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 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.
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 discussion 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: "In 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 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.
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, 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."
Jesus said: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void."
Missionaries contend that it was necessary to replace the Torah with the New Testament 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 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.
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."
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 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.
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, or missed.
According to missionaries, this "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, the 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 rested.
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.