Messianic Learning Feature Articles
Resist Not Evil
"You have heard that it has been said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you that you resist not evil. But whoever shall strike you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law and take away your coat, let him have your cloke also. And whoever shall constrain you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him, who would borrow of you, turn not you away." (Matthew 5:38-42)
When Yahushuah taught His disciples, He often referred to the ancient commands that YAHUAH gave to Israel through Moses. (Matthew Chapter 5; verses 21, 27, 31 and 33) In His leadoff quote of this article, "You have heard that it has been said," He refers to this, "If a man causes a blemish in his neighbor; as he has done, so shall it be done to him. Breach for breach, eye for eye and tooth for tooth: as he has caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. (Leviticus 24:19-20)
Yah's command ensured Israelites moderated their vengeance (i.e. their punishment didn't exceed the extent of their injury). Yet Yahushuah notably forbids even any proportionate retaliation, "Don't resist evil at all." This article delves into His words to help Bet Yeshurun Assembly (BYA) better understand the physical and spiritual implications of His message. According to Strong's Concordance and Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon "evil" is translated from "pone?ros" (G4190). That word describes "something bad, of a bad nature, or hurtful condition; annoyances, hardships; pressed and harassed by labors; bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble; in a physical sense: diseased or blind, and in an ethical sense: evil, wicked, bad."
Yahushuah then proceeds to give us several examples of evil. During His lifetime on earth, a slap onto the "right cheek" was considered extremely insulting. Since most people are right-handed, this annoyance was typically done with a "back-handed" swipe. Such an act was meant to be more embarrassing (humiliating, harassing) than physically hurtful or painful. More importantly, Yahushuah does not instruct His disciples to slap back (i.e. "go tit for tat"). "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
On the other hand, He also does not say we should stand there to get pummeled, punched, or threatened with loss of life or limb. Also note that His counsel isn't gender-based. In other words, an evil attack can be done man upon man, woman upon woman, man upon woman, or a woman upon a man. And to flee is a viable option. (See Elijah and Jezebel: 1 Kings 19:1-3)
If, however, the evil comes in the form of a slap to our face, or a verbal insult (like a "back-hand complement"), we are expected to turn the other side of our face to receive another slap (i.e. accept our annoyance). "He gives his cheek to him who smites him. He is filled full with reproach. For Adonai will not cast off for ever. But though He causes grief, yet He will have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." (Lamentations 3:30-33)
The concept of non-retaliation is remarkable. Such a controlled response is foreign to my human nature. Also consider Yahushuah's next example of "evil." The King James Version (KJV) speaks of a lawsuit ("if any man will sue you at the law"), however, this is better translated as, "If anyone punishes (condemns) you and robs you of your overcoat, then give them your shirt as well. In other words, Yahushuah teaches us to provide more than what is demanded or forced upon us (e.g. "giving the shirt off our back").
The KJV translation about a lawsuit can be misleading. In Strong's, the Greek word "krino" (G2919) means "to distinguish, i.e., to decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish." Thayer says "krino" means "to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to approve, esteem, to prefer; to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge." The Greek-American Bible scholar, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates wrote that "krino" means "to divide, separate, make a distinction, came to a decision, judge, and try in a solemn judicial manner." In scripture, "krino" appears 116 times in which it is translated "judge (45x), judged (26x), judgeth (9x), judgest (6x) or judging (2x) and (7x) by its synonym "determined"; (5x) its translated as some form of condemn; law (2x), questioned (2x), thought, avenged, damned, decreed, sentence and sue at law (1x)."
It's also noteworthy that being "sued at law" is incongruent with the subject of resist not evil." Typically, those who have evil perpetrated against them are the ones inclined to use the court system to settle their problem and sue for restitution. Nonetheless, a disciple might become the victim of a harassing lawsuit. Having worked in the business world whenever my company faced such a lawsuit, I promptly filed a counter lawsuit. That's the business world's way, but I clearly can see now that such a response is not Yah's Way. Furthermore, Yahushuah advocates not only accepting a lawsuit judgment of "X" amount, but He says to give "2X" the amount. It's good thing that I no longer labor in the business world. I suspect my bosses would never have supported Yahushuah's counsel.
While confounded by how disciples respond to the judgments in harassing lawsuits, I'm dumfounded by Yahushuah's next example of evil. "If someone compels you to go a mile, go two." My research into this matter indicates that during Rome's occupation of Judea, Roman garrisons had a right to requisition property and services from the native population. This occurred so often that the local populace came to detest these foreigners who ruthlessly ruled over them. Scripture confirms this practice during Yahushuah's walk to the stake for His sacrificial death. As they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Yahushuah. (Luke 23:26)
So again, I'm expected to respond in ways foreign to my human nature. Oh, who can understand Yah's mysterious Way? And He said, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Elohim. But to others in parables; that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not understand. (Luke 8:10)
This entire teaching is baffling. It seems to contradict Yah's instructions to ancient Israel. So, I return to the Hebrew Scriptures to find yet another witness. "If men strive and hurt a woman with child so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22-25)
It sure reads like Leviticus 24:19-22, but two words stand out "mischief" ("asown;" H611) vs. blemish" ("mum;" H3971). In Hebrew, asown means "evil, harm, hurt," and mum means "a spot, a physical defect, a moral stain." While both convey pictures of physical harm or defects, the scripture specifies certain permanent injuries (a fetus death, eye poked out, limb cut off). You may wish to meditate upon the spiritual meanings attributed to: eyes = apostles; limbs = works/walk (depending on which limb hands/feet); and fetuses = new converts. For good reason, such evil is to be dreaded. And he (Ya'aqov) said, "My son (Benyamin) shall not go down with you. For, his brother Yo'sheph) is dead. He is left alone. If mischief befalls him by the way in which you go, then you shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. (Genesis 42:38)
Obviously, blemished men suffered serious physical consequences. How well can a man work with one eye, or missing a hand? A mum also had serious spiritual repercussions. Such men were disqualified from serving amongst Yah's Levitical priesthood. (See pastor's teaching on BYA video for Leviticus 21, dated 8/2/14) Speak to Aaron saying, "Whosoever he be of your seed in their generations who has any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his Elohim. For whatsoever man he be who has a mum, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he who has a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, or a man who is broken footed, broken handed, crook backed, a dwarf, or who has a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or has his stones broken. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a mum. He shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his Elohim." (Lev. 21:17-21)
Now compare these horrific, catastrophic injuries with a slap to your face, or taking the shirt off your back, or the forcing of your manual labor. Each non-permanent injury, however, could lead to the more serious injuries of evil. So I take Yahshuah's wise counsel to heart. I accept that even small injustices can readily escalate into a grievous retaliation unless I control my reaction. Death can even occur from insults. Remember how the "gentlemen" in the old "Three Musketeer" movie challenged each other to deadly duels with slaps of a white glove to the face? Avoid such evil-doing. "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil. Cleave to that which is good." (Romans 12:9)
So, believers (saints) take care to not invite mischief. We are to be wise as serpents. Selah! And, consider one more hard-to-do, but self-explanatory teaching of Yahushuah. Give to anyone who asks of us. Do not refuse an opportunity to lend nor ask anyone for their loan back. BYA learn from this second witness. "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies. Do good to them who hate you. Bless them who curse you and pray for them who despitefully use you. And to him who smites you on the one cheek, offer also the other and he who takes away your cloke forbid not to take your coat also. Give to every man that asks of you.And of him who takes away your goods, ask them not again. (Luke 6:27-30)
May Yah bless us with understanding of His Will, and may He grant us mercy and grace when we fall short of His standards. Shalom, Elder Curt