SALT & LIGHT: Another Aspect, 30.01.19
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
When Yeshua walked the earth, He was constantly being challenged by the Scribes and Pharisees, the learned and religious. He used these occasions to correct false doctrine.
There is much false doctrine promoted today, both in believing and unbelieving circles. If believers want to be salt and light, there is a great opportunity – correcting false doctrine, and teaching correct doctrine. Study Corner will look at only a couple of examples here, but there are many more throughout the Scriptures in the Gospels.
Current live example is the issue of divorce. The divorce rate amongst God’s people today is purported to be about the same as that of the secular society. That means that God’s people have joined forces with the world’s standards, as opposed to keeping in line with God’s standards/ways/morality.
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Again crowds gather around Him, and, as was His custom, He began to teach them once more.
2 Pharisees came up, and to test Him they began asking, “Is it permitted for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 And He replied to them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 The Pharisees said, “Moses permitted a man to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.”
5 But Yeshua said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment!
6 But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.
7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate!”
10 In the house, the disciples began questioning Him about this again.
11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.
12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she is committing adultery.”
Through what process of rationale and justification did remarriage, following divorce, become entirely acceptable and sanctioned by the Church as an Institution? It seems quite contrary to the words spoken by Yeshua/Jesus in the above passages. There is nothing saying that a man and wife cannot separate and each live their own lives if they cannot coexist in peace and harmony; they simply are not free to remarry. (Paul, in 1 Cor. chap. 7 speaks of alternatives in this area, for those who wish to pursue this topic). Certainly the Church, however, has broken ranks with Yeshua’s teaching in this area, and decided to define their own parameters.
Another area addressed by Yeshua which is greatly in need of correction is the topic of religiosity/following man-made rules vs. walking with Yeshua/following God’s Ways/Word out of love and obedience. Yeshua speaks against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in many passages (Matt. chap. 23 is a primary example), distinguishing between what is important/what counts to God the Father, and what are simply man-made rules which were never prescribed nor endorsed by God Himself. When someone is stuck on a ritualistic religious practice, but it is not commanded by God, all one need do is reference God’s Word, and correct the error.
God has always been more concerned with the hearts of His people than with rules and regulations. When Samuel was sent to anoint David to replace Saul as King: “But Adonai said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have already refused him. For He does not see a man as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but Adonai looks into the heart” (1 Sam.16:7). Yahweh even rejected the sacrifices when His people were not following His Ways, worshipping foreign idols. Because they were not offering their sacrifices to Him out of a pure heart, with sincere and right motivation, He rejected their offerings:
“Does Adonai delight in burnt offerings
as in obeying the voice of Adonai?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
to pay heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination/witchcraft
and stubbornness is like iniquity
Since you have rejected Adonai’s word,
He has also rejected you as king.”
He is basically telling them that He can’t be bribed or bought off by an offering in exchange for continued disobedience and rebellion. He will not be pacified like a little child with a cheap substitute until the real thing comes along. That enrages Him. It is offensive, and insulting.
Later on, as Israel continues in their unfaithfulness and harlotry, Adonai admonishes them, telling them to eat their sacrifice themselves, because He does not want them:
“Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat!
22 For on the day that I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt I did not speak to them nor did I command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices,
23 but I explicitly commanded them: ‘Obey My voice and I will be your God to you and you will be My people. Walk in all the ways that I command you that it may go well with you.’
24 But they did not listen or pay attention. Instead they followed their own counsel, in the stubbornness of their evil heart. They have gone backward and not forward”, very much like today . . .
God has never been impressed by anything other than obedience to His Word, which translates into loving Him. He does not take kindly to cheap substitutes for obedience. Good works, man-made religiosity, – none of these has ever been either satisfactory nor impressive to our Heavenly Father. And this is restated by Yeshua:
Now the Pharisees and some of the Torah scholars who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Yeshua.
2 And they saw that some of His disciples were eating bread with unclean hands, that is, not washed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all Jewish people do not eat unless they wash their hands up to the elbow, keeping the tradition of the elders.
4 And when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they perform a ritual washing. There are many other traditions they have received and hold, such as the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels.)
5 The Pharisees and Torah scholars questioned Yeshua, “Why don’t Your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders? Why do they eat bread with unwashed hands?”
6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors Me with their lips
but their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 Having left behind the commandment of God, you hold on to the tradition of men.”
9 He was also telling them, “You set aside the commands of God, in order that you may validate your own tradition.
Our Heavenly Father wants to be honoured by His people from the heart, not by appearing and sounding nice, politically correct, or religious. And certainly He cannot be fooled, for He sees what is in our hearts. When Yeshua said to His disciples “Be on guard yourselves against the hametz/leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Lk.12:1), He is not speaking of physical “bread” but rather the false teachings, the man-made laws with which the religious zealots replaced God’s laws: “How is it that you don’t understand that I wasn’t talking to you about bread? Now beware of the hametz/leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that He wasn’t talking about the hametz in the bread, but about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt.16:11,12), the religious rituals, and doctrines of man.
If we are going to be salt and light, we need to study what Yeshua did, taught, and the way in which He did it. We need to stop attending to/buying into politically correct and erroneous interpretations, and misrepresentations of Who Yeshua was/is, and of what He did/said. We need to STUDY (please note: “STUDY”, not just “read” – “study” goes deeper) exactly Who Yeshua was and what He taught/modelled for us for ourselves. Prayerfully, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can understand how to be that salt and light, for Yeshua said: But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; but whatever He hears, He will tell you. And He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine. For this reason I said the Ruach will take from what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-15).
© 2018, revised 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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