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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 6: Matthew 5:21-7:29, by Kevin M. Williams

As stated at the outset of this study, the book of Matthew is the good news written for a Jewish audience—proclaiming the reality of the Promised Jewish Messiah. This matter of Matthew’s intended audience is rarely, if ever, challenged in Christian circles. Therefore, if you can put yourself into the sandals of a Hebrew sitting near Yeshua 2,000 years ago, listening to Him speak, would you assume He was casting the Torah aside as annulled and completely finished? Or, would you think differently if you were a Jewish man or woman interested in spiritual matters? If you had been reared in the temple ritual, the synagogue, and the teaching of your local rabbi what would you think? Would you understand the Messiah to be “confirming” and “establishing” the Torah?

A gentile may easily read these words and come to understand that the Torah is “fulfilled” in such a way as to have become obsolete. But the text was written for Jewish readers in an entirely different historical, biblical, and cultural context that should just as easily lead the reader to believe that Yeshua was confirming the Torah and bringing it to its fullest revelation.

One must wonder how Marcion or Bultmann would have evaluated Yeshua’s view of Torah if they had known more about the world in which He lived. Between them, the Torah was either “too Jewish” or the phrase was attributed to Jesus by “Judaizing Christians.”

The Torah did not originate with “Jews” or from legalistically bent “Judaizing Christians.” The Torah was handed down to man by God Most High. If it has been warped in some way it was not a fault of the perfect Word of Yahweh but the insufficiency of mankind. Legalism came to be because of the flaws of man, not flaws in the Torah of God.

In most criticism of Torah, the Jewish people are the focus of attention. Of course, the Bible had not been given to any other society—so it stands to reason that the Israelites are the focus. But what about today? We have myriad Christian denominations and church splits because someone, somewhere, disagreed with how the Bible was being interpreted or applied. Do we therefore—with similar logic—accuse these denominations of using the Bible in too “Christian” a manner? Is it possible that over the centuries our attitudes toward the Jewish people have been hardened when in fact, we share culpability? What if the Bible used labels like “Baptists,” “Methodists,” “Reformed,” or “Assemblies of God” in its rebukes for mishandling the Word? Has the Church been too quick to judge the Jews? Can the Torah then be judged as being “too Jewish”?

Rather the Bible tells us, “we know that the Law is good, if one uses it properly” (1 Timothy 1:8, NIV). Paul goes on to tell our generation, “Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It would be centuries before the New Testament would be compiled. The only Scripture Paul had—and could be referencing here—were the very books Yeshua refers to: the Law and the Prophets.

Day of Discovery Television host and author Jimmy DeYoung claims that one-third of the bible is prophetic.5 He feels this warrants a believer’s attention. One does not need to shop in a Christian bookstore long to find copious tomes devoted—at no small expense—to explaining Bible prophecy. Shelf after shelf has been set apart to illuminate this third of the Word.

In fact, you can easily find sections set aside for women’s issues, men’s issues, family living, leadership, and the fastest growing segment—fiction. Yet it is nearly impossible to find a grace-based examination of God’s Torah. Even though it was the national constitution of God’s community of the redeemed; is the foundation of what we say we believe; is God’s first revelation of Himself to mankind; and is referenced directly or quoted in approximately 40% of the New Testament text, there is very little examination of the Pentateuch that does not use a gentile “fulfilled” perspective as an interpretive filter.

Does Yeshua’s statement, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17) require that a modern believer be divorced from the Old Testament form of community life?

Rather than belabor the point further, let us look at what the gospel of Matthew has to say. Did Yeshua annul the Torah as some allege? Or did he, as the Hebrews hoped Messiah would, explain the true spiritual depth underlying the commandments? We could volley opinions back and forth quite easily. Perhaps Yeshua’s own words can either prove or disprove the point.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Summer 2002

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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