TORAH AS A CROWN
~Keren Hannah Pryor
In the ‘Ethics Now & Then‘ post of Avot 4:17, Rabbi Shimon describes three ‘crowns’ one can acquire [in the Kingdom of God] – namely, those of Torah, priesthood and kingship. Rashi comments that, of the three, the Torah is the one openly available to all, for all can study God’s Word and learn and live thereby.
Immediately the subject of Torah is addressed, however, Christian defences rise up in certain quarters with the standard refrains, for example, of…”We are set free from the bondage of the Law!” “We are saved by grace alone.” “Jesus came to do away with the Law!” and the clincher: “The Torah/Law is only for the Jews!” (which, by the way, can carry the sorry implication: ‘Poor suckers, even if they have been “saved,” they have to do it all or die! Not like we Gentile believers who have all our sins automatically forgiven and can do as we please.’ That doesn’t quite ‘gel’.)
In the Ethics Now & Then post, I comment on how, in speaking a blessing toward or over another, we virtually are placing a beautiful ‘crown of words’ on their head. Each time we bless our Father God, for example, and thank Him for His provision of food to eat, or for the new day and the potential it holds, or for bringing us safely to a particular season, we are presenting Him with a crown of blessing. When we praise and thank God for sending His Salvation for the world in Messiah Yeshua, and for his faithfulness unto death and his exaltation to the right hand of the Throne of God, where he now intercedes for us as our High Priest and prepares to return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to rule and reign as Mashiach ben David, Messiah the son of David, we are indeed ‘casting many crowns’!
An interesting thought struck me in pondering the Torah as a crown… in considering it as a blessing and not a bondage. This is the crown of blessings – His eternal Word – that He spoke over and presented to His people at Sinai; a crown representing His Kingship. It is a mark of His ownership to receive and wear proudly – and not to consider as a shackle to be cast aside in the name of ‘freedom’.
Picture: John and Lucy Talbot
TORAH AS A BLUEPRINT
“Build it and He will come.”
Rabbi David Foreman expresses a concept, quoted here, which I find a refreshing challenge of the traditional “Law as bondage” opinion.
“I think the Torah conceptualizes our purpose here in the world not so much in terms of “being nice to everyone” or even as “doing God’s Will”, but in somewhat different terms entirely. I think the Torah thinks of it in terms of making a place in your world for someone you love.”
As in the blueprints given for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and Beit HaMikdash ( the Holy House of the Temple) – we live and build our lives with reference to His Word and as we build it He comes and dwells in us.
TORAH AS A LIFE CONTRACT
Skip Moen, in ‘It’s Not All Grace‘ on his blog, offers a happy thought!
“The Torah/Law is a contract for enjoying life, not a set of rules for controlling behavior. That is why God can expect His children to keep His commandments, joyfully! Is the Law [Torah – teaching of God] for me? You bet! God asks me to observe it, empowers me to observe it and delights in me when I observe it. Keeping the Law because I am devoted to Him is my way of saying, “Thank You, Father, for rescuing me.”
I keep it because I love Him. It is not a [heavy and burdensome] yoke around my neck.
It is liberty in my heart.”
TO REFLECT UPON
King David in all his songs of the Psalms certainly sees the Torah, the Word and wisdom of the God of Israel, as his joy and delight – as a Tree of Life to desire and cling to – and as his soul’s Source of Living Water. The question arises then, why do those who have found the gracious gift of Salvation in Jesus, who was sent by God that all nations might be saved from idolatry and come into relationship with and knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, disregard the very Word that Yeshua enfleshed and that bears witness of himself and of his Father?
Our answers lead to further questions as to our identity as those in the Kingdom and family of God and how, depending on how we respond, this should then affect our daily lives. Can we ignore the will of our Father – as inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of Holiness, and set down in the Hebrew Scriptures – whose will Yeshua came to perform in his every word, thought and deed? As Yeshua himself said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (Jn 14:23-24). God does not change and He is not a man that He should lie; as is written, His Word stands forever.
Tough stuff… but vitally important to think upon.