Torah as Promise
June 27, 2022

This essay was first published in The Theopolitan, a weekly newsletter for Theopolis Partners. To become a Partner, you must donate at least $500 per year or $50 per month. Give here.

It’s a truism that each negative commandment in Scripture implies a positive command. “Do not kill” entails “Preserve, protect, and promote life.” It’s also true that each commandment entails a promise of the world God is forming through Israel and us.


“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” = God will root out all rivals. One day, the command will be fully realized, and there will be no other gods before His face. God will be all in all.

“Thou shalt not make any graven image” = The true image of God, found in every man, woman, and child, will be venerated and honored as it ought to be. The jealous God will take vengeance on those who attack His image, all false images will be ground to powder.

“Thou shalt not carry the name of Yahweh thy God emptily” = God’s name will be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven.

“Remember the Sabbath day” = All things proceed toward the festivity, peace, and justice of the final Sabbath. Jesus will draw the nations to Himself to give rest to their souls.

“Honor thy father and thy mother” = God will arrange proper hierarchies in the family, church, and society. He’ll form two-parent homes, one parent of each sex, and will heal the wound of generations. Parents will receive honor, as will the Father of all.

“Thou shalt not kill” = God hates violent men, and will eliminate them, as He did at the flood. At the last day, the world will be free of hatred, anger, and murder. In the meantime, He is slowly creating a culture of life, in part by filling the world with Christlike witnesses who give rather than take life.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery” = The Bridegroom will call His Bride from her infidelities and renew His marriage covenant. He will establish a world of sexual sanity and faithfulness.

“Thou shalt not steal” = Mammon will be demolished. Thieves will not steal. Everyone will be free to enjoy and to share his wealth. All debts will be forgiven, paid in full by the giving God.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” = God will cut off all lying, slanderous tongues, every mouth that speaks proud boasts. Truth spoken in love will triumph.

“Thou shalt not covet” = We’re moved by our desires and loves. God is making a world free from envy and greed, where all love Him with their whole strength and desire only the abundance of His house.

All around us, we see people ignoring God’s word and flaunting their rebellion. If we forget the commandments are promises, we’re liable to get frantic and belligerent. When we remember, we can calmly declare God’s word, trusting Him to transform His commandments into facts.

We’re used to turning Psalms into prayers. We should start doing the same with Torah, for it provides a blueprint of the world as it ought to, and will, be.

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