All The Ingredients Are Necessary
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:9, 13
My wife, Judy, has become a very good cook over the years. I look forward to every meal she prepares. Suppertime is awesome. The problem now is that I eat too much because it’s so good. Plus, after the meal, there’s the temptation to indulge in the snack she has made. The result: it’s becoming harder not to gain weight. There are worse problems to have I suppose.
Every once in a while, by mistake, she doesn’t follow the recipe to the exact required specifications. Sometimes stuff gets left out; sometimes too much stuff gets put in; and sometimes, who knows what happened?
However, it’s still always good. It’s just not quite what the recipe called for. It’s close. It approximates what it’s supposed to be. But, the ingredients have changed and therefore, the end result isn’t the same.
Now, you might be able to get by like this when preparing food: an ingredient here, an ingredient not there. But when it comes to God’s Word, it is not acceptable.
The Bible is, for lack of a better way of saying it, a recipe Book that is intended to produce a specific end result. If it is changed, it will not produce what the Head Cook meant for it to produce. It might be close, approximate. It might even have some of the same outward appearance, but the result will be slightly altered.
When it comes to the Bible, what can be changed? What can be left out? What can be put in? Can it be altered in any way and still be the Word of God? Seems like a simple question but, I know what you’re Pavlovian response will be: No; absolutely not.
But … is that in truth what we, as God’s children, really practice? I’m not so sure.
In all reality, when the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day added their own ingredients to the Torah, not only were they adding to the Torah, but they were also taking away from it. They were actually removing from the people the opportunities to follow the Torah the way God had meant it to be followed.
In our story, there is nothing in the Torah that says a person has to wash hands in a prescribed method. There is no disobedience in not following the religious leaders’ prescribed methods. However, by enforcing their instructions upon people, it was tantamount to withholding a person’s ability to obey the Torah in the liberty that God had instructed.
The emphasis I want us to see is this. When we follow man’s instructions as opposed to God’s instructions, we are denying ourselves the liberty to obey God as we should.
How, you ask? Here are a few accepted “traditions” that we Hebraic minded folks are constantly questioned about.
Christmas — The tradition of Christmas shouldn’t be observed. There’s nothing Biblical about it. However, in the eyes of some, that is close to heresy.
Easter - When I was in the ministry, I never was comfortable celebrating Easter. The tradition of Easter shouldn’t be observed. To most, that is heresy.
Food - This is a big one. Nothing demonstrates (supposedly) that a person is a legalist, back under the law, more so than following God’s instructions on what to eat and what not to eat. And no, Peter’s vision did not settle this issue. It has to be read in context. I never, ever, thought Peter’s vision had anything to do with declaring all foods consumable.
What I’m saying is this. The “Judaism” of Yeshua’s day and the Christianity of our day each have variations to the “Recipe.” Both add to and take away from the “Recipe.” And in doing so, people are refused their liberty to live out the Word because of man-made traditions. The one tradition says you have to wash your hands the other tradition says you can eat bacon.
Let’s pull this together.
Every now-and-then a really good cook might decide, for personal preferences, to alter a recipe. And, that’s OK. They know what they’re doing and why. But does that really work with God’s Word? Can we alter any part of His Word in any way? If so, what parts? And if so, will the outcome be same in the end?
I really don’t think so.
Once we start to slice-and-dice God’s Word, we are on a very slippery slope to heresy. This is serious stuff. What cook would put up with anyone in their kitchen who attempted to change the recipe? That indeed would be pretty audacious on their part.
Who were the folks that up and did away with God’s feasts and festivals in exchange for what isn’t in the Bible? What has more Biblical grounds for observance, for example: Christmas or Passover? Easter or Sukkot/Tabernacles? Lobster, shell fish, pork or none of these?
Why aren’t we scared to death by what we have done to God’s Word? Why is it that folks accept, without question, the changes that have been made to God’s Word? We should shutter at what we have done — all under the guise of “Jesus did away with the Law.”
It is time for God’s people to reconsider whether or not they have made the Word of God of none effect through their non-Biblical traditions.
All the ingredients are necessary … aren’t they?