John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
This is the freedom that was purchased for you and I by the precious blood that was shed by Yeshua HaMashiach [Jesus, the Messiah].
Fences can be good, and fences can be bad. If you live in a high traffic area, and own a dog that will not stay in the yard, a fence is a good thing, as it can save his life. If you owned a cheetah, and barricaded it in a fenced yard, his muscles would atrophy, and his greatest strength would become his highest liability, and foremost weakness.
Having presented the above examples, let us press on to the subject at hand the fences that were put around the Torah by the Rabbinate. They thought they were doing a "good" thing, but they were actually "adding to" the Torah, rather than just protecting the people from transgressions.
Deuteronomy 13:1 The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.
Who can presume to improve upon perfection? To do so would imply that God has fallen short!! Sadly, this is precisely what transpired when the Rabbinate added "fences" to the Torah [the first five books of the Old Testament].
The fences were added as a supplementary safeguard to keep the people from transgressing the mitzvot [commandments] of God. The various Rabbinical writings and commentaries are very passionate in burdening themselves with the responsibility of helping the people of God not to sin against God. How did they do this? How do they continue to do this?
Simply put, they add the commandments and traditions of men, to the written, God-inspired Word of God, by imposing an insulator around each mitzvot, so that if any command is transgressed, it will be the "fence" that is violated, rather than the mitzvot of God.
In Pirke Avoth, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1, it is stated:
Moses received the Law from Sinai and handed it down to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence round the Law. [Emphasis added]
Such "fences" were put in place to protect the people from sinning, by imposing limits of conduct and behavior, that when obeyed, would ensure they would not break God's laws and sin, either accidentally or intentionally. To date, this has not been accomplished.
Yeshua himself addressed the issue of fences:
Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on mens shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Yeshua is telling His talmidim [students] that the scribes and Pharisees were severe to others, but very indulgent to themselves. What a contrast to what Yeshua has to offer those who follow after Him:
Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
If we read further, Yeshua goes on to chastise the scribes and Pharisees:
Matthew 23:23 -- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
In essence, He is telling them, "It's fine if you want to add things to your lives that you feel bring you closer to God." (Tithing on dill and cummin were not required by Torah.) But, He then says, you should keep what the Torah says is required first, then do these optional things. Following your conscience in these acts was [and still is] acceptable, as long as you do not purport that it is commanded by God.
Yeshua was indeed talking about tithing but, it must be born in mind, that He was addressing the scribes and Pharisees and this verse was only a part of His blistering rebuke to them, after first warning His disciples against them. (See Matthew 23:1-36). They were a religious school or party, described as "the Formalists", who gave the outward impression that they regarded the (written) Law of God as the supreme guide of life. However, their opinions and practices were really governed by their regard for the oral law contained in the "Mishnah" or "second law", which was a digest of the Jewish traditions and a compendium of the entire ritual law, and was esteemed far above the sacred text. The outcome is that they multiplied minute precepts and distinctions of The Law to such an extent the whole life of the Israelite was hemmed in and burdened on every side by instructions so numerous and trifling that The Law was almost, if not wholly, lost sight of.
Clearly, even in Shauls [Paul's] day, the Jewish scribes and Pharisees were building "fences" around the law of God, and making it into a burden -- a "yoke of bondage" (See Galatians 5:1 below).
We need to avoid all the "works of the law," or man-made religious taboos and constraints, which men have added to the Scriptures from time to time, for one reason or another. These regulations will always be a precipice for a yoke of heavy-handed authoritarian bondage and spiritual slavery. This would include any inclinations of the "Shepherding" mindset, or the prophetic move that is all the rage.
The fences, and the bondage that encompass them, are all a hindrance to Ruach HaKodesh, and what He wants to facilitate in a Believers life. These various agendas leave no room for the Spirit of God to have His way in our life. They are rules and regulations of men, and they will suffocate the vibrant life from your personal relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
This same Scripture, from The Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha:
Beware lest there be anyone of you taken captive through philosophical tevunah [wisdom] and empty deceit according to the kabbalah [oral tradition] of mere Bnei Adam [sons of men], according to the ikkarim [basic principles] of the Olam Hazeh [this world] and not according to Messiah.
Shaul was a "Hebrew of all Hebrews," yet he did not hesitate to warn against the traditions of the elders. When there is a conflict between the traditions of men and the Scriptures that God has given us, it should always be a "no-brainer" which one we are to follow! No instruction(s) should ever supercede the written Word that we have at our fingertips; nothing, nor anyone. If it does, then you have relinquished the freedom that Yeshua purchased for you, with such a high price, and you are esteeming the traditions of the elders as being more majestic than the Word of God. It seems to me that God would call this idolatry.
From the converse end of the spectrum, we all [should] know that we have "boundaries" as Believers in Yeshua, but these are "light burdens," full of mercy and good fruits:
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Dear One, if you feel "pressure" from a teacher, a ministry, a new "rule" thats been attached to your walk with Yeshua, know that it is NOT Ruach HaKodesh speaking to you, in His ever-so-gentle manner! Its simply an instant replay of the traditions of the elders, trying to enslave you in man-made rules and bondages.
Galatians 5:1 -- Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
My prayer is that this article has been an encouragement to you, and has been a catalyst for you to investigate your life as a Believer, to see if there are any man-made rules that need to be expunged from your life.
Submitted for the
edification of the Saints by Anna L. Schwery.
Ó Yad bYad Ministries
Questions or comments on this article? Contact the author.