Saturday, December 17, 2011
No Substitutes - Give Your Best!
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 12
Shalom to you all and favour from Elohim the Father and our Master יהושע Messiah. Sha’ul tells us that our life of faith can be likened to a race in which we compete and in:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 9:24-25 “Do you not know that those who run in a race indeed all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes controls himself in every way. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we for an incorruptible crown.”
Running to receive the prize – giving your all that requires discipline and complete control – how is your spiritual race going at the moment? As we all know – to be a top athlete today requires total commitment and dedication – hours and hours a day of high pressured training and strict regimes in preparation and hope for an event that may only last seconds to obtain gold, and any substitution in the preparation for the ultimate prize may hinder their success! Now Sha’ul tells us that we are to run in this way – spiritually that is – giving our all for the true prize that does not perish. In other words, in our pursuit for excellence in seeking after and running the race set before us with perseverance, we are told in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:1 to lay aside every weight and sin in order to give our best unto יהוה.
In a message tonight called. “No Substitutes – Give Your Best!” may we all be once again be encouraged to keep running with great joy and fervency the race set before us and let us not settle for any substitute to pure set-apart living but truly give our best unto our Saviour and King, aměn! In order to do that we will look into the wonderful mirror of the Word of Elohim and allow His Word to teach, correct, reproof and train us in righteousness in order to ensure that we are in fact giving our best and allowing no substitute and to do that please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 12 where we will learn about the dangers of substitutes to pure set-apart living (Read).
Every day we need to be assessing our lives and asking ourselves whether we are giving our best or do we quickly slip into a mode of substituting the enduring perseverance of living set-apart for compromised standards as the pressure of the world lures us into being conformed to its falsely labelled substitutes for acceptable living. In the chapter we have just read, we read of Reḥaḇ’am – the son of Shelomoh and grandson of Dawiḏ - you would think that this guys would have understood how he should live unto יהוה, yet as we know he was in essence a phony! He tried to have the appearance of being a righteous king but failed miserably. He had inherited power, position, wealth and prestige yet it all went to his head and it cost him – he failed to give his best to יהוה, but instead did all he could do give his best unto himself – and boy isn’t that so real for so many today!!! When so many get caught up in their own little world of self they couldn’t care who gets hurt along the way as long as what they do benefits only self! The setting for this chapter is as follows:
5 years had now passed since the death of Shelomoh and Reḥaḇ’am had become king over Yisra’ĕl, and in this short time so much had already happened under his wicked rule – Yisra’ĕl had become divided into 2 houses/nations, Reḥaḇ’am had forsaken the Torah of יהוה and caused Yisra’ĕl to follow his lead and idolatry was firmly established as we also read in Melaḵim Aleph/ 1 Kings 14 that Yehuḏah had done evil in the eyes of יהוה and had provoked Him to jealousy by all their sins they had committed – more that all their fathers – high places had been established, and every abomination that the nations were doing they were doing including having cult prostitutes! Reḥaḇ’am through his wickedness and pride had caused division and a rapid decline of a nation who was called to be set-apart and a light to the nations! One of the major lessons we can take from these events is this: sin and division brings an easy open door for the enemy into one’s life. Shishaq, the sovereign of Mitsrayim/Egypt, was given an open door so to speak to invade the land because of sin and division.
Reḥaḇ’am had established a compromised platform of mixed worship as being acceptable under his reign and so opened up the door for much needed rebuke and discipline in which יהוה would use their enemy to bring it about in order to humble them and cause them to return to obedience. Reḥaḇ’am really enjoyed having the Temple of יהוה that was built by his father and was happy to ‘worship’ the Elohim of his father and grandfather, while at the same time indulged in worshipping the false and pagan mighty ones of the nations – mixed worship is not worship in the eyes of יהוה. Reḥaḇ’am rested on his assumed security based on the promise to Dawiḏ that there will always be a king on the throne of Dawiḏ making way for Messiah and presumed to be untouchable and able to rule as he pleased and the account of his life is certainly a great lesson for us in privilege, pride and the judgement of יהוה. Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 10 tells us that these accounts are examples for us to warn us, so that he who thinks he stands should take heed lest he fall. Reḥaḇ’am only listened to himself – 2 chapter back you read of how he refused the advice of the elders and then went and asked those of his own age – what he was doing was not looking for advice but rather just looking for someone to agree with and confirm his own will and would only ‘take advice’ of those who matched his will, and so too are there today many who do just that – they will discard the truth if it hurts!
Reḥaḇ’am did not serve יהוה like Dawiḏ or Shelomoh – after all he was a son of an ammonite – a woman Shelomoh should not have married!
This was a man who simply refused to give his best unto יהוה. And so I would like to briefly look at some of the problems that marked his life and that which marks the life of one who substitutes set-apart living with self and lustful pride.
A – PROBLEM OF HIS CHARACTER (1)
Verse 1 tells us straight away that this guy’s character was seriously flawed! He operated in selfish pride, disregarded the Word of Elohim and led others astray and so revealed some serious heart issues as he believed that neither he nor the nation needed יהוה’s presence, instructions or involvement in their lives. It was as if he was saying by his corrupted living standards, “Thanks for bringing me this far, I can handle it form here…” and so a perfect example for us of a life that cannot walk in the blessing of יהוה. Tehillim/Psalm 1 tells us that blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wrong, does not stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers but rather meditates on the Torah day and night – and he will be prosperous in all he does. Reḥaḇ’am is the exact opposite – he walked, stood and sat in the wrong ways, with the wrong people and engaged in wrong practices with no time to even think on the Torah never mind meditate on it – that would have been way too much ‘work’ for a man who lacked the pure character of a true set-apart child of the Living Elohim who gives their best and takes serious the need to be transformed daily, renewing their minds by meditating on the Torah! Reḥaḇ’am thought he didn’t need יהוה – major mistake! He thought he could go it in his own, after all he had pretty much been given everything – the reign, the riches etc. What he did not realise is that without יהוה he could do nothing!
Yoḥanan/John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who stays in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit. Because without Me you are able to do naught!”
Yoḥanan/John 14:15 יהושע clearly tells us that if we love Him we will guard His commands.
Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens.”
Eph’siyim/Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah יהושע unto good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Miḵah/Micah 6:8 “He has declared to you, O man, what is good. And what does יהוה require of you but to do right, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your Elohim?”
These verse tells us how we are to stand, sit and walk in Messiah – and Reḥaḇ’am displays none of the above!
The pure character of Messiah is built up in us through endurance and perseverance through trials as opposed to the world’s comfort of fitting in or keeping up with the joneses – Reḥaḇ’am wanted to be like the world. How about you? Are you giving your best or slacking in conformity to worldly pleasures?
B – PROBLEM OF HIS INABILITY TO HEED DISCIPLINE (2-9)
Reḥaḇ’am’s sin/lawlessness resulted in the discipline of יהוה upon him and the nation and so יהוה sends Shishaq, the sovereign of Mitsrayim, as a method of discipline! What is interesting to note here when you compare verse 9 to the account of the exodus in Shemoth/Exodus 12:35-36 in that we see a clear contrast of events. In Shemoth 12, Yisra’ĕl plundered the Mitsrites/Egyptians and now here, when in the Promised Land under the corrupt reign of Reḥaḇ’am, Mitsrayim were plundering Yisra’ĕl!!!
יהוה used the world out of which they were delivered to discipline them!
In verse 5 יהוה makes it clear – you forsook Me therefore I have left you in the hand of Shishaq! All who call upon the Name of יהוה shall be delivered, and all who forsake יהוה are left in the hand of that which they seek out! Seek יהוה and live – Reḥaḇ’am sought what the world had to offer and therefore יהוה used the world to discipline and humble them! The leaders and Reḥaḇ’am did humble themselves and יהוה declared that he wouldn’t destroy them, but give them some deliverance – they still would be disciplined but not destroyed! Reḥaḇ’am would not learn from discipline and would only humble himself as a means of escape from the hardships so as to set himself up again in walking after his own ways and he did not heed the discipline of יהוה and so by definition of Scripture was a fool and did not fear Him who could destroy the soul!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of יהוה is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
He despised the Torah and the discipline that is as a result of despising the Torah and the sad reality of a fool is simply this – you are never stable! And this was the cause of his next problem:
C – PROBLEM OF HIS OBVIOUS CONFUSION
In verse 1 we are told he is full of himself – full of pride; then in verse 6 he humbles himself before יהוה, after which he resorted back to making his own plans which we will look at shortly, then in verse 12 he humbled himself again; yet in verse 14 we are told that he did evil! This was a confused and unstable man – unable to stand firmly on the Rock!
He was up and down – did whatever he had to in order to ‘get out of jail free’ so to speak and then return to his own vomit! This is a picture of a man who clearly would never give his best unto יהוה, but only thought of himself and would mimic the appearance of reverence to escape judgement, abusing the mercy and favour of Elohim – yet we must learn that יהוה sees the heart and this was the evil that he did – he did not seek יהוה with his heart! Today there are many who display this characteristic of confused living – one day they will be so amped and on fire (in appearance at least) for the Truth and be ready to take on the world while it is seemingly going well, only to change their stance very quickly and the next day be so full of pride, self-pity and lustful desires that they forsake the fleeting fire of commitment they vainly confessed to - confused people are they who forsake the Torah and think they can do it on their own! How many times have you found yourself confused? The Torah in not confusing – what confuses is the mixing of Torah with worldly standards as one never knows what the right standard for the circumstance they find themselves in. Listen there is only one way – no matter the circumstances – be not double-minded but focused as we diligently prepare our hearts daily to seek יהוה, aměn!
Poor character, lack of discipline and confusion leads to the next problem:
D – PROBLEM OF HIS CULTIVATED COMPROMISES
Shishaq came and plundered Yisra’ĕl and he took away the treasures of the House of יהוה, including the gold shields which Shelomoh had made. These shields were worth a lot and symbolised the very esteem of the Temple that Shelomoh had made. 200 large shields and 300 shields – all of gold – in today’s terms that is well over a billion rand worth of gold. These shields were not used for battle – they were brought out when the king would go in to the Temple, and I am sure we can all grasp a picture of what this must have looked like – all this shimmering gold – quite a sight – made a great huge statement of the status of the Temple Shelomoh had built for יהוה. And now all the shields among other treasures were gone!!!What does Reḥaḇ’am do? He substitutes the lost shields for bronze ones that he made in an attempt at trying to make it seem as if all was still ok!
Bronze also shines and can look very spectacular – especially from a distance – but it was not gold! Gold represented and spoke of power and prosperity and was expensive and hard to acquire in large quantities – it does not tarnish and is durable. Brass/bronze on the other hand is not pure – it is an alloy of copper and zinc – it is much cheaper and easier to acquire, however it must be constantly polished as it tarnishes very easily.
Gold in the Hebrew is the word זָהָב ‘zahab’ – H2091 – and is from a root word that means to shimmer and often if figuratively used to describe something that is yellow as oil or clear and pure, free of dirt. It is also used to describe ‘fair weather’ or clear skies which paints a wonderful contrast between gold and bronze.
Bronze in Hebrew is the word נְחשֶׁת ‘nechosheth’ – H5178 – bronze is also used as a picture of obstinacy – that is being stubborn or difficult or hard headed:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 18:4 “Because I knew that you were hard, and your neck was an iron sinew, and your forehead bronze,”
This was the words of יהוה to Yisra’ĕl who had professed to swear by יהוה, yet not in truth or righteousness!
Reḥaḇ’am exhibited being a hard headed fool by the fact that he replaced the plundered gold shields with whatever he could get his hands on instead of waiting upon יהוה to show him what to do. He replaced what was now missing with that which was inferior and we are only told that he made the shields – what about all the other treasures that were plundered? Reḥaḇ’am was only interested in what the outward appearance was all about – he wanted it to appear like the same brilliance and power was there while the inside was empty!!! In Scripture the word for bronze is also used to describe the opposite of clear skies and fair weather as we see in references to the curses for disobedience in:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 28:23 “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you iron.”
The word for bronze is also used in Scripture to describe filthiness, lust and halotry – the opposite of that which is pure and clean.
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 16:36 “Thus said the Master יהוה, “Because your copper was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with the idols of your abominations, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them,”
In the 1611 KJV the word for copper here was translated as filthiness – as we see that יהוה will expose the filthiness of those who claim to live in Him yet have their lives so mixed with too much junk!
The contrast of brass and gold carries great lessons for us as many today are giving brass instead of gold or rather are running for brass instead of gold as they offer up their lives not as daily living sacrifices but rather offer up inferior substitutes for total set-apart living and so operate in pride instead of humility; walk in the flesh instead of the spirit; compromise instead of commit to set-apart living; they are satisfied with a substituted life that fits them instead of the genuine walk of faith that has its many troubles and persecutions; and many make excuses rather than simply bow in humble obedience and say things like, “I would but…”, or, “I know I should but…”
Brass or gold… what describes your life best – brass that constantly needs polishing as the mixed standards continually tarnish and reveal the reality of the substance of your worship or gold that is pure, clean, refined and durable – able to stand the tests with great joy and faith in the Master Rock and King יהושע Messiah?
What we can take from Reḥaḇ’am is this – it is one thing to try and look right in appearance and another to be right in your heart!
We must be a people who prepare our hearts to seek יהוה.
Shemuʼĕl Aleph/1 Samuel 7:3 “And Shemuʼĕl spoke to all the house of Yisra’ĕl, saying, “If you return to יהוה with all your hearts, then put away the foreign mighty ones and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts for יהוה, and serve Him only, so that He delivers you from the hand of the Philistines.”
Can you declare the words of Dawiḏ – a man after the heart of יהוה?
Tehillim/Psalm 57:7 “My heart is firm, O Elohim, My heart is firm; I sing and praise.”
Tehillim/Psalm 105:3-4 “Make your boast in His set-apart Name; Let the hearts rejoice of those seeking יהוה. 4 Seek יהוה and His strength; seek His face always.”
We are to seek Him while he is to be found, call on Him while He is near, continually having hearts prepared to seek Him while we forsake all wrong thoughts and ways. When one fails to prepare their hearts to seek יהוה they will find themselves trying to strengthen themselves falling into a self-sufficient attitude of no need or desire for the Word or fellowship in community and when this happens the doors are opened for the Shishaq’s to come and raid us of all the treasures that יהוה has given us and the enemy will steal away joy and peace and when you allow that to happen and try to substitute the very resurrection power of Elohim that ought to be at work in you for mere human effort – you will crash and burn!
In walking in Him we cannot give substitutes – we are to give our best! And I am pretty sure that most of you here can, although may not be willing to admit that you have not been giving your best. Perhaps you have been polishing that mixed lifestyle of bronze so much that it is tiring you out as evidences of tarnish tend to show up in the most inopportune and unprepared moments that reveal the true character of what is going on inside!!!
How short is your fuse when you are ticked off because things did not go your way? How joyous are you when you find yourself in the place of lack and in despair? How much do you prepare your heart to seek יהוה? If you are seeking Him simply just to get you out of the hotspots and bring quick fixes to your imminent problems that are at large a result of sin, stubbornness and pride, then your heart is not truly prepared to seek Him!
Let us not make the first mistake Reḥaḇ’am made – and that is to try to establish himself, strengthen himself and in the process forsake the Torah of יהוה.
יהוה sees each of our hearts – He knows all that is going on – some may be pretty good at polishing the brass shields up to a brilliant shine not allowing any to come close enough into their lives to recognise and realise that it is not gold but polished bronze. It is time for us as His Bride to discard the substitutes and give Him our Best and run with great perseverance as we see יהוה Himself restoring and establishing the tabernacle of Dawiḏ, which oozes pure and undefiled worship bringing esteem unto יהוה our Elohim.
It is evil to not prepare our hearts to seek Him and as we know the days are evil in which we now live – all the more reason for us to discard the bronze substitutes and take up the golden shields of pure set-apart faith shining His wonderful light before all that our Father in Heaven receives all the praise as all see our good works in Messiah!