Tag Archives: Keeping God’s commandments

Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, working in England, writes

Interestingly while Judaism teaches that mitzvot are divinely ordained and therefore not to be questioned or even necessarily understood, it does at the same time try to explain them as a rational force, and many commentators suggest reasons for our doing them.

We are told: – “The essential reason for the commandments is to make the human heart upright” ( ibn Ezra on Deut 5:18); or “Each commandment adds holiness to the people of Israel.” (Issi ben Akavia,  Mechilta on Ex 22:30); or even that “The purpose of the mitzvot is…to promote compassion, loving kindness and peace in the world” (Maimonides, yad, Shabbat) {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

English: The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steep...

The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steeple Davis (1844-1917), as in Exodus 24 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who believe in the God of Abraham, should know that this God of gods has given the many commandments to help man find his way in this universe and to live in a proper peaceful relation with God’s creation.

The world has been given Mishpatim, which we may consider judgements by ‘laws’ or ‘rulings’ and they will govern the community who agree to accept them. But not all humans will accept them, that’s a fact. Also in the previous times people of God did not have it easy at all times with those Mishpatim, though just after Moses has finished relating all the various laws to the Children of Israel, we can see in the Old Testament how often those People of God went astray.

English: Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, b...

Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, by Gustave Doré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Real lovers of God should agree “to do all the things that God has spoken” (Exodus 24:3). They should cling to the Word of God as the only Perfect Rule Giver and should go for keeping “miẓwah”, the divinely instituted rule of conduct. As such, the divine commandments are divided into (1) mandatory laws known as , and (2) those of a prohibitory character, the . This terminology rests on the theological construction that God’s will is the source of and authority for every moral and religious duty. Many of the old laws were given to and concerned only special classes of people, such as kings or priesthood, Levites or Nazarites, or are conditioned by local or temporary circumstances of the Jewish nation, as, for instance, the agricultural, sacrificial, and Levitical laws.

For us today some rules may be curious, and that is why at a certain moment in time some changes were allowed. It was not God Who changed, but the people who changed and God came closer to them by adapting His rulings. As such we may now face other food laws and about sanitation than at the early beginning, plus about how to relate to others, because certain concepts changed, like the position of slaves.

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Of the more than fifty mitzvot to be found in the sidra, we have some that deal with the treatment of slaves, with the crimes of murder and kidnap, with personal injury and with civil damages through neglect or theft. There are rules about witchcraft and idolatry, about oppression and unfair business practise, about applying legal codes in a prejudiced fashion and not giving false testimony; laws about not mistreating widows and orphans, and about care for animals. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

When we look at those laws and regulations we may not forget that many still keep going and should be fulfilled by a lover of God. It is not because we have Jesus as our Messiah who liberated us from the curse of Law that the Law has ended. No, not at all. The Law still counts. Even now we have received a New Covenant, should we keep to those law covered in that covenant.

Too many Christians commit a mistake by thinking they do not have to do any works any-more. We still have to keep the works of faith, keeping to God’s Commandments.

In parshat Mishpatim, the Israelites learn that accepting the commandments is a 24/7 job. {Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim}

We also must be fully aware of the most frequent mitzvah in Torah, given at least 37 different times in the text,which  is repeated in the Mishpatim too –

“you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Israel.”

It is a mishmash of a legal code but what comes through loud and clear to the reader is the importance to the Jewish people of mitzvot, commandments.

From Torah we see that for the ancient people there were particular reasons for observing the mitzvot – firstly and most importantly because God tells us to. Secondly there was in the ancient understanding an idea that people who obeyed them would be rewarded, and people who disobeyed risked punishment. Then there were two different types of reason given in Torah – that the mitzvot were intrinsically imbued with divine wisdom, and that they would lead us to achieving holiness.  {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

Each person who wants to become a Child of God, or to belong to God’s People shall have to resign oneself to the Will of God. But none can belong to the children of God when they do not accept others to be their brethren and sisters, and loving them as their siblings. The agape love for the others is a indispensible necessary part of belonging to God’s family.

In Judaism as in Christianity too there might be a tension in their tradition

– do we do the commandments (mitzvot) simply because there is a Commander (metzaveh) who told us to do this and this should be enough, or do we search out a meaning behind each mitzvah? And if we do the latter, what happens if we cannot find a suitable reason and meaning? Do we abandon the mitzvah as unreasonable or pointless? Or do we continue to do it in the hope that meaning will emerge? After all, at Sinai the people famously answered “na’aseh ve’nishma, [first] we will do it and [subsequently] we will understand”. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

The tension and balancing between holding a religious belief and a rationalist position was as great in the ancient world as it is today. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

For those who love God ‘blind faith’ was never a prerequisite, neither of a Jewish life nor of a Christian life.

Judaism tends to the position of na’aseh ve’nishma – doing in order to understand, blending faith and reason and giving neither the upper hand, but instead knowing that if we behave “as if” we believe, if we follow the way of mitzvot, then further understanding may come. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

From Scriptures we should come to understand there is no way of doing “as if” because God sees the heart and He does knows each of us. We can not hide anything from Him.

1 Samuel 16:7 The Scriptures 1998+  (7)  But יהוה {Jehovah} said to Shemu’ĕl, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for not as man sees, for man looks at the eyes, but יהוה {Jehovah} looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 The Scriptures 1998+  (10)  “I, יהוה {Jehovah}, search the heart, I try the kidneys, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illust...

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our hearts may not be removed from God and by our way of living we should show to others how God is in our heart. Our heart, our feelings but also how we act should always be pure, full of love for God and His commandments. When we are willing to give ourselves into God’s Hands He will bring us where He wants us to be.

Proverbs 21:1-3 The Scriptures 1998+  (1)  The sovereign’s heart is as channels of water In the hand of יהוה {Jehovah}; He turns it wherever He wishes.  (2)  All a man’s ways are right in his own eyes, But יהוה {Jehovah} weighs the hearts.  (3)  To do righteousness and right-ruling Is more acceptable to יהוה {Jehovah} than a slaughtering.

Each day we have to work at ourself taking care we keep to the commandments of God.

Meanwhile we are impacting on ourselves and on our world in a positive way as we are directed to behaviour that may not be our first instinct – to support the poor and downtrodden, to value life, to respect the boundaries of others, to rein in our own power and desires so as not to trample over the lives of others. The list goes on. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

As tradition says again and again in different words, the same message:  “the commandments were given only to refine God’s creatures…”(Midrash Tanchuma). They change us, they cause us to think about what we are doing and not to act out of immediate self interest, they shape our behaviour and ultimately they may help us to bring holiness into our world. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

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Preceding

When believing in God’s existence and His son, possessing a divine legislation

A Royal Rule given to followers of Christ

First man’s task still counting today

Whoopi Goldberg commandments and abortion

He who knows himself, is kind to others

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works

Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?

Christians remaining hidden not sharing the gospel

Witnessing because we love

Leading people astray!

Crisis man needed in this world

Preaching Christ Is Not Enough

Beautiful feet of those who announce the good news

Preaching by example

A Christian has to have eyes and ears and a tongue to use in good ways

Daring to speak in multicultural environment

Perishable non theologians daring to go out to preach

What Should I Preach ?

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Additional reading

  1. Bible in the first place #1/3
  2. Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
  3. Creator and Blogger God 4 Expounding voice
  4. Creator and Blogger God 6 For His people
  5. God-breathed prophetic words written torah and the mitzvot to teach us
  6. Words God speaks unto all and the Spirit that quickens
  7. The Bible is a today book
  8. Statutes given unto us
  9. Necessary to be known all over the earth
  10. God’s design in the creation of the world
  11. Time passing away
  12. Best intimate relation to look for
  13. Let us not forget it was God who chose us
  14. Daily Spiritual Food To prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God
  15. Engaging the culture without losing the gospel
  16. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  17. Knowing where to go to
  18. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  19. The inspiring divine spark
  20. A good idea to halt all activity for one hour some day
  21. Eternity depends upon this short time on earth
  22. Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
  23. Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it
  24. Foundation to go the distance
  25. Preferring to be a Christian
  26. Aim High: Examples of Godly Characters to follow
  27. Purify my heart
  28. United people under Christ
  29. Honesty beginning of holiness
  30. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  31. How we think shows through in how we act
  32. Object of first woe
  33. Think hard before you act today

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Further reading

  1. The Kotel Decision: The Parties at the Table
  2. Mishpatim פרשת משפטים
  3. Mishpatim – Who’s Serving Whom?
  4. Shift and Consolidation: Thoughts on the Torah Portions Mishpatim and Terumah
  5. Commentary for Mishpatim
  6. Mishpatim – Its just a White Lie
  7. When the plumbers stop society’s moral leaks
  8. Parashat Mishpatim /
  9. Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5776–Shabbat Torah Study at Adat Shalom Synagogue–Don’t Make Him Tell on You
  10. Mishpatim – Wholly Love
  11. Parshat Hashavuah: Mishpatim by Alex Gage
  12. Scripture for 2.5.2016
  13. Stole My Heart – Parshat Mishpatim 5776
  14. Parsha Mishpatim
  15. Shabbat Shalom! – Mishpatim
  16. Dvar Torah Parshat Mishpatim 5776 2016
  17. Mishpatim 5774 – Visión y Detalles
  18. Double Cry – Mishpatim 5776
  19. Il monoteismo etico – Parashat Mishpatim
  20. Mishpatim: Where heaven and earth converge
  21. Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim
  22. Parashat Kedoshim – What is it doing here?

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Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?

Rob Heijermans, who says is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and believes that God has spoken

— in fact, the universe itself is a product of the voice of the Lord. The phrase, “And God said…,” appears nine times in the first chapter of Genesis alone. {Is Anyone Listening?}

He also knows he has ever deceived himself and looks at James, Jesus’ younger half-brother, who knows all about self-deception.

Though the writer wrongly thinks James deceived himself for many years,

“denying that Jesus was God in the flesh.” {11 Self-Deceit 101}

Having grown up with Jesus in an Essene family he probably got to know Jesus as well as God very well. He also knew what Jesus had told others and to whom Jesus prayed, like they at their family, at home, prayed to the only One true God, the God of Israel. Jesus did not pray to himself, but to the God of Abraham, about Whom he taught people to pray to as well.

The apostle James warns us in Verse 22  of the first chapter that if we are hearers of the word–the Bible–and not doers, we deceive or ensnare ourselves.

James 1:22 EWB-CB  But become ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Much too often Christians do forget Jesus’ parables and the warning of James. We may not delusively content our selves with being of the audience, but have to put what we hear in practice.

The writer of the blog UpStream writes

James says it’s like looking into the mirror on the morning of an important interview, seeing some serious bed-head, lots of stubble and a smudge of last night’s hot fudge sundae, and just walking away without taking action. {11 Self-Deceit 101}

Too many Christians make it themselves very easy, thinking because they are saved they do not have to do anything any more.

Rob Heijermans is aware that

sitting under the teaching of the Scriptures and not doing what they say is an act of self-deceit. Studying the Scriptures for ourselves, gaining an understanding of their meaning, but not obeying God’s Word, produces knowledge that makes us arrogant but yields no fruit in our lives. It is self-deceit. Even more serious is purporting to be a teacher and either teaching what is false or not doing what is true. James will deal with this more later in his letter. {11 Self-Deceit 101}

We should come to get to know what is written in the Bible and may not twist around the words of it. As such when is written “the son of God” we may not say “god the son“. We should clearly take the Words of God into account and take them serious.

In this world many have made their own gods. A lot also made Jesus in to their god, like Rob Heijermans has done. He also preaches about hell as a sort of place of eternal torture, whilst forgetting that the Divine Creator is a God of Love, who is an eternal Spirit Who can not be seen by man, but is with man, telling them no lies and saying they shall have paid for their sins with their death.

But this God of gods tells also about His sent one, the Nazarene Jew Jeshua, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Jesus on this earth tried to make his heavenly Father known and showed the way to the Kingdom of God. His brother knew also very well the importance of Jesus’ teaching about that Kingdom. He had to loose his brother at the wooden stake and see his mother cry, being full of grieve. But he had also come into the hope Jesus preached and wanted to share it with others, like his brother had asked it.

That preaching James had taken up is also an act we should do. It is one of the works Jesus asked his followers to do.

Twice, the writer of Hebrews mentions “dead works.” (Heb 6.1, 9.14) Now, James writes of “dead faith.” In the subsequent verses of Chapter 2, he mentions that even the demons believe in God–and tremble before Him!–so simply believing facts about God is not saving faith. James then cites two Old Testament characters whose faith was demonstrated by their works: Abraham, the Iraqi father of the Jewish nation was not content simply to tell God he was willing to sacrifice Isaac. He unsheathed his dagger and was about to plunge it into Isaac’s belly when God stopped him and provided a substitutionary ram. Rahab the whore did not stop at believing that God was conquering His enemies through the Israelites–she protected their spies, knowing the awesome power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. {14 How to Work Your Way to Hell}

Lots of Christians have forgotten Who that God of the Israelites is and why we should take Him as our Only One True God, like Jesus also took Him as His Only One Most High Almighty God. But not only did they take the ransom offer of Jesus as the final act for them, misleading themselves that they would not have to do anything more because they are saved by the Blood of Christ.

Strangely enough the blog writer seems to know that

On some occasion, James probably heard his Brother say that God is glorified when we prove we are His disciples by producing fruit. (John 15.8) {14 How to Work Your Way to Hell}

In many parables Jesus had told how we have to get a good relationship with the heavenly Father. How He is willing to take us up as His children, but also how we can loose the entrance to the Kingdom of God. James came to understand those teachings of his brother and knew how important it was when people came into the faith how they had to change themselves and had to work on themselves continuously.

We may not assume that it are only our works that can get us some where.

the second half of James 2 demonstrates: just as it is vain to think that my works–religious duty, outward devotion, social activism, neighbourly consideration–could possibly get me to heaven, so also is it vain to suppose I am truly a child of God while my life manifests nothing of my faith. As Jesus said, a fruit tree with no fruit is cut down and burned. {14 How to Work Your Way to Hell}

When having come into the faith we have to water our own tree. (By reading and studying the Bible.) Then we do have to let the food of the earth and food of heaven feed ourselves, so that we can bear good fruits. For getting good fruits we need good pruning. We need to do a lot of work. Without the work there shall be no good fruits and when we are not willing to prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God we shall be too late like some young girls who did not prepare themselves or thought they had enough time. Please do not postpone. Take care that you are ready for when the day comes.

When procrastinating you will be surprised when the day comes you shall have nothing done what had to be done and will miss the boat.

Some things may be hard or difficult, like changing sides, or putting away human doctrinal teachings, like the trinity a.o.. but God wants from His son an his followers truthful worshippers of God who are faithful to Him, the Adonai Jehovah, and to His commandments. When we do not follow God’s commandments it will be like ignoring God’s Wishes and not wanting a good relationship with Him. Keeping to those commandments shall demand works we shall have to do with pleasure because we do believe in Christ, the son of God, and in his heavenly Father we also want to love.

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Preceding articles:

Leading people astray!

Restitution

Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Justification – salvation is by grace through faith – JI Packer

Faith itself not the cause of justification – Louis Berkhof

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

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Please find also to read

  1. God of gods
  2. God is one
  3. Sayings around God
  4. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  5. Jesus Messiah
  6. Jesus and His God
  7. the Trinity – the Truth
  8. Our relationship with God, Jesus and eachother
  9. Bearing fruit
  10. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
  11. Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness
  12. Christ’s ethical teaching
  13. Being Justified by faith
  14. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  15. Faith and works
  16. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #8 Prayer #6 Communication and manifestation
  17. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #16 Benefits of praying
  18. Observing the commandments and becoming doers of the Word
  19. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  20. Be holy
  21. She who sows thistles will reap prickles
  22. Love for each other attracting others

 

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Further related articles

  1. Count on your desire to procrastinate
  2. Sermon Redux – Part 4 of Doing Our Best for God’s Church – “Rejoicing in the Brutal Truth” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
  3. Boast in God’s Grace for You- Joseph Prince
  4. The Parable of the Two Sons
  5. Rewarded for Doing Good?
  6. Rewarded for their Labor? (1 Corinthians 3:8)
  7. Judged for What We Have Done
  8. Rewarded for What We’ve Done?
  9. 2:24 – You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
  10. Chapter 2:23 – And he was called a friend of God.
  11. Four Panel Philosophy
  12. James 2:20-22 — Dynamic Faith
  13. Show Me Your Works

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Lifestyle, Religious affairs