Another man said, “Yes, that’s easy, since there are only two: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Having struggled with this question throughout this series of blogs because commands are the first category in the Cycle, I knew there were far more than two. The reference to just two commands was Jesus’s answer to the question, “Which command is greatest?” Jesus answered in Matthew 22:40 and parallel passages in Mark and Luke that loving God and your neighbor are not the only commands, but the most important, because all the Law and the Prophets depend on these two.
That launched me into a study of the commands of Jesus, both literally using the word “command”, but also searching every word for imperative verbs used by Jesus.
After all, if Jesus is King, isn’t every imperative verb he speaks a command?
Yes. And there are hundreds.
In Jeremiah 10 and 11, there is a fascinating concentration of commands given by God through Jeremiah directly to the house of Israel, with whom God is overwhelmingly displeased. There are 13 just in these two chapters.
On the assumption that God’s commands apply to all people all the time, we can ask how America is doing as a country, and how each of us is doing as a believer and child of God:
- Do we actually hear God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit (10:1)?
- Do we learn the religious ways of other cultures that are offensive to God and therefore not appropriate for us (10:2a)?
- Do we become dismayed at the signs in the heavens because other nations are superstitiously dismayed (10:2b)?
- Are our customs and culture ignoring God’s principles (10:3)?
- Do we have idols other than God, which He says are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, powerless, inhuman, and worthless (10:5)?
- Do we have gods or idols that did not make the heavens and the earth (10:11)?
- Do we hear the covenant God gave to his people and remind our people about it (11:3)?
- Do we listen to God’s voice and do all he commands us, so that we continue to be his people and he will continue to be our God (11:4)?
- Do we hear the promises of God and live by them and proclaim them in the streets (11:6)?
- Do we understand that even to this day, God commands, “Obey my voice” (11:7)?
- Would God say, after bringing us his word in the Bible and commanding us to do what he says, that we are actually doing what he commands (11:8)?
- Do we understand that if the answer to the above question is repeatedly “No,” it is useless to even pray for our country because God will not listen when we call in our time of trouble (11:14)?
Then again, we are a church in disunity and we live among a falling people.
So what is God commanding today?
I believe God is saying to us through Jeremiah that it is not enough to be obedient if we do not proclaim louder and in more perfect unity than ever before the peace and joy that comes along the path to repentance and restoration that comes through faith in Jesus Christ as our King.