10. The Eternal Torah
"Behold, the days are coming," says the L-rd, "when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Not like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-My covenant that they broke, although I was their Master," says the L-rd. "But this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after those days, " says the L-rd: "I will place My Torah within them and write it upon their hearts; and I will be their G-d and they shall be My people, and no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying: `Know the L-rd,' for they shall all know, from the least of them to the greatest of them," says the L-rd; "for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more."
This vision of the Messianic Era is not referring to any change in the contents of the Torah, for it does not say, "I will make a new Law with the House of Israel." It is rather speaking about the covenant G-d made with the Jews at Mount Sinai.
A Biblical covenant always denotes an agreement between two or more parties.
So, Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant.
[Abimelch and his men] said, "We see plainly that the L-rd has been with you [Abraham] so we say, let there be an oath between us, between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you: That you will do us no harm, as we have not touched you, and as we have done you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace; you are now the blessed of the L-rd."
In the Messianic Era, the covenant will be "new" and different in that it will be unbreakable, owing to the tremendous G-dly revelations the Jewish people will experience:
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will place within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will place My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances.
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even upon the manservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out My spirit.
Through these revelations, the Jews will attain unsurpassed knowledge of G-d and His Torah, making it impossible for them to disobey either one. As the passage under discussin states: "I will place My Torah within them and write it upon their hearts...." It will be so ingrained in the Jew that, "no longer shall each man [need to] teach his neighbor and each his brother..." Similarly:
Thus says the L-rd of hosts: "On those days ten men out of all the languages of the nations shall take hold and seize the robe of a Jew, saying: `Let us go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you.'"
They shall never hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea.
Hence, the Torah itself is eternal, as are each of its precepts:
And G-d said to Abraham: "And you shall keep My covenant, you and your seed after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: every male among you shall be circumcised."
And you shall observe the [commandment of] unleavened bread, for on this very day I brough your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an ordinance forever.
Therefore, the children of Israel keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.
The New Testament quotes the passage under discussion as "proof" that it has replaced the Torah, adding:
In speaking of a new covenant He treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
However, the New Testament itself testifies that Jesus firmly believed in the eternity of the Torah's commands:
Jesus said: "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind [Jesus] and touched the fringe of his garment....
Jesus wore this fringe in fulfillment of :
The L-rd said to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel and instruct them that they should make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they should put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue."119
And, behold, one came up to [Jesus] , saying: "Good teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him: "Why do you call me good? There is no one good but One, that is G-d. But if you desire to enter life, keep the commandments."
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The scribes and the Pharicees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice."
The scribes and the Pharicees said to obey the Torah!
And [Jesus] sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him: 'See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people."
And Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day and stood up to read....
Jesus said: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void."
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying: "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."
After Jesus' crucifixion, his followers prepared spices and ointments for his body, but:
...on the Sabbath day they rested according to the commandment.
Therefore my [James'] judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to G-d, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. For from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogue.
Missionaries contend that it was necessary to replace the Torah because its commands are too difficult to observe:
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
Yet Jesus made the Torah even more difficult to fulfill:
You have heard what was said to the man of old: "You shall not kill; and whosoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother without a reason shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; but whoever says; "You fool!" shall be lible to the hell of fire120.
You have heard that it was said to the men of old: "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
It was also said: "Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce." But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the the grounds of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The Hebrew Bible permits one to marry a divorcee:
And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.
Again you have heard it said to the men of old: "You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform [for] the L-rd what you have sworn." But I say to you: "Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of G-d, or by earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King."
You have heard that it was said: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you: "Do not resist anyone who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."
GIve to everyone who asks from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask for them again.
So, therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
The Hebrew Bible requires that only one-tenth of a Jew's income be set aside for charity:
Behold I have given the children of Levy all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, the service in the Tent of Meeting.
"And it shall come to pass, when you multiply and increase in the land in those days," says the L-rd, "they shall no longer say, `The Ark of the Covenant of the L-rd'; neither shall it come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made anymore. At the time they shall call Jerusalem `The throne of the L-rd' and all nations shall gather to it, to the Name of the L-rd, to Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their evil heart."
For the Jewish people, the Ark symbolized G-d's closeness and protection:
And you shall put the Ark cover above, upon the Ark; and in the Ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. And there I will meet with you, and from above the Ark cover, from between the two cherubs that are upon the Ark of the Testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the children of Israel.
And when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the Ark cover that was upon the Ark of Testimony, from between the two cherubs; and He spoke to him.
So they set out from the mountain of the L-rd three days' journey; and the Ark of the Covenant of the L-rd went before them three days' journey, to seek out a resting place for them.
I Samuel 4:3
And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said; "Why has the L-rd smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us take unto us the Ark of the Covenant of the L-rd from Shiloh, that He may come among us and save us from the hand of our enemies."
The verse under discussion is declaring that in the Messianic Era, the entire city of Jerusalem will symbolize this nearness of G-d. Since the Ark will no longer be needed for this purpose, it will not be remembered, missed, etc.
According to missionaries, this verse under discussion "proves" that the Torah will not be observed in the future. But this presumption is incorrect, for the Ark contained only the Ten Commandments:
Then I [Moses] turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the Ark I had made; and there they were as the L-rd commanded me.
I Kings 8:9
There was nothing in the Ark except the two tablets of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the L-rd made a covenant with the children of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt.
And I will put an end to all her rejoicing, her festivals , her new moons, her Sabbaths and her appointed seasons
He has stripped His tabernacle as if it were a garden, He has destroyed His place of assembly; the L-rd has brought to an end in Zion festival and Sabbath, and has rejected in the indignation of His anger both king and priest.
Both these passages describe the consequences derived from the destruction of the Temple, center of prayer, song, and sacrifice. The joy in the Temple was especially great on Sabbaths and holy days, when the king, the priests, and the masses engaged in festive celebration, as commanded by G-d.
Three times a year shall all your males appear before the L-rd, your G-d, in the place He shall choose [the Temple]: during the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Passover], during the Feast of Weeks [the anniversary of the giving of the Torah], and during the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the L-rd empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the L-rd, your G-d, which He has given you.
II Chronicles 5:3-4,14
And all the men of Israel assembled before the king during the Feast [of Tabernacles], which is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the Ark....And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the L-rd filled the House of G-d.
The verses under discussion are speaking of a temporary period, for the Sabbath and the festivals are to be observed forever:
And you shall observe the [commandment of] unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an ordinance forever.
Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever that in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.
Thus, when the third Temple is rebuilt:
Then everyone who survives of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the L-rd of hosts, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.