Matthew – Day 30 – Light Part 2
lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.
“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”
Also, recite The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Over the last couple of days, we have read how Jesus taught the disciples by comparing them to everyday objects that had meaning and purpose; thereby explaining what the meaning and purpose of the disciples should be. Today, Jesus explains what His purpose is, and then explains the responsibility that comes with following Him.
Read Matthew 5:17-18 (out loud).
Just like many other lessons that Jesus taught, this teaching has several different messages. First, He wanted to assure them that He was not teaching against the Torah. Anyone who taught against the Torah could not be the Messiah.
Secondly, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. What does the word “fulfill” mean? The general meaning of this word is to “meet the requirements of a law.” Obviously, Jesus did this by living a sinless life. Another general meaning of this word is to “accomplish a vow or complete a promise.” Jesus was basically explaining that He had come to earth to complete the vow that was made. What vow or promise? In order to fully understand this, we must stop and look at the covenant that was made between God and Abraham.
One type of covenant was a formal agreement between two people – one being the greater party and the other being the lesser party. The greater party would lay out the terms of the agreement. There were different levels of covenants – the most binding of all the ancient covenants was one that was sealed with blood. When a covenant of blood was made, animals were killed and divided in half. Each half of the animal was placed on a side and the blood pooled in the middle making a blood path. The terms of the agreement were stated and each person would walk barefooted through the blood path to pledge that they would keep the terms of the agreement. This action sealed the covenant in blood, which meant that each person agreed that if he did not keep the terms of the agreement he would pay for it with his life – like the animals had.
Marriages were sealed with a blood covenant between the father of the bride and the father of the groom. Each would pledge that their child was pure and would treat the other with love and respect. If either child did not live up to the agreement – the father of that child would be found killed in the desert as payment for the broken covenant. Do you think this changed how people acted in marriages? Do you think people would act differently today if their marriage vows were sealed in blood?
God chose the blood covenant to express His promise to Abraham.
Read Genesis 15:4-8 (out loud).
God gave Abraham a blessing that his offspring would be as plentiful as the stars and told him of a land that would be his. Abraham followed with a question, “How can I be sure?” So God made a covenant or promise to Abraham that this blessing would actually happen.
Read Genesis 15:9-11 (out loud).
Abraham understood exactly what was happening. He obeyed God by getting the animals and he killed them and laid them in the arrangement for a blood path. Then God who is the greater party laid out the conditions of the blood covenant. Basically, God’s part was giving Abraham the numerous descendants and the land that He had promised him. Abraham’s part was that he and his family and his descendants would be obedient to God. Now Abraham knew that the part was coming in the blood covenant ceremony where he would have to walk through the blood saying that if his family was not obedient that he would pay for it with his life. Each person was responsible for keeping his side of the promise. What a dilemma! Abraham knew his family could not keep all the commandments perfectly. But then something amazing happened.
Read Genesis 15:17 (out loud).
Two symbols that represent God “walked” through the blood path. Fire and light were both symbols of God. At that moment, God promised to keep both sides of the covenant. By walking through that blood path, God said, “If this covenant is broken, Abraham, for whatever reason – for My unfaithfulness or yours – I will pay the price with My blood.” At that moment, God pronounced the death sentence for His Son, Jesus.
When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not only did He mean that He was here to show what a sinless life looked like in the flesh, He was explaining that He (as God in the flesh) was here to fulfill the blood covenant made between God and Abraham. Abraham’s descendants had not kept their side of the covenant – and God would pay the price with blood.
We are not just people stuck on this planet, and sin is not just falling short or messing up. Our relationship with God is much deeper – we are part of a blood covenant. Our sin is our breaking of the covenant. We cannot take our sin lightly, and we cannot take His fulfillment of the blood covenant for granted.
The final meaning of the phrase “fulfill the law” was one that was common with rabbis (teachers). For a rabbi to “fulfill the law” he would give a complete and accurate explanation of it. Tomorrow we will begin to look at Jesus’ teachings on the law, and we will pay close attention to His complete and accurate explanation of God’s intent.
Revell Bible Dictionary
Ray Vander Laan Echoes of His Presence, Chapter 1 “The Promise”