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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Torah Was for ISRAEL!

The Armstrong Churches of God, like the Christian Pharisees of the First Century, have always taught that Gentile Christians are obligated to obey some of the precepts of Torah. A few days ago, on Banned by HWA, Scout wrote a post entitled Notes on the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. In it, he made clear that the WHOLE Church (including the Jewish part of it) decided that believers would NOT be required to adhere to the tenets of the Old Covenant - Torah. Scout went on to make the point that this did NOT mean that the Church was discarding Torah, just that it wasn't a pathway to salvation under the New Covenant. Armstrongists, however, insist that Christians can lose their salvation by failing to observe some of the laws of Torah (like those related to Sabbaths and Holy Days). 

In my previous post on this topic (Was Torah for Everyone?), I said that "what is offered here is only a FRACTION of the many passages contained in Torah which make very clear that Torah was intended for the people of Israel." In making that statement, I was on very solid ground. To demonstrate the truth of that statement, and because it is so important for Christians to understand that we are operating under a different iteration of God's Law, I have decided to include a few more of the Scriptures which make very clear that Torah was intended for the people of Israel.

In the book of Leviticus, we read that God told the Israelites that he had separated them from the other peoples of the earth (Leviticus 20:24, 26). In the original Hebrew, the sense is that they were severed from other nations and people. They were to be clearly different from other peoples, and it wasn't just male circumcision which delineated that difference. The Sabbath was also a sign between them and God which distinguished them from all other people (Exodus 31:13, 17). Moreover, there were a number of other things that were to distinguish them from the Gentile nations surrounding them. For instance, in the book of Deuteronomy, we read: "You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. You shall not eat any abomination. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat." (Deuteronomy 14:1-6, ESV) There were even regulations about how they were to cut their hair, and what kinds of fabrics they were to wear! All of these things distinguished them from the Gentile nations.

Over and over again, the commandments of Torah were addressed to the children of Israel and reiterated throughout that these instructions were intended to distinguish them from the nations which surrounded them. Near the end of the book of Leviticus, we read: "These are the statutes and rules and laws that the Lord made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai."  (Leviticus 26:46, ESV) Indeed, later, in the book of Deuteronomy, we read: "When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this." (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, ESV) Clearly, God intended through Torah for the Israelites to be different from the Gentile peoples which they were displacing (and would be surrounded by) in every aspect of their lives!

Hence, once again, the Armstrongist narrative about Torah does NOT fit. We see that God clearly intended this iteration of his law for the people of Israel. Indeed, we have seen that the commandments of Torah were meant to distinguish them from the other peoples of the world. Armstrongists love to point out that Christ and his disciples kept Torah, but they completely ignore the fact that they were ALL Jews! Paul was also a devout Jew. Moreover, it was necessary that Christ observe the commandments of Torah to fulfill the Law and make his sacrifice of himself efficacious for securing our salvation! The PLAIN TRUTH is that Torah was never intended for Gentiles, or the Church which Christ founded. Christ fulfilled Torah for Israel and instituted a new iteration of God's Law for Christians (based on the same principles that were the basis for Torah - love for God and each other). Thus, for those who have accepted Christ's sacrifice and received God's Holy Spirit, their lives will reflect obedience to Christ's iteration of God's Law.


  1. In the book of Deuteronomy, two rhetorical questions are asked: "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:7-8, ESV) The answers to both questions, of course, were that NO OTHER NATION had those things!

  2. Miller, my post on the Jerusalem Council on Gary's blog provoked more response than I expected. Thanks for making relevant comments at critical points. Your comments added fluency to the logical development of the debate.


    1. You're very welcome. Posts of this nature are almost always going to provoke a hefty response from the legalists. I posted this one to support what you had written, but I think the willingness to engage has just about run its course. They don't like seeing their arguments systematically defeated! Even so, like you, I believe that it is critical that Christians understand that their salvation is through Jesus Christ, NOT Torah. May God bless your continuing efforts to help folks see this.