When my eyes were first open to the Torah, the instructions of our Father, my first instinct was to declare Christianity wrong because of the things that they were doing “incorrectly.” I saw so much that was left out and so many scriptures that were twisted to incorporate different theologies. As I read and studied more, I did the same thing with the Jewish culture and their “traditions.” This was mostly due to an understanding and mindset I developed from my years in the church where many people claimed Judaism was evil and wrong. Nevertheless, I became “anti-tradition” in every aspect and became a ‘Sola Scriptura’ believer. At this point, I could see the Torah as black and white and believed everything outside of Torah was either evil or unnecessary.
Let’s stop for a second and think about this…Is the Torah really black and white?
If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is yes and no. I will try the best I can to explain this reasoning. Without a doubt, we can see YHWH is very clear in His desire for our obedience, but His instructions, laws, or commandments are not explicitly explained in depth in our Bibles. We could go through each commandment individually, but for the sake of a long article we are just going to look at a few specific examples. Let’s start with the Sabbath because it is such a big focal point throughout scripture.
Exodus 20:8-11 KJV
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
These same scriptures are repeated throughout our Bibles many times. While these verses are very specific that we are to keep this day holy, not to work or make someone or an animal work for us there is a problem because there is not a 100% clear explanation on how we specifically do or don’t do these certain things. If 100 people were to gather together and ONLY read the scriptures without any outside influences, then there would be 100 different thoughts on how one would walk out the commandment of the Fathers Sabbath.
Let’s look at another example.
Numbers 15:37-40 KJV
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
We often refer to these by the Hebrew name, Tzitzit or tzitziyot. Attach a thread of blue on the corners to be seen and to remember the commandments. Again, pretty specific on one hand, but also very vague on the details of how. There are many ways they are applied and tied today, but if we put those same 100 people ONLY reading scripture, then we will probably have another 100 opinions on how to walk out the application of this commandment.
Whether we choose to believe it or not, we are incorporating many “traditions” by the way we seek out and observe the Fathers instructions. Christianity, in itself, has preserved many of the Father’s instructions as well as some of the temple services by the setup of their worship services. To be honest, they are only following slightly fewer commandments or instructions than those in the Messianic or Hebrew Roots Movement. As for Judaism, they have not only preserved the temple service, but they have also recorded numerous writings with interpretations as well as rulings on how one should walk out each instruction, commandment, or law.
Are they all bad? No, and they are not necessarily all good either but what we need to step back and realize is, neither are all of our interpretations on the application of tzitzit, what we can and cannot do on the Sabbath, and so on. Our big brother Judah has preserved and walked in Torah all this time. They don’t have it all right but nor do we or will we before the Messiah returns and teaches us the correct way to apply and walk out the Torah. So, let’s not “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and declare everything to be evil if it’s not scripture. Our Messiah didn’t!
Amazingly enough, there are so many things within the rabbinical writings that are being addressed in the new Testament. However, without the knowledge of these things, such as the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Germara (the Talmud), we don’t see the language Y’shua spoke to the Pharisees, we miss the fact that He sided with the House of Hillel on certain subjects while disagreeing with the house of Shammai, and we overlook Him actually following some of the traditions which many are so quick to call evil. They are only wrong or bad when they go against or are held above the Father’s instructions.
We should all be obeying the Father with a servant’s heart and with love and respect for our Creator and Savior. We are all in different places in our walk and in our understanding of how to serve Him. Let’s not bash everything and every tradition until we have first examined it against the Father’s Torah. Some traditions do a fantastic job of keeping structure and order within the body so we can worship in unity while others remind and show us how to keep our eyes on Him!
In closing, I think this verse is very fitting for our walk.
Philippians 2:12 KJV
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.