Torah Observant Movement

I am about to begin a series of posts that will deal with the Hebrew Observant movement, also known as Hebrew roots. This sect is identified by its insistence that God’s covenant people are called to observe the Torah, the law. The Torah, in many ways, was summed up in the first 5 books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch. Though the law has wider implications, it is the Pentateuch that is the most commonly appealed to as that which God’s people must continue to obey and observe.

I am writing these posts with the hope that I can serve the local church. My target audience is those who are in the church who have been or will be exposed to the heretical teachings of this torah-observance-movement, henceforth designated TOM. Within this primary purpose, my intention is also to challenge those who are a part of the TOM, and thereby challenge them to rethink the radical claims of Christ, the claims that eventually led to his crucifixion at the hands of his Jewish brethren; which claims were further explored by the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Let me lay out the primary texts we will examine over the next several posts:
Part 1: John 2:19, Matt. 26:61, Mark 14:58, Acts 6:14. Part 2: Mark 7:19, Acts 10, Levitcus 20:22-26, Galatians 2. Part 3: 2 Cor. 3, Romans 7, Romans 10, Acts 15.

In the first part we will examine some of the radical things Jesus said about the temple, and the way in which he treated it. It is understood that the temple played a central role in the life of a torah-observant Jew. There were periods of time when Israel was taken into captivity with no temple, and the recovery of the temple was always central to their identity and the continuation of their people in obedience to God. Jesus pronounces early in his ministry that the temple will be destroyed, that the central institution upon which torah-observance is built will be rebuilt, but with a twist. He teaches that he himself will be the temple, the place where God and man meet and sins are dealt with. Here, as in many other cases, the story of Israel is being retold around Jesus, with Jesus doing what Israel, and the temple, could not do.

“The argument…so far…is that there is a further significant fact: virtually all the traditions, inside and outside the canonical gospels, which speak of Jesus and the Temple speak of its destruction. Mark’s fig-tree incident; Luke’s picture of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem; John’s saying about destruction and rebuilding; the synoptic traditions of the false witnesses and their accusation (Matt. 26:61, Mark 14:58, Acts 6:14.), and of the mocking at the foot of the cross; the charge in Acts that Jesus would destroy the Temple (Acts 6:14): all these speak clearly enough, not of cleansing or reform, but of destruction.” [N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1996), 416.]

This theme will be the first thing we explore to see how Jesus was redrawing the identity of God’s people around the new Jesus-observant-movement instead of Torah observance. This will explain why he offers forgiveness of sins, which is meant to be sought after (by faith) through the temple and torah observance. Jesus claims that now, at the fullness of times, God’s covenant people will be demarcated and marked out as God’s people by faith in Jesus, and not by torah observance. (As a side note: much of the TOM’s confusion is a result of the dispensational theology that says that the OT taught salvation by works. Reformed theologians have always maintained that the OT way of salvation was by grace through faith in God’s provision through Israel; and that such a life of faith was to be lived out in torah observance. Now, in the NT, the path of salvation is still by grace through faith, and this faith must be God’s provision of Jesus the Messiah, and such faith is to be lived out in observance of his “yoke” and obedience to Him. The difference mainly is, God’s people are no longer marked out as God’s people through Torah observance, that manner of identity has been done away with, now God’s people are marked out by faith in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ.)