The Eternal Torah ~ Part 8

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  We’ve looked at Yeshua’s teaching on murder, adultery, divorce, taking of oaths, retaliation & giving.  In this post, will finish looking at what Yeshua himself says about the last of six important topics contained in the Torah ~ love your enemy.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor – and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why, even tax-collectors do that! And if you are friendly only to your friends, are you doing anything out of the ordinary? Even the Goyim do that! Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

There is no other passage of the Brit Hadashah that contains such a concentrated expression of Messiah-like ethics for personal relations. Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 7

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  We’ve looked at Yeshua’s teaching on murder, adultery, divorce, and taking of oaths.  In this post, will begin to take a closer look at what Yeshua himself says about the fifth of six important topics contained in the Torah ~ retaliation & giving.

Retaliation

“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to stand up against someone who does you wrong. On the contrary, if someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you on the left cheek too! If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well! And if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for one mile, carry it for two! When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something from you, lend it to him.”  (Matthew 5:38-42)

Now this is certainly a passage that has had some really bizarre interpretations in the past.  To properly understand what Yeshua is teaching to us in this passage, we really need to understand the context of the Jewish culture of the time. Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 6

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  In the Torah, God revealed His standards for holy living.  Yeshua said that He came to complete the Torah.  That is, He came to bring us back to God’s original intent of His instructions to Israel.  The Torah has always pointed the way to the Messiah.  But Yeshua said that the true righteousness that pleases God must exceed that of the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim.

We’ve looked at Yeshua’s teaching on murder, adultery and divorce.  In this post, will begin to take a closer look at what Yeshua himself says about the fourth of six important topics contained in the Torah ~ do not use the Lord’s name in vain.

My Word Is My Bond

“Again, you have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not break your oath,’ and ‘Keep your vows to Adonai.’ But I tell you not to swear at all – not ‘by heaven,’ because it is God’s throne; not ‘by the earth,’ because it is His footstool, and not ‘by Yerushalayim,’ because it is the city of the Great King. And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make a single hair white or black. Just let your ‘Yes’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your “No’ a simple ‘No;’ anything more than this has its origin in evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37) Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 5

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

“We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  In this post, will begin to take a closer look at what Yeshua himself says about the second and third of six important topics contained in the Torah ~ adultery and divorce.

Do Not Commit Adultery

“You have heard that our fathers were told: ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

The Torah is crystal clear:  “Do not commit adultery” (Sh’mot 20:14).  So serious a view did the Jewish teachers take of adultery that the guilty parties were stoned to death (Vayikra 20:10).  Once again, Yeshua states that not only the forbidden action, but also the forbidden thought is guilty in the sight of God.  Remember President Carter’s admission of lusting in his heart? Continue reading

Jesus Paid It All-Parts 1-5 Summarized

I have decided to re-blog this post from my friend Wally as it summarizes an excellent 5-part series on how and why Yeshua paid it all for us at Calvary. Enjoy!!

Church Set Free

Over the last few weeks, I have rerun a series of posts entitled “Jesus Paid It All.” It has been designed to illustrate the total and complete sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to atone for our sins.

jesus-paid-it-all-jesus-21291422

Since the posts have been somewhat spaced apart and the entire message in them is extremely important, I have decided to do a final summary of all of them in one post.  Links to each of the articles are included, and I hope and pray readers, particularly unsaved readers, will take the time to read all of them in their entirety. More importantly, I hope and pray readers will take the time to read the Scriptures contained in them. Because what I have to say about the matter simply does not matter; what God has to say about it matters greatly and eternally.

We are all sinners by birth and by…

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Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  In this post, will begin to take a closer look at what Yeshua himself says about the first of six important topics contained in the Torah ~ do not murder and be reconciled.

Do Not Murder

“You have heard that our fathers were told: ‘Do not murder,’ and that anyone who commits murder will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgment; that whoever calls his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says, ‘Fool!’ incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom!” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Statistically, murders are “crimes of passion” caused by anger among friends or relatives.  Yeshua did not say that anger leads to murder; He said that anger is murder.

In this passage Yeshua is arguing as any Rabbi might argue.  He is showing that he was skillful in using the debating methods that the wise men of His time were in the habit of using.  There is in this passage a different shade of anger and an increase in consequences. Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 4

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 3

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

 We continue our quest to explore what I have been calling the Eternal Torah.  In this post, will begin to take a closer look at what Yeshua himself says about six important topics contained in the Torah.

As stated in previous posts, God revealed His standards for holy living in the Torah.  The P’rushim defended the Torah and sought to obey it.  But over time, they had added their own interpretations and a minutia of rules and regulations.  Their relationship with Adonai had gone from one of worship and faith to a religion of works.

Yeshua said that He came to complete the Torah.  That is, He came to bring us back to God’s original intent of His instructions to Israel.  The Torah has always pointed the way to the Messiah.  But Yeshua also said that the true righteousness that pleases God must exceed that of the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim.  The person who says that he “lives by the Sermon on the Mount” may not realize that the Sermon on the Mount is far more difficult to keep than the original Ten Commandments!  We will find that out in more detail momentarily. Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 2

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

 In my last post, we began to examine what I call the Eternal Torah based upon Matthew 5:17-20.  I began a brief history lesson as background.  In this post, we will look at each phrase more deeply.

“Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.” ~ Matthew 5:17

Yeshua said that he had not come to destroy the Torah, but to complete the Torah.  That is to say, He came really to bring out the real meaning of the Torah.  What was the real meaning of the Torah?  Even behind the Oral Torah there was one great principle, which the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim had imperfectly grasped.  The one great principle was that in all things a man must seek God’s will, and that, when he knows it, he must dedicate his whole life to the obeying of it. The Torah-teachers and P’rushim were right in seeking God’s will, and profoundly right in dedicating their lives to obeying it; they were wrong in finding that will in their man-made hordes of rules and regulations.

The Torah is an ever-progressing revelation of Yeshua.  All of Scripture, from B’resheet to Revelation must be viewed as a whole.  Everything that we read in the Torah points us towards the eventual day when God would become man and tabernacle with us.  Luke clarifies this for us when he writes: Yeshua said to them, ‘This is what I meant when I was still with you and told you that everything written about me in the Torah of Moshe, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled” ~ Luke 24:44. Yeshua came not to abolish the Torah, but to complete it! Continue reading

The Eternal Torah ~ Part 1

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

 In this post, we will continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount as we examine a critical passage of Yeshua’s teachings in Matthew 5.  Certainly after the crowd heard our Lord’s description of the kind of person God blesses, they said to themselves, “But we could never attain that kind of character.  How can we have this righteousness?  Where does it come from?” They wondered how His teaching related to what they had been taught all their lives.  What about Moshe and the Torah?

In the Torah, God certainly revealed His standards for holy living.  The P’rushim (Pharisees) defended the Torah and sought to obey it.  But Yeshua said that the true righteousness that pleases God must exceed that of the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim – and to the common people, the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim were the holiest men in the community!  If they had not attained true righteousness, what hope was there for anybody else? Continue reading

We Are to Be Salt and Light ~ Part 2

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

 Salt and Light

In my last post, we began to look at Yeshua’s instruction that Believers are to be salt and light.  In this post, we will conclude our study with a deeper understanding of what it means to be salt and light.

“You are salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on. You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:13-16 (CJB)

In both verse 13 and verse 14 the pronoun you is emphatic.  The idea is, “You are the only salt for the land” and “You are the only light for the world.” The world’s corruption will not be retarded and its darkness will not be illuminated unless God’s people are its salt and light.  The very ones who are despised by the world and persecuted by the world are the world’s only hope.

The ‘are in both verses stresses being rather than doing.  Yeshua is stating a fact, not giving a command or request.  Salt and light represent what Believers are.  The only question, as Yeshua goes on to say, is whether or not we are tasteful salt and effective light.  The very fact that we belong to Yeshua makes us His salt and light in the world.

We are God’s salt to retard corruption and His light to reveal truth.  One function is negative, the other positive.  One is silent, the other is verbal.  By the indirect influence of the way we live we retard corruption, and by the direct influence of what we say we manifest light.

In verse 13, Yeshua provided us with an expression, which has become one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to any person – “People like that are the salt of the earth.”

In the ancient world salt was the commonest of all preservatives.  It was used to keep things from going bad.  Salt was connected with purity.  In Greek history, salt was considered divine.  The Romans said that salt was the purest of all things.  Salt was indeed the most primitive of all offerings to the gods, and at the end of the day the Jewish sacrifices were offered with salt.  We read in B’midbar 18:19 about the eternal covenant of salt.  So then, if the Believer is to be the salt of the earth he must be an example of purity.

The Believer must be the person who holds aloft the standard of absolute purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought.  No Believer can depart from the standards of strict honesty.  No Believer can think lightly of the lowering of moral standards in a world where the streets of every city provide their deliberate enticements to sin.  No Believer can allow himself the racial or suggestive jokes, which are so frequently a part of social conversation.  The Believer cannot withdraw from the world, but he must, as James said, keep “oneself from being contaminated by the world.”  (James 1:27)

Perhaps the greatest and the most obvious quality of salt is that salt lends flavor to things.  Many foods without salt are sadly tasteless.  Believers are to life what salt is to food.  Believers lend flavor to life.  The tragedy is that so often people have connected Believers with precisely the opposite.  They have connected Believers with that which takes the flavor out of life.

Yeshua went on to say that, if the salt had become tasteless, it was fit only to be thrown out onto the roadway and be trodden under foot.  If a Believer is not fulfilling his purpose, then he is on the way to disaster.

Yeshua also calls us to be light. “You are the light for the world.” This repeats the teaching of Isaiah when he declared that the Jewish people were to be a light to the nations, so God’s salvation can spread to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).  Whereas salt is hidden, light is obvious.  Salt works secretly, while light works openly.  Salt works from within; light from without.  Salt is largely negative.  It can retard corruption, but it cannot change corruption into incorruption.  Light is more positive.  It not only reveals what is wrong and false but helps produce what is righteous and true.

God’s light is to walk by and to live by.  In its fullest sense, God’s light is the full revelation of His Word – the written Word of Scripture and the living Word of Yeshua.  God’s people are to proclaim God’s light in a world engulfed in darkness.  Yeshua is the true light, and we are His reflections.  By its nature and by definition light must be visible in order to illuminate.  Believers must be more than the largely indirect influence of salt; they must also be the direct and noticeable instruments of light.

Both in the daytime and at night, a town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” It is exposed for all to see.  By day, its houses and buildings stand out on the landscape, and at night the many lights shining out of its windows make it impossible to miss.  A secret Believer is as inconsistent as a hidden light.  Lights are to illuminate, not to be hidden; to be displayed, not to be covered.  Believers are to be both subtle salt and conspicuous light.

When Yeshua said that the Believer must be the light of the world, what did he mean?

A light is first and foremost something, which is meant to be seen.  Consequently, our influencing faith is something, which is meant to be seen.  As someone has well said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.”  A man’s faith should be perfectly visible to all men.

Faith should not be visible only within the Kehilah.  Believers who leave their faith at the congregation’s door are not much use to anyone.  We should be even more visible in the ordinary activities of the world.  We should be visible in the way we treat a sales clerk at the mall, in the way we order a meal in a restaurant, in the way we treat our employees or serve our employer, in the way we play a game or drive our car, in the daily language we use, in the literature we read.  Yeshua did not say, “You are the light in the Messianic Community”; he said, “You are the light for the world.”

A light is a guide.  We know how difficult it is to find a street address at night when there are no streetlights.  A light is something to make clear the way.  So we must make the way clear to others.  We must of necessity be an example.

One of the things, which this world needs more than anything else, is people who are prepared to be lighthouses.  There are many people in this world who have not the moral strength and courage to take a stand by themselves, but if someone gives them a lead, they will follow.  It is the Believer’s duty to take the stand and provide leadership.

A light can often be a warning light.  A light is often the warning that tells us to halt when there is danger ahead.  It is sometimes our duty to bring that necessary warning.  That is often difficult; but one of the most poignant tragedies in life is for someone to come and say to us, “I would never have been in that situation, if you had only said something to me.”

Before closing, I do want to look a little closer at verse 16.  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

There are two key points here.

People are to see our good deeds.  In Greek there are two words for good.  One word simply defines a thing as good in quality.  The second word means that a thing is not only good, but that it is also charming, beautiful and attractive.  That second word is used here.  The good deeds of the Believer must be not only good; they must also be attractive.  There must be a beauty in our goodness.  The tragedy of many so-called good deeds is that in them there is an element of hardness, coldness and austerity.  There is a charm in a true Believer’s goodness, which makes it a lovely thing.

It should also be noted that our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God.  The Glory belongs to the Lord!

In conclusion, our qualities as Believers are to be as “the salt for the land” and “the light for the world.” Our mission is the hope of the Kingdom.  Salt is a preservative element; light is a life-giving one; but the world is not eager to be preserved or willing to receive life.  Therefore, we must expect opposition and persecution.  By our character and deeds, we are to make our influencing faith a force for good in the lives of our neighbors.

Yeshua’s teaching in these verses challenges us to ask:  How are we engaging our neighborhoods?  What spiritual corruptions are we fighting to overcome?  What positive changes are we trying to promote?  What impact for God are we having through our work?  Have we lost our saltiness?  Are we standing like burned out lights, ineffective and waiting to be replaced?  Or, are we shining brilliantly with the love and truth of the Messiah?

In my next post, we will continue to sit at the feet of Yeshua in our study of Matthew by examining what I call the Eternal Torah.

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