Month 2:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:37 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50, Omer Count - Shabbat #3
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 14 May 2016
Reaching the Summit
& the Two Great Duties of Man
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us in this short assembly this morning.
The Two Duties of Man
A very wise person once said:
"There are only two duties required of us - the love of Elohim (God) and the love of our neighbour, and the surest sign of discovering whether we observe these duties is the love of our neighbour" .
Heart of the Gospel
This precept of the Torah lies at the heart of the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as it does of the Torah itself. We read of this account in the Gospel of Luke:
Walking the Walk
"On one occasion an expert in the Torah (Law) stood up to test Yah'shua (Jesus). 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal chayim (life)?' 'What is written in the Torah (Law)?' He replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered: ''Love Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself''. 'You have answered correctly,' Yah'shua (Jesus) replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Yah'shua (Jesus), 'And who is my neighbour?'
"In reply Yah'shua (Jesus) said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A cohen (priest) happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the Torah (Law) replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Yah'shua (Jesus) told him, 'Go and do likewise'" (Luke 10:25-37, NIV).
A great scholar, whose name I do not for the moment recollect, taught that this ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) is not an emotion - a feeling (although that may be experienced) but is a principle of action - it reinforces effort , it demands that we do something, not merely talk or feel sympathetic. We must walk the walk and not just talk the talk. And though it is wonderful to have a deep feeling of ahavah (love) accompany the action or deed of ahavah (love), it is the action which is the main thing.
To Drift or Inspire
Margaret Bondfield (1873-1953), a Christian trade union organiser and first woman cabinet minister in the UK (becoming Minister of Labour in 1929), wrote that this is
In the Rut of Self-Justification vs. Flying High in Grace
"the vital difference between those who drift with the stream...and those...who inspire, revive and strengthen the corporate life life of their generation" .
It is in the doing of these ordinary everyday acts of kindness and grace that causes the inner life to become lit up with that inner light of the Ruach (Spirit) which gives you strength and effectiveness - the strength to meet defeat with a smile instead of a scowl or depression, and to face success with a sense of responsibility and humility. When we are willing to do our best without thought of reward or affirmation from others, pleasant and wonderful though such affirmation is, the Ruach (Spirit) lights up our soul. When we are willing to bear misrepresentation without giving way to irritation, anger, futile bitterness or desire for revenge or compensation, then the Ruach (Spirit) lights up our soul. This is the unseen world that Yahweh desires us to experience every day and by which we grow and mature in our chayim (life) in Him. Our actions demonstrate whether we love or do not love, and our response to the actions of others demonstrates whether we are still in the stagnant rut of self-justification or flying high in the sky of grace.
Life as a Grand Experiment
By making choices to act in holiness and righteousness we learn to love the Christian (Messianic) way. For, you see, the spiritual life is a grand experiment which ends in experience. It is not, however, a leap in the dark. Throughout its entire course there is a continual verification or confirmation of the fundamental principles of Torah, both that received through Moses from Yahweh the Father and that added to, and amplified by, the Saviour. It is this constant verification which leads to the conviction in our souls that we are on the right path.
A Mountaineering Analogy
It's a bit like climbing a mountain. We can get so absorbed in finding our way and securing footholds on the rock face that we lose all sense of how high we have climbed. But from time to time, when we can break our attention from the very important details of the safe climb, and can momentarily cast our gaze outwards and upwards, we can suddenly realise that we are nearer the summit than we supposed. Then - and only then - in such moments, do we get a sense of the bigger picture, or how well we have progressed or how we have floundered or stagnated.
Keep Going to the Summit
The important thing is to keep going, and as any mountaineer will tell you and, as my brother used to tell me, to look ahead and not back, to look up and not down, unless you have a strong stomach and don't suffer from vertigo, in which case you can amaze yourself at how high you have actually climbed! For the mountaineer, the goal is the summit from where he can survey in wonder and astonishment the amazing panorama which height affords, a saffer place to take in such beauty than from clambering up the vertical cliff face. Remember, the summit is the main thing - don't stop half way, from a place of danger, to admire an incompleted journey. Keep up the daily acts of ahavah (love).
Today, Tomorrow and the Next Day
Yah'shua (Jesus), in a surprisingly little cited passage, once said to those Pharisees who came to warn him that Herod was after His life:
Focussed on the Goal
"Go [and] tell that fox (Herod), 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day - for surely no navi (prophet) can die outside Jerusalem" (Luke 13:32-33, NIV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) was concerned with his labour of ahavah (love) that consisted of casting out demons and healing people. His goal was the Great Consummation of the Cross which He speaks of as "the third day", the day on which He would rise from the dead in victory over sin and death (Lk.18:33). He was not worried about the consequences of His actions as far as the reaction of the wicked was concerned - the criticism, defamation of character, death-threats and the like, which were many. He knew He would die and He knew where He would die - in Jerusalem. Therefore so long as He was doing what He was supposed to be doing "today and tomorrow", the day of His death would take care of itself for then He would be in the right place at the right time.
Avoiding the Unknown
We cannot live in the fullness if we are worried about the day after tomorrow. Yes, there are always consequences when you preach the emet (truth) and put ahavah (love) into action by doing good deeds daily - small acts of kindness, consideration and grace. This is how we are supposed to live. The Enemy will oppose but don't let what might happen 'the day after tomorrow', which for us is unknown, spoil what you are doing today to enrich the lives of others and to bring glory thereby to Yahweh. This is how we love Him.
Some things are past and best forgotten, some things are future and may be anticipated in tiqveh (hope) but most things of any importance lie in the immediate present. Paul said:
Love is the Immediate Goal
"I want to know Messiah and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which Elohim (God) has called me heavenward in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus)" (Phil.3:10-14, NIV)
He counselled Timothy:
Final Salvation as the Goal of Faith
"The goal ... is ahavah (love), which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere emunah (faith). Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the Torah (Law), but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm" (1 Tim.1:5-7, NIV).
The apostle Pater said:
"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious simcha (joy), for you are receiving the goal of your emunah (faith), the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9, NIV).
Do you want to know Yahweh more? Keep the goal of salvation-future in your hope, keep salvation-present close to your bosom, and keep on loving your neighbour without thought for yourself. Amen.
 William Sykes, Visions of Grace: An Anthology of Reflections (The Bible Reading Fellowship, Oxford: 1997), p.82