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No Fear in Love


Torah Portion: Parashat Mishpatim ("Judgments")

Shabbat: Feb. 18, 2023 / Shevat 27, 5783

Torah: Exod. 21:1-24:18 Exod 30:11-16 

Prophets: 2 Kings 12:1-17

New Covenant: Matt. 5:38-42; Matt. 17:1-11


Paul’s prayer in Colossians

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”. Colossians 1:9-14


This week's Torah reading (i.e., parashat Mishpatim) concerns various social and civil laws of ancient Israel. Regarding the opening statement of the portion: "And these are the judgments (הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים) which you shall set before them" (Exod. 21:1), the sages state that this means there must be the recognition of social obligation between man and his fellow man before the obligation between man and God can be embraced (see Matt. 5:23-24). This idea may be summed up as, "respect precedes Torah" (דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה), since without any form of brotherhood, unity, or basic civility, we are left with anarchy, anomie, and despair... As we move closer to the prophesied "End of Days" (אַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים), the world is becoming more and more a place of anarchy, anomie, and despair. Civil law is flouted and every person does "what is right in his own eyes." The storm clouds are gathering, chaverim.... Nonetheless Scripture admonishes us: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Fear and faith are antithetical, but if you're anything like me, you struggle with fear... The Greek NT says that "perfected love" (ἡ τελεία ἀγάπη) "casts out fear" since it is rooted in the idea of punishment (κόλασις). 1 John 4:18 goes on to say that the one who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity with regard to love.... My fears often center on the future, for example, regarding the matters of providing for my family, being a good parent and husband, etc. The prospect of the "End of Days" makes me more than a little concerned about the moral and spiritual condition of this country. I sometimes find myself anxiously thinking of my childrens' future. But sometimes I just find myself in a state of fear without any identifiable reason -- i.e., anxiety -- and then it's more difficult for me to discern the message of this state of soul.... Regardless, there is one thing we can (and must) do to secure ourselves in these perilous times: renew our faith and stand firm in our convictions. If you feel tempted to surrender to worldly despair, redouble your efforts to study the Scriptures and hold to the truth that sets you free. Study Torah and the Words of Yeshua our Savior!

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