Love your neighbor, love your neighbor, love your neighbor, love your neighbor; I have heard that phrase all my life. But I truly did NOT understand what it means to love your neighbor until recently.
When Yeshua (Jesus) was asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” He said,
“The first of all the commandments is: “The most important one is this: ‘Listen, Israel! Yehovah (“the LORD”), our Elohim (lawmaker, judge) (God), Yehovah is one. And you shall love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these two.” (Mar 12:29-31)
Of course, Yeshua does not have anything new to tell Yehovah’s Ezrach men; he was quoting what Yehovah said through Moses in Leviticus:
Thou shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against thy people’s seed, AND thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Lev 19:18)
What is the context of “thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself? Who is the “thy” and who is thy neighbor?
The first of these two commandments is discussed thoroughly in “Loving Yehovah God 101.” There are many who believe they are loving Yehovah in this manner but, like everything in my walk that I had believed I understood; this was just another example of the lies that I had learned. And this was just the first of the two most important of all the commandments.
The second of these two most important commandments being “Love thy neighbor as thou love thyself” has never quite sat well with me. I always felt that there was something missing in my “Christian” understanding of it.
Well this past Sabbath, as I was teaching something that I had taught on many times, I was struck by a new understanding about this commandment that I had never considered before.
Just Who Is Thy Neighbor?
There are two types of men that make up the commonwealth of Israel. A commonwealth is defined by Webster as:
An established form of government, or civil polity; or more generally, a state; a body politic, consisting of a certain portion of men united by compact [covenant] or tacit (unspoken, but understood) agreement, under one form of government and system of laws.
The first type is the man that Yeshua mentioned to Nicodemus one evening during the Feast of Unleavened Bread when he said:
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ” (Joh 3:7)
This man is called in Hebrew the ‘Ezrach‘ and in English the “native-born”, the ”one born in the land” and the ”native to the land” to name just a few. This is the man of the second birth, the heir of the kingdom. In my “Born Again” series I teach the process by which one becomes as one “born in the land”; but that is not the topic of this note.
The second type of man is the man I spend so much time talking about in part 1 of the “Born Again” series called “The Gentile Becomes A Ger.” In Hebrew he is called the ”’Ger‘ and in the English he is called the ”stranger,” the ”foreigner,” and sometimes even an ”alien” to name just a few. This man has come to Yehovah with a contrite heart and a contrite and broken spirit; he has repented, left the country of his first birth, and has joined himself to Yehovah’s ways and people. Concerning these two men the scriptures say :
“One law shall be for the native-born (Ezrach) and for the stranger (Ger) who dwells among you.” (Exo 12:49)
“You shall have the same law for the stranger (Ger) and for one from your own country (Ezrach); for I am Yehovah, your Elohim (lawmaker, judge). ” (Lev 24:22)
“One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger (Ger) who dwells with you (Ezrach). ” (Num 15:16)
“You shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born (Ezrach) among the children of Israel and for the stranger (Ger) who dwells among them.” (Num 15:29)
“The stranger (Ger) who dwells among you (Ezrach) shall be to you, as one born in the land (ezrach), and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers (gerim) in the land of Egypt: I am Yehovah, your Elohim.” (Lev 19:34)
Loving Your Neighbor Is Loving The Ger who Dwells With The Ezrach
It was this last verse that hit me so hard because of its proximity and construction to this one:
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against My son, your people, AND you shall love your neighbor [ger] as yourself [ezrach].” (Lev 19:18)
The ”neighbor” in verse 18 is the ”Ger” in verse 34. Or, in plain speech, the neighbor that we are to love as ourselves is the ”Ger” who dwells with us (Ezrach)! This idea may be hard for many to understand and accept in light of the traditions and doctrines of men that we have learned from our fathers which are all ”worthless and unprofitable things”.
Loving You Neighbor Is Not Talking About The Man Next Door Over
The man who lives next door is truly not our neighbor; for our neighbors are those who have left the kingdoms of their birth and now do the will of Yehovah, the Ger. Are we to love the folks next door? Of course. But not in the same way. The scriptures give us some very definite instructions on how to care for the Levite, the fatherless, the widow and the stranger (Ger) who dwells with us.
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger (Ger) nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry.” (Exo 22:21-23)
“He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger (Ger), giving him food and clothing.” (Deu 10:18)
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger (Ger) and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied; that Yehovah your Elohim may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.” (Deu 14:28-29)
Did Israel send relief to the flood victims in Egypt? How about the orphans in Assyria? Or the widows in Babylon? I do not think so! But I know that the Levites, the widows, the orphans and the Ger were all looked after in Israel. That is why Moses said:
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as Yehovah my Elohim commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has Elohim so near to it, as Yehovah our Elohim is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?” (Deu 4:5-8)
Are we taking care of our real neighbors? Are we even Israel, Yehovah’s born in the land Ezrach men? So much to learn, so little time.
Love Your Neighbor? Who Is He?
2L10 Leviticus 19 – Who Is Thy Neighbor?
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