Exodus 21 / Psalm 74 / Mark 7
And these are the laws that you shall set before them...
Exodus 21 addresses an order and control to replace what the Egyptians imposed on the Hebrews against their will, what the people all of a sudden lacked in their new position as freed slaves. Merely laws that needed to be kept are not a fair characterization of what God wanted to impose upon the people, because they were meant for a good purpose, as a means to an end. What God wanted them to be would take a lot of time and require a long period of a strict discipline, not indulging in the ways that the animal wanted to pull them, but first seeing and recognizing what the God who had a plan for them wanted, then slowly moving toward fulfilling that plan, harnessed by another master altogether different than both the more powerful Egyptians and the nature that ruled them from within themselves.
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
But since all these animals driven by the same nature were all of a sudden free from the yoke of their oppressors, they had to be harnessed under another yoke of God's, because He knew what was inside them to quickly become to each other just as the Egyptians had become to them—exploiters who made their own rules to consolidate their power and become in a bad way what God wanted to become for them in a good way. There is nothing ingenerate within the humans that would cause them to act in a way that God considers good. They will always act a certain way according to what is natively in them, which pulls on them to be what they are—frightened animals in a hostile world who are programmed to make sure they survive in whatever ways they need to. Again, the humans are not naturally good; there is something naturally in them to make them self-serving and self-protecting because they are afraid and they naturally react to their world of competitors by being one themselves and there is no other way.
Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him `unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him `unclean.' "
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him `unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body."
He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.' "
The humans will always act a certain way unless they have another kind of yoke put upon them, which is the meaning and purpose of Exodus 21, to try to harness that tendency so that the inevitable chaos could be quelled and they could learn the ways of their new God, becoming what He intended for them (which is really a metaphorical copy for the hidden sons, who are the Israel of God—the ones who actually can become transformed into another creature than what they're driven to be and remain like all the rest).
Over a million people all of a sudden got transplanted, and not just geographically; their whole way of living was different. For 430 years they lived under the yoke of slavery in Egypt, under its rules not as free natives but objects good for building up the infrastructure and not much more. Most likely they were regarded pretty much like any beast of burden—ox, camel, donkey, etc. Now here they were, a huge pack of animals having only known lives as slaves; now in the desert wandering and wondering what to do, how to act, what rules to live by. The Moses/Jethro episode gives a bit of insight as to the predicament of Moses, who "sat to judge the people, and the people stood over Moses from the morning till evening." All the laws being issued by God through Moses are a pretty common sense reaction to the situation that was at hand at the time, considering that their master, who used to issue and enforce the daily rules that they lived by for so many years was all of a sudden out of the picture, and now they looked to Moses, who looked to God for guidance in how to rule them.
And Moses said to his father-in-law, "For the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have some matter, it comes to me and I judge between a man and his fellow and I make known God's statutes and His teachings."
The first, and most common sense rules that were officially issued were about God and His desire that His people honor and remember Him. Considering the plan and purpose of God, to firmly establish this copy of a people who would be His own, who wouldn't serve any of the numerous gods that the other humans worshipped but only Him, this makes sense. The nature that was in the Israelites, and the fact that over a million people were just freed en masse by a series of miraculous circumstances, and then three days later forgot about that and started grumbling about their circumstances, is another reason it makes sense.
I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods beside me.
Then the laws become for how to behave amongst themselves, how to honor and respect each other so that their animal natures wouldn't tear each other apart in the process of looking after their own interests at the expense of their brother's. The fact that so many rules had to be issued for the people regarding the most basic things like not stealing their brother's donkey or not moving boundary stones to make their parcel bigger at their brother's expense, runs contrary to the modern notion that people are good and loving at their core. That prevailing thought is that external circumstances make them bad, and if those circumstances were different they'd be good. That's a common misguided notion among the humans, far from the reality of what they are at their core. They only want to think that they are basically good, because they're the ones doing the thinking and they're partial to their own species. They're not good, and never have been good because they're driven by fear to be self-preserving. They are only good when it serves them to be good, and then they're not being good because they're also driven to hide the shame of their nature before God.
I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.
The reason people are even somewhat civil is because of the fear of reprisal for their actions. If there were no rules, people would not behave decently toward each other. They would tear each other apart just to get the other guy's stuff because they think they need it, which is what any animal naturally does without even thinking. That of course happens now all the time, and legally—by means of the rules, or laws—but only to the extent that poor people don't become distressed enough that they actually rebel against their rich oppressors. This isn't a political discussion, only reinforcing the existence of the animal consciousness that totally rules the humans, and the absence of the fairy tale of the loving, kind human nature just waiting to come out. It touches everything the humans do though, especially the politics of any of the groups they form, the same predictable way every time.
The humans are only ever able to truly love—that is to be purely good—to and with themselves (and their own offspring, by instinct). That is true love, to be good to and take care of someone, looking out for them with a sincere and genuine attitude of concern. It is another copy of how God feels about His true sons, but inferior because the copy only reinforces the power of the animal in the humans to lead and guide them perfectly, the same way all the time.
The resolve of a parent to protect their children is the clearest and most enduring example. The humans are driven by a force of power, which is the nature that innately lives in them and makes them only able to be pure like that with themselves (they naturally consider their own offspring themselves, which is reasonable because their DNA is practically the same). That is what makes them evil (unclean) according to God, because they are driven to only be good in the most pure sense to their own selves. Since that nature is automatically in them, they can never be pleasing to Him because what God cares about is His family. Those who look after His family (at the expense of themselves) are the only ones who are genuinely pleasing to Him. Those who don't—because they're forever looking after their own interests—are of no use or good to God.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
One of the most important messages coming out of this episode of readings—for the benefit of the sons (the Israel of God) to learn about the Father and His will—is the establishment of Israel (God's entire purpose and plan with the apparent creation, to gather up His family) and the covenant God wanted to have with them (how He wants them to be). It's about recognizing that they were a chosen people, that they were favored by God over all the other humans because they were chosen by God to be His, for His purpose and not their own. An animal driven by the nature of an animal can only ever be for its own purpose. The good of the people—God's chosen possession and treasure—was the most important thing after God Himself; over and above their individual interests, which is an attack against the will of the animal. It's ultimately the thing that one who wanted to please God concerned himself with.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
What was in man then is what is in man now—how to get more for himself, to become wealthy, to get honor and respect, a family that carries his seed (DNA). Considering his predicament it is how to get and take for himself in a world where his natural competitors are doing the same thing, which must come at someone's (or God's) expense. For the Israelites it would have been another of the chosen people of God. Love your brother as you would your own self is extraordinary, and impossible, which is why it's only a copy that pointed to the better thing, when the Son would come and make the way possible to be able to do that, by replacing that animal, sinful nature with the nature of a true sons of God, who is not led by the animal because he's been freed from that condition by the Father.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago...
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
The purpose of that freedom was not so he could just be arbitrarily free, which again is something for himself, the way of the animal. The purpose was so that he could become able to actually love God his Father with all his heart, mind, and strength; and so that he could truly love his brother at the expense of himself, which is the message of Jesus' life and meaning of his purpose and worth to the Father. This can only happen by having another yoke put upon him, which replaces the yoke that is already there naturally.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Jesus protected the sheep at the expense of everything he could have had or been. He was the authentic Messiah of the Israel of God (true Israel), the one everybody in Israel waited for. He could have proven to the people that he was the genuine article (what "the devil" was tempting him to do), but instead he told people not to tell who he was, or what miracle he had just done for them because he understood that just like the Father's identity was secret, so God his true Father's intention was to keep his identity hidden also,a nd only reveal it to certain of the humans whom were chosen for that revelation—not those whom the people would have assumed would be chosen, but those who were totally unexpected. That is how God loves to work, choosing those who are cast out and rejecting those who include themselves.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
The Son of God did not do what the humans wanted or expected him to do or be for their sake because his allegiance was to the Father, and doing His will at the expense of his own and everyone else's will (which would have been for himself, had he conformed to the desire of the animal that ruled them—satan the serpent, the chief of all the animals). What was inside Jesus, because of the life of the Father who lived in him, was a genuine love and concern for God's family of sons, His treasure in the world. Jesus was the only human who was clean (unstained by the animal nature) yet ironically it was his work to become for God's sake what he refused to become for God's sake—the serpent, the unclean animal on the pole—so he could take that animal with him when he died and the family of God's sons could be freed from that condition imposed upon them by God, backwards and forwards in time. The holy men from the OT who loved God and wanted His truth more than having their own lives, and those who would soon have the life of the Father & Son living in them as the incarnation of the new covenant would be saved and able to be brought near the Father because they could be made clean from the animal's dirtiness and evil.
Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body. For from within, out of men's hearts, come all the evils from inside and make a man 'unclean.'
That food doesn't go into a man's heart says something about the spiritual vs. the natural, and that the former is what God is concerned with—what the man truly is lives in his heart (where he hides from God and men). The natural things like food don't affect what lives in his heart, but are merely things to keep the natural body alive. The Lord is reiterating what has already been said by God's prophets in the OT, that within the heart of man there is nothing good, nothing that seeks God or wants to know Him, to honor or love Him. It is a ubiquitous condition of all the humans Jesus is speaking to, of being born under the curse that makes the humans evil because of what lives in their heart, across the board without exception.
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
"These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
There aren't good and bad humans, only bad, because only God and His own true sons are good. They are made good by having that curse lifted out of them, and replacing their evil nature with the nature of the son who loves his Father and His treasure, who looks after His interests, even at the expense of his own welfare. That is the height of a son of God, and the opposite of what the humans naturally are. It is what Jesus was for God. To be a servant of God requires that we are truly concerned about His interests, which is His true family of sons. So it makes sense that the condition which plagues the humans—only being able to care and be concerned about themselves—must be lifted out of them if they are to become pleasing (fruitful, useful) to their Father.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
The heart of man is dominated by a nature that makes him hate God, and can only act toward its own self-preservation. That is what makes men evil in their thoughts, and sexually immoral (the drive to mate with anything and everything when that urge surfaces), and thieves (the need for more stuff to protect and insulate us from our fate), etc. It's not something that comes into them from the outside (what the Jews thought); and it's not some abstract sinful nature that they don't understand, a devil they think they can avoid (what the christians think). It is something inherent in the humans; it lives inside them and creates a constant drive not to love one another, but to get more stuff (both the tangible and the intangible—the emotional which is actually more powerful) around themselves so they can feel a little less vulnerable to their hostile environment and a little more insulated from death.
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.
A fairy tale is also the image that the religious groups have given to God, an all-loving being who loves everyone the same no matter who they are. These are the christian gods who have no real preference of one human over another, as long as they do this or that (fulfilling the rules they have created, based on the preserved words, but for their sake so they can get something, not God's sake so He can have something). Then they will be accepted by the gods and everything will be wonderful and everyone will go to heaven (christian version), or be in the kingdom (christadelphian version) as long as they obeyed the man-made rules of their man-made little society. This is the opposite of who God is, what He wants, and what He's like, which is in the words but few are willing or able to read those words without their animal biases attached. He has preferences and chooses Himself who will and will not be His people, going all the way back to the ancients and continuing through today. Those who claim to know the way to God choose themselves so they have to create their own gods which seem good to them according to what they've already decided they're willing to accept.
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who say, `Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!'
There are times when the humans seem to go against their self-preserving natures and love others than themselves is when they display a very peculiar kind of "unconditional love" (a favorite christian and new-age phrase, by which they try to define their gods). That means that even if the object of this love goes against them, they still regard them as the object of their love and affection, more or less. Those to whom this love is extended, though, are only a special group—the offspring which have come from their own bodies, who often look and talk just like them, who theoretically honor and respect them and uphold their values and philosophies and teachings. There are bonds that exist between parent and child that do not exist anywhere else. The same DNA, the total dependence of the son on the parent for so many years, same values and standards, looks, etc.
The fact that man was originally made in His image didn't go away; the predisposition of the humans to only be able to love their own children comes from this preference and desire of God—to have His own family of sons who spiritually look like Him (God exists as spirit, not anything natural). They have His spirit DNA, and are reborn according to that spiritual reality—a piece and part of His body actually living inside them, which makes this fact true, so they are sons of God in the spiritual reality, not just the natural, theoretical, conceptual metaphor. It's not just some abstract concept that doesn't mean anything tangible to us, but based on what we can see that is so true about the humans, who are in this way copies of the spiritual reality. In this sense, how true is what the Lord said to Nicodemus, that there is no possibility of seeing the kingdom of the spirit, which means being God's actual (spirit-born) son, unless you are born of God, from above, of the spirit (a part of His spirit body living inside you). It would have been as simple to grasp for Nicodemus as understanding that he didn't regard anyone his son, unless that one came from his body—so it is with God.
This runs contrary to the modern notion that God doesn't care who's in the kingdom, as long as they've done the prescribed ritual things every Sunday, and more importantly, that they "believe" the correct facts about their gods. There's no actual need to be born of God's body (that's just a conceptual metaphor), or that that condition is just something that automatically comes as a bonus, some minor point like a free toy in your cereal. It's everything to God, and without it there's nothing but the animal existence, with the animal nature, outside and apart from the kingdom of God's spirit sons. That's the division in the world according to God, and no other division matters—there's only those humans who have been chosen to be God's sons, and who choose to be that in return, and everyone else. The salvation that is extended to any of the humans besides the sons is another matter. Even that seems to be dependent upon how they treated the sons of God.
I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ (because you are the chosen sons, allowed by God to see that I am indeed God's Christ) will certainly not lose his reward.
And if anyone causes one of these little ones (not literally children) who believe in me (disciples who had eyes to see who Jesus was) to sin (to not want to see with those eyes, to not believe him), it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
That doesn't mean, though, that the animals can just reach out their hand and decide they want to be a son and become one. That seems obvious because nobody seems to be able to comprehend the truth of what the preserved words say, or what their purpose is. Jesus does say that whoever knocks will be let inside, but he's not talking to every one who has the thought to do it, because that thought and desire has to be genuine, planted there by the Father.
"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: `They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me."
He is speaking to those who have already been chosen and prompted to knock on the door, by God, who has chosen them to even be able to knock on the door—a very small sliver of humanity . The rest are just able to live and then die, enjoying His creation for eighty or so years, but driven by the animal consciousness and not ever desiring to have the truth of the reality of God. Their salvation seems to rest upon how they treat the sons of God.
That is why Jesus says "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear," because only a few did. Only a few had been chosen to be given ears that could hear the truth he spoke about, the words that God put in him to say in the first place, by that part of Him which lived inside Jesus, the same spirit we've already talked about.
Jesus said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' "
That pretty much flies in the face of God not caring who hears the truth, not having a preference on who is able to hear and possibly respond to Him—to become His son and find His love, then be able to give it back to Him, which is God's ultimate purpose and the only reason He even made the humans this natural creation they inhabit. The choice still remains, and like any human father who wants his child to choose him, honor, respect and love him as his rightful father, so it is with God. This is something that the christians love to tout, but don't even understand because they haven't even been invited in the first place. They are the ones who try to bash the wedding banquet, to get in and be part without having been issued wedding clothes.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Nothing is written here to merely bash those we know are wrong so as to make us feel right, which is the way of the animal. It is to point out how things work and why things seem one way but are another. Everything is for the sake of the Father, to inform His sons who are in the world, to reveal Him to them, to put them on the path that leads to Him. That knowledge is not found anywhere in the world, especially in the institutions which claim to have knowledge of that way.
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.
That is why we say how they're wrong, because they fool many by their outward show. The sons can only be taught be the voice of the Teacher who will be living inside them if they're chosen to have the ears which can hear him, and the eyes that can see what is true. They won't be able to prove their position or their ability to hear what the others can't, to the humans. That is the way the Father wants it, so they'll remain hidden and not receive their validation from what is evil, but only from Him, by continuing to follow the path that leads to Him, continuing in the knowledge that has been planted in him already by continuing to listen to the Teacher, the only one who can show him the way. The Teacher can use whatever is in the natural, what the son can observe, to accomplish the Father's purpose, that the son know the truth about Him and know how to get to where He is.
"He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."