Did Messiah Break Torah? I: Anger
This is the 6th portion of "The Messiah Complex" study series by Justin Best.
To better understand this study, please review Matthew (Mattiyahu) chapter 5:17-22.
During the course of my investigation into the thoughts and beliefs of some anti-messiah teachers, many varying types of arguments were developed to give context as to why they believe that the end-times Messiah has not yet arrived. Interestingly, it was surprising and disappointing to find that when it came to matters of the man Himself (the Messiah), there was very little evidence against His direct teachings and personal words. Afterall, to this point it should have already been made clear that if the Messiah Yahusha (known as Jesus) was in fact a false prophet, it should be evidenced by His very own words. It is the Tanakh that prescribes an evaluation of a prophet’s words before accusing or accepting him, and a closer examination of these standards in Deuteronomy must be applied.
Some inquisitive minds may find themselves asking, “Why does it matter whether or not the Messiah kept and taught the Torah?” Simply, according to the Torah, a prophet must pass the Deuteronomy 13 and 18 test to be considered sent of YHWH. Therefore, if one does not pass this test, it is safe for us to disregard a false prophet’s instructions without concern for YAH’s judgment. That being stated; however, we must also note that if one does not listen to a prophet who passes this test, YHWH says there will be consequences and that He Himself will hold deniers accountable.
“And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” -(Devariym) Deuteronomy 18:19
Essentially, if those within the anti-messiah conviction believe that Yahusha (Messiah) broke the Torah and taught others to do the same, they are relieved of their requirement to listen to His teachings and warnings. For this reason, it is critical that we examine the teachings of Messiah to see if what He spoke was truly foreign to the Torah. Did Messiah’s teachings truly add new requirements as some claim?
Many more studies into this matter could be (and should be) conducted to demonstrate where the Messiah’s spoken concepts originated and test them against the Tanakh (Old Testament); my belief is that a study of this nature would quickly reveal that Messiah constantly spoke from the Torah in some form (especially in the parables) in almost every case; However, for this study we will look specifically at Matthew chapter 5, where Tovia Singer (anti-messiah rabbi) claims that “Jesus” (as he calls Him) added to the Torah in a very specific way. We’ll address that momentarily, but first let’s review the “Prophet Test” from Deuteronomy to demonstrate the totality of the debate and frame the core concepts of the debate.
First, in Deuteronomy 13 it states the following about prophets:
“1 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For YHWH your Elohim is testing you, to know whether you love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after YHWH your Elohim and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which YHWH your Elohim commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” - (Devariym) Deuteronomy 13:1-5
Next, in Deuteronomy 18 it states this about the prophets:
“15 YHWH your Elohim will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of YHWH your Elohim at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of YHWH my Elohim or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And YHWH said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other (elohim) gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that YHWH has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of YHWH, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that YHWH has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” - (Devariym) Deuteronomy 18:15-22
Now that these warnings from YHWH pertaining to false and true prophets have been reviewed, a more in-depth examination can determine the nature of Messiah Yahusha’s arrival as the last true prophet of Israel. In order to examine these prophetic warnings with more ease, the prominent statements are outlined as follows:
If a prophet or dreamer performs a sign, but leads you after other elohim (gods) that you do not know, do not serve them or listen to the prophet, it is a test.
You shall walk after the commandments of YHWH always.
The false prophet or dreamer must be killed to purge the evil from your midst.
YHWH will send another prophet like Moses because the people cannot stand speaking directly to YHWH.
YHWH says they are right in their request for an intercessor.
The true prophet will speak only what YHWH commands Him to speak.
Whoever does not listen to this prophet like Moses will be punished by YHWH.
A prophet who speaks as YHWH without permission must die.
If a prophet’s words do not come to pass, he is not from YHWH.
Essentially, it is by these guidelines from the Torah that Israel must determine whether or not a man is a false prophet or a true prophet of YHWH. If he’s false, one mustn't be afraid of him or his words. If a prophet is true, his prophecies will come to pass, he will not lead you towards other elohim (gods), he will walk in the commandments of YHWH, and YHWH will require it of those (or make them pay) who do not listen to this prophet. In our previous section titled “A Prophet Like Moshe,” we further examine these requirements and demonstrate that Messiah Yahusha can be called the “Prophet” that Deuteronomy was referring to for no less than 20 major reasons.
Getting to the point of this study, now that the standards have been determined, one can “test” the teachings of the Messiah to examine whether or not He falls within them. Specifically, this study will focus on Matthew chapter 5, since it is this very section of the Gospel of Matthew that some anti-messianics have taken issue with. Did Messiah add to the Torah with His teachings, or was He preparing the hearts and minds of His followers for something that the Pharisees of His time did not understand? Time will tell.
In the first 16 verses of Matthew chapter 5, Yahusha (called “Jesus”) is primarily teaching from the Psalms and His words ring true; however, this is not where the antagonists take fault in this chapter. Instead, the statements of contention are held within verses 21-48, specifically Messiah’s teachings on lust, anger, oaths, justice and divorce. Although this is the case, it would not be fair to disregard verses 17-20 before continuing on to the difficult passages in mind, since these verses lay the foundation of this entire topic and lead us into the rest of His teaching perfectly.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” -(Mattiyahu) Matthew 5:17-20
Ironically, it is the very next verse after this statement from Messiah that the anti-messianics claim goes against the very Torah of YHWH. Continuing on to verse 21, a teaching about murder and anger says:
“21 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” - (Mattiyahu) Matthew 5:21-22
Again, modern rabbinic anti-missionaries might conclude that in looking at this verse, Yahusha (“Jesus”) is adding to the Torah, since there is no rule in Torah that says you cannot be angry with your brother or insult your brother. Interestingly, there are two major points that cannot be ignored. The first is most obvious - just because there is no “rule” in Torah (the first 5 books of the common cannon) against anger, that doesn’t mean that the Tanakh (Old Testament) doesn’t clearly express the importance of not living with anger. The following verses are prime examples of the wisdom that Messiah was conveying:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” - Proverbs 14:29
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” - Proverbs 16:32
“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.” -Proverbs 29:22
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” - Ecclesiastes 7:9
“A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” - Proverbs 19:19
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” -Proverbs 22:23-25
Simply put, in the very first example we can see that the Messiah is being misunderstood and falsely accused of adding a precept that was already present in the wisdom of the Tanakh (Old Testament). Although there is no “rule” one can point to in the pages of Exodus, Deuteronomy or Leviticus, overcoming anger is clearly an important point of Biblical wisdom. Here, it should be understood that Messiah believed the heart of man was of even greater importance than external appearances, specifically, the heart behind obedience to YHWH’s commands.
Second, the core teaching from Yahusha in this case is revealed to be a matter of hatred and built-up anger, not just fleeting irritation over trivial matters. Verse 22 states “whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” These type of statements are statements of hatred towards another, an act expressly forbidden in the Torah when it says:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” -Leviticus 19:17
The last line of this verse in the Torah cannot go unnoticed, “lest you incur sin because of him.” In other words, hatred in your heart towards a brother leads to irrational behavior, and if you hate him you will bring sin upon yourself in the long run. It cannot be overstated how fundamentally important this point is, since although there is no "rule" against being angry, we can see that the heart of anger is tied to hatred, something expressly forbidden. With the fuller view of the Torah, Psalms and the Prophets demonstrated within this study, it should be easy to conclude that Messiah was not adding anything to the Torah in these verses. Instead, it becomes clear that He was teaching Torah quite well, magnifying the heart of the matter over the simple external appearances and drawing on the wisdom of Proverbs to solidify his teachings.
In the next section of this study, Did Messiah Break Torah II: Lust, we will study not only the next section of Matthew 5:27-30 (how the Messiah’s teachings on lust are derived from the Torah), but also another matter that has been largely overlooked, namely, how Messiah’s timely arrival fits into the prophecy of Hosea 3 which says:
“For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek YHWH their Elohim, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to YHWH and to His goodness in the latter days.” -Hosea 3:4-5
Shalom and Blessings!