Every Torah-keeping believer in Jesus spends a significant amount of time answering questions about why this or that argument against Torah [the Hebrew word for Law] is wrong. Peter’s vision, unwashed hands, the ordinances nailed to the cross, days and seasons, and on and on. We’ve heard them all and we’ve answered them all. I don’t mean to say that answering objections to Torah isn’t important. It’s very important. There is great value in having these discussions with each other, with Christians, and with Jews so long as they are carried on in love. They strengthen the faith and knowledge of everyone involved, and that is an unequivocal good. But once you have worked past the ideas that keeping Torah isn’t sinful and that your salvation does not depend on adhering to a long list of dos and don’ts, what reason does anyone have to take the next step and begin keeping Torah for themselves?
I’m sure you’ve heard the joke that wherever there are two rabbis debating a point of theology, there are bound to be at least three opinions. It’s true, and it applies here also. There are more reasons to keep Torah than there are Torah keepers. There are practical, spiritual, and emotional benefits, and they manifest differently for each person. I couldn’t possibly list every good thing that comes from obedience to God’s Law, but I can point you in the right direction. I’m not going to bother with all the gritty details of why not eating what God said not to eat could improve your health, why paying special attention to the needs of widows and orphans might help your own bottom line, and why intolerance of open homosexuality can bring peace and strength to a nation. I’d have to write a thousand pages or more. Instead, I’m just going to give you a few paragraphs pointing you in the right direction and have faith in your willingness to read with an open mind and heart and in God’s ability to speak to us all through prayer and diligent study.
We’ve been taught that we are the healthiest generation to ever live, but we all know it’s not true. We have vaccines and antibiotics and vitamins, and yet we are plagued with autoimmune diseases, mental health disorders, cancers, sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, and more. We are a very sick people. Torah speaks directly to this problem.
"If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you." Exodus 15:26 NKJV
The problem is not isolated to physical and mental health. We can also enhance our financial health by keeping Torah. We once followed God’s instructions regarding material blessings much more closely than we do today. We are drowning in debt. We are slaves to banks and politicians because we have not kept God’s commandments about how to use our resources wisely. We borrow and borrow, thinking we can put off repayment indefinitely by simply borrowing again, but I think most of us instinctively know that this can’t work. Our wealth continues to evaporate, distilled into the accounts of a wealthy few, while we continue to ignore God’s laws.
How many of God’s people are sick or indentured slaves to one or a dozen banks yet continue to disregard His words about health and finances? Are your church’s traditions and illusions so much better than being healthy and free? Who in their right mind would say such things? Unfortunately, this is not a problem unique to the Christian churches. The Jews have made the same self-defeating choices throughout their history.
But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. "Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you. Jeremiah 7:23-27 NKJV
"Walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." Who would claim that the widespread plagues of indebtedness, bipolar disorder, cancer, and poverty mean that all is well with us? We can be healthy, our lives can go well if only we follow his instructions.
The benefits of keeping Torah go far beyond our own lives. God’s Law builds stronger families, peaceful communities, just courts, and enduring nations.
Torah teaches us appropriate personal boundaries, how to settle disputes, and how to maintain peace and good relationships with our neighbors. For example, when we find something our neighbor has lost, we are commanded to collect it and return it to him. However, we may not snoop into his bedroom or garage to find out what he is doing behind closed doors. We are to gather for community worship as families with our neighbors, to help each other when times are hard, to provide each other with work, with interest-free loans, and with charity when necessary. Together with our community, we are to care for our own widows, our own orphans, and our own invalids. We are not to demand that a government bureaucracy thousands of miles away rob our neighbors in order to keep entire generations in perpetual poverty with no accountability and no incentive to improve their own lot.
The "enlightened" philosophies of humanism and feminism proclaim Biblical standards to be oppressive and enslaving, but the true light of Scripture and our five senses reveals these systems as anti-human, anti-feminine, and anti-God. No one hates the feminine so much as the feminist. No one hates God’s design for humankind so much as the humanist. Torah teaches us about the time-tested roles of men, women, and children within the family and community. If we strive for joy and peace in those functions for which God designed us before seeking personal fulfillment, we will find ourselves fulfilled.
Following Torah can also help us create safe neighborhoods without emasculating our young men, micromanaging everyone’s lives, or denying basic human rights. Some of the concepts of liberty which are enshrined in the American constitution are founded on Torah: a jury of peers, qualified judges and witnesses, local courts, presumed innocence, and the right to defend ourselves, our property, our families, and our neighbors. True justice, for both victims and accused, is central to Torah.
Thomas Jefferson’s national ideal of "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none" is Torah-based. These were not new ideas with the American Revolution, but well established principles proven over thousands of years. Its precepts can show us how to restore real liberty to our people without unduly sacrificing safety. God warned us that placing our trust in men rather than in Him reap a terrible harvest. Our sons now die as mercenaries in foreign wars solely for the benefit of multinational corporations. Even our daughters are not spared! We throw away our nation’s future on perpetual wars with no victory, perpetual social programs with no social benefit, and perpetual politicking, the only outcome of which is the entrenchment of policies that are contrary to our nation’s, our families’, and our God’s interests. The only reason any nation would reject Torah is a myopic, rebellious self-hatred masquerading as self-love.
The Commonwealth of Israel
If you say that the promises of God were given to Israel, not to all the nations of the world, you are correct, but Scripture tells us that this is irrelevant. Let me explain. Throughout the Old Testament, God told Israel that he wanted them to keep His Law as a means of sanctification, to set them apart from other nations as a people holy to God. But Paul and Jesus said that all believers in the God of Abraham are to be set apart from the world!
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 NKJV
Paul wrote that God redeemed Titus, a gentile, and all believers from a life without the Law ("from every lawless deed") to be a special, set apart people, sanctified by the truth of righteous living. Paul continually condemned lawlessness and based every teaching on Torah. We are redeemed from lawlessness, not so we would be free to ignore the Law, but so we will be free to keep it. Jesus went even further and prayed that God would sanctify his followers through His word:
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17 NKJV
David also wrote of the transformative, sanctifying power of keeping God’s Law:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
There is great reward in keeping the commandments of God. They teach wisdom, transform us by renewing our minds according to God’s pattern instead of the world’s (Romans 12:1-2).
Not only are all believers to be sanctified, but Paul also wrote that all those who make Jesus their King are grafted into the tree of Israel (Romans 11:17-24). Where it concerns citizenship in the Kingdom of Messiah, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28). His words are reinforced by multiple Old Testament prophecies that tell of the unification of Israel with believing gentiles.
O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things."
Jeremiah 16:19 NKJV
Our fathers have inherited lies in the form of pagan gods and their religion, and if we are to obey our new king, we must abandon the worthless and unprofitable traditions of our fathers and embrace the truth. Jesus said that we can be children of Abraham with Israel, so why should we not seize the truth that has been handed down through the Jews, our Abrahamic brothers? Making Jesus our king commits us to obey the laws of his kingdom, and where do we find the laws of Israel’s Messiah, but in the Torah?
Yes, the Torah was given to Israel. Praise God that you have been allowed to join with the Jewish people under a united banner of Israel in the person of Israel’s Messiah!
The Conclusion of the Matter
There is one final and much more important reason for keeping Torah.
If you love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15 NKJV
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. Deuteronomy 6:5-6 NKJV
I and My Father are one. John 10:30 NKJV
If you love God, you will keep his commandments. If you love Jesus, you will keep His commandments. Jesus and the Father are one. You won’t just keep the commandments you like or the ones that make you comfortable, but all of them. So I ask you now, do you love God? Do you love Jesus?
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
You can read more from Jay Carper at AmericanTorah.com