The almighty, all-powerful God of the universe has communicated to us. The One who created all things, loves us perfectly, and sent His Son Yeshua (Jesus) to bear the penalty for our sin, has spoken to us! We have a whole book of His words!
Simchat Torah (SIM-khat TOR-ah) is a day set aside to celebrate this wonder.
Simchat Torah means “joy of the Torah.” Each week throughout the year, Jewish people around the world read a weekly Scripture portion from the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. This parashah (PAR-a-shah) unites them together as they each read the selected passages, week-by-week, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.
Simchat Torah marks the completion of these annual Torah readings. During the morning service of Simchat Torah, worshipers read the last parashah of the year in Deuteronomy. In the evening, the annual cycle begins again with the first reading from Genesis. Simchat Torah includes festive dancing and singing while as many people as possible take turns carrying the Torah scroll around the synagogue or public squares. It is truly a joyous celebration of God’s Word to mankind.
While the Torah is specifically the Pentateuch (PENT-ah-took), the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, the word means “instruction” and is also applied to the remainder of the Holy Scriptures in the Tanakh (TAH-nahk) or Old Covenant. As Messianic Jews, we understand God’s instruction encompasses the New Covenant Scriptures as well, and ultimately Yeshua Himself (Hebrews 1:1‒2), who is the Word made flesh (John 2:14).
Simchat Torah calls our attention to the precious value of the Scriptures and reminds us that God’s Word given to us is the reason for great joy.
In the West, nearly every store selling books also carry Bibles. Many Believers own more than one, and if you visit any thrift store, you’ll likely find free Bibles donated by people who have more copies than they need. The Bible is on the internet, and we can even download it to our phones ensuring that we always have it with us.
A 2016 survey by LifeWay Research revealed that 87% of American households owned a Bible. Yet, of the Evangelical Believers surveyed, only 49% read God’s Word each day. In many parts of the world, persecuted Believers don’t have the privilege of owning a Bible. They can’t afford one, don’t have the internet, or Bibles are banned in their regions. They can’t read for themselves what God has said ‒ and they have an insatiable hunger to know His Word.
When we hold the Bible in our hands, we hold a miracle. God’s Word is inspired. It is “God-breathed” and alive with His Spirit.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword – piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
“All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed.”
―2 Timothy 3:16
God’s Word meets us in our need. It reveals that we have an eternal inheritance waiting for us to which this world cannot be compared (Ephesians 1:18, 1 Peter 1:4).
It tells us God loves us (Romans 5:8) and we can do all things through Yeshua who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
God’s Word lifts our spirits when life is hard, reminding us that God has overcome the world (John 16:33).
It assures us He is with us always (Matthew 28:20).
It instills hope and reminds us God has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and He is for us (Psalm 56:9, Romans 8:31).
His Word speaks to our hearts inviting us to rest in His love (Matthew 11:28, 1 John 4:18) and know that with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) – even getting through our present difficulty with peace (Philippians 4:6‒7).
God’s Word sustains us (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).
Let’s rejoice and thank God for this amazing gift. Celebrate by diving into the Word of God and rededicating yourself to feasting on it daily. You will find encouragement, wisdom and hope for each new day. You will find God Himself there.