I keep going back to the idea of manipulatives. I want my heart to always be kneeling towards the Father. I want Him to be in my thoughts all day long. I want the love of Him to saturate all of my actions. I want His esteem to be made known in everything I say or do.
Today James posted in his Morning Meditation about his efforts and discouragement in the Tent of David project. It can be hard sharing news about the Jewish Messiah, and most churches do not want to hear it.
I know exactly what James means. I am not in the position that I may have an impact on a church, because I’m still just a young adult. But I have been working in my college ministries. And by working, I mean that I try to have God-focused conversations, and if I feel someone is ready I will share awesome stuff about Hebrew studies. I receive a variety of responses which is probably analogous to what you find among working adults. Some students are interested in the sense that they say “Oh, that’s cool, I didn’t know that,” but it does not actually inspire them to go deeper. A few people will argue with me, but they are the minority. But those few people are usually closer friends.
There are moments in my life when I realize just how young I am, and I learn the importance of weighing things against the test of time. This moment in my life is one of them.
I could list many things that I have held onto as definite, that turned out to be not so defined or long-lasting. Just to name a few, early high school I thought I was going to be a film score composer, freshman year of college I thought I’d for sure teach English in Japan, this time last year I thought I would be with my (now ex) boyfriend forever, and this past May I thought I would be following the Paleo diet for the rest of my life. Each time I make these resolutions, I mock my previous self as knowing nothing, and that I know so much better now.
In part I of this installment, I established that yes, love is indeed the most important of the commandments. In part II, I expanded on that. What is love? How do you love YHWH? Love is not simply a feeling, but it is an action. And YHWH clearly states over and over that if you love Him, you will follow His commands. Thus, loving YHWH = following His commands.
So what am I talking about today? Last week I said, ” So what exactly is Jesus doing here? He’s taking us deeper! Not into a more legalistic adherence to Torah, but into a deeper intimacy with God in our observance of Torah. HalleluYah!” So how can I back this up? Let’s look at Matthew 5, a favorite passage of any HR believer.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens.” Matt. 5:17-20 ISR
This is part of Yeshua’s famous Sermon on the Mount. I’m not going to go into detail on this part. FFOZ has just released a good lesson on this passage, which I’ve linked below. What I want to talk about today is the rest of Matthew 5.
“You heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment. But I say to you that whoever is wroth with his brother without a cause shall be liable to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raka!’ shall be liable to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to fire of Gehenna… 21-22
Here is a paper I wrote for my World Literature course on Genesis. I did a close reading of the first 5 verses. A close reading is when you look at the words used, how they are used, what the text is saying versus how it is said. It was a really fun close reading. I’ve just copy-pasted it here for you to read.
So last time, I introduced the topic of Love and Torah. Basically, Love is the most important commandment. Above all else. Even if you follow Torah perfectly, if you don’t have love, it’s pointless. But what about Love with Torah? Well, what is Love? Let’s go back to Mark 12.
Last time I said I was just going to focus on the literal words that Yeshua said. But today I am going to dig deeper into context. When you see someone quoting the Old Testament, they are quoting the whole passage it comes from. So, where does this quote come from? Yeshua is quoting Deuteronomy 6, the Shema. Just before this famous passage, Moses has restated the ten commands with more details about not following idols. And so, in context, this is the whole passage.
And then Moses instructs the Israelites not to worship idols, and that YHWH and YHWH only will be their God. The command to Love YHWH your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, is in the context of His commands. So…loving Yahweh means to keep His commands.
What? Come on Genevieve. You’re just twisting that, trying to put us under law. We’re under grace! That can’t be so.
Alright, let’s look at somewhere else in Deuteronomy.And you shall love יהוה your Elohim and guard His Charge: even His laws, and His right-rulings, and His commands, always. Deut. 11:1 ISR
Could the Word of Elohim be anymore straight forward? Guarding God’s laws is in the context of loving Him. So, loving Yahweh means to keep His commands.“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love יהוה your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and יהוה your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess.” Deut. 30:15-16 ISR
Again, to Love YHWH is to walk in His ways and to guard His commands. And YHWH shall bless you if you follow His commands!
But Genevieve, the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us anymore. We can’t be held by that.And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands. The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked. Beloved, I write no fresh command to you, but an old command which you have had from the beginning. The old command is the Word which you heard from the beginning. 1 John 2:3-7 ISR
Okay…but John also talks about a new command. You’re taking this out of context.
Yeah, but he also doesn’t say that the old one is obsolete. He’s not talking about new and old as in new and finished. New adds on to the old. If you build a new floor onto your house, do you take out the foundation or the first floor? NO. That’s dangerous.
It is just as dangerous to live in the new commands and ignore the old commands.
I have much much more to say on the importance and meaning of Torah, but I will go into that in future entries.
Getting back to where we started, Yeshua. Yeshua says the most important commandment is to Love God, and the second is to Love your neighbor. But how do you Love God? By walking in His ways, and to guard His commands, His laws, and His right-rulings. Any Jew listening to Jesus speak would know that loving God means following His commands. They are taught that all their lives. They know, they know, they know.
So why would Jesus tell you that the most important command is Love, knowing that to Love God is to obey Him, and then approve of your blatantly breaking the law? And Deuteronomy 13 says that a prophet who adds to or takes away from the law is a false prophet. So what exactly is Jesus doing here?
He’s taking us deeper! Not into a more legalistic adherence to Torah, but into a deeper intimacy with God in our observance of Torah. HalleluYah!
More on this topic, next time.