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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Twentieth (Love)

As the topic for this week came to mind, I looked back and was surprised that we haven't looked at it yet. I remember growing up and going to church, listening to the sermon, and at some point it just turned into the same message every week: be kind to your neighbor. There stopped being meat to the message (1 Corinthians 3:1-3a). Now, mind you, I went to a different church occasionally and listening to that sermon there was too much meat! I had no clue on about 90% of what they were saying, but looking back now and vaguely remembering some of the things said they absolutely make sense.

That's not to say being kind to your neighbor, or more biblically, loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, Leviticus 19:18) is always a milk message. Just the way it was given in that particular church with that particular pastor, it was very superficial. In fact, loving your neighbor can be a very meaty message when you start to dig into it.

First, let's figure out who our neighbor is. I'm sure you have heard before, but the word neighbor here does not just mean the person next door. If you look at the Greek, it's plesion, which comes from pelas, meaning near. If you look at the Hebrew, it's rea, which Strong's tells us means friend, companion, fellow. However, in the case of the Hebrew, the usage in the Old Testament ranges from the context of intimate friend to just another person.

We're going to focus on the Hebrew word, since Jesus was actually quoting a Levitical commandment, and we find that the first use of this word is actually in reference to those that built the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:3). In fact, simply by the nature of the word it requires there to be some sort of relationship or interaction between people in order for it to be used appropriately. For example, in the verse about those building the Tower they were working together to make bricks. In other words, YHWH commanded that whoever we interact with or have relationships with we must love as ourselves.

As a side note on that, I find it interesting that the commandment involved loving oneself. I mean, some people absolutely don't love themselves. Others love themselves a little too much, if you know what I mean. My belief is that these characteristics are influences of evil, but if you have either one it seems to me it would be a challenge to know how to love others in the way YHWH commands us to. Perhaps, if they are a result of evil influence, that's exactly what Satan's goal is. Just a thought.

But as far as loving others, when we look at Yeshua's actions they confirm that our love should not be limited to our literal neighbor, those in our neighborhood, or even just those of our same faith. Not only did He heal Jews, He healed a nobleman's son (John 4:43-54), a Roman centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13), and raised a synagogue leader's daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18,23-26). Remember, the current religious leadership would certainly not be considered friends of Yeshua. So clearly to Yeshua, everyone was His "neighbor."

When you think about it though, loving others is not just the right thing to do, it also just logically makes sense. We're all related in some way, so anyone you meet is just a distant relative at the least. When you do the math, if you go back between 1,000 to 3,000 years most people have a common ancestor. Kinda makes sense with what we know from YHWH's word, huh? :) Actually, when you look at the history of the tribes of Israel, it was about 3,000 years ago the dispersion occurred. Perhaps our lineage is more Israelite than we originally thought...

Now, you may be aware of a not-so-recent movement to raise children by letting them do whatever they want. Parents love their children, perhaps more than people love in any other type of relationship, so they want to do whatever is best for them. But, YHWH told us this is not the way we should raise them (Proverbs 13:24), so why should we expect that His love for us would result in letting us do whatever we want?

That's exactly why Yeshua connected all of YHWH's commandments to what He listed as the two greatest commandments. He said on those two commandments hung all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40). When you look at all the commandments, they all fall into those two categories. But just how far did they go in terms of loving others? Is it just about honoring your father and mother? Is it just about not coveting, or not killing, or not stealing?

Well, it might surprise you to find out it wasn't just those big things He commanded. He commanded against being dishonest with weights and measures, which would cheat people out of the full worth of what they were selling or on the flip side not provide people the full amount of whatever product they paid for (Deuteronomy 25:15-16). He commanded that fields not be harvested clean so the poor or foreigners could have the opportunity to eat of them (Leviticus 19:10). And as far as a commandment specific to Israelites, He said to give to the poor among them whatever they need. He even went so far as to command it even when there was no way they were going to pay it back (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

You might say, but I can't afford that right now. I can barely get by as it is, especially with the price of everything going up. Well, don't worry! Yeshua has that covered! Remember, YHWH clothes the lilies and feeds the birds, so how much more will He take care of you? (Matthew 6:25-30) Have you ever noticed that passage and how it starts with "therefore?" A wise man of YHWH, Derek Prince, used to say you have to find out what the "therefore" is there for. Well, in this case the previous verse refers to serving God and mammon (in Greek. In Hebrew it says serving the world). In other words, Yeshua is saying don't feel like you have to serve the world, or money, in order to survive in it. Focus on serving God, because He will take care of you. That's how you show Him you love Him.

Let's just take one more moment before we close to look back at Yeshua's ministry and some of His actions of love. He was moved with compassion for the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Do you feel that way when you see some of the worldly people out there, the blinded? His love for Jerusalem moved him to tears based on their blindness, not seeing that He was God in the flesh, dwelling with them (Luke 19:41). Obviously, there was also His sacrifice as the ultimate act of love for us (John 15:13).

Interestingly, if you look at the Hebrew version of that verse, it talks about giving up your life "for those who love [you]." That's a slightly different feel, isn't it? In the Greek version, there's a feeling of mutual love. With friendship, the feelings are bilateral. However, in the Hebrew it only specifies unilateral love. That would be something, wouldn't it? To lay down your life for someone you don't love, but who loves you?

One more note on Yeshua's ministry regarding His weeping. He wept a few times, but there's one in particular that I'd like you to think about because it has me puzzled. When He went to raise Lazarus, or Eliezer in Hebrew, He wept but I can't figure out why. When He found out Eliezer was sick, He already knew it was for the glory of God and the exaltation of Himself (John 11:4). He waited until Eliezer died (John 11:11-13) to go to him. He even told Martha, or Marta in Hebrew, that Eliezer would be resurrected (John 11:23).

So, the whole time Yeshua knew Eliezer was coming back. In fact, He didn't even cry the whole time from the moment He found out Eliezer was sick until He stood in front of his grave. It was only at that moment that He wept. The moment right before He raised him from death. Now, there were lots of people weeping around Him, and He could obviously feel the sorrow (John 11:33), but still, He knew he would be alive again in moments. The Jews, or Yehudim, thought His weeping was out of love (John 11:36), but they didn't know Eliezer was about to be restored. You can't just take non-Yeshua/YHWH dialogue as an accurate statement of the situation, remember. When Yeshua was in the wilderness being tempted, Satan said everything was given to him (Luke 4:6). However, we know that God reigns over all (Psalm 47:7-8).

My hypothesis is that seeing Eliezer's grave made what He was about to do real. What He was about to endure for everyone, including Eliezer, became a reality and move Him to tears. He likely envisioned Himself being in a similar grave, and some of those that were around Him weeping right then, weeping for Him. Perhaps you have another idea, though.

To close, it would be remiss not to point out the context of love for Adam and Eve. Ever heard of the phrase, "not if you were the last person on earth?!" They weren't the last, they were the first, but the idea still holds! There was literally no one else, so it goes to show you that it's not about who you found, it's about YHWH putting you together. And even more, if they could love each other despite having no other choice and create all of mankind, we should at least be able to love others. I mean, can you imagine all the awkward silences as they argued about who got who kicked out of the garden? They had 900+ years to fight about it as they watched people descend into debauchery and depravity as a result of their actions (Genesis 6:5).

So as you go through this week and beyond, remember our love is our sign, so to speak, showing we are followers of Yeshua (John 13:35). Not only that, but Jude reminds us to stay in the love of YHWH, showing mercy to some and saving others with fear (Jude 1:20-23). And when all else fails and you're struggling to love someone that was horrible to you, or whatever the case may be, ask for help! He will help you with whatever you need.

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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