Month 7:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:205 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 18 October 2017
The Way Yahweh Sees It
Shabbat shalom chaverim! Owing to sickness, this short teaching replaces the message I had planned for the Mishpachah.
How many of you are familiar with the passage, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"? None, I hope, because no such passage exists in the Bible, even in this KJV-sounding passage. Before you protest and claim that it is, in fact, Matthew 5:48, I have to almost agree with you. The problem is that there is a word missing from the passage I just shared with you, and that word makes all the difference to its meaning:
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt.5:48, KJV).
That "therefore" means that this passage cannot be taken in isolation - it has a context and that context is what rides before it. And you know how much I stress the vital importance of the context of any extract of Scripture - "text without a context is a pretext"...for mischief.
The Context of Demanded Perfection
So let us see the context that we may know what this perfection actually is that Yah'shua (Jesus) demands of us:
Imperfection is the Failure to Love
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt.5:44-48, NIV).
Imperfection, in Yahweh's eyes, is always the failure to love, and not just those we like or love. This is a huge doctrine and it is found nowhere else in the Bible, so it is easy to miss. Yes, we have all heard the mitzvah (commandment) to "love our enemies" but I dare say few of us equate that with perfection because we tend to either view this segment as two separate, unrelated passages or don't even consider the second one.
Impossible to Be Perfect?
I don't know how many people have told me that it is impossible to be perfect. If that is true, then it is impossible to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) and despitefully use them. It means we cannot, then, "be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven". It means that we cannot possibly do what Yahweh does in distributing sunshine and rain on everyone, to the deserving and the undeserving. It means we are all doomed to be like the unscrupulous, exploitative tax collectors of Yah'shua's (Jesus') day. It means that we are admitting to be like pagans. And it means that those who are actually doing these things - loving their enemies and those who persecute them - must be faking it. So how about knuckling down and accepting that Yah'shua (Jesus) does actually call us to be perfect?
An Extraordinary Attitude
There is a wider implication to this emet (truth) - a deeper implication which may alter our perspective on life and the way we view Elohim (God) - that its implication is that He showers grace on EVERYONE, from the most righteous to the most wicked. He gives every living soul undeserved loving kindness, unmerited favour. How do you feel about that? The carnal man is naturally appalled at the thought because to him this screams 'injustice'...which is how most of the world views Elohim (God) anyway.
Elohim is Not Unjust
Reflect on this more. Yah'shua (Jesus) uses the illustration of sun and rain so as to leave us in absolutely no doubt that Yahweh showers this grace equally. If you are walking down a street in sunshine, does more sunlight fall on the righteous than the wicked? If there has been a spell of very dry weather and suddenly it begins to rain (to the relief of everyone), does it rain more on the farming land of the righteous than it does on the land of the wicked? No. The actual GIVING of sunshine and the actual GIVING of rain is provided without regard for the moral state of those who receive them. If I cover my field with a black sheet of plastic, so that the sunshine and rain that is made available to everyone equally by Yahweh cannot be received, thus preventing the crop from growing, is that the fault of the weather conditions? No. Neither is it the fault of Yahweh that the wicked refuse to receive grace. And when they refuse it, it is not because Yahweh is unjust, is it? It is because they have said, 'No, thank you,' or worse.
When we view justice incorrectly it is because we have a wrong perspective. We're seeing things from the wrong angle, So when the distribution of blessings doesn't seem right, we instead blame-shift, accusing Yahweh instead of owning up to our own responsibility to choose to receive that grace or not. If you are not the recipient of His grace, it isn't because He has withheld it - "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" alike - it is because you have refused it. Yes, grace - undeserved loving kindness - is showered both on the saved and the unsaved. It is showered both on the Prodigal Son and the faithful but grumpy and resentful elder brother who thought an injustice was being done to him when his father decided to throw a party for his wicked (but now repentant) younger brother, something he had never been given. He just forgot that he already had everything and that this was a genuine cause for a major celebration!
Imitate His Dispensing of Grace
So, yes, Yah'shua (Jesus) absolutely does demand you be perfect, even as He is perfect. He expects you to imitate Him in the dispensing of grace - in showing unmerited favour - to both those who deserve love and those who not ... and especially those you think deserve love and those you think do not. If you love different categories of people based on your personal judgment of them in terms of their worthiness or unworthiness, then you have entirely missed the point of the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) - you do not understand it at all.
Capriciousness Not Allowed
Yahweh is not a capricious Sovereign who arbitrarily sends down more grace on some and less on others, nor does He use the pretext that he does not owe it to any man! Neither, then, ought we to be capricious. Yahweh owes it to His own infinite goodness to give every creature good in all its fullness, irrespective of whether those creatures do the same to each other or to Him. He showers on each the fullness of His grace. The problem is that we consent to receive it to a greater or lesser extent. Thus in purely spiritual matters, Yahweh grants all desires and those who have less have asked for less.
Acquire the Divine Perspective
The Saviour has served us notice. From now on we are to have this perspective and this goal. "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation" (Luke 1:50, NIV), for example, is a correct but not a complete perspective. Place that citation from the Tanakh (Old Testament) (Ex.20:6; Ps.103:17) in the context of Matthew 5:44-48 and you will see that the latter brings the former to completion - it is a 'filling up' or 'fulfilment' of these particular kinds of Torah passages. It is the difference between the perfection of the New Covenant the the imperfection or incompleteness of the Old Covenant because sometimes harsh rules had to be "added because of transgressions, till the Seed (Messiah) should come" (Gal.3:19, NKJV). Now we see justice in terms of the fullness. We see the limitless grace being handed out by our Heavenly Father instead of seeing it in human terms. Now we must see our lack in terms of our refusal to receive what was always there, not in terms of Yahweh withholding because we were bad. Yes, we're bad because we transgress, but our punishment is self-inflicted, even if Yahweh owns the judgment in name.
Yahweh's love never dries up or turns into hate because of sin. That's the finite human perspective - it only appears to be 'hate' because we are cut off from His grace, by our own choice to sin. So in our finite humanness, we view it as 'hate'. Yes, Yahweh hates sin but He doesn't hate His children. He takes no pleasure in punishment and "no pleasure in the death of the wicked" either (Ezek 33:11, NIV). We simply project our own prejudices and lack of love onto Him.
Then you'll become perfect.
"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk.6:36, RSV).
 Simone Weil, Gateway to God, ed. David Rapier with Malcolm Muggeridge & Vernon Sproxton (William Collins Sons & Co., England: 1974)
Comments From Readers
 "Shabbat shalom mispocha. Thank you so very much for posting this message. It is very convicting, because it is the exact opposite of what the flesh wants to do. I know this word is true by experience, because for my entire life, Yahweh has continually shown me love when I surely did not deserve His love. When I was homeless for 15 years, Abba continually sent me help from His sanctuary. To Him be all Glory, Honor, and praises both now and forever more. Amein" (RF, USA, 18 October 2017)