Picking up where I left off:
I was spending the majority of my time reading the Old Testament, after all, I was very afraid of breaking Laws (even unknowingly breaking laws). Our family used daily worship times to read and re-read the Torah. I was developing a terrible fear of God! I just knew that He would strike me dead if I did not keep the Law completely. I had completely lost sight of what the New Testament calls "Grace!" We had talked some about how to begin keeping feasts, but I was terrified of doing it incorrectly! We wondered aloud if modern day Passover keepers still kill and eat a lamb. (Again, to the "normal" Christians reading this blog, who cannot possible fathom such confusion and ignorance on my part - instead of judging me and writing me off forever - thank God that He has not allowed you to be taken in by such thoughts! Because it is not merely your own self, but God who keeps you from error.)
Again, in case you think that I am attacking those who are currently Torah Keeping Christians, be reminded that in writing this series of posts I am opening myself up to a whole lot of criticism and attack (from both sides!), and I would not care to do that at all, except that I want to help God's people out of bondage.
Yes, I believe that the Hebrew Roots Movement and Torah Keeping is Bondage! My dear Torah Keeping Friends, do you not feel this bondage yourself? Do you not feel the agony of being separated from all other believers? Do you not feel that constantly keeping the Law is not a joy, but a drudgery? I expect that you are recalling this verse, right about now:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (I John 5:2-3 KJV)I do not dispute that we are told to keep God's commandments. BUT, after having read and re-read this book many times (and many other New Testament books many times, and many Old Testament passages many times), I believe that the commandments that are most important - the commandments John is telling us to keep, are regarding love for God and love for one another! The whole book of First John is replete with the message that love for God is shown in our love for others! Consider these verses (I am using the King James Version, knowing that most in the Hebrew Roots movement will allow for no other English translation) :
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. (I John 2:3-7)
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (I John 3:11)
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (I John 3:23-24)
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (I John 4:7-8)
So, I agree that we are supposed to keep the Commandments of God, but I believe that these commandments for us are all about love! See also theses passages:
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:14)Also, consider the produce of the Spirit filled life (that is, the life of a believer).
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40 - emphasis added)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: (Gal 5:22 KJV)The law is summed up in those commandments about loving God and loving one another! So, what about clean foods, Sabbath keeping, and feast days? How should we consider these? For the answer I refer mainly to the Apostle Paul. And, I have done enough reading of Hebrew Roots authors to know that many try to discount Paul's letters in one way or another, some resorting to questioning whether or not we can even have a true translation of his writings. But, I encourage you to reconsider these claims! If our English Bible does not correctly translate and record the words of Paul, how can we trust it to properly record the Words of Christ, or even the Law itself!? Trying to pick and choose which texts of the Bible are trustworthy is a slippery slope!
I will look more in-depth at these key verses for understanding the Law for gentiles in Part Three of the Series - Everything Old is New Again.