Israel and Judaism did not exist in a vacuum.It was not the largest nation,nor the most powerful. Just as it exerted influence on surrounding societies, the surrounding cultures tried to influence the Israelites.In these ways the ancient world was very similar to our own.Ahab, King Israel and Samaria,Jezebel his wife,Elijah the Tishbite are three characters in the Old Testament readings from Kings. The marriage of Ahab and Jezebel was a marriage of Kingdoms Israel and Samaria, a conflict between two cultures Baal versus YHWH and an official endorsement of Baal by the rulers of the Kingdom. Elijah was YHWH’s advocate, a fiery prophet who urged the King to return to the one true God. In contemporary terms the arguments between the King and Elijah might be compare to our current leftist liberals versus the right winged conservatives and the arguments that of our abundant and vocal political commentators. It could also be viewed as the battle between church and state. The point being in such a tumultuous cultural backdrop a person can easily justify an action by simply siding with the group that agrees with that action; advocates on either side of an issue are in abundance. A person is no longer required to make an ethical, or moral choice; a populist choice is always an available option.It was against this type of cultural backdrop that Jesus preached. It was not a Jewish culture. It was a Jewish culture in a dominant Roman-Hellenic culture infused with local mid eastern religious cultures.Listen to Jesus Teachings:
1-You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
2-“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
3-Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
4-In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven.. . .. .
5-Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
In Jesus’s teachings he does not lay down a new law, he describes a new behavior.It is a path back to Gods kingdom in a darkened landscape. In an eye for an eye is a legal and judicial resolution to a conflict. In turning the other cheek there is the understanding of a conflict to avoid the evil. Love your enemies is the ultimate victory over enemies.It might not be the easiest path, nor a populist approach; but it is an approach that seeks a lasting solution. It is seeking the Kingdom of God that is so prevalent in Jesus teachings.Righteous deeds are preformed for the right reasons. prayer is directed to the right recipient, value is placed on things truly valuable. In these teachings the disciple is taught not to seek a letter of the law,or a rigorous culturally defined action; both these are to easily changed by passing fashion. Instead Jesus teaches how to interpret a course of action, a path to follow; to guide the disciple back to the Kingdom of God.