I’m thinking I should make this title a separate category, and include in it all the other parts of Bible passages that are ignored. Such as the one where Yacov (James) says that the new Believers will learn the rest of the Mosaic laws they should follow because they will be attending the Shabbat services at their local synagogue (Acts 15:21.)
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Today I want to talk about Matthew 23:23, where Yeshua said:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
The traditional Christian teaching stops at “…justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” They talk about the love of the Messiah and how we are to love each other, that love is all we need for salvation because the law was nailed to the cross with Jesus.
But how does that work with the rest of Yeshua’s statement, i.e. that they should have considered those things WITHOUT neglecting the tithes?
Yeshua is clear that the law regarding tithing (which implicitly means all of the instructions God gave in the Torah) is not replaced by love, justice mercy, and faithfulness. These things are weightier matters, but not exclusive or secondary.
The truth is that to love justice, be merciful and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) one would, by necessity, observe and follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah because they tell us how to be just, how to be merciful, and what faithfulness entails.
This is where Christianity has misled those who want to trust in God and Yeshua as their savior: by teaching that the “law” was done away with, or that love and Grace replace obedience, the Christian “church” has led its adherents away from God and into lawlessness.
Look- not eating ham will not get you into heaven, and eating ham will not send you to hell. The actions we perform are representative of the way we believe. It’s like I always say: people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do.
Just as Yeshua said in the Gospels, what goes into us doesn’t make us unclean, but what is in our hearts does. My heart desires to please God, but whereas my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. Because my flesh is weak, I sin. I don’t do what I want to do and do what I don’t want to do (sound familiar? Check out Romans 7:15-20.)
Eating ham, technically, is a sin and deserves punishment, but because my heart wants to please God, when I do wrong I repent of my sin. That repentance causes me to ask forgiveness, and through Yeshua’s sacrificial death I can receive that forgiveness, preventing me from going to hell. So it isn’t so much the sin I commit that is the problem, it is the reason I do it and the level of repentance I feel after I do it.
This is what Yeshua meant when he said to deal with the weightier matters of the law without neglecting the rest. Justice, mercy, faithfulness- can you see how these are things that come from the heart? Someone who cares nothing for people will not be just, they will be self-centered and selfish. People who are not repentant will not be merciful or concerned with other’s feelings, and will not have faith in anyone but themselves.
Only those who care about God and about people and have faith in God and others will be merciful and act justly. They will repent of their wrongdoing and try to improve. They will also feel the desire to please God, which he tells us we can do by being obedient, by following the instructions he gave us which tell us how to be faithful (i.e., how to worship him) and how to treat each other.
Those are found in the Torah.
It is up to you to choose what kind of a heart you will have: it will either be open to God or closed to salvation. No one can have two masters.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!