This coming week, the Jewish people around the world will celebrate Simchat Torah, which literally means “Rejoicing of the Torah”. It is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. It is a great time of celebration and dancing in synagogues as all the Torah scrolls are carried around in seven circuits (hakafot).
While this celebration is not mentioned or commanded in Scripture, but rather comes from tradition, I believe it represents a wonderful thing: a celebration centered around God’s Word. God’s word is a precious gift to humankind; He gave us His Word for us to learn about Him, His character, and His desire for our lives. The only way for us to know any of this is by reading and studying the Word of God.
The foundation of the entire Bible is the first five books — commonly referred to as the “Torah”. In these five books, we learn about Creation, our history, God’s attributes, His character, and the things that are pleasing to Him, among other things. Sadly, many followers of the Messiah choose to ignore the first part of God’s word, His Torah (which literally means “teachings”). Many see it through a negative connotation of the “law”. Let’s look at what our beloved King David wrote about such “law”:
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 (emphasis mine)
David said that His delight is in the law (Torah) of the LORD, and that blessed is the one who spends time thinking and meditating on it. Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) also wrote:
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
1 Tim 1:8 (emphasis mine)
I believe that God’s teachings are a good thing! These are the things that are pleasing to God, and in the same way I desire to please my wife by doing – or not doing – certain things, how much more would I like to do what is pleasing to our God and stay away from those things that are not pleasing to Him?
We should be careful to not allow His teachings to be a heavy yoke of religion on us. This is where the work of Messiah helps us. My faith in Yeshua has given me the freedom to choose to obey Him. Accepting the Messiah into my life means that I have accepted the New Covenant that He as promised through the Prophet Jeremiah:
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Jeremiah 31:31-33 (emphasis mine)
God has put His Word in my mind and has written it on my heart; He has given me the desire to live my life according to His precepts. He has given me the freedom to obey it and has redeemed me from all my iniquities through the work of His Son, Messiah Yeshua.
As I see it, Simchat Torah is a time to reflect upon what Yeshua did for me; it is a time to see the areas in my life from which I need to repent, as well as to apply His Word more deeply into my heart and life. I hope you will do the same.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.