Friday, July 17, 2020

Doing What’s Life Instead of Believing What’s Right!

In my previous email, Adam Destroyed the Law But Jesus Didn’t (click here to read), I discussed what the words found in Matthew 5:17 meant to Yeshua, the Jesus of history. English translations have something like this:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Here is what he actually said:

Do not think that I have come to misinterpret the Torah or the Prophets.
I have come to correctly interpret them!

In my email, Making the Jesus of History Part of Lives and Discussions Today! (click here to read), I pointed out that in the first century environment in which Yeshua lived “correct interpretations of the Torah and the Prophets” were a very big deal. Yeshua wasn’t the only one claiming to “correctly interpret” them. He was competing with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Hellenists and Herodians. So, the Jewish people living in Galilee and Judea faced the challenge of “choosing from six interpretations” of their Scriptures.

We know a lot about what the Pharisees taught from Rabbinic Judaism (Babylonian Talmud). With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we learned much more about what the Essenes taught.

One thing the Pharisees and Essenes shared in common was that
they both insisted that members only follow their interpretations.

Yeshua, the Jesus of history, used their “mutual exclusivity claims” to a very important point – it was the one absolute requirement for membership in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments,
and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Make sure you understand this:
Unless your acts of tzedaqah exceeds those of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not be in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The key point Yeshua made is this:

Doing acts of tzedaqah is required for entering in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Accepting, following or teaching anyone’s interpretations
-- without acts of tzedaqah
isn’t enough for admittance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

What are “acts of tzedaqah”? I answered that question in my email, The Jewish Jesus and the Salvation of Gentiles (click here to read). In the first story in Genesis, the Story of the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, the Creator used “The TOV Standard” to measure each act of creation:

Acts that are TOV protect and preserve lives,
make lives more functional and increase the quality of life.

Now pay close attention to the “acts of tzedaqah” Yeshua pointed out in the parable in Matthew 25:35-36:

Giving food to the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty,
bringing a stranger into a home, giving clothes to the naked,
visiting the sick, and going to see people in prison.

Acts of tzedaqah are acts are TOV -- they are acts that affect lives in TOV (good) ways. The acts Yeshua described in Matthew 25 are not the only acts of tzedaqah. For a human to survive and thrive as the Creator intended, their basic needs must be met:

Basic physical needs -- water, food, clothing, shelter, protection, etc.

Basic emotional needs -- affection, love, support, meaning, happiness, etc.

Acts of tzedaqah provide basic physical and emotional needs for another person.

The key point Yeshua taught his followers was always be aware what’s going on in the lives of people you encounter in the normal course of your day. He stressed the importance of love in people’s lives. Something that lots of Bible readers do not know is that in Yeshua’s culture the opposite of love was not hate

The opposite of love for the Jesus of history was indifference!

In my last email I challenged readers “to consider how the teachings of the Jesus of history can be applied to current circumstances.”

What would happen in America if Christians did
acts of tzedaqah like Jesus taught above in their lives?

I hope you found this informative and thank you for reading it. Please discuss it with others, too.

Jim Myers

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