Saturday, April 28, 2012
Mattithyahu/Matthew 24:14-30 – The Parable of the talents
Shabbat Shalom family!
Tehillim/Psalm 135:1 “Praise Yah! Praise the Name of יהוה; Praise, you servants of יהוה.”
It is good to praise the Name of יהוה, and as servants of יהוה we are called on to praise Him, worship Him and serve Him with gladness: Tehillim/Psalm 100:2 “Serve יהוה with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.”
Words such as servants and serve occur throughout the Scriptures, and as we begin to understand the concept of these terms that are often misunderstood, we as servants of the Most High are better equipped to serve יהוה with gladness! Tonight I want us to dig a little deeper into the understanding of this concept of servanthood and service unto יהוה as we heed the very words of יהושע, in a very important parable regarding His imminent return. And so in a message tonight called, “Talented Servants Serve!” please let us take a closer look at what is classically known as ‘The Parable of the Talents’. Turn with me to Mattithyahu/Matthew 25:14-30 (read).
This parable is found in the section of the Besorah (Good News) of Mattithyahu/Matthew where יהושע answers His talmidim (disciples) on the question of the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Mattithyahu/Matthew 24:3).
And so we find 2 chapters written regarding the answer to this question where יהושע clearly warns them not to be led astray, as many will come in His Name and lead many astray; and there will be wars and fightings, famine and sickness – the beginning of birth pains and His disciples would be hated for His Name’s sake. False prophets and teachers will lead many astray and lawlessness will increase and only those who endure to the end will be saved. He explains to His talmidim that once He leaves they are to take courage for He is coming again and challenges them to remain steadfast as the Son of Aḏam is coming at an hour when they do not expect Him; and then He proceeds to teach them to be trustworthy and wise servants as He begins to explain the reign of the Heavens being compared to ten maidens and tells them to ‘keep watch’ and not be found to be without oil. After this He tells them this parable of the talents and directly after this He shares with them the fact that when He comes again, the nations will be gathered to Him and be separated as sheep are separated from goats! These words came a couple of days before He would be delivered up and are words that were to be greatly heeded, so that His servants would be found to be doing that which He entrusted them to do.
In verse 14 we see our passage tonight start with, ‘for it is like…’ – what is this that He is referring to? He is further expanding His instructions to His talmidim in regards to the reign of the heavens that is coming and how they are to guard to do all that has been entrusted to them while their Master is gone on a journey.
The essence of this parable is the clear message that while Messiah, our Master, has gone away He has given us, His servants, a responsibility – each according to his own measure – and expects us to be reliable servants, doing what we have been called and commissioned to do and when He does come back we each must give an account. And when He does come back He will either find us having been faithful or faithless. In a parable encouraging them to not lose heart and always pray He says in:
Luqas/Luke 18:8 “I say to you that He shall do right to them speedily. But when the Son of Aḏam comes, shall He find the belief on the earth?”
When Messiah comes again, will He find people who are doers of His Word or hearers only!
Let us get some greater insight into this parable of the talents in understanding some of the key words and concepts in regards to a Greek mind-set as opposed to a Hebraic one.
As we know we see pictured here 3 servants given different measures – one was given 5 talents, another 2 and still another 1. We must first recognise the magnitude of what each were given in this parable/teaching; and to do that we must realise just what a talent is. The word talent is the Greek word τάλαντον talanton – Strong’s G5007 meaning, ‘a balance, hence that which is weighed i.e. a talent’. A talent was around 3000 shekels in weight. The ancient Greek talent was equal to ‘60 Attic minae or 6000 drachmae’. A talent of gold weighs around 92 kilograms. As a little bit of fun I likened this ‘weight’ to today’s gold price which is around R 411,143.00 per kilo, making 1 talent of gold worth approximately R37 million and 5 talents of gold approximately R187 million, with 2 talents approximately R74 million!!! That is a lot of value and while we may argue the value and weight system compared to back then, understanding that a talent was worth 6000 drachmae, which was equivalent to a day’s wages, then taking out the Shabbats and Feast days as non-working days with no income it would take a person approximately 21 years to earn 1 talent and not have spent any of it!!! This puts it in a better perspective in understanding just how much each got and the one who got the 1 talent certainly did not receive too little!!! I mean just think about it for a moment – imagine getting 21 years gross salary at once – and that would be equivalent of just 1 talent. There is just no way, even if one tried their hardest, that you could ever save up that amount within your lifetime! What we must learn from this parable is that the fact is, here we see that these servants were given talents that they could never have earned on their own; and so it is with us who are in Messiah. We, His servants, have been given a whole lot, even if it is only 1; and He has entrusted us with that which is His and calls us to be good and faithful stewards.
What is worthy of noting here is that the one who received 5 gained 5 more and the one who received 2 gained 2 more and is a clear picture of bringing in a 100 % return on investment. By this I simply mean that this shows that a faithful and good servant gives their all as there are no half measures here! The one who received 5 did not bring 2 ½ and likewise the one who received 2 did not bring in 3. Each one gained for the Master what he had been entrusted with. This is a lesson on total stewardship and servanthood in submitting and surrendering your all to your Master, and doing all that He has commanded you.
This was a common practice where owners would go on long journeys and entrust into their servants care the affairs of his estate while he was gone and given the uncertainty of transportation methods of those days, the servants would not know the exact return and even the most well-planned trip would be open-ended. This would always be in the mind of the servants and they would recognize that while they had control over the assets of their master, all was still their masters and they were possessors but not owners and were to manage well that which was given for them to do. We must too realise that what we have has been given to us and it is not really ours!
Tehillim/Psalm 24:1 “The earth belongs to יהוה, And all that fills it – The world and those who dwell in it.”
Ḥaggai 2:8 “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ declares יהוה of hosts.”
Many people do not understand this fact as they sadly do not recognise that all we have and all we are belongs to יהוה, and as a result of this selfish mind-set they are unable to be good and faithful servants serving one another.
יהושע, our Master, simply expects us to give all we have been given:
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a gift, serve one another, as good trustees of the manifold favour of Elohim.”
יהוה will always give us what we are able to handle, even when we do not think so. This allocation given by the Master to His servants is also a clear picture of different callings, and how each are equally important and bear the same responsibility as יהוה shows no favouritism but entrusts that which He desires to those whom He has designed to be entrusted with. We each have a task and each are required to perform the tasks and use the gifting and talents we have been abundantly given without trying to perform what is not ours to perform!!!
יהושע expects fruit from our lives as we ‘stay’ in Him – that is to stay in His love, which is to ‘hear, guard and do’ His commands:
Yoḥanan/John 15:10 “If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love, even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.”
The one who was given 1 talent and hid what he was given reveals simply that he did not love his master as he did not guard his master’s commands! So many today are doing the same thing as they neglect to guard to do all the commands of Elohim and in fact they may even declare that there is no point to all the obedience required as they see those in the world seemingly better off!
Mal’aḵi/Malachi 3:14-15 “You have said, ‘It is worthless to serve Elohim. And what did we gain when we guarded His Charge, and when we walked as mourners before יהוה of hosts? 15 ‘And now we are calling the proud blessed – not only are the doers of wrongness built up, but they also try Elohim and escape.’”
The one who hid the talent is a picture of those who show a lack of reverence and understanding of the fear of יהוה, and are instead falling prey to the pressures of this world and afraid of what lies ahead and what others in the world might say:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 57:11 “And of whom have you been afraid, or feared, that you have lied and not remembered Me, nor taken it to your heart? Have I not been silent, even from of old, and you have not feared Me?”
Romiyim/Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Those who are found to be hiding what they have been given and living in fear – fear of man – do not recognise who the Father is and are not able to understand the great love and value of being adopted and grafted in to The Covenants of Promise and are therefore unable to live according to the Covenants by which we are called to be grafted in to by the Blood of our Master, יהושע Messiah!
In being slack to do all the commands of Elohim reveals which family the lazy and wicked one belongs to:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 18:9 “Also, he who is slack in his work is a brother of a master destroyer.”
Are you slack and a brother of a master destroyer or obedient and brother of the Master builder!
What we need to understand clearly is that just as we have spoken before on Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1 and the need to be eating of His Good Word as we submit and obey, or else we may find ourselves being devoured (eaten) by the very Word that can give us life. Eat or be eaten! In this parable of the talents the same message comes through – use the talents given – that is be mindful of the weight of His esteem upon you and walk in loving obedience or else be found to be a lazy and disobedient coward and a ‘talent’ of His wrath will crush you!
Ḥazon/Revelation 16:21 “And great hail from the heaven fell upon men, every hailstone about the weight of a talent. And men blasphemed Elohim for the plague of the hail, because that plague was exceedingly great.”
Hailstones the weight of a talent – can you imagine 90kg hailstones coming down!!!
The one who was given 1 talent hid the ‘silver’ of his master! In Scripture pure word of Elohim is described as silver refined 7 times and so what we can see clearly here is that the hiding of the master’s silver is a picture of those who ‘hide’ the very life giving Word and fail to exercise the purity and excellence of the valuable gift we have been given and therefore never get to realise and grow in the life giving knowledge, wisdom and understanding of Elohim. It is a picture of so many today who may have a copy of the Scriptures yet never even open it up as it simply gathers dust and when the Master returns they may think that giving the Master a pristine copy of an untouched Scriptures will be sufficient – this only reveals the state of the lazy and wicked who refuse to exercise the word that has been given to them to live by!
There is only one place reserved for the lazy and wicked cowards:
Ḥazon/Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, and untrustworthy, and abominable, and murderers, and those who whore, and drug sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the false, their part is in the lake which burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
Wicked and lazy is the one who hides his talent and listen to what Mishlĕ says about the lazy:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 26:13-16 “The lazy one says, “There is a lion in the way! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy one turn on his bed. 15 The lazy one buries his hand in a dish; It tires him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy one is wiser in his own eyes than seven rendering advice.”
A lazy one is one who shows a lack of discipline and is slow to take any action, whereas the good and faithful servant wastes no time in getting busy with the things of their master!
Ḥaggai 1:2-4 “Thus spoke יהוה of hosts, saying, ‘This people have said, “The time has not come, the time the House of יהוה is to be built.” ’ ” 3 Then the word of יהוה came by Ḥaggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this House be in ruins?”
So many today are neglecting to do what has been entrusted to them and expected of them by Messiah and as a result the House of Elohim is standing in ruins as people are more concerned about their own security and built up lifestyles of comfort and compromise instead of attending to the House that is to be built up by living stones as each living stone does its part!
Good and faithful or wicked and lazy – there is no in between – anything less than your all puts you on the wicked and lazy team and this is a stern wake up call for the servants of יהוה to get serving!!!
One of the key problems with the inability to find people serving is the lack of understanding of servanthood; and this is what struck me greatly while preparing this message, as I am sure you have heard all of what I have said before, yet we do need a reminding of these more often than not; however I want to touch on the different mind-set on servants and their required service, as I believe this to be a major stumbling block in many talented servants serving with their all.
What struck me about this parable above all was that the master gave talents to ‘his servants’. In other words they were his to start off with and I would like us to look at both the Greek and Hebrew words for servant and service as well as the different mind-sets behind these.
In this parable the word for servant is the Greek word δοῦλος doulos – Strong’s G1401 and is translated as, ‘slave, servant, bondservant, bondslaves – both men and women’. You will hear me referring to a ‘doulos’ a lot tonight as I want you to get this term and concept stirring in your minds in the understanding of how we are to be a ‘doulos’ of Messiah. In the Greek language the ‘doulos’ (servant/slave) and the group of words associated with this, be it serving, service, slavery etc., all speak of being a ‘slave’ or speak of standing in the relationship of a slave and so in the Greek mind-set regarding the ‘doulos’ we have a service which is seen as service which is not a matter of choice for the one rendering the service, as he/she has to perform what is required whether he/she likes it or not, for the servant is subject as a slave to the will of another – that is the will of their owner! One of the distinctive features of the Greek mind-set of self-awareness is the thought of freedom and this mind-set finds personal dignity in the fact that he/she is free and therefore his/her self-awareness stands out sharply from anything which stands under the concept of performing the duties of a slave and obeying what is being commanded to be done.
In the Greek mind-set where there is the service/duty of a ‘doulos’ (slave) and obedience required by a slave, the right of self-government is seen to be set aside and another’s takes precedence of one’s own, with the thinking that you have no right to govern self as another governs you by their standards.
Now while we must understand that the Greek city state was very dependent upon the ‘service’ of its citizens – they gave ‘service’ with all their powers and often even with life itself; however, what is repudiated in the Greek mind is ‘service’ after the manner of the ‘doulos’; who not only has absolutely no possibility of evading the tasks that have been laid upon him, but he also has no right of personal choice but must rather do what another will have done and refrain from doing what another will not have done! In the ‘doulos’ the free Greek world always sees its own antitype – and in the ‘doulos’ the concept of performing the duties of a slave it sees the perversion of its own nature of freedom. Hence the Greek mind-set can only reject and scorn the slightest resemblance to that of a slave. With the Greek concept of Elohim there is in fact no place for this word ‘doulos’ being used as an expression of religious relationship and service. So in essence what I am trying to tell you is simply this – to the Greek mind, serving according to the manner of a ‘doulos’ is not on – they will serve, yes, as long as it fits in with their needs and they are in agreement with the requirements and so may even respond saying, “I will do what you ask, if it makes sense to me and I can fit it in to my way of thinking” and naturally the Greek mind-set will resist the concept of “I will submit and obey and do what you command, even if I do not understand”.
I find this very fascinating as it certainly begins to uncover and explain the resistance by so many to submit and serve Elohim according to His Torah! One of the major reasons for this resistance of the concept of ‘doulos’ is that this word comes from the word δέω deō – Strong’s G1210 which means, ‘to bind, tie, put in chains, prisoner’. Certainly this concept of seeming ‘enslavement’ is greatly rejected by the Greek mind-set who claims its own freedom and understandably rejects the notion to be commanded to obey the Torah!
I clearly remember being sharply rebuked by a man a few years ago who plainly stated that whenever I would say, “You must do…” or “You have to…” in any message he would resist that tone and reject the instruction and say that I cannot tell him that he must do anything!!! Well now I have come to understand just how the effect of Greek thinking has penetrated many minds in their approach to the Truth and as a result refuse to become true servants or a ‘doulos’ of Messiah!
Now while this word or concept is greatly rejected by a Greek mind-set we see in the Greek text very clearly that this word is used 127 times in the Renewed writings (N.T.)
In fact we are told that Messiah took the form of a ‘doulos’:
Pilipiyim/Philippians 2:7 “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and came to be in the likeness of men.”
What is the Hebrew mind-set with the concept of servant and servanthood? Let us take a brief look:
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 25:55 “Because the children of Yisra’ĕl are servants to Me, they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am יהוה your Elohim.”
As a child of Yisra’ĕl, which we have become by the Blood of Messiah, we are servants of יהוה. The word used here in the Hebrew is עֶבֶד eḇed – Strong’s H5650 meaning, ‘servant, slave, bondservant’ - The same meaning as the Greek word ‘doulos’. ‘eḇed’ is used 800 times in the Tanak (O.T.) and is used as a noun and comes from the primitive root verb עָבַד aḇad – Strong’s H5647 meaning, ‘to work, serve, observe, do the work, cultivate, worship’ and carries the understanding of ‘expending considerable energy and intensity in performing a task or function’ – in other words – ‘giving it your all’!
As we go to the Torah for a great reference to our understanding we see the concept of bondservant being described clearly:
Shemoth/Exodus 21:5-6 “And if the servant truly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children, let me not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him before Elohim, and shall bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl. And he shall serve him forever.”
This is a profound statement being made here. One that we make, as servants of Messiah, of our Master! When we too have made the good confession and declare our love for our Elohim and Saviour then we serve Him forever – yet there was something that was to happen – let us see how that applies to us today! Firstly we must note the clear order being shown here: I Love my master, wife, children… notice that his master comes first and it is the same with us today:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Love for our Master comes first!!! This does not in any way diminish our love for our spouse or children, but reflects the true nature of our love that without such fervent love for our Master we are truly unable to show complete love in service to our family – but love for Him must always be our primary focus that will cause us to flow with a genuine love for others! In a declaration of our love for our Master – here it says “if a servant truly says” – this is vital for us to understand, as there are many today who say they love Elohim, yet their love is not expressed in obedience to His instructions and is not made vocally with a loud voice of faith! This love speaks of a true and complete commitment to Him. Those who claim to ‘stay’ in His house yet do not love Him by obeying Him are thieves and not servants! This is a call for voluntary service – we have been bought at a price and it is for freedom that he has set us free, yet we choose to be His bondservant!
“When a servant truly says” – speaks of one making a clear and definite choice with the intent for others to hear it!
If this be the case: Bring him to the door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl! Now let me make it clear that we do not pierce people’s ears today:
Bring him to the door – יהושע tells us in Yoḥanan/Jon 10:7 that He is the door of the sheep. We who declare our love for our Master who has bought us at a price – we come to Him and declare our desire to forever belong to Him.
Doorpost – Doorpost is where we are commanded to write the Ten Words upon and is a constant reminder to us as we go out and come in that we guard to do all He has commanded us to. It was on the doorpost that Yisra’ĕl was to apply the blood of the Pěsaḥ Lamb
Pierce the ear – the ear speaks of the ability to hear and allow His word to be heard as it is, even as it pierces!
Too many today who claim to be servants of Messiah only want their ears ‘tickled’ and not ‘pierced’ with the Truth.
The piercing of the ear to the doorpost would be symbolic of the servant now belonging to the house and be submitted to the authority of the house. So many today are unwilling to submit to authority like this! If they do not like what they ‘hear’ they all too quickly rush off to find another assembly where they will hear what they like, yet never show true commitment and submission!
The piercing of the ear would show a permanent decision that could not be reversed.
Our relationship to יהוה begins with the command to "hear", so the ear is the appropriate place to bear this reminder of whom we have chosen to belong to. To commit to the house means to commit to the rulings of the house, which are written on the doorposts—to say, “I hear what you are saying and will guard to do all I hear!”
The piercing of the ear to the doorpost where the Torah is written shows us the commitment to the commands of the House and יהושע who is the Door, was pierced for our transgressions and it is to Him we listen and make our choice to commit to living in obedience to Him – the Living Torah!
He who has ears – ears that are ‘pierced’ that is committed by choice to follow Messiah – let Him hear His right-rulings and live by them! We must beware of ear ticklers who have the appearance of a door that has no commands upon them – tickling ears will listen gladly to a lawless doorpost!
We are now bondservants - ‘doulos’ - of the Most High:
Romiyim/Romans 1:1 “Sha’ul, a servant of יהושע Messiah, a called emissary, separated to the Good News of Elohim”
Ya’aqoḇ, the half-brother of יהושע was:
Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:1 “Yaʽaqoḇ, a servant of Elohim and of the Master יהושע Messiah, to the twelve tribes who are in the dispersion: Greetings.”
Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 1:1 “Shimʽon Kěpha, a servant and emissary of יהושע Messiah, to those who have obtained a belief as precious as ours by the righteousness of our Elohim and Saviour יהושע Messiah”
Yehuḏah/Jude 1:1 “Yehuḏah, a servant of יהושע Messiah, and brother of Yaʽaqoḇ, to those who are called, set-apart by Elohim the Father, and preserved in יהושע Messiah”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy lists for us the reason for the curses that come as a result of disobedience:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because you did not serve יהוה your Elohim with joy and gladness of heart for all the plenty,”
In the Hebraic mind-set becoming a bondservant of Messiah is not a burden, in fact it is a burden to not become one, and we recognise that we are no longer our own and that He has bought us at a price and we have made the choice to serve. He makes it clear for us – choose life or death – we choose life and with that choice comes the responsibility to live as He commands and give an account of how we have lived and managed His property when He returns. When we make the choice to become a bondservant of Messiah forever, we are in a way relinquishing our own ‘right to choose’ any other options to serving in our own manner or way of understanding as we accept by choice to submit and obey whatever He commands us to!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:8 “Do not do as we are doing here today – each one doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”
It is to the ‘doulos’ of Messiah that the Ḥazon/Revelation of Messiah has been given in order to show us what must take place speedily (Ḥazon 1:1); and it is the ‘doulos’ of Messiah who are sealed on the forehead (Ḥazon 7:3); and it will be the ‘doulos’ of Messiah that will serve Him (Ḥazon 22:3).
As we recognise who our Master is then may we be a people who recognise that we have chosen to serve and we are to be found serving with great joy and not be found to be lazy in our duty and responsibility that He has given us as He has given us all collectively many talents for which He expects a 100% harvest of fruitfulness back. How are you serving the Master, while He has gone on a journey? Have you been struggling with the Greek mind-set of resistance to submit and obey to the Master’s will or do you embrace the true Hebraic mind-set of our faith in Messiah, our Master and are giving your all? TALENTED SERVANTS SERVE – are you!!!
When we also realise that this parable is of a master to his servants, we are then further able to narrow down the sobering reality of this clear teaching designed to awaken those who are asleep; and therefore I would by the picture drawn from this parable say that 1 in every 3 servants will be found to have been hiding the talents they were entrusted with. 1 in 3 servants – that is to say that 1 in every 3 ‘claiming’ torah obedient followers of Messiah are hiding and not truly serving Messiah – perhaps that is what the end result will be and maybe even a more accurate account we see at the moment is that it could be as many as 2 in every 3 are not serving as they should – which is a very sobering wake up call for us all!!!
You cannot serve Elohim and mammon!!!
We are no longer ‘slaves/servants’ or a ‘doulos’ of sin, but have been set free from sin so that we are now a ‘doulos’ (still a servant/slave) to righteousness and we must serve our Master with our all – the very thing Sha’ul speaks about in Romiyim/Romans 6 – he was, among other things, explaining the different mind-set approaches to being a ‘doulos’!!!
Romiyim/Romans 6: 16-18 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17 But thanks to Elohim that you were servants of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.”
You are a ‘doulos’ of the one you obey, even if it of self, but we who were a ‘doulos’ of sin, obeyed from the heart that form of teaching – what is written upon our hearts? The Torah – we have obeyed the teaching of the Torah – the very Word we have been entrusted with as a ‘doulos’ of The Master and are now free from sin, equipped to be a good and faithful ‘doulos’ of righteousness, which is to guard to do all our Master commands us to do!!!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, receiving an unshakeable reign, let us hold the favour, through which we serve Elohim pleasingly with reverence and awe”
Each and every one of us has received immeasurable gift and talent/s and so He has equipped us to be talented servants for Him!
DO NOT HIDE – TALENTED SERVANT – SERVE!!!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
HOLDING ON TO HUMILITY!
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 26
Shabbat Shalom family – it is always such a great joy to come together in the Name of יהושע, our Great King and High Priest, who humbled Himself, being obedient unto death, death even of a stake; and therefore has been highly exalted and was given the Name which is above every Name, that at the Name of יהושע every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that יהושע Messiah is the Master, aměn!
As we consider these words taken from Pilipiyim/Philippians 2 we clearly can see that humility and obedience go hand in hand and in:
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?”
What does יהוה require of us? Well as we see – that it is to do right, love kindness and walk humbly with our Elohim!
‘Walk’ in Hebrew is the word הָלַךְ hā∙lǎḵ - Strong’s H1980 meaning, ‘to walk, to live, manner of life, cause to live’ and literally speaks of how one lives. It is used as a verb indicating that it is an active expression of one’s life. We are to actively and continually be walking in Messiah, and as Miḵah tells us that we are required to walk ‘humbly’ with Elohim. The root word used here for humble is צָנַע tsana – Strong’s H6800 meaning, ‘to be modest or humble’. In Miḵah/Micah 6:8 it is expressed as follows: וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת ‘ve-ha-ts’nea lechet’ which literally expresses ‘a making humble to walk’ or ‘showing a humble walk’, again emphasising that our humility is seen in our walk – that is our walk of obedience as we clearly see and understand the words in:
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:6 “The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.”
The Greek word for ‘walk’ is περιπατέω peripateō – Strong’s H4043 and carries the same meaning and that is, ‘to walk, behaviour, to conduct one’s self, to make one’s way, to tread with the feet, to make one’s life’. Why all the definitions? To clearly reiterate that to walk as Messiah walked involves action and that action is to be in complete line with His walk and that is a walk of total obedience – the greatest expression of humility!
Tonight I want us to look at the life of a king who reigned for 52 years and did what was right in the eyes of יהוה, well for most part and then sadly lost the plot as he certainly neglected the need to walk humbly before יהוה. In a message tonight called, “Holding on to humility”, let us learn from the events of the life of Uzziyahu as we read from the accounts of his reign as recorded in Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 26 (Read).
A very interesting chapter that portrays for us a very sobering account of the rise and fall of a king, from which we can learn a great deal in our need to guard ourselves from the danger of allowing pride to rise up in us.
Who was Uzziyahu? Uzziyahu was the son of Amatsyahu, who reigned for 29 years in Yerushalayim and did what was right in the eyes of יהוה, but not with a perfect heart. Amatsyahu was the 9th king of Yehuḏah who succeeded his father who was assassinated after the defeat of the Syrians, where his own officials conspired against him and killed him for murdering Zeḵaryah, the son of the likeable prophet Yehoyaḏa, after being told that יהוה had left him. Amatsyahu means ‘the strength of Yah’ or ‘Yah is mighty’ and he certainly started out right yet his heart was not perfect and did not break down all the high places of worship and in essence allowed idolatrous worship to continue. I have given a message before on the accounts of Amatsyahu called, ‘How is your heart?’ and so I do not want to dwell too long on his account, except that he turned from following יהוה and fled to Laḵish where he was killed. Uzziyahu was then set up as the 10th king of Yehuḏah at 16 years of age and he reigned for 52 years – the longest reign of a king of Yehuḏah up until that point and only Menashsheh, the wicked king, reigned for longer (55 years). Uzziyahu - עֻזִּיָּהוּ –Strong’s H5818 means ‘my strength is Yah’ or ‘Yah is my strength’ and his mother’s name was יְכָלְיָה Yeḵolyah – Strong’s H3203 and means ‘Yah is able’. Uzziyahu is also referred to in Melaḵim/Kings as עֲזַרְיָהוּ Azaryahu – Strong’s H5838 meaning, ‘Yah has helped’. So coming from a line of people whose names carried great significance in declaring that יהוה is their strength and mighty to help, Uzziyahu started out in a great way in serving יהוה in the right way. Verse 5 tells us clearly that he was a king who ‘sought’ יהוה, and had great guidance from Zeḵaryahu the prophet, and as long as he sought יהוה, Elohim made him prosper!
This is a vital lesson straight up for us to never lose sight of – and that is we are to always be a people who ‘seek’ יהוה, for Messiah reminds us that we must seek Him first:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the reign of Elohim, and His righteousness, and all these matters shall be added to you.”
The Greek word here for ‘seek’ is ζητέω zēteō – Strong’s G2212 and means, ‘to seek, inquire, try to obtain, strive after, to aim at, crave for, and to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating and reasoning’. Pretty straight forward I would say – to seek takes diligent effort – and to seek His kingdom speaks of diligently seeking and meditating on Him and His instructions (Torah) – something we see lacking in a great way today!
The Hebrew root word used for ‘seek/sought’ in our passage for tonight is דָּרַשׁ darash – Strong’s H1875 meaning, ‘to resort to, to seek with care, consult, investigate, search carefully, study, seek after with application, to practice, follow’. Uzziyahu certainly was a man who sought after Elohim, and saw the promised results; as we know that in Tehillim/Psalm 1 we are reminded that blessed is the man who meditates on the Torah day and night, for he shall prosper in whatever he does!
Yehoshua/Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you guard to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and act wisely.”
The same root word used in all of these passages for ‘prosper/prosperous’ is צָלַח tsalach – Strong’s H6743 meaning, ‘to advance, prosper, successful, victorious, press through and succeed’. The root means to accomplish satisfactorily what is intended. Real prosperity results from the work of Elohim in the life of one who seeks Elohim with all his heart!
As long as Uzziyahu sought יהוה, Elohim made him prosper.” Yosĕph is called a prosperous man, for יהוה turned all of his misfortunes into benefit for Ya’aqoḇ’s sons (Berěshith/Genesis 39:2-3; 23).
יהוה expresses His purposes through His Word, therefore His Word will not prove empty, but it will prosper in its fulfillment, and so as we seek His purposes through diligent daily meditation upon His Torah, His promises will not prove false, but are all yes and aměn in Messiah!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 11:6 tells us that יהוה is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who earnestly seek me do find me.”
So Uzziyahu was a man who earnestly did seek יהוה and prospered greatly for it as he certainly was one of the most successful and powerful kings in Yehuḏah’s history as he was a well-rounded king – He was a brave and courageous warrior, an excellent engineer and an avid cultivator and he had a good instructor – a prophet who instructed him in the fear of יהוה. And what started out as a very humble walk with יהוה in recognising that he could do nothing without יהוה, became very powerful and was greatly strengthened through the help of יהוה. He was given victory over the Philistines and the Araḇians who lived in Gur Baʽal, and the Meʽunites; and even the Ammonites recognised his power and brought him gifts. He dug cisterns to provide water for the livestock, and cultivated the fertile lands. He trained his army and organized them into divisions. He built towers in Yerushalayim and in the Wilderness to keep watch against attacks, and fortified the walls, and he invented new war machines for use on the towers to shoot arrows and hurl large stones, for stronger defence systems, and news about his success and powerful reign travelled far and wide as he was, as it says in verse 15, “marvellously helped” – by יהוה of course!!! “Till” – the word that followed being marvellously helped – “till” – it was all going so well up until this point – till he became strong. Now there is nothing wrong with becoming strong and we pray that יהוה continues to strengthen us daily through His Word; however we see the danger of what can happen when we become strong by the verse that changes the scene in this chapter – verse 16. Instead of holding on to humility he let go and became full of pride and proceeded to trespass against יהוה by simply not adhering to the Torah which he would have for so long sought with his all!
He took all the success to his head and forgot that it was because יהוה helped him and became so proud that he simply began to ignore the instructions of יהוה!
I find this passage very fitting for us at this time as we have been going through the weekly torah portions in Wayyiqra on leprosy as well as the strange fire that Aharon’s sons brought before יהוה, after having been set-apart for 7 days!
Uzziyahu went in to the Hěḵal of יהוה to burn incense on the altar of incense; the very thing he was not allowed to do as he was not a priest! Azaryahu the priest went in after him with 80 other priests and confronted the king – very brave men they were recorded as being – and yes very brave indeed as it is a picture for us today as a royal priesthood who must be brave and stand up for the Truth without compromise, declaring to those who are bringing ‘strange fire’ that they are indeed at fault and; are brave enough to not be afraid to speak straight, even if the wrong get angry with us!!!
He priests told the king to ‘GET OUT’ of the set-apart place. Let me tell you that this took guts – something that we need to learn from today, as I fear that far too often most are afraid to stand up and speak what is right in the fear that they may anger those who are walking in error!
Listen Uzziyahu was mad, and may have even thought to himself, ‘how dare the priests speak to me like this – I am the king!’ as he would have been standing there when confronted with the truth with his chest all puffed up and his head heightened by his stiff neck of pride and stubbornness to listen! Yet while he was still angry leprosy broke out on him and he was hurried out of the set-apart place. Now we have read just this past week in our torah readings that when leprosy breaks out on the forehead of a man he is immediately pronounced unclean by the priest for his infection is on his head and this carries great significance in its symbolism for it reveals a deeper rooted issue and that is that the ‘head’ or covering is affected and at this point Uzziyahu no longer submitted under the Headship/leading of Elohim but rather pride caused him to do his own thing and he paid the price for no longer walking humbly before Elohim. He was a leper until he died and was cut off from the House of יהוה, and when he died they buried him in the field of the burial place which belonged to the sovereigns and so was not buried in the burial place and is a clear picture of how sin not confessed and dealt with will cut one off from the House of יהוה, and the sinners and the unclean are outside!
Sadly he was so full of pride that he never humbled himself as Ḥizqiyahu did:
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 32:26 “Then Ḥizqiyahu humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, so that the wrath of יהוה did not come upon them in the days of Ḥizqiyahu.”
Holding on to humility is critical in our walk of faith and what we must clearly understand is that humility is not a carrying of a low estimation of one’s self, nor is it the thinking that one is insignificant. In fact truly humble people are often the most assertive people on the planet – you just have to look no further than Mosheh who was very humble, more than all the men who were on the face of the earth (Bemidbar/Numbers 12:3) – and he was certainly no pushover!!!
Humility refers to a knowledge, recognition and acceptance that we are lower than Elohim; and therefore our humility is best expressed by a state of voluntarily submitting to His will. In fact humility will always be measured by our belief and submission to יהוה’s good and well-pleasing and perfect desire which we can do only when we renew our minds daily through His Perfect Word and not be conformed to this world (Romiyim/Romans 12:2), and our clearest indicator of true humility is in our obedience to Elohim. The truly humble person lovingly, willingly and honestly obeys יהוה; unlike the Pharisees who make an outward show of seeming obedience yet clearly omit the importance of the Torah!
This is exactly what Uzziyahu did – he put on a show instead of following the clear instructions of drawing near to Elohim and decided he would approach יהוה on his own terms – the same sad mistake most people make today as they err in neglecting to follow the Torah, revealing a lack of humility as expressed through proper obedience but rather being exposed for being full of pride and selfishness!
PRIDE says, “I’ll do it my way”, even if it means ‘staying away’ and sulking because things have not gone your way due to compromised worship!!! Many today, when going through some tough trials, may say things like, “I will deal with it on my own” or “that is how I deal with it” and then neglect to engage in living out Torah in a practical way through community living and support and edification for one another and this simply is another form of pride!
Pride will lead to bitterness and resentment toward others, while harbouring a critical spirit and become very sceptical – and this we are to guard against by holding on to humility – that is to remain obedient and submissive to the Truth!
HUMILITY says ‘I’ll submit to יהוה’s way’, no matter the cost and this results in trusting יהוה despite the circumstances we find ourselves in – whether good or bad, as pride is not a respecter of circumstances for which we must always be on our guard against!
Humility seeks to build and says ‘what can I bring/give’; whereas pride seeks to take and says ‘what can I get out of this’. Pride carries an attitude of independence that will not submit to or receive the instruction or advice of another; whereas humility reveals total dependency and reliance upon יהוה. Sadly what we saw happening in the life of Uzziyahu was that his confidence did not remain in יהוה, but rather in his own overconfidence in the victories, humility became replaced with pride – a clear danger that we all face each and every day of our lives:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 8:11-14 “Be on guard, lest you forget יהוה your Elohim by not guarding His commands, and His right-rulings, and His laws which I command you today, 12 lest you eat and shall be satisfied, and build lovely houses and shall dwell in them, 13 and your herds and your flocks increase, and your silver and your gold are increased, and all that you have is increased, 14 that your heart then becomes lifted up, and you forget יהוה your Elohim who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, from the house of bondage.”
In pride Uzziyahu became more ‘religious’ in a false form and this is exactly what we see today as many denominations claiming to worship the Elohim of all creation are ‘religiously’ bringing their own fire holders with strange fire in an attempt at worship for which we, as יהוה’s royal priesthood must boldly speak out against and help restore the obedience of walking humbly before Elohim! But before we are able to ‘speak up’ bravely we must be sure to be walking humbly with Elohim, lest we find ourselves telling others of the splinter in their eye when there is a plank in our own!
Pride is simply the disgrace and demise of the wicked man who does not seek יהוה!
Tehillim/Psalms 10:4-6 “In the pride of his face the wrongdoer does not seek Him, In all his thoughts there is no Elohim! 5 His ways are always prosperous! Your right-rulings are on high, out of his sight! He snorts at all his adversaries! 6 He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; From generation to generation, never be in evil!”
The one full of pride does not see that he walks in evil, whereas the humble draws near to Elohim, confesses and washes himself in obedient submission to the will of Elohim:
Ya’aqoḇ/James 4: 8-10 “Draw near to Elohim and He shall draw near to you. Cleanse hands, sinners. And cleanse the hearts, you double-minded! 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Master, and He shall lift you up.”
Those who do not guard to do the commands of Elohim are walking in pride, for love for Elohim is to obey His commands and expresses true humility:
Tehillim/Psalm 31:23 “Love יהוה, all you His kind ones! For יהוה guards the trustworthy ones, and exceedingly repays the doer of pride.”
Just as humility is an action – that being those who are doers of the Word and not hearers only; so is pride an action – the ‘doer’ of pride will be exceedingly repaid – and boy was Uzziyahu repaid - exceedingly!!!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of יהוה is to hate evil. I have hated pride and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth.”
Pride and arrogance is the evil way and sadly so often when we are walking in obedience and standing for the Truth, as did the priests in our passage tonight, we are often regarded by the proud and lawless as being the arrogant ones – ironic isn’t it – that the arrogant and proud, who claim that the Torah is of no effect, call the humble and obedient ones arrogant, when clearly obedience to the Torah of יהוה and staying in Messiah can never be arrogance!!!
Pride is an abomination to יהוה:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to יהוה; Hand to hand: he goes not unpunished.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 13:10 “By pride comes only strife, But wisdom is with those who take advice.”
Uzziyahu refused advice as he strengthened himself through pride and as a result faced the consequences of strife brought on by his own pride:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:18 “Before destruction comes pride, and before a fall a haughty spirit!”
A classic example of this verse being practically explained is seen in the events of Uzziyahu – he got angry when he was confronted and exposed for his error in worship and instead of humbling himself he remained stubbornly proud – a very true picture of so many people who willfully refuse to heed correction through the instructions of יהוה and bring their own fire holders of twisted traditions that will sadly only see them cast out if they do not repent!
After Uzziyahu died, Yeshayahu/Isaiah saw יהוה:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that Sovereign Uzziyahu died, I saw יהוה sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the Hěḵal.”
Why I mention this here is that this carries a really great lesson for us as we know the events that happened when Yeshayahu saw יהוה and recognised his own uncleanness that his lips were touched by a coal from the altar of יהוה, and he made the famous declaration often repeated by so many, “Here I am send me!”
The timing of this is very significant as it pictures for us that pride must die before we can truly see יהוה and fully be able to be commissioned to speak to a people who will not see and will not hear!!!
Uzziyahu was full of pride and full of himself, while the Heavenly Temple was filled with the presence of יהוה – we are the Dwelling Place of the Most High and we can either find ourselves full of His presence as we walk humble before Him and prosper in all that we do; or be full of selfishness and pride which, as we know has no happy ending!!!
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:16-17 “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. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but the one doing the desire of Elohim remains forever.”
In a time where pride is rife, we as a set-apart royal priesthood are to be found holding on to humility as we walk humbly before Elohim doing His desire, with the assurance that we shall remain forever!
What struggles have you been facing lately? And if so, have you taken advice and sought fellowship with true humble believers? Or have you tried to deal with it on your own? Or have you had great victories of late due to your diligent seeking of יהוה? In victory or defeat have you found yourself neglecting to seek יהוה, as the battle of pride rages in your flesh? Let us take heed to the events of the life of king Uzziyahu who at first was strengthened by Yah yet later strengthened himself to the pitiful point of selfish pride thinking he can do things his own way and still be acceptable before the Father, only to be cast out forever!
All good efforts can be destroyed in one hour! All the good of the 52 years was destroyed in a single moment, as humility flew out and pride set in.
Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment stink, ferment; a little folly outweighs wisdom, esteem.”
It just takes a little folly and all that you have worked diligently hard at in seeking Elohim can be outweighed by the folly of pride!
Our duty is to walk humbly before Elohim and to walk as He walked – doing the will of Elohim. Let us be found to always be holding on to humility and destroy all pride and be strong and brave like those priests who stood firm for the truth, so that when He comes for us He shall find active humble faith, aměn!
Monday, April 09, 2012
An overview of First Fruits and counting the omer (08-04-2012)
Shalom all, may the name of יהוה be esteemed in this place as we His children gather together as one in יהושע Messiah, aměn! I do trust that you are all enjoying this wonderful Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread). We had an awesome Pěsaḥ Meal the other night and enjoyed trying to ‘keep watch’ – how awesome and joyous it is to celebrate and worship our King, aměn! As we go through this week of Unleavened Bread which for some at first may be quite an adjustment in not having leaven in the home and not eating anything leavened – yet as we look at the command regarding this feast we also see a great positive command – and that is that we are commanded to eat unleavened Bread for 7 days – that is it – it is not only that we are to not eat leaven but we are told to eat unleavened bread each day!!! This is a wonderful picture of us eating of the unadulterated Word every day – something we ought to do every day of our lives – but yet more specifically during this feast – it is all Him – nothing added!!! How has that been going for you all? Today we are here to celebrate ‘Bikkurim’ / First Fruits and upon this day we also begin to count 7 full Sabbaths and the day after the seventh Sabbath – which from ‘First Fruits’ is a period of 50 days when we then celebrate Shavuot – Feast of Weeks. 3 times a year all the men were commanded to come up to Yerushalayim, at the feast times of Pěsaḥ/Unleavened Bread – at Shavuot and at Sukkoth – all of these feasts are centred on harvest celebrations and offerings. During Unleavened Bread we have First Fruits which is the beginning of the barley harvest – Shavuot (Feast of Weeks/Pentecost) is the celebration of the beginning of the wheat harvest and Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles) it is the fruit harvest. Today I want to share with you a little on just what season we are in and celebrating right now and will share a little on what First Fruits is all about as well as what the counting of the omer symbolises for us leading up to Shavuot, with the hope to stir your hunger and passion to give your very all as a daily living sacrifice unto יהוה.
The Feast of First Fruits is a celebration, as I have mentioned, of the barley harvest – this is the agricultural significance of course – however this Feast has as we all know greater and deeper spiritual meaning. This was the first harvest celebration of the year and in 7 weeks’ time we will celebrate the wheat harvest. What this Festival of First Fruit assures us is the sure and blessed promise of a future harvest to come. This truly is a time of celebration, as we celebrate יהושע as the first fruit of the resurrection from the dead.
In the process of revealing His plan of salvation for mankind, יהוה established His annual Appointed Days around the harvest seasons in the Middle East. Just as His people harvested their crops around these three Festival seasons, יהוה’s Appointed Days show us how He is harvesting people for eternal life in His Kingdom. The Appointed Feasts have meanings that build upon each other. Together they progressively reveal how יהוה works with humanity. The fifteenth of Aviv (1st month) begins the Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread). It is a seven day feast to יהוה. The day following the Sabbath during Matzot, which will always be on the 1st day of the week, is called the Feast of First Fruits.
This year, the beginning of Matzot (15th of Aḇiḇ) and the eating of the Pěsaḥ Meal happens to fall on the weekly Sabbath and so today being the 16th of Aḇiḇ we have come “on the morrow after the Sabbath” during Matzot where we bring a wave offering of the first fruits/Bikkurim. The wave offering is always done on the day after the weekly Sabbath during Matzot and therefore Shavuot will always be on a 1st day of the week. In Yehoshua/Joshua 5 we see an example of this timing that we are following this year where the Pěsaḥ meal was also eaten on the weekly Sabbath and the roasted grain was eaten the day after Pěsaḥ:
Yehoshua/Joshua 5:10-11 “And the children of Yisra’ĕl camped in Gilgal, and performed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening on the desert plains of Yeriḥo. 11 And they ate of the stored grain of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain on this same day.”
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23: 11-15 makes it clear that no roasted grain was to be eaten until the same day that the sheaf of the wave offering was brought which can only be on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath! Sadly many follow the erroneous rabbinic teaching that states the counting of the omer begins on the 16th every year as they claim that the morrow after the Sabbath is referring to the first day of Unleavened Bread, while this day is never referred to as a Sabbath. Although this happens from time to time, like this year and as recorded in Yehoshua, where we will begin the count on the 16th because it falls on the day after the Sabbath during Matzot and the counting of the omer must begin on the first day of the week and to assume that it will always fall on the 16th regardless of what day of the week it is, simply denies the work of Messiah! יהושע was 3 days and 3 nights is the heart of the earth and what we celebrate on this day is His offering up of the first fruits of those who were raised after His resurrection, giving us a guarantee of a harvest to come. So while Messiah fulfilled the requirements of this Feast, we will always have, as commanded, Bikkurim on the day after ‘the’ Sabbath during Matzot and begin to count the omer on this day!
When the barley harvest was ready to be reaped, a sheaf of the first grain would be brought to the priest who would wave it before יהוה. This was called the ‘the sheaf of the first fruits’ and would take place on the day after the Sabbath.
יהוה commanded the people to bring a sheaf of the harvest. Sheaf in the Hebrew is ‘omer’ which was the dry measure of food stuffs, and was a 1/10th part of an ephah – a dry measurement of grain equalling to the approximate amount of 22 litres, therefore an omer was around 2,2 litres dry equivalent. It is described as the measure of the seed resulting from one sheaf of grain. An omer was also deemed by יהוה to be the sufficient measure of ‘manna’ that an average person could eat in one day. Therefore an omer or sheaf also symbolises a single person and is in fact a picture of oneself being turned over to יהוה for the process of becoming useful to His community – His Bride!
We will look at what this ‘counting of the omer’ season means and speaks to us today in a short bit, after we just fully understand the major theme of First Fruits – which is primarily about resurrection and salvation. יהושע has fully met the requirements for these feasts we are celebrating and speaking of right now – He is our Passover Lamb – the Bread of Life and the First Fruit offering!
יהושע was resurrected at the end of Shabbat and at the start of the first day of the week (at Saturday sunset), offering Himself as the first fruits to all generations fulfilling the sign of Yonah (Jonah) – 3 days and 3 nights and becoming the first born among those who sleep!
יהושע is the first fruit of the Barley Harvest! Let us look at some Scriptures that speak of Messiah as the ‘first’:
1. יהושע is the firstborn of Miryam/Mary:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 1:23-25 ““See, a maiden shall conceive, and she shall give birth to a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanu’ĕl,” which translated, means, “Ěl with us.” 24 And Yosĕph, awaking from his sleep, did as the messenger of יהוה commanded him and took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she gave birth to her Son, the first-born. And he called His Name יהושע.”
2. יהושע is the first-born of the Father:
Iḇ‘rim/Hebrews 1:6 “And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, “Let all the messengers of Elohim do reverence to Him.”
3. יהושע is the firstborn over all creation:
Qolasim/Colossians 1:15 “who is the likeness of the invisible Elohim, the first-born of all creation.”
4. יהושע is the firstborn from the dead:
Ḥazon/Revelation 1:5 “and from יהושע Messiah, the trustworthy witness, the first-born from the dead, and the ruler of the sovereigns of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,”
5. יהושע is the firstborn of many brethren:
Romiyim/Romans 8:29 “Because those whom He knew beforehand, He also ordained beforehand to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, for Him to be the first-born among many brothers.”
6. יהושע is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 15:20 “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the first-fruit of those having fallen asleep.”
7. יהושע is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Aleph and the Taw:
Ḥazon/Revelation 22:13 “I am the ‘Aleph’ and the ‘Taw’, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
8. יהושע is the head of the body, the assembly – First in all!:
Qolasim/Colossians 1:18 “And He is the Head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that He might become the One who is first in all.”
He is the most set-apart One of ELOHIM and He is both the first born of ELOHIM and the first fruit unto ELOHIM.
In Messiah what assurance we have is that ‘in Him’ we are redeemed – Pěsaḥ speaks of our redemption, Matzot or Unleavened Bread speaks of our sanctification –being set-apart (cleaned up from leaven) and First Fruits is the assurance of our promise of eternal life and resurrection in Messiah. Blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection for the second death has no power over them!!!
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 15:20-24 “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the first-fruit of those having fallen asleep. 21 For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a Man. 22 For as all die in Aḏam, so also all shall be made alive in Messiah . 23 And each in his own order: Messiah the first-fruits, then those who are of Messiah at His coming, 24 then the end, when He delivers up the reign to Elohim the Father, when He has brought to naught all rule and all authority and power.”
A wonderful passage that Sha’ul is writing to describe truly what we are celebrating on First Fruits – Messiah is the first fruit among those who have fallen asleep (died) and it is in Messiah that we are made alive. This passage is read as a commentary on the order of resurrection but Sha’ul is also referring here to First Fruits – In that יהושע in being the first to be raised has fulfilled this Feast – securing the future harvest. So at this Feast we celebrate the resurrection of יהושע and in so doing we also celebrate the future completed resurrection of His Bride as each are made alive in Messiah - each in his own order!
יהושע’s resurrection was in affect a sheaf wave offering presented before the Father as first fruits of the harvest to come! He also presented His first-fruits offering to the Father on this day:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 27:52-53 “and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the set-apart ones who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the set-apart city and appeared to many.”
A scripture not often understood and even very quickly skipped through lack of understanding – יהושע presented a first fruit offering of souls unto the father. Those graves that were opened when He died lay open for 3 days and3 nights and after His resurrection, the dead from the tombs that were opened came out of the tombs and appeared unto many – picture the scene – at His death the temple veil was torn, there was a huge earth quake and tombs of many were opened and they stayed open for 3 days and 3 nights until יהושע was raised, after which the dead of those who were in those tombs came out and appeared to many. These raised ones were taken up when He ascended and presented the first fruit offering unto the Father on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath during Matzot – fulfilling this Feast and its requirements:
Wayyiqra 23:12 “And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering to יהוה.”
He is our High Priest who presented the wave offering, being the ‘year old perfect lamb’ ascended up to the Father!
Yoḥanan/John 20:17 “יהושע said to her, “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim.’ ”
That day He ascended and presented the first fruit offering and the next evening He came and stood in the midst of His taught ones and breathed on them and they received the Set-Apart Spirit – a first fruit of the Spirit that would later be poured out on many!
So what we are celebrating is the fact that Messiah, the first born, is the first fruit and is our High Priest in whom we have redemption and the promise of eternal life with Him. But what does this season also mean for us - His Body? This counting of the omer from the start of the barley harvest unto the start of the wheat harvest reflects a great lesson for us – this speaks to us about a time of being refined – making oneself count for the Kingdom and taking an honest account of where one fits in and how well one is progressing toward fulfilling the calling of the Father in one’s life:
Counting the omer is not a time to sit back and relax and in a sense have the misconceived idea of ‘once saved always saved’, no – this is a time of diligent preparation and humble obedience to walking in and becoming more effective as part of His Bride who has prepared Herself. I hope that you are still with me here as now I want to share something that is so very profound in understanding the process of preparation. As we consider during this time that we are to pay closer attention to the fields we find ourselves in – be it a literal farm or the workplace/field you find yourself in – let that field teach you, as we recognise that these days are a time to transform us into a more refined people, in order that we can be easily mixed together and made into a unified loaf of Bread so to speak unto יהוה for Him to enjoy and be satisfied and pleased in. This First Fruit feast is a wave offering of the sheaf of barley and at Shavuot there is a wave offering of leavened bread, so let us look at the process of making bread and preparing it for a wave offering unto יהוה! There are several steps or processes which as we look at I hope that we are all reminded and realise just what is expected of me in being a part of the body or loaves if you will of Messiah!
1 – SOWING OR PLANTING: The Hebrew term used for sowing or planting also carries with it the meaning of ‘scattering’ – picture as a farmer ‘scatters his seed. The ancient practice of scattering was called to ‘broadcast’ the seed from a bag that was hung over ones shoulder. We as a people of Elohim have been scattered over the whole earth and long to be replanted, if you will, into our native soil. I am sure we are all aware of the sowing and reaping principle – nothing can be reaped from what was not sown and you cannot reap something different from what has been sown – you reap what you sow – be it attitudes, thoughts, actions or even priorities – do not expect to get something out from that which you did not sow! You want an intimate growing relationship with יהוה - then sow the time and effort in seeking Him! יהוה scattered Yisra’ĕl and we get a greater understanding of this from the book of Hoshěa which I encourage you to read. Scattered but watched over – for this scattered seed will bring in a bountiful harvest for reaping!
The root word for sow or sowing is זֶרַע zera – Strong’s H2233 and means, ‘a sowing, seed, offspring’ and comes from the primitive root זָרַע zara – Strong’s H2232 meaning, ‘to sow or scatter seed’.
2 – GROWING: There is always a season or period between sowing and reaping – it never happens immediately. It is during this time where growth occurs and this season of growth is a time in a sense for us to think about what was done wrong and how we can do better. One of the keys to overcoming the period of growth or period of ‘exile’ if you will, is simply just that – grow and grow and grow – and to grow we have to realise that we have inherited some lies – ok more than just some – a whole lot!!! But in realising this we also begin to grow and realise and know יהוה’s power and more importantly – His NAME!!! To ‘know’ is to walk in His Torah – for as Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:3 says that we know that we know Him when we guard His commands! And as love for יהוה and one another grows through obediently guarding his commands we can ‘outgrow’ our ‘exile’ from the Promised Land – the more the world grows dim before our eyes and has no effect on pulling us away from obedience and therefore be ready to be lifted up when He comes and be replanted where we belong – together with Him in His Land!!!
Two root words translated as grow or growing are 1) הָלַךְ halak – Strong’s H1980 meaning, ‘walk, to go or come, grow, wander, travel’ and 2) צָמַח tsamach – Strong’s H6779 meaning, ‘to sprout, spring up, grow’ – we know that a derivative of this word is used in prophetically referring to Messiah who shall come forth from the Branch of Dawiḏ. When looking at these two words it makes the verse in Yoḥanan Aleph 2:6 very clear: The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked. – as we stay in and walk in Messiah we will grow!
3 – REAPING: This reaping process is simply separating the harvest from the field that it grew in. Grain must be reaped or else it cannot be used. We too, just as Aḇraham, may have to be reaped out of our circumstances and even our families. Grain when reaped is gathered into storehouses – and this is a wonderful picture of what we see happening more and more in these last days – pretty much the equivalent of Him gathering or assembling His grain into communities – because to put is plainly – a single kernel of grain cannot make much bread - and certainly not enough for an offering unto יהוה! Once gathered together this is when the real preparation begins – say what – yes this is when it begins! What has erroneously been taught in the church today is that this is the final stage for those blinded hopefuls and they do not realise what lies ahead in the process of making bread! This is only the beginning and the next steps are what shape us into what we need to become in order to be presented to יהוה as a prepared Bride! This is His storehouse or rather one of His storehouses where He will gather together much grain – grain that is ready to be prepared to be made into an acceptable offering of bread unto יהוה!
Reaping is translated from קָצַר qatsar – Strong’s H7719 – ‘to reap, harvest’
4 – THRESHING: Ouch – the sound of this word already makes you realise why the church chooses to stop blindly at reaping, and why they developed a false rapture teaching that sadly for them seemingly removes them from the rest of the bread making process! Admittedly most would prefer to stay at the reaping stage – sitting quietly in a barn being no use to anyone at all and it is easy to understand why – nobody likes to be ‘threshed’. It almost sounds like ‘thrashing’ and guess what – it is!!! Boy – many who have left the reaping stage into threshing or thrashing soon want to jump back to the safe old barn of no good premature stop! The Hebrew word for ‘teach’ literally means to ‘prod with a stick’ and so it is with threshing – which is simply the applying of pressure to grain – be it from beating it or grinding it or letting heavy animals trample on it – with the purpose in mind to loosen the shells and separate the grain from the chaff – or the stalks from the husks – which is still pretty much useless at this stage. It is the stalk that represents that which attached us to the field that we came out of and we do not want that to be an ingredient in the bread!!! Most of what we bring in from the field – be it dogmas of Rome, doctrines of man, theologies, misguided moral codes and even wrong priorities that we have picked up along the way – is no longer useful to us once we have grown enough and been separated from the system – threshed out in other words – not always painless I might add – and are now threshed out enough to begin studying the Torah. The omer basket is filled with kernels and each one has a husk that has to be removed. All too often though we don’t want this to happen as we can so often find ourselves hiding from one another behind the husks so to speak – those very things that need to go! We cannot be a part of the bread if we hang on to the ‘hull’ – the ‘hull’ is the outer part of a seed or fruit. We must begin to be honest and give an account for ourselves and ask, “What am I still attached to that is useless to the Kingdom?” In this threshing process we must allow other trusted brothers and sisters in the body to ‘loosen’ our kernels – after all in the process of making bread it is people who do the job!!! Each of us is responsible to help one another in these processes – and is a great honour and privilege that requires faithfulness and trustworthiness! For we are in effect taking what ‘protects’ people into our hands and whatever we learn about them in the process must be used to help them and build them – not harm or destroy them! We need to be ‘threshed’ out of the field from which we have come from and we must realise that we cannot keep holding on to those things that previously shaped our thinking, especially when it contradicts the Torah! All we can do is repent, which is a critical step in being able to move on – threshing is a must – not easy but a must – those husks and hulls must be loosened off of us and we need to let go of those things that we thought gave us security as we realise that in our vulnerable state our only security is in יהוה!
Threshing is the Hebrew word דַּיִשׁ dayish – Strong’s H1786 and is from the primitive root דּוּשׁ dush – Strong’s H1758 meaning, ‘to tread, thresh or trample’
5 – WINNOWING: Another step in the process, that involves a ‘fork’ that looks like a rake. The threshed grain is thrown up into the air in order to expose it to the wind which will blow away the lightweight particles and the heavier – that is the more important – will be left behind! This process worked better on a hill top and so you find many threshing floors being on higher ground to allow this process to take place after threshing. This process reflects to us an elevating of one another – lifting one another up in prayer and edifying each other up into the presence of the Almighty where the ‘wind’ or Ruach blow away the unneeded stuff in our lives as we immerse in His presence – letting that which is useless be blown away and what will simply be left is better refined kernels with no chaff! Sha’ul said to the Corinthians that he desires that they all speak in tongues but he would rather prefer that they all prophesy – why? Because prophesy builds up the body – tongues is for the individual unless there is an interpretation for the body but prophesy in itself is there to edify others – edify the body and in so doing elevates others to a place where the Spirit can remove the chaff!
Winnowing is translated from the word זָרָה zarah – Strong’s H2219 meaning, ‘scatter, fan or winnow’.
6 – PARCHING: After being separated from the lighter elements – all that airy fairy fluffy junk that just clogs up our lives and is actually of no use – all the ‘hot puffed up air’ so to speak – once that is gone guess what? The heat is turned up!!! What – seriously? Yes – it gets hotter! Once we are a taught people who have been elevated we can be exposed to things that we would never have considered before. It is interesting to note at this stage that is would be useless to ‘parch’ a single kernel – so we are all parched together! No one has to go through this alone! This is not a ‘burning’ of the grain but rather a process of removing moisture from the kernels and makes the grain even lighter, and what this pictures for us is that at this stage we begin to give less weight to the ‘me, myself and mine’ attitude and rather consider what is best for one another and the whole bread, so to speak! You know it is so difficult to ‘give up’ individual rights – but we can when we are in it together! Parching may cause tears – in fact more often than not it will as one lets go off selfishness and pride – the removal of moisture!
To parch in Hebrew is the word קָלָה qalah – Strong’s H7033 meaning, ‘to toast, parch, and scorch slowly’.
7 – CRUSHING: Come on Craig, crushing… when does it stop? This is even a scarier process I know! In Ancient times all bread was what you would call, ‘stone ground’. In fact at many archaeological sites many ancient ‘millstones’ were found. A millstone is where two huge concrete stones are used from crushing – grains were crushed between two stones – the two stone of a millstone picture the two stone tablets upon which the Torah was written. The kernels are not destroyed in this process – far from it – they in fact now become very useful and fully useable – for now all the kernels have actually become part of one flour mix – inseparable – a picture of a people with the same purpose. It is at this stage where we can safely say that a bird cannot come and snatch away a single kernel as there is no way to identify the part of a single kernel as they are now so mingled and mixed in together. You see it is like this – as we obey the Torah, love יהוה and love one another – what happens? We become inseparable and become as one!
To crush or grind is the Hebrew word טָחַן tachan – Strong’s H2912 meaning, ‘to grind’ and the word טַחֲנָה tachanah – Strong’s H2913 is a grinding mill!
8 – SIFTING: In the 2nd Temple times the wheat for the offering at Shavuot was sifted 13 times!!! Each times becoming finer and finer! 13 is the numerical value for the Hebrew word ‘echad’ – meaning one or unified and יהושע Himself prayed that we would be one! The closer we get together through obedient living and fellowship, the more refined we become. Those who are crushed with us are our true neighbours!!! One thing we must realise is simply that if I do not bring my part and am causing disruption in the body causing the refining of the body to stumble then as it is sifted again I may just be sifted out!!!
Here we have the Hebrew word for sift as נוּף nuph – Strong’s H5130 and means, ‘to quiver, move to and fro, shake’
9 – TESTING: Then comes the testing – as a body or as a loaf! The Temple treasurer would come at this stage and plunge his hands into the refined flour and it needed to be so fine that no flour was to be seen on his arms. In fact they were so strict that if any adhered to his flesh it would have to be sifted again. This although seemingly a strict procedure pictures for us that we are in this together – it is not a case of ‘well that is their problem’ or ‘it is someone else’s problem’ – no – until all of us are sufficiently refined together none of us can become the bread – this is everyone’s responsibility to become a part! If you do not bring your part into the body or for sake of this teaching the loaf and the batch is failing the test due to your inconsistency then you may, as I have said, be simply sifted out. Satan is the one who desires to sift us out – he asked יהושע if he could sift Kěpha! Let us be careful that we are not sifted out by continually failing the tests!
נָסָה nasah – Strong’s H5254 – ‘to test, prove, try’:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 13:3 “do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for יהוה your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being.”
10 – BAKING: Once tested it can now be baked and presented fresh unto יהוה as the first fruit of wheat. It is at the feast of Shavuot leavened bread – why? Because it has been permeated with the Kingdom:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 13:33 “Another parable He spoke to them, “The reign of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until all was leavened.”
This bread is leavened with the Kingdom – not with sin as leaven represents for us at this feast we are in of Unleavened Bread. At Shavuot 2 loaves are presented representing the 2 houses of Yisra’ĕl which once were scattered but now are being brought back and the promise of this is seen in the fulfilment of both these first fruit offerings of the barley and the wheat.
A couple of different Hebrew words are used for what we translate as ‘bake’ and 3 of them are: 1) אָפָה aphah – Strong’s H644 meaning ‘bake, cook’; 2) בָּשַׁל bashal – Strong’s H1310 – ‘bake, boil, seeth, ripen, grow ripe’ and 3) שָׂרַף seraph – Strong’s H8313 meaning, ‘burn or to be set on fire’. I find that all of these collectively give us a great idea of how the ultimate process of bringing us together as being presentable as an acceptable offering of Bread before the Father is that we are to grow and ‘be on fire’ for Him.
Another word which for me carries wonderful significance in the baking process is the Hebrew word לָבַן laban – Strong’s H3835 which means ‘to make bricks’ and in its primitive root means, ‘to make white’. This word was used in Berěshith/Genesis 11:3 when the men wanted to build a tower to the heavens and wanted to male bricks and bake them. This was a wicked time and a wicked plot which caused יהוה to come down and confuse the languages! But when we see these words in use in reference to how the bricks would be made through baking, I reflect on who we have been called to be as living stones being built up in Messiah as a Living Tabernacle/Dwelling Place for the Most High and Messiah tells us that those who overcome shall be given a white stone:
Ḥazon/Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I shall give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I shall give him a white stone, and on the stone a renewed Name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
The process of making bread carries great significance for us in understanding how we are to be overcomers in Messiah and be on fire for Him, aměn!
Guys this is a season and time to prepare – let us prepare as we celebrate and recognise the very work our Saviour has done in becoming our Passover Lamb, our First Fruit and the very Living Bread of which we are His body and in Him we are one able to be presented to Elohim as a pleasing offering!
At this First Fruit Feast what do you bring unto יהוה? יהושע has indeed fully met the requirements of this feast and as Yoḥanan says that we are claim to stay in Him ought also to walk even as He walked and so we too come and give our best, our all unto יהוה, prepared to be part of a Bride who makes herself ready – rid of the leaven of sin, yet becoming permeated with the good leaven of the Kingdom. Praise יהוה all you servants of יהוה and bless His mighty Name –
Carlien and I stand before you today and want to share how we asked the Father what we could bring before Him, and we want you all to realise that you guys here are all we have and so today we symbolically come before the Father and wave you all before Him as you are what we have to bring to Him and so in saying this I would like to echo the words of Sha’ul in:
Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 “For what is our expectation, or joy, or crown of boasting? Is it not even you, before our Master יהושע Messiah at His coming? 20 For you are our esteem and joy.”
Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 3:8 “Because we now live, if you stand fast in the Master.”
You are collectively our ‘esteem and joy’ and we now live – IF your stand fast IN the Master!!! And so we ‘wave’ you symbolically before the Father with the full assurance that in Messiah we will too grow as a ministry and family in Him!
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!