1. Behold! I tell you these things shortly before I die, for I desire above all things that you observe the laws of the Mighty One. I wish to remind you of some of these now.
2. Remember that Moses warned our forefathers that "if you transgress the law, you will be dispersed, but if you keep such law, you will be preserved safely."
3. Many other laws were given by Moses while the twelve tribes were together as one.
4. After his death, these laws were disobeyed. For this reason, the prophesied captivity came upon us.
5. That prophesied by Moses came upon us for our disobedience.
6. After receiving such suffering, if we obey the law, we can still receive the redemption promised to us.
7. This letter is a witness between us, that you may remember the laws of the Mighty One, and that I may stand before Him having said what He has commanded me.
8. Remember the law, Zion, the holy land, your brethren, the covenant of our forefathers, the holy days, and the sabbath.
9. Deliver this letter, and the laws to your children after you, as your forefathers did.
10. Persevere in supplication and prayer with one purpose, that you may be reconciled to the Mighty One, and that your many sins may be forgiven, and integrity of our forefathers may be remembered.
God expects a redeemed people. The Jewish people did not follow the formula given by God. God demands a holy people.
With the giving of the ten commandments, God establishes clearly that He is a moral, holy, righteous God;
"For I am the Lord Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God, you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."
I Peter 1:16
"Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy..."
The commandments are ten in number:
"And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."
"And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone."
The ten commandments are a summary of the basis of the whole law... in the same way, the two commandments of Jesus are a summary of the rules of Jesus.
Jesus taught them to forsake sin and rebellion. The method that He used was marked by His simplification of the law, including the ten commandments. He took all the laws of the Old Testament period and taught that if people would obey only two laws, they would please God. There are some today in the religious world that still hold to that doctrine. They will love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves.
Jesus wanted us to take all rules and make them into only two. The Pharisees took the many Old Testament laws and added many more. They ended up with a religion that few could and would follow. Jesus took their rules and disobeyed them whenever they interfered with the two laws that He had set forth.
In Christianity today, there have been so many additions to the two commandments of Jesus that there is often church splits, backslidings, bickerings, factionalism, etc. All of these stem back to rules that people have added to the Word of God.
How very easy it is for churches to take the two commandments of Jesus and make it 2002. The ones who make these rules often will attempt to make people obey these rules as though they were given of God in the Bible. They take a rule and want others to follow it --because if they don't -- they are not a "team player." And even if the rule, and its enforcement may cause someone to backslide, or another to not get saved, they will still demand obedience to it. Their idea is that obedience to the rule is supreme and to have someone go to hell because of it is a small concern.
The Lord taught principles with the ten commandments and then simplified the obedience to such with the two commandments of Jesus. While God is trying to simplify His plan for us, many congregations have tried to make the commandments more, not less.
If you lived in China where there is a rule that after one child is born to a family, all subsequent pregnancies must be aborted, would you obey the rule and murder the unborn child? Not many saints would dare to say "yes." We would disobey that rule because of a higher law of God that tells us to love life.
In the same way, some of the rules of churches can come into conflict with the higher laws of God. When this happens, we must throw aside these man-made rules and obey God. The Pharisees of Jesus' day did not do that and it angered Jesus greatly. He could forgive the woman caught in adultery with ease. He could warn Peter of his impending failures with love, but to the Pharisees and their rules He added warning after warning. He called them horrible names and gave to them many a "WOE."
Paul said of the Pharisees:
"FOR I CAN TESTIFY ABOUT THEM THAT THEY ARE ZEALOUS FOR GOD, BUT THEIR ZEAL IS NOT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE. SINCE THEY DISREGARDED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD AND SOUGHT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN, THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Paul was saying that surely the Pharisees are zealous. There are many zealous today that add to the righteousness that God has demanded. They put rules above the two that Jesus gave. They, like the Pharisees, disregard the rules about love for God, and love for their fellow man. Yet, we can see in them a zeal, but one that is not with knowledge.
The Pharisees emphasized the "oral law" (the law that was their interpretation of the "written law", in other words, the law that they could not find Scripture to back up). The "oral law" was composed of many explanations of the law.
It focused on trifling details. For instance, a person could spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but could not spit on soft ground, because that might move some soil, and constitute plowing.
Another was - a child could be lifted on the Sabbath, but one had to beware lest the child was holding a stone, because then to lift the child would involve the labor of lifting the stone also.
One could not drag a chain, or belt on the Sabbath. This might make a slight furrow in the dirt, and constitute plowing.
Women were forbidden to look in a mirror on the Sabbath, because they might see a white hair and try to pull it out. This is work, and therefore considered sinful on the Sabbath.
Do some in Christianity add such silly rules to the two laws that Jesus commanded? Yes, and some are as silly, and others, when obeyed actually contradict the two laws that Jesus commanded.
Thus, the Pharisees had put so much importance on the writings and rules of the scribes, that the Lord had to tell them that their rules had caused them to transgress the higher law. Today, still we find that traditions and commandments of people are raised to a level equal to, or above, the Word of God. This makes our worship to be "in vain" according to Jesus.
"THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS AND GRIEVOUS TO BE BORNE, AND LAY THEM ON MEN'S SHOULDERS, BUT THEY THEMSELVES WILL NOT MOVE THEM WITH ONE OF THEIR FINGERS."
Isn't it a wonder that, like the Pharisees, many today still enjoy adding more and more rules to the two that Jesus gave us. They will not help those who have to try to obey these rules. One terrible indication that people are dealing with a modern day Pharisee is the lack of concern the Pharisaical ones show for the souls of the ones they abuse with their rules. To allow a young Christian to slip away from the church, and feel unloved by the saints, and to possibly find that the only ones who seem to really care are the unsaved friends --is a sign that their concern is more on the rules, than on the love of their neighbor.
A true saint is broken hearted at the backsliding of a young Christian. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, who was about to betray and crucify Him. Yet some in Christianity, seem unconcerned over those who have fallen away. The inability of those who have stumbled to follow all the man-made rules the church has added is given as the excuse for the Pharisees' unconcern. We need more weeping before the altar.
"LET THE PRIESTS, THE MINISTERS OF THE LORD, WEEP BETWEEN THE PORCH AND THE ALTAR, AND LET THEM SAY, 'SPARE THY PEOPLE, O LORD, AND GIVE NOT THINE HERITAGE TO REPROACH.'"
It is time for God's people to weep, and humble themselves. The rules of churches are themselves responsible for the hurting of many in Christianity today. The unconcern of modern day Pharisees who wish to judge and condemn others who are not able yet to keep all the rules they have added, requires much prayer and supplication for mercy. For the world to tempt away young believers is bad enough, but when the church pushes them out with their lack of love, requires a modern day- "WOE."