Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 24, 2022
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,
Day 25: Morning
The Childlike Participate in the Kingdom of Heaven
by David Harwood
Yeshua said that Father revealed His Kingdom to little children (Matthew 11:25-30). He turned the tables on wisdom when He called a naïve child and told the self-sufficient that childlikeness was the key to participation in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-4).
The next time in Matthew’s Gospel that children are upheld as examples is in contrast to the Messiah’s disciples. Children were brought to Him so He might place His hands on them and pray for them. His apostles sought to prohibit their access to the King.
But Yeshua said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 TVL)
Who knew that the Kingdom was comprised of the childlike? The Kingdom is not somber or stoic. Speaking of the overly serious, there is another time in Matthew that children exemplify spiritual virtue. It is the iconic example of children recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah and rejoicing in the Son of David.
The blind and lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. But when the ruling kohanim and Torah scholars saw the wonders He performed, and the children crying out in the Temple and saying, “Hoshia-na to Ben-David,” they became indignant. And they said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Yeshua said to them. “Haven’t you ever read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing toddlers You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”(Matthew 21:14-16 TLV)
The children were enthusiastic. They tend to get that way. Yeshua approved. Note, they were shouting in the temple. I can understand why those who refuse to get swept up in a fad might reflexively reject both the shouts and the shouters. Chief priests were dignified. Scribes were objective. They didn’t shout and nobody shouted about them. They got seriously irked (envy? Matthew 27:18).
He healed the blind and the lame. That provoked the praise. To me, these categories represent people who can’t see where they are going and, even if they could, have no ability to get there. Do you recall that it was written that blind and lame priests were prohibited from ministering before the Lord (Leviticus 21:18)? Imagine being disqualified from your purpose and then being restored to your reason for living.
Through miracles of personal restoration, Yeshua was revealed as the hope of Israel’s national salvation. The healings confirmed Yeshua’s identity. This was fresh revelation. Who knows what the children understood? We know this: they had more illumination than their leaders. These excited kids might not have understood the Messiah’s deity, but they were loving Him with all their hearts.
In the light of this, I look at myself and realize that my love for God could use some refreshing. Let me ask you what I’m asking me: Who do you identify with? The children or the leaders? Right now, I identify with a blind and lame man whose love for God needs sight and strength.
How might my love for God be strengthened? All I have to do is become like a child. When children need help, they ask for it. When they’re in pain, they complain. If a burden is too heavy, they look for assistance.
What might we do if we esteem the Great Commandment, but our love for God is less than wholehearted? I recall the Messiah’s words,
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 TLV)
Within the call is the promise of refreshing.
Those who hear the Lord beckoning them respond by drawing near to Him. Is there a promise for those who do? Yes.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a TLV)
If our love for Him is not immediately refreshed, we should not give up. Seeking Him pays off.
Now without faith it is impossible to please God. For the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 TLV)
In our weakness we may need protracted seasons of waiting on the Lord. The prophet promised:
but they who wait for Adonai will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31a TLV)
The love for the Lord of those who wait upon Him will be strengthened.
He won’t let you down, so rise up and receive.
Let the heart of those who seek Adonai rejoice. (Psalm 105:3 TLV)
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 24-Dec-2022 30th of Kislev, 5783 Chanukah Day 6
Parashat Miketz Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Chanukah I
Ge 43:30-44:17 Zec 2:14-4:7 Php 2:1-11
Nu 28:9-15; 7:42-47 1 Macc ch. 11-12