Shalom and welcome to V’ahav’ta Israel, a Hebrew phrase, which means you shall love Israel. We hope you’ll stay with us for the next 30 minutes as our teacher, Dr. Baruch shares his expository teaching from the Bible. Dr. Baruch is the senior lecturer at the Zera Avraham Institute based in Israel. Although all courses are taught in Hebrew at the Institute, Dr. Baruch is pleased to share this weekly address in English. To find out more about our work in Israel please visit us on the web @loveisrael.org. That’s one word, loveisrael.org. Now here’s Baruch with today’s lesson.
Dr. Baruch: In order to understand the word of God correctly, it’s very important that we learn also the culture of the scripture. That is that we understand how the people thought, how they lived, how they would understand the words that the prophet, the judge, the apostle, or even Messiah would say to them. With that said take out your Bible and look with me to the book of Mark in chapter seven. Now, today we’re beginning a two part study of a section, and we’re not going to receive the conclusion with proof until next week. But it’s very important that we build the case so that we’re all together. Because when we get to that concluding statement of this passage, we’re going to see something. We’re going to see that the most common interpretation that Christianity gives for what Yeshua said in essence is not correct. It goes against everything else this passage is about.
Now that may be confusing now, but my hope is that through what we learn today and what we learn next week, we’ll understand the truth concerning the purposes, the plans of Messiah and what he came to do, what he came to change and what he did not want to change. So, as I said, look with me to the book of Mark and chapter seven and verse one. Now we see in this passage that the Pharisees and some, or we could say certain of the scribes, they were gathered to him that is gathered to Messiah Yeshua.
And we need to pay attention to that verb gathered to. Why is that important? Because in the biblical language, it’s in the passive. What does that mean? Something caused them to want to be with him. And what was that? Well, we can infer that these individuals, these Pharisees and scribes, primarily as we’ll see, because the scripture says to us at the end of that verse that they were coming from Jerusalem. And they apparently heard about the teachings of Messiah, about the works, the deeds, the mighty miracles, the deliverance that he had performed over and over.
And they were drawn to him because of these things, to find out who he was, and by what authority he did these things. So perhaps they came with the best intention, simply wanting to verify and understand who Messiah Yeshua is. And that’s probably one of the wisest decisions that we can make. To investigate, to come before him through the scriptures and find out who is Yeshua me Natzeret, Jesus of Nazareth. Well, let’s move on to verse two. “And seeing certain of his disciples that with unclean hands…” They were what? “They were doing something.” Now, what we see in verse two is that they came to behold Yeshua. And one of the things we know is this, we can tell oftentimes a lot about an individual by those who are following him. And so they looked at some of the disciples and they noticed something.
If you look carefully in verse two, they’re doing something. Verse two tells us they’re eating bread and they’re doing so without previously wash their hands. Now this is not a washing of hands to remove dirt or something that is physically uncleaned that may be upon their hands. This was a ceremonial washing. This was a washing to rid oneself off of spiritual impurities. Now bread in the scripture has some great significance. When we eat bread, we are obligated according to Jewish tradition to do something. And there’s a basis for that in the book of Deuteronomy. Now, oftentimes when Christians, they partake of a meal before they eat, they’ll make a prayer, a significant prayer, nothing wrong with that. They call that grace, grace before meals, nothing wrong with that. But biblically what we see that although Yeshua for example, would bless God before eating, but the scripture tells us in the book of Deuteronomy, when you have tasted your food, eaten it and are satisfied give thanks to the Lord your God, for the good land that he has provided you that grew that food.
So the prayer, what we would call grace, biblically speaking is not before we eat, but after we eat. And according to Jewish tradition, if you eat bread, because bread has that special status, you need to say that prayer and previously you need to wash your hands. Now what those Pharisees and those scribes witnessed was the disciples of Messiah not following that tradition. And because of that, they wanted to basically discount everything Yeshua was teaching. Look again at verse two, “And seeing some of his disciples doing something…” What was that? “Some of his disciples with unclean hands that is, that had not been washed eating bread.” And because of that, we learn some information. Verse three, “For the Pharisees and all of…” And don’t miss this next word.
Now, usually in the English, it’s simply translated Jewish individuals, Jewish people, but that’s not the proper meaning. Everyone in this passage, the Pharisees, the scribes, Yeshua, his disciples, they were all what? Jewish. But they were all not Judeans. That’s the proper way to translate this Greek word. Now, Judeans just didn’t refer to a area in the land of Israel, the allotment of Judah, but more important the Judeans spoke of a group of people, a sect within Judaism that had grown greatly in the time of the second temple period at the end of that temple period. And they were for the most part ruling Judaism. And therefore we read in verse three for all the Pharisees and all the Judeans, they would do something. We read that they would not eat bread that is eat unless first they wash appropriately. And the word here uniquely, it’s a word for fist in Greek, or perhaps even up to the forearm.
They were very, very careful to wash in a particular manner before eating bread. This was their tradition. And because the disciples of Messiah weren’t following that tradition, well, they had only contempt for them and they were ready to place that same contempt upon their teacher, Messiah Yeshua. Now, look in the middle of verse three. We’re given more information about these Judeans. They had numerous other traditions. And that is what it also says in this passage that they were holding to the traditions of the elders. Verse four, “For from the marketplace…” When they came from the marketplace, they would not eat until they… Literally, it says were baptized. Now many people they think that baptism began with John the Baptist. He was the founder and kind of the originator of that, not so. Baptism and Judaism had gone on for centuries before John. It was a tradition. Was not literally commanded in the scripture, but rather a practice.
And these individuals would not if they came from the marketplace, why was that significant? Because most of the people who worked in the marketplace, or at least a significant percent of them were not Jewish. That is, they were pagan worshipers. If you worship pagan things, demons are going to be around you. Unclean spirits. So when the Jewish people who followed this tradition, the tradition of the elders, when they would return from the marketplace, they would go through a ceremonial washing in order to rid themselves. Now, what I wanted to say was that do you know that the phrase Canaanite in Hebrew, biblical Hebrew, it just doesn’t respond or relate to those who were from the tribes, the various tribes in the land of Canaan but the word Canaanite can also be used for a merchant. So whenever they return from the marketplace, we’re told that they would baptize themselves.
And that same reason to rid the uncleanliness, the impurity spiritually speaking from their body before eating. And not only that it says, “But many other traditions they held fast to.” Baptizing here again, most English Bibles don’t translate this as baptism because for them, they feel well, baptism is what you do with the body, but it’s simply the word immersion. And they would also immerse, as it says, in this passage, “Both cups and pots and copper vessels and such.” So they had all of these many traditions that they added to what the scripture said. And this they believed was how everyone should live who feared God. Verse five. Now we’re going to see some conflict. We’re going to see that the Pharisees and the scribes, they asked him that is they asked Yeshua, “On account of what, why is it that your disciples do not walk according to the tradition of the elders?”
Now, this gets to a very key issue. Yesterday I was speaking to some individuals and we were talking about other world religions. And one of the things we saw is that they all had something in common and that was, the leadership wanted to rule over the people. Now that’s so foreign from the faith of Messiah Yeshua. He tells us, don’t call anyone a rabbi. Don’t call anyone a father. That’s a spiritual term, a religious term for meaning someone who has authority over you, don’t call anyone a teacher, meaning that they also have all the truth. He says, we’re all what? Brothers. That same level. We’re all servants of the living God. All individuals who are on the same plain before God. But that’s not how most other religions see it. It’s all about rule, authority, ruling, controlling other individuals. So they came here and they said, “By what means, how is it that you don’t hold fast to the traditions of the elders?”
Now there’s nothing wrong with that word elder. We see that both in the old covenant and the new covenant, but in this concept, it had to do with a ruling one. One who controlled you, one that you had to submit totally to. Not simply a leader under submissiveness to the rule and the teachings of God. So they said, “How is it that you don’t follow the traditions of the elders? Because with unclean hands, they were eating bread.” Now look at Messiah’s response, verse six. And what I want you to see is the emphasis of what Messiah is going to teach here. And this is vital so next week, when we get to the conclusion of this passage, we can make the right interpretation. We can see the right direction that Messiah is wanting to take his followers. Now, the emphasis of Messiah is going to be on the word of God. That shouldn’t surprise us.
The emphasis is going to be on the commandments of God. Now, why do I want to emphasize that? Well, for two reasons, one is that Messiah himself emphasized in this passage, the commandments of God. Secondly, the problem that we’re going to see is that most of Christianity, when they get to the conclusion of this passage, they want to say that Messiah has changed something. That he has made a change to what? The commandments of God. Now it makes no sense that throughout this passage, beginning in verse six, Messiah’s going to emphasize what? The authority, the truth of the commandments of God and how these commandments relate to him. And then at the end say, but I’m changing something. Makes no sense. Now, when we look at it all in context, understanding the biblical truth, the background truth, then we’re going to arrive at the proper interpretation. Verse six, but he said to them… And we see another indication about Messiah’s way. When Messiah ever, he had a conflict, a disagreement with someone, what did he turn to?
He didn’t say I am the Holy one of Israel. I am the Lord of Lords. No, what he did was, he turned the people to scripture. Scripture is the authority. Now let me ask you, if the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings instead of ruling and controlling us simply because of who he is and he’s righteous authority, if he turns to the word of God, isn’t that a great example for us. Verse six. And he said to them, well, or appropriately that Isaiah prophesied concerning you and your hypocrisy. Now hypocrisy comes right down to the heart of the matter. It wasn’t that these individuals didn’t know the word of God. They didn’t want to submit to the word of God. It wasn’t that they did not understand that God was the sovereign, that he was the rule, but they simply didn’t want to submit to his rule.
They wanted to be in power. And they were simply using religion in order to elevate themselves and control others. And that’s why Messiah providentially, he chose this passage of scripture from the book of Isaiah. Verse six, again. And he said to them, “Well said, Isaiah, the prophet.” Meaning the prophecy that he gave. “Concerning you and your hypocrisy, as it’s written, the people, these people with their lips, they honor me, but…” And remember that word they. In contrast to the truth. “But in contrast to the truth, their hearts are far away from me.” Literally, it’s a verb. They hold far away from me it’s redundant. Two words are used. They hold far away from me what? Their hearts and they do not what? Literally it says, in vanity or in vainess, they worship me. So he’s saying not much good about these leaders. Why? Because they don’t have a submissive relationship with who or we should say with what both are true.
They don’t have a submissive relationship with God because they’re not submitting to the commandments of God. And don’t miss this. We’re going to see in the next few verses an emphasis on the commandments of God. Let’s press on. Verse eight, or verse seven at the end, teaching doctrines… And what doctrines? Not the commandments of God, but rather he says the commandments of men. They’re teaching the commandments of men and doctrines as the teachings of God. And what happens. Look at verse eight, here’s the key verse.
Leaving the commandments of God and seizing to the traditions of man. Now that’s how it’s going to be for each person. We’re going to make a decision. We’re either going to hold fast the traditions of man, that is what pleases us, what sounds right to us, what makes sense, what seems reasonable, what we think is going to be a blessing for us, according to our limited minds, we’re going to make these decisions instead of understanding the sovereigns of God, instead of understanding the wisdom of God and not holding on to the teachings of mans as commandments, but rather as the commandments of God, the word of God, making our loyalty, our fidelity to that truth.
So look again, verse eight. And abandoning the commandments of God you see through the traditions of man. And he said to them, verse nine, is it well, is it appropriate, is it proper, is it good, however, you want to translate that, to set aside… And here’s what they were doing. They were setting aside the commandments of God in order that you might guard… And this is important word. That you might guard your traditions. Now, why were they so scrupulous about their traditions? Well, the answer is because it gave them what they wanted. Their teachings does exactly what they wanted to hear. It basically validated what they wanted to do and the commandments of God, what do they do? They constrain us. They put us in a direction that in the flesh, we don’t want to go. They lead us into truth that naturally in our own mind, we can’t come up with. Remember what Isaiah says elsewhere?
“God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.” So if we want his truth, his way, his thoughts, we have to embrace what? His word, the commandments of God. Now let me just pause for a moment. I realized that many people, they have a trouble with that word commandment. But we learned something about it. In Hebrew, that same word mitzvah commandment come from the same word, the root, which means to bring together. So if we want intimacy with God, if we want to understand his truth, the commandments of God are key in revealing that true to us, bringing about unity between men and God. They don’t save, but once a person has been redeemed by the grace of God, if they want to walk in unity with God, it’s the word of God which is foundational for that to take place.
Now he gives an example. Let’s move on to verse 10. Here again when Messiah speaks, when he teaches, he always bases his teachings, his sermons, his revelation on what the word of God says. And verse 10 is such a wonderful example of the issue at hand. Look at verse 10. “For Moses…” He’s talking about the commandments. So it’s not surprising that Moses would be mentioned. “For Moses said, you shall honor your father and your mother. Also the one who curses his father and mother in the end, it says, shall be death. That is, he shall surely die.” Now that’s not hard to understand what God’s saying. It’s not hard to understand how to respond to that. But what did the traditions of the elders do? They set it aside. Now, why do you think Messiah picked this text? Because we’ll never, no one, will honestly, properly, correctly submit to the living God, if he can’t first submit to his father and mother and honor them.
So he chose us. Chooses this passage in order to show them of their own rebelliousness, he chooses and says, “Remember that scripture for Moses honor, your father and mother, and the one who curses his father and mother, he shall surely die.” But what happens? Look at verse 11, easy to understand significance because it’s dealing with submissiveness. If you can’t submit to those who gave you life, who raised you, who love you, how can you submit to a God who you cannot see? So he says this and what happens, but that important word, that relates to a change, a disagreement, but they changed it. What did they say? Verse 11. “But you say, if a man should say to his father and mother…” And the implication is if he should say something derogatory, if he should curse, what is their ruling?
They say korban. Now the word korban is Hebrew. It relates to in the text, we’ll say gift, but a better way to understand that is an offering, a sacrifice. So if that should happen, the traditions, the elders, you don’t have to kill that person, that person, you don’t do that. God says that. But what happens? They say you just have him bring a offering and Messiah says, “But what profit is there is for me?” Meaning this, if you set aside a commandment that deals with submissiveness before God, how is that going to be profitable for God? What are you teaching about the truth of how we are to relate to the living God? Not only did they say you don’t put them to death, but you just bring an offering, they added something else. “And no longer is he allowed to do anything for his father or mother.”
Now, he’s not dead, but because he did that, he can have no relationships with them. So now what happens? You have a father and a mother and the son, and what happens, he pays them no attention. He can’t, according to the tradition, speak to them. He can’t help them. He’s no longer a son to them. And what happens? Well, that’s [inaudible 00:24:16]. It gives a ongoing vision of this young man, not submitting to his parents, not honoring to his parents. So in the end, when people look at it, they see a worse situation. Well, let’s wrap up verse 13. What was he concerned about? What was at the heart of this matter? But verse 13 says it. And verse 13 is so important for us, understand how to arrive at the proper conclusion for our study next week. What’s the heart of Messiah? Well look at verse 13.
He is chasing the Pharisees and the scribes, because what basically are they teaching the people? What are they bringing about in the children of Israel? Verse 13. “And forsaking the word of God in order that you might hold fast to your traditions.” There’s the issue. There’s no position in between. We’re either going to walk according to the traditions of man, what seems right in our own eyes, what is pleasing to us? How we want to live, how we want to worship God, or we’re going to put all of that aside and we’re going to… And here’s the key word, we’re going to submit to the commandments of God. Look again, this word for setting aside, it’s really probably the best way it can be translated is invalidating. That’s what the religions of man. That’s what the tradition of the elders.
That’s what we see so often in the Mishnah and the Gemara, we see what? Well look at verse 13, “You invalidate the word of God for holding fast to your traditions.” And he says at the end, “And many other like things they were doing.” Now what’s the important aspect of that statement? Many more like things they were doing. He’s telling us something. When we embrace wrong truth, wrong doctrine, when we teach the commandments of man, as the commandments of God, they don’t stop there. There’s going to have an ongoing outcome. See what happens is this, when we fail to submit to our parents, we’re going to likewise fail to submit to God. And that is a nice way of saying we are going to be living in rebellion. And when we live in rebellion, it is an invitation for the enemy. The enemy is going to place a foot hole in our life.
He is going to be able to rule and control us. So here’s the key, in the end what Messiah is teaching is this, it doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to submit to someone. You are either going to submit to God and reap his blessings, his presence, his intimacy, or you are going to submit to the enemy who wants to destroy you. What’s the name, Satan all about? Well, it’s the adversity. That’s what he’s going to bring into your life. Messiah wants to bless and Satan wants adversity. The sad truth is this, that more and more… It’s nothing new, but more and more believers are being led down a pathway of hearing things which are the teachings of men, rather than relying upon the truth of God’s word, the whole counsel of the word of God. Well, we’re out of time until next week, may God richly bless you.
Speaker 1: Well, we hope you will benefit from today’s message and share it with someone else. Please plan to join us each week at this time and on this station for the radio edition of loveisrael.org. Again, to find out more about us, please visit us at our website loveisrael.org. There you will find articles and several other lectures from our teacher Dr. Baruch. These teachings are in video form. You may download them or watch them in streaming video. Until next week. May the Lord bless you in our Messiah Yeshua, that is Jesus, as you walk with him, shalom from Israel.