Yahweh (the Lord) was merciful to Israel! And Yahweh remained faithful to the “Promise” He made to Abraham. Yahweh sustained the Israelites for forty years with manna, quails, and water. Yahweh entrusted the social leadership to Moses and to Joshua. The religious and spiritual matters Yahweh put in the hands of Aaron and his sons. The power, Yahweh had given to Moses and his staff, was transferred to the content that was placed and kept in the Ark of the Covenant. The content, particularly the Law, was the Word of the Spirit of God and not the words of man. The same Word, that made the world with everything in it, also was the Word put in writing to lead man on earth to teach him how he could partner with God and God’s Spirit. Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to reiterate that concept to his disciples and to all the people in the world (John 1:1-5). Jesus, Himself, embodied the Word of God, that was the Law (the Ten Commandments). The Jewish fathers had obliterated the Law of God. The Jewish fathers replaced the Ten Commandments with their own traditions (Mark 7:5-13; John 7:19). Moses, and not God, allowed man to break the marriage vow (Matthew 19:1-9). To Jesus and to Moses, the Ten Commandments were issued by the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Yahweh burned the first set of the Ten Commandment on two stone plates. Moses broke the two plates when he came down the mountain and saw the golden calf being worshiped in place of God (Exodus 32:15-21). Before we return to the impact the Ten Commandments had on Israel, let us look what the Ten Commandments mean to us today. We derive their authenticity mostly from Jesus and Paul. However, we seem to differ in our understanding of their applications. Paul, inadvertently, with the Greek word “telos,” has given translators the idea that Christ was the “end” of the Law (Romans 10:4). Yet, in Romans 3:31, Paul upholds the Law. In Romans 7:22, Paul delights in the Law. In Romans 7:12,14, and 16, the Commandments for Paul were holy, spiritual, and good. While we ponder over Paul’s use of the Law, we shall let Jesus give His view on God’s Word, who, as a man, impersonated the Word or Law of God.
JESUS AND THE SCRIPTURES
Jesus spoke of the Scriptures as being the Word of God and the Will of God. By fulfilling the Scriptures, Jesus was partnering with God the Father (John 5:19-21). And Jesus expected no less from his disciples (Matthew 7:21-23; John 14:15). The Scriptures were comprised of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 16:29-30; 24:27, 44). Jesus was sent to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and not to end them (Luke 4:21; Matthew 5:17-20). The Greek word “telos” basically means to achieve, to accomplish, to complete, to perfect, and to continue. For instance, “loving an enemy,” made a person perfect (teleioi) (Matthew 5:48); to become a complete (teleios) disciple of Jesus, the disciple cannot hang on to riches (Matthew 19:21); children offered perfect praise (telasonton) (Matthew 21:16); and the promise of Jesus to be with his disciples always and forever (sunteleias) (Matthew 28:20). With regard to the application of the Law, Jesus showed one scribe how valuable it was when a person wanted to get into God’s Kingdom.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he (Jesus) answered them well, he asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all our heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question (Mark 12:28-34).
LESSONS FROM WHAT A SAMARITAN COULD DO AND WHY?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan was and still is an example for any people that replaces the Law of God with their human traditions and with their customs. The Law of God stipulated that the Hebrews treated, even their enemies, as they themselves wished to be treated (Exodus 23:9; Luke 6:31). It was difficult for an orthodox Jew, like Paul, who became a Christian, to be completely impartial (Galatians 6:10). The hatred for competitors for Yahweh’s favor goes back to Esau and Jacob. Jacob became the beloved. And Esau became the hated one (Malachi 1:2-3). Esau’s third wife Basemath was the daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 36:3). The children of Esau (Edom) were warring against the Children of Jacob (Israel) until the time of Christ. Herod the Great, an Edomite, was Judah’s king at the time Jesus was born (I Kings 11:14-16; Matthew 2:1-23). Jesus tried to close the gap between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus’ greatest success took place in Sychar, a Samaritan town. The Samaritans followed the Torah and they worshiped on Mount Gerizim (John 4:1-42). The Good Samaritan followed the Torah and partnered with the Spirit of God, and that was why he cared for the “stranger” who had been victimized. The tradition of the Hebrew fathers, to avoid contamination and defilement, did not allow their priests and nor the Levites to touch an injured people. To qualify for eternal life, the lawyer had to go and practice the love for the neighbor; for it was the same as loving God. The issue was not just another Jew, but a total stranger who required assistance.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and will all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half-dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think proved neighbor to the an who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).
WHAT DID JESUS TEACH REGARDING PARTNERING WITH GOD? IT WAS LOVE AND MERCY
We obtain a better and a clearer view of what the Lord expects from his partners, from John Zebedee, and from Luke, the Evangelist. Luke has Jesus address a large crowd after He had been on a mountain where He prayed and where He chose his twelve disciples. Both evangelists stressed two words: “love and mercy.”
I (Jesus) will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it s who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not ot the world?” Jesus said to him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:18-24).
And he (Jesus) lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are ou when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
But Woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.
Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods, do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:20-38)
THE CONDITIONS MAN MUST MEET TO BE PARTNERS WITH GOD
God is not impossible to please! Nor is God impossible to work with! God gave Moses the Ten Commandments that are foundational and universal, and also covenantal. Any infraction of the Ten Commandments by man hurts the partnership, which results in consequences beyond control. A sin against the Creator cannot be repaired. Even when a man repents, someone must recompense for the wrongdoing, suffer, and even die.
And God spoke all these words (to Israel), saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bomdage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or hat is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son,or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor you father and our mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:1-17).
MOSES’ WARNING: PARTNERS BEWARE!
All the commandments which I command you this day you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in the heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that men lives by everything Our clothing did not wear out upon you, and your foot did not swell, these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God discils you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills, and a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates,a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose sons are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
Take heed lest you forget the LORD your God, by not keeping his commandments and his ordinances and his statutes, which I command you this day: lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 8:1-20).