Does God judge man by the Torah?
The reality is that he DOES NOT. The Torah was given to man by God for man to judge man thereby. The purpose was to maintain a healthy environment, safe living, free one from oppression and all around to learn of God and exercise correct and circumspect behavior. This would be our righteousness, God said. (Dev 4 & 6). Indeed it would. We would shine amongst the nations by walking rightly and justly. But we corrupted the whole idea of that by thinking that this righteousness, this correct living, would merit us the resurrection.
But God did not judge mankind worthy or unworthy of the resurrection or even earthly recompense therewith. As it is written in Exodus 32: “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -- ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.”
True, the Torah wasn’t given yet. God only spoke the 10 Commandments and then gave Moses instructions. But where was there atonement in the Torah when it was given? There was no atonement in the law. And God had his book of life forever with him. For making the idol God punished the people by plaguing them. The Torah could not do that. Another example is when the people lusted and slaughtered too many quail. Did not God kill some of them? (Bemidbar 11) For another example, Bemidbar 21, when the people complained about the manna and the hardness of the way, what happened? The LORD sent fiery serpents. Torah couldn’t do that. The people admitted they sinned. In what way? There was no particular law. What they had done was grumble and, worse, had absolutely no faith. Then they flung God’s gift back at him and said they “loath” this bread. A very loving statement on behalf of the people, eh? After many died, God had Moses place a serpent upon a poll and hold it up, and whosoever had been bitten by the deadly serpents would be healed.
What’s the pattern? The atonement in each case above was from God’s wrath. It was not from the Torah. Who wants protection from the Torah? It is from God’s wrath that one should seek protection. It is, obviously, independent of the Torah. God strikes out against lack of faith, rejection of love and denial of him as the only God. God has a totally controlled temper. He is slow to wrath. But there are a few things he doesn’t tolerate. Idolatry (denying him), not loving him (rejection), and lack of faith and self-seeking. These are grave sins of the soul.
The Torah, the dayans or kohenim can never judge the heart. The law cannot punish lack of faith and rejection of love. Only God can bring atonement for these sins of the soul.
And, indeed, God cools easily from his wrath and is ready to bring mercy and provide an escape. The king is not judged by his law, nor is he limited to it. All mankind knows this, and man cannot know more than or be greater than God. God more than anybody is merciful. Do not even presidents have the power of pardon? Above and beyond all law, even they may forgive. It is not the will of the people or of the law. It is the power of mercy. And God has that power!
I would never want justice before God. I would want mercy. Why do you think David wrote: “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD will not impute sin.”? David knew well of God’s mercy. When he contrived the death of Uriah the Hittite God sent judgment upon him. At the LORD’s word through Nathan the prophet David repented. The law required David die. What did God do? “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” But was there not punishment? There was. God swore that he would not remove the sword from David’s house because David’s behaviour caused the LORD’s enemies to blaspheme him, and the child that was conceived because of David’s lusts would die. The Torah required none of this. But God brought judgment, hard and sure. Therefore pray for mercy and not for the law before God.
Even the LORD’s enemies know what is right and wrong, and they knew they could mock David and hence his God, saying ‘look what kind of chosen king this is and what kind of God this must be.’ Do not cause the LORD’s honour to be mocked! Was the LORD’s honour mocked when David and his companions ate of the shewbread which was only for the priests? No. They were in need of food, and God is merciful. They were not punished. But David turned aside his heart from God’s heart when he did what he did with Uriah the Hittite. Then God punished— and it was severe. God swore unto David that within that very sun he would give his wives to others to lie with them, as David had done with Uriah’s. There is discipline for one’s behaviour which God can bring and which the Torah cannot. God in fact metes out as you have meted out. As you judged, so shall he judge you. He knows we do not know all things as he does. But we can never say “I don’t remember how I treated someone.”
That is the dreadful thing. Some think they keep 613 laws and they will be fine. They do not know that God doesn’t judge by the Torah. He judges the same as he always did before— he evens the scale. Some think they can transfer their sin to an animal. They do not know that the blood of an animal never forgave a sin despite how the prophets explained how no such animal could atone for one’s behaviour. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not live under a different dispensation or covenant. As God dealt with the patriarchs, so dealt he with mankind thereafter. But Israel had grown into a great nation in Egypt and they were to be delivered to their own land. They needed laws to live by, so that society could flourish. God would give these laws. The purpose was stated, the blessing given: We would dwell in the land in peace and God would be with us. (Dev. 4)
So we see that God brings both judgment and mercy independent of the Torah. The examples are far and wide. It is good to use David for an illustration because God spoke of a covenant with the people typified in how he treated David. He said he would give the sure mercies of David to the people. Isaiah 55:
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Who would want protecting from the Torah? Good heavens, it is from God that one should seek protection and it is from these sins of the soul that one needs atonement.
You hear the Church soak people with the statement that “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” because that is an illustration they are left with in the New Testament. They use it to show how grace and faith have triumphed over the Torah when that is not the case. Grace and faith were always there and never replaced. They were independent. So was wrath. It is for the sins of our soul that we need atonement. We need a new heart; not controlled behaviour.
It is at this point that we begin to see why God determined to walk amongst us. It had nothing to do with the Torah. Jesus— Saviour— that beautiful tabernacle of God came for the express purpose of revealing the very nature of God. He revealed dark sayings that were once known and made very clear by scripture: “Judge not, lest ye be not judged. With whatsoever ye mete out unto others shall be meted out unto you.”
It is the same with gifts. He made it plain to Cain. The very first teaching: “Why art thou become very sorrowful and why is thy countenance fallen? Hast thou not sinned if thou has brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it?” We brought gifts to God. Do sacrifices mean anything to him? No. But nevertheless he looked upon gifts and accepted those rightly offered. He indeed looked at the heart. When his Daily was corrupted, he warned Israel through the prophets. These things were done in the name of the LORD; and therefore was his wrath made evident to chastise those who corrupted practices at the Temple.
So the Lord taught us while he walked among us. But what else did he intend to do? He intended to break our hearts. Thus he lifted himself up. We did not recognize him and crucified him. But it is enough that we understand and see the nature of God now in his life. We see God for himself. We may call upon him and we obtain forgiveness.