A single unveiled glance at the Torah will reveal Mashiyach.
Romans 9 ended with Israel hanging by a thread, a remnant, skinned to the bone by discipline and broken by the stone of stumbling. And yet Paul/Shaul, by the Ruach ha-Kodesh, calls to his own people with great compassion as he continues to reveal the purposes of HaShem. “Ami—my people, brothers and sisters…”
Jacob is a masculine name in Hebrew, Israel however is feminine; in addition Israel is called a wife to HaShem throughout the Tanakh. Therefore I have rendered, “their,” as, “her,” and “she,” throughout this passage. Shaul/Paul does not intend us to perceive his non-Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters as separate from him, which can be inferred by the translation, “their.” On the contrary, he is speaking as one who has new information to share, that will lead to Israel’s reconciliation—which is the goal of this dialogue.
10:1 Ami (My people), Brothers and sisters (Fellow Jews), my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to HaShem for Israel (our people) is for her yeshua (salvation);
Notice that when this text is translated from a Hebrew consciousness perspective, using the original Greek, into English; the meaning takes on a radically different tone to the anti-Semitism of some English translations. We are challenged to think differently, Shaul/Paul is no more an enemy to the Jewish people than the Messiah Himself; he is our brother and he speaks as a concerned brother, frankly and without judgement. Shaul/Paul is issuing a warning, not a condemnation.
The Hebrew word for salvation is yeshua, thus Shaul’s deepest desire and prayer for Israel is for both her Messiah Yeshua and her yeshua (salvation). Word play is a Hebrew constant, it shouldn’t be trivialized or overlooked, Shaul is after all, a rabbi.
Let us be clear that where ever Shaul/Paul uses the proper noun Israel throughout his writings, it always refers to the blood related ancestors of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; who are the root of the tree (Rom. 11:16-27) of Israel and Judaism. He does this to show G-d’s unwavering commitment to His own promises. If G-d is not committed to keeping His promises to the physical people of Israel, He is untrustworthy and therefore we have no hope as Gentiles.
2 for I can testify to her zeal for G-d. But it is not based on correct understanding;
Shaul/Paul understands Israel’s zeal, both for G-d and for His promises. Shaul/Paul himself was a practitioner of a flawed zeal prior to meeting Yeshua. He is not suggesting that zeal is wrong, he is simply suggesting that zeal which relies on legalistic human observance of man-made law is not the zeal G-d requires. There is a clear distinction between extra biblical human law and the Torah of G-d throughout this passage: one is not the same as the other and should not be perceived as such. It is zeal born of a false understanding that Shaul/Paul is addressing. If it were simply zeal for the Torah, why does he say, “The goal of the Torah is the Messiah”?
3 for, since she’s unaware of G-d’s derach (way) of making people righteous and instead seeks to set up her own righteousness, she has not submitted herself to G-d’s derach (way) of making people righteous.
Why is Israel unaware of G-d’s way (derach)? We will find in the conclusion of Shaul’s discussion in chapter 11, that it is due to an intentional blindness which is purposed for the reconciliation of those among the nations who will receive G-d’s gift. This blindness is a national blindness, not an individual one. It remains that it is only by the revelation of the Ruach ha-Kodesh that anyone, Jew or Gentile, can receive the gift of G-d, Messiah our King.
One of the things that prevents us seeing is our self-righteousness. When we work to earn G-d we work in vain. Another stumbling block for all humanity is our pride, our unwillingness to submit to G-d is an act of rebellion, which is the root of all sin. Therefore, being unaware is more than simply not knowing how we should respond to G-d; it is wilfully refusing what we know to be right. Rather than being blinded by the Torah, we are blinded by our own inclination and deep seeded rebellion. On the other hand, a single unveiled glance at the Torah will reveal Mashiyach.
The early believers, both Jewish and Gentile were known as a Jewish sect called ha-derach (the way). It seems that Paul/Shaul is again making a word play here, using the way as both a p’shat (literal contextual statement) and as a noun.
4 The goal of the Torah is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts (emunah).
It is unfortunate that some translations use the verb, “end,” to translate the Greek, “telos,” because it can be so easily misunderstood to infer the cessation of the Torah if read as a noun. Telos is a goal, something to be aimed for; it is on this understanding that Shaul/Paul makes his argument for the right and zealous application of the Torah. Messiah is the one to be aimed for, He is the goal of the Torah (Instruction).
“Now the goal of our mandate is love (ahava), (chesed) loving kindness, out of a pure core being (heart), and of a good conscience, and of an unpretentious faith.” –1 Timothy 1:5
5 For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah, that “the person who does these things will attain life through them.” (Leviticus 18:5)
“Then HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am HaShem your G-d. 3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their appointed customs. 4 You are to perform My judgments and keep My appointed customs, to live in accord with them; I am HaShem your G-d. 5 So you shall keep My appointed customs and My judgments, the person who does these things will attain life through them; I am HaShem. –Leviticus 18:1-5
Paul/Shaul again affirms the continued relevance of the Torah. His drash (illumination) here is claiming the Leviticus text as a promise of life to those who keep the Torah unto its goal, which is Messiah Yeshua (salvation).
It is noteworthy that the two overarching instructions quoted by Messiah in Mark 12:28-31 are two of the most important appointed customs and judgements of the Torah. (1) “Love HaShem your G-d with all your heart, mind and soul.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) (2) “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). Both these commandments require emunah (trust), which is the catalyst that Shaul/Paul has already alluded to as being the inception of salvation through Messiah’s sacrifice.
The concept of eternal life—related to the Olam haba (World to come)—based on a proper understanding of the Torah, is present in rabbinical literature.
Rashi, referring to Leviticus 18:5 and quoting from the Sifra relating to Leviticus, says:
“It refers to the Olam haba—World to come; for if you say it refers to Olam ha’zeh—this world, doesn’t everybody die sooner or later?”
Before we read on we must first read Deuteronomy 30 in order to understand the p’shat (Contextual, historical) relevance of the quote Shaul/Paul uses to draw our attention to the unity (echad) of the Hebrew words; Kol (Voice, sound), Ketvi (writing), mitzvah (commanded actions) and D’var (Word) of G-d.
30:1 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where HaShem your Elohim (G-d) has banished you, 2 and you return to HaShem your G-d and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where HaShem your Elohim (G-d) has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 “Moreover HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love HaShem your Elohim (G-d) with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 7 HaShem your Elohim will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey HaShem, and observe all His mitzvot which I command you today. 9 Then HaShem your Elohim will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for HaShem will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if you obey HaShem your Elohim to keep His mitzvot and His appointed customs which are katav (Ketvi, written word) in this book of the Torah (Instruction), if you turn to HaShem your Elohim with all your levav (heart, core being) and nefesh (soul).
11 “For this mitzvot (Yeshua) which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it (Yeshua) for us and make us hear it (Yeshua), that we may observe it (Yeshua)?’ 13 Nor is it (Yeshua) beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea (a metaphor for passing through death re: red sea) for us to get it (Yeshua) for us and make us hear it (Yeshua), that we may observe it (Yeshua)?’ 14 But the D’var (word, Yeshua) is very near you, in your mouth and in your core being (heart), that you may observe it (Yeshua).
15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;16 in that I command you today to love HaShem your Elohim, to walk in His ways and to keep His mitzvoth (Yeshua) and His appointed customs and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that HaShem your Elohim may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it (Crossing the Jordan is a physical metaphor for crossing into the Olam haba. Joshua/Yeshua leads us across). 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving HaShem your Elohim, by obeying His kol (voice, Yeshua), and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which HaShem swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
The land sworn to by G-d for Avraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel is twofold: (1) The physical land of Israel (2) The Olam haba—World to come, the physical-metaphysical land of Israel.
6 Moreover (that is, in addition to what has gone before), the righteousness grounded in trusting (emunah) says:
“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’” — that is, to bring the Messiah down — 7 or, “‘Who will descend into Sh’ol? (the holding place after death, within time. Not the grave, which is kever.)’” — that is, to bring the Messiah up from the dead. 8 What, then, does it say?
“The d’var (word consciousness of G-d, not Ketvi, the written word) is near you, in your mouth and in your core being (heart).” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14) -- that is, the d’var (word) of trust (emunah) which we proclaim, namely, 9 that if you acknowledge with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your core being (heart) that G-d raised him from the dead, you will be saved (in Yeshua).
Having read and understood Deuteronomy 30, we can see the drash (illumination) that Shaul/Paul is making. Shaul/Paul does more than infer that Yeshua is the mitzvot of Deuteronomy 30:11-14, he calls Him the D’var (Word consciousness of G-d, and the Ketvi—written Word, and the Mitzvot—commanded right action, and the Kol—voice, sound) that is in the mouths of Israel’s obedient sons and daughters.
Therefore Shaul/Paul challenges those who hear this D’var--Word/gospel—now, to mirror the actions of the Word and confess with the mouth—where the Word dwells—and, resisting the heart of disbelief, instead emunah--believe/trust--with a levav--heart, core being--of belief, that Yeshua has been through/crossed the sea of death and has been resurrected. It is this D’var (Word) that Shaul/Paul proclaims, the same D’var that had met Israel’s ancestors in their desert wandering. Baruch HaShem!
© Alastair Jacob Brown 2014