge touches, and has not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. The vessel of earth that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.” (Leviticus 15:1-12) TOM ch15, #569. We’re not talking about sin (moral failings) here, but the ordinary and largely unavoidable sources of uncleanness that are our lot as mortal humans. We can only speculate as to how disease was suppressed in the Garden of Eden, but ever since our fall into sin, we have been subject to all sorts of microbial dangers. It is telling that God built into His Law some practical precepts concerning basic hygiene—which if one followed “religiously” would minimize or prevent most communicable diseases.
“If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening. Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.” (Leviticus 15:16-18) TOM ch15, #570, #571. If there were no “emissions of semen,” the human race would go extinct in one generation. That being said, God has declared that a state of “uncleanness” exists when this has happened—without reference to marital status, you’ll notice. Besides the general hygiene factor, the point (I think) is that our need for constant and recurring cleansing will persist as long as mortal mankind does—“until evening” being a transparent euphemism for physical death, both as individuals and as a species. This is not, however, an indication of sin. Remember: the tabernacle courtyard had both an altar of sacrifice (to take care of our sins) and a bronze laver (to cleanse our hands and feet—our works and our walk—before God).
“If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.” (Leviticus 15:19-24) TOM ch15, #572. A woman’s customary menstrual cycle is the rough symbolic equivalent of a man’s “emissions of semen.” That is, beyond the obvious hygiene factors, it is symbolic of the periodic need for cleansing if we wish to be fruitful.
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.” (Leviticus 15:25-27) TOM ch15, #573. See Luke 8:43-48. Christ takes our uncleanness upon Himself, healing us.
“You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity.” (Leviticus 18:19) TOM ch3, #101; TTC 4.1.8, 4.1.10. Allow me (once again) to quote from another passage (TOM ch15, #572) “We all miss opportunities for fruitfulness (which is all the menstrual cycle really is), but we can’t expect to be effective in God’s service if we allow the baggage of yesterday’s failures to accumulate in our lives. Rather, we need to periodically “clean house,” undergo a time of purification and renewal. If we don’t, our uncleanness defiles not only ourselves, but also those whose lives touch ours. This periodic renewal entails more than just a conscious effort to cleanse our minds and spirits of the world’s influence once in a while. An occasional pause from our labors is also called for, and if Yahweh’s design of the female body is any indication, that hiatus should consume as much as one quarter of our time. The Sabbath rest is a major component of that by God’s design, but we should also seize other opportunities to ‘recharge our spiritual batteries.’”
“If a man lies with a woman during her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has exposed her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from their people.” (Leviticus 20:18) TOM ch3, #101. We are reminded that “the life is in the blood.” It is revealing that God chose “blood” to be the vehicle of cleansing of a woman’s reproductive system. And sure enough, medical science tells us that abstinence during menstruation is a safe, low-tech means of enhancing fertility.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse. You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell.’ And the children of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as Yahweh spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did.” (Numbers 5:1-4) TOM ch10, #391. The principle of quarantine is valid both in physical matters and spiritual ones. And it should apply to national security as well: Islam is a cultural cancer that infects a society from within—like spiritual leprosy. A nation (like America) founded on Christian principles should recognize the threat posed by this institutional evil and refuse to invite it in to our body. Political “correctness” is suicide.
“When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. If there is any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come inside the camp. But it shall be, when evening comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:9-11) TOM ch16, #608. This seems awfully broad and non-specific. But the bottom line (from a prophetic point of view) is that (1) we are going to sin, whether we mean to or not. (2) Our sin separates us from God. (3) Evening (or sunset) is a thinly veiled euphemism for our inevitable physical deaths. (4) “Washing with water” is purification via the Word of God (see Ephesians 5:26), personified by Christ Himself. In other words, death will release us from our sinful state if we are relying upon Christ for atonement.
“You shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For Yahweh your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.” (Deuteronomy 23:12-14) TOM ch16, #609. When I was researching vaccines (TEOTB, Appendix 6) I was surprised to discover that some virulent diseases (measles, pertussis, and smallpox for example) were already in severe decline before their vaccines were introduced, due to improved general health, cleaner water and sanitation, public utilities, better living and working conditions, improved nutrition and other medical advancements. So it’s not particularly surprising that Yahweh gave us a heavy-handed hint in the Torah.
“Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you; just as I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what Yahweh your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt!” (Deuteronomy 24:8-9) (See Leviticus 13-14) TOM ch15, #580. Miriam, the sister of Moses, had been stricken with leprosy because she had challenged the exclusive anointing of Moses (see Numbers 12). We are told that the whole episode was precipitated by her racial prejudice, for Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. (There’s a lesson for us in there somewhere, I think.) We are to heed His instructions to the priests, who were told how to identify “leprosy” (which turned out to be a broad range of infectious conditions) and quarantine the victims to safeguard the populace. There are no Levitical priests today, of course, but the church is referred to as “a kingdom of priests,” in that we have access to and intercessory privileges with God. It is therefore up to us to safeguard the congregation against “spiritual diseases” ranging from entrenched extra-scriptural religious practices to encroaching Islam.
“God said, See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” (Genesis 1:29) TTC 1.3.6, 3.1.9. In the beginning, before we fell into sin, a strictly vegan diet was sufficient to keep us well-fed and healthy. Note, however, that it was the genetic component of the plant (the seed—the fruit) that was to be our food. Even back then, God was telling us that something (and later, Someone) would have to die in order that we could have life.
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” (Genesis 9:3) TOM ch5, #167, TTC 3.2.9. At the time of the flood of Noah, the deteriorated ecosphere required that animal-based food—meat, eggs, dairy, etc.—be added to the human menu.
“You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4) From the moment meat was placed on the human menu, we were admonished to remove the blood before eating it. The ramifications are both physical and spiritual.
“You shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.” (Exodus 22:31) No college-level course in microbiology was offered here—just “Do as I say and you’ll remain healthy.”
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 23:19) TOM ch5, #163, #164; TTC 4.1.3. Weird, but okay.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 34:26) TOM ch5, #163, #164; TTC4.1.3. That’s twice. This must be important. Keep reading.
“This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood.” (Leviticus 3:17) Not only was blood not to be eaten, the concentrations of fat were to be avoided as well. In the Levitical sacrifices (which can’t be performed today, of course) the blood was to be poured out on the ground, and the “fatty lobes” on certain internal organs were to be reserved for the altar’s fire in honor of Yahweh. But the same rules held even if you were only fixing dinner: eat neither fat nor blood.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: You shall not eat any fat, of ox or sheep or goat. And the fat of an animal that dies naturally, and the fat of what is torn by wild beasts, may be used in any other way; but you shall by no means eat it. For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his people. Moreover you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, whether of bird or beast. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.’” (Leviticus 7:22-27) TOM ch5, #166; TTC 3.1.4. More on fat and blood. You couldn’t eat an animal that had died in some manner other than purposeful slaughtering, but you could make use of the fat for such purposes as making candles or soap.
“Now Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, these are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:1-8) TOM ch5, #143, 144. Noah had been told he no longer had to be a strict vegetarian, but could now eat any animal he could catch. Here a millennium and a half later, God has once again altered the rules in response to a deteriorating biosphere. He has restricted the “okay-to-eat” list of land animals to plant eaters with complicated digestive systems: cattle, sheep, goats, and their wild cousins, deer, antelope, bison, etc. As usual, we wouldn’t know why until thousands of years later, but if we simply trusted Yahweh, we would remain healthier.
“These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:9-12) TOM ch5, #145, 146. Again, the list of seafood has been restricted to true fish. Even if there are things in the water that can be quite tasty, we are not to eat them, but rather trust Yahweh to know what’s best.
“These you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich [Hebrew: peres, literally, an ossifrage, or osprey, not the ostrich], the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:13-19) TOM ch5, #148. As for birds, “barnyard birds” and their wild cousins with a basically vegetarian diet (excuse the odd bug or worm) are okay to eat, but hunters and carrion birds are not safe.
“All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:20-23) TOM ch5, #149. You’d think that all bugs would be off limits, but one family was declared by God to be okay to eat—which is not to say they aren’t an acquired taste. Locusts and grasshoppers, it turns out, have very discriminating palates, and are thus deemed safe.
“Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’” (Leviticus 17:10-12) TOM ch5, #167; TTC 2.3, 4.2.4.
“Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’” (Leviticus 17:13-14) TOM ch5, #168. This precept has been repeated sporadically many times since first given at the time of the flood. Not only is blood invariably toxic when compared to the animal’s meat, this is a relatively transparent reference to the blood of Christ that would be shed for the atonement of our sins. We can’t thrive (spiritually speaking) by taking the blood of the Savior—He must be allowed to offer it up freely on our behalf.
“Every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.” (Leviticus 17:15-16) WMM ch1, #650. Blood again. Don’t eat it.
“When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to Yahweh. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:23-25) TOM ch9, #360, #361. “Uncircumcised” here bears the connotation of being forbidden, i.e., outside of the covenant.
“You shall not eat anything with the blood.” (Leviticus 19:26) TOM ch9, #335, #336. Just in case we missed it: don’t eat blood.
“You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.” (Leviticus 20:25) TTC3.2.9. The lesson with all of these dietary rules is to be discerning about what to put into your body. The parallel spiritual ramifications are obvious enough.
“You may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of Yahweh your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike. Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water.” (Deuteronomy 12:15-16) TOM ch14, #547. God drew a distinction between making sacrifices (which could only be done by the priests at the tabernacle or temple) and simply eating meat—whether clean domesticated animals or wild game—which could be done whenever the mood struck. Oh, and don’t eat blood—make sure the carcass is properly drained.
“When Yahweh your God enlarges your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘Let me eat meat,’ because you long to eat meat, you may eat as much meat as your heart desires. If the place where Yahweh your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which Yahweh has given you, just as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires. Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten, so you may eat them; the unclean and the clean alike may eat them. Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of Yahweh.” (Deuteronomy 12:20-25) TOM ch5, #157; TOM ch14, #547; TTC 3.2.2. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think God wants us to eat any meat that hasn’t been drained of its blood.
“You shall not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals. Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.” (Deuteronomy 14:3-8) TOM ch14, #554. God was very specific about what kinds of animals were safe to eat. Basically, the “safe” list boiled down to animals that had discriminating vegetarian palates and complex digestive systems. It didn’t matter if pigs and possums could be mighty tasty: comparatively speaking, they weren’t safe to eat.
“These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales. And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.” (Deuteronomy 14:9-10) This pretty much boils down the seafood menu to true fish. Lobsters, shrimp, crabs, oysters, and clams are important as God’s ecological clean-up crew, but they were never intended to be food for humans.
“All clean birds you may eat. But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; every raven after its kind; the ostrich [literally: osprey], the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.” (Deuteronomy 14:11-18) TOM ch5, #147; TTC 3.2.9. The key, once again, is the bird’s diet: seed eaters—vegetarians (give or take the odd bug)—are okay to eat, but hunters and carrion birds, while important ecologically, are not safe to eat.
“Every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten.” (Deuteronomy 14:19) TOM ch5, #154. There were exceptions, listed elsewhere (see Leviticus 11:22). Jumping insects like locusts, crickets, or grasshoppers (all of which are very fastidious eaters) are safe to eat—which is not to say they’re not an acquired taste.
“You may eat all clean birds.” (Deuteronomy 14:20) Clean birds are those that don’t eat the meat of dead animals. The issue would once again appear to have something to do with the effects of eating blood—even on a second-hand basis.
“You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 14:21) Again, it’s impossible to drain the blood from an already-dead animal.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Deuteronomy 14:21) TOM ch5, #163, #164; TTC4.1.3. Okay, as odd as this sounds, this is the third time God has told us not to do this. And that fact alone begs us to dig deeper. The key (I think) is the relationship between the young goat and his mother. If we see the young goat as Christ in his role as sin bearer, then His “mother” would be (in a symbolic sense) the Holy Spirit, and her “milk” would indicate that which comes from the Spirit to sustain us—the word of God. So basically, Yahweh is warning us not to use His word as a weapon against His work (for example, taking His word out of context in order to elevate ourselves, or subjugate, control, or otherwise take advantage of the would-be faithful). Both of the Exodus passages we saw earlier (23:19 and 34:26) tie this concept to firstfruits—the idea that we are to dedicate the first of our earnings or harvest to Yahweh. I can only surmise that failing to do so would comprise an example of “boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk.” That is, when we neglect honoring God with our firstfruits, we have in effect used God’s bounty to suggest we’re more important than Christ.
“By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening. Whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening: the carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean. And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening. Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:24-28) TOM ch15, #561. This is an extension of the Levitical dietary laws. The idea is, not only are we not to eat unclean animals, we aren’t even to touch their dead bodies if we can help it. This does not preclude petting your cat—the emphasis is on contact with their carcasses. I think the moral lesson here is that there is a direct and proportional relationship between that which is “unclean” (that is, something you shouldn’t assimilate into your body) and that which is overtly sinful. For example, we should be wary of the entertainments we participate in. The music, books, activities and shows we experience can be either good for us, or neutral (read: worthless), or dangerous. We are to be discerning.
“These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean. And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you. Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean. And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean. But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:29-38) TOM ch15, #561; TTC 3.3. Uncleanness happens. We need to be aware of what causes it, and how to return our lives back to their “clean” state.
“If any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.” (Leviticus 11:39-40) TOM ch15, #563. Even clean animals (with all the spiritual symbology that concept carries with it) sometimes die of natural causes—and somebody has to deal with the carcasses. (My mind immediately leaps to Reformers like Luther and Calvin, dealing with the corpse of the once “alive” Roman Catholic Church.) Since we are venal, vulnerable mortal men, the process of handling the carcass of even “clean” animals can render us temporarily defiled in the process. A few more symbolic clues: (1) one’s “clothes” are a metaphor for “the way God sees us,” that is our spiritual state. Are we butt naked before God, wearing fig leaves, the skins of slain animals, the wool of good works, or the clean white linen of imputed righteousness? Whatever state we’re in, God has provided the means for cleansing. And (2), “evening” is a thinly veiled euphemism for physical death—that which awaits us all at the end of the day. In other words, we are not going to become perfect in this life, for even if we’re redeemed and forgiven, we are still fallen, mortal humans. Yes, Yahweh has an “upgrade” planned for us—Human 2.0—but it requires a total reboot of the system in order to install it (if you catch my drift).
“Every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten. Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination. You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. For I am Yahweh your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am Yahweh who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:41-45) TOM ch5, #150, #151. The dietary ramifications are clear enough. But the lesson here is primarily spiritual: in our vernacular, don’t hang out with creeps.
That is, stay away from whatever God considers “abominable.” The quick list: (1) the customs of the pagans (Leviticus 18:30); (2) those who believe there is no God (Psalm 14:1, 53:1); (3) those who “drink iniquity like water” (Job 15:16); (4) those who “profess to know God but deny Him by their actions” (Titus 1:16); (5) the cowardly, unbelieving, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars (Revelation 21:8); (6) serving gods other than Yahweh (Jeremiah 44:4); (7) unclean animals (Deuteronomy 14:3, Leviticus 11:43); (8) idolatry (Isaiah 65:4, I Peter 4:3, I Kings 11:7, Malachi 2:11); (9) dishonest weights and measures (Micah 6:10, Proverbs 11:1); (9) devious people (Proverbs 3:32); (10) the prayer of one who rejects the Torah (Proverbs 28:9); (11) homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5); (12) cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5); and last, but not least (13) Satan masquerading as Christ—the “abomination of desolation” (Mark 13:14, Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15).
So, do you still think you’re “Torah compliant” just because you’re circumcised, you meet for worship on Saturday instead of Sunday, and you once built a sukkah in your backyard at the Feast of Tabernacles? Bear in mind that these precepts I’ve listed are only the parts of the Torah that can be kept in the absence of a temple, priesthood, and a theocratic society dwelling in the Promised Land. God has commanded that far more than this truncated list be kept—even though doing so has been literally impossible for the past two millennia.
We are faced, then, with a conundrum. It is obvious that we cannot do what God said to do—and even if it were possible, none of us ever has. It is patently obvious that what Paul declared is true: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Jeremiah put it this way: “Yahweh, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you.” (Jeremiah 14:20 NLT) And it’s no good throwing mankind’s failure back in the face of the Jews, since only they (technically) were required to keep the Torah. The fact is, what “Law” we gentiles did have—our consciences—was violated at every turn. It is as if we never even tried, though the evidence of a holy Creator is, and always has been, all around us. For the most part, we know what’s right—we just don’t want to do it, and even if we do want to, we fail.
None of this took Yahweh by surprise. From the moment of creation, before we even were, He knew our problem, and had a plan for solving it. So what was the purpose of the Torah, if He knew we couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) keep it? Truth be told, most of it was a pantomime or dress rehearsal describing His plan of redemption. Israel was tasked with perform these rites, and the rest of the world was supposed to observe them and ponder their meaning. Notwithstanding God’s declaration, “You shall keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them,” (Leviticus 18:5) the Torah itself was not expected to be the road to our salvation, but was “only” intended to be the map (so to speak) describing that road. The “road” is Yahshua the Christ, who informed us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
The Law was designed neither to save us nor enslave us. It was, rather, designed to inform us. Although we aren’t really expected to be Torah compliant, we all ought to be Torah observant. That is, we should study and heed these priceless Instructions, for they reveal the very mind of God.
(First published 2017)