Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, March 3, 2023
(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Set Right By Faith – Romans, part 39

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was set right by works, he has something to boast about—but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Abraham is the first to be called a Hebrew.  The Hebrew word for “Hebrew” is “Ivri.”  It means one who has crossed over.  Abraham did more than cross the Euphrates River in his desire to follow God’s command, to get up and go (Genesis 12:1).  He was the first to “cross over” from unbelief into faith in the One True and Living God.  Genesis 15:6 Then he believed in Adonai and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

This verse is quoted as the last part of our subject text.  Paul asks, what did Abraham find?  Then he clarifies by asking if Abraham was “set right’ by works.  In the Greek, being “set right” is “Dikaios” (Strong’s 1344) meaning “justified, vindicated, cleared of all charges.”  I even found one place where it is translated “perfect.”  Paul used it liberally in chapter 3 (6 times), so he is clearly building on this theme of being “set right” with God.

The middle verse of our subject text is Romans 4:2.  It informs us of a few things.  First, that Abraham didn’t work to be set right with God.  Work involves wages (a deserved payment) but being set right with God is a gift of faith.  Here, we see Paul is beginning to make his case for the last verse of Romans 6…. Romans 6:23 For sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.    

The second thing we learn is that nothing of works can boast before the perfect One, God our Father.  I want to comment further on this by using a high jump analogy.  A works mentality involves a bar or threshold.  Jump over it, and into heaven you go, fall short of it (or miss the mark) and there is a life sentence to hell waiting for you.  It all depends on how good a “jumper” you are.  In such a scenario, there would be those who barely get in, and those who don’t quite measure up.

Rabbi Trail:  Judaism teaches a performance based plan of prayer (saying the words of liturgical prayers with intentionality) and observance, combined with repentance in order to be written in the book of life for another year.  Yeshua came and shed His own blood so that He could use it to write your name in the book of life, never to be erased, even after physical death.  End RT.

God’s plan of faith so much better.  It is based on love, His love for us and also our love for Him in return.  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  God loves and we believe.  It is still one of my favorite verses.   Read the context and agree with God’s plan to be set right with Him through faith.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Fri 3 Mar-2023 10th of Adar, 5783
Ex 29:38-46 Isa 2 Pr 2 Ac 2 (Heb 8)