Welcome to "The Open Bible" blog!
This blog will feature comments on the weekly Torah portions. What is a "torah portion?" Why is such a conversation worth reading?
"What special privilege, then, has a Jew? The privilege is great from every point of view. First of all, because the Jews were entrusted with the word of YHWH," Romans 3:1,2. Clearly the Jewish tradition of reading the Bible through the year is a good one to follow. Is there more proof that we should be reading the Word aloud and discussing it? (YHWH is the ancient Hebrew name of the Almighty which He gave to mankind. The Scriptures declare that this is His name "forever, unto all generations" in Exodus 3:15. Unfortunately, this name has been hidden in English Bibles behind the capitalized words "LORD" and "GOD.")
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses spoke the commandments aloud as an example. He told the new nation of redeemed slaves to read the Word aloud. Later Ezra the Scribe instituted reading the Scriptures aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturday afternoons (Nehemiah 8:1, Megillah 4:1).
The Newer Testament continues this theme when it teaches that "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word." Without the Bible being read aloud and discussed it is difficult for faith to truly set in. "Give attendance to the reading of Torah, to exhortation, to teaching," says First Timothy 4:13 in the Restoration Scriptures. Here we are commanded to gather with others to HEAR the Torah read. This doesn't just mean to get your family together and preach to them. Instead, if you have a group nearby, then you are to give attendance to the Torah reading. "Torah" is the Hebrew word for teaching and instruction. Torah is often mistranslated "law" in most English Bibles. The Torah is YHWH's instructions for mankind found in Genesis to Revelation. To the Jews, the Torah is specifically the first five books of the Bible.
The Torah has been divided into 54 readings that correspond to the calendar year. These portions contain various nuggets of truth that deal with every issue in life. The sections are usually named after the first important Hebrew word or phrase used in that section. For example, the section on the evil king Balak and the evil prophet Bilaam is titled "Balak." And the first portion in the Torah is called "Beresheet" after the first Hebrew word found in the Bible, which means "beginning."
While most new believers start their Bible reading with the Gospels, it is the first five books that set a foundation for the rest of the word. You can't pick up a Stephen King novel and turn to the middle to begin reading. And you certainly shouldn't do that with the Bible. Start your reading cycle this week with the Torah. If you can, join with others to read and discuss the word to learn even more.
Our Messiah set an example for all believers when he attended the synagogue for Torah reading on many occasions. (Surprisingly he never went to church to hear a sermon!) "And He came to Natzareth, where He had been brought up: and, according to his practice, He went into the synagogue on Shabbat, and stood up to read," Luka 4:16, Restoration Scriptures. The Savior never stopped the Torah reading in the synagogue to do start a new practice. If he wanted to preach a sermon or rebuke the Jewish tradition of Torah reading he could have done that. But he didn't. He participated in the Torah reading and thus put His seal of approval on this tradition.
The reading for the Torah and prophets generally correspond to the same subject. For example, this week the Torah portion begins with a few chapters from Genesis, then 3 chapters from Isaiah and a section out of the Newer Testament.
Make this Saturday one to remember. Use the insights in this blog to help your study. Begin reading and studying the weekly Torah portion. Gather your family together, discuss it at your worship center, or study by yourself. This is a great habit to start and one that will make your spiritual life better. "Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not to be ashamed who rightly divides the word of truth," 2 Timothy 2:5.
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