Discipleship Through the Mosaic Law

I find it interesting how the church has reached a place where the mere expression ‘we are no longer under the law,’ has somehow erased God’s moral standards as a prerequisite for living a holy and sanctified Christian life. I believe it has led some into apostasy due to a lack of accountability and has begun to present the world a church that looks very much the same.[i]

I do understand that we are all on our unique journey of transformation. Sin exists in the world and our mortal flesh.[ii] And God is not presently expecting perfection, for that will come in time. But He is looking for hearts that are forever inclined towards His Son, Yeshua. For it is in Him that we find salvation and healing.

Yeshua has instructed us to make disciples; those who would follow Him in faithfulness and obedience.[iii] Barna reported in several studies that, “currently, only one out of every six people who attend a Christian church is involved in discipleship activities. Women are almost twice as likely as men to be involved.[iv] Less than one percent of senior pastors say that today’s ‘churches are doing very well at discipling new and young believers.’ And, six in ten said that churches are discipling ‘not too well.’”[v]

Some might disagree with these surveys, but my personal experience falls in line with their studies. Churches today—either by practical necessity or cultural expectation—largely focus on Sunday morning evangelism and topical teachings that provide some limited spiritual growth and biblical knowledge, mid-week Bible studies, and small group fellowships. While these are contributory to the life of a believer, none of these is discipleship. Experts in the field largely agree that discipleship can only occur in small committed, gender-specific groups that have a mature and seasoned leader that has been properly discipled.

Certainly, there is an important role for evangelism and corporate Bible study. But what exactly should discipleship look like? The definition of a disciple is: “One who is a convinced adherent of a school or individual, in this case, Yeshua. One who copies, mimics, resembles or imitates another person’s behavior and appearance. One who does things the same way by following a pattern, model, or example. One who appears like and produces a copy of the same.”[vi] In other words, disciples imitate their leaders, and disciples make more disciples. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV).[vii] And we know that Paul made many disciples.

Discipleship establishes the way by which we are to live our lives for Yeshua. The Jewish sages distinguish between a ‘path’ (derech) and a ‘way’ (orach). A ‘path’ signifies a well-trodden track which has been cleared for common use, while a ‘way’ suggests a trail that is presently being blazed according to the spiritual needs of the individual’s divine service.[viii]

Yeshua said, “I am the way [the orach], the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 3:16). And He said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way [the common path, the derech] that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way [the newly blazed trail, the orach] which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The new trail is difficult because God is taking us through a process of change; delving into the deepest parts of our soul and mind that need to be healed and transformed, and taking us from darkness into His marvelous light. Notice the root of the Hebrew word ‘orach’ is light. Yeshua is the light of the world and the life of all men.[ix]

It is not surprising to see that Paul and the other early disciples extensively quoted from the Old Testament. After all, it would take nearly 400-years for the New Testament to be fully canonized. However, I believe the more important realization is that the early church built upon the foundation that was given to Israel. Christianity was never intended to replace biblical Judaism, nor substitute the Jewish people with the gentile nations who would create a new religion around a Jewish man named Jesus.

Christianity was and is the fulfillment of every promise that was reserved for the nation of Israel—and also to those who would be grafted into God’s family—to join the Jewish people as fellow heirs and partakers of these same promises.[x]

You see, removing God’s moral law from Christianity is just another subtle form of supersessionism, i.e., replacement theology. It says that God has rejected everything of the old and started over, and has created a new nation called the church that replaces Israel as the foundation for God’s kingdom. It also implies that God’s Mosaic Law was somehow imperfect, for the perfect law of God can only be found in Jesus. And yet Jesus quoted the Mosaic Law, for it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…” (Psalm 19:7).

But how exactly are we to approach the Mosaic Law? Yeshua said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). If He did not abolish it, then it remains for some purpose. Paul said, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). And, “…I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7).

Yeshua is also, “the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…” (Jeremiah 31:33).

We certainly cannot come back under the bondage of the Old Covenant, for with it came punishment and death. Yeshua took away the curse of the law by fulfilling the law of sin and death.[xi] He became our curse by dying on the cross. Therefore, we can now approach God’s law with grace rather than condemnation.

If and when we fail, God’s mercy prevails because the blood of Yeshua has already covered us. And still, His mercy and grace are not a license to sin.[xii] Scripture tells us of a time when many in the faith will depart because of sin, “[However,] Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

If we are going to disciple a generation for Christ Yeshua, we will need His biblical instruction for life and transformation. We need God to write His law in our minds and our hearts.[xiii] Yeshua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

The Mosaic Law is an incredibly complex fabric that established the moral and civil foundation for the nation of Israel. It includes God’s moral standards, His calendar, and holy convocations, ceremonial laws, including those required for sin and sacrifice, civil code of conduct and punitive and compensatory damages that could be litigated in a court of law, and inheritance rights.

This resource deals primarily with God’s moral law, not other areas of the Mosaic Covenant such as circumcision, dietary laws, ceremonial laws, the feasts of the Lord, and the Sabbath. Included, however, are several spiritual topics that relate to the church and the priesthood of believers.

God’s moral law should serve a solid foundation for any Christian believer. And, this resource can be used for such instructional purposes—to install knowledge and wisdom—that through prayer and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, will provide for our ongoing sanctification, piety, and living a life that is holy and set apart unto the Lord. It is intended to bring conviction and not condemnation. Therefore, let us explore the words of Yeshua and Paul in the New Testament and see how they reflected the Law of Moses as a foundation for Christian discipleship.

The study approach is simple. First, we read a commandment—an instruction that is quoted directly from the Old Testament, followed by a summary narrative[xiv] that is based on the translated writings of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides),[xv] and lastly we read a comparative scripture from the New Testament based on the teachings of Yeshua and His disciples, mainly Paul.

This flow is intended to provoke self-reflection, thought, and discussion. Transformation begins when we transfer wisdom and knowledge to applied instruction in our personal lives, seeking the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit to redirect our thoughts, speech, and our actions towards the things of God. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

And for those who desire to be leaders in the church, let us follow this example so that others might imitate us:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:2-6).

May we all be Yeshua’s disciples, For His Ruach [Holy Spirit] remains truly in our midst, within those of us who are bound to Him [through Yeshua], when He sees His children, i.e., His disciples, who embody the work of His hands, sanctifying God’s blessed Name. For His Name is magnified and sanctified when we walk in the straight path that He has shown us of His paths, and we will walk in His ways [His light and His orechim] always.”[xvi]

Study Portion

Belief in God

“I am the Lord your God…” (Exodus 20:2).

The very first mitzvah (commandment), is to believe in God—the cause and origin of all that exist.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

 

Idol Worship

“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

The very first prohibition is against ascribing Godly powers to any entity other than God.

“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).

 

God’s Unity

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

We are commanded to believe and acknowledge that the One who provides existence to all of creation is one.

“Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29).

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

 

Loving God

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

We are commanded to love God. We foster a love for God by studying and contemplating His written word and His awesome deeds, most significantly His death, burial, and resurrection. Through study, prayer, worship, and meditating about God, we come to have somewhat of an understanding of His greatness—which spawns even deeper respect and love for Him.

This commandment also includes sharing our knowledge of God with others and calling upon our fellows to serve Him. After all, if we love God, we would surely sing His praises before all who are ready to hear.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).

“And He [Yeshua] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15).

 

Fearing God

“You shall fear the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 6:13).

We are commanded to fear God and never to be complacent. This is also why we never say God's Name in vain, for this diminishes the fear and reverence we are commanded to harbor for Him.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

 

Sanctifying God's Name

“You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 22:32).

We are commanded to sanctify God's holy Name by publicly proclaiming our faith and religion.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

If an oppressive government arises and sets for itself the goal of eradicating the bible and all those who believe God’s written word, we are commanded to sacrifice our lives rather than deviate one iota from our faith. And, at any time, we are obligated to allow ourselves to be killed rather than transgress one of the three cardinal sins—idolatry, murder, and certain forbidden sexual relations (such as adultery, incest, and homosexuality). One who allows himself to be martyred under these circumstances has sanctified God's Name.

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:13).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's” (Romans 14:8).

 

Emulating God

“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9).

We are commanded to emulate God's ways. As the Midrash explains, “Just as God is merciful, you should be merciful; just as God is gracious, you should be gracious; God is righteous, you too should be righteous; God is pious, you too should be pious.”

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).

 

Cursing God

“You shall not revile God…” (Exodus 22:28).

We are forbidden to curse God, who is spirit.

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

 

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7).

“And you shall not swear by My name falsely…” (Leviticus 19:12).

It is forbidden to swear in the name of God needlessly. And, it is forbidden to swear an oath which obligates oneself to do or not to do a certain action.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord. But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black” (Matthew 5:33-37).

 

Desecrating the Name of God

“You shall not profane My holy name…” (Leviticus 22:32).

We are commanded not to desecrate God's Name. This commandment has several applications:

a) Sins of Spite: One who transgresses God's command not for pleasure or for the sake of perceived benefit, but to demonstrate indifference for God's words, have desecrated God's Name, having displayed open disregard for His wishes.

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29).

b) Behavior Befitting a Bible Scholar: One who is renowned for his piety may not do anything that even smells of impropriety—even if there is no transgression involved. One Talmudic rabbi said that if he were to take meat from the butcher on credit without paying immediately, that would constitute a desecration of God's Name. When a bible scholar behaves in exemplary fashion, this causes God's Name to be sanctified—and vice versa.

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

 

Testing God

“You shall not tempt the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 6:16).

We are prohibited from challenging God. We see how Yeshua responded to Satan’s temptation during His forty days in the wilderness. He rebuked Satan by quoting God’s written word, and specifically from the book of Deuteronomy. This is to be an example for us.

“Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7).

 

Confessing Sins

“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing” (Leviticus 5:5).

One who has sinned is obligated to verbally confess and say, "Please, God, I have sinned by doing..." The individual should then elaborate to the best of his ability and ask God for forgiveness. This commandment applies whether the sin was against God or a fellow man. Even in the times of the Holy Temple when a person would bring a sin-offering to attain forgiveness, he was still required to confess his sin orally.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

 

Rebuking

“…You shall surely rebuke your neighbor…” (Leviticus 19:17).

We are commanded to verbally rebuke, a fellow brother who has sinned and to rebuke and attempt to prevent an individual who is about to sin. This commandment applies to everyone, even if the one who has sinned (or is about to sin) is a great individual. To say, “I shall not sin; what another does is God's concern,” is contrary to the Bible's viewpoint. And if the first rebuke has not accomplished its goal, we must do so again and again. We must be careful, however, to rebuke pleasantly—not to embarrass our fellow, God forbid. Included in this commandment is the obligation to rebuke someone who has wronged you, as opposed to silently harboring a grudge against that individual.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:15-16).

 

Prayer

“So you shall serve the Lord your God…” (Exodus 23:25).

We are commanded to serve God (blessed be He). This commandment is repeated many times. Although this commandment is general, nevertheless it has a specific quality since it is the commandment to pray.

“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

 

Studying and Teaching the Bible

“You shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

We are commanded to study and teach the Bible to our students. We are instructed to study the bible to the extent that we are proficient in its teachings and ready to answer without hesitation questions on that which we studied.

“And the Child [Yeshua] grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues…” (Matthew 4:23).

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

 

Building the Temple

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

We are commanded to build a Sanctuary to serve God. There is a spiritual principle here as the Lord is using the analogy of a building and a temple to describe us—the church—who are a living temple unto the Lord.

“Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).

 

Offering Salt with Every Sacrifice

“And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Leviticus 2:13).

We are commanded to offer a salt accompaniment together with every sacrifice. Yeshua said that we are the salt of the earth—living sacrifices. This statement also comes with a warning that we are to remain as salt in the earth and not lose our zeal for the Lord.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13).

The Priestly Garments

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2).

There is a spiritual principle here as the Lord is using the beautiful garments made for Aaron—the high priest of Israel—to gloriously depict the resurrected priesthood that is in Yeshua.

“And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).

 

Assembling the People

“Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates…” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

At least three times per year the men of Israel were required to assemble before the Lord in Jerusalem. The word assembly in Hebrew is Kahal and in Greek is Ecclesia. This is the same word translated into English as ‘church.’

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).

 

The Priestly Blessing

“…This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel…” (Numbers 6:23).

The Kohanim, the priestly descendants of Aaron, are commanded to bless the Children of Israel every day. Yeshua further commanded us to bless our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).

“Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:20).

 

Guarding the Temple

“And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar…” (Numbers 18:5).

We are commanded to station guards in and around the Temple to watch it day and night. This honor guard is a way of demonstrating respect for the Temple, exalting, and glorifying it. As the Midrash says, "One cannot compare a palace that has guards to a palace that does not." There is a spiritual principle here about guarding our hearts and minds against the enemy.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).

 

Serving While Inebriated

“Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting…” (Leviticus 10:8-11).

It is forbidden to enter the Holy Temple while inebriated—whether from wine or any other intoxicating beverage.

“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy” (Romans 13:13).

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:8).

 

Defiling the Temple

“You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:4).

“… you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell” (Numbers 5:3).

We are forbidden from destroying God's houses of worship, i.e., His Holy Temple, or any of its utensils—such as the altar or any part of the sanctuary. All ritually impure individuals are forbidden from entering the Holy Temple, e.g., all areas in the sanctuary and the Holy Temple Courtyard. There is a spiritual principle here about not defiling or destroying our bodies with sin—which are a living temple unto the Lord—and not allowing those who are defiled and filled with sin to occupy our lives, for their behavior will eventually creep into our hearts and minds.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people…But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

 

Honoring and Revering Our Parents

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long…” (Exodus 20:12).

“Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father…” (Leviticus 19:3).

We are commanded to honor our parents. This commandment includes serving them food and drink and helping them dress and go. And, we are commanded to revere our parents; our consideration of them should be as we consider an individual whom we fear, and who can administer punishment, such as a king. This commandment includes not sitting in a place reserved for them, not voicing an opinion in their presence, and not contradicting them. It is forbidden to curse a parent, even posthumously, and it is forbidden to hit a parent.

“For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death’” (Matthew 15:4).

“’Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2).

 

Respecting Elders

“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man…” (Leviticus 19:32).

We are commanded to accord respect to Bible scholars and respectfully rise for them. This commandment is compounded with regards to the respect a student is expected to have for his teacher. A student is forbidden to challenge his teachings, and always must give him the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, our Sages tell us, "Your reverence for your teacher must be akin to your reverence for God."

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Titus 5:17).

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).

 

Heeding a Prophet

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

We are commanded to obey the instructions of a prophet. This verse specifically points to the future Messiah of Israel, Yeshua. However, the broad application is that God has sent us prophets to the church, men, and women who hear and speak for Him, and to them, we must listen too.

“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” (1 Corinthians 12:28).

“Do not despise prophecies” (1 Thessalonians 5:20).

 

False Prophecy

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods…” (Deuteronomy 18:20).

It is forbidden to utter a false prophecy in God's name—i.e., to state that God has said something that He has not. It is also forbidden for someone to say a (true) prophecy, stating that this is something that God had revealed to him, when, in fact, God spoke this prophecy to another prophet.

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

 

Establishing a Judicial System

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates…” (Deuteronomy 16:18).

" You shall do no injustice in judgment…” (Leviticus 19:15).

We are commanded to appoint judges who will implement the Lord’s commandments, and compel those who stray from the true path to follow His law. They will command regarding the performance of the good, and warn against doing evil, and will implement punishments against those who transgress. This so that the observance of the commandments and prohibitions of the bible not be given to the discretion of each.

“And [Yeshua] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

“Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:3).

“…you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5).

 

Obeying Governmental Authority

“According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you…” (Deuteronomy 17:11).

“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28).

We are commanded to obey the High Court and heed all their decisions with regards to what is permitted or prohibited.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme” (1 Peter 2:3).

 

Muzzling a Laborer

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4).

It is forbidden to prevent an animal from eating from produce upon which it is working—e.g. if it is threshing grain or carrying a bundle of hay. There is a spiritual principle applied here in the New Testament, referring to those who labor for the Lord and teach His word.

“For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain…’” (1 Corinthians 9:9).

“For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages’” (1 Timothy 5:18).

 

Marriage

“When a man takes a wife and marries her…” (Deuteronomy 24:1).

“…he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights” (Exodus 21:10).

It is a commandment for a man to marry a woman through Kiddushin, which means sanctification. He may not deny her appropriate food, clothing, or conjugal rights. Rather, he must accord her the rights due to all "the daughters of Israel.”

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14).

 

Divorce

“…and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand…” (Deuteronomy 24:1).

Divorce is permitted under Jewish law. If a couple decides to divorce, the husband must effectuate the divorce through a bill of divorce, known as a ‘get.’ However, Yeshua condemned divorce and spoke harshly against the Jewish leaders who forced this law onto the Jewish people.

“He [Yeshua] said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).

“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

 

Adultery and Out of Wedlock Intimacy

“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).

It is forbidden to engage in adultery with a married woman. And, it is forbidden for a man and woman to be intimate unless married to each other.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

 

Incest

“None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the Lord. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness. The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or elsewhere, their nakedness you shall not uncover. The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for theirs is your own nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your father—she is your sister—you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is near of kin to your father. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is near of kin to your mother. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother. You shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law—she is your son’s wife—you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness. Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive” (Leviticus 18:6-18).

Sexual immorality is one of the leading pervasive sins in the church, and the Lord has much to say about this. It is forbidden to have incestuous sexual relations with: your mother, step-mother, maternal or paternal half-sister, sister, son’s daughter, daughter, daughter’s daughter, wife’s daughter, wife's paternal grandmother, wife's son's daughter, wife's maternal grandmother, wife's daughter's daughter, paternal or maternal aunt, uncle’s wife, daughter-in-law, brother’s wife, sister’s wife, father, son, uncle, or nephew.

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” (1 Corinthians 5:1).

Bestiality

“Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion” (Leviticus 18:23).

It is forbidden to engage in sexual relations with an animal.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

 

Male Homosexuality

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).

It is forbidden for a man to engage in homosexual relations.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Loving Our Fellow

“…you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” (Leviticus 19:18).

We are commanded to love and care for our fellow as we love and care for ourselves. We should treasure our fellow and his possessions as we treasure our own. Whatever I wish for myself, I also wish for my fellow; and whatever I dislike for myself, I should also not want to befall him.

“And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

 

Charity

“but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs” (Deuteronomy 15:8).

“Do not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your destitute brother” (Deuteronomy 15:7).

We are commanded to give charity to the indigent, to relieve them of their distress. We are commanded to feed the needy and provide them with whatever they lack. Even a pauper who is sustained by charity is obligated to fulfill this commandment—by giving charity (even if only a pittance) to someone needier than himself, or someone in a similar predicament.

“Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

“…Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

 

Mistreating Widows and Orphans

“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child” (Exodus 22:22).

We are forbidden to distress a widow or young orphan. We may not upset these downtrodden individuals through harsh words or actions. Instead, we are to interact with them gently and with empathy for their plight. Indeed, the Bible assures us that God listens to the cry of the widow and orphan, and metes out severe punishments to those who torment them.

“Beware of the scribes…who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

“Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Timothy 5:3-4).

“But if anyone does not provide for his own [widowed mother], and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:8-10).

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

 

Fulfilling Verbal Obligations

“That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth” (Deuteronomy 23:23).

“If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Numbers 30:2).

We are commanded to carry through that which we pledge to do, or not to do. And, it is forbidden to violate one's verbal pledge, whether that pledge was worded as an oath or not.

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:12).

 

Honest Measurements

“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin…” (Leviticus 19:35-36).

We are commanded to have precise and "righteous" measuring implements—scales, weights, and measures.

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2).

 

Stealing

“You shall not steal…” (Leviticus 19:11).

“You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him…” (Leviticus 19:13).

“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark…” (Deuteronomy 19:14).

“You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him…” (Leviticus 19:13).

It is forbidden to steal another's possessions. It is also forbidden to withhold monies owed to another. As opposed to theft or robbery, which involve monies that came into a person's possession unlawfully, this prohibition is addressed to the individual who has not obtained property illegally but refuses to pay money owed. Examples include an employer who withholds wages and a debtor who refuses to repay a loan. This prohibition includes flat refusal to pay, as well as postponing payment by employing deceptive methods.

“For the commandments, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Romans 13:9).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

 

Coveting

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).

It is forbidden to devise plots in pursuit of acquiring a fellow's property or possession that he is reluctant to part with. e.g., by harassing the owner of the item to sell it, or retaining friends to go and talk him into selling it. One who does so and ends up acquiring the item, even if he pays much money for it, has transgressed this biblical prohibition.

“For the commandments, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Romans 13:9).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

It is even forbidden to entertain thoughts regarding devising plots on how to acquire a coveted item that belongs to a fellow.

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Murder

“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

It is forbidden to murder a fellow human.

“For the commandments, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Romans 13:9).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

 

False Testimony

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

It is forbidden to testify falsely.

“For the commandments, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Romans 13:9).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

 

Gossiping

“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people…” (Leviticus 19:16).

It is forbidden to relay information about one individual to another—even if the information is one hundred percent true, and even if there is nothing objectionable about the actions that you are reporting. The prohibition is understandably exacerbated if one libels another.

“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).

“And besides they [widows] learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13).

 

Shaming

“…You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17).

It is forbidden to shame or embarrass one another. We derive this from the verse: “You shall certainly rebuke your neighbor, and don't bear sin because of him.” Even when we rebuke a fellow for a sin he has done, which itself is a biblical command, we must be careful not to embarrass the individual—lest we “bear sin because of him.”

“…But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22).

“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father” (1 Timothy 5:1).

 

Bearing a Grudge

“…nor bear any grudge against the children of your people…” (Leviticus 19:18).

We are not allowed to bear a grudge against another—even if we never act upon the grudge.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

 

Cursing

“You shall not curse the deaf…” (Leviticus 19:14).

It is forbidden to curse any person.

Why then does the bible specifically prohibit cursing the deaf?

When a person is angered, the measures the person will take to quiet his anger depends on the severity of the (perceived) offense. Sometimes, he will suffice with cursing and shaming the offender. For a greater offense, the person will not be satisfied until he destroys all the offender's property, or hurts or injures the individual. For the greatest of offenses, the victim's fury will not be placated until he kills the one who hurt him.

Then there's the smallest of anger. One that can be assuaged merely by cursing the offender, even while not in his presence, even if the offender will never become aware of the cursing.

By commanding us not to curse (even) the deaf, the bible is telling us that it is forbidden to curse another even not in his presence, and even if he will never find out about the slight.

The reason for this commandment is that the bible is concerned not only with the state of the one being cursed but also with the state of the one who curses and wants to ensure that he did not become accustomed to harboring angry and vengeful thoughts.

Also included in this prohibition is that one may not even curse oneself.

“With it [the tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God” (James 3:9).

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).

 

Harboring Hate

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart…” (Leviticus 19:17).

We are forbidden to harbor hate for our brother in our heart. Instead, if someone has wronged you, confront him and tell him that you've been hurt, and demand an explanation or an apology.

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

“If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

 

Revenge

“You shall not take vengeance…” (Leviticus 19:18).

We are forbidden to avenge one bad deed with another. A typical example of the revenge that the Bible prohibits: David asks Isaac to lend him his scythe, and Isaac refuses. Next day, Isaac needs an ax and asks David whether he can borrow his. “I will not lend you my ax,” David responds, “just as you didn't lend me your scythe...”

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19)

“For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people” (Hebrews 10:30).

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

 

Grace after Meals

“When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10).

We are commanded to express gratitude to God after every meal.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

The Practices of the Heathens

“And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you…” (Leviticus 20:23).

We are forbidden from imitating the practices of the idolaters—even in those areas not associated with their pagan rites. Even something as simple as saying, "Since they dress in purple wool, I, too, will dress in purple wool..." is forbidden.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant’” (Matthew 20:25-26).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

 

Fearlessness in Battle

“You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:21).

It is forbidden to be fearful of our heretical enemies in the course of battle and turn back and flee. Rather, we are obligated to strengthen our hearts and stand strong in the lines of battle.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).


[i] Ephesians 5:27.
[ii] Romans 7:17-20.
[iii] Romans 1:1-6.
[iv] Trend Analysis Report (2003). Barna Reports, May 9, 2000.
[v] Eekhoff Zylstra, Sarah. Pastors and Pews Vastly Disagree on Discipleship Success. Christianity Today. December 9, 2015.
[vi] Ibid Merriam-Webster.
[vii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[viii] Lessons in the Tanya. Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 27—Sifrei (quoted in Rashi) on Devarim 6:7. Chabad.org.
[ix] John 1:4, 3:19.
[x] Ephesians 3:6.
[xi] Galatians 3:13.
[xii] Romans 6:1.
[xiii] 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10.
[xiv] Chabad.org. Today's Mitzvah: A daily digest of Maimonides’ classic work ‘Sefer Hamitzvot’. From ‘Sefer Hamitzvot in English,’ published by Sichos in English. Translated by Berel Bell. <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/940209/jewish/Sefer-Hamitzvot-Translation.htm> <http://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/seferHamitzvos.asp?tdate=11/5/2016>
[xv] Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon—Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and communal leader, known in the Jewish world by the acronym ‘Rambam’ and to the world at large as "Maimonides.
[xvi] Lessons in the Tanya. Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 27— Zohar (Part II, p. 215a; and Part III, end of Parshat Kedoshim. Chabad.org.