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The Grace of Torah

    Kislev 14, 5770

The Grace of Torah

The Goodness of God's Instruction

by John J. Parsons

Psalm 25:8 (BHS)

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore he teaches
sinners in the way. (Psalm 25:8)

IT'S BEEN RIGHTLY SAID THAT God doesn't have any grandchildren in heaven, only children: He is not your "heavenly grandfather" but your heavenly Father (אֲבִיכֶם בַּשָּׁמַיִם). And just as a good father disciplines his children for their own good, so does your Father in heaven (Prov. 3:11, Heb. 12:5-7). The discipline of God leads you to do teshuvah for your ultimate good (Rom. 2:4). As C.S. Lewis once remarked, God doesn't love you because you are good, but He will make you good because He loves you.

The Hebrew word derekh (דֶּרֶךְ), often translated as "way," metaphorically refers to the journey, manner, or course of your life. Because God is tov v'yashar (good and upright), he teaches his children to be yesharim (יְשָׁרִים), i.e., those who walk uprightly. Indeed, the way of the LORD (דֶּרֶךְ יהוה) is "to do acts of charity and justice" (לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט) (Gen. 18:19). This is the "straight way" (derekh ha-yashar), or the "narrow path" that leads to life (Matt. 7:14). The yesharim are known by the good fruit of their lives (Matt. 7:15-23).

Note that the verb used in this verse (יוֹרֶה) comes from the root yarah (ירה) -- the same root used in the word Torah (תּוֹרָה). Because the LORD is good and upright, He gives us Torah for our lives. God educates us for eternity by imparting to us moral and spiritual truth. As King David taught, "Happy is the man who delights in the Torah of the LORD and meditates upon it day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).

Surely followers of Yeshua the Mashiach should likewise love and study the Torah. After all, Yeshua was the Angel of the LORD (מַלְאַךְ יהוה) who spoke at Sinai when the Torah was given to Israel (Exod. 3:2, Deut. 4:12), and he is the same "yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). During his earthly ministry, Yeshua studied Torah and clearly taught us to keep the ways of the LORD (Luke 4:16, Matt. 7:12). He repeatedly affirmed the central teaching of the Torah – the Shema –putting the duty to love God above all else (Deut. 6:4-6; Mark 12:29). Indeed, the "New Covenant" itself promises that the Torah would be written "upon our hearts" (Jer. 31:31-33, cp. Matt. 26:28) and is inscrutable apart from it – just as Yeshua himself clearly taught (Luke 24:27; see also: Matt. 5:17, Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11, 2 Tim. 3:14-17, etc.).

Yeshua is called derekh ha-chayim (דֶּרֶךְ הַחַיִּים), the way of life (John 14:6). He is the Wonder of the Torah, its living expression and goal. With the psalmist, therefore, we earnestly pray: גַּל־עֵינַי וְאַבִּיטָה נִפְלָאוֹת מִתּוֹרָתֶךָ / gal einai v'abitah nifla'ot mi-Toratekha: "Uncover my eyes and I will behold wonders from your Torah" (Psalm 119:18).

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew-English transliteration

tov v'yashar Adonai; al-ken yoreh chata'im ba-darekh

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Important Addendum:

It's important to keep in mind that by the word "Torah" I am not referring to the Rabbinical traditions of post-Temple Judaism but rather to the "instruction" or "teaching" of the LORD God of Israel. As I've repeatedly explained in my writings, Torah is always a function of covenant -- as man's responsibility -- and therefore Torah has changed in light of God's different covenantal actions in history (Heb. 7:12). Followers of Yeshua abide by the "law of Messiah" (תּוֹרַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ), that is, the teaching of Yeshua the Messiah (John 14:15, Gal. 6:2, 1 John 5:2, 2 John 1:6). For more information about this subject, please see the article entitled "Olam Ha-Torah" as well as various other articles on this site.


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