Matthew 23, the Weightier Matters

Recently, I was reading the teachings of Yeshua with my children, and we began discussing the phrase, “weightier matters.”  This phrase is found in Matthew 23.  Yeshua is teaching on how the teachers of Torah, and the Pharisees are making rules that cause discouragement and loss of hope for the people.

Let me back up and actually insert some of this teaching.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

The seat of Moses, is the place in the temple and synagogues that was where a person read the Torah to the people.  Not everyone had access to the Torah, people didn’t have Bibles in their homes to read.  So, they went to hear the Torah, and all the Old Testament Scriptures read.  Sadly, like today, back then, the teachers of the Torah, and those who were thought to be leaders, Pharisees, not only read the teachings of Moses, but they added their own rules to these scriptures.  Then they made a big deal about following their made up rules and observing their made up holidays, and made it seem impossible to please God.  So, Yeshua is explaining to the people, His followers, that we are to obey the Law of Moses, that is the Torah, but we are not to do the added rules given by the leaders and teachers.  We have one Teacher, one Father, one Leader, Christ.

Now, He is NOT saying that there is no need for teachers, leaders, or fathers.  He is saying that if someone is in one of these roles they should follow His example, and they should lead, teach, and parent from a place of humility.

As a Torah Observant Christian, I follow Christ, and seek to obey His Torah, the law of Moses, as sometimes called, to the best of my ability.  But, as each feast comes around I am quickly reminded I am far from hitting the mark.  There is just no way that I can fully obey each of the commands outside of the Promised Land that He has for us.

Sometimes, I find myself getting caught up on all the things I can’t do right, and forgetting a very important section of this teaching from Yeshua.  The weightier matters.  Here in verses 23-24, Messiah tells us what is of most important to Him.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

Yeshua says Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness are the weightier matters!!!  

When my kids and I began discussing this passage the other day, they said, “Oh, that makes sense, like the ten commandments.”

Wow, my kids are so smart.  Yes, yes, yes!!!  The Ten Commandments.  Duh, these are the weightier matters, just like the Greatest Commandment.

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

This passage is right before the chapter we are reading, Matthew 23.  I am so silly, the Bible wasn’t written with chapters and verses, I just needed to put these passages together.  The whole point Yeshua is making to the gathering crowd is Loving God and His people is the whole point of Torah.  It isn’t about rules and trying to figure them all out and trying to dissect them to be sure I haven’t accidently sinned.  No, it is all about love, justice, mercy, humility, and  faithfulness.

It is all about the Ten Commandments:

1

God ONLY!

2

Worship Him Only!

3

This can mean using God’s name to make a vow, or it can mean saying you are a Christian but not living or acting like Yeshua would want you to act, misrepresenting Him.

4

The Sabbath day, is a day we proclaim Yehovah as Creator and Redeemer, and gather with others in His Name, to set is apart.

5

It’s important to show our parents honor. Honor means placing someone above yourself.

6

Life is Sacred.

7

Men and women make promises to each other when they are married. These promises are important, and breaking them causes deep sadness. Keeping those promises help men and women have happy marriages and happy lives.

8

It is important to God that His children are honest with each other. Taking anything that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, and is against His commandment.

9

This one is about honesty. If you lie about someone, you are “bearing false witness,” and may cause harm to yourself and to others.

10

To covet means to be so jealous of something someone else has that you want it desperately.

It only takes a glance at the ten commandments for us to realize that they are the “rules” we need to focus on most.

 

So, instead of spending my day on things that are not the weightier matters, I will work to focus on God and His People each day.

 

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 NIV

 

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