We continue in our journey with God’s People as they trudge through the wilderness being taught by God through Moses. Moses merely passes on what God tells him to say. God took His People out of Egypt. Now God is taking Egypt’s ways of living out of His people! Most of what we are reading present God’s Laws of living with each other with justice for each other. God’s Laws protect and provide healthy ways to live. You will notice that most of our laws today are based on Mosaic law. That’s why the basic foundation sounds so familiar to us.
After centuries of men seeking power, who twisted the meaning of God’s Law though abusive behaviors while using the Law to defend themselves, then adding to the Law in favor of themselves; God’s Son, Jesus came down from heaven to explain what God intended from the beginning. Then he fulfilled God’s Law by explaining how we relate to God and each other by laying down His life for ours. Jesus explains—
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16, MSG
Jesus came to complete God’s Law—
“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.” Matthew 5:17-20, MSG
Jesus clearly stated that He had come to honor the law and to help God’s people love it, learn it, and live it. He would not accept the artificial righteousness of the religious leaders. Their righteousness was only an external masquerade. Their religion was a dead ritual, not a living relationship. It was artificial; it did not reproduce itself in others in a living way. It made them proud, not humble, and led to bondage, not liberty.
We do not obey an external law because of fear. No, believers today obey an internal law and live because of love. The Holy Spirit teaches us the Word and enables us to obey. Sin is still sin, and God still punishes sin. In fact, we in this present age are more responsible because we have been taught and given more light!
It is the attitude of the Heart—
God’s Laws teaches us what to do as we relate to each other. Jesus fulfilled all the Laws with how to BE as we love and relate to God, each other and even our enemies.
Exodus 23, The Message
“Don’t pass on malicious gossip.
“Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t mess up your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. And just because someone is poor, don’t show favoritism in a dispute.
4-5 “If you find your enemy’s ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don’t walk off and leave it. Help it up.
6 “When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don’t tamper with the justice due them.
7 “Stay clear of false accusations. Don’t contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don’t let the wicked off the hook.
8 “Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.
9 “Don’t take advantage of a stranger. You know what it’s like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.
10-11 “Sow your land for six years and gather in its crops, but in the seventh year leave it alone and give it a rest so that your poor may eat from it. What they leave, let the wildlife have. Do the same with your vineyards and olive groves.
12 “Work for six days and rest the seventh so your ox and donkey may rest and your servant and migrant workers may have time to get their needed rest.
13 “Listen carefully to everything I tell you. Don’t pay attention to other gods—don’t so much as mention their names.
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14 “Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me.
15 “Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread when you eat unraised bread for seven days at the time set for the month of Abib, as I commanded you. That was the month you came out of Egypt. No one should show up before me empty-handed.
16 “Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the firstfruits of all your work in the fields.
“Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year’s crops.
17 “Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God.
18 “Don’t offer the blood of a sacrifice to me with anything that has yeast in it.
“Don’t leave the fat from my festival offering out overnight.
19 “Bring the choice first produce of the year to the house of your God.
“Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.
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20-24 “Now get yourselves ready. I’m sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I’ve prepared. Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don’t go against him. He won’t put up with your rebellions because he’s acting on my authority. But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I’ll be an enemy to your enemies, I’ll fight those who fight you. When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I’ll clear the country of them. So don’t worship or serve their gods; don’t do anything they do because I’m going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits.
25-26 “But you—you serve your God and he’ll bless your food and your water. I’ll get rid of the sickness among you; there won’t be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I’ll make sure you live full and complete lives.
27 “I’ll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you’re approaching into a panic. All you’ll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks.
28-31 “And I’ll send Despair on ahead of you. It will push the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites out of your way. I won’t get rid of them all at once lest the land grow up in weeds and the wild animals take over. Little by little I’ll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own. I will make your borders stretch from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. I’m turning everyone living in that land over to you; go ahead and drive them out.
32-33 “Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
In Matthew 5, Jesus took six important Old Testament laws and interpreted them for His people in the light of the new life He came to give. He made a fundamental change without altering God’s standards: He dealt with the attitudes and intents of the heart and not simply with the external action. The Pharisees said that righteousness consisted of performing certain actions, but Jesus said it centered in the attitudes of the heart. Likewise, the Pharisees had a list of external actions that they deemed sinful, but Jesus explained that sin came from the attitudes of the heart. Anger is murder in the heart; lust is adultery in the heart. Gossip fuels all sinful behaviors that lead to death.
Jesus defined our enemies as those who curse us, hate us, and exploit us selfishly. Since Christian love is an act of the will and not simply an emotion, Jesus has the right to command us to love our enemies. After all, He loved us when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10). We may show this love by blessing those who curse us, doing good to them, and praying for them. When we pray for our enemies, we find it easier to love them. It takes the poison out of our attitudes and removes the evil from our hearts. Love drives out fear and multitude of other sinful behaviors!
Let our first thoughts in the morning, of actions and reactions to the world be the love of Christ in us. When we do, our world of doubt, fear, anger, jealousy, bitterness are diffused and eventually dissipate.
The Law convicts. Jesus saves!
Be a breath of fresh air to an imperfect world who needs Jesus. Add seasonings of gentleness, kindness, love, mercy and grace. Allow God’s Light to shine brightly through us, reflecting from us, in ways that navigate the lost to being found in Him. Yes!
Your Law actually teaches us how to love each other more as we live in harmony with each other. But The Law does not save us, you save us—by forgiving us when we are disobedient to what you say is right and good. When your Holy Spirit enters into our being, we begin to grow in our relationship with you that continually perfects our relationships with each other in the Light of your Love. Thank you, Jesus, for fulfilling the Law of love, mercy and grace in all who believe. I am one who believes. I am yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen