Raised for War: Part 2 – From Innocence to Bondage

CHILDREN
Image by JasonDGreat via Flickr

I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment
came, sin revived, and I died. – Romans 7:9

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, confined for the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  So that the law has become our tutor to bring us to Messiah, that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  (Galatians 3:23-25)

We begin our journey not with the Exodus, but with the words, “In the beginning . . .”  Here we find not only the genesis of the world and of mankind, but also the genesis of Israel . . . and of ourselves.

In the above words of Paul, many of my Sunday-brethren find what they think to be a repudiation of the Torah.  On the contrary, we find an expression of childhood innocence and naivate.  When Paul talks about being alive “apart from the law,” he is referring to his days as a youth below the age of bar mitzvah, which is when a Jew formally becomes accountable to Hashem for his own sins.  In the same way, we find our fathers in Genesis to be living in a time before the whole Torah was revealed at Mt. Sinai.

That’s not to say that they were Law-less, of course.  The Holy One commends Abraham because he “obeyed Me, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My law (Heb. torahti)” (Gen. 26:5).  However, a full understanding of the Torah was not given for another four hundred years.  In the same way, as children we receive moral instruction from our parents, but we do not come into a full understanding of God’s Word and His righteous requirements.

THE LAAAAAAWWWWW!!!

Here I need to speak a word about one of the key purposes of the Law.  When Paul calls it a tutor, the word used is pedagogue, which originally meant a bodyguard who would lead the child to his tutors and guard him on his way.  Thus, the purpose of the Torah and a Torah-based society is to create a fence of protection around our children and to lead them to Messiah.  This is true of both the moral commandments and the ceremonial ones.  For example, did you know that the real purpose of Passover was to instruct our children in their history and their salvation?

It shall happen when you have come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service.  It will happen, when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians, and spared our houses.’”  (Exo. 12:25-27)

Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall yeast be seen with you, in all your borders. You shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ It shall be for a sign to you on your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year. (13:7-10)

Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons. It shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall tell him, ‘By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage; and it happened, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of animal. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that opens the womb, being males; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ (13:13-15)

When I get objections to keeping the Feasts from my Sunday-brethren along the lines of, “Don’t you know the law was just a tutor to bring us to Christ?” I respond, “True.  Are you therefore teaching the Torah to your children and keeping its Feasts in order to bring them to Messiah?”

Eventually, of course, we all grow up.  It’s very sad that in this Torah-less society, our young people are ejected out of the house and into a world with no safeguards, and darn few paths to bring them back to Hashem.  This is true of both Christians and Jews, by the way.  In fact, about the only group that successfully uses the Torah for its purpose are Jews in traditional (Orthodox, Hasidic) communities.  But for the rest of us, the vast majority of our children are taken into bondage to the world as young adults, just as the Patriarchs went down into Egpyt and were ultimately taken into the bondage of slavery there.

In a piece entitled “How Corrosive Is College to Religious Faith and Practice?” Regnerus and Uecker write,

Those students who “lose their faith” in college or drop out of organized religionafter high school are primarily those already at considerable risk of doing so for other reasons that predate these actions. To suggest the die is cast before the dorm room is occupied may be too strong a claim, but not by much. As Christian Smith and Melinda Denton (2005) note in Soul Searching, parents tend to “get what they are” when it comes to their teenagers’ religious sense. If parents do not actively affirm and transmit the oral and written traditions of a religion, their failure to “teach the language” results in youth who cannot speak the language and are at elevated risk of shedding the religious value system altogether. Indeed, scholars often forget that religion is primarily taught, not caught or transmitted by osmosis.

I found this to be true in my case.  My religious practices did drop off in my college years, but in part out of sheer stubborness and in greater part because my parents had made instruction in Christianity an elemental part of my upbringing, my faith came through intact even as my walk with Yeshua faltered.  I did pick up a number of idols/sins (just as Israel did in Egypt; Jos. 24:14), including an addition to porn and a swelled head.  I also picked up a “slave mentality,” which I’ll explain and discuss when I get to the “In the Wilderness” part of this series.  Both of these would later hamper my spiritual growth.  However, Baruch Hashem, they never severed me from the love of my Father.

Fortunately, losing one’s faith–or at least religious practices–in college is not necessarily a terminal condition, just as Israel going down into Egypt did not result in terminal slavery.  The Holy One always sends a redeemer for His sheep, as we will see in the next post.

Shalom

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2 Replies to “Raised for War: Part 2 – From Innocence to Bondage”

  1. Michael,

    Great post my friend! Hey let me ask you a question Michael, since Torah is eternal in what way will Torah be in the world to come. I mean after the Messianic era. Thank you!

    Good Shabbos!!

    Like

  2. Excellent and challenging post, R. Michael. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all this, as well as for doing so in such an detailed way. The inclusion of the “How Corrosive is College..” excerpt is particularly effective. Much food for thought here to be sure. The new T.D. Lancaster book on Galatians (from FFOZ) has an incredible chapter on Gal. 3:23-25 explaining the role of the pedagogue (guardian or caretaker) that protects the child until he is to be taken to the teacher for instruction. You will thoroughly enjoy Lancaster’s unpacking of that passage, if you haven’t already read it.

    Thanks for imbuing this post with so much personal honesty, as well. It certainly helps in driving these all too important points home.

    Shabbat shalom to you and yours ~ Luke

    Like

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