Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 6

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(Matthew 5:31-32)

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, can we look into the heart of God and learn what He expects in a marriage? 

In this case in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking of a provision in the Law of Moses that permitted a man to divorce his wife. Take time to look at Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Notice the “if’s” in this passage. If a man divorced a woman and she went out and married again, then that woman could not return to her original husband. God was putting limits on people continually marrying and divorcing in order to keep from defiling the land in which they lived.

Thankfully, we have Jesus’ additional commentary on Deuteronomy 24. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10 we see Jesus in a controversy with the Jewish leadership about marriage. They confronted and tested Him on the topic of marriage, and they used Deuteronomy 24 as the grounds for the argument. They were clearly having a controversy among themselves, and they wanted to bring Jesus into the middle of the fight.

Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?

Did Moses “command” a man to divorce his wife?

What Jesus does is expertly and surgically cut through to the heart of the issue, revealing the hardness of heart and hypocrisy of the people. He takes them to the beginning of the “Law” in Genesis 2 to show God’s heart and original design for marriage. We don’t start in the New Testament to learn what pleases God in marriage,we start in the Garden of Eden with the first marriage.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:3-9)

The heart of God is plain in the Old Testament, “Don’t divorce.” Marriage is a covenant with God, and by divorcing and committing adultery we defile that holy covenant.

But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
(Malachi 2:14-16)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.
(Proverbs 2:16-19)

This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”
(Proverbs 30:20)

You can see from these Scriptures, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to honor marriage. The Law did in this case give provision for divorce, but God’s heart and expectation for marriage has always been the same. Marriage is a lifelong covenant, don’t divorce. If the Jewish man would have searched the Scriptures for God’s heart on marriage, he would have found it. If he was looking for a loophole to exit marriage, then his heart is revealed and he got exactly what he was looking for. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 5

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 5

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay for the Jew to repay eye for eye and tooth for tooth? (Matthew 5:38-42)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
(Matthew 5:38-42)

Remember first of all that Jesus is not fighting against or correcting the Law of Moses but correcting the hypocritical and carnal applications of the Law taught by the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:17-20). The Law would be fulfilled and nailed to the cross by Jesus, but He was not in this Sermon trying to correct or improve upon it.

In the Law of Moses, God made clear distinctions between murder, accidental death, self-defense, vengeance, capital punishment, etc. Not all killing was murder. But God did teach very plainly that the mindset that should guide His people is to love their neighbors and their enemies, and not to take vengeance for themselves.

The Law of Moses did say, “eye for and eye” and “tooth for tooth,” but in context God was teaching about how civil authorities were to administer punishment and fines for crimes. The Law of Moses in this case was not telling individuals that they could personally dole out retribution, but apparently that is how some, for carnal reasons, had applied it.

Notice the passage below. See the context of “eye for eye” was “as the judges determine.” It was the congregation as a community that administered punishment, not the individual (Leviticus 24:16-23).

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.
(Exodus 21:22-27)

This principle is very consistent with the New Testament. The Christian, just like the Jew,  is not allowed to take vengeance, because that is God’s realm. Sometimes, many times, that punishment comes through the hands of civil authorities.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18)

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, Paul is quoting from I believe Deuteronomy 32:25).

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
(Romans 13:1-5)

You can see from these Scriptures, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to keep from retaliation. Vengeance was to be left up to God, and punishment was to be left up to the authorities. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4

 

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to constantly fight and litigate every issue in court? (Matthew 5:25)

…do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.
(Proverbs 25:8-10)

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
(Proverbs 17:14)

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
(Proverbs 18:6)

In the Old Testament, was it okay to keep from turning the other cheek? Is turning the other cheek a uniquely Christian concept? (Matthew 5:38-39)

Several examples are in the Old Testament of those who turned the other cheek: Job (Job 16:10), Micaiah (1 Kings 22:24), and the prophecy of Jesus (Isaiah 50:6). David turned the other cheek with King Saul (1 Samuel 24:10-15), and was taught by Abigail to do so toward Nabal (1 Samuel 25:31-34).

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust– there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
(Lamentations 3:25-33)

You can see from the Old Testament passages, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to turn the other cheek and to be quick to resolve conflicts. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to hate your enemy? (Matthew 5:43)

Psalm 139 says the Psalmist David hated the enemies of God with perfect hatred. But we have to keep that in context with the rest of the Old Testament. The Psalmist was intensely and passionately opposed to the wicked ways of man and he stood militantly for God’s ways. But look at how David viewed those who mistreated him.

Even David prayed for his enemies:

Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. But I, when they were sick– I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions!
(Psalms 35:11-17)

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:17-18)

“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.
(Exodus 23:4-5)

If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.
(Proverbs 17:13)

“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him (I have not let my mouth sin by asking for his life with a curse),
(Job 31:29-30)

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.
(Proverbs 24:17-18)

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
(Proverbs 25:21-22; quoted in Romans 12:20-21)

You can see from the Old Testament passages, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to love his enemies, to pray for them, to do good for them and to bless them. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

We began last Friday a consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to lust as long as you didn’t commit adultery? (Matthew 5:27-30)

The 10th commandment says otherwise (Exodus 20:17). “Do not covet.” Just replace that word with lust. Do not covet (lust for) your neighbor’s wife.

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
(Proverbs 6:23-28)

Job 31:1 – Job made a covenant with his eyes. He honored his marriage vows even with his eyes.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to play semantics with your promises in order to weasel out of keeping your word? (Matthew 5:33-37)

The 9th commandment says otherwise (Exodus 20:16). Don’t bear false witness.

The 3rd commandment also says otherwise (Exodus 20:3). Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Don’t invoke God’s name, including when making a commitment, unless you are dead serious about honoring His name by keeping that oath.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-6 – Don’t be hasty to utter promises…God is in heaven and you are on earth, let your words be few. If you are going to make a commitment, keep it!

As you can see from the Old Testament passages, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to keep from lust and to keep his word. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

During what we call the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Jesus said many times “You have heard that it was said…” and He followed it with “but I say unto you…” Was Jesus teaching new concepts and new morality?

The impression that is left when some talk about the Sermon on the Mount is that Jesus was teaching an entirely new standard of morality that wasn’t part of the Law of Moses. That’s just not true. What Jesus did was correct how the Scribes and Pharisees had incorrectly interpreted and applied the Law because of the hardness of their hearts.

Here are some examples from the Sermon on the Mount to illustrate that Jesus was correcting the hypocritical interpretation of the Law:

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:20)

In Matthew 6, when Jesus was talking about prayer, charity and fasting, He compared true righteousness to how the “hypocrites” (Scribes and Pharisees) were behaving (Matthew 6:2,5,16).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about lust, anger without a cause, keeping your word, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile and loving your enemy. Are those uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses?

Let’s look into the Old Testament and see.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to be angry without a cause as long as you didn’t kill that person?

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
(Matthew 5:21-22)

You can’t read far into the book of Genesis without seeing God correct someone about anger. Genesis 4 shows God calling out Cain about his anger toward his brother Abel. Cain’s anger was without cause, and God said he needed to “rule over it.”

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
(Psalms 37:8)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
(Proverbs 14:29)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
(Ecclesiastes 7:9)

You can see that Jesus was not instituting a new ethic. This is the heart that God always wanted from His people.

More to come later..