The compassionate commandments

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

As we view the ten commandments delivered on Sinai at the revelation of God to his people, we find that within the ministry of Yeshua he emphasized the expanded intent behind the commandments that had gotten lost within the oral Torah of the Jews.

For example, some of the Jewish leaders had done the bare minimum in taking care of their parents, claiming that the support that they would have provided to their parents was instead a service that was rendered to God in other ways.

Matthew 15:3-7 – “…And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites!…”

This hypocritical practice negated the command of honoring parents, which is the whole point of the fifth commandment: to support them and take care of them when they can no longer care for themselves. Yeshua emphasized that by trying to get by on a technicality with the commandment, they were essentially making the word of God void of any meaning. Instead, they should have been respecting the God-given authority of their fathers and mothers, being helpful to them, that they would all live long and productive lives.

The eighth commandment is a prohibition against stealing. Clearly, the command states that we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Here, too, Yeshua expands on the idea that not only should believers not steal, but we should be willing always to do the opposite: to give generously of all our resources.

Luke 6:38 – “…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The tenth commandment is an admonition to avoid coveting. Some rabbinical minds over the years have come to the conclusion that the prohibition against coveting is a kind of summary of all of the other commandments on the two tablets, a proposal not without merit.

For example, if we are not covetous, we are less likely to kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie. All of these actions related in the second table can be traced back to covetousness.

Also if we are not covetous, we are not likely to seek out other gods for help, serve images, associate with God’s people in vain, work through the sabbath to try to get ahead, or deny assistance to our parents; all of the commandments from the first tablet.

Instead of coveting, Yeshua encourages the very opposite: to provide generously of all that God has given you.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua encourages his followers to fill their minds with gratefulness and take pleasure in all that God has graciously given them. They are to share the blessings they have received freely with others.

By emphasizing the positive compassionate actions behind these commandments, Yeshua sums up everything in the Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

This is why Yeshua could state that breaking the commandments was an offense that was still active within the kingdom of God. By negating or trying to get around the commandments on technicalities, those individuals would be missing the intent of the commands in the first place and removing themselves from the work that God intends to accomplish through his people.

Matthew 5:19-20 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Seeking out and performing the compassionate positive actions behind the commandments should be the common practice of all believers. By taking the “thou shalt nots” and re-stating the opposite of each as a positive command, we can find that Yeshua was teaching the true compassion contained within each of the commandments revealed at Sinai.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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