Welcome to part five of the 2nd course of Red Bricks.
Read Matthew 5:33-37
Once again we find Yeshua addressing the way that the teachers of the Law had corrupted and twisted it. He was pointing out that they simply didn’t understand what God had intended by any of it.
The Pharisees and Sadducees had made a big thing out of oaths and swearing oaths. Yeshua here sets the record straight.
People were held to the oaths that they had sworn, and condemned because of them, if they were broken or couldn’t be fulfilled. The teachers of the Law used such occasions to make examples of those who had failed to live up to what they had sworn to God. Yeshua challenges both the authority of the teachers of the Law and those who choose to follow their teachings. He states clearly that swearing by heaven is wrong, because it is God’s throne; that the earth is His footstool; and that Jerusalem is the city of a Great King. These examples were just some of the things that the teachers of the Law had decided people should swear oaths by. They had different meanings and gravity, according to the teachers. But Yeshua is saying that they are simply missing the point.
If your word isn’t good enough for it to be a straight yes or no in response to a request or a question, then the motivation for needing something to swear upon only comes from a place of evil. This short passage is to encourage not only the people, His disciples, to think differently, but also to think about what they are saying when they commit to something.
In a court of law today, you can be asked to swear upon the Bible as a testament to telling the truth. The result is that if you take that oath and are then proved to be a liar, you will be held liable to the court for perjury. Yeshua, later in His ministry, talks of ‘binding and loosing‘. These are both misunderstood legal terms. Here, by saying ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no‘, He is warning that if you choose to swear by anything other than your word you may well find yourself bound to that oath.
Today, talk is cheap. People see little wrong in giving false statements for their own ends. Yeshua is here today to challenge all who would follow Him that having an approach of truth and honesty in each and every situation, is His way. Therefore, if we are to follow Him in this approach, then we will, by definition, be pleasing God.
It might appear to be a simple and unimportant notion, but Yeshua, the Son of the Living God, has said it. Therefore, we should take it into our hearts and live our lives by His every word.