In my Overview section for this site, I have the following statement:
“God’s Torah (instruction) is eternal. Its specific application may differ in various covenant agreements, but God’s Torah has benefits for all believers of all ages.”
These concepts are included in a larger narrative written by Glenn Miller in 2003 at christianthinktank.com. He summarizes a lengthy discussion on the topic of eternal torah with the following conclusion:
“The Mosaic Law was a wonderful and effective torah-teacher, to guide us to Messiah, so that we in honesty and humility could embrace the free grace-gift of the Spirit and a New Heart–in the New Covenant–and finally be able to live in freedom from the flesh and in spontaneous and joyous torah-compliance…as ‘lights in the world’ and ‘holy as He is holy’.”http://christianthinktank.com/finaltorah.html
While there are many detailed areas of this topic that can expand into a very thorough examination of this concept (as exemplified by Miller above), some of his expressions of these ideas are shared by me in my own thoughts in regard to this topic. They would include the following as some of the main areas of agreement:
- Torah means teaching, instruction, and guidance, not simply Law.
- Aspects of torah that are eternal and invariable are ultimately those that have to do with the character and heart of God. These are eternal in the sense that they reveal something about God’s eternal nature and will.
- The main goal of the New Covenant was to produce ‘spontaneous’ torah-compliance, from the heart, directed by the spirit of God.
- That Gentile inclusion would be the ultimate goal of God’s reconciling his people (Israel) to himself, that all nations may partake of his mercy.
As to the first point, that torah does not simply mean Law, we need to recognize that God’s instruction comes to us in many forms: laws, historical narrative, proverbs, and prophecy. In Miller’s article, Rabbi Solomon Schecter is quoted as stating the following:
“To the Jew the word Torah means a teaching or an instruction of any kind. It may be either a general principle or a specific injunction, whether it be found in the Pentateuch or in other parts of the Scriptures, or even outside of the canon. The juxtaposition in which Torah and Mizwoth, Teaching and Commandments, are to be found in the Rabbinic literature, implies already that the former means something more than merely the Law (e.g b. Ber 31a; b. Makk 23a; m. Abot 3.11).”
Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, Solomon Schechter, Jewish Lights: 1909/1993, p. 117f.
One of the areas of scripture that discusses this is Psalm 78. In it, the writer lines out many areas of scripture that are considered torah, not just the commands of God, but the historical narratives, as well.
“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know [them, even] the children [which] should be born; [who] should arise and declare [them] to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God [i.e., relayed to us in the non-commandment sections of his word] but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation [that] set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.Psalm 78:5-8
[i.e., relayed to us in the non-commandment sections of his word].”
After writing about the testimony or law of Jacob, the writer of Psalm 78 then proceeds to tell about the historical events of the Exodus and the struggles of the Israelites in the 40 years of wandering in the desert. These events are concluded to make the Israelites cognizant of the mighty works of God, which in turn should make them remember to keep his commandments. But it is not exclusive to the commandments of God; it is inclusive of historical narrative, all intended to convey the torah, or teaching, of God to the generations of Israel.
As to the second point, or the fact that torah teaches us about the character of God, many passages reflect this truth.
Psalsm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, [art] a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Exodus 15:13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people [which] thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided [them] in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
Numbers 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Deuteronomy 13:17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
Deu 10:19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Psalm 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
Psalm 146:8 The LORD openeth [the eyes of] the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
From these passages, it appears we can know much about the character of God: that he is merciful, gracious, compassionate, truthful, a rewarder of the righteous and full of goodness who does not forsake his own. These are eternal traits we learn of God through his torah, his instruction, even if they are not laid down in specific commands of Law. His eternal torah teaches us these characteristics of God.
Also, the main point of the New Covenant was to spur us on to spontaneous acts of love and mercy from the heart, not from physical commandments to be obeyed eternally.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law [torah] in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
The spirit of God residing within us would enable and empower us to obey the torah, or instruction, of God. This would allow us to live in accordance with his purpose and will, demonstrating his characteristics to a world of darkness, in which we are to shine like lights in this world (Phillipians 2:15).
That the Gentiles, or non-Israelites, were to be included within the torah of God has also been related through the Hebrew prophets:
Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard [that] God [is] with you.
Psalm 72:11, 17 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. … His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and [men] shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
Psalm 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Psalm 86:9 All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.
Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Isaiah 66:18 For I [know] their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
All of these passages bring to light the eternal nature of torah, in that it highlights the eternal character of God. The torah of God is not just limited to his commandments of any one covenantal agreement, but his eternal torah is exemplified in his character and nature expressed through all of the commands, proverbs, prophecy and history. By remaining open and obedient to his eternal torah, believers then have the ability to be examples to all nations, encouraging them to follow the one true God and his Son, Y’shua the Messiah, as related in Psalm 2:
Psa 2:8, 11-12 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession. … Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.