Is it only me, or have you ever wondered what Yeshua meant when the following incident is described in the book of Luke?
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:18-19)
Yeshua never missed an opportunity to teach someone to re-think their understanding! He even challenged the term ‘good.’
He said, “No one is good except God alone!” Wait a minute! I thought Yeshua and YHVH are one!
There must be some distinction between our sinless Savior and the ‘good’ that defines YHVH alone! Mustn’t there? Are they separate? Maybe we need to understand what ‘good’ actually means!
In Hebrew good is ‘tov.’
Jeff A. Brenner says, “What does “good” mean? The first use of this word is in Genesis chapter one where [YHVH] calls his handiwork “good”. It should always be remembered that the Hebrews often relate descriptions to functionality. The word tov would best be translated with the word “functional”. When looked at his handiwork he did not see that it was “good”, he saw that it was functional, kind of like a well oiled and tuned machine. In contrast to this word is the Hebrew word “ra”. These two words, tov and ra are used for the tree of the knowledge of “good” and “evil”. While “ra” is often translated as evil it is best translated as “dysfunctional”. (http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_good.html)
Again we are able to better understand the scriptures when we go back to the beginning! Genesis tells us what ‘good’ means! YHVH created the world to be self-sustaining. A kind of perpetual motion machine that worked in perfect harmony and never needed Him to intervene in order to function as He designed it! We might even think He designed it to be eternal!
We all see the evidence of His design whenever we look around us! Bradford Scott rejects the theory of ‘Evolution’ and relates scientific understanding to statements already contained in the Scriptures. Yet, in his opinion, scientific exploration from biologists and astronomers should be encouraged! He is absolutely convinced that when these scientific investigators get to the ‘bottom’ of their exploration they will find YHVH.
How could they not? Understanding the Universe would reveal the essence of YHVH, the Creator of all we see and cannot see! Everything, from the smallest atomic particle to the vast solar system and even larger universe attest, “the heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalms 19:1)
So if ‘good’ means functioning as YHVH designed it, then ‘evil,’ as the opposite, must refer to the corruption of YHVH’s design!
This really challenges our understanding of what the Tree of Good and Evil is all about, doesn’t it?
TREE OF GOOD AND EVIL
There is another article on this site that discusses the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil. (http://www.bulldozerfaith.com/trees) That article explains how the Tree of Life is actually a descriptor of both Yeshua and a Torah Scroll. But, what is the Tree of Good and Evil?
If we understand that good is something that is in accord with the design of YHVH, and that Evil is something that is in opposition to His design, then the Tree of Good and Evil holds both sides of this paradigm. It is my understanding that when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, their sin was their disobedience to YHVH’s Way (found in the Tree of Life).
In simple terms, they decided for themselves what was ‘good’ and what was ‘evil.’ The great tragedy here is that sometimes ‘man’ gets it correct. Sometimes we can really see what is ‘good’ and in fact do what is ‘good’ in the eyes of the Creator! I don’t know too many people that would disagree with the ‘good’ instruction given at Mt. Sinai. Basically, the Ten Commandments are still valid to most folks.
The error crept in almost immediately, though. Once we decided we could be the arbiter of what constitutes ‘good’ we could redefine His instructions! The most obvious example is the fourth commandment. We agree that we should remember the Sabbath Day, but we have redefined when that day occurs. We have placed our own spin on what ‘remembering’ it constitutes. But is our definition of Sabbath in sync with the way YHVH designed it at creation week?
BUT, IS THAT EVIL?
The problem with moving away from YHVH’s instruction as the absolute authority for His Kingdom is that the pure Water of the Word is polluted as it moves farther and farther away from YHVH’s original intent! Bradford Scott describes this as ‘drinking downstream.’ And once we start on that path that places man’s ideals in place of YHVH’s we are on our way to destruction.
When we become the ones who decide what is good and what is evil we place our ideas between YHVH and Man. Shouldn’t His Tree of Life (Torah/Yeshua) be what is between us and Him? Didn’t He give us the Torah for our benefit? Isn’t it the ultimate expression of Love and Grace to tell us what His expectations are? Isn’t the Torah the Heart of YHVH?
Satan planted a seed of doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve. He questioned if breaking YHVH’s instructions would really lead to death. “Has God said?” “You will not surely die.” “You will be as gods.”
And isn’t that exactly how we behave today? We have been so indoctrinated with the grace gospel that we have moved farther and farther away from the Tree of Life. We still wish to be the master of our own fate. We eat from the Tree of Good and Evil whether it lines up with YHVH’s Torah or not! We rationalize, we hedge our bets! We reason among ourselves and place our opinions above the Father’s. How can that lead to Life eternal?
ARE EVIL AND DEATH SYNONYMS?
Let’s go back to the definition above. If Good describes something perpetual, self-sustaining, eternal, life-giving, then Evil is something that is dysfunctional, degrading, falling, moving toward destruction and death.
Do you see? Doesn’t that make sense? We were given the choice of Life or Death. Obedience or Rebellion. Eating from the Tree of Life or the Tree of Good and Evil.
And that, my friends, is the bottom line of our dilemma.
WHY DO WE HAVE A CHOICE?
Some of you might be saying, only Adam and Eve had a choice and we are all reaping the consequences of their disobedience. But, is that fair to say?
I don’t pretend to understand the mind of YHVH, but it seems to me that He had a reason for giving us free will. I don’t think He wanted a bunch of robots. He says that He could raise up stones to give Him praise! What was the purpose behind creating man in His own image? And what does that mean!?
I am going to borrow from a Torah Teacher that I enjoy very much. Steve Berkson (Now is the Time) explains it this way: YHVH is looking for a bunch of people to spend eternity with. Berkson, nor I, understands why He wants to raise up a bunch of people to share eternity with Him, but that seems to be His plan! He wants a family!
How will He choose who to grant eternal life? What is the criteria for having your name in the Book of Life?
Berkson bases his ministry on the verse:
Deu_8:2 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
The key, then, is not whether we perfectly keep His commandments, but whether we truly WANT to keep His commandments! That sounds a lot like ‘grace’ and ‘he knows what is in my heart.’ But, that isn’t the idea, here.
WHY IS THE FATHER GOOD?
Some of us claim it is impossible to keep the commandments so we don’t even try! I ask you: would you accept that from your children?
If a parent, with exacting standards, instructs their child to keep their room clean a child might rebel and say, “I can’t keep my room immaculate, so I’m not going to even try! There’s nothing you can do to change me, but, I love you Dad.”
What if you even provided instructions on how to achieve a clean room? Will you be pleased with your child if he refuses to read it? Or worse, reads it and rejects it as impossible, restrictive, even archaic? Is it a demonstration of love and respect when he thumbs his nose at the house rules?
What is a parent to do?
Is it a demonstration of love when a request for a standard of behavior is let slide? Perhaps the child relies upon your love for him to excuse his messy room! Is he even expecting you to do it for him? Is a loving parent indulgent? Or is a good parent one that insists the child learn responsibility?
Our role as a parent is to teach our children in the way they should go. Don’t we want our children to grow up with the same values that we hold dear? We hope they’ll pass along our ethics and standards to our grandchildren. It makes for a strong family!
First we tell them we love them! We provide for them. Then we give them instructions to follow. We correct them when they get it wrong! Their observation of us teaches them what to do! We are their example! We do it all because we love them and want them to be safe and have a good life!
All of this love takes work, resolve and commitment! It is more than an emotional tie!
IT IS IN MY HEART!
Berkson reminds us that YHVH tested the Israelites for forty years in the wilderness to see whether it was in their hearts to keep the commandments or not. So, it is a matter of the heart!
Didn’t Yeshua say the greatest commandment was to love YHVH with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength? How can we say we love Him when we fail to learn what pleases Him? How can we say we love Him when we ignore His instructions? Are we just spoiled children when we say, “Yeshua paid it all so I don’t have to do anything?”
According to Deuteronomy 8:2 the desire to keep His commandments is the litmus test for what is in our heart!
He’s looking for a family that loves respects and honors Him by keeping His instructions for Life. He has told us that His Torah is not difficult! It, in fact, is easy and the burden is light!
We’re instructed to walk as He walked! Our goal is to become more like Him! And since Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly, He isn’t asking us to do anything He wasn’t willing to do himself!
It’s just a wonderful pattern! And it is the way He will establish his family!
Don’t we yearn to call Him, Abba, Father?
WHY NOT CALL YESHUA GOOD?
Why did Yeshua say there was none ‘good’ except the Father?
When Yeshua was here on earth he was the Word made flesh. In other words, he was subject to the physical realm, and was able to actually experience death! Death is not ‘good.’ It is the opposite of eternal life! It is not how YHVH designed His Kingdom. So, although we may understand good to be a reasonable, albeit inadequate, description of Yeshua, it isn’t a Hebrew understanding of the term.
If we go back to YHVH’s definition of ‘good’ we must understand that to be good, something must be eternally functioning as He placed it in motion. Good has the sense of eternity. Good is like the elusive perpetual motion machine that man has sought for millennia. Good sums up the essence of YHVH, the self-existent One! The One who is, who was and who always will be!
One day Yeshua will complete all of the plans put in place by YHVH. Then He will establish the ‘good’ life: Life Eternal with His Family!