Torah is a Hebrew word. It means instruction and teaching. Because Torah means teaching, it also refers to the first five books of the old testament, where God teaches man who He is and what He expects. Torah is central to living a life set apart, it teaches God’s people how to live, Torah defines God’s kingdom. On the day God gave the ten commandments to the children of Israel, a covenant was made. God wrote with his own hand his laws, statutes, judgements, teachings and instruction on two stones- this is Torah-the Word of the Lord. The Torah united Israel into a single nation. A stone is a physical substance from the earth which men could receive, touch, see, hear, as one people. Israel received one law, and in doing so, the many would become one. They read it together, learned it together, discussed it together, broke it together and kept it together. Just as the United States Constitution unites Americans, and just as a marriage contract unites a bride and groom, so the Torah unites God’s people. Not only does Torah, God’s standard unite the people of God, defining them as His people, but it revealed his teachings, his judgments, his expectations, and his mercies; laying out all the details of a life devoted to God and each other. An agreement was made that day, in which both parties reviewed and accepted. God sent forth his word into the midst of his people on stone tablets, it was the first way in which he gave them teaching. They were children then, and just as children need concrete, so he gave them concrete.
Unfortunately, the first covenant that God gave to Moses to give the people was smashed at the sight of sin in the camp. God, however, in his mercy gave them a new Covenant. “cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.” Exodus 34:1 At this new covenant the Lord spoke his Name and allowed his glory to pass before Moses. The golden calf incident, although heinous and awful, gave God an opportunity to reveal his mercy to the people and to reveal himself, and the fullness of his presence. The people proved to be broken and to break but God proved himself to be perfect and to restore. In restoring his Word, he foreshadowed Messiah, promising an even greater manifestation of his Word in future times. Messiah would be yet another way in which God gave his word, wrapped in the flesh of a man. But before giving his word to mankind in Messiah, he would make yet another promise Messiah would accomplish.
Through the prophet Jeremiah God says this: “and I will make a new covenant with house of Israel, I will write my law my Torah, my teaching on their hearts.” Jeremiah 31. This was a re-placing, but not a replacement, not a changed law. He did not alter the content, God promised to move His Word, Torah, the law, from stone tablets to flesh hearts, same content, different residence. How could this happen? Is this the ‘awesome thing’ that God spoke of in Exodus 34 after replacing the covenant the first time?
Fast forward to Jesus, the word of God become flesh, ascending into heaven and promising the Holy Spirit. The apostles and 120 persons gathered together on Shavuot, the season and remembrance of receiving the Torah. Christians today celebrate this as Pentecost. According to scripture, Shavuot, is the feast of weeks, the holy time in which God instructed Israel to watch and observe the harvest. Leviticus 23: 15-22. God word comes at appointed times which align with agriculture, so that we can see the parallel features of the Word and the crop growing. Why? The word of God is a seed, as Jesus himself pointed out many times. Therefore, we can expect some of the same characteristics and traits. The apostles and disciples, knew precisely what they were waiting for, Jesus had told them ‘not many days from now you will be baptized with the holy spirit, the promise from the father.’ Acts 1. What did they know about the holy Spirit? They knew that the holy spirit filled men with God’s words, not only from Jesus teaching in john 14 & 16, but from history, the prophets were the ones who would speak God’s word to the people, these were the ones who were filled with the Spirit, the spirit of Truth. They were waiting for the word of God, the holy spirit to fill them, and be etched on their own hearts; Just as their ancestors had awaited God’s word to be etched on tablets of stone, on Shavuot all those years ago. Poised to receive they waited to receive God’s word, and receive they did. they knew what they were waiting for – God’s Torah once again, his teaching within them. When the Holy spirit comes, he will teach you…john 14:26. Peter articulated it perfectly, ‘Men of Jerusalem the prophet Joel, said these words, in the last days the holy spirit will be poured out upon you, manifested through you. The Holy Spirit descended in much the same way that the Torah was given. “be ready for the third day the Lord will come down in the midst of the people, and there was thunder and lightning and fire on the mountain.” Exodus 19:18 … now mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, and the whole mountain trembled.” And regarding the giving of the Holy Spirit “there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house and there appeared to them tongues of fire.” Acts 2:2-3
The Word of the Lord endures forever 1 peter 1:25, Isaiah 40:8. Jesus said, “until heaven and earth pass away not one Jot or tittle will be annulled. I have not come to abolish the law, but to fill it up” to complete it, to crown it. Matthew 5. God has written his Laws his eternal word, on our hearts. His eternal word, Torah, which became flesh in the person of Messiah, the lamb of God has prepared and consecrated hearts and souls for this transaction. His word is eternal it doesn’t change only the means in which he gives it to men. He has brought those who are far off into the family of God through blood, as sons we have been adopted into the nation of Israel, now able to bear the word of the Lord, the teaching His Torah, within us, written on our hearts, the same words in a new residence. He has cleansed us with blood, in order to receive his word, the holy spirit, for the purpose of producing a harvest, in order to be fruitful and multiply. “it is to my father’s glory that you produce much fruit, and so become my students.” John 15:8
God desires that his peoples bear the fruit of his word. How does this happen by receiving the word, his Torah into and etched upon our hearts? Hillel, a prominent first century Jewish religious leader, told a young man who requested to be taught the Torah while standing on one foot, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; this is the whole Torah the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” It is the responsibility of all men who confess, repent and believe in Christ to go and learn Torah, to receive Torah, in order that Torah might unite God’s people; the kingdom of heaven, and so that we might together bear the fruit of his word and so prove to be his disciples, his students, students of the word of God.
While we observe, the giving of the Word, we also simultaneously await the coming of the Word, just as the apostles were observing Shavuot, the giving of the Word and the pouring out of the word in the person of the Holy Spirit, so we too ought to celebrate Shavuot in eager expectation of God’s giving of his word to us, in us, among us.
Now we have come to this day, Shavuot, “the feast of weeks” – let us celebrate the giving of God’s Torah on stone tablets, in the person of Messiah, and etched into our own hearts and minds by the Holy spirit. Let us remember that God desired to give us the gift of his word in our space, but in His time, let us observe, let us remember let us wait in anticipation for the giving and returning of our King – the Word of God! “and then heaven opened and behold a white horse and the one sitting on it is called the faithful and true and in righteousness he wages war and judges… and the name by which he is called is the Word of God, king of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Revelation 19:13 Amen! Come Messiah!