Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 3, 2022
Day 23: Evening
Commandments Greater Than the Ten Commandments?
by David Harwood
The Messiah was cornered by self-righteous, vengeful, defensive fault-finders. Remember, not all Pharisees were antagonistic, but these were overtly hostile. One of them, an expert in both Torah and tradition, tested Yeshua. He asked, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Torah?” (Matthew 22:36 TLV)
I would have thought that Yeshua might have quoted the first of the Ten Commandments. It is in first place for a reason. It is the foundation of all that followed. Here it is:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3)
Instead, Yeshua pointed out the two most important commands that God ever gave.
And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–39 TLV)
Neither of these two are in the Ten. God Incarnate said that they were more important than what God gave at Sinai.
Don’t skip over this. It’s quite remarkable. The Ten Commandments are very important. How significant are they? God, Himself, unmistakably emphasized them. Please recall that all Israel heard God speaking those words. Here’s the record:
Then God spoke all these words, saying… (Exodus 20:1 TLV)
What follows is what He said: the Ten Commandments. Moses described Israel’s experience:
From the heavens He made you hear His voice to instruct you, and on earth He caused you to see His great fire—you heard His words from the midst of the fire. (Deuteronomy 4:36 TLV)
I think that most of the followers of Yeshua I know discount the intensity of Israel’s experience at Sinai. It is rarely spoken of, let alone emphasized. Let it be known that this was an awe-full, frightening experience.
All the people witnessed the thundering and the lightning, and the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled and stood far off. So they said to Moses, “You, speak to us, and we will listen, but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-19 TLV)
Some mock Israel’s response: “Do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Well, I’d hate to see how we might react to something similar.
Their experience is described in Deuteronomy.
(Israel) said, ‘Adonai our God has just shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. This day we have seen that God speaks with man, and yet he keeps on living. Now then, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us! If we hear the voice of Adonai our God any more, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? (Deuteronomy 5:24-26 TLV)
Lightning flashed, the heavens roared, the ground shook under their feet. Sinai smoked, the mountain burned, and nature convulsed. The unshakeable One revealed Himself and Israel could not help but tremble. They were overwhelmed, disoriented, traumatized. Heaven’s shofar blasted and their Deliverer spoke from the midst of the flame. No thunder could hinder His words. A nation heard YaHWeH, the Living God, speak Ten Commands.
Yeshua did not reference any of them. He went beneath the surface and gave the relational foundation of each command.
The motivations for keeping the Ten Commandments are found in the two commands Yeshua prioritized. If God is wholeheartedly loved, the lover will put God first, reject idolatry, sanctify His Name and delight in the Sabbath. If someone loves others, they will honor their parents, and abhor murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and covetousness.
Paul agreed with Yeshua. Love fulfills the Torah.
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of the Torah. (Romans 13:10 TLV)
Yeshua exemplified the Great Command. As we cultivate our love for God, we will resemble Him more and more. God loves us, desires our love, and wants to relationally write these commands on our heart. Let us dignify what He reveals about our love’s value to Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Ask: God, please reveal to me that which would provoke me to love You more than I do.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 03-Dec-2022 9th of Kislev, 5783 Parashat Vayetzei
Ge 31:43-32:3 Hos 12:13-14:10 Jn 1:43-51