Imagine every commandment in Scripture as a tree, each commandment branching off of the others, until we’re left with the root of the tree: love God with all your being, and love neighbor as self.
The Greatest Commandments Project is an undertaking to map all the biblical commandments in the Torah into a massive visual tree. It’s been going strong for 2 years now. And we’re only about 15% done! Time to pick up the pace, boychik!
And you, fine blog reader, are here to witness that, as we tackle part 16, where we map commandments 55-65, all dealing with idolatry.
Have a look at:
You’d be surprised how much of the Torah is concerned with idolatry; currently, almost half (41%) of all mapped commandments are pertaining to idolatry. When all is said and done, we’ll probably end up at about 25%, or a quarter of all commandments in Scripture.
The politically incorrect nature of these commandments is striking: God hates idolatry. And you’re commanded not to love idolaters.
Wait, God hates something? Really? And we shouldn’t love those people? Really? That won’t sit right with most civilized people. Doesn’t jive with Christianity, really, or modern western culture, that God hates something, and that there are some people we are refrain from loving.
Atheists will gobble up these commandments and say, “See how evil your god is! He hates people, and commands you to hate them!”
And in response, left-wing counter-protesters hold signs, in mocking, “God hates shrimpers.”
Though these inflammatory, politically-motivated slogans are somewhat based on Scripture, perhaps in dubious ways, it is nonetheless apparent that there really are some things God hates.
Idolatry is one of them.
- Don’t worship idols (Lev. 19:4).
- Don’t bow to idols (Ex. 20:5, one of the 10 Commandments).
- Destroy idols, and places of idol worship (Deut 12:1).
- Burn idolatrous cities in Israel (Deut 13:16).
- Don’t benefit from an idol’s destruction (Deut 7:25).
- Don’t imitate idolaters (Lev. 20:23).
- Don’t love idolaters, don’t favor them, don’t defend them, don’t save them, don’t yield to them (Deut. 13:6-11).
- Don’t allow idolaters to even live in Israel (Ex. 23:33).
- You’re actually commanded to regard idolatry as vile (Deut. 7:26).
- Yes, God hates idolatry (Deut. 7:25).
Whew. And that’s just a sample.
Israeli Counter-Missionaries and Persecution
When you read the Torah like this, and take it literally, you can understand why certain Israeli ultra-Orthodox counter-missionary organizations do what they do. They regard Yeshua’s disciples as idolaters, so they persecute us. From their perspective, we are idolaters because we worship a different god.
Going a level deeper, if we, Yeshua’s disciples, are worshipping a different god besides the God of Israel, then yes, we are idolaters. And if we are idolaters, Jewish counter-missionaries are justified in persecuting us; in fact, not only justified, but commanded! That is to say, if Jesus is not the messiah, Christians and Messianics are misled at best, idolaters at worst, and the counter-missionaries are doing God’s work persecuting and killing us.
On the other hand, if Yeshua is the Messiah, then the counter-missionaries are hard-hearted and temporarily blinded at best, blasphemers at worst!
It comes down to the authenticity of Yeshua’s messiahship. If Yeshua is not the divine Messiah and Son of God – the one prophesied to do all those great things – then we ought not be praying to God in Yeshua’s name, we ought not consider Yeshua the long-awaited Messiah, he isn’t the first and the last, he isn’t salvation, the New Testament is a great fabrication, and our hope is in vain.
But if he is the Messiah, what a great hope we have! And what kind of longsuffering we must have towards our Ultra-Orthodox persecutors in Israel. If Yeshua is the Messiah, the counter-missionaries are temporarily hard-hearted, so that the nations would come to the God of Israel through its Messiah. A grand plan, with a prophecy-fulfilling, mountain-splitting, resurrection life outcome. It’s unfolded in the last 2 millennia for ultimate good, with the result of billions from the nations coming to know the God of Israel.
The Big Picture
We’ve mapped some 10 commandments into our big commandments hierarchy. Here’s the new snapshot of the beauty:
And here are the stats so far:
- 84 commandments have been mapped.
- The project is 14% completed.
- 88% are related to loving God.
- Of these, about half are pertaining to idolatry.
- 12% are related to loving your neighbor.
- 96% can be carried out in modern times.
- 14% can be carried out only in Israel.
- 36% are positive commandments.
- 64% are negative commandments.
- 60% are observed by Christians:
- Of which, 33% obeyed, 20% attempted, 7% recognized.
- 94% are observed by Messianics:
- Of which, 61% obeyed, 20% attempted, 13% recognized.
- 95% are observed by observant Jews:
- Of which, 64% obeyed, 20% attempted, 10% recognized.
- 7% have alternate readings.
- 21% are from Exodus.
- 32% are from Leviticus.
- 5% are from Numbers.
- 41% are from Deuteronomy.
- The average commandment length is 144 characters.
- The average summary length is 32 characters.
This project forces me to get down and dirty with the commandments. Forces me to study, get beyond some of the theological fights out there and go back to the text. And mapping them in a visual hierarchy forces me to think about how the commandments are related, how the commandments all come back to loving God and neighbor, as Yeshua so succinctly put it.
And if nothing else, it puts the commandments back into my mind, which, recursively enough, is a commandment itself.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of the Greatest Commandments Project, fine blog readers.