Sermon on the Mount

Mechanical Religion - Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6

A shofar ("trumpet")

In my first book, The Midrash Key, I argue that many of Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) teachings—including sections of The Sermon on the Mount—find their origin in Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Our Lord gathered a large crowd together for the Sermon on the Mount, so we know it was much longer than the eleven-minute summary found in the Gospel According to Matthew. Two hours would be the bare minimum, but He probably taught all day. We only have the summary the Gospel writers preserved.

Today I am suggesting that another part of The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1-4, 16-23) finds its origin in Isaiah 58:1-8. I believe Jesus commented on and developed themes from this text. See if you agree with me.

The theme of this section is “God detests mechanical religion.” In other words, God does not want our lip service, He wants our hearts, our selves. He has no tolerance for mechanical religion; He will not be controlled or manipulated. We can obey Him, but we can do Him no favors. We owe Him total allegiance by birth.

How we live on a daily basis is also a spiritual issue. When it comes to being a follower of Yeshua, we are not allowed to segment ourselves. We may be more “secular” in our jobs or among our lost family members than we would be with fellow believers, but we still must adhere to Christian ethics and conduct.

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On Being Generous with Grace

The Midrash Key examines selected portions from the Gospel of Matthew and demonstrates that they are expositions or applications of First Testament (Old Testament) texts. But there is no way to address all of Jesus’ teachings in a single volume. As John noted in writing his Gospel, processing the words of Jesus is a major undertaking. John 21:25 reads, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So we have to deal with a portion at a time, here a little, there a little. The focus here is on some of Jesus’ more famous words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-42. The text reads as follows:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you….

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