Loving God and your neighbor….. part 4
Love will keep us together!
Despite their song, “Love will keep us together”, The Captain and Tennille got divorced. So too, did the combined House of Israel, from their relationship from YHVH. This is one of the many reasons for the sacrifice Jesus Christ on the cross.
Jeremiah 3:8 “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”
We currently live in a ‘churched’ society that is hyper-focused on the idea of grace alone and that everything else is works. You happen to mention the instructions or commandments of God, such as, not eating pork and people are quick to call you a legalist. However, Jesus, as the earthly manifestation of YHWH, says “if ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.”
In Matthew 15:8 Jesus also says “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” He is saying here that we, the people, confess our belief in YHVH, yet we do not seek to “express love to the person whereby they want to be loved.” God is asking for our love for him to be on display for the world to see and we are giving him …..vacuum sweepers!
Not eating pork does not save your soul from hell, only faith in Jesus Christ can do that, but it does prove to YHVH that you can take Him at His word. That you believe He has the best in mind for you. That he cares for you! That the creation of the world was designed with you in mind. It also shows other people that you are taking God at His word.
In the same way, not having an affair or stealing from your neighbor, are actions that display to both God and man your love to each. Being quick to forgive, slow to anger and at a ready defense of the faith are also actions displaying our love to God and to man and yet few will call you a legalist in these.
“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” The word ‘hang’ here is: “summed up in two precepts”. If we were in a conversation about immigrants settling the ‘old west’ and I were to say to you “have you seen Gunsmoke or Bonanza on television?” would I be detailing the hundreds of episodes? Of course not!
Jesus is not telling them these are the only two things that are to be upheld under his ministry, loving God and loving your neighbor. What he is saying is that your living out his commandments will naturally encompass these two precepts. In 1 John 5:2-3 we can see the two precepts in harmony: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
So how did Israel become divorced? Isaiah tells us “because they have transgressed the laws”, they could not love God in the manner in which he want to be loved. They committed adultery” or “played the harlot” by sharing their marriage bed (the synagogue) with other gods. They brought in traditions and actions of the pagan world and made them a part of the worship to YHVH.
Mixing in manmade traditions to the commandments of YHVH have long been a problem. This is the reason for YHVH saying that our hearts are far from him. If we wanted to please him as deeply as we say we do then we would seek out that which pleases Him. The job of the priesthood was to teach the people the ways of YHVH and how exactly to love Him as He wanted to be loved. Unfortunately they got caught up too much in the ways of man and started creating their own set of rules.
We see this battle in Matthew 15 when they try to corner Jesus and accuse him of breaking Torah when in truth they are accusing him of breaking on of their rules. Matthew 15:2 “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” This isn’t someone with just a little dirt on their hands, they are asking why they didn’t go through a ritual ceremony that the priests had invented and then imposed upon the people. This was a useless act to display piety and had nothing to do with the removal of dirt after a day of work.
Jesus doesn’t back down for a second when in verse three he asks them “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Which command were they breaking? Deuteronomy 12:32 “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Jesus quotes Deuteronomy many, many times as it is here we get the commandments retold to the children of Israel before they enter into the Promised Land. The final blow to the Pharisees, he tell them “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” This is a pronouncement of their guilt in the matter.
With the ‘churched’ society in a mindset to avoid “the Law” (really need a sound effect here of a jail door slamming) and focusing only on grace, are we loving God the way He wants to be shown love?