This all started when the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law saw Jesus’ disciples eating in the market place with unceremoniously cleaned hands. They came to Jesus demanding to know why they weren’t following tradition. Jesus then quoted Isaiah 29:13 to them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” So in this verse above Jesus is calling their traditions what they really were – useless commands of man…all the while abandoning the authoritative Commandments of God. In other words, they were worshiping rules and regulations made up by men, not worshiping their Creator.
To have something as the apple of your eye is to cherish and call it precious. But do we place that much importance on the Word of God as it tells us to in this Scripture? Proverbs 4:4 says, “He taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of My Words with all your heart; Keep My commands and you will live.’ ” Both verses you notice use the phrase, “Keep My commands and you will live.” It’s only for our good, God is telling us, that we should give careful attention to His Word and obey what it says…for His Word leads to life.
These blue cord tassels were to be a daily reminder of the Lord’s commandments and the fact that the Jews were a holy and separated people. But if we go to Matthew 23:5, Jesus is calling out the Jewish Leaders who had taken this Scripture to an excess by making their tassels extremely long in order to make a show of their “religiousness”. It’s called Legalism…and the Church over history has been really good at it. We’d rather focus on the strict and excessive conformity to the letter of the Law, than embrace grace and mercy. Or we’d rather obsess over external appearances than do the hard work of changing our hearts, minds, and attitudes. Legalism is taking God’s word to an extreme and then affixing human rules and regulations to it. Legalism lets us focus on things we can control and be proud of…the “Look at me, I’m so very religious!” But like white-washed graves, we look so nice on the outside, but hold so much decay within.
Jesus had answered the rich young man’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But when the young man arrogantly stated he had kept all the 10 Commandments from childhood…Jesus stared directly at him. Now Jesus could have called him out on it. He could have run down a list of 100 times this young man had failed…but He didn’t. Rather, Jesus looked into the young man’s eyes and saw his potential. So He gave him an invitation, but within that invitation was also a hard decision. A decision the young man sadly was not willing to make. We all have an Achilles heel…a area of our lives we hold on to, stubbornly clinging to, unwilling to trust it completely to the Lord. But it’s not until we surrender all aspects of our life to Jesus that we can fully follow Him. Jesus told the rich young man, “Trust in Me.” …and He’s asking that of you today.
This verse simply says, “Don’t question God.” We are to pay careful attention to keep the Way of the Lord… not just with lip-service, but with inner commitment. But also, we are not to be taking on the job of rewriting or adjusting God’s Word in order to align closer with today’s mores found in this broken and evil world…just to be more politically correct. We have but one job when it comes to God’s commandments and it’s found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, ” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
OMG – a common abbreviation used in texting and other internet communication. Do you use it? If so, this Scripture is directed at you today. Can you see that you’re perverting the name of your God by taking His name lightly…that you’re taking what’s holy – defiling and placing it in crude and tasteless places…places that His name should never be seen in. I can hear you say, “But it’s just an abbreviation for being surprised and I don’t mean anything wrong by it!” Any form of taking the Lord’s name in vain…in a superficial or dishonoring way is wrong, regardless if you think it’s harmless.
Up on Mount Sinai, Moses had received the first set of tablets, engraved by God with the Ten Commandments. But when he came down from the mountain, he found the people engaged in an orgy. It says in Exodus 32:15-20 that, “his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces.” Moses allowed his anger to get the best of him…but even after messing up big time…God still used him. The Lord’s willingness to rewrite His Law on new stone tablets was a demonstration of His infinite mercy towards us…even when we mess up.
Jesus illustrated this passage in Luke 14: 15-24 in the Parable of the Great Banquet. When the invited guests declined dinner, the master had his servants go out into the streets and bring in the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. But with room still left at the table, the master then told his servants to, ” Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in so my house will be full.” Those who will be gathered around that magnificent banquet table some day will be exalted, glorified, and redeemed of God.
I’ll be the first to admit that Winter is probably my least favorite Season of the year. Which is really funny, since I’ve lived all my life in areas where Winter isn’t just a word but a harsh reality. But as I look at the pristine blanket of snow sparkling in the sub-zero sunshine, I think to myself, Winter isn’t that bad…especially from my toasty warm vantage point here in front of the fire. Yes Lord, You’ve made all the Seasons for us to enjoy…Thank You for each one!
The day of the Lord is coming, and with it, judgment. The proud will be brought low, the cruel will be stopped in their tracks. The Lord’s fierce anger and wrath will not be held back from the unrighteous. The day of the Lord is coming.