Saturday, February 25, 2012
Shalom family, Favour and peace be increased to you in the knowledge of Elohim and of יהושע our Master, as His Mighty-like power has given to us all we need for life and reverence, through the knowledge of Him who called us to esteem and uprightness. (Kepha Bět/2 Peter 1:1-2)
We have been called to esteem and uprightness, that is to walk in His ways, and we have been given all we need to do this through knowledge of Him, given to us through His Torah and Prophets and Writings, and as we have been discovering the wonder of how His Tabernacle is made up according to His perfect instructions, through the Torah portions that we are busy with at present, it becomes so much more clear for us that we can only be building His way or else it is sadly in vain. Our total dependency is upon Him and His sure Word, without which we have no life and Dawiḏ understood just how much He could do nothing on his own and realised that our salvation and redemption and deliverance is in יהוה alone. In:
Tehillim/Psalm 51:1-7 “Show me favour, O Elohim, According to Your kindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me completely from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You alone, have I sinned, And done evil in Your eyes; That You might be proven right in Your words; Be clear when You judge. 5 See, I was brought forth in crookedness, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 See, You have desired truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You make me know wisdom. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I am clean; Wash me, and I am whiter than snow.”
These were the words of a man who understood that He needed cleansing from the stain of sin that he alone could not remove; but knew that יהוה, according to His great kindness and loving compassion could. Only יהוה can remove the stain of blood guilt that has been shed because of the evil done before Him. And Dawiḏ understood that walking outside of the Torah is sin, as the Torah is to be upon our hearts and in our mouths in order to do it. Sadly in a time where so many are wilfully choosing to neglect the need to walk in the Torah, we see so many who are attempting to bring before יהוה a mixed form of worship that simply does not carry the exact picture of the Tabernacle, which we are going through at the moment in Shemoth, and how the Tabernacle is key in understanding how we are to follow the clear and concise plans as given us through His Torah – without which we cannot see Elohim. What is also sad to see today is the lack of willingness of many to actually come and sit and reason out the Scriptures as they would rather hold fast to traditions and dogmas of man while in their stubbornness are walking outside of the Torah and will have no part in the Covenant unless they turn and walk in His ways. When we see the dealings of יהוה with Yisra’ĕl and Yehuḏah in Scripture we can certainly see how the very same words are as applicable to us who are grafted in to Yisra’ĕl – a scattered nation being brought back and how we are to learn from the warnings and instructions given to His called out Bride who had sadly strayed. Tonight in a message called, “COME NOW AND LET US REASON TOGETHER!” I would like to take you through Yeshayahu/Isaiah chapter 1, vision which Yeshayahu saw concerning Yehuḏah and Yerushalayim before they were about to be exiled because of her rebellion. (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? This chapter speaks of the urgency and need to hear the Word of יהוה, and walk in the Torah (His instructions for righteous living).
This vision and call is not only to Yehuḏah, but to His entire Bride and carries much power and significance today as Ephrayim (lost 10 tribes) hears this call and returns and so I would like to run through some key elements that we see in these verses and we will also take a look at a few Hebrew words in gaining a better understanding of this text and how alive it is for us today!
At this point Yisra’ĕl (northern 10 tribes) had already been scattered, yet to return, and Yehuḏah had committed whoring just as her sister Yisra’ĕl had, and in many ways they were in fact worse and here comes the call to listen up from יהוה.
In Verse 2 we see the terms “Hear, oh heavens, and listen, o earth” – this would have sounded very familiar to them. This was an alluding to and referring back to the song that Mosheh taught the descendants of Yisra’ĕl before he died and instructed that this song be passed down through the generations, and so the very things that Mosheh warned about were coming to pass, and was a very vivid and sobering reminder of where they were headed!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 32:1 “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.”
The two words that stand out here in these verses are:
1 – Hear – in Hebrew is the root word שָׁמַע ‘shama’ – Strong’s H8085, which carries the meaning not just simply to hear, but rather to hear with attention and comprehend and discern and give heed to what is being spoken. Certainly we see that this kind of hearing called for is not very apparent among the masses today who are simply having ears tickled and not listening attentively because they forget what they hear and are doing that which Ya’aqoḇ/James warns against – do not be like a man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he sees!
2 – Listen/ Give ear – In Hebrew is the root word אָזַן ‘azan’ – H238, and while this also carries the meaning to listen and listen attentively, it literally means to ‘cup the ear’ – in other words give your complete attention and be obedient to take it all in.
The terms used here in regards to heaven and earth were once again a reminder of the Covenant and the two witnesses of heaven and earth as life and death were set before them, for which He encourages His Covenanted called out ones to choose life!!! This was a reality check to the nation once again that יהוה’s Covenant is still in effect and always is; and He never operates outside of His Covenant; and rebellion to that Covenant will result in death, obedience to it – life of which heaven and earth are faithful witnesses to! יהוה had rose up a nation and taught them His ways and as stubborn rebellious children they have sinned against the Marriage Covenant
Verse 3 – יהוה further highlights the depravity of their rebellion by saying that even an ox knows its owner and a donkey would know and recognise his master’s feeding trough – that is where to get the right food and Yisra’ĕl are reduced to less than animals by their lack of knowledge and obedience!
1 - The word here for ‘knows’ in Hebrew is יָדַע ‘yada’ – Strong’s H3045 and means ‘to acknowledge, clearly understand, to perceive, distinguish and discern’ and implies the ability to respond to and recognise the Master’s voice.
Yoḥanan/John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
So many claim to hear His voice today, yet He does not know them and they do not follow Him and know where the feeding trough of His Word is:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 7: 21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. 22 “Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ 23 “And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!”
יהושע then proceeded to tell the parable of the one who ‘hears’ His Words and does them will be a wise man who builds on the rock!!!
Yehuḏah were not ‘hearing’ and acknowledging their master’s voice and were feeding on pagan traditions rather than the truth – a clear mirror image of what we see happening today by many and more specifically by the church who operate not on the Rock of Truth but rather on the twisted application of man-made and man-driven dogmas rooted in pagan worship – these are those that do not know Him and He will declare He never knew them!
We are to pursue to know His word, seeking it out and discern and rightly handle the truth:
Hoshěa/Hosea 6:3 “So let us know, let us pursue to know יהוה. His going forth is as certain as the morning. And He comes to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth.”
2 – The word here in verse 3 for ‘understands’ is the Hebrew word בִּין ‘bin’ – Strong’s H995 and means ‘to understand, perceive, consider with full attention and have knowledge and respond appropriately’.
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 8:7 “Even a stork in the heavens knows her appointed times. And a turtledove, and a swallow, and a thrush observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the right-ruling of יהוה.”
Animals know their master’s voice and their appointed times while Yehuḏah did not – this was not due to ignorance but rather due to wilful failure to respond to that which they have been given. So many today want to claim ignorance and to a certain degree we were all ignorant, yet His word is not far off – we have His Word and we have no right to claim ignorance today but are to respond appropriately to His Torah!
Ma’asei/Acts 17:30 “Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent.”
Verse 4 – a sinning nation – in other words – a lawless nation – acting corruptly and was a nation that was not walking in the Torah they were required to as they had:
1 – Forsaken יהוה – that is they had left the path of righteousness and the need to walk in the Torah and as a result:
2 – Provoked יהוה – that is they had blasphemed and despised His Torah, and as a result of despising the Truth they:
3 – Went backwards – turned back to wicked ways from which they were delivered.
This is the pattern of anyone who in any way forsakes the Torah or compromises in the slightest – you will end despising His Word and will backslide very quickly. This is the downward path of the lawless that corrupt His very word for self-gain!
Verse 5 – יהוה appeals to them here by saying ‘Why should you continue to be beaten down’ – there is not a part of the body that has not been beaten – why do you keep disobeying!!! You continue in apostasy! Apostasy means ‘a renunciation of one’s belief and an abandonment to loyalty’ – and this is exactly what Yehuḏah had done we get our English word from the Greek word ἀποστασία ‘apostasia’ – Strong’s G646 and is translated as a ‘falling away’ in reference to how many will abandon their faith and belief in the Truth before the man of lawlessness is revealed:
Tas’loniqim Bět/2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Let no one deceive you in any way, because the falling away is to come first, and the man of lawlessness is to be revealed, the son of destruction,”
In Hebrew however the word used here for apostasy carries a wonderful picture for us showing the direct contrast between who Yisra’ĕl was called to be and what they had become as we see in the Hebrew a wonderful play on words: The word used for apostasy in verse 5 is the Hebrew word סָרָה ‘sarah’ – Strong’s H5627 and sounds exactly the same as the name of Aḇraham’s wife: שָׂרָה ‘Sarah’ – Strong’s H8283 ,yet does not carry the same meaning! ‘Sarah’ used for apostasy is spelt with a סָ ‘samek’, רָ ‘resh’ and ה ‘hey’; while ‘Sarah’, Aḇraham’s wife, is spelt with a שָׂ ‘Sin’, רָ ‘resh’ and ה ‘hey’ and carries the opposite picture to an apostate Bride, as her name means ‘princess or noble woman’ and as we know she is used in Scripture as a picture of the obedient wife, and the play on words here as they were to look into the mirror of His Word would show them how they are not what they ought to be but were rather the opposite and had become a disobedient and rebellious wife that was sick from head to toe – not the picture of a princess or noble woman and Bride of יהוה. Yehuḏah looked like the adulterous whore and not a faithful Bride – and while so many today claims to be the bride – through the mirror of the Word of Truth will be found out to be nothing more than an adulterous and dressed up whore!!!
יהוה has a remnant – all through Scripture we see that there is always a remnant – a faithful few! When we hear the words of many who have been led astray say ‘but they all can’t be wrong’ may we realise that ‘oh yes they can!’ and in fact the likelihood is that they are indeed very wrong! If it were not for the remnant – we would have been made like Seḏom and Amorah and the call has gone out before destruction does come upon the world! It is always a remnant few who obeys and are preserved – It was only Noaḥ and 7 others in the ark, with Seḏom and Amorah only Lot and his wife and two daughters who escaped, while his wife did not make it very far; it was only Yehoshua and Kalěḇ who were left from the generation of adults that came out of Mitsrayim and were able to enter the Promised land – there is always a remnant!
Verse 10 – we see the repeat of the words hear and listen/give ear – this time to the rulers and people of Seḏom and Amorah – a play on words again to an apostate people who had backslidden and were like the pagan nations – and the call is to ‘come out’ by hearing and listening to His Torah! Give ear to the Torah of Elohim! This is still the call today to a people who are so intermingled with lawlessness and are living corrupt and compromised lives without listening to and paying attention to the Torah, while their attempts at worship are in vain as יהוה will not accept or hear our worship and prayer if it is not done His way! Here Yehuḏah were bringing slaughterings and offerings as the temple service was seemingly still going on while יהוה in essence says to them, “Why are you even coming with your offerings, since you also have idols in your homes and all you are doing is bringing mud into My House and your feet/walk is muddied with falsehood!” STOP MIXING WORSHIP UNTO יהוה WITH PAGANISM!!! He is unable to bear unrighteousness and assembly. Yehuḏah was wicked while pretending to be righteous and to not walk in His Torah yet claim to be righteous is the great error they made back then and the error that so many make today!
The false teaching that has set-aside Torah observance is nothing more than a sick trampling of mud over His Torah with the appearance of assembling in righteousness while profaning His Word and His commands and His appointed Times, which He will not tolerate.
In verse 14 – we see clearly the use of the term ‘your New Moons and appointed times’ being used. יהוה says that they are trouble to Him and is weary of bearing them!!! Does this contradict the Torah and the commands to keep יהוה’s Feasts? As much as many try to twist this verse into teaching that keeping His Feasts is no longer necessary, we must note the key term in this verse spoken by יהוה is ‘YOUR’ - The way Yehuḏah were carrying out His feasts showed that they had turned them into a creation of their own hands by doing it their own way and as it suited them and in the process they mixed in pagan worship practices with it – and this form of worship was no longer as יהוה had prescribed but had become their own, which He no longer saw as worship unto Him. Today it has even become worse, as the church not only worships their own way, but has at its root pagan influences and traditions that have even changed the appointed times to fit in with pagan sun-worship traditions - and יהוה hates – and I repeat – hates these man-made traditional feasts. He also hates that which rabbinic tradition presents as a form of worship that sets aside the purity of Torah by the addition of oral laws and commands that יהוה has not commanded or instructed!
Adding or taking away from His instructions is forbidden and we must carefully hear and give ear to this and not fall into the trap of false worship that has been shaped by the hands of man – for when we do that we render His Feasts no longer His but make it our own and these He hates!!!
Verse 16 – clear instruction to stop all the evil and get cleaned up – if only people would open their ears and hear this today!!! But just how do we get clean? יהוה has just highlighted the terrible picture of their lawlessness and then in Verse 17 He makes it clear -:
1 – Learn to do good; 2 – Seek Right-Ruling; 3 – Reprove the oppressor; 4 – Defend the fatherless; 5 – plead for the widow. In other words seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness and be a voice for those that are unable to speak for themselves! Learning to discern and do good requires a returning to the Torah which teaches us to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the set-apart and the profane!
Here we come to verse 18, a verse that is taking often out of context and misunderstood as is used as a stand-alone verse without that which follows! Come and let us reason together – Though your sins are like scarlet – they will be white as snow.
The Hebrew word used here for ‘let us reason together’ is וְנִוָּכְחָה ‘venivakechah’ and comes from the root word יָכַח ‘yakach’ – Strong’s H3198 which means ‘to decide, prove, judge or correct’ and in effect what יהוה is saying here to a sinful nation, “Come let Me prove to you… that you will be cleaned up… if you …”
Here He is using court like language that has been addressing the guilty to seek judgement and right-ruling, as is submitting His case here as if on trial and proceeds to show them on what principles they may be pardoned! So many love this verse on its own but do not proceed to the next and do not understand the seriousness of stain of sin and lawlessness! The word for ‘scarlet’ is שָׁנִי ‘shani’ – Strong’s H8144 and is a bright red colour and vivid dye that is obtained from the crushed body of an insect (worm) that attaches itself to the leaves and twigs of the oak/terebinth tree, lays eggs on it, puts a sack of red juice around the eggs to protect them, then dies, having emptied itself out for them--a wonderful picture of יהושע. Scarlet speaks of sacrifice and typifies Messiah in His sufferings and His giving of Himself to be crushed for our iniquities. But what is also important to note is that it is impossible to get the stain of this scarlet out of linen – impossible for man that is – no amount of scrubbing and washing or bleaching can actually take this red worm substance dye out of clothing and materials! So as we read Tehillim 51 at the beginning we see that Dawiḏ understood this and here יהוה was telling Yehuḏah that they were so stained, yet they will be made white – what a wonderful promise. Looking back at verse 15 we see that they were so stained as their hands were full of blood – their worship had become unacceptable because of their bloodguiltiness on their hands – their works were not pure – the command to be cleansed and cease from evil comes with this invitation to be made clean as he proved to them their bloodguilt, and as impossible as it may be to get the stain of blood out – יהוה would make their garments pure and shining white through His own Blood!!!
Ḥazon/Revelation 7:14 “And I said to him, “Master, you know.” And he said to me, “These are those coming out of the great distress, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Our sin is guilty of His bloodshed – the works of our hands are stained with the blood guilt of His sacrifice – and He through His Blood removes the stain from us. What is interesting to note is that this word, שָׁנִי ‘shani’, is used 42 times in the Scriptures – a very significant number for us indeed! As you will remember that there were 42 stops in the Wilderness journey from leaving Mitsrayim to entering in to the Promised Land and so we see that His Blood they was poured out at Pěsaḥ as the Lamb that was slain has our ‘wilderness journey’ covered that we may be made white and ready to enter in to His Promises as a Bride prepared! And it is in this wilderness journey where we learn to hear His voice with great care and attention!
What is often forgotten when given this verse by is what follows – He will makes us white as snow - but what are we, who have been proven guilty, to do?
Verse 19-20 makes it 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.”
Verse 21-25 makes the picture very clear – Yehuḏah had become a nation of whoring and murder and their silver had become dross and wine was mixed with water and as a result rulers were corrupt and the fatherless and widows were neglected having nobody to speak for them and יהוה makes it clear that He will bring about a refining and remove the dross and all alloy:
In light of what we have been going through in our weekly torah portions on the tabernacle and its furnishings we came to understand the symbolic picture of silver – it speaks of redemption as well as the purity of His Word refined 7 times, and what is interesting to know is that pure silver does not tarnish! Silver that you see today is mixed with another metal to form an alloy and may consist of up to 92.5% silver with the rest being made up of another metal to bring durability and hardness into the product, which causes the silver to tarnish and needs to be maintained through regular cleaning and polishing. Well that is exactly what has happened with the Word that is being presented by the church as well as in rabbinic Judaism - it has been made into an alloy through the addition of foreign substances such as man-made dogmas, doctrines and traditions and is no longer pure – and as a result that which is being erroneously presented as truth needs to be continuously maintained and kept shining in its appearance of worship through programmes and systems and structures that are in no way close to reflecting the service of the Tabernacle and יהוה says he is going to remove all alloys!!! His message has been made dirty and the false ‘grace’ message has made it ‘cheap’; and so we also see the mixed wine with water is a picture too of watering down the Word and with both of these analogies together we see that what has happened is that His redemption message has been tarnished and His Pěsaḥ/Passover has been watered down and so the Church has presented a falsified system of worship that has taken up the form of pagan rituals – and it is time for all to hear and listen and carefully consider as יהוה clearly proves through His refining Word that they are indeed worshipping in a foreign manner.
Verse 26 – States that he will give back the judges and counsellors – He is restoring the Authority of His Word and His Kingdom to a people of His Kingdom and so shall His obedient Bride be ransomed and return – through His right-ruling and righteousness and those who forsake יהוה and His commands shall be consumed!
In verse 29-30 it is clear that the guilty will be ashamed of their pagan worship. The mentions of terebinth trees and gardens that they had chosen is a picture of that which they chose to engage themselves in through the following of pagan practices on the high places and under the terebinth trees that were often symbolic of fertility rites and worship.
It was under a terebinth tree where יהוה met with Aḇraham and it was also under the terebinth tree where Ya’aqoḇ buried the idols, and that which their forefathers had shown them was quickly forgotten as they strayed from the Covenant and dug up idol worship and as a result their leaves where they thought they would find shade under would fade and they would be exposed to the heat of the displeasure of יהוה, yet those who mediate day and night on His Torah will be like a tree planted by the waters and their leaf will not fade when the heat comes!!!
The heart of this message is simple – Let us walk right and keep His commands – as the stain of our sin is before Him and He is proven right in His words – let us cleanse ourselves from all unrighteousness and allow His Word to cleanse us and make us white as snow and then may we be attentive with our ears to hear, guard and do all He commands us to as we walk in righteousness, keeping our linen white – for fine linen is the righteousnesses of the set-apart ones!
As we, His Bride, make ourselves ready with His garments of righteousness through hearing attentively, and being fully focused on Him may we be likened to the noble woman rather than the apostate whore.
Come now – and let us reason together – declares יהוה – are you hearing His voice – are you paying attention – are you obedient to His Word – are you submitting and obeying? If so then keep on and shine His light and you shall eat the good of the land, but if not then hear this clear warning to get rid of the dross and alloy worship or you will be eaten by the Word. He desires truth in the inward parts – let us seek them out and with joy walk in His Truth. The foundation has been laid and we must be set-apart – which ‘sarah’ are you?
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 3:11-17 “For no one is able to lay any other foundation except that which is laid, which is יהושע Messiah. 12 And if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work shall be revealed, for the day shall show it up, because it is revealed by fire. And the fire shall prove the work of each one, what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work remains, which he has built on, he shall receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, but so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are a Dwelling Place of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys the Dwelling Place of Elohim, Elohim shall destroy him. For the Dwelling Place of Elohim is set-apart, which you are.”
Saturday, February 18, 2012
COURAGE UNDER FIRE!
Shalom to you all,
Galatiyim/Galatians 5:1 “In the freedom with which Messiah has made us free, stand firm, then, and do not again be held with a yoke of slavery.”
In a day and age where walking in the Torah of Freedom, being free from enslavement to the yokes of men and their vain traditions, it often becomes a tough battle to continually resist all that the world, through is temptation to compromise, throws at us and our ability to stand firm certainly comes under much fire and testing. In a message tonight called, “Courage under fire!” I would like us to be encouraged to stand firm and resist temptations to compromise and be strong and courageous under the intense heat of fiery trials that Kěpha tells us that we find ourselves in – yet being courageous to stand firm and have our faith proven through fire will result in praise and respect and esteem at the revelation of יהושע Messiah. How many of you have found yourself being tested in your belief of late and felt as though the heat is being turned up a little too much at times? We need to stand and stand and stand, aměn!
We can learn a great deal from a group of people that proved to be a faithful people in the midst of a corrupt generation, who as a result of their ability to stand firm and hold true to their father’s instructions received a great blessing and reward from יהוה and gives us a great shadow picture for us who will be courageous under fire and stand firm in Our Father’s instructions! Please turn with me to Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 35 as we read of the steadfastness of the Rĕḵaḇites. (Read).
This is a very interesting chapter that has many wonderful truths of which I hope to highlight at least a couple here for us tonight, that we may be strengthened to be full of courage and stand!
As we read this, one of the questions that may pop up in your mind is, “Who are the Rĕḵaḇites?”
Let us briefly take a look at who these guys were and then see how יהוה used this occasion a sobering witness against a rebellious and corrupted Yehuḏah.
They were members of a family descended from Ḥammath, who were also known as Qĕynites and were descendants of Mosheh’s father-in-law:
Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 2:55 “And the clans of the scribes who dwelt at Yaḇĕts: the Tirathites, the Shimʽathites, the Suḵathites. These were the Qĕynites who came from Ḥammath, the father of the house of Rĕḵaḇ.”
Shophetim/Judges 4:11 “And Ḥeḇer the Qĕynite, of the children of Ḥoḇaḇ the father-in-law of Mosheh, had separated himself from the Qĕynites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Tsaʽanayim, which is beside Qeḏesh.”
Some of the Qĕynites joined themselves to Mosheh in the Wilderness and came with Yisra’ĕl into the Promised Land and showed kindness to Yisra’ĕl when they came out of Mitsrayim. Yonaḏaḇ, the son of Rĕḵaḇ, had instructed his family well over 200 years before this event we are reading about tonight to abstain from wine, and from building houses, sowing seed, and planting vineyards, but were to live in tents so that they may live long. According to what we have just read above – they were scribes and as we dig a little deeper and look further back to who Yonaḏab, their father, was we see a great account recorded in Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings 10 when he joined with Yĕhu in destroying all the Ba’al prophets:
Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings 10:15-16 “And he left there and met Yehonaḏaḇ son of Rĕḵaḇ, coming to meet him, and blessed him and said to him, “Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?” And Yehonaḏaḇ answered, “It is.” Yĕhu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” And he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. 16 And he said, “Come with me, and see my ardour for יהוה.” And they made him ride in his chariot.”
Yonaḏab went with Yĕhu and rallied all the prophets of Ba’al together into the house of Ba’al and made sure that there were no servants of יהוה with them and then they smote all the Ba’al prophets with the sword and burned the pillars and broke the statue of Ba’al, and broke down the house of Ba’al and made it a sewer to this day!!!
Yonaḏab had a zeal for יהוה and found it a great joy in serving יהוה together with Yĕhu in destroying pagan worship and ridding the land of idolatry and false worship.
We see another reference in Scripture to another Rĕḵaḇ, son of Rimmon, in Shemuʼĕl Bet/2 Samuel 4 that gives an account of this Rĕḵaḇ killing the son of King Sha’ul, Ishbosheth, and bringing his head to Dawiḏ after which Dawiḏ had him killed along with his brother Baʽanah, and there is absolutely no indication that this is the same Rĕḵaḇ, son of Ḥammath.
The Rĕḵaḇites we see being spoken of here in Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 35 were ardent worshippers of יהוה, who by all accounts lived an uncompromised lifestyle and were used in a great way within the nation of Yisra’ĕl. Another account of the faithfulness of a Rĕḵaḇite is seen in the rebuilding of the wall of Yerushalayim in:
Neḥemyah/Nehemiah 3: 14 “And the Dung Gate was repaired by Malkiyah son of Rĕḵaḇ, ruler of the district of Bĕyth Hakkerem. He built it and set up its doors, its bolts and bars.”
The Dung gate/Refuse gate was south of the Temple and it was where the parts of animals that were not eaten or used for sacrifices were carried out as was also the gate that all the ash was taken out through and disposed of in the kidron valley. Malkiyah, a Rĕḵaḇite, was a ruler of the district of Bĕyth Hakkerem (house of the vineyard), a district in Yehuḏah.
Why I am sharing this brief background is to clearly show that the Rĕḵaḇites were faithful, dedicated followers of יהוה, who are mentioned briefly at critical points in the history of Yisra’ĕl and we have great evidence that witnesses to us that Yonaḏab, who had given the command to be sojourners and abstain from wine, was a fervent and zealous servant of יהוה who stood against the corruption of Ba’al worship amidst a people who were chosen to be set-apart yet forsook their obedience unto Elohim.
And now here we come to a critical section in Yirmeyahu that once again shows us the steadfastness of a faithful people who upheld their vows to their father – the zealous Yonaḏab! These were a people who despised Ba’al worship, and although they are traced from the Qĕynites and from Mosheh’s father-in-law, we see a people who had attached themselves to Yisra’ĕl and were faithful to keeping the Torah. This was a huge witness against Yehuḏah who were so steeped in pagan worship and about to be sent into exile under Babylonian captivity as the wrath of Elohim would send them into captivity for their lawlessness and lack of obedience in keeping his Torah.
So with this in mind let us look at the events that occurred here in Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 35:
Yehuḏah is in a state of moral decay, they had turned and profaned the Name of יהוה, they were worshipping on the high places and burning incense to Ba’al and then Yirmeyahu gets a clear instruction from יהוה to go to the house of the Rĕḵaḇites and speak to them and then bring them into the House of יהוה, take them to one of the rooms and give them wine to drink. So Yirmeyahu does so and he sets before them bowls filled with wine and tells this whole family to drink and they say no! Yirmeyahu, a prophet of יהוה, had gone to their house and spoken to them after which he invites them into the House of יהוה and possibly even had a meal prepared, set tables etc. and shows great hospitality and when told to drink the wine set before them they refused. At first this can seem shocking and showing disrespect to Yirmeyahu and his hospitality, yet what unfolds shows us the great commitment that this house had held fast to.
This was a test in a sense from יהוה, which was not primarily about the drinking of wine, but rather a test of their obedience to their father’s word that was given well over 200 years before, and this would be a sobering witness against Yehuḏah, who had failed to adhere The Father’s commands. When you see the name of any of these Rĕḵaḇites that we have recorded in Scripture, you find that their names even reflected their zeal for and faith in יהוה:
Yonaḏaḇ/Yehonaḏaḇ = יהוה is willing; Yaʽazanyah = יהוה hears; Ḥaḇatstsinyah = Light of יהוה; and Malkiyah = יהוה is my king!
A faithful serving people, who from what evidence we have had not engaged themselves in corrupt pagan worship were now being tested before יהוה! This courageous people were under fire to see if they would compromise and they stood firm to their commitment to their father’s words – as powerful picture of pure obedience – they had in no way broken the Torah by not drinking the wine but rather faced a very tough and challenging test which they passed and were rewarded for.
They were nomadic people who lived in tents and the command from their father to not drink wine is a picture of a permanent vow of separation – people who would not get ‘settled into a lifestyle’ that would give them the opportunity to put down their roots so to speak and have enough time to build, sow, plant or drink of that which would hold them back as a separated people, who had not only separated themselves from their roots with the Qĕynites, but now by choice were separated unto יהוה. This is a wonderful picture for us and how we ought to be living here as sojourners and strangers for our citizenship is not here:
Pilipiyim/Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in the heavens, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Master יהושע Messiah”
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 11:13-16 “In belief all these died, not having received the promises, but seeing them from a distance, welcomed and embraced them, and confessed that they were aliens and strangers on the earth. 14 For those who speak this way make it clear that they seek a fatherland. 15 And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that place from which they had come out, they would have had the chance to return. 16 But now they long for a better place, that is, a heavenly. Therefore Elohim is not ashamed to be called their Elohim, for He has prepared a city for them.”
This was a people who were not concerned with earthly matters but had set their hearts on seeking that which is from Heaven:
Qolasim/Colossians 3:2 “Mind the matters above, not those on the earth.”
Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:19-22 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21“For where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also. 22“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, all your body shall be enlightened.”
In direct contrast to Yehuḏah who had become drunk on the adulteries of pagan worship, the Rĕḵaḇites had remained true to their commitment, despite being under heavy influence of that which was all around them.
Historical records give accounts that speak of many of the daughters of the Rĕḵaḇites marrying Lěwites and there are also recorded writings of when the Rĕḵaḇites would serve in the Temple – so they were a picture for us a separated, priesthood who were also scribes. It may also be that Yonaḏab did not want them to touch wine in view of their commitment as a people who by all account were now a grafted in people who did not want to be cut off; and in the responsibility of being scribes they could in no way indulge in any wine lest they end up profaning that which was written through drunken speech. I mean think about it for a moment – have you ever tried to speak sense to a drunken person? They always know it all and twist words maliciously – well that is what they as scribes would also guard themselves against. Apart from that, as servants in the Temple they would have it clear in their mind to always be sober minded, as they certainly would have remembrance of what Naḏab and Aḇihu did when they were drunk and offered up profane fire in the Tabernacle, where it was then decreed that no priest serving in Temple duty may drink wine:
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 10:8-11 “And יהוה spoke to Aharon, saying, 9 “Do not drink wine or strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, lest you die – a law forever throughout your generations, 10 so as to make a distinction between the set-apart and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and to teach the children of Yisra’ĕl all the laws which יהוה has spoken to them by the hand of Mosheh.”
Despite the many servants that יהוה had sent to Yehuḏah to command them to turn form their evil way and make good their deeds, they refused to hear and obey and here He showed Yehuḏah as a witness against them the contrast of their wickedness – that of the faithfulness of the Rĕḵaḇites to keep the commands of their father – and as a result of this Yehuḏah would now face the wrath of Elohim for their continued stubbornness and disobedience; while the blessing and favour He showed to the Rĕḵaḇites was the promise that there would never cease to be a man from the Rĕḵaḇites to stand before יהוה.
As we consider that which is still to come we see an even greater picture being foreshadowed by these events which ought to make us eager to remain courageous under the fire of temptations to compromise.
Ḥazon/Revelation 14:9-10 “And a third messenger followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim, which is poured out undiluted into the cup of His wrath. And he shall be tortured with fire and sulphur before the set-apart messengers and before the Lamb.”
Anyone who worships the beast and his image (Sun-day worship and the cross) will also drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim!!!
The wine of the wrath of Elohim – this struck me greatly as I connected this with the events of the wine that was offered to the Rĕḵaḇites. Yehuḏah was about to face all the evil that was pronounced against them for their inability to listen to the call of יהוה to return to obedience; and the faithful Rĕḵaḇites are brought to the House of יהוה, and in a sense offered this cup of the wrath of Elohim, to which they would not partake in because of their courageous commitment!
Another reference in Yirmeyahu to the cup of the wrath of Elohim is found in:
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 25:15-18 “For thus said יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl to me, “Take this wine cup of wrath from My hand, and make all the nations, to whom I send you, drink it. 16 “And they shall drink, and shake, and go mad because of the sword that I am sending among them.” 17 I then took the cup from the hand of יהוה, and made all the nations drink, to whom יהוה had sent me, 18 namely Yerushalayim and the cities of Yehuḏah, and its sovereigns, its heads, to make them a ruin, an object of astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day.”
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 25:27-29 “And you shall say to them, ‘Thus said יהוה of hosts, the Elohim of Yisra’ĕl, “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I am sending among you.” ’ 28 “And it shall be, when they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus said יהוה of hosts, “You shall drink! 29 “For look, I am beginning to bring evil upon the city which is called by My Name, and should you be entirely unpunished? You are not going unpunished, for I am calling for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” declares יהוה of hosts.’
This is clearly a huge warning and wake up call for us today – on the one hand to those who are living a compromised lifestyle it is the earnest call to turn back to the Truth or else drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim and on the other hand a sobering encouragement for the faithful to remain steadfast – for the reward therein is that you will not have to drink of that wine and will be able to continually stand before יהוה, as a set apart priesthood unto Him!
Both Eliyahu and Elisha used the term ‘stand before יהוה’, when they would declare “As יהוה of Hosts live, before whom I stand…”
To stand before יהוה is an expression of dedicated allegiance and service and speaks of our ministry before Him as a priesthood serving diligently with that which He has given us; and it means that we focus our first love, our highest attention, our greatest energy, our deepest passion on Him. It means to express our love and devotion to him first of all with all that is within us, guarding to do all that He has commanded us to do and teach others to do the same through our uncompromised and obedient lifestyle!
The word for courage in Hebrew also carries the meaning of being able to take a stand and be secure and steadfast, being trustworthy and strong, and so when we are told to be strong and courageous we are in effect encouraged to hold fast to, be strengthened by and take a stand for the Truth, even when proved through fire!
That is why Sha’ul uses the picture of armour when telling us to stand – because we are in a battle – and as one’s who can stand before יהוה; we must be diligently obedient holding fast and clinging to His commands!
We are to be a steadfast people, even when others speak against us as evil-doers simply because we obey and they do not, holding fast to doing the good works of righteousness:
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved ones, I appeal to you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts which battle against the life, 12 having your behaviour among the gentiles good so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, let them, by observing your good works, esteem Elohim in a day of visitation.”
Abstain from the fleshly… this Yehuḏah could not do and as a result would drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim, while the Rĕḵaḇites is a picture of a set-apart, priesthood standing constantly and consistently before יהוה.
How about you? Are you able to stand before יהוה? Or is there some compromise in your life? Is your ability to stand firm in the truth under fire so to speak and you have seemingly settled in the dregs of compromised worship?
How many of you have been under some fiery trial and it has taken you by surprise?
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved ones, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that is coming upon you, to try you, as though some unusual matter has befallen you, 13 but as you share Messiah’s sufferings, rejoice, in order that you might rejoice exultingly at the revelation of His esteem.”
Do not be surprised – stand firm in obedience and rejoice:
Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who does endure trial, for when he has been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which the Master has promised to those who love Him.”
The Rĕḵaḇites stood firm and endured a seemingly ‘hot’ trial and for that they were blessed in now being established as a separated people who would forever stand before יהוה!
In a time when commitment to the Truth is being tested may we be found to be faithful and trustworthy to have courage under fire and be found to stand before יהוה and not drink of the cup of His wrath that will consume His opponents;
This next passage from Tehillim sums it up and sums up the example of the faithful Rĕḵaḇites standing firm and did not make a vow deceivingly but held fast to their commitment amidst a crooked generation:
Tehillim/Psalm 24:3-5 “Who does go up into the mountain of יהוה? And who does stand in His set-apart place? 4 He who has innocent hands and a clean heart, who did not bring his life to naught, and did not swear deceivingly. 5 He receives a blessing from יהוה, and righteousness from the Elohim of his deliverance.”
Is your courage to stand come under fire of late? May we be encouraged by the witness of a people who were once not a people and were once excluded from the citizenship of Yisra’ĕl and were strangers and foreigners from the Covenants of Promise, who were brought near by the Word of Elohim and chosen to be able to stand forever as a people before יהוה!
Courage may be under fire – let us take our stand as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that we should proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light – standing steadfast under fire, aměn!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
TURN OR BURN – THE WAR AGAINST PRIDE!
Shalom family, blessed be יהוה our Elohim as we diligently hear-guard and do all that He commands, aměn!
As one walks continually in the Word and diligently follows the instructions of our Messiah, we are to guard ourselves against any form of pride that may set in, which can happen as a result of many things, but primarily can tend to have a way of setting in when we do not deal with stumbling blocks along the way. Tonight I would like us to look at some very serious words and instruction on humility and guarding against pride that our Master יהושע spoke to His talmidim (disciples). In a message tonight called, “Turn or Burn – The War Against Pride!” please turn with me to Mattithyahu/Matthew 18:1-10 (Read).
This passage struck me this week as Reinier and I were having an early morning time of prayer and reading of the Word and I was continually drawn back to this passage and being struck how significant these words of יהושע are in terms of our life of obedient worship. I would like to briefly share with you some valuable insights into these somewhat piercing words of our Master and realise our need for total humility in being a true part of His Body!
First up, in setting the scene we must understand that יהושע had been teaching His talmidim a great deal on the reign of the heavens and here He literally rebuked them for their pride and desire for worldly greatness and in this chapter He taught them 3 essentials for unity and harmony among the people of Elohim – and that is Humility, Honesty and Forgiveness and tonight we will be looking at humility.
In verse 1 we see that the taught ones came to יהושע – this is important for us to once again see and recognise that the words which He spoke to them were to ‘believers and not unbelievers’! I fear that many times we may forget that the very words of Scripture are for the Body of Messiah, not for those outside – it is for us and is a mirror for us to make sure we remain dressed in righteousness. There had certainly been some debate among the disciples on who would be the greatest in this reign that their Master and Teacher was teaching them about. They had just been told by Messiah that He was about to be delivered up and killed and then raised on the third day, which grieved them greatly, yet after a lesson on tax and submission to authority, there seemed to be a dispute arising among the disciples as to who would be the greatest, and they would have all had their own reasons as to why they would have a better position than the others – Kěpha had, after all, had walked on water, had seen Messiah transfigured and had his taxes paid by a miracle. And while יהושע was teaching them the truths of His reign and His pending suffering, they were more interested about what positions they would have in His reign, and were so caught up in the selfishness of this that it caused some disputes – possibly even heated ones!!!
Self-centeredness and disunity causes great harm to the health and growth of the body and the underlying cause or root of this attitude is PRIDE - where one thinks that he is more important than what he is. When believers are living only for self and not for others then there is bound to be the danger of some conflict and division creeping in, and this we are to be on guard against. We have been speaking a great deal of late about the need for community to be built stronger and this will take submission and humility by all. The disciples were eagerly waiting for יהושע's answer and He stuns them with a great reality check – one that we ought to be able to have too!
יהושע calls for a little child and lets him sit with them and we must understand that this was a little child – not a baby or a teenager but a small child and He tells His taught ones that unless they TURN and become AS little children they would by NO MEANS enter the reign!!!! Some very hard words it must have been to them that day and words that are still as powerful to us today. Now what we are to also understand is that there is a difference between ‘like this child’ or rather ‘child-like’ and ‘childish’! There are many adults who are childish and desperately need to become child-like!
The emphasis here is that to become child-like one needs to TURN:
The Greek word used here for ‘turn’ is G4762 στρέφω ‘strephō’ – meaning, ‘to turn, change, turn back, be converted or changed into another kind of person’ and ‘to change one’s mind or conduct’. Understanding the words of our Master here helps us see the deep need for so many to ‘turn’ and change their mind and conduct and become as a child or else they may just find themselves being burnt! Turn or burn – it is a huge war against pride!
How many people have you heard say the following, “I am not going to change!” or “You will not change my mind!” or “I believe what I believe and nothing you say can change that!”
Selfish words of pride – I wonder how many of us have echoed those same words before, especially when approached on a topic where you think you have all the answers?
So many today stubbornly refuse to change the way they think and sadly it is going to keep them from entering the reign, for יהושע says that unless you do you will never; and the emphasis is placed here on the negative in that unless you turn and change your mind and become childlike then there is absolutely no ways that you will enter His reign!!! Now this was words to His close disciples – a shocking but needed wake up call for them to drop pride and humble themselves in service to the Master and one another!
Becoming child-like speaks of humility as verse 4 confirms this by saying that just as this little child humbles himself before the Master, so should His taught ones be in order for them to enter His reign and become the greatest – this was a lesson on humility 101 – drop all your own ambitions and agendas and be willing to submit and surrender your all – then you will be great in His reign!!! This was a wake-up call for them who were debating on their assumed greatness and if they truly wanted to continue to be His taught ones they had better listen up!
Luqas/Luke 14:33 “So, then, every one of you who does not give up all that he has, is unable to be My taught one.”
As simple as this sounds and we may all say we know all this – but in reality I have to ask you – have you really given up all?
Ya’aqoḇ/James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Master, and He shall lift you up.”
The need to walk in humility in critical to the life of the body, in order that strife and contentions do not break out and where each member is respected and highly regarded above self, and this is not easy for many ‘grown-ups’ today! This ‘turn’ is a picture and lesson for us in turning from being full of pride and self to dying to self and immersed in humility.
This is the call to turn away from ‘self-rule’ (that is from an ‘I’ll do it my way’ attitude) to turning to יהוה’s rule (that is to an ‘I submit to His way’ attitude). The dangers of an attitude of pride may lead one to become sceptical, bitter or resentful towards others – how often have you found yourself being sceptical about what יהוה has planned for you, or bitter or resentful over a circumstance or person or group of people, especially fellow believers, simply because you did not get your way? Well if we want to enter the Reign of Messiah then we need to turn from being sceptical to being trusting and making יהוה our absolute trust; and we need to turn from being bitter to being caring and loving and turn from walking in resentment to being forgiving. Is there still some turning that needs to happen in your life – that is to say – is there still some renewing of the mind and a change of conduct that needs to take place? If so, then turn!!!
When we receive one who has turned and humbled themselves, as a little child, in The name of Messiah, we receive Him – this too is a test for those receiving newly turned ones!!! Especially if you know the person and have seen the pride in their life! Are there any people you know of that you would be reluctant to receive or sceptical about receiving due to the history of their stubbornness? יהושע encourages us to recognise them that have turned and receive them, for if we do not – there is a very heavy woe! Anyone who causes the humble to stumble will face the wrath of Elohim – in fact death by drowning would be a better option than to face Elohim and His wrath.
A humble follower of יהושע helps to build up His body (even if it means by reproof) and does not tear down. Being straight is necessary, as long as it is with intent to build and give direction according to the Word and not simply to break down and destroy.
We need to wage war on pride – by turning and becoming child-like and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and no longer be self-seeking – a huge challenge for many today in a world that teaches you to look out for self – that is not going to get you into the reign!!!
We all want to know what יהוה’s will is for our life, right? Well then it is simple:
The best way to know יהוה’s will is to say “I WILL” to יהוה – a very simple yet very important and profound TRUTH for a child of Elohim, especially in light of the Torah portion from last week when we went through Shemoth/Exodus 18-20 where Yisra’ĕl said ‘WE WILL DO” before even hearing the instructions – that is being child-like!!!
Verse 7 - Woe to the World and Woe to the man!
Stumbling blocks – Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 27:18 “Cursed is he who misleads the blind in the way.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Aměn!’”
We are in the world but not of this world and we must realise that there are many stumbling blocks in the world as the result of sin/lawlessness, and we must guard ourselves from these, as well as from being a stumbling block for anyone else. Our actions and our lifestyle has a far greater effect than we may care to realise as there are others that will follow your lead, whether you realise it or not – we all influence others and are influenced by others and we are to be careful as to what influences us that we may be sure that our lives can be a good influence to others! We must be willing to remove whatever offends – by that I mean simply this: whatever influences in our lives that are offensive in any way we must remove. And to keep from offending and influencing others negatively radical changes are often necessary!
If you are not walking in total humility and submission and surrender to the Word of Elohim and have some stumbling blocks that are keeping you from doing so, be it a bad habit or an attitude of stubbornness to change or even being subject to outside influences that are affecting your ability to remain humble in obedient submission to the Torah of Elohim, then you need to remove it!!!
This verse is also a warning against falsehood and false teachers who twist the Truth and cause many to stumble, and a huge warning to all of us to be very careful not to cause any to stumble. We must also be vigilant to ensure that all stumbling blocks are removed from our own lives or else we may cause others to stumble by them too!
And with that in mind we come to the verses that struck me this week in terms of our worship and service unto Elohim; and here יהושע makes it clear that if there are any stumbling blocks in your worship and obedience to His word then cut it off – let us take a look at these three body parts He uses and recognise their significance in our walk today!
HAND – FOOT – EYE
All three of these carry great insight for us and when you see the repeated use of these words in various applications we begin to see the lesson behind the language. If any one of these (hand, foot or eye) cause you to stumble – that is to be tempted to sin or entraps you and cause you to sin – which is to be lawless – then cut it off! We must realise that יהושע is not advocating that people literally go around and cut off their hands and feet and pluck out their eyes – He is teaching the severity of not walking in humility and unity and the need to deal ruthlessly with anything in your walk that is causing you to stumble and sin.
1 - HAND – service/ work/ profession
The Hand speaks of what one works with – as we know that is was with a Mighty Hand that He delivered us from Mitsrayim, and our hands are to be doing the works of righteousness and not works of lawlessness – our walk of active faith should be evident of righteous acts of set-apart children of the Most High.
Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. 22 “Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ 23 “And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!’”
We must be careful to ensure that our daily lives reflect one of working righteousness and as Messiah tells us too that if one puts his hand to the plough and looks back, he is not fit for the kingdom. We cannot look back as Yisra’ĕl did in the Wilderness for that generation did not enter into the Promised Land; but rather we must stick to the task of being faithful with what the Father has put in our hands – and that is His word, which we take up the Sword of the Spirit and work diligently unto Elohim, being like children in humble service – for then we will enter His reign!
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone doing righteousness has been born of Him.”
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 3:4 “Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
2 – FOOT – walk
The foot is a metaphor for one’s walk, and as we see how our feet are to be fitted with the preparation of the Good News of peace. Pride has a nasty way of making one’s footing insecure and bringing us down:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 29:23 “The pride of man brings him low, But the humble in spirit obtains esteem.”
Feet is also a symbolic picture used in describing disciples who would listen to their teachers as they would come and sit at their Teacher’s feet. There are many today who claim to walk in Messiah yet they will not come and sit under the teaching of His Torah and find themselves walking where they should not be and are influenced by other teachings.
In Hebrew foot or feet is also used as a reference in one’s walk of obedience in referring to the 3 pilgrimage feasts of יהוה that each man was required to go up to Yerushalayim every year for – Pěsaḥ, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Shemoth/Exodus 23:14 “Three times in the year you are to observe a festival to Me.”
The Hebrew word used for ‘times’ is Strong’s H7272 רֶגֶל ‘regel’ – means ‘a foot/feet or to walk’. So as I said – one’s obedience and submission to the Truth is seen in one’s walk – the question is simply whether our walk is straight, healthy and in loving obedience or is it diseased and crooked through stubbornness and pride?
3 – EYE – passion/vision/sight
What you will look at – that you will set your sights on and pursue! Where are your eyes focused on? Is it the dreams and desires of self-indulgence or on the Prince and Perfecter of your faith? Are your eyes on the world and what you can achieve in this world or on the Living Word and seeking to please Him? What you set your eyes upon reveal that which you love:
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world nor that which is in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 Because all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”
In Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:29-30 in speaking on lust יהושע uses the term ‘if your RIGHT EYE causes you to stumble’. Right eye or a ‘good eye’ is a Hebraic idiom for the one among you who is most generous and many today are often reluctant in disciplining the biggest tithers when they are in sin – and they will pay an even bigger price if they neglect to do so. So as you get a good eye, there is also what is known as an evil eye which can reference to being stingy and lawless:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:22-23 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, all your body shall be enlightened. 23 “But if your eye is evil, all your body shall be darkened. If, then, the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Therefore what we ‘see’ here is that a good eye is one that is ‘clear and unclouded, healthy and good’, while an evil eye speaks of selfishness and pride:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 22:9 “He who has a good eye is blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.”
Our eyes are to be upon His Truth:
Tehillim/Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I might see Wonders from Your Torah.”
According to Scripture when does the Torah get read as a community? On Shabbat!!!
Having said that, this is exactly what struck me when reading these verses – His Shabbat – His Feasts and obedience to keeping His instructions as a community in unity. I think we all get the essence of what these verses are saying to us, but on a more significant point I see it speaking a whole lot more to us who desire to walk in obedience together as a body of believers!
If we understand that our sign/mark of worship is reflected in our obedience to Messiah and more specifically we are told in Shemoth/Exodus 13 twice that Pěsaḥ and Matzot (Passover and Unleavened Bread) shall be a sign on our hand and will be a reminder between our eyes – that the Torah is to be in our mouth – because with a strong Hand יהוה brought us out of Mitsrayim. We also see twice in Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 20 that the Sabbath is our sign between us and יהוה forever. Sabbath and His Feasts – signs on our hands and eyes – and our feet, if you will, as we see the word feet being used to instruct us to keep His Feasts – representing a pure walk of obedience and submission to sitting at His feet hearing His instructions! Where am I going with this? We all know that there is a battle for worship – the enemy is doing his best to corrupt people into worshipping him as he sets himself up as Elohim in the place of Elohim – that is in the hearts of the people of those who fall to his lies and receive the mark of the beast, which is sun-day worship and the keeping of pagan rooted feasts of traditions of man; and the mark of this is also spoken of as being on the right hand and forehead (eye) in Ḥazon/Revelation; while those who overcome and do not receive the mark of the beast will reign with Messiah for 1000years! Those who humble themselves, endure and remain steadfast in worship unto Elohim will enter the reign of Messiah!
With this in mind as we look at Mattithyahu/Matthew 18:8-9 we can then get a clearer instruction from our Master:
If your hand causes you to stumble – cut it off – Is your work causing you to stumble – that is to not keep His Sabbath? If your work causes you to break the Sabbath – cut it off. So many today are too afraid to stand up and stop working on Sabbath in fear of losing their job – they will lose a whole lot more if they do not cut off the stumbling block of work and trust יהוה to provide a better solution!
If your foot causes you to stumble – cut it off – Is your ability to not gather as commanded a stumbling block that you reason away with various excuses. His Shabbat is His day – set-apart unto Him – it is not for us to do our own pleasures or even speak our own words and we must cut off any stumbling blocks that may be causing us to neglect doing what we are commanded to. Now, as for this family/community, we gather for erev Shabbat as well as on the day – if you are part of this assembly let there be no stumbling block to doing what we do in gathering as we do. Excuses can become stumbling blocks – cut them off and humbly become like a child and submit! Do you find yourself keeping other feasts that are not Scriptural – cut them off – realise that your actions influence others, so do not compromise, and do not teach others to compromise. There are some that are erroneously teaching their kids that staying in on erev Shabbat is sufficient – it is not true – the whole of Shabbat is יהוה’s, not just a part of it that suites you!!! Don’t let your foot cause you to stumble by going your own way!
If your eye causes you to stumble – pluck it out – What are your eyes focused on? Are you looking out only for self and neglecting the body to the point where you cannot even see the needs that are in the body? As we read that the eyes are the lamp for the body and Tehillim/Psalm 119 tells us that The Torah is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path – then it is plain to see the simple math here – our eyes are to be upon the Torah – we do not need conspiracies and hoards of other teachings that may in fact be taking away the light of the Torah and His Living Word - we need His Light – our eyes fixed upon it, that our body becomes a shining light of His Truth giving us clear direction for each step we take.
Are there things you are setting your eyes upon that may be causing you to stumble in keeping His Shabbat and His Feasts – be it family members who are calling for your attention, or work and burdens that have you so weighed down that you are so focused on anything but His Shabbat and His word, thinking your own thoughts and are unable to focus on Him and His Word and His Body and so cause you to stumble in keeping Shabbat set-apart – pluck it out. The eye also speaks of our intellect and mind/thoughts – if you are coming to a Shabbat gathering and have a major stumbling block in your thoughts that consumed with heavy burdens of work, relational stress or any other issues and your ability to fix your eyes on His Word are distracted – then pluck it out.
Bring no burden into the gates on Shabbat!!! This is a day to rest in יהוה, delight in Him and give our all as a total ascending offering!
Pride is the focus on self – even self-pity is a form of pride as it only looks in at self. The words of our Master are clear – unless we turn and become as children – that is to turn from pride to humility and destroy all the stumbling blocks to our obedience, and more specifically to our mark of worship in keeping His Shabbat and Feasts as they are to be kept, then we may find ourselves unable to enter the reign of Messiah and face being burnt!
Turn or burn – the war against pride – the solution is simple – humble yourself and simply obey and trust in Our Father who is in the secret place. What, if any, stumbling blocks are there in your life – stumbling blocks that are causing you to be lawless and neglect the purity of True worship? It is time to get very radical and cut off or pluck out – you will either be in or out of His reign when He comes – may we be continually humbled, destroying all form of pride and self and find that we enter in and be great in His reign, aměn!