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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
There are so many important concepts going on in the Book of Daniel, prophecies being unfolded before our very eyes - and in the near future - that we could just spend every single devotional focusing on Daniel and its prophecies. However, since I looked at Daniel, chapter by chapter, in my DVD series (11 DVD's) called Daniel's Timelines for the End Times, I am not going to focus on Daniel, rather I'd like to turn my attention to Mark 7. However, if you have an interest in the prophecies of Daniel, please feel free to request this DVD series. I will be very glad to send it to you.
Returning to my point of focus for today, I'd like to point out some key concepts from Mark 7. In Mark 7, we read about the Pharisees attacking Christ because He did not follow their traditions - specifically the teachings of the Talmud.
The Talmud is Judaism's holiest book (actually it's a collection of books). In Judaism, its authority takes precedence over the Torah (which is the Hebrew name for the Law of Yahweh, recorded in the Bible in Genesis-Deuteronomy). Evidence of this may be found in the Talmud itself, Erubin 21b (Soncino edition):
The famous warning of Messiah about the tradition of men that voids Scripture (Mark 7:6-9), is in fact, a direct reference to the Talmud, or more specifically, the forerunner of the first part of it, the Mishnah, which existed in oral form during Christ's lifetime, before being committed to writing. Mark chapter 7, from verse one through thirteen, represents Messiah's pointed condemnation of the Talmud.
"My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah."
Unfortunately, due to the abysmal ignorance of our day, the widespread "Judeo-Christian" notion is that the Old Testament is the supreme book of Judaism. But this is not so. The Pharisees teach for doctrine the Commandments of rabbis, not God. And the story found in Mark 7 is a classic example:
One such commandment of the rabbis was the required ceremonial washing of the hands before eating bread.
In Temple times there were elaborate rules in connection with ritual impurity. If a person had been rendered impure through having come into contact, say, with a dead rodent, he contaminated sacred food such as the tithe given to the priests, which must then not be eaten. The way in which contamination of this kind could be removed was through immersion in a ritual bath.
But the sages imposed in certain circumstances the minor form of contamination known as “hand contamination” in which only the hands, not the whole body, was contaminated and for this to be removed total immersion was not required, only the ritual washing of the hands. Since there was a good deal of priests’ tithe in ancient Palestine which could easily come into contact with the hands, the sages eventually ordained that the hands of every Jew, not only the hands of a priest, must be washed ritually before meals.
It has to be appreciated that this ritual washing of the hands has nothing to do with physical cleanliness. On hygienic grounds, the hands are obviously to be clean of dirt before food is eaten. Even when the hands are physically clean they are still required to be ritually washed.
Although the original reason for washing the hands no longer applies, since there is no sacred food to be eaten, the ritual was continued on the grounds that the ideal of holiness demands a special, ritualistic washing of the hands. The act of washing the hands in this sense is seen as the introduction of the holiness ideal into the mundane life of the Jew. This ritual washing is only required before a meal at which bread is eaten. ("Hand Washing", My Jewish Learning, by Rabbi Louis Jacobs)Why was this Talmudic hand-washing principle such a big deal in Mark 7? When Yahshua fed the 5000 with bread, which was eaten without the Talmudic hand-washing, the Pharisees saw a challenge to their unrighteous establishment of Talmudic authority. They attacked Yahshua because a miracle of turning a few loaves and fish into enough food for the multitude would be the front-page news of the day. And having experienced the miracle without the Talmud's required hand-washing, would have undermined the authority of the Talmud, in the people's eyes. This was something the prideful Pharisees would not tolerate.
But the fact is that, according to the Torah, the very presence of the Talmud, with its added laws, was a violation of the Law of God.
Deuteronomy 4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the Commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you."The Law of God plainly states that the Torah is God's complete Law. Man is not authorized to add to it, nor remove any part of it.
The Commands of Torah are requirements. Violating any of the Commandments or Statutes of God is a sin:
1 John 3:4 "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the law."The problem is that for centuries, people have been trying to either do away with the Torah Statutes, or add to them. When folks add to the Torah, it is common to expect to impose one's own ideas on others. In fact, it is even (wrongly) viewed as "sinful" for anyone to violate our added laws, just as the Pharisees accused Christ of being, when He didn't do the Talmudic hand-washing.
But since sin is transgression of (breaking) the Law (God's holy Torah), any man-made traditions can never be anything more than a preference. And it is not sinful to fail to do them.
For example, if the Pharisees wanted to wash hands before eating, fine - washing hands is harmless enough. But, when they went so far as to require it for holiness, they had crossed the line. Additional laws were forbidden by God Himself!
Notably, every single one of Messiah's miracles was done in such a way as to expose the "laws" of Talmud as the frauds they were. We must not add to the Law of God, nor diminish anything from it.
Today, there's a whole lot of Talmudic-style thinking going on among Christians. The liberal Christians are often tempted to diminish things from God's Law, while the conservative Christians are often tempted to add to it. Either changing of God's Law is equally wrong and damaging to the Truth.
Maybe you are thinking that it is obvious that liberals do away with parts of the Law. But, it may not be as obvious (at first) for how conservative Christians add to the Law of God. How do conservative Christians commit the sin of the Pharisees, by adding to God's Law?
The following example may be shocking, but it is prayerfully shared to help expose a wrong way of thinking. We must not add to the Law of God.
Since this teaching cannot be found in the Torah, it is a "law" added by man. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Christians should eat meat! We may choose to be vegan, for valid health reasons. But when we start requiring vegetarianism or veganism of others, looking down our noses at those who eat "clean" meats as if they aren't as holy we are adding to the Law of God. Eating clean meat isn't sinful! In fact, Yahshua, Who is our Example in all things (1 Peter 2:21) ate meat. And He was sinless!This is just one example of how conservative Christians commonly make new laws, following the pattern of the Talmud, which Christ taught against.
So, how can we safeguard ourselves and our families from breaking the Statute of Deuteronomy 4:2? We need to ask a key question, whenever presented with a lifestyle or doctrinal teaching. We need to prayerfully ask, "Where is that found in the Torah?" And if we cannot find it there, it isn't the truth, no matter how "righteous" it appears:
Isaiah 8:20 "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."Key Question: WHERE IS THAT FOUND IN THE TORAH?