Nothing New Under the Sun
In this short blog, I invite you to consider the authenticity of Jesus as the example of glorifying God’s name. I work through some of the rabbinical teaching around some common words and verses in the Scriptures that often confuse us or perhaps we don’t really understand.
If we consider the cry of authenticity of the world, we will understand that has always been the cry of God - that we, as believers, joined by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus glorify His name by being authentic image bearers of God into the world. Indeed from the very beginning humanity was to be image bearers of God into the world.
In one sense, the cry of the world is the continuing cry of God. In that sense, there is nothing new under the sun.
GLORIFYING AND PROFANING THE NAME OF THE LORD
We have all heard it said, “Do not use the Lord’s name in vain” and often associated it with using the name of Jesus as a cussing or swear word. But according to rabbinical literature and writing, it goes far deeper than that.
When we say, we are doing or saying something in the “Name of the Lord” yet it is contrary to His own character and reputation (as revealed in Jesus Christ) we profane the name of the Lord.
How many times in discussions amongst Christians do we hear the jargon, “and the Lord said for me to”, or “God told me” and the person then goes on to do and say something that not only violates what Jesus taught and lived, it violates or undermines the very reputation and character of God. The Talmud reveals the following:
“Better a letter of the Sacred Torah itself be blotted out than that the Divine name be profaned.” Talmud Yebamot 79a
Of course, Jesus said not a jot of the letters of the Law will be done away with and that He had come to fulfil the Law or Torah.
“If you think I have come to set aside the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets, you’re mistaken. I have come to fulfil and bring to perfection all that has been written. Indeed, I assure you, as long as heaven and earth endure, not even the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with until its purpose is complete." - Matthew 5:17
The obvious consideration is that God’s character is revealed through the Torah and Jesus is its fulfilment meaning its correct life application and manifestation. Jesus clearly tells us in John 17 that He has glorified the name of God by His life and words well before He went to the Cross of His suffering.
"Father, I have manifested who you really are and I have revealed you to the men and women that you gave me." - John 17:6
You are my righteous Father, but the unbelieving world has never known you in the perfect way that I know you! And all those who believe in me also know that you have sent me! I have revealed to them who you are and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they can experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them!”
To glorify or praise God’s name is called Kiddush hashem. When we live in a way that reveals the name of Jesus, God’s reputation and character in our lives to the world we Kiddush hashem. By contrast when we profane God’s name it is called Hilull hashem.
When we act unjustly or falsely accuse, act unethically, lie or unjustly treat, cause intentional harm or withhold dignity and value towards others, or fail to forgive others, or steal from others and so on, we profane the name of the Lord when we associate or use the Lord's name to validate or give authority to our actions. That is Hilull hashem. When, we associate God’s name with our own imagination and empty or idle words and conversations we also Hilull hashem.
So, the third commandment under the Law of Moses “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 NASB) underpins what Jesus teaches about idle words, empty practices, and using the Name of God for our own purposes inconsistent with His reputation and character.
Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law of Moses, and the living word of God incarnate, teaches us how to live a life that glorifies God, that lifts up His name before the world we are to reach through our authenticity.
When we consider others as our self, or “love others as we love ourselves” we are glorifying the name of Jesus and engaging in Kiddush hashem.
When we love others as we love ourselves, there is strong rabbinical thought in the idea that it means to understand that people are as imperfect as we are, that we are not to impose a standard of care, relationship or duty upon others towards our self that we ourselves cannot keep. (To do so would be the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus was willing to call out!)
We are to see them imperfect even as we are imperfect and make room for that imperfection even as we see them how God sees them. It might be said only God can love perfectly.
1 PETER 4:8
Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.
Hatred keeps old quarrels alive, but love draws a veil over every insult and finds a way to make sin disappear.
We are often able to forgive others when we recognise their behaviour is exactly the same as ours. Even further, when we recognise that Jesus has forgiven our sins and short-comings! So often we project on to others our own short-comings and then determine to judge them instead of making room for them. We are more alike in our weaknesses and frailties than we realise. When genuine love is demonstrated, God’s truth is also revealed: Not first in judgement but in forgiveness and redemption. That is the very power of the Cross at work in our lives and towards others. That kind of love glorifies God. Kiddush hashem.
We are in the process of being made perfect before man even as we are already perfect before God. We are still in a process of learning how to love in the way God does. (I will leave a discussion about God’s love, His hesed for another time.) Until we reach maturity we need to be patient and forgiving with each other realising that we make the very mistakes and carry the very short-comings we most often criticise others for.
"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour [who is like] yourself. I am the Lord.”
REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE
That is why Jesus taught us to remove the plank from our own eye before we remove the speck from our brother’s eye.
This teaching arose from an action of mercy by Jesus towards the teachers of the law who wanted to trap Him in a dispute concerning the woman caught in adultery. It is common to teach that Jesus extended grace to the woman caught in adultery. But in my view, quite forensically, He did not extend grace to her at all. He rightly applied the law of Moses. He applied mercy to the teachers who themselves were about to profane the name of the Lord by judging the woman partially and violating God’s justice.
God’s justice required both parties to be judged on the evidence of two or more witnesses. When Jesus did not engage them, He gave the teachers who were not engaging Jesus on a genuine basis the opportunity to check their own hearts and consider their own present sin of partiality. One by one they left, leaving no witnesses. Jesus could not have judged the woman even if He wanted to. There were no witnesses!
No witnesses meant no evidence and since Jesus did not witness the sin, and even if He did, He could not judge her on His evidence alone. So often our individual judgments concerning people and situations violate God’s justice and His righteous ways.
When we judge others incorrectly often without the necessary evidence and often without impartiality according to God’s standard of justice stating we are applying God’s will or by God’s authority we actually profane the name of the Lord. We Hilull hashem.
THE COMMISSION AND MANDATE OF OLD IS IN THE NEW
When we live in consideration for others, what the contemporary world now calls being present and self-aware, and in humility glorify God’s name by our actions or our conversations in the world we sanctify God’s name - Kiddush hashem. When we are generous and offer hospitality and assistance even to a stranger, when we forgive, when we are patient with others, when we consider others as our self, when we are willing to be wrong for the sake of being a peacemaker so as to restore a relationship and afford someone value and worth, when we are willing to speak forward God’s eternal truths to those who are willing to receive it we glorify God. We make His name, His reputation known. We reveal His name. We are also promoting echad ( I will save that topic for another blog soon).
This is precisely what God chose Israel to do to the world (nations under corrupt Elohim (Psalm 82)) around them. Jesus is the true Israel, the true vine, the seed of Abraham and those who believe into Jesus are now grafted into the vine as “one new man”, so that the dividing wall between Jew and the nations (hostility) has been removed in Jesus Christ. Our mandate together is to Kiddush hashed to the world around us just as Jesus did. Why? To create echad.. To bring everything under the one true God.
This is why what we speak and what we live in the world is so important. We are still being made perfect before man. Just because we have a library card it does not make us Yoda. We develop into maturity even in our revealed frailty and weaknesses in the process. It is not instant. Even so, let our words, let our life, let our motivation be continually towards Kiddush hashem. That the name of the Lord may be glorified and the Father revealed and made known to the world.
Life is better connected
Want to get the latest from Paul Tothill delivered to your inbox? Submit your details here, and Paul will send you a regular digest of thoughts, news and content.