The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 31

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part K

We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 6:5.


“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you; they have their reward already! But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The problem is not public prayer but motives directed toward other people rather than God. It was probably common for pious people to recite their prayers individually in the synagogue; it is not clear that everyone prayed simultaneously in all synagogues as early as Yeshua’s time. The room could have been a storeroom; most people did not have private rooms in their houses, and only that room would have a door on it. Standing was a typical posture for prayer.

“And when you pray, don’t babble on and on like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot.

Jewish scholars debated the use of fixed prayers in this period; they generally held them to be acceptable if one’s intent was genuine. Greek prayers piled up as many titles of the deity addressed as possible, hoping to secure their attention. Pagan prayers typically reminded the deity of favors done or sacrifices offered, attempting to respond to god on contractual grounds.

Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask him. You, therefore, pray like this:

Judaism recognized that God knew everything; the issue here is thus not Yeshua’s hearers’ doctrine but their hearts. Jewish people saw God differently than Greeks saw their gods (even though even monotheistic faith was not always what it should have been). In Judaism, God was a Father who delighted in meeting the needs of His people; Judaism also recognized that God knew all a person’s thoughts. Yeshua predicates effective prayer on a relationship of intimacy, not a business partnership model, which was closer to the one followed by ancient paganism.[1]

‘Our Father in heaven!
May your Name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
11 Give us the food we need today.
12 Forgive us what we have done wrong,
as we, too, have forgiven those who have wronged us.

When God forgives, He no longer credits sin to your account. And as God has forgiven us, so we are to forgive the sins others commit against us. Some people have been seriously sinned against. They have endured horrific cruelty. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that anything that comes a Believer’s way – the good, the bad, and the ugly – has to come through God’s fingers. God is sovereign, and He permits things for the good of His children – even when we don’t understand. Just as in the story of Joseph, human beings may intend to do evil against us, but God intends even that for good (see Gen 50:20).

13 And do not lead us into hard testing,
but keep us safe from the Evil One.

HaSatan is more innovative than us and has centuries of experience ruining human lives. So, ask God to keep you from getting into situations that detour you from the Kingdom road. Pray that He would deliver you from temptations that you’re not ready to handle.

[For kingship, power and glory are yours forever.

Verses 9b – 13 include what is widely known as the Lord’s Prayer since the Lord Yeshua taught it. All its elements may be found in the Judaism of Yeshua’s day, so in this sense, it is not original with Him; but it is appropriately revered for its beauty and economy.

I prefer to call it the Talmidim (Disciples) Prayer as it was taught for us, His talmidim, to use as a model for praying to Abba. The Lord’s prayer is located Yochanan 17, where Yeshua Himself prays to Abba.

Its first words, Our Father in heaven (Avinu sh’baShammayim), open many Hebrew prayers. The next two lines recall the first portion of the synagogue prayer known as the Kaddish, which says, “Magnified and sanctified (Yitgadal v’yitkadash) be His great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His Kingdom in your lifetime ….” The plural phrasing – “Give us … forgive us … lead us” – is characteristically Jewish, focusing on the group rather than the isolated individual.

The Evil One (HaSatan). The Greek may also be translated simply, “evil” in the sense of “bad things that happen.”

[For kingship, power and glory are yours forever. Amen.] This doxology echoes 1 Chronicles 29:11. The oldest New Testament manuscripts lack it, hence the brackets. Roman Catholics do not include it when reciting this Prayer; Protestants do. On Amen here, it signals an expected congregational response. [2]

14 For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours. ~ Mattityahu 6:5-15.

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

[2] Stern, D.H. (1996) Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 30

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part J

We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 5:43.

Love Your Neighbor

43 “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor – and hate your enemy.’

Leviticus 19:18 told our fathers to Love your neighbor as yourself. While in Psalm 139:21–22, the writer commends himself for hating God’s enemies. Nowhere does the Tanakh teach that you should hate your enemy. Such teaching must have come from the misinterpretations of those who teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines of God (Isaiah 29:13, cited by Yeshua later at Mattityahu 15:9).

44 But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Love your enemies! Some contrast Judaism’s “realistic” ethics with “Christian romanticism” and cite this as an example. However, the command is not to have good feelings about your enemies but to want and do good for them, and, more specifically, to pray for those who persecute you.[1]

45 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. 46 What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why even tax collectors do that!

Tax collectors. Jews who undertook to collect taxes for the Roman rulers were the most despised people in the Jewish community. Not only were they serving the oppressors, but they found it easy to abuse the system to line their own pockets by exploiting their fellow Jews.

47 And if you are friendly only to your friends, are you doing anything out of the ordinary? Even the Goyim (Gentiles or non-Jews) do that! 48 Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” ~ Mattityahu 5:43-48 (see Luke 6:32-36).

We have completed the first of three chapters that contain the Sermon on the Mount. We now turn to Chapter 6 of Mattityahu.

Giving to the Needy

6 “Be careful not to parade your acts of tzedakah in front of people in order to be seen by them! If you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you do tzedakah, don’t announce it with trumpets to win people’s praise, like the hypocrites in the synagogues and on the streets. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already! But you, when you do tzedakah, don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Then your tzedakah will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what you do in secret, will reward you. ~ Mattityahu 6:1-4

Tzedakah, Hebrew for “righteousness,” but in a Jewish context, “doing tzedakah” means “giving to charity, doing acts of mercy.” This is reflected in the Greek text: in v. 1, the Greek word used meansrighteousness,” but in vv. 2–4 a different Greek word is used, which means kind deeds, alms, charitable giving.[2] This passage introduces two more acts of tzedakah we will explore in our next post: prayer and fasting.

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.

[1] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[2] Ibid.

How Are Our Listening Skills?

A great little reminder to be still and know that He is there…

Life Project Blog

Most people would agree that listening is an important skill; most of us aren’t all that good at it.  It’s hard to communicate when all of the communication goes only one way!

I’m not talking about listening to other people, however; I’m talking about communicating with God.

To be entirely accurate, most of us don’t spend much time in prayer talking to God… we’re busy people after all.  For those who do take the time to speak with God, do we ever give Him a chance to contribute to the communication?

Probably not.

You know, there is that “still small voice” people sometimes talk about; can you ever hear it?

Boy, it sure is tough to hear if we’re always doing the talking! Maybe there are times when we are with God that we should just be still for a while and see what happens…  Can we spare the time?

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A Prayer for Christian Bloggers

This morning during my daily quiet time with the Lord, I was reading a devotion by Frank Martin. [1]  Frank was writing on Daniel 2:19-23 entitled Giving God the Credit.  His main point was that Daniel gave God credit and praise for reveling to him king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation of it.

He stated: “The secret to Daniel’s wisdom and strength was that he never forgot where it came from.  He knew that if it weren’t for God he would have no reason to boast.  And because of it, he boasted only in God’s power, never in his own ability.”

He got a personal at the end and shared: “I have a simple prayer that I pray each morning before I write.

“Father, I have no way of knowing who will read the things I write today, but you do. Guide my thoughts and fingers, and speak to that person through me. Make me an instrument of your will.”

I couldn’t help but think that was a great prayer all of us who are bloggers.


[1] Embracing Eternity ~ Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin

Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 3

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our exploration of the Disciple’s Prayer by unpacking Matthew 6:10.

“May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven” ~ Matthew 6:10

The phrase ‘the Kingdom of God’ is replete throughout the whole Brit Hadashah.  No phrase is used more often in prayer, in preaching and in Messianic literature.  It is, therefore, of primary importance that we should be clear as to what it means.

It is evident that the Kingdom of God was central to the message of Yeshua.  Mark describes Yeshua’s ministry beginning when He came into Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.  “After Yochanan had been arrested, Yeshua came into the Galil proclaiming the Good News from God: ‘The time has come, God’s Kingdom is near! Turn to God from your sins and believe the Good News!’”  (Mark 1:14-15).  Yeshua himself described the preaching of the kingdom as an obligation laid upon him: “I must announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns too – that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43; Mark 1:38).  Luke’s description of Yeshua’ activity is that He went through every city and village preaching and showing the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1).  Clearly, the meaning of the Kingdom of God is something that we should try to understand. Continue reading “The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 3”

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 2

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue in our study of the Disciple’s Prayer by unpacking Matthew 6:9.

The purpose of prayer is to glorify God’s name, and to ask for help to accomplish His will on earth.  This prayer begins with God’s interests, not ours: God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will.

“Our Father in Heaven” ~ Matthew 6:9a

It might well be said that the word Father used of God is a compact summary of the Messianic faith.  The great value of this word Father is that it settles all the relationships of this life.

It settles our relationship to the unseen spiritual world.  Missionaries tell us that one of the greatest reliefs that monotheism brings to the heathen mind and heart is the certainty that there is only one God.  Pagan gods must all be placated, and a person can never be sure that he has not omitted the honor due to some of these gods.  The consequence is that the heathen lives in terror of the gods; he is “haunted and not helped by his religion.” Continue reading “The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 2”

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 1

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

In this post, we continue with our study of the Sermon on the Mount by learning more about how Yeshua taught us to pray.  We have been sitting at His feet for some time now as we learn directly from Him what it means to be true talmidim and how we should pray.

We have already learned that Yeshua tells us not to be a hypocrite when we pray; that we should pray in our secret place; and, that we should not babble on and on with endless words in our prayers.

Recently, a priest, a minister and a rabbi sat discussing the best posture for prayer while a telephone line worker made repairs nearby. Continue reading “The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 1”