The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at Him.
Then He said to them, "You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honorsis detestable in the sight of God."Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.
But that doesn't mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God's law to be overturned.
"For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Luke 16:14-18)
Clearly introducing this verse with "but" connects it to what went before, but I am not going to comment on that yet. I am leaving the connections for you to put together. Basically, with this verse we have three propositions:
1. The Law losing its force
2. It being easier for heaven and earth to pass away
3. Than for the smallest point of the Law to be overturned
Remember, we found a parallel passage to this thought in Matthew 5:17-20 (Bible Gem 1065). So let's pull up that reference and consider Luke's reference in the context of the longer passage from Matthew. In fact, I am going to add a few more verses from Matthew's reference which are useful to us.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil.
"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.(Matt 5:17-20)
"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
"Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
"Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY';
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:21-28)
Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law, do away with it, set it aside or put an end to it. Rather, He came to fulfil it. What does that mean? Is it akin to the sense of fulfilled prophecy? No, He means He came to make it complete, give it its full meaning; to make it clear what is required. Hence, He gives the examples above from Matthew. "You say the Law says don't murder but I say don't even harbour anger in your heart. The Law says don't commit adultery but I say don't even take a long lingering look". In other words, Jesus came to spell out the full meaning of the Law, to make it clear what the standard is. Let's be clear, you won't be saved by keeping the Law. That is not the way of salvation. The Law just makes it clear how much you need help. Jesus didn’t come to supersede the Law. The Law, God's principles, are still in place. Now it is clearer what His standards are. Paul makes it clear, no-one will get to heaven by keeping the Law.
Has the Law lost its force? No way!
It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away. How easy is that? Not easy at all. It will take a cataclysmic catastrophe to do away with heaven and earth. Oh, it will happen believe me; well, don't believe me, believe the Bible. This world is destined to be burned up by fire. [Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, Heb 12:26, 2 Pet 3:7 Rev 21:1] It won't happen easily but it will happen, and furthermore, God will have to do it. So, in the same way it is not easy for the heavens and the earth to disappear, it is even harder for the Law to be abolished, set aside or for even the smallest point of the Law to be overturned, done away with.
Let's now investigate the third proposition. The smallest point of the Law, or as Jesus put it according to Matthew, for not even a jot or tittle to pass from the Law. Now what does that mean? That's King James English which leaves us all wondering what has just been said. The words Jot and Tittle are technical terms. Jot is the equivalent or the transliteration of Yodh which is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So not even the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet will drop out of the Law and by inference, the Prophets and the Writings too. Not only that but in similar fashion, not even a tittle will pass from the Law, the Prophets or the Writings either. Now what is a tittle? The tittle is the smallest distinguishing mark or feature between Hebrew letters. There are a number of Hebrew letters that are similar in appearance.
For example Beth (ב) and Caph (כ)
Daleth ( ד) and Resh (ר). The distinguishing feature between these sets of dual letters is the appearance of a tail on the first letter in each pair. This "tail" is what is referred to as a tittle. So not only will the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet not drop out of the text, but also the distinguishing features between letters will remain intact. It is easier for heaven and the earth to pass away, than it is for these elements to disappear from the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Can the Law lose its force? Absolutely not!
Now you will have to work out what the "but" is doing in this verse.
That's enough for today. We will look at the last verse in this collection related to divorce, tomorrow. Now I am sure many of you are thinking, "Now that will be more interesting than all this technical Hebrew stuff." To each his own. Some maybe thinking, oh no, all that heavy divorce stuff. Whatever the focus of Bible verses, we need to give them our full attention in order to understand what is being said.
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