-Greatest commandment of all-

Written by: Leith Lyman Cunningham

06/25/2017

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” And again, in Mark 12:28-32 New International Version. 

                                                                             -The Greatest Commandment-

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.

-A focus on Jesus’ last week-

Mark 11:16. As we come near the end of Mark’s Gospel, he focuses on Jesus’ Passion (chapter 15) and the events that led up to it (chapters 11-14) .  Chapter 16 has either a brief account of Jesus’ resurrection (the shorter version) or a longer version that includes Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene and two disciples (16:9-13) as well as an account of the Great Commission (16:14-18) and Jesus’ Ascension (16:19-20).  He thus devotes nearly 40 percent of his Gospel on these events of Jesus’ last week.

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem begins this section (11:1-11). Then Jesus curses a barren fig tree (11:12-14), a thinly veiled commentary on the barrenness of temple religion. He then cleanses the temple (11:15-19), arousing the hostility of the chief priests and scribes, who set out to kill him (11:18). Mark then reports a series of conflicts with a host of official religionists. The story of the scribe who asks about the first commandment follows hard on the heels of three hostile questions by Jesus’ opponents:

• The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders asked Jesus, “By what authority do you do these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?” (11:28).

• Some Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus with this comment, greased with flattery at the front and armed with a stinger at the back: “Teacher, we know that you are honest, and don’t defer to anyone; for you aren’t partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?” (12:14-15a).

• Some Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote to us, ‘If a man’s brother dies, and leaves a wife behind him, and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up offspring for his brother.’ There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying left no offspring. The second took her, and died, leaving no children behind him. The third likewise; and the seven took her and left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be of them? For the seven had her as a wife.” (12:19-23).

                                                                                 -A scribe comes to Jesus-

Mark 12:28-34. The story of the scribe asking about the first commandment is found in all three Synoptics, but with significant differences.

• In Matthew 22:34-40 and Luke 10:25-28, the scribe comes as an adversary to test Jesus, whereas Mark presents the scribe much more favorably.

• In Luke, Jesus does not answer the scribe’s question directly, but asks, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26). The scribe gives the answer, essentially repeating Jesus’ words as found in Mark 12:30-31, but omitting the Shema, “Hear, Israel, the Lord is one” (12:29).

• In Luke, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) follows immediately after the encounter with the scribe, expanding greatly the concept of neighbor.

                                                                   -Which commandment is the greatest of all?

Mark 12:28. One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?”

Scribes appear throughout this Gospel but, except for this story, appear in a negative light. This scribe, a happy exception, comes to Jesus because he has seen that Jesus has answered his opponents well. The Sadducees have tried to stump Jesus with a question about the resurrection, in which they do not believe (12:18-27). There is a strong possibility that this scribe is a Pharisee, and Pharisees do believe in the resurrection. If the scribe is a Pharisee, he must be pleased to see Jesus get the best of the Sadducees on that question.

The scribe asks, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” Unlike most stories where a religious official asks Jesus a question, there is no indication that this scribe is trying to trap Jesus. He seems to be asking an honest question.

The scribe is asking, not which commandment is first of many, but rather which commandment defines the core of Torah law—stands at its center—summarizes it.  Is there one law that is the key to all the laws?

Jewish law includes 613 commandments (365 prohibitions and 248 positive commandments). Scribes divide these into “light” and “heavy” commandments, the light commandments being less important and the heavy ones more important. Scribes examine each law in minute detail, and devise complex rules to help people understand how to obey each law in every conceivable situation.

-A number of prophets and rabbis had tried to summarize the law-

• “What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). • “What you hate for yourself, do not to your neighbor. This is the whole law; the rest is commentary” (Hillel).• “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Akiba).

-you shall love the lord…and your neighbor-

Mark 12: 29-31 Jesus answered, “The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one:  30 you shall love (Greek: agapeseis—agape love) the Lord your God with (Greek: ex—out of—from) all your heart, (Greek: kardias) and with all your soul, (Greek: psuches) and with all your mind, (Greek: dianoias) and with all your strength’ (Greek: ischuos). This is the first commandment. 31 The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

“The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one'” (v. 29). Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27 do not include this portion of this verse, but it is important. The fact that the Lord is one adds weight to the obligation to love the Lord.

The Jews refer to these words as the “Shema” (pronounced shi-MAH), which means, “to hear” and comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5.  The Shema is regularly recited in synagogue worship and daily prayers, and is one of the scriptures kept in phylacteries (a small container worn on one’s person containing scriptures) and mezuzahs (a similar container for the doorpost of one’s house) as a constant reminder.

In reciting the Shema, Jesus goes to the Torah—to the core of Jewish faith and practice.  Jesus uses it to introduce the commandment to love God. The Shema is not itself a commandment, but instead establishes the foundation for the commandment to love God.

“you shall love (agapeseis—from agapao—having to do with agape love) the Lord your God with (ex—out of—from) all your heart, (kardias) and with all your soul, (psuchesand with all your mind, (dianoias) and with all your strength” (ischuos) (v. 30). Deuteronomy 6:5 speaks of loving God with one’s heart, soul and might. Jesus adds loving God with one’s mind. Scribes and rabbis do, indeed, love God with their minds. They study scriptures as a prospector studies rocks for signs of gold. They cover the same ground again and again in the hope of finding a new treasure. Theirs is an intellectual approach to the scriptures.

To love God with heart, soul, mind and strength is to love God with all that we are. Jewish people think of the heart (kardia) as the center of thought as well as feelings. They think of the soul (psyche) as that which gives a person life or breath. It is possible that Mark adds mind (dianoias) for the sake of his Greek readers, who might not associate the heart with thinking. Strength (ischuos) could refer to anything that gives us power—whether physical strength, beauty, wealth, position, reputation, or talent.

We are to love God with agape (pronounced uh-GAH-pay) love. Agape love is more a “doing” than a “feeling” word, although it involves both. Agaperequires action—requires us to demonstrate our love in some practical fashion. The person who loves God will participate in worship—will try to obey God—will seek opportunities to serve God. An athlete who loves God might serve by witnessing to young people. God-loving fathers and mothers will raise their children in the faith. A God-loving businessperson might serve as church treasurer. A God-loving musician might serve using his/her musical talents. All God-loving people have the opportunity to tithe. In any event, agape love requires practical expression.

“The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (v. 31a). The scribe asked for one commandment but Jesus gives two—binding the two together with the statement “There is no other commandment greater than these” (v. 31b). Jesus’ ability to synthesize these two commandments into one demonstrates his thorough command of the Torah.

These two commandments (love God and love your neighbor) neatly summarize the first and second tablets of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments). The first tablet emphasizes the person’s relationship to God by requiring loyalty to God (Exodus 20:3), abstaining from idolatry (Exodus 20:4-6), respecting God’s name (Exodus 20:7), and keeping the sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8-11). The second tablet emphasizes the person’s relationship to other people by commanding that people honor father and mother (Exodus 20:12), and abstain from murder (Exodus 20: 13), adultery (Exodus 20: 14), theft (Exodus 20:15), false witness (Exodus 20:16), and covetousness (Exodus 20:17).

The commandment to love one’s neighbor is from Leviticus 19:18, and would come less readily to mind than the commandment to love God. Still, it is in keeping with law and prophets, both of which emphasize right relationships with people as well as with God. Jewish law goes into great detail regarding our behavior in relationship to other people. The prophets go a step further, calling us to compassion and justice even in situations not covered by the law.

Christ calls us to balance these two great commandments. The person who loves God but does not love neighbor is gravely deficient. “If a man says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). That is tough language, given the difficulty that most of us experience with loving certain co-workers, neighbors, family members, or church members.

As envisioned in Leviticus, the neighbor is a fellow Jew. However, in Luke’s Gospel, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) follows immediately after and expands upon Luke’s account of the greatest commandment (Luke 10:25-28). That parable broadens our understanding of neighbor to include those who are far outside our usual circle of friends and associates. Elsewhere, Jesus calls us to love even our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-35).

But love for neighbor quickly degenerates into humanism or sentimentalism unless grounded in love for God. Love of God is the first commandment, not the second. Love of God is the foundation upon which all the other commandments depend. “Get the center right and the circumference will come right. Love of God will result in love of neighbor” (Luccock, 846).

Since agape love is action-oriented rather than feeling-oriented, the neighbor-lover will look for practical ways to demonstrate that love:

• At the micro-level, it might mean keeping one’s property neat—or mowing a sick neighbor’s lawn—or driving a car for Meals on Wheels.

• At the mid-level, it might mean contributing money to feed the hungry or working with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for the homeless.

• At the macro-level, it might mean influencing public policy to help needy people get on their feet—or to insure just treatment of vulnerable people—or to insure accountability of politicians, corporate chieftains, and other powerful people.

• At every level, it demands looking beyond one’s self to see the neighbor’s needs and taking action to help with those needs.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 31a). Many a sermon has been preached on loving self as prerequisite to loving neighbor. However, Jesus does not advocate self-love, but simply acknowledges our natural tendency to look out for Number One, asking us to extend that same kind of love to others. Of self-love, Barth says, “God will never think of blowing on this fire, which is bright enough already (from Church Dogmatics, as quoted in Williamson, 228).

Self-esteem is useful, but helping others is the best way to nurture respect for self.  That is the principle used by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people for whom nothing else has worked.  Most of us have experienced the glow that accompanies doing a good deed.  It is, indeed, more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

                                                                     -Truly, teacher, you have said well-

Mark 12:32-33. The scribe said to him, “Truly, teacher, you have said well that he is one, and there is none other but he,33and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding (Greek: suneseos), with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

“Truly, teacher, you have said well that he is one” (v. 32a). The scribe obviously has not come to Jesus with hostile intent, or he would not be so quick to affirm Jesus. In re-stating Jesus’ answer, he changes “soul” and “mind” to “understanding” (suneseos).

“and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (v. 33). This conversation takes place in the temple, and the scribe is committed to temple worship. He may have come to the temple to make his sacrifice. This gives special weight to his comment that love of God and neighbor is “more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

His comment is in keeping with the prophetic tradition, which has long emphasized a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:16-17), obedience to God (Jeremiah 7:21-23), steadfast love of God (Hosea 6:6), and doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). However, it is unusual for Jesus to encounter a religious official who would acknowledge that anything is more important than the temple sacrifices.

-The epistles continue to emphasize love and to de-emphasize temple sacrifices-

• “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments…are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10).

• Love is more important than sounding brass, the gift of prophecy, charitable giving, or personal sacrifice.  “Faith, hope, and love remain—these three.  The greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).

• Love is the first of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22).

-You are not far from the kingdom of god-

Mark 12: 34. When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” No one dared ask him any question after that.

“You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34a). Is Jesus commending the scribe for his good answer or warning that he still lacks something? Perhaps both! However, this is one of Jesus’ few positive encounters with a member of the religious elite and one of his most positive comments to a member of that group. Jesus tends to reserve positive comments for people outsiders or people in great need (Matthew 8:10; 15:28; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52).

How far is the scribe from the kingdom? The story ends without telling us whether the scribe becomes Jesus’ disciple. We know only that, unlike the rich man who found it too difficult to do what was required to possess eternal life as the first fruits (10:23-25), this man however, is not far from the kingdom. Meaning to me, that he is in pretty good stead with Jesus Christ..

“No one dared ask him any question after that” (v. 34b). Jesus has not wounded this scribe with his words, but has answered questions, usually from hostile questioners, with telling effect throughout chapters 11-12. His answer to this scribe makes it clear to his opponents that he is not vulnerable. No contender offers to step forward to go another round with him.

Scripture quotations, are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.

Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., explains here, why love is such an important part of our obedience to God.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) 

-Today’s big question: why is love crucial to the greatest commandments?

When we hear the term “commandment,” we often think of the Ten Commandments outlined in Exodus 20. However, the Jewish rabbis determined that the Law consisted of 613 commandments, and they categorized them into greater and lesser laws.

The Pharisees were a sect of Jews who devoted themselves to following their own understanding of the Law, and they tried to strictly follow every single one of the 613 laws. Consequently, during New Testament times, great confusion existed among the people as to the purpose of the Law and which laws were most important.

When Jesus was teaching in the temple one day, the Sadducees attempted to trap Him in His words. After Jesus silenced them, one of the Pharisees—who saw what Jesus did to the Sadducees—asked Him to identify the greatest commandment. The Lord’s response shut the mouths of His critics, and none of them dared to question Him anymore (Mark 12:34).

Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This response would likely have gone over well since it came directly from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. A passage known as the Shema, which the Jews repeated twice every day.

However, it was what the Lord said next that silenced His critics. He proclaimed, “The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:39-40).

What a magnificent summary of the Law. Think about the Ten Commandments. The first four deal with our relationship to God, which is why we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. The final six deals with loving our neighbor.

Notice He did not say we need to learn to love ourselves. This modern false teaching is rife within the church, but it is flatly rejected in Scripture (Luke 9:2323 Timothy 3:2). Jesus instructed us to love others as we already love ourselves.

Finally, consider the group Jesus addressed. In the very next chapter, Matthew 23, He called them hypocrites, blind guides, fools, serpents, a brood of vipers, murderers, and whitewashed tombs. They self-righteously kept the Law but failed to obey the two greatest commandments because they loved themselves rather than God and others. No wonder they could not answer Him. They were guilty, and their sin was laid bare in the light of truth. (end quote)

Knowing for certain and for sure, down deep inside to our very core, that loving God and loving our fellow human being, in loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, puts us in good stead with our Father God and His Son Jesus Christ. We will have fulfilled the desire, purpose and plan of God in His process of building and forming sons and daughters after His image, in the likeness of Himself and His Son Jesus Christ. Bringing His avowed purpose and plan to fruition in reproducing Himself in all of mankind.

That brings every single human being ever born here on this earth, up to god level, at Gods appointed time; to have attained to immortal, spirit life within the allotted time that God gives each of us. To have life as God and Christ have life. To be like Them in every way. To be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and immutable. Think about this for a moment, with our spirit, immortal bodies that can never die, we will be able to achieve things far beyond our most vivid imaginations of today.

-Going back in time-

Suppose we jump into our time machine and travel back a few thousand, million, billion or trillions of years. At some point we would find God alone, since He has always existed. He would be contemplating and working out His purpose and plans for the future of our world and the universe. Formulating His purpose and plan for you and me to come onto the scene, and to eventually become an immortal, spirit being like unto Himself and His Christ that was to come out from Himself, to be the fore-runner of the God family here on earth.  A very short thumb-nail sketch would go something like this in my imagination and as the scriptures imply it to be. 

First God the Father, known as the Omniparus One, out of which everything in existence through out all time and space would come into existence, by-way of His Son. Again! Out from God the Father, through His Son. So then, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, created everything other than His Father whom has always existed. Through the Son comes everything else in existence. There is nothing at all in existence with the exception of God the Father, that Jesus Christ didn't create. God the Father will always be the ultimate authority of all things. He has established Himself head of His family, known as "The God Family" forever.  

At the appropriate time according to the purpose and plan of God, knowing Their plan was to create and populate the world with human beings made in Their own image and Their own likeness. ( Genesis 1:26 )Let Us make man in our image, after Our likeness. ( The Father and His Son Jesus Christ ) Well aware also that these future gods made in Their image and likeness, but in their initial stage as flesh beings would sin and have to be disposed of, or another entity greater than all of them combined, would be required to come forth and die in their stead. 

To free all of mankind from the wages of sin, there-by allowing them all entry into the Kingdom of God, within His time segment laid out in His Word, before the world began. (Titus 1:2) God, who cannot lie, promised eternal life before the world began. That is the exact reason and purpose that Christ was sent to earth to be born of a woman. He had to divest Himself of His immortal, spirit realm received from His Father, to become a physical, flesh person like as to all the rest of humanity. His 30 plus years of life as a flesh and blood person, required all of the Satan influenced and evil temptations of life that all of man and woman kind have had to endure since time began. To be born, live His life here on earth without ever sinning even once, He qualified Himself to fulfill and achieve His God given work for that express purpose. 

He became whom His Father had brought Him into existence for and dedicated Him to be. The Savior of the world, the whole world. The Savior of all mankind and in truth and fact, the Savior of all of the creation that He had brought into existence. Not a make believe, not a partial, not an almost Savior that could save only a small hand full of so called good church attending people. As orthodox Christianity believes and teaches their convert to accept and to believe as the truth of God. Jesus Christ has paid the cost, He willingly suffered the excruciating painful death of crucifixion for all of our sins. For yours, for mine and everyone who has ever lived on earth. Jesus Christ is a Savior, what does a s Savior do my brothers and sisters in Christ? He Saves!

Having completed that task in total, as required, set in motion the most awesome, magnificent and wonderful spiritual miracle ever to be known by mankind. God devised a method where-by the spirit and physical would be able to mesh into one. Where a physical person would be meta-morphed into the spirit realm. The plan and purpose of God before the world began would at the exact moment in time come to its final conclusion at the resurrections talked about in the Word of God. The elect or first-fruits of God at the first resurrection, changed from physical to immortal spirit. 

The rest of the dead lived not again for a thousand years. All of the great masses of humanity that ever lived to be resurrected at the 2nd resurrection, known too as the great white judgment. The resurrections then are sort of a reverse metamorphic trip that has taken one out of a spiritual realm from which they came, coming out from God as it were. He breathed the breath of physical life within all of humanity at birth and they became a living soul. ( a physical person) Then at death the spirit that God has given, returns to Him, to be absorbed back into Him waiting on the resurrections of the physical dead. To be installed back into their original state of immortal, spirit essence within God. 

We will have the ability to travel beyond the speed of light, I call it thought travel. All of the universe and everything in it, shall be reconciled back to God, where He then becomes all in all. God the Father will always possess the top and ultimate authority over all heaven and earth, His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ having been born of a woman, is the firstborn of many brethren. All of creation will be under the authority and leadership of God first, then Jesus Christ, with all of humanity falling in line and doing only what they see the Father doing, as Christ talked about while here on earth as a physical person like as the rest of us.

All of this to be brought about in the grand finale of things to come, through love. God tells us that He is love. It is the necessary ingredient that will bind us all together as gods, as we serve God in any of the exciting challenges that He has ear marked for us, in that wonderful future time here on earth. Wars will permanently end and a perpetual peace will permeate all of heaven and earth. How fortunate and blessed by God we are, in knowing there will be better days ahead.

To help us to push forward and not to become discouraged in this present evil society of filth and squalor, that gets worse as time moves on. Let us dwell upon a key scripture that God has left us, to keep the two most important commandments in the fore-front of our hearts and mind, to accomplish a greater love for God and man. The whole thing can be summed up in the book of Psalm. 

Psalm 119:165. Great peace have they which love thy law (Your commandments) and nothing shall offend them.

We human beings play fast and loose with our communications. We have become masters at twisting words to bolster and lift ourselves up, while at the same time subtly beneath the surface, diminishing the value of others. For example; this morning my wife and myself were having breakfast at the Big Boy restaurant in town. Seated behind us was a table of several people. The most vocal and wanting to be heard and acknowledged, was a lady with a tongue that was hinged in the middle and wagged on both ends. Her conversation was sprinkled with statements about what her college friend had told her.

Nothing new, I have witnessed over the years a great number of folks wanting to impress others about themselves. Having a huge ego that needs to be fed on a regular, sustained basis. What better way to do it then to at key times during your conversations with others, to mention your college friend. It is a most subtle effort in one’s desire to be heard and acknowledged, in letting others know they had gone to college. I told my wife in jesting, I was considering going to college just long enough to have a friend. Then, I too, could be politically correct, and avoid lying, as I could also at appropriate occasions, toss out what my college friend had said.

Then, it occurred to me, I might not have to go to college at all. I could easily do a few communication gymnastics to serve the same purpose, and save myself the work and effort involved in going to college. I called our cute little waitress over that I knew was already going to college, and explained the situation to her. She readily admitted that she was my friend. I asked her if it would be alright if I claimed her as my college friend, she said, “absolutely yes” you have my permission to repeat things I say, and to acknowledge me as your college friend”. So, there you have it, it is what my college friend Ali has told me.

                                                        -To love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves-

God, on the other hand doesn’t look for ways of deception that He can use to mislead His children about His truth. He says what He means, and means what He says. When He tells us the two most important commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and being, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We don’t have to wonder about it, doubt it, ponder it, analyze it, run it in front of our deceived minister, or do anything else, except to accept it and to believe it is exactly the truth as it is stated. The truth, the whole truth of the matter, and nothing but the truth, so help us God.

There is a problem however that crops up in our minds and heart when we get to heavy and sustained doses of hell fire and brimstone, telling us that God says this and God says that. We symbolically begin to look back over our shoulder, as the guilt begins to well up inside us. Many even doubt their salvation which has already been established, been paid for in full by the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. Our Almighty, loving and merciful God is way more accustomed to looking forward to the eventual reconciliation of all things in heaven and on the earth. God is a forgiving God whose destiny and purpose for mankind, is to be our eternal shield and dwelling place. We are all going to live in God, God is going to live in us. God will be all in all.

                                                                -God looks upon our heart-

King David was a man after Gods own heart. King David was guilty of many things contrary to the word and the way of God, but his heart was right with God. God knew the heart of King David. One day King David looked down upon the roof of a dwelling place in close proximity to the window he was looking out of. Low and behold there was the most vivacious, voluptuous, shapely, beautiful naked young woman that God had ever put on this earth. There was one little problem, she was the wife of one of King David’s generals. His human nature quickly overcame his sense of right and wrong, or service to God. King David called and had the beauty delivered to his abode. I have to wonder how much the woman had in being in the right place at the right time and planning ahead for it all to happen.

-To have life, like God and Jesus Christ-

Bathsheba and King David had a little roll in the hay, or more likely satin sheets. And then Walla! In the language of today, she got knocked up, or more politically correct, she became pregnant. Now King David had to do some underhanded and eventual back stabbing maneuvers to solve his caving in to the sin of adultery. King David had her husband killed. I wonder if Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, didn’t somehow read between the lines and figure out what had happened between his wife and his boss, King David. We all need to read the whole story about David and Bathsheba in the bible. In any event, I point out this unrighteous episode by a man after Gods own heart, whom has been forgiven and permanently installed as king forever. To have life, like God and Jesus Christ have life, immortal, spirit life.

King David and Bathsheba’s off spring from their immoral, indecent and sinful act of adultery was not allowed to live long. The spin doctors of the world in which we live today would likely have identified the off-spring as a love child, born and brought into this world by a father and mother that suddenly fell in love with each other. The truth of the matter however is a little bit different. They evidently both fell into lust with each other. In simple layman’s language, he had just worked up an erection, at the right time of the month for her.

David did not love Bathsheba, or he would not have put her in that awkward position. Bathsheba did in no way love King David. She would not have put him in that awkward position either. Could it have been lust for greater power and prestige on her part, or the plain old carnal human nature in her (and all the rest of mankind) that yearned to have her imagined dream fulfilled and come true? In either case, like all the rest of mankind, there was a penalty required for their unfaithfulness and the sin of adultery. I have copied off a few words in 2 Samuel below, to help you visualize somewhat, the suffering their sin had caused them.

-2 Samuel 12New Century Version (NCV) David’s Son Dies-

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to David, he said, “There were two men in a city. One was rich, but the other was poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle. But the poor man had nothing except one little female lamb he had bought. The poor man fed the lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food and drank from his cup and slept in his arms. The lamb was like a daughter to him. “Then a traveler stopped to visit the rich man. The rich man wanted to feed the traveler, but he didn’t want to take one of his own sheep or cattle. Instead, he took the lamb from the poor man and cooked it for his visitor.” 

David became very angry at the rich man. He said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this should die! He must pay for the lamb four times for doing such a thing. He had no mercy!” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I appointed you king of Israel and saved you from Saul. I gave you his kingdom and his wives. And I made you king of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you even more. So why did you ignore the Lord’s command? Why did you do what he says is wrong? You killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and took his wife to be your wife! 

10 Now there will always be people in your family who will die by a sword, because you did not respect me; you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself!’ 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am bringing trouble to you from your own family. While you watch, I will take your wives from you and give them to someone who is very close to you. He will have sexual relations with your wives, and everyone will know it. 12 You had sexual relations with Bathsheba in secret, but I will do this so all the people of Israel can see it.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You will not die. 

14 But what you did caused the Lord’s enemies to lose all respect for him. For this reason the son who was born to you will die.” 15 Then Nathan went home. And the Lord caused the son of David and Bathsheba, Uriah’s widow, to be very sick. 16 David prayed to God for the baby. David fasted and went into his house and stayed there, lying on the ground all night. 17 The elders of David’s family came to him and tried to pull him up from the ground, but he refused to get up or to eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the baby died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the baby was dead. They said, “Look, we tried to talk to David while the baby was alive, but he refused to listen to us. If we tell him the baby is dead, he may do something awful.”

19 When David saw his servants whispering, he knew that the baby was dead. So, he asked them, “Is the baby dead?” They answered, “Yes, he is dead.” 20 Then David got up from the floor, washed himself, put lotions on, and changed his clothes. Then he went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that, he went home and asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food, and he ate. 21 David’s servants said to him, “Why are you doing this? When the baby was still alive, you fasted and you cried. Now that the baby is dead, you get up and eat food.” 22 David said, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 

23 But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.” 24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife. He slept with her and had sexual relations with her. She became pregnant again and had another son, whom David named Solomon. The Lord loved Solomon. 25 The Lord sent word through Nathan the prophet to name the baby Jedidiah,[a] because the Lord loved the child. (end of bible quotation)

God has a plan for every single person ever born on this earth. It is salvation and admittance for all in His Kingdom here on earth. It is a virtual impossibility for even one person to lose their salvation. No one is good enough to save themselves, nor bad enough that God will not or cannot. There is not one thing that we can add to or take away from what God has put in motion. Still we all need to be alert and aware as we learn the revelation of Jesus Christ as we see Him, so is the Father. If Jesus Christ tells us that the two most important commandments are to Love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is exactly what we need to receive and accept as His truth.

Here is something we absolutely need to take in deeply, respectfully and reverently. By telling us about those two commandments, and making that truth available to us, God and Jesus Christ have bound Themselves to the same level They have given to us. They must love us (all of us) as Themselves. Can you imagine how God feels about the teaching of the Babylon of confusion, that tells their naïve converts that God is going to either kill off most all of mankind which equals most of Their selves, or will send them to suffer and be tortured forever in the raging flames of hell. Hog Wash 101. Forgive my brothers and sisters God, for they know not what they say or stand for.

We need to dwell upon these things and bring them to mind as often as is possible. Our Great Almighty God of all that is, the One without beginning or end, the One with the power, strength and authority to create and sustain all things throughout the universe, using His magnificent, never ending super spiritual powers that will never diminish or run out. And yet, He has promised us all the irrevocable gift of eternal life, to actually be in Him, as He also will be in us. It is almost to wonderful and to awesome to grasp unto. Without His help and guidance, none of us would ever be able to. Pause to reflect upon this for a moment. We will all have life as God and Jesus Christ have life, and it will last forever.

I could go on and tell you much more about the things of scriptural interest, that Jesus Christ through the pages of His word, keeps running through my mind. But I have come to believe that folks may learn more in shorter papers. I have a problem shutting myself down as I sit at my computer, it is of monumental importance to continue on in learning the truth of God, and then passing it onto others. I count my over a half century of following after the Word and way of God, along with the many hours of work in seeking and searching out His truth in the scripture and by-way-of the internet, as less than nothing compared to what Christ has done for all of us. As a wise man once said, “Find something you like to do, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life”. 

I like what I am doing; expounding upon the Word of God. Hours of digging in for the deeper truths of God that He has not revealed to many others. Feeling like I imagine the gold miners of the past felt working their claims. With excitement and in anticipation of hitting the mother lode. Preparing myself for the next big nugget of truth, or a bit more of understanding on those truths that He has already revealed to me. Hours go by like minutes, minutes go by like seconds. My back will ache, I’ll get Charlie horses in my feet and legs, as my eyes smart and tear up from the visual strain. Still I fight against my wife urging me to go to bed. It is interesting and informative work that God, has given me to do. I greatly value and appreciate, and am thankful for whatever reason, that God has brought me here and prepared me for the job, I am at peace, I am a happy man. I feel as though I’ll never have to work another day in my life.

Leith Lyman Cunningham                                                                                                                                        6/25/2017