For Year A, February 19, 2017.
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
9-18 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.
You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.
You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
In verse two, it is most important to understand that God did not tell Moses to inform all the Israelites that they were holy because God had chosen them as followers. God is laying down the foremost law – the Commandment that says, “If you follow me, then you must be holy. You must be a Saint, because you reflect the presence of the LORD on earth. Because God (YAHWEH) is holy, then only priests who are as holy as God can call him or herself “God’s chosen people.” God chooses which human beings His Holy Spirit will fill … AND … that is based on the application of God’s laws, which were given to Moses to pass on to those who were in the ‘priests-for-the-One-God’ congregation.
Verses nine through eighteen are then some of those laws that become prerequisites for Sainthood. You shall not be a greedy human being, one who takes everything possible as a priest and hoards it to one’s self. You only possess that which you have worked for and earned, so you do not take that which is not yours, which someone else may or may not have worked hard to acquire. If you are poor and take some grapes or wheat from the outer edges of a rich man’s field, then that is not stealing.
The law says you do not cheat and swindle people because you know how to take advantage of people who easily trust others. This is stealing, which furthers the greediness of what one already has taken from the earth. This means people like Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump, who have been caught making a profit off their taking advantage of others, are not worthy of calling themselves God’s chosen people.
The aspect of lying is a strong determiner of one’s holiness, as Jesus only told the truth, because God is truth. God exposes liars. Dealing falsely with someone means lying to them. The opposite of false is true. When God told Moses, “You shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God,” the meaning is to lie to someone and “swear by God the lie is the truth.” To make such a clam is to speak profanely, thus promoting lies in the name of holiness is the definition of “profanity,” as it is blasphemous speech.
In the laws of God, through Moses and Jesus, the use of “neighbor” has been grossly misunderstood. In Moses’ case, he was giving laws to a cloistered group of people, all of whom were related to Jacob, descended from one of his sons. Simply because these “relatives” were so many in number, they were strangers to a large extent, such that marriage to distant cousins was accepted (and preferred, to keep it “all in the family”). Therefore, the prior commandments not to defraud or lie to “one another” were intended to be a condition between friends and close relatives.
That meant “Your neighbor” was one of those strangers who lived nearby. Those became the hired hands and those stricken by infirmities (deafness and blindness). God made it clear that you will be judged by how you treat those in the same “religion” or “race” as yourself. A poor judgment was to be feared, at all costs, because condemnation meant being “excommunicated” from God and outcast as a regular sinful human being, not chosen by God.
Speaking of God’s judgment, Moses went on to state, “You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.” To only render just judgment, to be impartial to those fortunes are higher or lower than yours, and to judge those of the same blood fairly and justly, one needs some very good guidance. That comes directly from God, through the presence of His Holy Spirit. Thus, a saintly priest for YAHWEH shall not do anything contrary to just judgment (and just judgment does not mean turned a blind eye to the sins of one’s neighbors and not calling another priest out for not doing what God wants).
To say you should not slander “among your people,” the word that translates as “slanderer” is also translatable as “talebearer.” In modern legal definition, “slander” means: “Oral communication of false and malicious statements that damage the reputation of another.” In general, it is “A false and malicious statement or report about someone.” As a “talebearer” the reference is to the spreading of gossip and innuendos. Therefore, the meaning is less in legal terms, where one’s abilities to profit off some secret dealings that people close to that person might intuit as unsavory and talk about it to others (without proof). The meaning is wholly relative to a priest who is to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, where knowledge goes well beyond intuition. A priest has no need to talk the secret dealings of others who also call themselves priests to YAHWEH (among your people), as God knows their sinful deeds and so do they (from guilt). As one who is to be holy, one needs to leave the rumor mill alone; but advise others from wisdom, which will protect the innocent by holy insight, not fear from tales unproved.
When God then added, “you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor,” this can equally translate as, “you shall not stand [or act] against the life of your neighbor.” [NASB] Whereas the word “blood” is read as meaning “life,” as “lifeblood” being spilt, leading to death, the pairing of this law with the act of slander means a priest of the One God is not to talk in ways that lead the death of another priest. The translation of “profit” then hints at a purpose for taking a “stand,” or “acting” (via slander and tale bearing) against one’s own people (another priest). There can be no profit for any priest going against this law, only loss in terms of spiritual reward.
When Moses was told to command, “You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin,” there are translations that state “kin” as “brother.” The broader meaning beyond a “relative” is “countrymen,” where this is another reference to the lineage of the Israelites. They are commanded not to hate “fellows” in religion or race. By omission, they are not commanded to not hate anyone. Remember that the heart is the seat of God within each individual priest. By that relationship, where all the Israelites were “kin” of God (all Sons of God via the Holy Spirit), to hate another whose heart held YAHWEH means to hate God. That hate is forbidden. Evil, on the other hand, whose god Satan lurks in the hearts of many men and obviously so, should be expected to feel emotions like hatred, if God’s Spirit moves one to that state. If two of God’s priests differ on how they react to evil, God does not give a priest whose heart is not filled with hatred about evil to hate another priest whose heart is so moved to hate evil.
This means that the amendment to this law states, “You shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.” This means that a priest whose heart does not hate evil (for reasons God has chosen, from within that priest), they are to “reprove” or “argue” the “reason” for another’s hatred, in order to bring the other away from hatred, through understanding what all hatred does to one’s spirit. If one does not take this approach, then one is affected by the mood of a “fellow” priest, so one’s hatred of evil makes another hate evil as if it were that fellow. Two hates do not a holy one make. As such, a failure to address hatred by way of God-led discussion will lead one to the same guilt as projected upon another.
Finally, as far as this reading allows, God told Moses to command: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Again, vengeance and grudges are to be determined by God’s will, and many times God commanded his priest to take vengeance upon evildoers and God complained loudly against those who had promised God their faith, but turned away from God. This means vengeance and grudges are the Lord’s, and the Lord will use His faithful to carry out His will. Us mere priests must not start thinking we are God and ordering retribution, based on grudges, especially towards other priests (any of your people). That becomes an extension of hatred in one’s heart directed towards one of God’s own.
This means that the “arguing” ordered before, to address hatred in another priest, must be done as an “act” of “love.” Again, “your neighbor” is one whom a priest lives among, with that neighborhood being other priests, but those who are not necessarily blood kin or directly descended from a family’s blood. A “neighbor” is not anyone else of a different religion or race. In terms of Christians, who have lived in increasing melting pot nations for millennia, a neighborhood can consist of many different branches of Christianity, as well as religions that differ greatly from faith in YAHWEH or belief in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. God is not making a commandment to Moses for the Israelites to love the Ammonites, Midianites, Moabites, or Philistines. Those enemies lived in the same lands as the Israelites would settle, but each had separate “neighborhoods.” Therefore, Christians are not commanded to love those who hate Christians by living among them and accepting their ways. Jesus said to love you enemies, and to do that you allow your enemies to be filled with hatred for you, but at a distance that respects their right to not be Christians. You love by allowing others to choose to love God … or not. You love them by letting them make that decision. Meanwhile, you are to love fellow Christians as the Christians you are.
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
I shall keep it with all my heart.
35 Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for that is my desire.
36 Incline my heart to your decrees *
and not to unjust gain.
37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, *
which you make to those who fear you.
39 Turn away the reproach which I dread, *
because your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for your commandments; *
in your righteousness preserve my life.
This song of praise focuses on the Mosaic Law. David begins by asking God for His direct assistance in “teaching” the path of those laws in a real life, so David could maintain a righteous life until death. That help from God is then explained as “understanding,” which does not come from the brain interpreting the written or oral Word, but from the Lord being loved and seated in one’s heart (a marriage to God via the Holy Spirit).
This love of God is then explained as “my desire,” which commands David to do as God wishes (like a wife obeys her husband).Thus, David sang longingly, “Incline my heart to your decrees.” When one is completely committed to serving the Lord (like a wife to God) then one is free from worldly distractions. All that can be seen as a worldly “gain” is just reward for service rendered, just as a husband provides for his wife or wives. All that the world offers (beyond needs) is “worthless to watch.”
When David wrote this song that prays for God to show him the way, his prayers were answered by Jesus Christ. To end by singing, “Behold, I long for your commandments; in your righteousness preserve my life,” the laws of Leviticus are expanded in meaning by Jesus and Paul, which is rooted in love. From holy love comes holy wisdom, so one can then lead others to be preserved in life – eternally.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.”
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future– all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
When Paul wrote to the Christians of Corinth (who were equally filled with the Holy Spirit, from having heard the Gospel of Christ from him), “like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it,” the foundation was that onset of the Holy Spirit. When Paul then added, “that foundation is Jesus Christ,” he said that he and every other true Christian were based in the holiness that was the same as that which made Jesus the Messiah. ALL SAINTS are (as their underlying foundation – their cornerstone) the rebirth of Jesus Christ. From that foundation, “each builder must choose with care how to build on it, for no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid.” No one is or can be anyone other than that resurrection of Jesus, with the Christ mind.
Thus, Paul’s question, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” is rhetorical to another who is equally a Saint and filled with God’s presence. The body of a Saint is the temple, with God’s throne seated in the heart of the Saint. God only dwells in those who welcome God with love, believing in Jesus as the way to God.
When Paul wrote, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person,” the point is at the root of why Paul wrote letters to Christians he had touched with God’s Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Christ. His letters warned (in a friendly compassionate manner) that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not gift from God that makes life easy and comfortable. Because of the struggles that Saints encounter typically, some may be influenced to turn away from God, for a moment of ease; but turning away for more than an occasional minor sin will destroy that holy seat in one’s heart, evicting God from one’s being. Without God, the promise of eternal life is destroyed. A human being with aspirations to be a Saint cannot serve two gods. It is one or the other: God or earth.
In relation to this choice that one makes (and to which God reciprocates), the holy gift of wisdom, coming through the Christ mind, is understood by the human brain (God’s physical gift from which mortal life is maintained). This wisdom must always be received as insight from God and not one’s own personal powers of observation and discernment. Without God’s influence, a human being is nothing more than a fool. Therefore, admission of how lame one’s brain is, when compared to the Christ mind, means admitting one’s abilities to know something wise has nothing to do with a simple brain.
Paul then quoted Job (Job 5:13), where Job wrote, “He captures the wise by their own shrewdness, And the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.” Paul then quoted David (Psalm 94:11), whose psalm sings, “The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.” Therefore, Paul’s holy wisdom is pointing out to the Saints of Corinth to be careful not to think you can sneak anything past God, through a cunning brain that sees how easy it is to make others think what one wants them to think. God exposes these cheats, so they will eventually be known as fools of no value.
Those who demand beliefs and trusts be put in human beings are those who “boast about human leaders.” We see this every day in the politics of government. When God is seated in one’s heart center, then the only leader of merit is God. The Christ mind will point out ALL the flaws of those who boast of human wisdom and powers of influence. Paul was a leader to the Christians of Corinth, but they need not boast of Paul, because a Saint has the same lone leader as Paul – God. The resurrection of one body – Jesus Christ – is the proven result of God as one’s leader within. The only one who matters in one’s future, in the world and beyond, in life and in death, is God … not some human being who makes promises that he or she cannot deliver.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
When Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ this is misunderstood as Hammurabi’s Code (who ruled over what is now Iran), but is actually a reference (to Jews) to a partial law of Moses. It is one verse of four, found in Exodus 21:22-25, which is Exodus 21:24. That verse completely says: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” so Jesus was Jesus was saying part of a verse, to spur the memories of Jews who had been taught to memorize the Mosaic Law. It was like him saying, “I say ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ and you say … “(fill in the blank).”
If one is fully able to fill in the blanks before and after Jesus’ queue, one then will realize that Exodus 21:22 states, “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.” The initial aspect that one must grasp, which then directly relates to turning one’s cheek, is “if men struggle” and fight one another. While verse 22 states a “whew, no harm done to the pregnant woman because her baby came out unharmed,” verse 23 says, “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life.” This says (through implication) that if the woman dies in childbirth, or if the baby is born and dies, then death shall be the punishment to the one wrongly striking a pregnant woman – not for striking her husband and killing him in a fight.
When Jesus said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” this is the damage done to the woman and/or child, although babies are not born with teeth. When there is also consideration for “hand for hand and foot for foot,” with verse 25 ending with “burn for burn, bruise for bruise, and wound for wound,” the implication is a husband of a pregnant wife would be due compensation (equal justice) for injuries wrongfully inflicted on his property – the wife and baby. This is the only place in the Holy Bible’s Old Testament where such a law is stated. Because it deals with men quarreling (with those men known to be the segregated men of the twelve tribes of Israel (to become the descendants known as Jews), it is not a reference made by Jesus about Jews fighting Romans … or anyone other than one another, those of the same religion and race. Therefore, Jesus, who sat on the mount by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, spoke to his Jewish followers, disciples, and pilgrims in Galilee for the Passover and Shavuot festivals. The Hammurabi Code is more applicable to Persians, with that transferring to anyone seeking revenge.
From this perspective that Jesus was not speaking to the whole wide world about not fighting, but only to those who had chosen YAHWEH as their God and by following Jesus to hear his Sermon on the Mount sought to be good priest serving that God, Jesus was giving an understanding of how one avoids God’s Judgment in the end by avoiding the court system, where men interpret laws wrongly on a daily basis. To avoid having your pregnant wife injured as a result of YOUR fight with ANOTHER PRIEST FOR YAHWEH, just don’t fight at all. Stay away from evildoers to begin with, because the same as a Jew not being allowed to fight a pagan is that touching them with a fist makes you as heathen as they are. If you are urged to come to blows with another Jew, it takes two to tango with evil. Stay out of the court of law entirely, such that if someone tries to sue you for the shirt off your back, then give it to him prior to having to go to court.
When Jesus said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile,” that is the story of Jacob. He bargained with Laban for the right to marry his younger daughter Rachel, only to be given his elder daughter Leah. Rather than take Laban into some court to settle that dispute, he repeated the bargain so he could win the woman he desired. Jesus made that reference because a priest for the One God desires heaven for the labors; but if heaven on earth is not the reward given first – only fleeting phases of happiness – keep working for the second reward. In this way one is begging the Lord for a handout, which makes one a spiritual beggar. Therefore, do not turn away from those of your own kind whose hand comes out to you for a help or reward.
The saying stated by Jesus, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” is not a direct quote from Mosaic Law. Moses did speak for God when he said “Love you neighbor as yourself,” where “neighbor” was a commandment to Levites (Leviticus 19:18), which mean the Israelites were to live among other Israelites, not to mix with those of differing customs and religions. Thus a “neighbor” was one of the same commitment to the One God and not just anyone who lives down the street (in the non-Jewish or mixed community).
The addition now is Jesus saying, “You have heard it said, ‘hate your neighbor’,” where that was those Roman soldiers who lived close, so they could control the dominions of the Emperor of Rome. The Jews of Jesus’ day – in particular the Zealots and rebellious Jewish cliques [those seeking a warrior Messiah from God] – were trying to convince all Jews to lay down their lives to retake Jerusalem [and Judea] for them, as the Promised Land still owed. It was about this new message that Jesus then spoke.
When Jesus then said to those Jewish listeners, “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven,” it is vital to understand the Greek infinitive verb “agapaó,” which translates as “to love.” “Love” is a word that everyone recognizes, but when asked to define “love,” they stammer and become limited with the meanings of that emotion. Strong’s states “agapaó” can be used in a context that means, “I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem.” Further, their help for understanding Biblical uses of Greek words says, “With the believer, 25 /agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction).” Since Jesus only spoke what God meant (and never what Jesus the man thought up), “To love one’s enemies” simply means to see your enemy as yourself. Just as you have beliefs and faith in your God, so too do others feel devotion to their god(s). You can then “love” you enemies by wishing your enemies well in their devotion to a different god. You express that “love” through separation – giving your enemy the space they need to not be confronted by you and your differences. You are “actively doing what the Lord prefers” (“loving God”) by staying focused on your love of God, rather than splitting your focus between love and hate.
Just as Jesus did not mean the world should give up fighting, because “eye for an eye, tooth for tooth” is the need for judgment for those who fight and cause injury, fighting as a part of combat training or a ritual for manhood, with all pregnant women far, far away, was a natural necessity for a nation of people. Such preparation is due to knowing one nation means another nation that can profit from destroying that one nation. Enemies are as natural as is fighting is, but the enemy is loved by allowing another nation to exist, without doing anything that promotes or compounds a natural dislike for differences, as sticking your tongue out and yelling, “Na, na, na, na, na. We are better than you,” leads dislike to become hatred.
When Jesus then said good priests for the One God should “pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven,” the meaning is a good priest is not a Saint by praying for selfish things. To pray for an enemy means you are asking God to enlighten one’s persecutors to the sins they are committing. Resisting persecution will only cause more persecution in return. But to accept persecution and demonstrate to the persecutors that one is willing to suffer without fighting back, means one is serving God by believing God has the power to bring strong guilt to those who bear evildoing responsibilities. Such sacrifice is what makes one a child of heaven.
When Jesus explained that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,” one should see how “his sun” is the illumination and enlightenment of truth. The truth is true in all cases, both to liars and the truthful – so the truth rises on evil and good. When Jesus then said that God “sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous,” one should see “rain” as the waters of emotion, such that “tears” fall like rain on all mankind, both those who do evil and those who do good. One’s “rain” falls like tears of sorrow, while the other’s “rain” falls like tears of joy. These “rains” come from the prayers of the faithful for the persecutors.
When Jesus ended this segment of words by saying, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” the point was for true priests for the One God to go beyond self-serving acts and act for others. This (we now know, from the Apostles letters) means being filled with the Holy Spirit. From that perspective of knowledge (like that held by Jesus), Judaism goes beyond all other religions in the world. From the abilities to withstand persecution given by the power of God, the enemies of the world can be led to the light and rain of YAHWEH.