An important foreword:
YHWH (Yah-way) wasn't "cursing" mankind when He gave us rules to live by! (Our God doesn't do anything without good reason - and, as a matter of fact, He didn't number those "613" commandments Himself; MAN did!) These commandments taught man right from wrong and how to live according to HIS Holy Rules and to worship Him properly.
We must understand, however, that the "numbering" of the original commandments was done by man, not by YHWH Himself, which means there is no reason to worry about trying to keep "all 613 commands." (Not to mention that most of those "613" commands were directed at the cohens (priests) of the day; some were only for men; some only for women, and some were only for a certain timeframe.)
But some were meant to last FOREVER - and those are the ones that believers must pay attention to.
While YHWH eventually recorded ten in stone, we must remember, these ten are just part of the larger picture taken from His Torah which He said would stand forever. Many people balk at this idea because they are under the erroneous impression that they don't even have to bother even keeping the TEN Commandments anymore (let alone the "613"); but, rather, just TWO - and they cite the following as "proof":
Matthew 22:36. "Teacher, which Commandment in Torah is the greatest?" 37. And Y'shua said to him, that "You should love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind." 38. This is the first and the greatest Commandment. 39. And the second is like it. That "You should love your neighbor as yourself." (AENT)
Unfortunately, they stop right there, totally ignoring the next verse, which says: 40. On these two commandments hang Torah and the prophets.
Does verse 40 imply that all of God's original instructions have been done away with? NO! The Torah and the Prophets HANG/ARE DEPENDENT ON those two commands! There's more to it than just "loving God and loving your neighbor!" SIN is still sin and God still expects His people to adhere to His Divine Standards for moral, holy living! So, it is important to note that Torah HANGS on those two commandments. Note also that it doesn't say they REPLACED the Torah!
The thing is, people love to pick and choose and play around with the commandments that were written in stone - such as, for instance, the Fourth Commandment concerning the seventh-day Sabbath. Christianity has decided that the death of Jesus somehow changed YHWH's Seventh Day Sabbath rest to a church event done on Sunday morning (which is mostly based on the writings of what they THINK Paul wrote); which, more often than not, concentrates on bands and entertainment instead of solid Torah teachings (the "law" after all, is considered a curse!)... after which some go home to mow their lawns and clean their houses, or return to the office to catch up on some work....
It seems mankind has always liked to "pick and choose" when it comes to God's Word, but it's time to realize that seventh-day Sabbath command, along with His seven feasts were NEVER abolished ... on the cross, or anywhere else! There were parts of Torah that God said would endure FOREVER.
2 Timothy 3:16. All Scripture that was written by the Spirit is profitable for instruction and for decisive refutation, and for correction, and for deep extensive learning in righteousness; 17. that the man of Elohim may become perfect and complete for every good work.
So did "Jesus" abolish those 613 commandments?
In a word: NO!
Many Christians, in order to show Torah observant believers the "error of their ways," gleefully and with undertones of sarcasm bring up the fact that "no one can keep those old 613 commandments." Fact is, hardly any of these Christians realize what the 613 commandments were, in the first place, nor that no one (including Yeshua) has ever kept them all - because most were for the priests; some were only for men while others only for women; some were only for a certain point in time; some for Nazirite vows, and 200+ related to the Temple which is not standing!
They also don't realize that the NUMBERING of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) were more of a man-made tradition rather than an actual "number of commandments" sent down by YHWH (Yahweh). The idea originated in the Talmud which says there are both "positive" and "negative" mitzvot (do's and don'ts) which can be divided into 365 Negative Mitzvot (to remind us not to do bad things every day of the year) plus 248 Positive Mitzvot - for a total of 613.
Similarly, the tzit-tzit (knotted fringes) of the tallit (prayer shawl) are also connected to the 613 commandments. Torah commentator Rashi declared that the number of knots on a tzit-tzit (in its Mishnaic spelling) has the value of 600. When doubled over, each tassel has eight threads and five sets of knots, which totals 13 - for a grand total of 613. This concept reminds tallit wearers of all Torah commandments.
The above way of tying the knots is done by the Ashkenazi Jews, whereas the Sephardic Jews tie the knots in a way that causes them to spell out the Name of YHWH. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value; consequently, the knots of the tzit-tzit on the four corners of a tallit spell out the name of YHWH/Yahweh. When Yeshua returns as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:11-13,16), the tzit-tzits of His tallit will fall - where else, but across his thighs when He returns to earth atop a white horse....
The world needs to be made aware of the fact that, while God gave us many commands to follow, including the Ten Commandments, He did NOT "do away with Torah" (His Divine Instructions in Righteousness found in the first five Books of the Bible without which man would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living). Yeshua attempted to abolish the rabbinical, man-made "stuff" - the opinions and traditions that kept people in bondage. Neither He nor His apostles ever spoke against Torah nor suggested that after Yeshua's death Torah was to become null and void! (That is a strictly Christian concept which cannot be verified in the Scriptures!) Paul (upon whose much-misunderstood writings Christianity has based its entire theology) verified this when he said: Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31)
For those who are truly interested in learning more about the God we serve, we invite you to join us as we examine this issue in detail!
Where does one find those original 613 commandments? They come straight from the Torah. You can see them sprinkled throughout the Torah in places such as Gen 26:2-5; Ex 15:25-27; Ex 16; Ex 20:6; Lev 22, 26, 27; Num 15, 36; Deut 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31. There are more, but you get the picture: God was very adamant about people following all His teachings and commandments.
Why is it important for us to know about God's original commandments? Everything YHWH tells us to do is important and we are required to follow His orders. Obviously, some of the original commands cannot be followed today because they were dealing with the king, the Temple, the priesthood, or living in the Land; some pertained to the rabbis, some only to men, and some only to women.
However, YHWH's "forever" commands (seventh day Sabbath, Biblical Feasts, etc) still stand, and Christians, as part of Israel through the blood of Messiah, MUST do "exactly as the Jews":
Numbers 15:13 "'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'"
Some insist that "Torah was only for the Jews", but as we can see from the above, that is not true. The "foreigners" include everyone who has chosen to believe in Yeshua! The Bible tells us God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8); that Yeshua is YHWH-Come-in-the-Flesh; and that He and His disciples were all Torah observant, seventh day Sabbath and Feast-keeping, kosher Jews. The Bible also tells us that His original followers in the First Century (before Catholicism came to pervert the Word), were all Torah observant, as well. So what supposedly happened to change that? The answer is: Man's opinions got in the way....
Jeremiah 31:32 tells us that YHWH made His "new covenant" with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah; He did not make a "new covenant" with the Gentiles because He did not have an "old covenant" with the Gentiles. He did, however, extend His grace and mercy to the believing Gentiles who, as believers in Yeshua automatically become part of "Israel"! And God told Israel: "I give you good instruction: Do not forsake my Torah" (Proverbs 4:2).
Okay, so how did the "New Covenant" change the way we were to worship? Let's check it out:
Although the COVENANT changed, the following did not:
- YHWH's provisions
- The penalty for disobedience
- YHWH's promises
Psalm 119:89 Your word continues forever, ADONAI, firmly fixed in heaven; 90 your faithfulness though all generations; you established the earth, and it stands, 91 Yes, it stands today, in keeping with your rulings; for all things are your servants. (Stern's Complete Jewish Bible)
So, what HAS changed?
The Steward: Yeshua is now the steward, releasing Moses of that responsibility, and thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:
Deuteronomy 18:18 "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him. 19 Whoever doesn't listen to my words, which he will speak in my name, will have to account for himself to me. (Stern's)
The Torah written on our hearts: The Torah is presented and managed (not replaced - YHWH never said He was replacing Torah!) under a new covenant which is written on our hearts via the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), which fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:
Jeremiah 31:32 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI. "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Stern's)
Please note that "Torah written on our hearts" means we are willing to follow YHWH's instruction and learn and obey Torah; not that we are born with an innate knowledge about His teachings and commands which we can ignore at will!
The priest: Instead of an Aaronic high priest, the high priest is one "after the order of Melchizedek"- Yeshua our Messiah; which fulfills the prophecy of Psalm 110 in which King David wrote:
Psalms 110:1 ADONAI says to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." 2 ADONAI will send your powerful scepter out from Tziyon, so that you will rule over your enemies around you. 3 On the day your forces mobilize, your people willingly offer themselves in holy splendors from the womb of the dawn; the dew of your youth is yours. 4 ADONAI has sworn it, and he will never retract - "You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek." (Stern's)
The sacrifice: Innocent animals were sacrificed under the Mosaic covenant. But, under the new covenant, Yeshua Himself is the Sacrifice, thus fulfilling the foreshadowing of Psalm 40, which relates to animal sacrifice:
Psalm 40:7 Sacrifices and grain offerings you don't want; burnt offerings and sin offerings you don't demand. Instead, you have given me open ears; 8 so then I said, "Here I am! I'm coming! In the scroll of a book it is written about me. 9 Doing your will, my God, is my joy; your Torah is in my inmost being. (Stern's)
We need to remember, as Paul said, Yeshua was our final SIN offering, and the only way to obtain eternal life is to believe in His shed blood on the cross. When Torah observant believers talk about "walking in Torah" and keeping the feasts, however, people jump to conclusions and accuse of us doing it in order to receive eternal life; this is absolutely not true. Man is not "saved" by works! We must keep Torah because YHWH commanded it; and because we want to (once it is written on our hearts); and because God never "did away with" His original divine teaching and instruction!
Matthew 5:17 "Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P'rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" (Stern's)
Psalm 89:33 But I won't withdraw my grace from him or be false to my faithfulness. 34 I will not profane my covenant or change what my lips have spoken. 35 I have sworn by my holiness once and for all; I will not lie to David... (Stern's)
John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep My Commands; (Stern's)
John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." (Stern's)
Jeremiah 31:33 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Stern's)
Ezekiel 11:19-21 "... I will put a New Spirit in them ... I will give them a heart of flesh, so that they will keep My Laws and respect My Observances and put them into practise. Then shall they be My People ..."
Matthew 5:17 "I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one little stroke shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved....
Let's also remember Romans 3:31 which says: "Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law...."
A good question for a doubter to ask himself is: Are there ANY passages in the "Old Testament" or in the New Covenant that suggest Messiah would bring with Him a new religion? He fulfilled YHWH's "New Covenant" that would ensure eternal life for those who believed that Yeshua was the final Sin offering, but NOTHING suggested a new "religion" or the instructions to ignore God's original FOREVER covenant!
The bottom line is: Yeshua's arrival, and ultimate death on the cross did NOT abolish Torah! He said so, Himself. He kept the feasts; He ate only kosher foods; He worshipped and taught in synagogues. Everything He did was completely and thoroughly Jewish and exactly according to Scripture - and He instructed His disciples to do the same.
So, what exactly were the original 613 commandments? YHWH gave us 248 positive Mitzvot/Commandments ("the Do's"), and 365 negative ones ("the Don'ts"). They are as follows: