Torah and Grace

Harmony or Different Dispensations?


Nov 10, 05 - being expanded


In the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), the memorial Name of God – Yahweh, represents the Eternal as the Gracious-Merciful One (A basic meaning of the word “Yahweh” is eternal). The name Elohim is used to represent the Almighty in His attributes of creator and judge of His creation.

I will surely have mercy on him, declares Yahweh” – Jeremiah 31:20.

Elohim saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” – Genesis 1:31.

Elohim is a righteous judge, and a God Who has indignation every day” – Psalm 7:11.


The names are often used together – Yahweh Elohim (commonly translated “LORD God”), referring to the Creator Who is gracious and merciful in judging His creation. When man had reached his fill of corruption, then Elohim – God Who judges His creation, destroyed them; but Yahweh – God Who is gracious and merciful, granted grace to Noah.

Yahweh Elohim made the earth and heavens” – Genesis 2:4.

Elohim said . . . 'I am about to destroy them' ” – Genesis 6:13.

Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh” – Genesis 6:8.


Our God has not changed from a strict law-dealing judge into a merciful savior. Rather, we may find in Him both attributes working in harmony, in past, present, and future. He does not change. God has defined sin and righteousness, condemnation and salvation, from Adam until now, in similar terms. Men died because of their sin from Adam to Moses, and men die because of their sin since the crucifixion of Yeshua.

I, Yahweh, do not change” – Malachi 3:6.

Yahweh Elohim is a sun and shield; Yahweh gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” – Psalm 84:11.

Sin is the transgression of Torah” – 1 John 3:4.

Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam” – Romans 5:14.


Elohim judged the earth once by water, in Noah’s day, and Elohim will judge the earth again, by fire, in the Messianic era. Sinners of our time should not think that God has changed since the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s Name “Yahweh” is also used relating to this judgment of the enemy, because it is a matter of grace toward His own people. Nations fell when Yahweh gave the land of Canaan to Israel; the nations of the world will fall when Messiah returns to reign over the world with His chosen people: this is what the Feast of Tabernacles portrays (See SUKKOT ).

Elohim said (v.8) . . . never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh” – Genesis 9:15.

By His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” – 2 Peter 3:7 (see also v.12).

Yeshua said, “It will be more tolerable for the land Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for you” – Matthew 11:24. “He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter” – 2 Peter 2:6.

May Yahweh, the Judge, judge between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon” – Judges 11:27.


Yahweh redeems us by Yeshua through faith, as we portray in the remembrance of the Passover, and Yahweh redeemed ancient Israelites by a promised savior through faith, as they portrayed in the prophetic Passover. Noah, Abraham, Job, and David were saved by grace through faith, and are used as examples throughout the Apostolic writings. Animal offerings never took away sin: they were prophetic pictures, demonstrating faith in a promised savior. The fulfilled pictures – like the Passover – have not lost their validity in showing us meaning concerning the crucifixion of Yeshua; and the yet-to-be fulfilled pictures – like the Last Trump of the Day of Trumpeting – have not lost their validity in portraying the future return of Messiah.

The Torah . . . has a picture of things to come” . . . “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” – Hebrews 10:1-4.


Thanksgiving offerings – animal and vegetable, in the future Holy Temple, will be just as meaningful (if not more) as the thanksgiving offerings of the ancient Temple. There is no distinction here of dispensations of law and grace.

This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which shall be presented to Yahweh” – Leviticus 7:11 (followed by regulations for animal and grain thanksgiving offerings).

The priests shall offer your . . . peace offerings, and I will accept you, declares Yahweh” – Ezekiel 43:27 (Ezekiel 39-48 describes a future Temple).


Common Stumblingblocks

He who turns away his ear from listening to the Torah, even his prayer is an abomination” – Proverbs 28:9.


Matthew 5:17-20 – “Christ fulfilled the law”

17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”


Yeshua came to “build up” the Torah – to perfectly perform and teach the mitzvot*.

Unless our righteousness exceeds great personal attempts to “build up” the Torah – unless we have Yeshua’s righteousness imputed to us through faith, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

*Yeshua fulfilled all Torah commandments that applied to Him. Commandments exclusively concerning women did not apply, and commandments and prophecies concerning His second coming as King (Mashiach ben David) did not apply to His first coming as suffering servant (Machiach ben Yosef).


Yeshua did not come to “tear down” the Torah or the Prophets. Performing a mitzvot does not abolish it: being truthful does not abolish the commandment against lying.

Any believer who “tears down” the Torah, by practicing and teaching contrary to its least commandments, will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.

One cannot practice and teach against its greatest commandments and be a real believer.


Not one of the smallest parts of the Torah will “pass away” or even change, until all of it is accomplished – when Yeshua returns and the present heavens and earth are “passed away”.

Not one “yod” will pass away: yod is the smallest letter, also the number ten – this could be translated: “not one of the ten will pass away”.

Not one small part of a letter will pass away – removing a small overhang on a Hebrew letter changes the letter, and thus the meaning of its word.


From ancient Hebrew and Greek texts of Matthew:

[Build up] Heb. l’hashalom – to make complete, whole, prosperous.  Gr. plaroo – to make full, complete, build up.

[Tear down] Heb. l’hafer – to break, violate, annul.     Gr. kataluo – to destroy, overthrow, empty, tear down.

This is the same word used in Matthew 26:61 and 27:40, referring to “tear down” the Temple, which yeshua said He would “raise up”.

[Pass away]    Heb. [ tbtl ? ].               Gr. Parerchomai – pass away.


Matthew 23:1-4 – “Jews placed heavy burdens”

1 Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.


The “seat of Moses” is the Sanhedrin, the seat of halachic judgment. This refers to the court seventy-one judges of the Holy Temple, who made rulings concerning how people should walk (halach) to fulfill Torah, and who made civil and criminal judgments. In the first century AD, it was made up of “scribes and Pharisees”, some of whom purchased their positions – “seated themselves”, contrary to prescribed order.


16 Yahweh therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone’ ” – Numbers 11.


Yeshua did not fault their teachings, “all that they tell you do and observe”, but He faulted their hypocritical behavior, “do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them”


10 You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which Yahweh chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve Yahweh your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die” – Deut 17:10-12.


In matters of civil and criminal judgment, they put unbearable burdens upon those whom they found liable, but they would not grant relief for the oppressed. This is a matter frequently condemned by God through the prophets.


9 Thus has Yahweh of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; 10 and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another’ ” – Zechariah 7:9-10.


2 The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among men. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; each of them hunts the other with a net. 3 Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe, and a great man speaks the desire of his soul; so they weave it together” – Micah 7:2-3.


It should be noted that Torah observance is never to be considered a burden.


8 And you shall again obey Yahweh, and observe all His commandments (mitzvot) which I command you today. 9 Then Yahweh your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for Yahweh will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if you obey Yahweh your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the Torah, if you turn to Yahweh your God with all your heart and soul. 11 For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach” – Deuteronomy 30:8-11.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome” – 1 John 5:3.


Acts 15 – “The four laws for gentiles”

1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. . . . 19 ‘Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.’


Through a parable, Yeshua foretold that He would remove the authority of the Sanhedrin.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do unto those husbandmen?’ 41 They say unto him, ‘He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons’. 42 Yeshua said to them, ‘Did you never read in the scriptures, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” 43 Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a company bringing forth the fruits thereof’ ” – Matthew 21:40-43.


Yeshua specifically gave authority for making halachic judgments to His apostles. Binding and loosing is halachic judgment – judging what is disallowed and what is allowed, in order to be Torah observant.

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” – Matthew 16:19.


In Acts 15, we see the Apostles convening in Jerusalem, in order to make halachic judgments for new converts from idolatry. It was determined that such new converts should repent of their gross idolatries, and learn Torah in the synagogues every Sabbath. This was in contrast to the doctrine of the “circumcision” – a Jewish group that tried to make total Torah observance a requirement prior to acceptance of a gentile convert (their meaning of circumcision representing observance of all of Torah).


There is no separate set of commandments for gentiles. Israel was given instruction (Torah) in order to be a light to the nations – to teach them to the world.

The Torah will go forth from Zion, and the Word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. And He will judge the nations . . .” – Isaiah 2:3-4.

And I will appoint you  . . . as a light to the nations” – Isaiah 42:6.


This is a refutation of attempts to equate these apostolic rulings with the so-called Noachide Laws, which some perceive as a group of laws that are applicable to all men, in contrast to their view of Mosaic Laws. Noachide Laws are defined as prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, and robbery, the positive command to establish courts of justice, and a seventh commandment, given to Noah, forbidding the eating of flesh cut from a living animal (Genesis 9:4).


Galatians – “Legalism”


This book should be viewed with the same perspective as the other Scriptures noted herein. Paul is teaching against the doctrine of salvation by works – self-righteousness (see Matthew 5 above). He does not teach antinomianism – tearing down the Torah. Rather, he says that by faith we establish the Torah!

Do we then nullify the Torah through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Torah” – Romans 3:31.


Many commentators (even some translators) use the prejudicial terms “legalism” and “Judaizers”. These words never appear in the text. “Legalism” is commonly misapplied to Torah-observance, while “Judaizers” is commonly used to promote Christianity as a separate new religion.


In contrast, “lawlessness” is condemned throughout the Bible.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness” – 1 John 3:4.


Colossians 2 – “Feasts, New Moons, and Sabbaths”

16 Therefore let no one condemn you in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17 things which are a shadow of what is to come; the substance being Messiah.


Here is an explanatory parasphrase:

“Do not let anyone – Jew or Gentile – condemn you Gentile believers for Torah observance. Torah observance includes keeping God’s statutes (kashrut – food regulations). It also includes celebrating God’s ordinances – the Feasts, Biblical calendar, and Sabbath days. These observances are prophetic shadow-pictures of Yeshua; and Messiah Himself, who gave us this instruction, is the body casting the shadow.”


One popular translation reads: “for not celebrating certain holy days”, adding a negative to the Holy Writ. Another refers to “mere shadows”, denigrating God’s holy ordinances. Such translating adds to the general confusion.


Romans 10 – “Christ is the end of the Law”

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Messiah is the goal of the law, for righteousness to everyone who believes.


Again, we are dealing with the doctrine of salvation by works – establishing one’s own righteousness. This is not in accordance with Torah, which teaches salvation by grace through faith. The very goal of the Torah is Messiah, and faith in Him, to impute righteousness to everyone who believes.


Romans 14 – “All days alike”

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.


Firstly, this passage does not concern God’s commandments; the duty to perform of God’s commandments is not subject to personal whim. There was no argument in Apostolic days for eating things which God did not give for food (unkosher), or for the day set aside for worship to be changed from Sabbath to Sunday, much less making these all a matter of personal choice.


Secondly, it does not concern halachic judgments that are the domain of the judges; God demands that we follow these (Exodus 22:8, Matthew 23:2-3). Examples of halachic judgments are (1) determining the starting day of each month (and thus the Festival days), and (2) pronouncing penalties for criminal acts. These are not subject to personal whim.


The passage concerns matters of personal judgment. The issues have not changed much from then until now.


Some – who are weak in the faith, not being very familiar with God’s Word – are vegetarians based upon their religious understandings. It is not a sin to eat meat, and it is not a sin to refrain from eating meat (excepting the Passover Lamb); we should not condemn anyone for doing things that God does not condemn. Some were concerned about eating meats from the market place, meats that might have been previously used in idol worship (1 Corinthians 10:25-29). Some people fast on various days for various reasons, some eat every day; (excepting Yom haKippurim / the Day of the Atonements – the only commanded fast day) fast days are a matter of personal decision, and they are not a basis for condemning anyone.


Some say that the Sabbath is a preferred day to engage in marital intimacy, some say that Sabbath is not a day to seek such personal pleasure, and still others say that every day is the same in that regard. There are no commandments concerning this issue, and Paul is saying that we should not condemn anyone for doing things that God does not condemn. Some say that marriages should be performed only on certain days of the week (like Tuesdays and Thursdays), and only in certain seasons of the year (not from Nisan 15 to Sivan 6 when reflecting upon counting the omer, or not from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 when commemorating the destruction of the Temple, or not from Elul 1 to Tishrei 10 during the days of repentance).


The issue is neither observing God’s commandments, nor following halachic judgments. The issue is condemning others for their personal decisions that are properly within their realm.


Mark 7:18-19 – “Jesus declared all foods clean”

And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purging all foods?" 


The statement is simply making a point of the obvious: whatever dirt is consumed with food is known to be eliminated by the digestive system.


The last clause is often mistranslated “Thus He declared all foods clean”. The Greek text does not say that “He declared” anything. In addition, a declaration changing kashrut laws would be inconsistent with the subject of the passage, which is eating things without washing: “the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands” – v.3-4. Peter did not know about any such supposed ‘change’ after spending years with Yeshua: “I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean” – Acts 10:14.


The Pharisees here were not pressing kashrut statutes upon Yeshua, which He would now abolish (before His crucifixion, no less?). The problem was that some Pharisees sought to publicly find fault with Yeshua, by putting their customs ahead of Biblical judgments. While hand washing is good, making it a requirement above providing necessary food was simply looking for an excuse to condemn Yeshua – which condemnation falls under the category of murder (See commentary Y2-33 on Leviticus 13).


Acts 10 – Peter’s vision

9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat!’ 14 But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.’ 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. 17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be . . .”


No food was present here, and Peter ate nothing: it was a perplexing vision. Peter, having spent years with Yeshua, still knew of no change in kashrut statutes. Jews generally saw gentiles as unclean like pigs. God presented a parable-type vision to tell Peter not to avoid gentiles whom He had cleansed.

28 And he said to them, ‘You yourselves know how it is disallowed for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. 29 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me’ ” – v.28-29.


© 2005  Beikvot HaMashiach

(Followers of the Messiah)


Updated October 15, 2014


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