Do Not Think … part 2 of 6 Rabbi Michael Weiner
Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
The verse begins, “Do not think …” This raises the question, “Well then, what should we think?” Let’s move the negative “not” to the last part of the verse. “Do think … that I (Yeshua) came NOT to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! That seems straightforward enough, but why would Yeshua want to warn us against such a false belief?
Yeshua is really smart. He’s also intuitive, some might call it prophetic. He knows how we will respond, even before we respond. Yeshua spoke these words into His “big sermon” (His largest discourse) fairly early on, because He knew we would be tempted to think that since we have salvation through Him, we might no longer need God’s righteous standard (as communicated through the Torah and Prophets).
We find a matching verse, that provides enlightenment in God’s purpose for sending His Son, in Isaiah 42:21 The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable (KJVAE). Contrary to “abolishing the law,” Isaiah prophesies that Yeshua (Rabbi’s note: Read the context of Isaiah 42 and you will see this is all about Yeshua’s ministry, especially verses 6-9.) will “magnify the law.” When something is magnified, you can see it in detail, appreciate the finer points and value it up close.
This leads us to those last 3 words of Matthew 5:17, “… but to fulfill.” To “fill something full” is exactly how Isaiah 42:21 ended, “… and make it honorable.” Some have tried to shortcut God’s intentions with this verses …
Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, “‘You shall love Adonai 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, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Verse 40 here is not permission to disregard “the entire Torah and Prophets,” but an offer of perspective. We have to see God’s righteous standard in light of love for God and love for each other. This is the picture of the cross. It is made of two beams. The vertical beam representing love for God and the horizontal beam representing love for each other. (Rabbi’s note: Of course there is always God’s love for His Son and His Son’s love for each of us.) Notice these two beams cross over Yeshua’s heart, the ultimate place of sacrifice.
There is so much more. Let’s pick this up again next time.