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Parashat Mishpatim - No Fear in Love

No Fear in Love

Further thoughts on Parashat Mishpatim

by John J. Parsons

This week's Torah reading (Mishpatim) concerns social and civil laws of ancient Israel.  Concerning the opening statement of the portion: "And these are the ordinances (מִשְׁפָּטִים) which you shall set before them," the sages state that this means there must be the recognition of social obligation between man and his fellow man before the obligation between man and God can be embraced (see Matt. 5:23-24). This idea may be summed up as, "respect precedes Torah" (דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה), since without any form of brotherhood, unity, or genuine civility, we are left with anarchy, anomie, and despair...

As we move into the prophesied "End of Days" (אַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים), the world is becoming more and more a place of anarchy, anomie, and despair.  Civil law is flouted and every person does "what is right in his own eyes."  The storm clouds are gathering, chaverim....

Nonetheless Scripture admonishes us: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Fear and faith are antithetical, but if you're anything like me, you struggle with fear...  The Greek NT says that "perfected love" (ἡ τελεία ἀγάπη) "casts out fear" since it is rooted in the idea of punishment (κόλασις). 1 John 4:18 goes on to say that the one who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity with regard to love....

My fears often center on the future, for example, regarding the matters of providing for my family, being a good parent and husband, etc.  The prospect of the "End of Days" makes me more than a little concerned about the moral and spiritual condition of this country. I sometimes find myself anxiously thinking of my childrens' future.  But sometimes I just find myself in a state of fear without any identifiable reason -- i.e., anxiety -- and then it's more difficult for me to discern the message of this state of soul.... Regardless, there is one thing we can (and must) do to secure ourselves in these perilous times: renew our faith and stand firm with our convictions. If you feel tempted to cave into worldly despair, redouble your efforts to study the Scriptures and hold to the truth that sets you free. Study Torah and the Words of Yeshua our Savior!

Your prayers for us are appreciated, especially regarding this ministry and its future.  We are living on the manna God supplies, and (baruch HaShem) He has been faithful! The trouble is not with God's gracious provision but rather with my own anxiety and smallness of faith.  Thank you, chaverim.

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