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Zikhut – Merit

May 11, 2017

R. Steve Bernstein

Salvation is by faith, not works. How often have we seen this and said this? And, it is so very true. However, most people leave it there, and that is only part of the story. The concept of zikhut, merit, is seldom explored. One reason why is that as soon as one begins to speak of merit, it is assumed that we are speaking of salvation by merit. This is a horribly inaccurate assumption.

Zikhut, merit, is a concept often spoken of in both the Tanakh and Brit Chadasha. Yeshua speaks of zikhut in the sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:19 (CJB) So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is important to note here, that what Yeshua is saying, has nothing to do with salvation. As the verse states, the doing of the mitzvot is not a requirement for getting into the kingdom of heaven. Yeshua is not talking about salvation, but about zikhut.

Who is great and who is least in the kingdom of heaven? That is a matter of zikhut. How does one gain zikhut? How does one earn the epithet, “well done, good and faithful servant.” Yeshua is quite clear on this, mitzvot. Mitzvot are the measure of zikhut. Mitzvot are how we live godly and holy lives.

2 Peter 3: 11 Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, 12 as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming.

As we live lives kadosh, holy for God, separate for God, we hasten the return of the Messiah. It is through zikhut, it is through doing mitzvot that we hasten the return of the Messiah. Through doing mitzvot. We do not gain salvation, we gain zikhut, which hastens the return of the Messiah.

It is interesting that in looking at the life of Cornelius, we see a G-d-fearer, who is not Jewish, actively engaged in gaining zikhut. He is honored by Israel for following the Torah of the Jewish people, even though he is not Jewish. These things are pointed out in the Brit Chadasha as being important, why, because Gentile believers can gain zikhut as well as Jews. So, here is an example of a righteous Gentile, a Gentile believer, who follows the Torah of the Jewish people, and thereby hastens the return of the Messiah.

Cornelius’ following the Torah of the Jewish people as a righteous Gentile, is a map and a gateway for Gentile believers today. The Jewish people are light unto the nations. This is only relevant if the nations begin to recognize the light. The Gentile G-d-fearer has a huge role in the return of the Messiah. Zikhut. Only zikhut will hasten the return of the Messiah. Zikhut is gained every time anyone follows the mitzvot of Hashem. Anyone. Jew, Greek, male, female, if you pursue the mitzvot, you gain zikhut. As Shavuot approaches, and we celebrate our receiving of Torah, let us remember that this is not an academic exercise. As we pursue the actual doing of the mitzvot. We hasten the return of the Messiah.


Sat, July 24 2021 15 Av 5781