For centuries, the people of God have debated whether or not we are obligated to keep the commandments that were written by Moses in the Torah. Obviously there are some that should be kept by all people – “You shall not murder,” for example. But are the other instructions solely for the Jewish people or for all of God’s people? I would suggest that the bigger issue is really about the role we allow obedience to the commandments to play in our lives. In other words, history has shown that people have a tendency to turn what God said to do or not do into religion, rather than letting their obedience be an expression of their relationship with Him. More specifically, as believers, would keeping these commandments replace or diminish the atoning work of Messiah in our lives?
Striving to live a life that follows God’s instructions should never be viewed as anathema nor should it cause us to reduce or diminish the stature of the Messiah in our lives. To the contrary, seeing the lofty standards God expects us to live by, it should cause us to esteem Him even more. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to stand before a holy God, justified. Furthermore, here’s what Messiah had to say about what Moses wrote:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life… Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-40, 45-47)
According to Messiah, everything that Moses wrote was intended to point us to Christ. If that’s not happening, then you’re misinterpreting what Moses wrote. If you don’t believe what Jesus said, then you really don’t believe what Moses wrote, even if you’re trying to do what you think Moses instructed you to do. The problem with these people, and those who have repeated their error, was elevating Moses above the Messiah. Nothing recorded in the Torah requires God’s people to esteem the commandments over the one who gave the commandments.
From the beginning, the Creator makes it clear that obedience to Him is to be an expression of devotion to Him. And where Moses is concerned, consider that he wasn’t permitted – dare we say qualified – to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. That role was reserved for his successor, Joshua, or in Hebrew, Yehoshua – a name that means, “He will save (in the future).” In other words, Yehoshua is a prototype for the Messiah Yeshua – a name that means “He will save (right now).”
My point in all of this is, considering our final destination as believers, what God instructed Moses to write will serve all of us well as we navigate through the wilderness of this world. God’s instructions teach us how we are expected to behave, how we are to interact with our fellow man and how we can please our Creator. So long as we remember who and what Moses was writing about, the instructions recorded in the Old Testament are beneficial to our spiritual maturity. Read the New Testament carefully and you will find that this fact is reiterated time and again. However, we must remember that it is the Messiah, Yeshua, – not Moses – who will lead us into our final destination, the Promised Land. We can’t get to where we desire to go if He is not at the forefront of our lives.
In the book of Micah, there is a prophecy which is understood to be speaking of the end of days when the Almighty gathers His people into the land sworn to Abraham and to his descendants. It says:
“I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people. The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head.” (Micah 2:12-13)
The prophecy states clearly that the King, the Messiah, will lead us into the green pastures of the Promised Land, and no other. In the meantime, we should follow the instructions He gave to us as an expression of our devotion to Him. It was Christ who said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”