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Today is the 19th day of Tishri and it’s the fifth day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Here are some thoughts that will hopefully bless and inspire you.

Messiah told us that the greatest command in all the Torah (Law) is that we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and strength, and then He said this: 

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Some have interpreted that verse to mean if we keep these two commandments, we don’t have to keep the other commandments, as if the keeping of these two does away with the others. The reality is that if we keep the first one, we are acknowledging that He gets to make the rules. If He says, “Do this,” then we should do it. If He says, “Don’t do that,” then we shouldn’t do it. In other words, we are not authorized to pick and choose what we should obey if we love Him with all of our heart. 

The point is this: Messiah was saying that all the instructions and principles we are called to live by rest upon these two points. In other words, our attempt at obedience becomes an exercise in religion if it is not predicated upon “Love the LORD” and “Love your neighbor.”  

These two commands are like nails driven into a wall and our obedience to God’s other commandments are like garments hanging upon those two nails. If those two anchors aren’t in place, then everything else falls to the floor. These two commands are the basis and support for all the other instructions God gives us. If we’re not loving the Lord with all our heart; if we’re not loving our neighbor, then everything else we’re doing “in His name” is rather pointless. If love for God and our fellow man is not our motivation to obey, our obedience will fall short of what is pleasing to Him. 

Everybody is quick to acknowledge the first one – “Love God” – but the second one – “Love your neighbor” – is a bit more problematic because, by nature, we don’t love most people in the same way we love ourselves. Messiah makes it very clear that both of these commands are foundational – it’s not either, or. So if our obedience in other areas is going to mean anything; if following God’s ways is going to have the impact in our lives and the lives of others as God intended, then they need something solid to hang on.

To make His point about this latter command, the Messiah gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan. The essence of the teaching is this: the people you assume would demonstrate obedience to the commandment to love their neighbor, didn’t. The priest, the Levite – those who had all the outward trappings of righteousness ignored the man in need. It was a Samaritan, someone despised by the Jews of Yeshua’s day; someone who didn’t worship in the same manner as the priest and the Levite is the one who showed what it is to love your neighbor as yourself. 

One of the elements of Sukkot is the idea that God’s people congregate to worship Him and to fellowship with one another, which is an expression of “Love God” and “Love your neighbor.” It would defeat the purpose of observing Sukkot if we were to say we love God but couldn’t stand to be around His people. If we distain our neighbor and, yet, say that we love Him, then we’re not being honest with ourselves. So on this day, let us determine to drive both of those anchors into the wall so that our obedience to His Word will have something to rest upon. 

Shalom!

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