The Purpose of the Torah
Yael Eckstein | June 4, 2023
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple. – Psalm 19:7
We start out every week with an inspirational lesson from the beloved Psalms. For centuries, these ancient poems of King David and others have been the foundation for Jewish and Christian worship. Enjoy!
What if God had never given us the Bible? I know this is impossible to imagine. But my point is that we can appreciate the Bible even more if we try to imagine a world without it.
Before God ever spoke to Abraham, what did people know about God? The Jewish sages teach us that Abraham discovered God on his own. He looked at the natural world around him and saw the beauty and complexity of creation. Abraham understood that there must be a single creator. After Abraham came to this conclusion , God spoke to him.
From that point forward, God had a mission for Abraham. First God commanded him to pick up and move to the land of Canaan. Then, years later, God entered into a covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
But what if God had not told Abraham what to do? How would a life of faith look if God hadn’t given us any instructions?
The Purpose of the Torah
I thought about this as I was sitting in the synagogue recently, reading Psalm 19, which Jews recite as part of the Shabbat morning worship: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (v. 1).
It’s true that, like Abraham, if we look at the wonder of Creation, we can easily see evidence of the greatness of God. But what then? What does the God of Creation demand of me? What am I supposed to do? If all we had was our awareness of God from nature, we would certainly be in awe of Him, but how would we know what God wants from us?
After describing the greatness of God’s creation, David goes on to speak of the greatness of God’s law. We read, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
Here David teaches us an especially important lesson. If God only wanted us to have faith and worship Him, He wouldn’t have given the commandments. The purpose of the Torah, meaning “instruction,” is to teach us how to live our lives in such a way that we make the world into a better place.
God wants us to fix the world by caring for the needy, raising families, working toward peace, and so much more.
Next time you are awe-inspired by the beauty of God’s creation, let it remind you also of His Word and how we are to live our lives each day in obedience to Him.