Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, February 13, 2023

It’s A Heart “Thang” – Romans, part 25

Romans 2:17 But if you call yourself Jewish and rely upon the Torah and boast in God… (summarizing – don’t say one thing and do anther, making yourself a hypocrite)

Paul is writing to set a great number of things right regarding the ways of the kingdom of God.  Previously, Paul has written about the value of being a doer of the word…. Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified.  

Rabbi Trail:  Wait just one minute… I thought this was a letter to the Romans.  There’s a lot of talk about “Torah” here.  Must have been a lot of Jewish people mixed in among those Romans.  Paul is talking a lot about Torah to the body of Messiah as if it is important to everybody.  Maybe everyone (both Jews and non-Jews) should read Romans.  And, that’s an understatement.  End RT.

Now Paul continues by addressing Jewish people.  Romans 2:17a But if you call yourself Jewish….  This is the beginning of an “if/then” statement that continues to the end of the chapter in verse 29.  What follows is a warning against hypocrisy.  Paul then arrives at this conclusion….

Romans 2:28 For one is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something visible in the flesh. 29 Rather, the Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—in Spirit not in letter. His praise is not from men, but from God.

What’s this?  Is Paul saying, “It’s a heart ‘thang?’”  He certainly is.  Paul is not devaluing being Jewish.  He is valuing having our hearts in the right place.  For every physical reality, there is a greater spiritual reality.  Paul is making that point regarding circumcision.

Paul’s point here is that we cannot perform our way into God’s good graces.  The rabbis have written the volumes (and they spend a lifetime studying them) trying to perfect performance.  God knows that if He has our hearts, everything else will come into alignment with His commandments.  Our short-term assignment, learn to listen to (to take instruction from) the Holy Spirit.

Jacob 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded!

It really is a “heart thang.”

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things.

Shallom, shalom.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Mon 13-Feb-2023 22nd of Sh’vat, 5783
Ex 21:20-22:4(3) 2 Ki 8 Ps 132-133 Jn 9 (1 Ti 6)