Why do you read Torah, the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch? This is a fundamental question which may be asked of any believer in Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus. Is this a spiritual discipline, something to do in order to refine us and hone our relationship with our Beloved Abba? Is this an exercise, something we engage because our pastors or rabbis have told us it is important? Do we read Torah to receive inspiration from Abba, teachings and revelations which may guide us in our Halacha, our daily Walk with Him?
Unfortunately, I am aware of many believers who have never and will never read Torah, because they erroneously believe Adonai Yeshua’s death and resurrection have cancelled the teachings of Torah. This is not the time to engage this debate.
In this week’s devotion, I wish to discuss how reading Torah can and may provide us with valued inspiration. This inspiration comes to us not only from the printed word (Hebrew or your native tongue); it comes to us through the deeper meanings, which may be mined through the help of our Blessed Holy Spirit of the Living God and our developing understandings.
There are four layers to understanding God’s Life Instructions, the Torah. These are:
Peshat, or the literal layer of meaning. This comes from the plain meaning of the words presented. Every reading of Torah must begin with Peshat. Failure to read Torah at this plain level often leads believers to flights of wild imagination, such as the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) is too violent and does not focus on God’s Love. Let’s examine, as example, Genesis 29 and 30. Here we find the story of Jacob, his cheating Esau of his birthright as first born and of his blessing from Isaac, the father of both. We gain the understanding that there are consequences for our actions. In Jacob’s case, he is required to work 14 years for a less than honourable man, who cheats him of the wages promised;
Remez, or hint: A good many verses contain hints of a deeper meaning than what is found in Peshat. Often these deeper meanings need to be teased from the text, read between the lines or interpreted through the lens of previous verses. However, reading Torah at the level of Remez will lead us to deeper insights. For example, contained within the story of Jacob and Laban, is how God used Jacob to sire the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. We also learn of how God uses even people’s misfortune for His good works. Let’s examine Leah, Laban’s oldest girl. Given his free will choice, Jacob would never have married Leah, as he was in love with Rachel. However, from Leah came both Levi, the father of Israel’s priests, and Judah, the father of the tribe from which both King David and Adonai Yeshua emerged. Thus, a deeper meaning in this story is God’s using our seeming misfortune as part of His awesome plans.
D’rash, or allegorical meaning of Scripture, used as a means of teaching us valuable lessons. With this layer of reading and interpretation, we go even deeper into Scripture. From a drashic interpretation we are provided with life lessons designed to help us become more focused in our walk with Him. Again, we use the story of Jacob as our example. Jacob was a deceiver; he took advantage of his brother Esau and supplanted him as the first-born son through guile. Then, over the period of more than fourteen years, Jacob worked with Laban, a man of questionable ethics, a cheat, an idolater. Through these experiences, Jacob matured, not only in his character but also in his spiritual life. He relied on God to guide him to resolution and found redemption through his trust. So, what life lesson may we learn through Jacob’s experiences? Although each person develops her/his own learnings, there are some universal principles which emerge from Jacob’s story:
1. God honours those who trust Him, even if they come from a less-than-stellar behavioural background.
2. Trusting God and relying on Him will have positive results, even though we don’t understand them at the time.
3. God uses even our sinful deeds, if they promote His plans.
Sud, or the level of mystery in the passage: In the story of Jacob, we read of his using sorcery to achieve retribution over Laban. This is now the mystery – why did God allow sorcery to achieve this retribution, when we know God condemns the use of the occult?
Beloved, there is so much below the surface of Torah, God’s Life Instructions. My prayer is you delve into the plain meanings, the deeper insights, the allegories and the mysteries of Torah.
Consider: Have you stopped reading the Five Books of Moses, Torah, God’s Life Instructions because someone told you they no longer had any value, since Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, has made them irrelevant? I urge you to consider why God would allow His Son to label anything He created irrelevant?
Act: Begin reading Genesis, if you have never read it before, or, if you have, read it again; this time seek below the surface for hidden gems and nuggets of truth. You won’t be disappointed.
Pray: Beloved Abba, Adonai Yeshua, help me pull out the insights You have for me, just below the surface of Scripture. I want to know more of Your wisdom and begin to understand some of Your mysteries. In Your Precious Name I pray.