Israel, The Torah, And The Flesh

Whatever else that might be said about it, the Torah was a covenant of the flesh. Those under the covenant were the fleshly descendants of Abraham through Jacob. The males received circumcision which was spoken of by God as “My covenant in your flesh” (Genesis 17:13). If a male wasn’t circumcised he would be cut off from the covenant people (v. 14). The sacrificial system dealt with “the cleansing of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:13-14 NASB). From terms of entrance into the covenant, the covenant sign and purification, received—it all had to do with the flesh.

Like all other Jewish people, Jesus was born into this covenant and received the sign of circumcision in His flesh (Luke 2:21). Matthew (writing to predominately Jewish disciples) lets them know that He came “to save His people from their sins” (1:21).  He was fully human and fully tempted yet was without sin (Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16). He entered sin’s domain (the flesh), triumphed over it and then offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of others. By doing this, He condemned sin‘s dominion in the flesh under Torah (Romans 8:3).

In all of this we’re to understand that Jesus fulfilled the law and put an end to Torah with its fleshly economy. When the vested-by-the-flesh Nicodemus comes to Him at night, Jesus tells him that the way into the kingdom is not through a fleshly birth but by the birth from above. He says, “Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). That’s why Jesus is spoken of as being “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Through His death and resurrection God’s has created a new world of Spirit and truth and the old world of flesh and Torah has been left behind (see 2 Corinthians 5:16ff).

Drag a rake through a yard full of leaves and it ends up cluttered with them. The leaves detach themselves from the tree, fall to the ground and the rake does its job. This was Israel’s experience under the Torah. Their stubbornness and rebellion toward God meant that they had detached themselves from what God has called them to be and fallen to the ground.  The Torah rake was covered with the nation’s sin. Paul tells us in Romans 7:1-8:17 that both the fleshly Jewish tree and its Torah were being replaced by something better (8:3). 



Published by A Taste of Grace with Bruce Green

I grew up the among the cotton fields, red clay and aerospace industry of north Alabama. My wife and I are blessed with three adult children and five grandchildren.

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