The Real Meaning of the
Two Great Commandments and
Introduction to the
First Five Commandments
Matt 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that Yahshua had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36. "Rabbi, which is the great commandment in the Torah?" 37. And he said to him, "You shall love Yahweh Elohenu with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38. This is the great and first commandment. 39. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40. On these two commandments depend all the Torah and the prophets."
Have you ever been asked, “Do you know the exact day and hour you were saved?”
How about, “Do you believe in the rapture?” “Do you believe once saved always saved?” “Do you believe in Christian Perfection?” “Do you believe in speaking in tongues?” “Do you believe in Halloween?” These kinds of test questions are often formulated to start a friendly argument. Other questions test what you know. Somebody recently asked me, “Can you name all Ten Commandments?” Another: “Can you name the twelve tribes of Israel?” How about these: “Who married Adam and Eve?” “Where did Cain get his wife?” “Was Elijah abducted by aliens?” “Are you a Trinitarian?” Someone once asked me, “Are you a prelapsarian, an arminian or a double predestinarian?” I answered, “I’m a Buckeye from Ohio.”
Here’s a really good question, “Did Yahshua ever catch a cold?”
The old missionary lady said with absolute assurance that it was impossible for Yahshua to catch a cold. What do you think? Here’s a trick question, “Did Yahshua ever laugh?” It’s a trick because some say that if Yahshua didn’t do it in the Bible, then he didn’t do it. The Bible didn’t record Yahshua laughing, so the answer is no. If we take such literalistic positions, there are a lot of things that people do every day that Yahshua didn’t do. We know Yahshua ate, but did he burp?
Here’s the most loaded question of all, “If you died tonight, would you go to Heaven or Hell?”
This one’s always a set-up. You only have two choices. Nobody’s going to say ‘Hell,’ so when they answer ‘Heaven,’ the next question is, “Why will you go to Heaven?” There’s the trap. You’re now obligated to play the game. Seven out of ten times the answer is, “Well, I’m a good person, as good as anybody else. I don’t smoke or drink or carouse much and I go to church sometimes, so I think I’ll go to Heaven.” That’s just what the religious expert wants to hear, because he’s all set for your lecture.
When they get in my face and ask me, ‘If you died tonight, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” I usually answer, “Fishin’.” That usually confuses them enough for me to escape. If I’m feeling particularly nasty, I say, “None of your business.” Some use evangelism as an excuse for acting obnoxious.
The Religious Sadducee
An obnoxious guy from the Sadducee denomination had just tested Yahshua with a trick question.
`We had a case involving seven brothers; the first married and then died without children, leaving his wife to his brother; the same thing happened with the second and third and so on to the seventh, and then last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to them all?’
The Sadducees didn’t believe in the supernatural, in angels or life in the resurrection. That’s why they were so Sadd, U Cee. No future hope. They asked Yahshua the question to trap him, because Yahshua openly preached the resurrection of the dead. Their question proposes a sticky situation for we who believe in the afterlife.
Some people ask themselves this same question formed a little differently. One elderly man was born again at 75. He’d been married four times and all his ex-wives were still living. In reviewing his life, he decided that all his wives were rotten, but the second wife was the least horrible, so he was now going to remarry her so they could be married in Heaven. He sure didn’t want to get stuck with any of the other three, or worse, with all four at once. So he thought, now that he was a Christian, he’d plan for eternity.
Yahshua didn’t fall for the trick. “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God,” he chided them as they disappeared. As for the answer to which brother the wife will be married in the resurrection, the answer is, ‘to none of them.”
The Religious Pharisee is Next
Next the guy from the Pharisees comes along to test Yahshua. Pharisees were the holiness crowd – they believed in the resurrection, but to get there meant to do it their way -- if you grew a beard and joined up with them, then you’d be saved. If you were a woman, you might make it if you put a sack on your head, stayed at home and kept your mouth shut. That sounds like some denominations today, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the Pharisee asks a question about the Ten Commandments. His bunch believed that breaking ONE Commandment was the same as BREAKING THEM ALL. When the Pharisee asked which ONE commandment was the greatest, he wanted to hear Yahshua say, “ALL OF THEM.” But Yahshua doesn’t comply because he knew what was in his heart.
He throws the Pharisee a red herring by saying that the greatest commandment is to love Yahweh. Yahshua packs the first four of the Ten Commandments into one great commandment, like a sandwich. A sandwich is just ONE thing, but it contains many things, like “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”
The Great Commandment
What was in the Great Commandment sandwich? What does it mean to love Yahweh with all your heart? Let’s find out from Yahweh himself in the first four commandments from Exodus 20:
I. 2. "I am Yahweh your god… 3. You shall have no other gods to rival me.”
If you have a correct translation, then your god herein reveals his name. His name is Yahweh. He will have no rivals any more than your husband or wife will. He is jealous because he loves.
II. 4. You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything … You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
We self-acclaimed believers don’t carve gods, do we? We certainly do. “I won’t be worshiping with the rest of you this week because I have to go on my boat, in my camper, to my cabin, on my vacation.” How about, "My cellphone! My PC! My little games!" How about, "That star, that television show, that boy / girlfriend? That habit? That attitude? That lifestyle? That trivial pursuit?"
Speaking of trivial gods: One lady told me she didn't have time for worship because she had to wash the windows! She may have been an idolater, but she certainly wasn’t a liar! When something comes between a self-acclaimed believer and his participation in corporate worship, he carves an idol. You can wash the windows anytime, but doing so in lieu of corporate worship makes your windows your god for at least an hour.
III. 7. You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your god, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name.
Not Jehovah or Allah
His name is not Allah, Jehovah, El Shaddai or God. “God” isn’t even a name – it’s a title with a capital letter. There are millions of gods. Have you seen books written by famous evangelists titled, The Names of God? He has only one name and he told us what it is. His name is Yahweh. That is the only name he has revealed to us and it is sacred.
I’ve heard people say they don’t know anything about this Yahweh; they don’t know what language the preacher’s speaking in. But no matter what you’ve been taught, in 2001 you are privileged to learn the sacred name of your god, and just at the time of his coming. Yahweh sent me out here to tell you his name. You are very special to have received his revelation. Will you then continue to misuse his name?
Others say they’re not comfortable using the name Yahweh. I’m not comfortable in new shoes, but after I wear them a while, they just become a part of me. Friends, there is power in his real name, because his is the name above all names. Use his name and it will become a comfort!
Anyway, he will punish you in love for the misusing his name, or taking his name in vain. If his name is really Yahweh and you call him some other name, aren’t you the disobedient child? You need punishment. Some of us have punished others for breaking the third commandment when we ourselves have been breaking it all our lives. Remember what Yahweh says about his name in Exodus 3:15:
"Yahweh is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations." Exodus 3:15
“All generations” means our generation, too. Yahweh means, “I was, I am, I will be.” He has revealed his name as a sign that “he is and will be” the answer in our time of need. It is a beautiful thing for us to know and use his name. It is a sign to the world that he is ours and we are his.
Do you believe in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath?
IV. 8. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. 9. For six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10. but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You shall do no work that day… 11. For in six days Yahweh [created], but on the seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred.
This week, a minister asked me a trick question: “I went to a Seventh-day Adventist retreat. Do you believe in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath?” he asked me. I bit. “Yes, brother, I believe in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath according to Scriptures. Saturday is the seventh day. Any calendar shows that.” He replied, “I believe I can choose my own day as Sabbath.” I asked him, “What day do you choose?”
He said, “Whichever is the most convenient.” I said, “Then you don’t keep the Sabbath after all, because Yahweh said ‘the seventh day is the Sabbath.’ If Yahweh says that, then who do you think you are to change the Sabbath to any day you want.” I said it jokingly, but I meant it. We have tremendous difficulties and excuses in regards to honoring Yahweh’s sacred day, but we never have any problem honoring the devil on Halloween or taking any other day that we want.
Getting Out of Sabbath Work
Are you a Fourth Commandment keeper? Keeping the Sabbath isn’t that hard – you gather your family for prayer then you take the rest of the day off. Yahshua said that the Sabbath was made for you and it is holy to the Father.
Some say that they have to work on Saturday to make a living. But our god says, “No, you don’t!”
Mal 3:8 Put me to the test and see if I don’t open the floodgates of heaven and pour out an abundant blessing for you.
Put him to the test! If you have to work on the Sabbath and would rather honor it, pray this prayer daily:
“Father, I want to be in your perfect will and honor your Sabbath day. Make a way for me to do this and I shall.”
If in this way you’ll diligently pray, he’ll tirelessly work to pave the way. Loving the Father as he desires is not just “falling in love with him over and over and over and over again” -- our love is to be disciplined. All of the first four Commandments describe exactly how Yahweh wants to be loved. He couldn’t have made himself any plainer. And we should honor his wishes, expressing our love by emulating his Son, who kept all his Commandments for the love of him.
The Second Great Commandment
All this was understood perfectly by the inquisitive Pharisee. But now Yahshua boldly adds a second Great Commandment: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” In these words Yahshua presents him with another sandwich; this one is thicker and harder to chew. It is packed with the meat of the final six of the Ten Commandments that concern loving one’s neighbor.
V. 12. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.
Folks in the olden days didn’t live as long as we do today. The fifth commandment means that children have an obligation to take care of their parents if need be when the parents are no longer able to do so. Taking care of one’s parents and grandparents is a sacred duty, except in the cases where parents are abusive – such don’t deserve honor, but some get it nonetheless.
Today, life expectancy is 80 years. There are millions of elderly people who live in poverty while their selfish children prosper. To love one’s neighbor means that you’ll be your parents’ and grandparents’ benefactor for as long as they live. Some day your folks will be gone; then you’ll wish you’d spent an extra hour listening or an extra dollar helping. Yahshua knows that if we can’t love our own kin, we won’t be able to love our neighbor either.
VI. 13. You shall not kill. VII. 14. You shall not commit adultery.
Breaking the sixth and seventh commandments are deadly sins. One murder destroys many lives. Adultery, that is, infidelity in marriage, also destroys lives and, in these days of plague, may lead to repercussions decades after the deed. Yahweh’s love is made manifest when he prohibits people from committing deadly sins because many innocent people, including children, are affected. For those who have committed deadly sins, Yahshua may save you if you repent and sin no more. But if you haven’t committed a deadly sin, don’t put your Father’s love to the test. You will lose every time.
VIII. 15. You shall not steal. IX. 16. You shall not give false evidence against your neighbour.
Stealing and lying also leave innocent victims. Ask forgiveness and make restitution. That’s how you can undo thefts and lies. You can love your neighbor by being truthful and honest in every situation. This way, even if you are accused, your conscience will be clear and your slate will be clean.
X. 17. You shall not set your heart on your neighbor's house, spouse, man, woman or possessions.
The Tenth Commandment is against covetousness, which is greed, avarice and materialism. Paul the Apostle defines covetousness as fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire and idolatry. Wanting what has been afforded others eats up your potential and saps your strength. Covetousness leads to lust, obsession, compulsion and misery.
Friend, you already have wonderful things and people all around you – things that are valuable and people who love you. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and you will break the back of covetousness, lust and obsession. You will also find yourself prospering in your own right.
Framed In Negative Terms
Upon hearing Yahshua Second Great Commandment, the Pharisee, like the Sadducee before him, disappeared. He treated his own kind with respect, but he couldn’t love some ol’ sinner. Pharisees are very negative toward others. And unfortunately, the Ten Commandments themselves are framed in fairly negative terms. But Yahweh sent his Son to interpret the harsh words of the covenant into meanings that express Yahshua’ vision of Yahweh as loving Father. Yahshua didn’t remove one dot from the Law of Yahweh; had he done that, he would have been a sinner in need of a savior, for sin is the transgression of the law. No, Yahshua doesn’t nail the Ten Commandments to the cross. He fulfills them all to present us with an example of how we might do likewise. Yahshua thus reframes the Commandments in terms of the god’s love for a loving people: upon this framework “hang all of the law and prophets.”
Loving Yahweh and keeping his commandments is still a matter of obedience, but not that which a slave renders a harsh master. Like the Sabbath commandment, the whole law was written for the sake of the preservation of humankind – for your survival and prosperity. Yahshua reiterates the Commandments of Yahweh because they both LOVE YOU and desire that you achieve your highest and best good in this life and in the life to come. Now you do know what is expected because I have explained it to you.
Some say that Yahshua is not talking about the Ten Commandments when he mentions the Two, and that we are under grace now and not the Law, so the Commandments are no longer valid. But the Apostle John, who laid upon Christ’s bosom, writes much later that
1 John 5: 3. 3. This is what the love of God is: keeping his commandments. Nor are his commandments burdensome, 4. because every child of God may, through them, overcome the world.
Overcoming the World
Keeping the Commandments, following in the footsteps of Yahshua and overcoming the world is not always a smooth, easy path. A righteous life is not a popular life style. If you begin to honor Yahweh by following his commandments, you may become a target of both secular and, sadly, religious people. Public godliness has a price, for Yahweh’s enemies control the world as well as many Christian churches, so-called.
One of the more publicized incidents involving persecution on account of the Ten Commandments was in 1995 when the ACLU sued Alabama Judge Roy Moore for displaying them on a plaque behind his bench. An incredible outcry came forth against Judge Moore from many quarters, both secular and religious, setting off a legal battle throughout the United States in regards to the validity of the Ten Commandments. Charles Price, the Alabama state judge who finally ordered Judge Moore to take the Commandments down, was applauded all over the country and awarded the coveted “Profile in Courage” Award of $25,000 by the JFK Library. Charles Price is not only a state judge, but a Sunday School teacher – one who would gladly receive accolades and money for betraying the very principles that he is responsible for teaching Christian children. What a contradiction.
Let our lives be lived in agreement with our Father, our Savior and our consciences rather than in contradiction to the principles and practices of our Savior. The day will come when each of us will be held accountable for our lives. Will you be able to stand tall in that day? I hope you will! In the meantime, take care.