Roy B. Blizzard Jr., Ph.D.

Teaching at a church led by "Ron" (Moseley?)
How many of you know what I mean when I talk about the Mishnah?  You know, thatís amazing.  Because if you go to most churches and ask that same question, they'd think that the Mishnah is some game that the Jews play during Hanukkah, or maybe it's one of the apocrypha or pseudepigrapha, but they wouldnít have the foggiest idea what the Mishnah is or was.  But you know that.  Most of you are acquainted with the Mishnah.  Many of you have probably studied the Mishnah.  You already know how many orders there are.  How many are there?  Six.  Can you name them?  Z'ra'im (Seeds), Mo'ed (Festivals), Nashim (Women; has to do with ritual laws of family life and marriage and divorce), Nezikin (we'll be looking principally at this), Kadashim (Sacred Things), and Tohorot (Purityóhas to do with all the ritual laws of cleanness and defilement).

These six orders, we might say, are basically six books, and each book has a number of chapters.  Do you know how many chapters there are total in Mishnah in the six orders?  Maybe you can look that up.  These chapters are called tractates.  The authorities that are quoted in Mishnah are divided into three different periods.  The first period is known as the Sofrim, or the Scribes.  The second period is called the Zugot, or the Pairs, and the third period is called the Tana'im, or the Teachers.  The Sofrim are also called Anshei Ha-Knesset Ha-g'dola, or Men of the Great Assembly, or the Great Synod.  The Anshei Ha-Knesset Ha-g'dola are those who succeeded Ezra for about 200 years after Ezra.  Who were these men?  What historical period were they from?  They were from the time of Ezra.  Ezra falls roughly about 400 B.C.E., that is, before the common era, or before the time of Jesus, right at the end of the Old Testament period, at the beginning of what we call the intertestamental period, or the silent years.

Then we come to the Zugot.  The Zugot are from Yose ben Yo'ezer down to Hillel.  Youíve undoubtedly heard of Hillel.  Who was his contemporary? I fooled you on that one.  I knew you were going to say Shammai.  His contemporary was Jesus. There was the school of Hillel, the school of Shammai, and also the school of Jesus.  So when we talk about the Zugot, we're talking about those from the time of the end of those who were a part of the Great Assembly down to the time of Jesus.  Much of Mishnah, which comprises a part of a vast body of material that we call Oral Law, all predates the time of Jesus.  The Zugot, or Pairs, stood for what?  The president of the Sanhedrin and the Av Bet Din, or the head of the Bet Din, or you could say he was the vice president of the Sanhedrin.  This group of individuals known as the Zugot, such as Hillel and Shammai, for example, flourished during the time of Herod and the time of the end of the second Temple, the Herodian Temple and the time of Jesus.  The title of rabban, which means "our teacher," or rabbi (RAH-bi), which means "my teacher," also came into use about this same period of time.  Thatís the reason that Jesus is referred to many times by many and varied groups, as well as individuals, as rabbi.  Then the term tanah, which means teacher, are all of those who came after the time of Hillel and Shammai, after the destruction of the Temple.  That just gives you a little bit of background information on Mishnah.  Mishnah means, perhaps, to teach or teaching.  But in the context in which we're using it, it's what?  Oral Law.

According to the Jewish way of thinking, there were two lawsóthe Torah sh'b'al-peh (the Torah that was oral), and the Torah sh'bikhtav (the written law), and it was considered that all of the Oral Law, as well as the Written Law, was given by God to Moses at Sinai, and as far as the Oral Law was concerned, it just remained for the succeeding generations to come along and unfold, or to illuminate, that which had already been given.

When we start thinking about Mishnah and all of the men who taught, that are recorded for us in Mishnah, we're going to focus on just one particular tractate in Order Nezikin: Pirkei Avot, or Chapters of the Fathers.  It starts out with the very interesting statement, "Moshe kibel Torah mi-Sinai."  Moses received the Law from Sinai.  Thatís important.  In that he received the Law, what law was it that he received?  Reading from this volume of the Mishnah by Philip Blackman, published by Judaica Press, down at the bottom, it has all kinds of explanatory notes and commentary.  It says, "In the Mishnah, the term Torah refers to the oral tradition or the Oral Law, Torah sh'b'al-peh, but is also variously used for the Pentateuch, or the Torah sh'bikhtav, the Written Law, and the entire scriptures, Tanakh, or Torah, Nevi'im, u'Ketuvim; that is, Law, Prophets, and Writings.  So when we talk about Moshe kibel Torah mi-Sinai, according to the Jewish way of thinking, he received everything, the whole ball of wax.  All of the Written Law, all of the Oral Law.  But what did he do to it?  What did he do with it?  Here's the point that I want to stress to you.  He handed it down to Joshua, and Joshua gave it to the elders, and the elders gave it to the prophets, and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.  Those were the Anshei Ha-Knesset Ha'g'dola.  It says, "They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Law."  What does it mean to make a fence around the Law?  It means that we have a lawóThou shalt not covetóbut what does it mean, Thou shalt not covet?  You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor's.  How far do we go with it?  To make a fence around the Law is to define what this particular law means and to say this is as far as you can go, and beyond that you can go no farther.

The very next Mishnah is: Shim'on ha-tzadik hayah mishyarei k'nesset ha'g'dolah.  Simon the Just was one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly.  What we have here is the continuing handing down of tradition from one to another, passing down of certain concepts, ideas, precepts, laws, rules for living.  It wasnít just something someone had pulled out of the air somewhere.  Notice this.    Simon the Just used to say, "Hu hayah omer la sh'loshah d'varim ha'olam omed (On three things the world stands); Al ha-Torah v'al ha-avodah v'al g'milut chasadim.  If you donít know what g'milut chasadim means, that leads me to ask some more questions.

Think about the teachings of Jesus for a moment.  We have four books in what we call the New Testament that deal with the life and teachings of JesusóMatthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  There's a lot of material there, and there are a lot of statements recorded for us there, supposedly that Jesus spoke, and things that he taught.  And if you were to reflect on all that you know about the teachings of Jesus and about the material found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, what would you say was the one overriding principal theme, the message of Jesus?  What did he teach?  What did he preach?  What did he come to say to mankind?

The Law?  But thatís so nebulous, so ambiguous, in view of the fact that there are so many different dispensations of law.  The oral dispensation.  The written dispensation.  The embodied dispensation.  So many different aspects of law.  The moral aspect.  The ceremonial aspect.  The civil aspect.

I'm talking about something so simple that you could sum it all up in one word: Tzedakah.

Something very interesting, and somehow or other it's escaped us.  I hope you donít mind my saying what I'm going to say.  I donít mean to say it unkindly or irreverently.  It's just the way I feel.

I just donít go anyplace anymore.  I basically let people come to me.  There's one reason that I came here.  Because I know that people who are serious students are here.  But most of the places that I go anymore, people are just busy playing some kind of silly game, and things are so silly that I just donít have time to waste.  It's getting even sillier.  Christian television?  It's about as Christian as anything you can get.  You can at least say that about it.  It's Christian, all right.  And I despair, because most people donít have the foggiest idea about what should be going on out there.  We're busy playing some kind of a little silly game, and most of us donít even have the foggiest idea what the game is that we're playing.  But at least we belong to something.  We're a part of something.  What was the message of Jesus, what's the message of the biblical text, what was the one basic theme that Jesus was trying to get across,  what should be the focus of those who claim to be men and women of God?

Christianity today has become basically other-worldly.  There's not a lot of difference between modern-day Christianity and any other of the eastern oriental mystical religions.  Most of us can't wait to die and get out of here.  This world is not my home.  I'm just a-passin' through.  Christianity has become a religion of death, and we're focused on the by-and-by.  What's heaven going to be like?  What's hell going to be like?  You know, I couldnít care less.  I could not care less what hell's going to be like.  I haven't taken out any lease on any property there.  I'm not planning on going.  It may come as a real surprise to some folks, but I'm not even interested in dying.  I donít care one single thing about when the end of the world's going to come, about the rapture of the church, about when any of that stuff's going to happen.  I just want to be left alone, 'cause I'm having a real good time.

Our attention, our focus, our mission, our commission is so out of whack.  All of our attention and focus is directed upward, toward God.  We want to know how to worship and how to praise, and what we can do to please God.  We're interested in miracles and manifestations.  Donít get me wrong.  Miracles and manifestations have their place, and they should be happening, and they should be taking place, but not while we're playing some little silly game.

Is there anything that you can think of in the teachings of Jesus anyplace that tells me how to worship God?  That tells us how to serve God?  That on Sunday morning, we're supposed to sing three songs, have the offering, and maybe once a month have the Lord's Supper?  The preacher stand up and preach a sermon, but to whom is he preaching?  Then we all stand up and sing the closing song, and we have the invitation, and thatís church.  Where did we get that?  In what book is that written?  Where did Jesus give us that outline for serving God? Where did it all come from?  Not from the biblical text, and not from Mishnah.

When Jesus is talking about serving God, about pleasing God, what's his principal theme?

Let's go on to something else.  Let me ask you another question. Would you really like to blessed by God?  If you want to be blessed by God, what is the one thing that you can do that is written in the biblical text that, if you do this, you will be blessed?

Turn to Deuteronomy 15, and let's look at verse 10. "You shall give to him freely without begrudging it, because for this the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake."  Here we have a specific commandment with a promise.  What's it talking about?  To whom are we supposed to give? What are we supposed to give?

Start with verse 7:  "If there is among you a poor man, one of your kinsmen in any of the towns of your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand to your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his needs, because he lacks.  Beware, lest there be a base thought in your mind and heart and you say, the seventh year, the year of release is at hand, and your eye be evil against your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you and it be sin in you. You shall give to him freely without begrudging it, because for this, the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake.  For the poor will never cease out of the land.  Therefore, I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land."

Do you see this term, evil eye?  Evil eye means miserly or stingy, whereas good eye means generous.

The first order of Mishnah is Z'ra'im, or Seeds.  The first chapter is B'rachot, Blessings, and the second chapter is Pe'ot, or Corners.  Orthodox Jews have side curls that hang down and are called pe'ot, corners, because the biblical text commands us not to glean from the corners of our field, and the word is pe'ah.  So there's a whole tractate in the Mishnah that has to do with the poor man and with gleaning in the corners of your field.  Right at the very beginning, in the first mishnah, in chapter 1 it says, "These are the things which have no fixed measure: The corners of the field, the firstfruits and the three festival offerings brought on appearing before the Eternal, and tzedakah and the study of Torah."  It doesnít really say tzedakah, but something else that we'll look at in a minute.  "These are the things, the fruits of which, a man enjoys in this world and the stock of which remains for him in the world to come."  In other words, they say these are the things that have no measure.  You can't put a measure on just how far you can go and that constitutes the corner of your field.  If you want to leave the whole field, you can.  There's no limit on how much you can do. In the doing of this, you're going to enjoy the rewards of it here in this world, and the stock is going to remain for you in the world to come.  "Kibud av v'em," the honoring of one's mother and father, and "u'g'milut chasadim, vahara'at shalom ben adam v'ahavero."  The making of peace between man and his fellow man.  "v'talmud Torah k'neged kulam," but the study of Torah is equal to them all.

Back to mishnah 2 of Pirkei Avot.  Simon the Just, one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly used to say, "Upon three things is the world basedóal-ha-Torah (on the law), al-ha-avodah (on service rendered unto God; in this context it was talking about Temple service, because the Temple was yet standing; actually this word avodah also means worship, as well as work; al'avod means to work; oved is I am working, and eved is a slave), and g'milut chasadim (the practice of charity).

There's something here that is of the utmost importance for us, and this is going to be the focus of our attention in the rest of our study.  Right from the very beginning when I asked the question, what was the principal theme or the teaching of Jesus, the answer given was righteousnessótzedakah.  Tzedakah is correct but tzedakah means so much more than just righteousness.  Actually the word tzedakah means righteousness, or it means justice.  Remember that, because sometimes the meting out of punishment for evil to the evildoer can indicate whether a person is righteous or not.

The rabbis had a really difficult time trying to pick out a word to describe or to define charity.  What was charity?  This word, tzedakah, came to be used principally for the giving of charity or alms to the poor, but actually and in fact, it has a much greater meaning.

We want to talk for a while about charity because charity, according to the rabbis, was and is an attribute of God himself.  Deut. 10:17-18: "For the Lord your God is a God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the terrible God who is not partial and takes no bribe.  He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow and loves the stranger (or temporary resident) and gives him food and clothing."  Because, the scripture goes on to say, the Jews were at one time themselves strangers in the land of Egypt.  Thatís the reason that they, in turn, are to love the stranger and sojourner among them.  This is a theme thatís developed all of the way through the biblical text.

Isaiah 58:5-7: "Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with soul sorrow?  Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?  Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? Rather is not this the fast that I have chosenóto loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every enslaving yoke?  Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and to bring the homeless poor into your house?  When you see the naked, that you cover him and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh and blood?"

Have you read books written by Christian authors on fasting, the God-ordained fast?  Have you read anywhere that this was the kind of fasting that God accepted?  Not to withhold food from oneself, not to withhold raiment, not to sit around in sackcloth and ashes and say poor me?  But this is the fast that is acceptable to the Lord.  What?  Action that is directed out there toward one's fellow man.  Keep in mind that this is a principle that is being established.  We're going to see it in the Old Testament, we're going to see it in the New Testament, we're going to see it in the words and in the teachings of Jesus, and we're going to see it in Mishnah.

Jesus.  Who is this man, anyway?  Thatís a study for another time.  Suffice to say, he was God!  And when he says the Son of man (he's referring to Daniel 7:13-14, the most supernatural figure in the biblical text) is come to seek and to save, he's talking about Ezekiel 34 where God says, "I, I myself, will seek and save those that are lost."  What was different about him than all of the others that had preceded him?  He was yeshuat Elohim.  He was God redeeming the world unto himself.  How did he do that?  "Know ye not that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the incorruptible blood of the Lord Jesus."  But as I said, thatís a study for another time.

What, again, is his principal theme?  Notice Ezekiel 16:49: "Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodomópride, overabundance of food, prosperous ease, and idleness were hers and her daughters' (the other five cities of the plain that were all destroyed by fire).  Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy."  Did you know that the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was equated with their failure to give to the poor and to the needy, to practice charity, or tzedakah?  The virtue of charity and the fact that it deserves a reward from God are stressed over and over again in the book of Job.  If you haven't read the book of Job, you should read it with that whole idea in mind; the concept of charity and how many times charity and care for the poor and the giving to the needy is emphasized over and over again.  Again, the rabbis had a difficult time with this whole concept in trying to give it a word thatís going to cover all of the various shades of meaning.  Tzedakah.  Interestingly enough, they saw the giving of charity, giving to the poor, not as an obligation, but a rightóthat we have a right to do that, that it is a right and a privilege to give to the poor.  In this way, they taught that the poor does more for the householder in accepting the alms than the householder does for the poor man by the giving of the alms (Leviticus Rabbah 34:8), because in the doing (that is, the receiving of the alms), the poor man is giving the householder an opportunity to perform a mitzvah, or to do something for God that is going to bestow a blessing on him.  Remember, it's the one thing that comes with a promise, so we should be thankful that there are poor people out there that are in need and that we can give to them, because that way, we're going to get blessed by God.

In Baba Batra 9a, the Talmud says, "Tzedakah is as important as all the other commandments put together."

Proverbs 21:3: "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice."  There it is.  The rabbis said, to do acts of charity, tzedakah, to do good works to one's fellow man is more acceptable to God than the offering of all of our sacrifices.

What do we consider today as an offering of sacrifice?  Singing scripture songs.  Some of you are probably old enough to remember before we really got spiritual that we used to have song books, and we used to sing out of song books, but we outgrew that.  We got spiritual and we got an overhead projector and a screen and all of these scripture songs, and we learned that it was much more spiritual to stand up and sing for 45 minutes than it was to sing three songs out of a song book.  Because we're offering up praise unto God.

Tithingóthatís another way that we offer praise up unto God, the giving of our tithes.  Most preachers that I know have beaten people over the head for so long with the tithing club that they see dollar signs before their eyes when they walk in the church door.  All kinds of ways that we have in our minds that we offer up sacrifices.  All of these things are viewed as sacrifices that we offer up unto God, ways in which we worship God.  Thatís what we do when we come to church, isn't it?  We worship God.

Well, the fallacy of that is that you donít come to church.  You are the church.  And the Bible says that to do acts of charity and justice, to treat men right, is more acceptable unto God than all the sacrifices that we can offer.

What are the implications?  There are many, but we've not even gotten to the heart of what I want to discuss with you yet, and that is that there is something that even goes beyond tzedakah.  The rabbis take tzedakah one step further, and so did Simon the Just.  Remember, Simon the Just says, "Al sh'loshah d'varim ha'olam omed."  On three things the world stands.  "Al ha-Torah, al ha-avodah, v'al g'milut chasadim."  Acts of lovingkindness.  Chesed, the chasadim, the righteous.  These two wordsótzedakah and chesedóare both sometimes translated into English as righteousness.  It just so happened that, because they couldnít find just one single word to really define what was implied or intended in the giving of charity, they selected tzedakah, and it is used specifically by the rabbis later on, after the time of Jesus, as the giving of charity.  But g'milut chasadim, the acts of lovingkindness, goes way beyond that, goes beyond charity, and goes into man's heartfelt love for his fellow man.

Remember when they came to Jesus trying to test him, and they asked, "Which is the greatest of all of the laws?"  What did they want to know?  What were they asking him?  They wanted to know which one of the 613 laws was the most important.  The rabbis were always discussing that subject, and what did they decide?  It says that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, which means simply, you're to love the Lord your God with the totality of all that you are.  Then it went on to say, And the second is like unto it, namely this, that you're to love your neighbor as yourself.  That is gemilut chasadim.

Charity is an attribute of God himself.  It was the one commandment in the biblical text (Deut. 15:7-10) that was coupled with a blessing, coupled with a promise.  God said, "For this thing I will bless you in all of your work and in all that you put your hand to."  That is, if you are one who regularly practices the giving of charity or alms to the poor.

Let's read that passage again.  "And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are in the midst of thee.  Love ye, therefore, the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  For this thing, the Lord thy God will bless thee in all thy work and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto."

Charity was one of the foundational or fundamental principles of biblical faith.  Everyone was obligated to give.  There was no one who was exempt from the practice of charity, even those upon whom charity was bestowed.  They were, in turn, required to give to someone who was less fortunate than they.  The rabbis went to great lengths to list how or to set forth the principles how one was to give.  Maimonides, one of the great rabbis of the Middle Ages, listed eight different ways in which one should give to the poor, each one of them being a higher way of giving, or a more perfect way, of dispensing charity than another.

Maimonides says that there are eight ways of giving tzedakah which are progressively more virtuous.
This all comes under the general heading or the definition in Hebrew of tzedakah, a word that we've translated into English as righteousness.  Remember the saying of Jesus: If your righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will in no wise enter into the kingdom.  Because we haven't understood this whole concept of tzedakah, or the meaning of tzedakah, we have understood that to mean that, if I'm not more righteous, or if I'm not more holy, than the Scribes and Pharisees, I'm not going to get to go to heaven.  Well, in the first place, this doesnít have anything to do with holiness, and in the second place, it doesnít have anything to do with whether one's going to get to go to heaven or not.  It's talking about the practice of charity, number one, and number two, it's talking about those who are a part of Jesus' movement which he calls Kingdom.

In Hebrew, there's actually a concept of righteousness that goes beyond charity, or the practice of almsgiving, and it's called g'milut chasadim.  We translate it into English as the bestowal of lovingkindness, and it is the most comprehensive and the most fundamental of all Jewish virtues.  Perhaps we can even go so far as to say that this is the fundamental principle upon which all of the teachings of Jesus rest.  It encompasses a whole range of duties regarding one's response toward one's fellow man.

In another tractate in the Mishnah, this time in order Z'ra'im, or Seeds, tractate Pe'ah that has to do with corners and the practice of charity and not cutting the corners of your field, but leaving them for the poor to glean, it's listed as one of the principles that has no boundaries.  There is no limit placed upon the practice of lovingkindness, or g'milut chasadim.  "These are the things which have no fixed measure: The corners of the field, the firstfruits, the three festival offerings brought on appearing before the Eternal, and g'milut chasadim.  These are the things, the fruits of which, a man enjoys in this world and the stock of which remains for him in the world to come."

Did you catch that?  These are the things that, the practice of which, one enjoys the benefit of in this world.  Honoring one's father and mother (kibud av v'em) and g'milut chasadim, and making peace between man and his fellow.  But, it continues to say, "the study of Torah is equal to them all."

Gemilut chasadim, as I mentioned, encompasses a whole wide range of human kindness and human activity.  For example, the difference between tzedakah on the one hand and g'milut chasadim on the other.  Charity can be given only with money, but g'milut chasadim is both by personal service and with money.  Charity can be given only to the poor, but g'milut chasadim can be given to anyone, both rich and poor alike.  Charity can be given only to the living, whereas g'milut chasadim can be to both the living and the dead.  As a matter of fact, it's even said that probably the best example of genuine altruistic g'milut chasadim is the paying of respect to the dead, for the simple reason that there cannot be, in that action, even so much as an unspoken thought that the recipient may one day reciprocate, so the paying of respect to the dead is considered to be one of the highest forms of g'milut chasadim.  As I mentioned, it stands as the distinguishing characteristic of Judaism.  As a matter of fact, Ecclesiastes Rabbah goes so far as to say, "Whoever denies the fundamental principle of g'milut chasadim denies the fundamental principle of Judaism.  And the Talmud in Yevamot 79a says, "Only he who practices it is fit to be a member of the Jewish people, for the Jews are not only practitioners of g'milut chasadim, but they are the offspring of those who practice it."

What does all of this mean, especially as relates to the teachings of Jesus, because that was what we were going to be studying?  What is the principle theme of Jesus?  Well, one might say that the principle theme in the teaching of Jesus is ... Kingdom.  He's always talking about Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of Heaven.  What's the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?  None.  The Greeks who didnít have an aversion to using the name of God would use Kingdom of God, but the Jews who had an aversion to using the name God would use Kingdom of Heaven.  It was for this world.  Kingdom was not something out there in the future.  Kingdom was in the now.  For Jesus, Kingdom was those who were a part of his movement, but not only those who were a part of his movement, but those who were demonstrating the rule of God in their lives in action.  What kind of action?  What's going on?  When Jesus is preaching, what is it that he's preaching?  When he's teaching, what is it that he's saying?  What is happening around him?  What's the emphasis in Jesus' whole life and ministry?

Let's open the New Testament and thumb through and see if we can find some answers to these questions.  Let's start in Matthew 3.  "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  If you have studied Hebrew, you know that when it says that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, it doesnít mean that it's about to come.  It means that it's already here.  And John is preaching, repent, because the Kingdom has come; the Kingdom is here.  Then we read on in chapter 3 about Jesus coming to be baptized of John in the Jordan.

Then in verse 17 of chapter 4, Jesus starts preaching.  "And from that time, Jesus began to preach and say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  What is John's message?  Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  They're both saying the same thing.  The Kingdom has come.  The Kingdom is here.  The Kingdom is now.

On down to verse 23.  "And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom."

What was the gospel of the Kingdom?  The Kingdom is here.  What was he preaching?  Now everybody can be saved.  Everybody can get to go to heaven, glory to God!  There's going to be pie in the sky by and by, and if you will just struggle through this whole world, one day we're all going to get to go to heaven, and there's not going to be any more sickness or sorrow there, and God has a little place prepared for us over there on the hilltop.

Let's stop right here in the middle of the verse and ask ourselves the question, Why did he come in the first place?  What was the purpose in his coming?  Luke 19:10: "The Son of man is come to seek and to save those that are lost."  That was one of the most powerful sermons, one of the most powerful statements that Jesus ever spoke, and in it, we see the purpose in his coming.  But in order to really catch the import of what he's saying, we have to understand that, in the teachings of Jesus, he's always hinting back at something.  He's always alluding to something thatís already written, something thatís already been said, something thatís well known to his hearers.  So when he uses this term, Son of man, where does he get that?  Is that some kind of a new theological concept thatís original with him?  Where do we read about it?

Daniel 7:13-14: "And I saw in the night visions, and behold, on the clouds of heaven came one like a Son of man.  And he came to the Ancient of days and was presented before him, and there was given to him dominion and glory and Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his Kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."

In other words, we're talking about the coming redeemer, the Messiah, the one to whom has been given Kingdom and power and dominion, and whose Kingdom shall have no end.

When Jesus calls himself the Son of man, his listeners understand that he is identifying himself with Daniel 7:13-14.  Then he says, "The Son of man is come..."  For what purpose?
(End of tape)

Bible Scholars: Question the Answers

To Beit HaDerekh (House of the Way)

7 July 2013
Last update 26 April 2020