Picture from- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artifacts_significant_to_the_Bible
Torah and Menorah are two words that make many Christians squirm or walk away. Both words are equated with Jewish culture and heritage. Christians claim that the advent of Jesus approximately two thousand years ago did away with the Jewish practices and rituals and that they are honoring God and His Son in a time of grace. Matthew 5:17 is often quoted in support of fulfillment of the law. However, the very next verse states that “until the heavens and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The iotas and dots refer to the ornate markings on Hebrew letters which can be viewed in a Hebrew Torah scroll. These are the smallest of marks and the text in the scroll would still be readily understandable even without these markings! Since clearly heaven and earth are still in existence, His Torah has yet to be completely fulfilled. Jesus does fulfill the Torah, but he has not fulfilled it completely as he has yet to return a second time to set up his kingdom, the millennial year reign. So, certainly the Torah has survived this time of grace and it is in fact thriving. God’s word is invigorating His people at the time of the end, the most critical time, just before the imminent judgment at the end of the age. Believers are discovering the roots of Christianity and embracing the Torah and the Menorah as mankind’s clock ticks forward. These decisions are leading to life and productivity in bearing fruit for His kingdom.
The main stigma that many Christians have with the Torah is that it is too burdensome. All 613 laws in the Torah are seen as too difficult to adhere to. Also, there are preferences to continue to live life as one sees fit. In addition, it is difficult to change. Even small changes, such as adhering to dietary laws are seen as challenging as there is a fear of standing out in front of friends.
However, God’s view of the Torah is almost 180 degrees from this viewpoint. The torah is not burdensome (Deuteronomy 30:11, Matthew 11:30). Also, the Hebrew word Torah comes from the root word “yarah,” which means to flow through. The Torah is like a river that flows through dry and barren land, providing life and abundance. In the Christian Roots/ Jewish communities, there are weekly Torah portions assigned for reading by the people. These portions are meant to provide understanding of God’s heart and desires for us and to stimulate conversation and “iron sharpening iron.” Portion number 50, which just so happens to correspond to the numerical number of the Jubilee year (freeing of debts, etc…) speaks of the blessings and curses associated with the Torah, which is better defined as God’s instructions. This portion can be read in Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:29. God says in 28:1-2, “If you listen closely to what Adonai your God says, observing and obeying all his Torah instructions which I am giving you today, Adonai your God will raise you high above all the nations of the earth. And all the following blessings will be yours in abundance.” Then, many blessings are listed in the text for keeping God’s commandments. However, in Deuteronomy 28:15, the text states “But if you refuse to pay attention to what Adonai your God says, and do not observe and obey all of His Torah commandments and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance.” The fact is that the penalty for the curse of the Law has been atoned for with the blood of Yeshua. Galations 3:13 states “Yeshua has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. However, nowhere in scripture does it state that the blessings associated with the Torah have been fulfilled! We must study the Torah diligently to ensure that we are honoring God with what we do.
So, the Torah is our instruction manual. We should use it as a guide for living. We should take its life instructions seriously to ensure we are on the right path and living in accordance with His Word. In fact, Yeshua said that He is the Word in the Gospel of John (Yochanon) Chapter 1. He was referring, in part, to the Torah.
God lovingly designed his instructions to protect us and allow his people to live a healthy and fulfilled life. For example, many of the instructions are basic moral ideals that humanity should be doing anyways – such as when a person’s life is in danger to go and help him (Leviticus chapter 19). Another example is not eating pork (Leviticus chapter 11), which is shown today to be full of toxins, parasites, and chemicals hazardous to our health. God knew these things when he created his instructions and wants us to follow them because he has our best interest in mind. He wants to bless us for following Torah.
The Common Thread- “OR”
We’ll get to the menorah in a minute, but let’s first discuss the commonality between the words torah and menorah. Both words have “or” in the middle. The Hebrew word pronounced “or” contains the letters aleph and resch. It is the word for Light! This is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:3 when God said “Let there be light, and there was light, and the light was good.” There are many verses in Scripture that talk about the light and the darkness. In fact, Yeshua said “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). He also taught the crowd about light in Matthew 5:14-16. The text states, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand and it give light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” There are also many other verses where Yeshua, the Apostles, prophets, and others refer to light. This light is the very light of God Himself and is a common, unchanged light throughout the Bible. Similarly, the Torah runs throughout scriptures, before and after the time of Yeshua. The menorah is also transcendent of time itself. This object was once used to illuminate the holy place in the tabernacle and forever will be used to shine God’s light to the world.
The Hebrew root word for Menorah is the word “neyr” which means a lamp or to shine. The menorah has been used to shine God’s light throughout time. In fact, the menorah lampstand has been an object of worship in the early tabernacle and temples for the God of Isreal. The picture for this article shows the menorah that was ramsacked from Herod’s temple in 70 AD. This is a historical illustration from the Arch of Titus. This menorah was used in the temple during Yeshua’s time. The seven-branched menorah and the nine-branched chanukiah menorah are patterns that are evident throughout scripture. For instance, the first verse in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) has seven words, which form a seven-branched menorah structure. It is significant that the middle word in this verse “et” is also related to Yeshua the Messiach (Messiah). This light is the center light and most important light in the menorah. See the post “The Greatest Revelation from Revelation.” The menorah pattern is also important for the future as there are seven menorahs for the seven churches (a seven-branched menorah) described in Revelation chapters 1 – 3. The point is that the spiritual significance of the menorah is well-detailed in scripture and we would profit from noticing these patterns.
Additionally, the story of Chanukah describes the deliverance of the Jewish people in the time of the evil king Antiochus Epiphanes (~167 B.C.); the king’s name means “God Manifest” in the Greek. Antiochus Epiphanes set up a statue of Zeus in God’s temple and forced the people to sacrifice pigs (unclean animals) on the alter. Both were a complete desecration of the temple. He set out to destroy God’s people and their ways. In this account provided in the historical book of 1 Maccabbees, the temple was rededicated to God by lighting the lights of the menorah once again. We should consider relighting the lights of the menorah of our heart to shine God’s light in a dark, evil world. We should embrace and not reject the menorah, as this simple object is a literal picture of God’s light shining and re-dedication to Him.
Menorah and torah are words that both indicate movement of God’s light throughout the world. These words are not “Jewish” in that the patterns and structures for these words have been around well before the Jews were called Jews. We shouldn’t shun these words or hide ourselves from them, because in doing so we are shunning the very light of God eternal or hiding from His light. This is the action of the disobedient, not that of the children of God. Torah and menorah are words for God’s holy people to embrace and we must reflect God’s light, the light of Yeshua, to the world.