“However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” -Galatians 4:8-11
There are some questions that need to be asked, as we continue through Galatians. Some things we’ve read with a predisposed understanding, without really looking at what is being said, and logically considering what is being said. We simply read it with the words of the pastor, or the Bible teacher, or seminary professor, or Bible Commentator in our mind. We’ve asked some of these questions along the way, so let’s do so again in Galatians 4:8-11
1. In light of Paul telling the Galatians that they did not know GOD, and they were formerly “slaves to those which by nature are no gods,” how is the jump made to them returning to the Torah of GOD? The Galatians were pagans who never followed Torah. They couldn’t return to something they had never been involved in before.
2. Paul asks the Galatians how they can turn back to “the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” Would Paul call the Word/Torah of GOD “weak and worthless,” and make the commandments of His Written and established Word out to be “elemental things?” We know that he could not. According to Deuteronomy 4:2, Paul could not take anything away from the Commandments. Paul was great in the kingdom of heaven, would you not agree? Yeshua said that those who would be great in the kingdom of heaven are those who do and teach the commandments of Torah. In fact He said that they would not pass away as long as heaven and earth stand. They are still standing. Deuteronomy Chapter Thirteen also teaches that Paul would be a false prophet if he taught the disciples to not keep the Commandments of Torah. Would Paul, or could Paul be guilty as charged by Traditional Christianity and still be a Biblical prophet? The obvious answer, if we believe what the Bible says, is emphatically ‘NO!” It is just as Paul said in Romans, “Are we to continue in sin (Lawlessness) that grace might abound? Certainly not!”
3. What are these worthless and elemental things that the Paul is warning the Galatians to not become enslaved to all over again? The Galatians were being drawn into something that was the very same in nature as what they had come out of. What do we know about who was trying to draw them away from the True Gospel? And what do we know about this false gospel that was being offered to them?
4. What about these days, months, seasons and years, that Paul is concerned about? The predisposed thought is that it is the Feast Days of Torah, as given to us by the Word of GOD. Is it? Are the Feasts of Yahweh “weak and worthless, and elemental things?”
Answers from GOD’S Word -
We’ve answered the questions in point #1 and #2 very simply and logically. The Galatians could not return to keeping the pure Torah, as written in the Bible, because they had never had it or been involved in keeping it in the past. And we know that, if we believe the Bible, then Paul could never be calling the Torah “weak, worthless, and elemental.” But what was Paul calling “weak, worthless and elemental?” He tells us what it is in Romans Chapter Eight.
“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” -Romans 8:3-4
Paul does not say that Torah is weak, worthless, and elemental. Paul says that Torah was weak “through the flesh.” That’s the problem. It coincides with what is written in Hebrews Chapter Eight.
“For finding fault with them, He says,
“BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD,
WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT
WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;” -Hebrews 8:8
The writer of Hebrews says, “For finding fault with them.” The fault was not with Torah. The fault was with them, those who were entrusted with Torah. It was the fault of the Levites, the priests who were charged with teaching Torah. They could not do it in the flesh, though they tried. And, being left to their own resources, they set up fences to keep the people in line, hoping to stave of the judgement that would come from disobedience to Torah. But apart from the power, the grace of GOD, no one can keep Torah. That is the point of Hebrews Eight. In saying that the fault is with “them” the writer is telling us that there is a New Covenant given that is better than the old one. The terms of the Covenant have not changed. But the administration of it changed. It is no longer left to the Levite, and in fact it never was to those who would come to Yahweh, and hear His Voice directly for themselves. With the Levitical priesthood the Torah was weak through the flesh. But with the Great Eternal High Priest Yeshua Messiah, it is powerful and effective in His Spirit. And that is the New Covenant where the Spirit of Messiah writes the Law of GOD upon our hearts, puts it in our minds, and causes us to walk in His Statutes and keep His Commandments. It is just as Hebrews Chapter Eight, and Jeremiah Chapter Thirty-One teaches. It is a reality in Messiah. Read an article I wrote a few years ago, at Messiah Fellowship Online, about this issue, entitled “The Fault is with Us.”
Paul contrasts the flesh with the Spirit, in Romans Chapter Eight. Read the whole chapter, in fact all of Romans, to see the same line of thought as the letter to the Galatians, and to read all that he says about the man, or woman who has their mind set on the flesh, versus having their mind set on the Spirit. But notice this portion, again, with me, as we’ve looked at it many times.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
Notice that the flesh brings death, but the Spirit brings life and peace. Notice that the flesh is hostile toward GOD, “FOR IT DOES NOT SUBJECT ITSELF TO THE LAW OF GOD, FOR IT (THE FLESH) is not even able to do so.” And Paul says that those “in the flesh CANNOT PLEASE GOD.” But Paul goes on to say that we are supposed to be in the Spirit. If a man cannot submit to GOD in the flesh, Paul is telling us, that such a man can, if he is in the Spirit, having the Spirit of Messiah living in Him. This is very plain to understand. Why is it that it is not read for what is really being said, instead of thinking that you already know what it says before you ever read it?
So, the Galatians are being offered something other than Torah. It is something that is fleshly in nature, just as the fleshly oriented paganism they had come out of. What is it? It is what Paul has been talking to us about, all through the letter. It is Judaism. Judaism is a religion that approaches GOD, attempting to please GOD, and keep Torah “in the flesh.” It didn’t work for them, just as paganism, which is another religious expression in the flesh, doesn’t work. Both are lawless. Judaism is not Torah!
The mistake made by Traditional Christianity follows the lead of Judaism. Both look at the commandments of lawless Judaism as synonymous with Torah. The Mishna, now called the Talmud, is not the same as Torah. But that is what Judaism follows. It is filled with commandments that are not in the Written Torah. They were added in the flesh, in a fleshly attempt to accomplish what can only be accomplished in the Spirit. The Judaizers were drawing the Galatians away from the Gospel that says it is in Messiah that we access the Promise, enter into the New Covenant, and are “caused” by the Holy Spirit, to walk in Torah. They were hanging onto the traditions of the elders of Judaism, saying that you must be circumcised and keep Torah according to the Mishna fences. This is lawless, because Torah says that we must hear the Voice of the LORD. The Voice of the LORD/Yahweh, is the Spirit of Messiah, the Spirit of Truth, who spoke Torah to Moses, and before that to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Yeshua is the Lawgiver, who gave Torah to Moses, the prophet of GOD, just as Peter says, in 1st Peter Chapter One.
So, now, what are these days, months, seasons and years, that Paul is concerned about? First of all, paganism has its days, months, seasons and years, that are observed. They are fleshly observances, dedicated to pagan deities, inspired by the devil, and conjured up by the flesh. Secondly, Judaism has its days, months, seasons, and years that they observe. Those observances in Judaism are based on the Days, Months, Seasons, and Years of the Torah, given by the Spirit of Truth/Messiah to Moses who wrote them down for us. But Judaism’s versions of Yahweh’s Days, Months, Seasons and Years are perverted by their additions to and subtractions from them. They make them their days, months, seasons and years. They are turned into the feasts of the Jews, as Yeshua called them, instead of the Feasts of Yahweh, as He called them in Leviticus Chapter Twenty-Three.
Notice what Isaiah writes -
“Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.”
Isaiah writes, “Hear the Instrucion of our GOD.” They were listening to some other instruction, rather than the Instruction of GOD. He calls His people “Gomorrah!” Why? Because what they were doing was synonymous with what Gomorrah practiced. It was lawlessness. Even though they did lip service and went through the rituals of Torah keeping, they weren’t hearing Him. They were doing it their way, in the flesh. It is the same similarity Paul is pointing out in Galatians. Both the paganism of those in Gomorrah, and the fleshly approach to Torah keeping are lawless/sin. When they sacrificed and observed the Feasts they did them their way and they became their feasts instead of the Feasts of the LORD/Yahweh. Can you see this? It is why He says, here in Isaiah Chapter One, “I cannot endure iniquity in the solemn assembly.” It wasn’t that His solemn assembly was something that GOD hated. It as their sinful approach to His Feasts, in their flesh, that He hated.
Back in Galatians Paul is warning these new Gentile believers in Messiah that going into Judaism is the same as going back into the same fleshy, lawless religion as their former paganism. It is the way Yeshua sees it. It’s why He calls Jerusalem Sodom and Egypt, in The Book of The Revelation.
“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” -Revelation 11:8
Yeshua was crucified in Jerusalem, and Yeshua calls Jerusalem “Sodom and Egypt” because her attempt to keep Torah in their flesh is the same as the pagan, perverted lawlessness of Sodom and Egypt, and Gomorrah.
Paul is not telling us that we are no longer to keep the Law/Torah of GOD. He is telling us to not listen to man and his ways. Even if man’s ways sound like they are Torah. Read Torah for what it says, seek Him, to hear His Voice, ask for His Spirit, and more grace to walk in His Commandments and keep His Statutes. Reject the commandments and doctrines of men that are of no value over the indulgence of the flesh. Reject the traditions of men, be they of Judaism or Traditional Christianity, or Messianic Judaism, that make the Commandments of the Living GOD/Torah of no effect. That is the message that Paul brings. If we turn away from the True Gospel in Messiah, according to Torah, Christ/Messiah no longer benefits us.
We will get into it more in depth later, but look ahead at what Paul writes in Galatians Chapter Five -
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” -Galatians 5:1-6
See that Paul is telling us that the problem centers around circumcision, AGAIN! Become a part of Judaism, through circumcision, and attempting to please GOD in the flesh, cuts Galatians, and us, off from Messiah. When we attempt to please GOD by the additions and subtractions to GOD’S Word, as given us by the so-called “church father,” and not according to what is written in the Bible, and on our hearts and put in our minds by the Spirit of the Living Torah, we are in the flesh. We are no different than Sodom, Gomorrah or Egypt. And neither is Judaism. But Judaism is not Torah!