Why should I read the Torah?

Torah is the Hebrew word for ‘training’ or ‘instruction’ and is the title for the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books aren’t easy to read, and most of us wouldn’t choose to read them for leisure. But they’re important because they set the foundation for the Jesus story. The New Testament without the Torah is like Star Wars V without Star Wars IV—you can follow along, but clearly there is some backstory you’re missing that deepens the significance of the events.

The Torah is not (only) a history book. The author/Author has selected various historical events and arranged them in certain ways to make certain points. Like a photo mosaic puzzle, the little stories form one epic story from a large enough perspective. For Moses, the author, biblical Israel was not an ordinary people and Israel’s history was not an ordinary history.

The Torah generates all the major plot tensions of the Bible, but leaves them all unresolved.

  • When is the descendant of the woman going to come and defeat evil (Genesis 3)?
  • How is God going to rescue his world and restore blessing to all nations through Abraham’s family (Genesis 12)?
  • How can God’s holiness be reconciled with continuously rebellious people (Exodus–Numbers)?
  • How will God transform the hearts of his people (Deuteronomy)?

The story of the Torah is creating the need for Jesus. All of these needs and problems come to blossom in the death of Jesus, in his resurrection and power over death, and his ability to give his life and Spirit to his believers so he can change and transform hearts.

Jewish rabbis have a saying, “The Torah is like a diamond. Turn it, turn it, turn it again, because everything is in it.