Hear And Guard!
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Exo 19:5-6 (KJV)
At Mount Sinai the Sovereign Creator entered into a Marriage Covenant with the children of Israel, and Israel became the “wife” of YHVH. See Chapter The First Year at Mount Sinai from the present author’s book Reckoning of Time.
Many times we have been taught that according to the “Law” we are to obey and keep it. However, is this what Elohim says in the Scripture? The Hebrew verb behind the English “obey” in KJV is שָׁמַע shama which generally means “to hear.” (For more on what shama means, click here.) While this is often translated as “to obey” it literally means “to hear and act accordingly.” If שָׁמַע shama means to obey, then think this way: when The Almighty “heard” the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, he did not obey them, but He remembered the Covenant with their fathers and acted according to His promise by rescuing them.
Similar is the problem with the word “keep” and our understanding to mean to obey. However, שָׁמַר shamar (commonly translated as to keep) means to guard and protect as seen in Psa_127:1 where the same word is found behind the word watchman which couples with the word shamar and the meaning is that the watchman guards the city during the night,
If Yehovah does not build the house, its builders have laboured in vain. If Yehovah does not guard (שָׁמַר shamar) the city, the watchman (שָׁמַר shamar) has stayed awake in vain.
Or, we can read Exo 19:5-6 this time correctly,
Now therefore, if you will hear my voice [and act accordingly] indeed, and guard my Covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a set-apart nation.
Now, some thoughts for reasoning as we will read from Jas 2:10 (KJV).
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
This has been wrongly interpreted as: “if you break one law you have broken the whole Law. Why do you bother to keep the Law? You are guilty anyway.”
Ya’akov as being faithful to his half-brother Yeshua the Messiah correctly understood that He did not come to destroy even one letter, even a stroke of the pen in Torah (for more on this topic, refer to the article on Mat 5:17-20), so we can read the same verse without any denominational bias:
For whosoever shall guard the whole Torah, and yet sin against one commandment in it, he has done this to the whole Torah.
Interestingly, this is what the Rabbis say in Midrash: If you destroy one life, you have destroyed the whole universe.
The deeper point of the Hebraic understanding of Ya’akov’s teaching is this: one individual can repopulate the whole world, as Noah did after the flood. We can make mistakes in our lives but we can confess and repent and YHVH will forgive, and we can move on, but nowhere in the Scripture are we commanded to “obey” and “keep” but to hear and guard the Word from profaining it, from false teachings that the Torah has been done away with, and by protecting our fellow believers from breaking the commands.
We keep the Covenant and Torah of YHVH by, first, hearing and then by guarding them as YHVH has commanded Israel: “Shama Isra’el”—”Hear, Israel.” And then He told them to guard His Torah.
“To obey and keep” brings the wrong connotation that the Covenant and Torah are a “heavy burden” upon our shoulders, contrary to what YHVH says about His torah; but to hear and guard the Torah which becomes a delight.
For instance, who is that father among us, who would put a 300-pound weight on the weak shoulders of his child and when the child collapses, he punishes him for not “keeping” the burden with the only purpose to show him that he needs his father’s grace. Sadly to say, this “teaching” about the Torah we have heard from the mouths of many preachers that YHVH has placed an enormous burden, “the Law”, on Israel (while telling them that the Torah is light). And when they failed, He punished them to show them that they need the grace of Jesus.
In conclusion the present author can say this: I cannot “keep” the whole Torah. I cannot keep the instructions of a woman in her monthly cycle because I am not a woman. I cannot keep the laws of the Levites because I am not a Levite. I cannot keep the laws of the king because I am not a king. But I can guard them from the leaven of men and this is what we all are told to do.