The Love Of God And The Fear of The Lord

by:  Lonnie Lane

Traditions die hard. So do false doctrines. We sometimes hear what we expect is being said but which isn’t the intent of the speaker, because it’s what we’ve been taught.  The following words were emailed to me by a well intentioned gentleman who had some issues on which he wanted clarification. Perhaps he’s not alone so we’re addressing it here. He wrote, “I am sorry, I do not understand why you guys want to make this faith in Christ all about the Jews. There is no doubt that God chose Abraham out of the world to be a holy people to Himself, but …why is it that you think just because we are not Jewish that we cannot understand the Torah?... I believe that we are all one in Christ. There is no distinction between us in Gods eyes. I understand that you may not see it this way, but just because you don't believe something does not mean that it isn't true.”

I wholly agree that just because you don’t believe (in) something does not mean it isn’t true. But let this be known: Never have we ever thought that “this faith in Christ is all about the Jews.” Our whole emphasis is on “one new man” (Ephesians 2:14, 15) or better said, “one new humanity,” which as Sid has said on almost every show for years, “is made up of Jew and Gentile worshipping together.” There are none higher or more in God’s favor than any other. We are very aware that “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34). Never have we even considered that there is a distinction between how God sees any of His people, Jewish or not. And never have we ever meant that anyone who is not Jewish cannot understand the Torah.

Terms that this gentleman used, like “faith in Christ” or “being a holy people,” define a life of faith and worship to me and we all are equally qualified for that because the qualification is in Yeshua, not in ourselves.  As I see it, to pare it down to bare basics, there are only two groups of people in the world, those who worship God and those who don’t. By worship I don’t mean singing. I mean having a heart of surrender to God and recognizing the Lordship of Yeshua, and what He’s done for us so that our lives reflect our devotion to Him. We see this as an equal opportunity to all who come to Him.

What I have been saying isn’t about people understanding Torah, but of too many people –regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile – not taking it seriously, of relegating Torah to the place of unimportance in our walk with the Lord. Right here is one of those places of belief in something that isn’t true. I suspect many people do not believe that God will speak to them in any significant measure about Himself or about their own lives through the commandments. But it’s not just many Gentile believers who don’t take its contents seriously, it’s Jews too. I was a synagogue-attending Jew but never read the Torah until I was saved. I tried, but it didn’t hold my interest nor did I see any purpose in it for myself. But upon becoming a believer, you could say the expression applied, “Jesus made me kosher,” because then Torah began to make sense to me. In fact, being Jewish began to have more purpose to me as never before.  

...Never have we ever thought that "this faith in God is all about the Jews."

I often think that Torah is God’s best kept secret, only He’s not the one keeping it a secret. In fact, I’m sure – really sure – that it’s the devil that has kept God’s people from an understanding of it because it is the very foundation of godliness. And it is the revelation of God that will give such insight into Yeshua that can not be gleaned from the rest of the Bible without it. He is the one Person in whom “the word became flesh” (John 1:14).  What word do you think that refers to?  Surely not the New Testament, because that developed years after He “became flesh.” It was the Torah, the very words of God of how to live as holy people, which God personally gave to Moses when he was in God’s presence on the mountain for forty days. Y’know, when God called Moses to go up to Him on the mountain…the mountain with all the lightening and fire and smoke when God came down upon it? The one where the angels were blowing shofars that got louder and louder, so that three million people were paralyzed with fear? And even the mountain trembled at His Presence. Y’know, the one where for the first time, the people of Israel were confronted with the terrifying holiness of God, only having known Him as the Almighty till then.  That time when the whole nation of people shrunk back in great dread as they saw the awesome power of His presence on the top of the mountain... and they realized their sinful flesh made them entirely unclean and unworthy to come near to God, and they knew Him for the first time as a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). That time.  Those words.  

The writer of Hebrews also writes, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). This writer was a Jewish believer in Yeshua who, like all of the disciples of Yeshua, was Torah-observant. As such, he would have had a reverential fear of God because he knew what his people experienced in God’s holy presence at Sinai and throughout their generations. This writer of Hebrews was stunningly aware that He had encountered God in the flesh through the Person of Yeshua. He had witnessed, as approachable and loving as Yeshua had been, that He remained the Man who through His own life (and then through His death) revealed by living it out, the imperative of absolute obedience to God’s word in love. Yeshua was the embodiment of all the requirements of Torah which He distilled down to this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).  He expressed His love for God and mankind this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 13:15). When we accept Him personally, we enter into that friendship and enter into His love. Such a Friend is worth knowing as well as we can know Him, is He not? 

The New Testament is written to believers for the most part, and it presumes, since they were all Jews to begin with, that each person would have an awareness of God’s interactions with their people. Then when Gentiles began to come to faith, the apostles decided “that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:20-21). What this is saying is that they expected that the new Gentile believers would now go to synagogue on the Sabbath, where they would hear the words that God gave to Moses, and abide by them as the Spirit enabled them to do so by grace. They only felt to remind them of the few paramount issues: No idolatry, no sexual sins, no eating of blood. So we see that the apostles expected the Gentile believers would take Torah seriously.

...the apostles expected the Gentile believers would take Torah seriously.

Nor did they expect that those commandments were done away with now that Yeshua had come. Yeshua’s disciples were very aware that they still served the same God Israel always had, only now they knew Him personally and intimately because they could come close to Him and relate to Him through His Spirit. They understood that Yeshua was the holiness, but also the grace and love of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 12:6, 17:7; there are almost thirty references to the Holy One of Israel just in Isaiah and Jeremiah.). Yeshua didn’t come and say, “Hey guys, listen. We’re starting all over, and you don’t have to pay attention any more to the things My Father said earlier. I’m taking over from here. Just listen to what I have to say from now on.” But many Christians live as if He did say that. And we miss a great deal of knowing God, as well as misinterpreting God, as a result.

OK, how about an example of what’s in the Torah that will help us know Yeshua better. One good place to start is with the priesthood and some of what God told Aaron and his sons He required of them. Since we will be “priests of God and Messiah (who) will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6), do you think we would do well to find out something about being a priest unto God? So let’s do a little mini-study of God’s requirements of Aaron and the priests in order for them to come even near His presence. From this we can better see how awesome a privilege it is to come into God’s presence at all. To begin with, the tabernacle was “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle. ‘See,’ He (God) says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:5). This was no arbitrary construction; this was a replica of what is evidently in heaven in the fullness of glory!

So let’s see what some of these heavenly things look like. There were two altars in the tabernacle (which later got transferred into the temple.) The first one is made of bronze and is where the animal sacrifices were perpetually burned. It was quite large and had a place where the blood from the animals would be collected as it is the blood that atones for sin: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11). The Message translation says it this way: “I have provided the blood for you to make atonement for your lives on the Altar; it is the blood, the life, that makes atonement.” This verse is preceded by God saying, “And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people” (17:10). I underlined “aliens” because it means Gentiles. God wasn’t just speaking only to Jews in the Torah; He very often included non-Jews in His most important commandments. You can see how strongly God speaks about blood: The life is in the blood. It is blood alone that is able to make atonement – a life for a life. The life of the sacrificed one is exchanged so that the sinning person(s) can live! You no doubt see the prophetic picture building here.  

 ...God wasn't just speaking only to the Jews in the Torah...

 

Closer to the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s direct presence, which was only entered once a year with great trembling by the High Priest to make atonement for the whole nation, stood the alter of incense. It was entirely covered with gold, which signifies purity, on which sweet smelling incense was continually burned. The coals for the altar of incense had to be taken from the brazen altar where the blood of animals atoned for sin. Those coals were the fire to ignite the incense which would then release a sweet smelling aroma unto God, which also permeated the tabernacle. Take note here that all five senses of the priests would be alive with the sense of God’s presence: They would smell the incense and the burning sacrifices; they would see the golden menorah (lamp stand) which stood five feet high, also with burning flames from each arm of the menorah. They would also see the beauty of the curtain before the Holy of Holies, and the gleaming bronze and gold of the altars; they would hear the crackling of burning sacrifice and the roar of the flames; they alone could touch the holy things as they fulfilled their duties in the tabernacle, and they would taste the sacrifices, as the priests were to eat the holy sacrifices as part of what made them holy unto the Lord.

With this same significance Yeshua said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:54, 56). Now you can better understand the context in which He said those words. And more importantly, what they would have meant to Him knowing that He would, like the sacrifices be emptied of His own blood as He bled out from His wounds, and die as the final sacrifice. Do you think He said those words easily as a theological doctrine? Or do you think, as willing and committed as He was to obedience to His Father, before He could say words like “eat My flesh and drink My blood, perhaps He had to deal with the reality of what that meant inside Himself and in deeply emotional prayer before His Father? Gethsemane tells us He did struggle, so as our High Priest, He knows what it is for us to struggle to do God’s will when everything in us screams to live to our flesh. (I feel a holy hush as I wrote this paragraph. Would you take a moment to bow your heart before Him right here in grateful reverence and quiet worship.)

To go on, both the anointing oil with which the priest was to anoint everything in the tabernacle, and the incense was to be made up according to special recipes for which God gave very direct instructions (see Exodus 30:22-38). It had to be made by a “perfumer” with exact amounts of specific ingredients, each one having a spiritual meaning. It was never to be used for any other purpose or for personal use. The incense could only be burned on coals from the altar of sacrifice, the coals which had been in contact with the sacrifice.  

Scripture tells us many times in both the Old and New Testaments that incense represents the prayers of the saints. The Psalmist prayed, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Psalm 141:2).  And John saw in heaven, “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).  “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God” (8:4). Consider that it is not just we who can come into God’s presence on the basis of the blood of Yeshua, but in order for our prayers to be accepted by God, we must come to Him on the basis of the blood sacrifice of Yeshua as well. I know that God, by His mercy will hear the (sometimes desperate) prayers of non-believers as He draws them to Himself, but our prayers have a power and an assurance to them that unbelievers are incapable of.

The coals from the altar were lit by God initially at the dedication of the tabernacle. He started the fires that were to be continually burning. Only what God initiates will be ultimately be acceptable to God. Self-serving works from self-serving motives will not have value to God. To use any coals to kindle the incense other than those God designated, those which were covered with the blood of sacrifice, was “strange fire.” When Aaron’s sons, Nabab and Abihu, took coals from elsewhere to light the incense, perhaps they wanted to see if they could make the “trick” happen themselves. Whatever their motive, the same fire from heaven that had come down earlier and devoured the sacrifice (Leviticus 9:24) as a sign of God’s favor, now came down and devoured Nadab and Abihu! (10:2): “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). “Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered strange fire before the LORD” (Numbers 3:4).

To the extent that we experience a deeper reverence and awe of the holiness of God, the deeper we will love Him and the more we will obey Him. To the extent that we are unaware of or have not experienced a reverential fear of the Lord and His holiness, we will not be able love Him except in a shallow way. You will probably be more focused on what you believe He’s done for you (which is a good thing), but missing the component of knowing Him more, and of focusing on who He is and what His experience is in His dealings with mankind. Too many of us are only shallowly aware, I’m afraid, of how profoundly significant what Yeshua did for us was, and therefore do not know how to apprehend His power on our behalf or for the wellbeing of others. But joyfully, there is a remedy for this. Spend time with Him. To say it one more time, if you truly want to know a fuller measure of what God has made available for us to know Him, if you want to know Yeshua at a deeper level, then you have to know the Bible He knew and embodied. If you want to know Yeshua more deeply than you do now, you cannot leave out the Torah or the Old Testament. We need to be reading the whole book. That’s a truth you can believe in.

 

Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011. 

 

 

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

 

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

 

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