For how long has God been expecting people to love their enemies? We’re continuing to work our way through Matthew chapter five, and specifically Jesus’s “You have heard, but I say to you” statements, and we’re in the sixth of those six, where Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said love your neighbor, hate your enemy.” That’s Matthew 5:43.
In our last lesson, I made it very clear, proved it that Jesus didn’t say, “God said.” He said, “You have heard it was said,” and only part of what he quotes did God ever say, that is, “Love your neighbor.” God never said, “Hate your enemies.” Then Jesus of course says, “But I say to you …” So here’s his counterpoint to the false teaching that his followers had previously heard from the scribes and Pharisees, and that becomes obvious as we keep reading here.
You know, because the scribes and the Pharisees taught, “Love your neighbor, hate your enemies.” That’s what you guys have heard. Where did you hear that? You didn’t hear that from the Bible because that’s not in the Bible, you heard that from the scribes and Pharisees. But I’m going to tell you, here’s what I say to you, I’m going to tell you something different from what the scribes and Pharisees are telling you. In fact, one of the very last verses of the sermon on the mount, it says the people were shocked of what Jesus was teaching, because he was not teaching as their scribes and as their Pharisees. I think it just says scribes. Because everything he said was a contradiction to what they were teaching, and that’s what the sermon was all about, it was a fulfilling of the law, filling the law to the full.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, so that you may sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Now here’s where we left off in our last Little Lesson, “For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” So to answer the initial question I posed at the beginning of those episode, how long has God been expecting people to love their enemies? Well, the answer to that is, how long has God been loving his enemies?
Well, we’re just told here by Jesus, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good.” That is, the evil don’t even deserve the sun to rise on them, but God causes the sun to rise on them, and God sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. Well, in an agrarian society, people don’t look at rain as a negative thing, like, “Oh, that’s a gloomy day.” You know? No, no, rain is a wonderful thing, it grows your crops. God is good, and so he sends the rain on people that don’t deserve it, the unrighteous, just like he does for the righteous.
So God has been demonstrating since the beginning of human history that he is good to people that don’t deserve it. He’s a merciful, long-suffering God, and that’s the example that God’s been setting from Adam and Eve all the way up until the time of the law of Moses. And of course, he kept doing those things during the law of Moses, and he did it all of course during the ministry of Jesus, an example for everyone to see every day, “Look at that, here comes the sun on people that don’t deserve it, and here comes the rain on the farms of people that don’t deserve it.” What can I learn from that? I guess, that that’s virtuous to be long-suffering and merciful and to love your enemies.
So when people say, “Loving your enemies is a brand new moral, a brand new ethic that the world never dreamed of or never heard of prior to the giving of the sermon on the mount.” Those people couldn’t be more wrong. A lot of them are innocently wrong, of course, they just don’t know any better, no one’s ever challenged them, but if you’re watching this and you believe that way, if you don’t change … No words, no words.
All right, so not only that has God been demonstrating since the beginning of human history, how he wants us to act by his daily demonstrations of sun and rain on people that don’t deserve it, well, lo and behold in the law, in laws where God told people what he expects them to do in the old covenant, in the Old Testament, we find this moral principle of loving your enemies. Right? Right. How about Proverbs 25 and verse number 21, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Oh, that’s all about how to treat your enemies, that’s about loving your enemies under the old covenant, back in the day when the book of Proverbs was written. Here’s the consequence, you’re trying to change your enemy, you’re not hating your enemy, you’re hoping to catalyze him to shame and repentance. “For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” God loves it when you love your enemies and act like God showing mercy to undeserving people.
So what Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount about loving your enemies is not a new moral, not a new ethic, not a raising of the standard, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. I’ve just proven it indisputably.
Oh, there’s more, Romans 12 and verse number 19, under the new covenant, the apostle Paul says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, quote …” Now, he quotes in the Old Testament, “‘Vengeance is mine and I will repay.’ Said the Lord.” So Paul believed that the ethic regarding not taking revenge is an old covenant ethic, because he quotes from the old covenant, that is binding upon new covenant Christians, so that one hasn’t changed. He goes on, Romans 12:20, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Where’d he get that? He’s quoting from what we just read in Proverbs chapter 25, right?
So Paul believed that the old covenant ethic of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving then also your enemies as applicable to the new covenant. Say it another way, the new covenant ethic of loving your neighbor, as Paul believed, was found in the old covenant, in the law, you know, given in Proverbs and other places of which on our next Little Lesson I will show you another one where loving your enemies is found right in the law of Moses. Okay? Okay. Thank you so much for joining me. Until next time, God bless you.