So That None May Boast

Haftarah Reading: Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:23-24)
Gospel Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5
Commentary by: Matthew Day

Some of us are impressed by riches, the ability have whatever material possession you want at your fingertips. Others, who are more "enlightened", are impressed by knowledge, the power that drives progress in this world. Still others are impressed by shows of influence and power over nature and other people--the ability to keep oneself at the top by sheer strength. Yet, according to Scripture (as found in our Haftarah portion), not one of these things impresses God.

One might very well ask, "Why not?" Why shouldn't God be impressed by our ability fund any charity? Why shouldn't one who has power to defend the helpless draw His eye? Did not God Himself call for us to learn wisdom? The problem is that we forget the source of all these things. Provision, strength, wisdom--it all comes from God. He gives and He takes away. One might think these things are a sign of your own efforts. They're not. One might think they're an indication of God's blessing and favor. They're not. The rain falls on the righteous and the wicked. So, boast not. What you have has been given to you and it can just as easily be taken away.

Fine then. But, what does impress God? What delights Him in human beings? Jeremiah says knowledge of God. Note, this is different from generic wisdom. Wisdom encompasses any number of things; knowledge of God is specific to His character and His actions in the world. God is looking for those who know Him to be loving, just, and righteous. He is looking for those who trust in Him.

Let me take this a step further and suggest that even your Torah knowledge doesn't impress God. To be sure, God desires us to learn and grow in His ways. But, if Yeshua wasn't impressed with the Pharisees intricate knowledge of the law, what makes us think He will be with us? As Paul said in 1 Corinthians:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5 ESV)

This is a hard word for some of us Messianics who have become so enthralled with the depths of Torah and keeping of commandments. And, to be clear, digging into those depths is a good thing (even Paul here in Corinthians goes on to talk about a wisdom he does teach). But, sometimes (especially now as we approach unleavened bread) it is necessary to take a step back. Sometimes it is good to know nothing except Jesus Christ, the very image of God, and Him crucified, the ultimate outpouring of God's love and justice and righteousness. Let him who boasts boast in this.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:18-31 ESV)