Sunday, November 06, 2011
FILLED - YET EMPTY!
Shabbat Shalom family, blessed be the Name of יהוה!
How many of you have had a week where it seemed like there were just not enough hours to get everything done? You have possibly been running from one thing to the next and have not had a moment for yourself? How many of you had a ‘full’ week so to speak? As you ponder on what has consumed your week, think just for a moment what fills your life – in other words what are the things that are consuming your time, energy and resources, while at the end of it you feel totally drained, beat and empty! In a message tonight called, “Filled – Yet Empty!” I would like us to consider just the very essence of just that reality check of being filled yet empty. Why is it that often your life may seem to be so filled all the time yet you end up feeling so empty as the very things that are filling you are at the same time draining you without you even realising it? Is it perhaps because you are filled with the wrong stuff? Well, let us take a look at Scripture and allow the very mirror of the Word to reveal to us whether our lives are truly being filled with what matters. Please turn with me to Yeshayahu/Isaiah 2 (read).
Yeshayahu is such a powerful book that is so relevant to us all today – It clearly pictures for us the need to embrace the Saving Favour of יהוה, and his name defines this for us – Yeshayahu יְשַׁעְיָהוּ – which means ‘salvation of Yah/ Yahweh saves’. We will do well to heed the prophetic words of Yeshayahu/Isaiah, as the call to live set-apart lives and walk in the light of יהושע is being proclaimed louder and louder – the question remains – who will hear and who is dull of hearing?
Chapter 1 speaks of the urgency and need to hear the Word of יהוה, and walk in the Torah (His instructions for righteous living). When understanding the concept of being filled, satisfied and nourished through the Word, Chapter 1:19 -20 makes it very clear – “eat or be eaten”:
“If you submit and obey, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword, for the mouth of יהוה has spoken.”
The Hebrew word used for ‘eat’ and ‘devoured’ is the same word - אָכַל aḵal – H398 and means ‘eat, consume, devour or be devoured’. So in essence what is being declared here is simply this: if you submit and obey you will eat and enjoy the good of the land – if you rebel and refuse to submit and obey you will be eaten by the sword – that is His Word that will consume you up and devour you in judgement according to His righteous right ruling! We have a choice – eat His Word and walk in Him and be satisfied or eat all the junk that is on offer and neglect His Word and be eaten by the very Word that is rejected. It is not a difficult concept to grasp – the question remains – how is your diet, and more importantly – what is filling you? Eat right and live or live wrong and be eaten:
Ḥazon/Revelation 19:15 “And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations. And He shall shepherd them with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Ěl Shaddai.”
Ḥazon/Revelation 19:21 “And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
As we look at chapter 2 we see that it begins with Yeshayahu being shown what is still to come – he was shown the latter days and the coming reign of יהושע – where The reign of Elohim will be firmly established and He Himself will teach us His ways and there will be a reign of peace. Here Yeshayahu is shown in essence the Millennial Reign of Messiah. What is very interesting to note is that the very same words in verses 2-4 are found in Miḵah/Micah 4:1-3 and reflects the dual witness of what is to come with the heart of calling people to repentance and back to יהוה.
Verse 5 is a key verse for us as it speaks to us today as much as it did to the house of Ya’aqoḇ back then. When Yeshayahu was describing the coming reign of our King, he urged all to be urgent in their walking in the Truth and Light of the Torah of יהוה. The urgency of this command is clear in saying ‘come and let us walk’ we see the repetition of the root word to walk in the intensive form literally commanding, ‘walk, let us walk!’ There is no time to be sitting still and waiting for The Day to come – we are to be about walking in Him right now! This urgency to command an active walk was due to the current circumstances that had plagued Yehuḏah. Yehuḏah had grown comfortable in their circumstances and as a result were being filled with all the wrong stuff! Yeshayahu was calling the people to walk in the light and as he looked around he saw what could be described as ‘dark living’ by a people who claimed to follow יהוה!
The call to ‘walk in the light’ often reveals the true reality of just how ‘full’ people’s lives are with what could only be described as ‘stuff’ and ‘stuff’ that is simply just taking up space that may just end up killing them!
As he looked around – he gave a call to get rid of the stuff and empty oneself of the junk that is filling their lives now if they want to be a part of the joy of walking in the light and ultimately living in the fullness of the reign of Elohim that is to come and be established forever!
In verses 6-8 Yeshayahu reveals the very things that were preventing Yehuḏah from walking fully in the light, as false worship had filled their lives!
Let us look at the things that Yehuḏah were ‘filled’ with and see how relevant the message is still to us today:
1 – Filled from the East and practised magic
In Hebrew, as discussed previously during our Shabbat Torah portion on Aḇraham leaving the land of the ‘east’, we know that the term ‘east’ also gives reference to ancient or past and so what Yehuḏah had been doing here is they were observing worship practices of ancient pagan ways. They were going back to old ways of idolatry and witchcraft that they were clearly instructed not to do. They still went to the temple and observed the Feasts of יהוה, yet they were blending their worship with false ways of the east or the past and were practicing divination and magic, thereby syncretising the false with the truth – which is not worship unto יהוה! The word for ‘practicing magic’ in the Hebrew is עָנַן anan – H6049 meaning ‘fortune telling, soothsaying, practising witchcraft’ as well as ‘to make something appear or to cloud over and act covertly and observe times of witchcraft’
They were filled with this kind of false worship, leaving no room for pure unadulterated worship and righteous living was compromised!
The same kind of falsified ‘filling’ is still happening today as many will syncretise many forms or means of false worship with the truth in order to suite their own selfish needs, and so cover up the reality of the Truth through rebellious living, which is witchcraft, and they are filled with that which the word prohibits, following the ancient ways of sun-worship in its varying forms, observing times of witchcraft by keeping pagan rooted dates and trying to use it as a means to worship יהוה, which He will not tolerate! We cannot worship the Creator and Saviour through the filling of our lives in conforming to pagan traditions. It is very interesting to see just how much the ‘kundalini’ spirit is becoming more and more popular, together with all forms of eastern mysticism and yoga practices that are filling so many with the perceived notion that it is harmless, while it is leading them to death!
Another major problem that tends to fill many lives is the seeming need to ‘look back’ to the past ways of rebellious living – let us not do that – look what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back to Seḏom and Amorah!!!
2 – Filled with silver and gold
This was a very prosperous time in the history of Yehuḏah and in the process of living prosperously they had quickly lost their focus and began to put their trust in their riches and wealth for security. They had forgotten the One who had given them the ability to amass all of their wealth and began to worship their material possessions, and all this was quite subtle. Little by little riches and wealth have a way of consuming your life and demanding your full attention. So many are doing the same today as they ‘slave away’ at doing their utmost to secure that next best deal that will ‘set them up for life’ so that they can retire and live comfortably – or so they think. Being filled with silver and gold has a tendency to make one think this way. May I remind you that ‘retirement’ is not a Scriptural concept or teaching!!!
One must never forget, as Yehuḏah did, the One who gives you the ability to make wealth. The sad reality for them back then as well as so many today is that the quest to accumulate more and more consumed them to the point where יהוה became an afterthought and was greatly neglected. Today it is no different – how many find themselves being so filled or consumed with finances or their jobs or careers that the time to pray, read and study Scripture, fellowship and even the ability to witness to others and give testimony takes a back seat and is often even eventually chucked out of the car altogether so to speak!
Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:24 “No one is able to serve two masters, for either he shall hate the one and love the other, or else he shall cleave to the one and despise the other. You are not able to serve Elohim and mammon.”
3 – Filled with horses and chariots and idols
The people had become obsessed with the false mighty-ones of their own making. They still worshipped Elohim, but sometimes it was just more convenient to substitute some hand-carved image rather than go all the way to the Temple or to make proper preparations for the feasts. So many today too are filled with worshipping the work of their hands and make idols out of that which is brought forth from their own doing! Yehuḏah was obsessed with the work of their own hands. The emphasis being made here isn’t the images or the statues themselves. It is the idea of bowing down to the works of our own hands. It is taking יהוה and moulding Him into the kind of Elohim we want Him to be rather than the Elohim who has revealed Himself to us through His Word. It is deciding that we know better than יהוה what is good and proper for our lives. It is anything that we do to try to be the potter rather than the clay. It is anything we do to make a mighty-one of self rather than worshipping יהוה as He really is according to the way He has instructed us to.
Being filled with all these is nothing more than rebellion – rebellion in essence by saying that you reserve the right to make the final decision – do not rebel and be eaten by His Sword!!!
What Yeshayahu saw is still happening today, and yes it is still happening in the lives of those who claim to follow יהושע.
From verse 9 he gives us a clear message of how all this corruption and rebellion will be dealt with and the verse from 9-21 typically describe The Day of יהוה. In essence, in that Day, man will be humbled and יהוה alone will be exalted!
There are two Hebrew words used in this section that gives the meaning to be humbled or made or brought low and both are similar in their root meaning and collectively they are used 7 times in this section in describing how יהוה will deal with man and his stubborn pride!!! & giving significance to completion shows us that pride of man will be completely dealt with!
By the time this Day comes it will be very clear that יהוה has given sufficient time for repentance and those who are stubborn and rebellious will be dealt with and be humbled before Him!
Every source of pride will be destroyed – fortresses of man’s attempts at establishing security, idolatry, false worship, the work of the hands of men, commerce and trade, false mighty-ones of diversity and materialism.
For many this will not be a pleasant day and many will try to hide themselves as their hearts are continually hardened by deceit and riches and refuse to repent! Why? Because they did not receive a love for the Truth!
The imagery here is the same as spoken of in Ḥazon/Revelation:
Ḥazon/Revelation 6: 15-17 “And the sovereigns of the earth, and the great ones, and the rich ones, and the commanders, and the mighty, and every slave and every free one, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him sitting on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
This was after the opening of the 6th seal
Ḥazon/Revelation 9:20-21 “And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship the demons, and idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood, which are neither able to see, nor to hear, nor to walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders, nor of their drug sorceries, nor of their whoring, nor of their thefts.”
This was after the ‘sounding’ of the 6th messenger!
In that Day יהוה will completely destroy all idols:
Zeḵaryah/Zechariah 13:2 “And it shall be in that day,” declares יהוה of hosts, “that I cut off the names of the idols from the earth, and they shall be remembered no more, and I shall also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the earth.”
For their will come a Day when He will arise to shake the earth mightily and the call from Yeshayahu to hear and walk the walk is of utmost importance for us right here and right now, being filled with His Word:
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:26 “Take heed not to refuse the One speaking. For if those did not escape who refused the warning on earth, much less we who turn away from Him from heaven, 26 whose voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.”
In that day man shall throw away his idols that he made to worship to the moles and bats – the moles are blind and underground animals and speak of darkness and bats are unclean birds and so this shows that the idols will be discarded for what they are – darkness and unclean – unfit for human consumption!!! They will throw these away as they try to hide and all their darkness and uncleanness will be exposed from which they cannot hide.
This chapter ends with a serious admonition in verse 22, and that is simply this:
STOP REGARDING MAN! What do I mean? Well, this was at the heart of the problem of Yehuḏah as well as for so many today – they had become more concerned about other men that they neglected יהוה. They were too busy trying to please other people and their false deities that they had no time for יהוה, and so the fear of man was greater than the fear of יהוה:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the being. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both being and body in Gehenna.”
So many today fear men and show disrespect יהוה – they will never be late for a work appointment or meeting yet will easily skip an appointment of יהוה and disrespect the keeping of one’s word in regards to the gathering of the set-apart ones! Many will worry more about what their bosses, colleagues or even family members might say about their faith and therefore easily resort to compromising יהוה’s standards that a compromised way of life very quickly becomes the norm for them as they fill their lives with a notion that it is ok to compromise while disregarding the diligence in walking in total obedience! The message of Yeshayahu is very simple – get filled with the right stuff and do not live in fear of what others mighty think or say, or in fear of the persecution that may come, which may I remind you is momentary and light in relation to eternity! This is a call to walk in the light:
Eph’siyim/Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Master. Walk as children of light”
Yoḥanan/John 8:12 “Therefore יהושע spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.”
Let me just remind you all here tonight that fellowship is critical to the life of the body and this we must not neglect due to the filling of worldly stuff that tends to invade our lives!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging, and so much more as you see the Day coming near.”
As His children, יהוה expects us to walk in His light and to be His light to many as we are ‘filled’ with His Spirit! Our lives are to be different form the world, our speech is to be different from the world and whatever we do, whether in word or deed, must be done in the Name of יהושע Messiah.
As we reflect and as we see the Day approaching, let me ask you at this point:
What fills you? Is it the old ways of evil influences, or the chasing of wealth, worries of life, materialism, idolatry or ‘living in darkness and sin’ which is lawlessness?
If these things are consuming you and filling your life then you are in fact empty or rather ‘filled – yet empty!’
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 4 and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
Wisdom in Scripture often gives reference to the Torah and we know that יהושע Messiah, The Living Torah, is the Master Builder and our fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of Him is understanding. Being built together in Him through His Word in Spirit and in Truth will cause us (living stones) to be built up secure in Him being filled with all that is precious and pleasant, aměn!
The old saying – you are what you eat – sums it up – what are you feeding yourself on? What is filling you?
יהושע tells us in Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:6 that blessed are those hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled! The Greek word used here for filled is χορτάζω chortazō – G5526 and means ‘to feed with herbs or grass or hay, to fill, to satisfy with food, to fully satisfy the desire of any’ and comes from the root word χόρτος chortos – H5528 which means ‘a feeding place, the place where grass grows and animals graze’ and I find this very fitting as our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures and we do not lack!!!
There are other Greek words that we translate as full or filled and I find it interesting as we look at them at what we are to be filled with and what we are not to be full of!
I would like to run through a couple of Scriptures from the Second Writings (N.T.) that speak of being filled or full, both in the positive and negative:
Ma’asei/Acts 6:8 “And Stephanos, filled with belief and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”
Ma’asei/Acts 7:55 “But he, being filled with the Set-apart Spirit, looked steadily into the heaven and saw the esteem of Elohim, and יהושע standing at the right hand of Elohim”
Ma’asei/Acts 13:52 “And the taught ones were filled with joy and the Set-apart Spirit.”
Eph’siyim/Ephesians 5:18 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is loose behaviour, but be filled with the Spirit”
Pilipiyim/Philippians 1:11 “being filled with the fruit of righteousness, through יהושע Messiah, to the esteem and praise of Elohim.”
Qolasim/Colossians 1:9 “That is also why we, from the day we heard, have not ceased praying for you, and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His desire in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”
Qolasim/Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Elohim rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one Body, and be filled with thanks.”
Ya’aqoḇ/James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
Mattithyahu/Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are filled with plunder and unrighteousness.”
Mattithyahu/Matthew 23:28 “So you too outwardly indeed appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Romiyim/Romans 1:29 “having been filled with all unrighteousness, whoring, wickedness, greed, evil; filled with envy, murder, fighting, deceit, evil habits; whisperers”
Romiyim/Romans 3:14 “Whose mouth is filled with cursing and bitterness.”
Ma’asei/Acts 13:45 “But when the Yehuḏim saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. And contradicting and speaking evil, they opposed what Sha’ul was saying.”
Ma’asei/Acts 19:28 “And having heard this, they were filled with rage and cried out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!””
These are just a few Scriptures that clearly highlight for us that we can be filled with the right stuff or the wrong. What are you filled with? What evidences are there in your life that determines what you are filled with?
Are you or have you been filled – yet empty or are you filled and full of the very Word and presence of Our Saviour and King? What do you hunger for? Let it be for righteousness for then you will be filled and satisfied and strengthened.
The summary of Yeshayahu’s message from what we have read tonight is simply this: Hear, guard and do – he saw what was to come – he saw the expectation we are to have of Messiah coming to rule and reign and in seeing this he urged Yehuḏah to turn back form their rebellious living standards of being filled with all the wrong stuff – which will one day be totally destroyed – and walk in the light of יהוה.
I ask again – what is filling your life? Are you eating the Good Word and satisfied in Him and filled to the full measure of His love being equipped to be living in disciplined loving obedience to His Word or are you feeding on ‘junk’ and continually find yourself emptied of all strength and ability to do what is right?
I leave you with an illustration of the ‘mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee’, which some of you may have heard before, yet I have adapted it slightly to be in line with what we have been speaking about tonight.
A science teacher stood before his class and had an empty mayonnaise jar in his hand and placed some rocks in the jar until there was no more space for any more rocks and asked the class if the jar was full, to which they replied a resounding ‘yes’. He then pulled out a bag of smaller pebbles and proceeded to empty the pebbles into the jar which fell into the gaps between the larger rocks until there was no more room for any more pebbles and asked the question again as to whether the jar was full or not, to which they once again said ‘yes’. He then took a bag of fine sand and poured the sand into the jar and the sand fell in between all the pebbles and totally filled every space there was in the jar and asked again the question of whether the jar was now full, which they shouted a unanimous ‘yes’. He then took 2 cups of coffee that he had on his desk and poured the coffee into the ‘full’ jar and the coffee seeped through all the sand and he then declared that the jar was now full!
In explaining the process it is best described as follows – the jar is an individual and the ‘rocks’ are the representation of the Word of Elohim – His Commands and instructions to which we are to have written upon our hearts and we know that we place our trust in The Rock - יהושע Messiah. What is interesting to note is that if that is all we were to have inside of us – we would be ‘full’. However life has a way of adding other things into us that fills us and so the pebbles I see as trials of many kinds - the pebbles are a product of crushing or washing or scraping against each other. Trials are necessary in our lives – as Ya’aqoḇ/James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face all kinds of trials – we need them for it brings us to a maturity where we lack nothing! However without the rocks in our jar – there would be much more space for more trials. The sand that can still fit in can represent other ‘stuff’ – stuff that we see filling our lives in some aspect or another, such as hobbies, enjoying a movie, other interests etc. – the kind of stuff that we often tend to think defines us yet in reality without them our jar would be ‘full’ if filled the right way!!! Sand can also represent false ideas, theologies and traditions that seem to consume a person while it has no firm footing or ability to keep one standing. The problem is that many fill themselves up first with sand and can never handle any trial and crack easily under pressure – and certainly have absolutely no space for the Word! If our ‘empty’ jars of clay are being filled with sand – the stuff that can easily be washed away and has no real substance or foundation when storms come. There are others that are living in a constant struggle, going through one trial after another without any rest and eventually are so depleted and broken that their lives are only bitter and angry as everything seemingly goes wrong to which they blame an Elohim whom they do not know or have part of Him inside them! Without the Rock of His Word being put first inside of us – trials will never be able to be fruitful in bringing us to maturity, but rather just be a continual breaking down process to destruction!
This illustration is a great lesson for us to let us know that there are various things that can fill our lives, but we are to ensure that we are first and foremost filled with His Living Word that we can handle and endure whatever else come into our lives. What is filling your life? If you only have fragments of His Word then you may find that your life is being filled with more trials and ‘junk’ leaving you feeling empty!!! Being filled with the fullness of His Word through living in obedience to his Torah (Instructions) will never ever leave you feeling empty no matter what you face!
The students asked what the 2 cups of coffee were for – and the teacher told them that no matter how full or busy your life might be – there is always time for a cup of coffee or two with a friend!
Come and let us walk in the Light of יהוה! Shalom!