All of the Law Hangs on the Two Great Commandments

I remember one time when a preacher told me, “God replaced all his law with just two commandments. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord…’ and ‘love thy neighbor…’” (referring to comments that the Messiah made before his death on the cross in Matthew 22 and Mark 12). Did the Messiah really replace God’s law with just two commandments? Let us look at the scripture more closely.

Matthew 22:35-40
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If you asked someone, “What is the greatest country in the world?” and they respond, “Miami Florida”. Then, obviously, they did not understand the question. The Messiah did understand the question. He did not make up two new commandments here. When he was asked, “which is the great commandment in the law?”, he actually answered their questions correctly. He quoted straight from the Torah. “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” is quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” was quoted from Leviticus 19:18. He not only told them the two greatest, he reinforces the whole law (to get out of the little trap the lawyer set for him) when he says, “On these two commandments hang all the law”. What do you think was going on in the mind of these “law observant Jews” at the time the Messiah said this? Do you think it was, “Yippee, all the law is destroyed except those two commandments”? Or, knowing the law better than most of us today, they thought, “Hmmm…you know… he is right! All the law does hang on those two commandments.”

I have heard people say, “The first four commandments hang on ‘Love the LORD’ and the last six hang on ‘Love thy neighbour’. Actually all the law hangs on the two Great Commandments simultaneously! Both of the two Great Commandments are actually intertwined together. Another way to put it is, “you can’t have one without the other”. You can’t love God and hate your neighbor.

1 John 4:20
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

It is easy to see that “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not steal” hangs on “love thy neighbor…”, but not only does it hang on “love thy neighbor, it also hangs on “love YHVH…”.

When you steal or kill or commit adultery, you are hating your brother, therefore, you are not loving God. So when I “love my neighbor” by not stealing from him, I am also loving God.

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Stealing, killing, committing idolatry, and working on the Sabbath are all against God’s commandments. By being obedient to his commandments, you are loving God. When you love God, you love your brother also.

1 John 4:21
…That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 John 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

The above commandments show that when we keep The Creator of the Universe’s commandments we are “loving our neighbor”.

Again, it is easy to see how “thou shalt not steal” hangs on “love thy neighbor”. You can actually go though all the law of God and, with quite a lot of thought, figure out how each commandment (not committing idolatry, keeping the Sabbath, the dietary laws, etc.) hangs on “love thy neighbor”. I will touch on just a couple of laws that do require some thought to see that when we keep them, we are “loving thy neighbor”.

I don’t think anyone would argue that not committing idolatry hangs on “love YHVH”. It is harder to see how it also hangs on, “Love thy neighbor…”. The reason why not committing idolatry also falls under “love thy neighbor” is because sin spreads like a virus. This is why YHVH had the death penalty for idolatry, adultery, and Sabbath breaking. And it is why He commanded us to kill all males in a nation that we go to war with (Deuteronomy 20:13-18). It is not because the King of kings is sadistic. It is because He loves us. If idolatry, adultery, and Sabbath breaking are allowed, in just a few generations it will spread like weeds on a farm. Just 60 years ago, most of the United States kept Sunday as the Sabbath, and adultery was not too common. Now, both violations are very common. Just 30 years ago, you would not be able to watch any unmarried couple sleeping in the same bed on public television. Now, the majority of couples that sleep together on television are not married or they slept together, on the show, before they got married.

Deuteronomy 20:13-18
13And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword… 18That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

And here is what happens when we think that we know how to love better than the Creator of the Universe and don’t keep his “cruel” commandments.

Psalm 106: 34-42
They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of Yahweh kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

When we let “sin” get a foot in the door, before you know it, “sin” is sitting on your couch sipping coffee. The Creator of the Universe is pretty smart. He can see this. And since it is His will that no one will perish (2 Peter 3:9), He commanded us to pluck out the weeds so He can have a larger crop. This shows much more love towards His people than allowing sin to spread. In the long run…not listening to The King of kings (who knows what “love” is better than anyone), will bring more physical and spiritual death, than if we kept what some people might call his “cruel” commandments.

Another reason why not committing idolatry and keeping the Sabbath is “loving your neighbor” is because the penalties that occur on the nation for breaking these commandments.

Nehemiah 13:15-18
In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.

What type of “wrath” would be upon Israel for profaning the Sabbath? The “wrath” is the penalty that the nation will suffer for breaking the Sabbath. The penalty for Sabbath breaking and idolatry is national captivity. (Jeremiah 17:19-27, 52:12-13; 2 Chronicles 36:17)

Leviticus 26:1-6; 14-17; 31-35
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

(14-17) But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

(31-35) And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.

Again, when we walk in YHVH’s commandments, he will protect all of us. He will give us rain in due season, increased yields, protection from terrorist, and many more blessings. If we go against his commandments, we will end up as servants, another nation will overthrow us, and we will be in constant fear (even when no one is in pursuit). Many people who love their nation go “fight for freedom” or “fight terrorists”. But if you really love your nation, you would keep the King of kings’ laws.

A question to those people who think God abolished the law:
Why would a loving God abolish a single law when all the law hangs on “love thy neighbor…” and “love YHVH…”?

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