In the last program, we started out saying that we’re going to learn what our faith is supposed to be built on. We started off by looking at the 2 different Diaspora’s that have taken place to the Jewish people; first there was the 70 year Babylonian Diaspora, and then there was the second Diaspora that began in 70 AD and is still in play to this very day and the Bible doesn’t actually provide for us an end date the second time around.
One of the catastrophes for the Jewish people in 70 AD, was the destruction of the Temple, bringing to an immediate end their ability to perform the sacrificial and ceremonial requirements of the Law and as a result, Judaism morphed itself into a religion of works, based upon the interpretations of rabbis and many traditions added and embellished over the years. When Jesus walked the earth, He reprimanded them because they had so many traditions that burdened the people and undermined the Word of God. Today, those traditions and requirements have increased exponentially, and they’ve come about as a means of compensating for their inability to perform Temple services.
In fact, we learned that the Talmud talks about a situation where 2 different rabbis were trying to prove their point and eventually, 1 rabbi said that even if God Himself spoke with an audible voice from heaven and provided miraculous signs, it wouldn’t override the rabbis because those decisions were solely for the rabbis to make. Basically, this is the belief that the man-made written interpretations of the Bible, the Talmud and the Mishna and other commentaries carry greater weight that the original Word of God.
Understand, they don’t think the Word of God isn’t important, they do. They read it, study it and venerate it. They celebrate it with great reverence, but they believe the way to obey it and honour is to do so through the lens and interpretation of the rabbis and sages. Paul himself completely understood the dilemma his countrymen were experiencing.
Romans 10:1-4, ‘Brothers, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them (the Jews) is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.’
Paul was saying that his own countrymen, the Jews, were incredibly zealous about keeping God’s Law, but they didn’t see or understand that the Messiah Himself was the fulfillment of it, and that their entrance to righteousness and salvation was through Him. They took what they knew and built upon it according to their own interpretations and man-made additions that they considered were pious and therefore, appealing to and approved by God. The problem with embracing the Oral Law – the supposed handing down verbally, the interpretation of the written Law as the ultimate authority now pronounced by rabbis – is that this view is sometimes opposite or in conflict with what the written Law states.
Exodus 34:27, ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words, I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”’
God said that the authority of the words Moses was to write down would be the authority of His covenant with His people. There is no mention anyway in the Word of God about a verbally transmitted law that was to be obeyed over and above the written Law. In fact, there’s no mention of an oral law at all, anywhere in the Bible. Period. In fact, Joshua reinforces the authority and necessity of the written Law.
Joshua 1:8, ‘This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you’ll make your way prosperous, and then you’ll have success.’
First of all, who spoke those words? God did, He was speaking them to Joshua. What did God Himself say? He told Joshua that he was to never cease from speaking and dwelling and learning all that was WRITTEN in the Law. Not the oral interpretations, but the written Law given to Moses by God Himself. Then God emphasised to Joshua, that the result of speaking, dwelling and learning the written Law would lead to success.
I need to say that the Talmud and Mishna (Jewish books of commentary and the documentation of the Oral Law) aren’t evil, and the motivation for them being written and compiled, came from the sincere desire to understand how Jews were required to practically live their lives in accordance with God’s Word. Even though they’re man-written documents, they’ve become elevated to a position of greater significance that the Bible itself, even though that would be denied by most religious Jews. Their default position is that in order to live out the Torah, the Talmud and Mishna are necessary to rightly understand it and that the rabbis have been granted the authority to make religious determinations about them.
So what’s the point of all this? We have a faith in God and His promise of redemption and salvation for all people, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. But what is Judaism and Christianity founded upon? This is the conundrum that Paul had when he tried so passionately to explain to his countrymen about Jesus their Messiah and how salvation is acquired.
There were sacrifices made before the Law was given. So sacrifices weren’t a new phenomenon when Moses was given the Law. They were simply formalised and their function was to reveal to sinful human beings that sin and rebellion before God was extremely costly and only by shed blood could forgiveness be granted. They were also a prophetic example of what the Messiah would in fact do Himself, to redeem humanity. They were a prophetic, symbolic representation of Jesus.
So before Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial, ceremonial Laws, all who believed in God’s future promise of a Messiah for redemption, did so by faith. Paul actually listed in Hebrews 11 so many people, going all the way back to Cain and Abel, those who trusted God by faith and those who rejected God.
Those who knew God and waited earnestly for the Messiah, the Promise, were justified before God because of faith. Those who’ve known God since Messiah came, died and rose again, have known Him because of faith. The Law of Moses, was the structure that taught them the nature and character of God, what His holiness is like, what His power looks like, what His expectation of His people looks like, and presents the picture of what the Messiah would do and achieve when He arrived.
Salvation, redemption, comes through faith and faith alone, for those who lived both before Jesus physical birth and after His physical resurrection and ascension. Judaism and Christianity are supposed to be based on the promise and certainty of God’s Word and the confirmation of its fulfillment. Learning about Him, who He is and what His character and nature is like, comes through faith in Christ through the inspired, written Word of God.
Based on an article at oneforisrael.org