In John 3.7 it says “You must be born again” and Yeshua then asks Nicodemus why he didn’t understand this concept, being “the” teacher of Israel” (Jn 3.10). The concept of being born again is not an original teaching of Yeshua or of the Gospels and Epistles. It is not the launching point for some new “Christian faith” that Yeshua, the Talmidim (students) or Paul was forming. Being born again is a fundamental teaching of a Torah-based faith that has always been the message of the Torah. Yeshua never taught anything that couldn’t be proved in the Tanak.
Deut 30.11-14 was the background for some other things Yeshua told Nicodemus in John 3.12-13. He says that no one has ascended to heaven (including Elijah) but the Son of Man has descended to the earth. He has now linked himself with the Torah (Rom 10.1-8). Yeshua descended from heaven and concluded this discussion by pointing out the story of the bronze serpent (Nechushtan) found in Num 21.6-9, and by looking at it how the people were healed and “lived.” He then says he would be lifted up just like the serpent in the wilderness, and that Nicodemus should look to him and “live” (John 3.14).
No man has or ever could go up to heaven and bring the knowledge of divine things back to earth (Deut 30.12, John 3.13). Only Yeshua has been in heaven and has “descended” with that teaching and can be the only teacher of these things. We must listen to him only as believers. People who do not have a Torah based faith in Yeshua and embrace Replacement Theology Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism or any other religion, are not listening to the words of Yeshua, but the words of men. How was David saved? Heb 11 says he was saved by emunah (faith). He followed the Torah (Psa 119.22, 51, 56, 102, 121). He had documented sin (murder, lies, adultery) and David knew he was saved by God’s mercy and grace (Psa 119.159) and that he could turn back to God. Psa 119 shows David asking God to save him so that he could follow the Torah. That is why David asked, and why God judged David by his faith and desire to follow the Lord through his teaching, the Torah. It is also not based on David’s ability to keep every fine point of it.
Nobody was ever “saved” by their own ability to keep the Torah, nor has that ever been an option for salvation because the Torah never taught that. Paul makes a comparison with Deut 30.11-14 (Torah) and Yeshua in Rom 10.1-8. There is a continuation with the Torah and Yeshua because God has not changed. Deut 30.15-19 says that the Torah reminds us to “choose life.” There is much to enjoy and living requires participation. Now, let’s talk about a little known concept.
There is a “dual nature” or “roles” to the Torah, and they are the Judicial and the Educational role. In the judicial role, the Torah shows us how sinful we really are and that we stand condemned. It is our “tutor” (Gal 3.25) keeping us in custody until we come to faith through conversion in Messiah. It identifies us as sinners and it demands our punishment for sinning against God. The Torah holds us “under arrest” or “under indictment.” Knowledge of the Torah and it high standards increases our moral awareness and personal responsibility, so ignorance is not an excuse for anyone (Rom 1). Now sin becomes really sinful and it demands our death (Rom 7.5, 5.2; 1 Cor 15.56).
But the good news is this, once we come to conversion through the Messiah, the Torah’s role as “custodian” and keeping us “under arrest” is abolished. No longer can the Torah demand our death, for Yehovah has declared us “not guilty.” The Torah no longer declare us as transgressors, for the record of our sins has been expunged (blotted out) and the indictment is removed. The curse of the law (death) has been removed (Gal 3.13). That brings us to the second role of the Torah.
The Educational role of Torah now takes precedence. It reveals to us God’s way of life and the path he desires that we follow. It expresses the good and perfect will of God, not only explicitly through its many commands that call us to obedience, statutes and judgments, but it expresses it implicitly through the historical narratives, accounts and stories.
In other words, in its judicial role, the Torah shows us that we have sinned and that the Torah demands our death. We are under arrest or indictment. But once we are saved, we are no longer under arrest, indictment or a “tutor” and the record of our sins is blotted out. Now we are under the educational aspect of the Torah which teaches us what pleases the Lord, how to live and walk before the Lord in a life that is pleasing to him. It gives us his good and perfect will (Rom 12.2). Gal 3.23-27 talks about the function of the Torah as a tutor. This only applies to those who have not come to Yeshua by emunah (faith). However, once we do come to him in faith, we are no longer under the tutor, or under the law in its judicial role. Now we can live in the instructions found in the Torah’s educational role.
Deut 30.20 says we are to love the Lord, obey the Lord and cling to the Lord “for “he is your life “literally. This is similar to Deut 11.22. Many people get the “loving” part but never get to the “obeying” and “clinging” part. Obeying is surrendering our will to the Lord and following his revealed will found in the Torah. Chessed (grace) enables us to obey, and when we sin he knows our heart and that we are intent on him. Clinging to him means when our world falls apart emotionally, physically and literally, we hold fast, don’t break ranks and “defend the pass” like the Spartans did at Thermopylae (Eph 6.14). It means we don’t stop following the Torah because we get some pressure from the world, our families and the enemies of God. Israel in the Birth-pains will know this concept first hand. Even nature won’t be working as usual, and everyone and everything will be coming at them. But the people will remember the days of old and of Moses and they will return to the Lord and believe in Yeshua as a nation (Rev 12.17).
In Part 27 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Vayelech” which means “And he went.”