Friday, 28 October 2016

Simchat Torah

Straight after the Feast of Tabernacles, Moses' Law (the Torah) required ancient Jews to have another one-day holiday, on which a burnt-offering had to be sacrificed. 
Modern Jews observe that day by celebrating the Torah - males dance around the synagogue holding a scroll of the Torah. The tradition has come to be called Simchat Torah, even though the term is not in the Torah itself. 

Nothing wrong with celebrating any part of the Bible, on any day of the year! But the Torah didn't say anything about that being the purpose of the day. Therefore doing so doesn't necessarily mean they're Torah-keepers. The purpose of the day was to offer a burnt-sacrifice. 
Modern Jews outside the land of Israel celebrate the day over two days, instead of on a single day like the Torah said, because of the time-differences - just in case there's any portion of the day when they might fail to 'keep' it.
The very fact they needed to add that custom in order to 'keep' the Torah's requirement, ought to be enough to tell you the Torah itself never intended for the day to be observed outside the land of Israel.
When the Temple was destroyed around AD70 and Jews were scattered around the world, it was no longer possible to offer the sacrifices which Moses' Law required on that day - so rabbis had to come up with alternative ways of 'keeping' it.

So the idea of keeping the special day over two days instead of one, and of replacing the required burnt-offering with a celebration of the Torah instead, was developed - and eventually became a new tradition. 

The Jews were trying to hold on to some sort of connection to the Torah, even though literally the connection had been lost. Otherwise what would they be left with? Nothing! Because they hadn't believed in Jesus. 
It's a bit sad, really. I mean, great that they celebrate part of the Bible! But sad that they're missing the real thing. Sad that they're making an impossible and futile attempt to be literally connected to the Torah.
It's like celebrating an old contract, even though the written document is no longer a valid legal instrument.
Like celebrating having something, when in reality they don't have it anymore.
Like dusting off an old marriage certificate and celebrating it - not one's current marriage certificate, but a previous marriage certificate, with a spouse to whom one has already become dead so he or she could be married to another.
It's like propping up a dead body, and celebrating it as if it's still alive. 
And then trying to make that a joyous occasion? Please.
And they know it - that's why so many visit the wailing wall.

There's only one valid way to be truly connected to the Torah today.
It's not by carrying-out manmade ways of 'keeping' it...
Not by being in denial of the reality that it can no longer be kept...
The only way, is to do what the Torah itself intended we should be doing by now - and that is: embrace the New Covenant. 
See, the Torah itself spoke of a new covenant coming. In contract law, there can never be two contracts covering the same thing at the same time. A new contract implies the end of the old contract.
Since the New Covenant has already come, the Old Covenant has finished - now the only way to have a valid 'connection' to the Old Covenant is therefore to embrace that New Covenant - JESUS!
In that sense the Torah included its own sunset clause. But it remains a living document to us today, only when we see it as having pointed to Jesus - only when we see it as having set the historical platform on which the New Covenant would be made. 
Attempting a connection to the Torah via any other traditions is really manmade, a substitute, without an atonement, not obligatory, isn't really Torah-keeping anyway, and it's powerless and spiritually devoid of present-truth and life. 
As I said, celebrating the Bible is always a good thing - on any day of the year! And if someone or even a whole nation wants to celebrate part of the Bible on one or two special days of the year - great! All I'm saying is that doing so doesn't mean a person is literally keeping the Torah. We may as well face that fact squarely!
The only way to comply with what the Torah and the Prophets intended for us today - and the only way to connect to God and to life - is JESUS - and only Jesus.
We are reconciled to God by a new and living way - by the sacrifice of His Son on the cross once-for-all, and His resurrection. 
You are complete in Him - and you are free.
That's called the Good News! 

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