Teaching the Torah
Torah: The Path to Life
Life is filled with choices, and we know that many of these choices determine who we become and what becomes of us. Many of the fundamental decisions we make are difficult ones and are often depicted in story and art by travelers standing before diverging paths, faced with the task of choosing just one to travel. In his famous poem, The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost penned the famous words, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference1.” Among other things, Frost highlights what seems to be a universal truth or experience, namely that the difficult choices, the ones that are filled with challenge and uncertainty, are often the ones that, in the end, lead to self-actualization and fulfillment. This is a truth that also rings true in the scriptures. Throughout the narrative of the scriptures, God’s people–and all of humanity for that matter– are confronted by two diverging roads, roads that were first described by Moses in Deuteronomy:
“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…by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, 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 the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
In the New Testament, Jesus presents the same two roads in His Sermon on the Mount:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
From the beginning of our days, humanity has been traveling these paths. Sadly, as Jesus Christ points out, most of humanity has been traveling the broad way, the way of destruction, the one that leads to death and not to life. Even we ourselves have traveled this road from time to time and have had our share in the way of destruction. It should give us pause when we consider that the broad way, the way of destruction is the one that is favored and most traveled. What is this path and why would any individual choose to walk it if its end is destruction? This is the path that takes us into the depths of the mind of Satan; it is the path of chaos, disorder, and destruction, but it is cloaked in convenience, pleasure, and expediency. This is why it is so enticing. This is the path that Jesus calls us to avoid, the path Moses calls the way of death, and what Paul later describes as the law or way of the flesh.
The other journey takes us, so to speak, through the highways, the mountains, the valleys of the mind of God. This journey takes us through the law of God, or as it is called in Hebrew, the Torah. This way takes us along the path of life and this is the narrow road, and according to Jesus, only a few find it. Why only a few? Because the way is difficult. To travel this path, we must, first and foremost, surrender our lives to Christ, put to death the deeds of the flesh–which are contrary to the law–and allow Christ to rebuild our nature through His Torah (truth) and through the Spirit of Truth. In fact, when Jesus prayed for His followers He asked the Father to “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17), and of the Spirit, Jesus promised: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13). This is the path of life… the path of truth, and the two sources from which we receive truth are God’s Torah and His Spirit. It is not enough to read and know the truth, but we must be immersed in and sanctified by the truth in order to travel the path of life. This sanctification process is carried out by the Spirit, who brings to life the words and spiritual meanings within the Torah, using these to lead us through the depths of God’s mind, His nature, and His character. Through this process we are transformed more and more into the image of God and likeness of Jesus Christ, who is the pure embodiment of Spirit and Truth.
Thus, the Torah of God is far more than what people think of when they talk about the law of God. Most of our understanding of the law has been formed from what we have today. The normal laws that we are used to living by are filled with a bunch of do’s and don’ts—red light means stop and green light means go. There is nothing spiritual about it. They are meant to keep harmony, but if we do not have them there will be chaos and disorder. God’s law is also designed to establish order, but it is also so much more than that; when we talk about the law of God, again, we are talking about experiencing the mind of God, the nature of God, the personality of God, the character of God. His law, because it is spiritual, reveals the essence of who He is. This is the primary reason why we seek to understand the law from His perspective, because it not only communicates what He expects from us, but how He feels about us, what He thinks about us, and His intentions for all creation. It is one of the primary ways He communicates Himself with us.
Another reason our understanding of the law is necessary is because God is creating man in His own likeness and in His own image. He is duplicating himself, duplicating His nature and character in us, and He has chosen to do it through His law. His law is spiritual; His law is a living thing. He delivers this law through the one who would later be called the Logos–Jesus Christ. He not only had the Truth, but He is the Truth, He is the Way, He is the Path to eternity, and He is the Destination toward which we travel. It is through the Logos, that we see and understand what the duplicating process consists of and the end to which it leads. We must go through Him, and through Him means to absorb His mind and His nature and His character. He said you must eat my flesh and drink my blood or you will never have life in you (John 6:53). This was a difficult saying for many, but Jesus wanted us to know that He is the full embodiment of Truth given to us. Whose Truth? The Father’s. In Jesus, every jot and tittle of the law was and is made manifest and available to us. He lived the Torah perfectly without spot or blemish. This is why He called Himself the TRUTH (John 14:6), because He is the living Torah, free of spot and blemish. Because He is the Torah in its fullness, He also calls Himself the WAY, not just because He traveled the way on our behalf, but because He shows us the WAY we, ourselves, ought to walk, which is by emulating His obedience. It follows, then, that if He is the TRUTH and His example the WAY, then He is also LIFE. For God’s Torah is life. For Moses told us that the WAY to LIFE is to obey God’s TRUTH. This has been the message from the beginning, that God’s word, His Torah is THE TRUTH, and because it is so, He commanded Israel to walk according to this WAY, so that they would experience LIFE. Jesus is the personification of all of these concepts.
As we embark on our journey through the scriptures, let us remember that they are more than just stories and recorded history. They are, in fact, the path to life. This is why Jesus instructed us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, because His words are life. So then, let us choose life. Let us walk the narrow road and seek to enter through the narrow gate. It is this road–traveled through the mind, the nature, and character of God, communicated through His Torah–that not only leads us to the Kingdom of God, but is fulfilling His divine purpose: “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.”
1 Frost, R., 1916. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. [online] Poetry Foundation. Available at: <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken> [Accessed 16 April 2023].