In Exodus 24, we read of the encounter at Mt. Sinai between the community of Israel and their deliverer. As always, when you study the scriptures, the context is critical. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had recently liberated them from captivity. Why? To bring them to himself, to fashion them into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, to dwell with them and — through them — minister blessing to the world.
The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction." - Exodus 24:12
The Hebrew here is dynamic, and Israel's sages comment extensively upon this verse. The word law is, of course, torah. The word instruction is yarah — the root word of torah. Fundamental to reconnecting with our uniquely Jewish, covenant roots is to recognize that the Hebrew Bible is not something negative; it is not something that has passed away. It is the eternal instruction, revelation, will, and wisdom of the Teacher who is King of the universe.
Some believe Jesus fulfilled the law in such a way as to abolish it. Yet he says that Torah is not abolished; instead, he came to set it on a sure foundation, to interpret it correctly. (To get more clarity on this vital subject, you need to hear my series on Jesus, Christians, and the Law).
To use Paul's language in 2 Timothy 2:15, Jesus accurately handled and skillfully taught the word of truth. Jesus modeled rightly dividing the Torah so that we would fulfill God's intent to lead us into life by applying his teachings.
The more you enter into the will and wisdom of God, the more you enter into the prosperity of abundant living that he has ordained for you.
Please do not misunderstand me; I am not a prosperity preacher. I use prosperity in the sense of receiving his blessing, the fullness of shalom. The more you enter into the fullness of God's Word, the more you enter into the wholeness, completeness, integrity, and the identity of who God wants you to be. The more Torah, the more life — it guides you, it points you, it helps you hit the mark.
There is at work within you that which wants to twist and distort. The Hebrew word for it is avon, translated as iniquity. Avon says, let's do it my way, not God's way. Avon comes from a root that means to bend, twist, and distort. You want to go your way, but the Lord has laid on the Messiah your iniquity so that you can enter into the fullness of salvation.
To reconnect with our Jewish roots is to have a renewed appreciation for the Word of God in its entirety.
The word Torah in a limited sense means the five books of Moses, but in a more broad sense, it refers to the entire revelation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). Indeed, Jesus was the very Torah made flesh. He embodied it, he taught it, he lived it, and made a way for us — his disciples — to do the same. Together, the Old and New Testaments are the foundation and fullness of God's revealed Word!
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. - Ephesians 2:19-22
In Deuteronomy 5:1, you see the same words used in Ezra 7:10; you shall learn them and be careful to do them. Again, the LORD uses similar language before the formal statement of the Shema in Deuteronomy 6.
Verse 1: that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you
Verse 2: by keeping all his statutes and his commandments
Verse 3: Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them
We find this three-fold repetition thematic in Moses' five foundational books, the studying and the doing which springs from teaching. So that, it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you (Deut 6:3).
All this is very succinctly and beautifully expressed in Ezra 7:10, for Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
The Hebrew word for study here is lidrosh, and it means to search after, to seek, to inquire, to consult. It suggests active searching. The text says Ezra set or prepared his heart. Interestingly, the word heart here has the connotation of the mind; you actively commit your mind to search out the things of God. Ezra committed himself, he prepared himself, he made a firm commitment to direct his heart towards the living and active Word of the LORD.
"You will seek the LORD your God and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. - Deuteronomy 4:29
To study (lidrosh) suggests the frequent repetitive occurrence of an activity. As a figure of speech, it means to beat a path. If you walk the same route in your yard every day, you will beat a path there. That is a good picture of what study means in our key text from Ezra.
You beat a path to the presence of God by searching with all your heart, with all your mind, indeed, with all your life-force.
This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.