Today’s readings are Matthew 7-8

Read today’s Bible readings at BibleGateway by clicking here.

Rabbit Trails

Here is the good news: A lot of what we are reading in Matthew repeats in the other gospels so my notes will eventually get shorter.

Got your swimsuit on? I’m SO EXCITED to share the end part of this note with you so let’s dive in!

Boy, Messiah doesn’t waste any time, does He? He just shows up and starts dishing it out, straight and sharp.
We begin chapter 7 with Messiah ordering us to judge not lest we be judged. The Greek word used here is “krino” which means “to condemn”.

We are warned against condemning others as only the Father has the right and privilege of determining the eternal fate of a person. Instead, Messiah cautions us to look to ourselves first and foremost.

I find that the more I read the word and seek the Father, the busier He keeps me working on myself and following Him and I have less and less time to even glance at the sins of others. I don’t know about y’all, but getting me in order is an eternal job as it is.

And with regards to others, we are not able to know what stage of spiritual development they are in at any given moment, only the Father knows that. Therefore, I don’t want to risk acting of my own accord and causing damage to the person’s faith as they have been walking it out with the Father. That is why I always say we should interact with everyone in accordance with the fruits of the spirit:joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If we do this, no matter if they are a seed, a sprout, a plant, or a tree about to bear fruit, we will fertilize them regardless. I’d much rather be found fertilizing what YHWH has planted rather than poisoning it.

Matthew 7:6 is some wisdom I’ve learned to live by.

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. Matthew 7:6

Y’all, have you noticed that not everyone wants wisdom and more prevalent still is that not everyone wants our opinions or knowledge. Save it for those whose heart is seeking and who are in a place to listen. If someone is always arguing, convinced they are right in their own eyes, and/or expressing hatred and disdain for you and the Father who sent you, hang onto your pearls because there are folks out there who will cherish them and the Father has them headed your way as we speak! Likewise, we should be seeking to learn as well.

Matthew 7:13
Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few.”

As of 2011, studies estimated that there were approximately 2.8 billion Christians in the world. This sounds like a wide path that many take. But let us look deeper.

Fewer than 17% of them profess to read their Bible regularly.

Fewer than that actually do.

Fewer still read beyond the New Testament.

Out of this dwindling number, even less than that consider the whole Bible to be applicable to them.

Now that path is getting narrower.

It is not a coincidence that we are told of the wide and narrow paths in the same breath that Messiah tells us to beware of people who will come posing as Believers and messengers of YHWH. We will know them by their fruit.

What is fruit? The work they do. How the live their lives. Remember, works and obedience are not the root of our salvation, they are the fruit of our salvation.

And now we come to a passage that makes my heart stop each time I read it.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Did you see that? Believers, people who call Messiah their Lord, will call on Him, relaying all of the good things that they have done in His name, and what does He say in return?
His rebuke is “I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

I can’t imagine the depth of pain in such a rejection, in the realization that what we thought was right and good and following after Him has amounted to making us nothing but workers of lawlessness in His eyes.

What is He saying here? Let’s break it down a bit.

The greek term for law here is “nomos”. And the term being used here is “Anomos” or “anomian”.

Whereas nomos means law, so a nomian would be a law abiding citizen.

An anomian is a citizen who knows full well what the law is but refuses to obey it. They choose to live outside of the law.

Take a minute to digest that.  Better yet, let’s let Messiah sum it up for us in His next words…

“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:26-27

Messiah doesn’t play.

Moving on: He couldn’t even bury his own father?
When a man claims that he wants to follow Messiah but requests permission to go bury his father instead, Messiah rebukes him with

“Follow me and leave the dead to bury the dead.”
Matthew 8:22

This seems harsh but we need to understand just what this man was saying. At first we assume he has expressed a desire to follow Messiah but then he wants an immediate pass at doing so.

Now, in burying someone we may view that as a day or two event, a few more at most. But in this time the body of the deceased was interred on the day of their death, this is the first burial. During that time the family retreats to their home where they remain for the next seven days. After that, they waited for the body to have enough time to decompose entirely until nothing but bones were left. Then, they went in and retrieved the bones. After all of this was done the period of mourning was finally over.

So in asking what we think is a simple thing, he was essentially saying “I want to follow you but give me a few months.”
Messiah’s response was that following Him should come first, not at our convenience.

Remember how I told you we were going to put Messiah back into context and see Him as we’ve never seen Him before?
Well that brings us to the part of our show called “Why did He do that?” The part of our show where Messiah does something and we ask ourselves Why did He do that? 

Many of us have read the following passage and not thought too much of it:

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” Matthew 8:1-4

But whoa Nelly. What Messiah just did was monumental and it escaped all notice by us for two reasons:

  1. Lack of knowledge of the Scriptures
  2. We are too far removed from the culture in which this exchange took place. But mostly the Scriptures part. 

Recall in Leviticus 13 and 14 that the Father gave very specific instructions as to how the priests were to diagnose the lepers and what to do once a leper was diagnosed. In chapter 14 the priests receive instructions on what to do when a leper is healed. The thing is though, not once is there any record of a leper being healed. The priests were well acquainted with diagnosis but they had never had to go through the priestly rituals of a leper being healed.

Some of you may be saying “But Moses and Miriam!” Yes. They were stricken with a temporary bout of leprosy but it was removed from them so quickly, especially in the case of Moses, that a priest didn’t even have time to be consulted, and the Father was clear in what He was doing both times. IMPORTANT NOTE: Leprosy, as it was known at that time, is not what we know as leprosy today. It was a spiritual affliction known as tzaarat and, generally, it never healed, it was a life sentence.

Here is the thing, the Pharisees lived by two sets of laws, remember I mentioned dueling laws yesterday?

Well there is YHWH’s law and there was their manmade law, sometimes referred to as Oral Law and sometimes referred to as Tradition. (I capitalize those words just to let them stand out to you as referencing something other than the general use of the word. I may or may not remember to do that going forward, we’ll see)

Now, there are prophecies in the OT about the Messiah, what He would do, and how He would be known, so during His time here, He was going to fulfill all of those, obviously.

However, the Pharisees had also added other things to the law that they felt the Messiah would do to help them identify who He was when He came. Of course, Messiah only had to fulfill what the Father declared He would but He went a step further, lest there be any doubt who He was. He fulfilled not only prophecy expectations regarding Himself but the conditions created later by the Pharisees as well.

At this time the Pharisees taught that there were two different categories of miracles. One category consisted of miracles anyone could perform if YHWH deemed it so and the other category consisted of miracles that only the Messiah would be able to perform, Messianic miracles. This was part of their Tradition or Oral Law.

Let me pause a moment and define Oral Law. It is additional laws that were supposedly spoken and handed down through word of mouth from the Father, in addition to the commandments. That is how they saw it at least.

Once, when I was a girl, I spent the night on my Papa Reed’s farm. I was always an early riser so I got up before the sun, got dressed, and went to head outside to play. My grandmother almost had a come-apart and I had no idea why until she looked at me, serious as can be, and explained that I was not to walk outside on the grass while it was still wet with dew or I’d get sick.

Even at a young age, I had enough experience to know this was ridiculous, but I also had the sense to know not to tell her that. I went along, waiting inside for what seemed like forever, in order to honor her “law”. Was it true? Nope. But some generations back one of her ancestors had told her this was truth and it had been passed down. At this point, the originator of this “law” was well passed recognition and it was just a law to be obeyed. That is how we can view Oral Law, but the credited source throughout generations is YHWH, in most cases. However, YHWH tells us that He has given us His law already in His word.

Now, according to their Oral Law, anytime a Messianic miracle was performed, a priest was notified and an investigation had to be initiated to see if the Messiah had, in fact, come.

This investigation involved two stages. During the first stage after a claim, a group of leaders from the Pharisees were sent to observe this person for a period of seven days. During this time they weren’t allowed to interview them or comment on anything, they were just to follow them around and observe.

If, from their observations during those seven days, they didn’t see anything that would lead them to believe this could be the Messiah, the investigation was called off and everyone went on their way. However, if they saw further evidence that a messianic miracle may have taken place, then the investigation went into the second phase, they then called out the big guns. A second group of leaders from the Pharisees were sent out to observe and follow this person and this group was allowed to ask questions and pretty much interrogate the person at will in order to discern if they might be the Messiah.

Now, lets go back and read that passage again.

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” Matthew 8:1-4

Now do you see the significance of what He just did and why He said what He did? In healing the leper, Messiah had perfumed a miracle that only He could perform. He then told the man to be silent, tell no one else, but go to the priests who, had to have diagnosed him as a leper already, and show himself to them.

-By the way “The gift that Moses commanded” is a reference to Leviticus 14:1-32 and we need to take note that these are YHWH’s instructions being pass on by Moses.

Messiah knew exactly what He was doing. He had just forced the leaders of the Pharisees, the main party who would oppose Him, to not only take notice, but follow Him around for the next seven days, listening to every word He said and witnessing every deed He did.

Hang on boys, Messiah is in town. School is about to start.
Now you’re going to understand why the Pharisees spent so much time following and watching Him. Yup. He made that happen. 
What a BOSS move!

Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21

We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!

May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!

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Christy Jordan
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