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!