Not Everyone who says – Part 1

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21–23, ESV)

This verse should bring the fear of God into all our hearts. For Yeshua himself has declared that there are many who will be doing mighty works, prophesying, and casting out demons…All in HIS name! But he declares “I never knew you” and calls them workers of lawlessness.

This teaching comes near the end of Yeshua’s teaching called the sermon on the mount. Right after this declaration Yeshua declares that:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”” (Matthew 7:24–27, ESV)

There are two questions we need to ask, what words is He talking about, and what is the will of the Father in heaven? To begin to unpack this, let us consider another passage that came earlier in the Sermon…

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17–20, ESV)

From this place in the sermon, Yeshua begins to unpack details of the true requirements of the Torah. He tackles anger, lust, divorce, oaths, love for your enemies, giving, praying, fasting, the treasures of your heart, anxiety, judgment, God’s good gifts, and the fruit of good and bad trees.

It would be easy at this point to slip into an attitude of needing to obey every detail of the Torah to live a righteous life and to declare that to know the Lord means following these things as closely as possible. Is this really what is going on?

At this point in time, the details of all the Yeshua will do are still hidden from the people. Also remember, that the crowd is hearing this, but the teaching is being directed at the disciples, who will bring all these things to remembrance after the resurrection of the Lord.

After the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, Luke records a very revealing event that I believe ties very closely to these teachings and more that He has revealed to His disciples.

The event is the encounter on the road to Emmaus. Two men were discussing all the events that had recently transpired in Jerusalem when Yeshua begins to walk with them but prevents them from recognizing him. Yeshua asks them what they are discussing, and acts puzzled when they mention the events in Jerusalem.

After he lets them explain the story, He says these things…

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25–27, ESV)

After Yeshua opens their eyes to see, he vanishes and they go back to Jerusalem and find the apostles. Yeshua stands among them and they are startled and frightened. He puts them at ease and then tells them these words…

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”” (Luke 24:44–49, ESV)

What a moment that must have been for these men, having it revealed that all the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms pointing to the Christ is now fulfilled in Him. The Greek word used for fulfilled is “plerothenai” which at its root can mean to fill completely, fulfil, to fill up, to complete, and bring to completion. The emphasis of the inflection “ai” as part of the root word “pleroo” is found only here in the New Covenant. Digging into the Septuagint, the only place I found this word used is in Jeremiah 25:12. The context of this passage is God’s judgment of Israel in which they will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. It then says this…

Then after seventy years are completed (plerothenai), I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste.” (Jeremiah 25:12, ESV)

I am not an expert in Greek, but in the only use of this spelling it leads me to think that the idea is to bring to completion. I will continue to unpack this idea regarding Matt 7 in part 2 of this article.

Stand in awe

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:8–9, ESV)

What kind of images come to mind when we think of the words awe and fear? If God where to appear before you at this very moment, what would be your reaction?

The root of the word for fear in Psalm 33 is “yare” and can represent emotional fear, the anticipation of evil without the emotional element, and reverence and awe.

The first time this verbal form is used in the old testament is in Gen 20:8 when Abraham had journeyed to the Negeb and claimed to Abimelech the Sarah was his sister and he takes her. God would then appear to Abimelech in a dream and told him he was a dead man because he had taken a woman who was another man’s wife. Abimelech woke from his sleep and called his men and explained what had happened and it says they were very much “yare” (afraid).

The same verbal use is found in Ex 14:10 when the Egyptian army is marching on Israel and as Pharaoh drew near, the text says that the people “yare” (feared) greatly.

The psalms like to use parallelism where the second line repeats the thought of the first line but in different words.

So let’s take a look at the word “awe”. The first time this verbal form is used in scripture is in the book of Job. In Job 41:25 God is challenging Job and is speaking of the Leviathan and during this speech says:

When he raises himself up, the mighty are (“gur”) afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves. Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.” (Job 41:25–26, ESV)

“Gur” like “yare” can also mean to be afraid, feared, intimidated, terrified, anxious, and to revere or stand in awe.

In the context of Psalm 33, the complete idea ends with “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm”, where the writer in verses 6-7 boasts how the Lord made the heavens and by the breath of His mouth all their host.

To me, this seems to point towards great respect and reverence of the Lord in verses 8-9. The kind of awe that you get when you see some of the splendor of God’s creation in the mountains, the oceans, and the wonder of the heavens. I do think that there is still a small element of fear in the sense of knowing who God is and what he can do and that our lives are held in His hands.

Later in Psalm 33 it says:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18–19, ESV)

In this section “Yare” is coupled with “hesed” which is translated as steadfast love, and drives home that hope (mehahalim) which is to trust, to wait, and to be patient on the Lord to deliver our souls from death.

Currently with all that is going on around us, hope and trust in God’s steadfast love (hesed) can keep or eyes fixed on the end goal – Gods salvation in Jesus Christ, and not on the chaos that is going on all around us.

In 1 Peter 5, Peter writes these words for his readers, may we hold fast to them and stand firm:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6–11, ESV)