The Mitzvot or commandments of God are eternal. They are a bridge between the Divine essence and man. The Torah which contains the mitzvot speaks of the encounter that God had with man. God reached out to man. It is this that man must accept. It is the realizing that God is reaching down to reach us and we must lift our arms up to Him. Once that connection is made, God can communicate His Torah to you as an individual.
This Torah is the same one that Avraham followed. It is the same one given corporately at Sinai. It is the same one put inside of you and written on your heart. There are many in this world that believe that the Messiah, who came and pay the debt for our sins for those who turn to God, did away with the commandments. There are some who think Paul removed the burden of the commandments. This is despite there not being one prophecy about the Torah being annulled or fulfilled in the sense that God’s people do not follow God’s eternal Torah.
In the Bible, the Messiah tells us that those who love Him, will keep His commands (John 14:15). The Messiah is speaking about action. If you truly love Him, you will keep the commandments. The big question is which commandments? Christians in general will say the Ten Commandments. Others may say love God and your neighbor. How do you define love then? We know these are the two greatest commandments, to love God and your neighbor. Therefore, defining love is really important. Defining which commandments is also really important. The premise here is to show that loving God has not changed. God revealed to us, through His Torah, how to love Him. The Prophets brought the same message. The Messiah, Yeshua, brought the exact same message. John brings the same message. While, Paul and his writings, are not the subject of this writing, he spoke the same message.
So let’s start off with defining love. Not the love that dominates our society today. Love of self, but the Biblical definition. John gives this definition in his second epistle 1:6a:
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.
That is Biblical definition of love, walking in obedience to God’s commandments. Pretty simple right. Some would say not so fast. Obedience to which commandments?
Today, what commandments does God want us to follow. Some say it is the moral commandments from those given at Sinai. Others say just to love. Love everyone. Have shalom. If you think about it, we can’t offer sacrifices at the Temple today, so those must be abolished, right? If not having the Temple means certain commandments are abolished, then think about after the destruction of the first Temple. Do you think sacrifices were abolished then as well? During the second Temple, sacrifices were being offered and did the Messiah ever condemn anyone for offering a sacrifice? No, He didn’t. In fact, Yeshua upheld all the commandments and said not one letter will pass away before heaven and earth pass away.
Therefore, I wanted to take a look at the verses each time we are told to love God in the Torah. If the definition of love to John is obedience to the commandments and Yeshua said if you love me, you will obey My commandments, then this should be the same message we received in the Torah. This being based on the premise that God’s will doesn’t change for those who trust in Him.
The first instance of loving God appears in the giving of the Ten Words or commonly called the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3-6:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. Do not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth below or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to them, do not let anyone make you serve them. For I, Adonai your God, am a jealous God, bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to the thousands of generations of those who love Me and keep My mitzvot (commandments).”
The very first time loving God is mentioned it is tied to keeping the commandments. God said He will show lovingkindness to those who love Him and keep His commandments. You might be saying, this doesn’t say loving God is keeping the commandments. I would have to say you are correct, but what it shows is loving God is connected to doing the commandments. Let’s see if this connection continues.
The next time the Bible says to love God is Deuteronomy 5:9-10
“Do not bow down to them or worship them. For I, Adonai your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My mitzvot.”
Deuteronomy 5 is repeating the Ten Words again. It does repeat the connection of love God and the commandments. One thing I do want to point out is this time, is the word keep. The Hebrew word used is shamar. This word is also translated as guard to protect. The word keep doesn’t give the full meaning. The word insinuates that one should not just keep the commandments, but guard them. Don’t let anyone keep you from doing them and don’t let anyone change them. Guard them, protect them. It gives a whole different sense then just keep them.
This next passage tells us that you should keep the commandments so that we might fear God! Pretty important I think. This fear is a reverent fear, not a I am afraid fear. It also contains the Shema. A foundation in Judaism. Every observant Jew says this at least two times a day. The Messiah Himself stated the Shema when asked what was the greatest commandment. The word shema is translated as hear, but the word actually means more than just hear. It is like when a parent tells a child to listen. A parent just doesn’t want their child to hear what they have to say, but to also obey them. This is what shema means. Listen and obey. Listen and obey Israel. Love God with all that you are and allow these words, these commandments, to be on your heart. God wants the commandments to always be on your heart. Whether you are with children, in your home, out and about, when you lie down and when you go to sleep. Setup reminders on your head and hand, your doorways and gates. Always be thinking about His commandments. Deuteronomy 6:1-9:
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and ordinances that Adonai your God commanded to teach you to do in the land you are crossing over to possess— so that you might fear Adonai your God, to keep all His statutes and mitzvot that I am commanding you and your son and your son’s son all the days of your life, and so that you may prolong your days. Hear, therefore, O Israel, and take care to do this, so that it may go well with you and you may increase mightily, as Adonai the God of your fathers has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart. You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This next passage is very similar to the two instances of the Ten Words. Yet again, we see love and keeping or guarding the mitzvot are tied together. Deuteronomy 7:9-11:
“Know therefore that Adonai your God, He is God—the faithful God who keeps covenant kindness for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His mitzvot, but repays those who hate Him to their face, to annihilate them. He will not hesitate with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you are to keep the commandment—both the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today, to do them.
If there is any question as to what God wanted from you in His covenant with you, this next passage makes it pretty clear. Deuteronomy 10:12-13:
“So now, O Israel, what does Adonai your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the mitzvot of Adonai and His statutes that I am commanding you today, for your own good?
Did you catch that last phrase? Keeping the commandments is for our own good. These are for you. These are for you to love God, which the next verse points out – Deuteronomy 11:1:
“Therefore you are to love Adonai your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances and His mitzvot at all times.”
When? At all times. This is basically summarizing what was said in Deuteronomy 6. At all times. Loving God and serving Him with all of your heart and soul is tied to being obedient to the commandments just like several verses later in Deuteronomy 11:13:
“Now if you listen obediently to My mitzvot that I am commanding you today—to love Adonai your God and to serve Him with all your heart and soul—“
This is telling us that if you are obedient to the commandments of God, you are loving Him and serving Him with all of your heart and soul. Do you see that nothing has changed from these words given by God to Israel and Yeshua’s message to Israel. If you love me, obey my commandments. John repeats this again in John 14:21a:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.”
Yeshua shortly after says:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. John 14:23b-24
Anyone who keeps My word loves me and God will love Him. My word is the commandments. Some like to think that Yeshua’s word is what should be kept. A new set of commandments per se, but He makes it clear. It is the word of God that we should be keeping. This word is the Torah. It is the commandments of God that He just spoke about in verse 21 quoted above.
The words “word” and “Torah” are used interchangeably. That is not to say that every time word is used in the Bible it means Torah. You have to look at the context. King David exchanges the two words throughout Psalm 119, which is all about the Torah. There is only one word spoken of that will be put inside people and that is the Torah per Jeremiah 31:32b:
“I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people.”
John says this in 1 John 1:10:
If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Again, this is the only word put inside of us. It is the same word made flesh. The Torah is also the truth per Psalm 119 verses 142, 151, 160. The Torah / commandments are important. They are the will of God. Don’t be deceived, following the commandment is worshiping God. When you don’t follow the commandments, you are being deceived and serving other gods. Deuteronomy 11:16 -17:
“Watch yourselves, so your heart is not deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. Then the anger of Adonai will be kindled against you, so He will shut up the sky so that there will be no rain and the soil will not yield its produce. Then you will perish quickly from the good land Adonai is giving you.”
”You must not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams—for Adonai your God is testing you, to find out whether you love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Adonai your God you will follow and Him you will fear. His mitzvot you will keep, to His voice you will listen, Him you will serve and to Him you will cling.” Deuteronomy 13:4-5
God wants you to follow the commandments and then He will bless you. When I say follow the commandments, one must follow them in faith. Following the commandments without God is burdensome. If you follow them through Him, then He lifts the burden just like He did with the Ark. The Ark was heavy and in a midrash it speaks about God actually lifting the Ark and carrying the men holding on. When we follow Him faithfully, then He blesses us.
“For if you will diligently keep all this mitzvah that I am commanding you to do—to love Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and to cling to Him— then Adonai will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. Deuteronomy 11:22-23
There are three more instances of loving God in the Torah. All three of them speak of love and commandments. The two are tied together. Here is Deuteronomy 19:8-9:
“Suppose Adonai your God enlarges your territory, as He has sworn to your fathers, and He gives you all the land that He promised to give to your fathers— when you take care to do all this mitzvah that I am commanding you today, to love Adonai your God and to always walk in His ways.
Walking in His ways is another way to speak of Torah. This phrased is used several times and each time it means to follow Torah. Yeshua said I am the way, the truth, and the life. All three are other ways to say Torah.
This next verse speaks of when the Israelites will have received the blessing and the curses based on their ways. God tells us, that when we return to God and listen to all the commandments with all of your heart and soul, then He will end the exile. Do you want to the Messiah to return? Start following Torah. It is then, that He will gather us. It is then that God will circumcise the hearts, when you listen to the voice of God and keep his mitzvoth! Deuteronomy 30:1-10:
“Now when all these things come upon you—the blessing and the curse that I have set before you—and you take them to heart in all the nations where Adonai your God has banished you, and you return to Adonai your God and listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today—you and your children—with all your heart and with all your soul, then Adonai your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you, and He will return and gather you from all the peoples where Adonai your God has scattered you. Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the heavens, from there Adonai your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Adonai your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, and you will possess it; and He will do you good and multiply you more than your fathers. Also Adonai your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants—to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. “Adonai your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. Then you—you will return and listen to the voice of Adonai and do all His mitzvot that I am commanding you today. Adonai your God will make you prosper in all the work of your hand—in the fruit of your womb, and the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil—for good. For Adonai will again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers— when you listen to the voice of Adonai your God, to keep His mitzvot and His statutes that are written in this scroll of the Torah, when you turn to Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
God has set before you life and death, good and evil. He commands His people to love Him, to walk in His ways, to keep His mitzvoth, statutes, and ordinances. Not some made up list. Not just commandments repeated in the Gospels and Epistles. All of them. I can tell you that it is a joy to do so, when done in the right spirit. Deuteronomy 30:15-16:
“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances.”
When the Jews entered into the Promise Land, the Torah didn’t end. God expected His people to follow Torah. This is what is said in Joshua 22:5:
“Only be very careful to observe the mitzvah and the Torah which Moses the servant of Adonai commanded you, to love Adonai your God and walk in all His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, cling to Him and worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
In the next chapter, the point is even stronger. You are to always stay on the path of Torah. Don’t turn to the left or the right. Don’t assimilate with the nations. Don’t do what they do. Be mindful! Love God and follow His Torah. Joshua 23:6-11
“Be very resolute to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the Torah of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, 7 and not intermingle with these nations who are still remaining among you. Do not mention the names of their gods or swear by them or worship them or bow down to them. 8 But cling to Adonai your God, as you have done to this day. 9 For Adonai has driven out from before you great and mighty nations. As for you, no one remained standing before you to this day. 10 One of you can put a thousand to flight, for Adonai your God, He Himself is fighting for you, just as He said to you. 11 For your own sake, therefore, be most mindful to love Adonai your God.”
You may be thinking, well this is all fine and good for Jews, but I am not a Jew. I am of the new covenant, therefore, I only trust in Jesus. The Messiah did a wonderful thing for the world. He paid the price for your sin. He did not, I repeat, He did not change the definition of sin. He paid your debt and now He expects you to stop sinning. The so-called “New Covenant” does not change the rules. Jeremiah 31:32 was quoted for you earlier, which speaks of the “New Covenant”. It says the Torah is going to be placed in you and written on your heart. This “New Covenant” is for the House of Israel and the House of Judah – Jeremiah 31:30:
Behold, days are coming”—it is a declaration of Adonai—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
Gentiles are part of it, they are grafted in. This has always been the process since the creation of the first born, Israel. Foreigners can join themselves to God – Isaiah 56:6-8:
Also the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai, to minister to Him,
and to love the Name of Adonai, and to be His servants— all who keep from profaning Shabbat,
and hold fast to My covenant—these I will bring to My holy mountain, and let them rejoice in My House of Prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar. For My House will be called a House of Prayer for all nations.” Adonai Elohim, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,
“I will gather still others to him, to those already gathered.”
John in his first epistle tell us that this is how you know you have come to know Him-if we keep His commandments. If you don’t keep His commandments, then you are a liar, and the truth (Torah) is not in you. But whoever keeps His word (see the exchange of word and commandments) in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We must walk just as He did….following Torah. For that is love. That is the will of God as it says later in 1 John 2.
This call is for everyone, everyone who wants to join themselves to God. When you accept the covenants of God, they require you to be obedient. To be faithful in all that you do. Don’t let the church tell you that you have the liberty to not follow. That is hogwash and goes against the very words of the Messiah. Loving God and following all the commandments has been a consistent message. Yeshua paying the price for your sins, did not change what is a sin. He frees you from your debt, you now are released from being slave to death and now serve another master…God. This release from your debt is only good for if you refrain from sinning. I am not saying you can never sin again, but when you do you must repent. That means stop whatever the sin is that you are committing. Make a commitment not to do it again.
I hope you will turn to God and love Him how He said to love Him. Follow Him and His ways. Follow the Torah. You may not know how just yet, but that is okay. Start asking Him to show you. I will help you, so contact me. Your significant other or spouse may not be on board yet. That is ok. Pray.