For out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3
Go Forth – What images come to mind when someone asks you about the end of days? Do you see the great judgment seat of the Lord? Do you see the beast and the woman from Revelation? Or perhaps the seven vials? Do you imagine the rapture, the church removed from the world or legions of angels descending from heaven? All of those apocalyptic images that have been so pervasive in Christian teaching tend to overlook one basic fact concerning the end. Isaiah describes it with the Hebrew verb yatsa’, to go out or come in. The Torah will go out to all the nations of the earth. Did you think of that image? Did you imagine that everyone on earth will become Torah observant at the end of the age? Or does that surprise you?
I had a conversation with a leader from a large Christian organization. I asked him about the organization’s thinking regarding Torah. He explained that while Torah was for the Jews, Gentiles were not called to Torah observance. They were called to the leading of the Spirit under the gospel of grace. He agreed that Torah was not set aside. It just didn’t apply to Gentiles. It was a Jewish thing.
But what am I to do with Isaiah’s statement if Torah is not for me? How am I to understand the proclamation that Torah will become the guide for all living persons at the end of the age if it has application only to Jews? Maybe the answer is that Isaiah was only speaking to the Jews. Maybe Isaiah really didn’t mean that all the nations would come to Zion. Maybe he was confused. What do you think? Did Isaiah get it wrong? Are there really two different ways of living as a follower – one for the Jews and another for the rest of us? When the Torah goes forth from Zion, is it the ethnic version?
For centuries the Church has taught that Torah is Jewish – and Jewish only. Apparently Paul’s exhortation that we Gentiles have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel has no theological importance. Apparently we are free to decide what spiritual guidance we will accept. As the gentleman told me, “It’s an individual matter.” Really? I know it is very popular to treat religious belief as personal and private. The individualism that stands behind this cultural phenomenon is part of the Greek worldview, now thoroughly embedded in our Christian thinking. But it stands in opposition to the biblical view and to the prayer of Yeshua. Do you think he prayed, “That they may be two, equal but separated”? There is one God, one Lord and one Body with one constitution, one government and one Kingdom. Torah is the expression of my opportunity to love Him put into practical everyday actions. It is the gift of His directions about life. When I live Torah, I express His character with my heart and hands. Just as the purpose of marriage is reunion (and proclamation), the purpose of Torah is demonstrated distinctiveness and spiritual magnetism. When Torah goes forth, the whole world will be in alignment with the Greatest Lover of Mankind. So why not live with the end in mind today?
Topical Index: go forth, yatsa’, Torah, end of age, Isaiah 2:3