Saturday, May 19, 2012
Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 14
Shabbat Shalom and greeting to you in the Mighty name of our Saviour and King, יהושע Messiah!
Tehillim/Psalm 27:1 “ יהוה is my light and my deliverance; whom should I fear? יהוה is the refuge of my life; whom should I dread?”
Whom should we fear or dread? I think we would do well to speak and proclaim this very verse, and in fact even declare the entire Tehillah/Psalm and recognize the reality of how we have nothing to fear or dread when we truly place our trust in יהוה, Elohim of Hosts! While we may all sit here and agree with what I have just said, I am fully aware that despite the confession of these words that may proceed from many lips, their often remains a lack of faith and trust in acting upon these words and relying totally upon The One whom we must! What happens when times get a little rough, or perhaps a little more than ‘a little rough’? What happens when you find yourself in a very tough position or in what feels like threatening circumstances and it seems as though you cannot see a way out? What do you do or how do you cope in the face of what feels like a giant trial, where fear and dread sets in and clouds your ability to see a means of deliverance from the imminent threats you are facing? I am sure all of us have faced , or perhaps are even facing, as we speak, giant trials that seem bigger than we think we can handle; and so tonight I want us to be reminded of the One in whose presence we have come and gathered in – for He is our light who is able to show us the way out of the darkest trials and He is our deliverance; and knowing the One in whom we find our refuge and strength, especially in times of trouble and battle, let us be encouraged to not be afraid or dread the many giants we may face, but rather be strong and of good courage as we stand firm in יהושע Messiah, aměn!
His Word encourages us as we hear, guard and do all He instructs and the more we learn through what has been written, the more we are equipped to stand firm and not be afraid; and so for tonight I would like us to learn from a great account of how we are to remain standing in faith and what we are to do when facing a crisis. Please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 14 (Read).
There are always great lessons of faith that we can learn from the accounts of the life of Dawiḏ and this chapter certainly teaches us a great deal of what we must do in the face of danger and threatening circumstances.
What is interesting to see is how this chapter is conveniently placed between the first attempt at bringing back the Ark of Elohim back to Yerushalayim, which failed and the correct preparation for and proper handling of the Ark of Elohim that enabled it to be brought back to Yerushalayim.
In chapter 13 we see that when Dawiḏ assembled all of Yisra’ĕl to bring back the Ark of Elohim, and while they all were unified in their decision to bring it back, one thing that did not happen was the fact that they did not inquire of יהוה, and while we may often find ourselves in total agreement on a matter, we must never neglect the need to always inquire of יהוה. This unity of man alone led to Yisra’ĕl making a new wagon to transport the Ark of Elohim on, which led to the death of Uzzah who put out his hand to hold the ark when the oxen stumbled and was struck by the burning wrath of יהוה. The Ark of Elohim was supposed to be carried upon the shoulders of the priests and not transported on a wagon pulled by oxen. Another vital lesson for us in that we must learn that just because the Philistines sent the Ark of Elohim back on a cart, did not mean it was now ok for Yisra’ĕl to do the same and neglect the Torah of יהוה. We too must learn that while our attempt at ‘carrying’ the presence of יהוה was in times past done in a man-made way through inherited lies and traditions that are rooted in pagan worship practices, does not mean that we may continue to carry His presence in the same format or way the nations do; and think if we make it look all new while retaining the practices of the nations that stand against the clear instructions of the Torah that it is ok. The lesson we learn from the first attempts of Dawiḏ and Yisra’ĕl made show us that any form of compromise disrespects the Word of Elohim and can end up bringing devastation and ruin upon the people of Elohim and compromise deflects the blessing of Elohim. As we know, the Ark of Elohim stayed at the house of Oḇed-Edom for 3 months and יהוה blessed his house and all that he had. In chapter 15 we see that Dawiḏ built houses for himself in Yerushalayim and also prepared a place for the Ark and pitched a tent for it and made it clear that this time they were going to do it right and made it known that only the Lěwites were to lift and carry the Ark of Elohim and he commanded them to set-themselves apart, in order to do what was required according to the Torah, so that יהוה would not break out against them as he did the first time!
So as we look at the historical accounts recorded here, we may ask ourselves how this chapter 14 fits in between the two accounts of carrying the Ark of Elohim; and I believe that this chapter shows us a great and very important lesson for us in seeing how Dawiḏ had learnt a very great lesson from his first attempt at bringing back the Ark of Elohim and a lesson he needed to learn quickly in the face of impending danger of the enemy he faced. While the chronological order of these 3 chapter may be in question by many, I firmly believe that by the design and wisdom of יהוה this chapter is here between the two accounts of carrying the presence of יהוה to teach us vital lessons of faith in action!
Let us therefore look at this chapter 14 and see some key aspects that will encourage us to not be afraid nor have dread of trials of life or the attacks of the enemy that we face on a daily basis.
Verse 1 we immediately see how the favour of Elohim was upon His anointed as He caused Ḥiram, the sovereign of Tsor, to send materials and workmen to build a house for Dawiḏ and so we see that Ḥiram became a great ally to both Dawid and to Shelomoh, and in verse 2 we see the humility of Dawiḏ in that he knew that יהוה had established him as king over Yisra’ĕl and exalted his reign, not for Dawiḏ’s sake but for the sake of the Yisra’ĕl – the people of יהוה, for the primary purpose of delivering His people!
In verse 3 we are told that Dawiḏ took more wives, which is against the Torah and would later become a great snare to his son who carried the pattern of his father to the extreme.
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 17:17 “And he is not to increase wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor is he to greatly increase silver and gold for himself.”
Despite the failing of Dawiḏ in this regard, what we recognise is that he did not turn his heart away from Elohim but rather he was a man after the heart of יהוה.
Verse 4 and 5 we see the names of the sons of Dawiḏ that he had in Yerushalayim and is slightly different to the list we looked at last week in the account of Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 5. What is noted here is that there are 13 names as opposed to 11 in Shemuʼěl and the 2 other names are Elpelet and Noḡah. Elpelet is the shortened form of one of the other sons אֱלִיפֶלֶט Eliphelet – Strong’s H467 and also means ‘El is deliverance’; and נֹגַהּ Noḡah – Strong’s H5052 means, ‘brightness, daylight’. Now while I will not repeat last week’s account of going through the meaning of the names individually, what I do feel is that the names placed here are once again an encouragement to us in the construct of the collection of their meanings in bringing us a message that ought to encourage us for any battles that lie ahead. The extra two names do not take away from that which we looked at last week, but rather further reinforce the message being spoken to the children of the King and so here is the constructed phrase of the meaning of Dawiḏ’s sons born to him in Yerushalayim as we looked at last week and now here with the 2 extra names we see being accounted for:
The Renowned One has heard the cry of repentance of the rebellious and has given the gift of the fullness of His peace; for He has chosen to let our Salvation and our Deliverance and the Brightness thereof spring forth and shine as He looks favourably upon us who call; for He has heard and He knows and has made known that He is our Deliverance! (text in ‘red’ is the meaning of the 2 additional names not found in Shemuʼěl Bet 5)
Once again I believe that this is a fitting account recorded here in teaching us the vital lesson and gift of salvation we receive when we repent our rebellion and lawlessness and how He makes it known to us and all the earth that He is our Deliverer! Fitting in light of the events of chapter 13!
Ok so now let us dig a little deeper in how we are to handle any crisis w may find ourselves faced with:
Dawiḏ was anointed sovereign over Yisra’ĕl and the Philistines did not like the idea of that and they went up to seek Dawiḏ. Now let me tell you that this was not to go and say congratulations and have a party – no – this was to kill him! What we must realise is that the anointing of Dawiḏ was a huge threat to the Philistines, as they would have well remembered how he struck down Golyath ad cut off his head and was now leader of the whole of Yisra’ĕl. For the most part we come to recognise that the Philistines were not too concerned about Yisra’ĕl as long as the 2 houses were fighting against each other. And by 2 houses I do not mean Yisra’ĕl and Yehuḏah, but rather the house of Dawiḏ and the House of Sha’ul:
Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 3:1 “And the fighting between the house of Sha’ul and the house of Dawiḏ was long drawn out. But Dawiḏ grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Sha’ul grew weaker and weaker.”
As long as there was fighting, the Philistines were not too threatened; however now that there was unity and Dawiḏ was anointed to rule over all of Yisra’ĕl, the Philistines faced a huge threat that they wanted to silence immediately. We find the same today when we recognise how the enemy will get his back up when true unity is being established in the House of יהוה, and in fact often the biggest attacks on the body of Messiah seem to come at a time when unity is being built in a very productive and meaningful way, and the enemy will do all he can to stop this from happening. We must realise that as we, as a body, are being perfected and set-apart to continually serve in the Body, we are being built up until we all come to the unity of the belief and knowledge of our Master יהושע Messiah, to a place of completeness in Messiah; where we are not tossed about by false and strange teachings but are able to maintain the truth in love. And as long as the enemy sees this process progressing he will do his utmost to stop it; and so we must recognise that this is not the time to ‘abandon ship’ but remain steadfast together when we each face some major storms of life.
Another thing to remember is that when the enemy hears that you are anointed, what does he do – he wages an all-out attack!!! How does he hear? Let me remind you that an active faith is not silent, for faith has a sound and when you are walking the walk it is heard far and wide, so expect the daggers to come out!
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 59:15 tells us that whoever turns away from evil, makes himself a prey! Yes, that’s right – when you turn from evil and walk in the Messiah and live in obedience to His Torah – there will be a target on your back and many will come out against you – what do you do??? When those attacks come what do you do? Do you often find yourself compromising the set-apart standards of the Torah of Elohim in order to try to ‘ease’ the threat of confrontation and do you compromise to appease the attack, or do you stand as you should – firm and rock steady! When you live an uncompromised life that seeks Elohim and listens and obeys then attacks will most certainly come for what we must realise is that a set-apart walk of obedience will make us a huge target which the masses love to attack and point fingers at and mock, slander and hate, all because we turn from evil!!! Do not compromise your position in the slightest, even under the most threating or uncomfortable circumstances or situations but rather be strong and stay in the Truth as you continue to walk in Messiah, guarding His Living Word.
The Philistines made a raid on the valley of Repha’im. רְפָאִים Repha’im – Strong’s H7497 means ‘giants’ and were a race of the giants spoken of in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 2 & 3 and so they lived in this region before Yisra’ĕl entered the Promised Land. This valley was southwest of Yerushalayim and was situated on the border of Binyamin and Yehuḏah and was a critical communication route between Bĕyth Leḥem and Yerushalayim and so in essence they cut off a vital route. We also recognise that this is how the enemy works – he will always try to cut off our communication with Elohim as well as with each other – why? Because he knows that when the anointed of Elohim pray and call upon יהוה of Hosts for help, that יהוה hears the cry of the righteous and fights for us!!! One of the tactics of the enemy of to cut off communication in order to weaken and bring fear and dread. We see it happening often today, as when some go through a very testing trial they keep to themselves and forsake the gathering of the set-apart ones and this we must guard against as we are encouraged not to forsake the gathering – why? One of the reasons is to guard against the attacks that we are speaking of here tonight. It is a fitting picture we see here that the enemy raids us in the valley of Repha’im – he will set some giants against you – in the valley where the giants will feel too big to handle and there seems like there is no escape – yet we have a Shepherd and we need not fear evil, aměn!
יהוה wants us to Trust Him no matter the valleys we find ourselves in and no matter the giants we face – He wants us to trust Him; and how we show that is by learning from the actions of Dawiḏ!
Verse 10 we see that Dawiḏ had certainly learnt from the last chapter as he did not make the same mistake of not inquiring of Elohim; this time he did what we are to do all the time – he inquired of Elohim and asked whether he should go up against the Philistines or not and יהוה said go! He did not just say go – but also gave the promise that they would be given into his hand – in other words ‘Go and I will give you victory!’
This is a vital necessity in our daily walk of faith – we must seek Elohim and inquire of Him; for if this is neglected in any way we may find ourselves facing some devastating results! In Scripture we see many accounts of men and women who asked Elohim for guidance as well as many who did not. Dawiḏ had certainly learnt from past mistakes and we see that being a man after the heart of יהוה, inquired of יהוה. To not inquire is not an option for the set-apart children of Elohim and here is why:
Yehoshua/Joshua 9:14 “And the men of Yisra’ĕl took some of their food, but they did not ask the mouth of יהוה.”
In this account Yehoshua and the leaders of Yisra’ĕl made a covenant with the Giḇʽonites who lied about where they were from, without inquiring first of יהוה, and as a result they were bound by the covenant they made and eventually had to fight on behalf of the Giḇʽonites – the day the sun and moon stood still!
Beware of the Giḇʽonites is a message I gave a while back and we are to be careful of not entering in to any form of agreements or promises without having inquired of יהוה!
Listen to what Yeshayahu/Isaiah 30:1-3 says “Woe to the stubborn children,” declares יהוה, “to make counsel, but not from Me, and to devise plans, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; 2 who are setting out to go down to Mitsrayim, and have not asked My mouth, to be strengthened in the strength of Pharaoh, and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mitsrayim! 3 “And the strength of Pharaoh shall become your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Mitsrayim your confusion.”
Do you hear what is being said here? Whenever you make counsel or devise plans on your own, without seeking Elohim, then you are adding sin to sin!!! This is a serious warning for us! If you go down to Mitsrayim (that is a metaphor for the world) for counsel and help; and seek your plans from the world and run to doing the worlds ways for finding strength and refuge in times of need; then the strength of the world and the refuge of it will become your shame and confusion!!! While you may find what seems to be a fix and solution when going to ‘Mitsrayim’ without consulting Elohim, it will become your shame and confusion!
Dawiḏ knew that he could not make a decision to face an enemy or not without inquiring of Elohim – in fact this was what he did with urgency, and we would do well to do exactly the same. Let me ask you – “what do you do?” Do you try to work things out first by yourself and leave the seeking of יהוה as a last resort? Seek Him first in all that you do!!!
The promise of victory is always guaranteed when we are walking in the instructions of our Mighty Elohim!
The language used here in instructing Dawiḏ to go up is very similar to what we find being given to Yehoshua before entering the Promised Land! Dawiḏ was not to be afraid but rather be strong and of good courage and know that wherever he finds his feet in battle that יהוה would bring the deliverance!!! Now this is called ‘FAITH IN ACTION’ – seeking – listening and doing! When you seek and inquire of Elohim you must wait on Him to speak and so we see the continued thread of the HEAR – GUARD - DO mind-set we are to have as children of the Most High!
When we inquire of Elohim we do not just go blindly forward; for faith is not a ‘blind leap’ as some might try to explain. In fact faith is not a blind leap at all, as the Word makes it clear:
Tehillim/Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
If you are ever going into something ‘blindly’ then you have not let His word light your feet and path to see each step you take with joy and confidence!
Inquiring of Elohim carries the great responsibility for us to spend plenty time in His word and in prayer that we may find direction of His truth to light our way!
Dawiḏ inquired and received the go ahead and he struck the Philistines and gave all the esteem and praise to יהוה, as he declared that Elohim had broken through his enemies like a mighty rushing of waters and he the named the place Ba’al Peratsim which in essence can literally mean ‘master of the breakthroughs’, and this naming of this very site that was originally known as the valley of giants was renamed as the Master יהוה broke through the enemies of Dawiḏ and destroyed their Ba’al! Ba’al was broken through in the face of giant struggles by a Mighty Elohim! This is who we serve – יהוה of hosts and therefore we need not be afraid of any giant! What is interesting is that this account is used in picturing how יהוה will once again rise up and bring destruction upon all the earth:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 28:21 “For יהוה rises up as at Mount Peratsim, and He is wroth as at the Valley of Giḇʽon, to do His work, His strange work, and to do His deed, His strange deed.”
It was here where the Philistines were destroyed before Dawiḏ and this is a picture for us of a place of breakthrough. It is at this place of breakthrough that the enemy does not want you to be and it is at this place that he will come at you the hardest in order to try to get you to surrender in fear and dread. But we do not shrink back but press on in faith, going forward in the light of The Word of Elohim; and so when we are walking in obedience may we recognise that when the enemy is coming at you in what feels like every direction as he tries to trap you in the valley of the giants of fear and worry in trying to bring you to your breaking point – realise that this is not a place of a breaking point but rather it is a breakthrough point!!! What often feels like a breaking point where we hold on fast in obedient faith, guarding to do His commands without compromise with bring us to a breakthrough of victory – as it is יהוה who does the breaking through; and He is also the One who ‘repairs the breach’ and surrounds us with His very Name that is a strong tower we run into!
In obedience we are always assured the victory:
Yehoshua/Joshua 14:9 “So Mosheh swore on that day, saying, ‘The land on which your foot has trodden is your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have followed יהוה my Elohim completely.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:6 “Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight.”
Know Him in ALL your ways – to do that you have to seek Him in ALL your ways and to do that you have to HEAR and let faith come by His Word and then GUARD to DO ALL His ways in ALL your ways – then your paths with surely be straight!
Dawiḏ not only had victory but the enemy left their idols that could not help them behind and Dawiḏ commanded as instructed in Torah for them to be burned with fire:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 7:25 “The carved images of their mighty ones you are to burn with fire. Do not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to יהוה your Elohim.”
When we have major breakthrough points of victory we must also recognise that there may be some things that must be destroyed, lest they draw you away and entice you to follow the way of the nations. When you get a great victory over a huge battle and struggle in your life, it may require you to destroy those things that used to be used as a fuel for the giant battle or profane habit that you struggled with. Part of the victory ion walking in Spirit and Truth is our responsibility to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. What battles have you overcome in Messiah, yet you still have not completely rid yourself of those idols that once controlled you and your thoughts? Get rid of idols – those things that steal away your time of seeking יהוה!
Dawiḏ had victory burned the idols and guess what – the enemy came back! What did Dawiḏ do? He did what he did the first time – He inquired of יהוה! He did not take it for granted that now he had defeated them once that he could easily do it again without seeking Elohim, and this we must learn too – every battle has to be confronted only as we seek Elohim, yesterday’s victories will not win you today’s battles. Here יהוה told Dawiḏ to do it differently and wait for the sound of stepping on the trees and he did as יהוה commanded! He did not think to Himself that the instructions were crazy – he simply obeyed! We may not always understand all the instructions in the Torah, yet we must obey! When he would hear the sound in the trees Elohim would go and strike the enemy. I find this very interesting as we understand what is being spoken here in the hearing of the sound of the mulberry trees and their leaves rustling. Part of the curse for disobedience and not obeying the Torah is stated in”
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 26:36 “And as for those of you who are left, I shall send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies, and the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee. And they shall flee as though retreating from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.”
So the very sound of a shaken leaf that would cause the disobedient to flee is the sound that Dawiḏ was to listen for in seeing the deliverance of יהוה.
There is nothing we are to be afraid of and there is nothing we are to dread, when we are walking in and staying in Messiah and guarding to do all He commands, for then we shall see His deliverance before our eyes.
When the going gets tough … what do you do? Are you running from the giants that are rushing in on you and seeking solutions according to the flesh in making worldly plans instead of standing firm and seeking Elohim in ALL your ways?
When the storms come which mount will you be standing on? In Mattithyahu/Matthew 7 יהושע tells us that the one who hears His Words and does them will be like a wise man who builds on the Rock; but the one who hears but does not do will be like a foolish man who builds on sand and will be washed away just as the Philistines were washed away at Ba’al Peratsim.
Let us learn from the accounts of Dawiḏ here and know that יהוה has established us in Messiah as a chosen, set-apart and royal priesthood to remain in Him and not be in fear or dread of the enemies of Messiah, and rejoice in all kinds of trials we find ourselves in – and never forsake our gathering as set-apart ones in Messiah.
I want to end with the rest of Tehillim/Psalm 27 that I started with as we hear the words of Dawiḏ that declare the truth we see in the accounts we have just read about and summarises our need to be a set-apart people always seeking Elohim:
Tehillim/Psalm 27:1-14 “יהוה is my light and my deliverance; Whom should I fear? יהוה is the refuge of my life; Whom should I dread? 2 When evil-doers come against me To eat up my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, They shall stumble and fall. 3 Though an army encamps against me, My heart does not fear; Though battle comes up against me, Even then I would be trusting. 4 One matter I asked of יהוה – this I seek: To dwell in the House of יהוה All the days of my life, To see the pleasantness of יהוה, And to inquire in His Hěḵal. 5 For in the day of evil He hides me in His booth; In the covering of His Tent He hides me; On a rock He raises me up. 6 And now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me; And I offer in His Tent with shouts of joy; I sing, yea, I sing praises to יהוה. 7 Hear, O יהוה, when I cry with my voice! And show me favour, and answer me. 8 To my heart You have said, “Seek My face.” Your face, יהוה, I seek. 9 Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in displeasure; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O Elohim of my deliverance. 10 When my father and my mother have forsaken me, Then יהוה does take me in. 11 Teach me Your way, O יהוה, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. 12 Do not give me over To the desire of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And they breathe out cruelty to me. 13 What if I had not believed To see the goodness of יהוה In the land of the living! 14 Wait on יהוה, be strong, And let Him strengthen your heart! Wait, I say, on יהוה!”
Do not let the enemy put fear and dread in your heart as you find yourself on the battlefield of giants, as you continually call upon our Master and King and seek him in His Word, so as to be found experiencing the joy of breakthroughs that only He can bring!
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 4
It is Shabbat! Favour and shalom to you all from our Master יהושע Messiah; may His loving-kindness continue to be with us here as we gather together in His Name, unto Him whom all esteem is due!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”
The path of the righteous – that well walked road of those who do what is just and right – is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter! As we continue to walk to path of righteousness we become an ever increasing bright light that keeps getting brighter and brighter unto the perfect day of our Master’s return. I love this verse for it speaks of a continuous walk of righteousness by which we are further equipped to be an ever increasing light in a very dark and sick world! How bright is your walk? Is it getting brighter as you walk in righteousness or has there been a flickering or a dullness due to some obstacle in your path? Tonight I want to encourage you all to continue walking in that which is the only path we know to be valid and life-giving – and that is to walk in the Torah as we guard to do all we have been commanded to do, and let our path of righteousness light up every step of the way as His Word lights up our path:
Tehillim/Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
In a time where the enemy will do all he can in causing us to lose the light of our way, we need to remain steadfast and committed to keep walking as we should and not shrink back in any way from the Truth but rather continue to press on with our all, and in a message tonight called, “The Call to excel still more!” I would like us to hear this urgent call to do just that as we all earnestly seek to excel in the Master even more. Please turn with me to Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 4 as we read Sha’ul’s encouragement to the believers in Thessalonica to do even more (Read).
This letter is a great encouraging letter to a people who were really living a life that was an example of great faithfulness to many. The assembly of the Thessalonians were an example to all who believed in Makedonia and Achaia! What we must understand from this is that this assembly impacted an entire region which forms the regions of the Greek Peninsula, with Achaea to the south which is now known as Greece and Makedonia to the north which lies north of Greece and is in between Albania and Bulgaria. Corinth was the leading city in Achaea and other cities in this region that we see being mentioned in Scripture is Philippi, and Berea. The Thessalonians impacted this entire region and did well to get the message of the Besorah (Good News) of Messiah out. As you read this letter from Sha’ul we see in chapter 1 how he commends them for this and how they had turned from idols to serve the True Elohim; and in chapter 2 he reminds them how his appeal was not done from any delusion, uncleanness or deceit as he spoke as one approved by Elohim who had been entrusted with the Besorah:
2:5 “For we never came with a word of flattery, as you know, nor with a cloak for greed – Elohim is witness –”
Sha’ul never ‘tickled their ears’ but spoke straight, and he never brought the word with an ulterior motive for gaining wealth as do so many misguided and twisted false teachers do today. Sha’ul never looked for the praise of men; and the Thessalonican’s welcomed and received the Word, not as the word of men, but as it is truly – The Word of Elohim, and he reminds them that they were their esteem and joy. In chapter 3 he further elaborates on how he sent Timotiyos to establish them and encourage them in the faith, and Timotiyos brought back a good report; and Sha’ul tells them to remain steadfast in the Master as he prayed day and night for them, and by their steadfastness Sha’ul and others were encouraged to live.
3:8 “Because we now live, if you stand fast in the Master.”
This verse we echo, as we did to you all on Bikkurim (First Fruits) where Carlien and I made these same statements of how you are all our esteem and joy before the Master and we continue to live as long as you stand fast in the Master.
Here in this chapter 4 which we have read tonight, Sha’ul sets forth a further encouragement to keep up and excel even more in pleasing יהוה, and reminds them to continue to become more and more set-apart, holding on to the belief in view of the Masters imminent return and refrain from all form of immorality and unrighteousness. In Chapter 5 he sets forth some rules/instructions for set-apart living to which they must hold fast in light of the events that would unfold in the near future, and be found blameless at the coming of our King and Master, יהושע Messiah. In this closing chapter we see Sha’ul remind them of how they ought to live and what kind of believers they ought to be in living set-apart unto Elohim:
1 – Be watchful, for we are not of those who walk in darkness and so the Day of יהוה should not overtake us as a thief.
2 – Be encouragers – build each other up, warn the disorderly and have patience with all.
3 – Be respectful towards those who are over you in the Master and toward those who admonish you, holding them in the highest regard.
4 – Be merciful and do not return evil for evil, always pursuing good.
5 – Be joyful, rejoicing at all times.
6 – Be prayerful, praying without ceasing.
7 – Be thankful, always giving thanks in all circumstances.
8 – Be careful – do not quench the Spirit, nor despise prophecies and test them all, holding fast to what is good and keep back from all wickedness.
By pressing on in these matters Elohim would set them completely apart, and preserve their entire being for the Coming of our Master יהושע Messiah.
This is in a nutshell the overview of this 1st letter to the faithful assembly at Thessalonica. An encouraging message that I believe is needed to the few remnant faithful who are walking in and staying in the Living Torah, יהושע Messiah.
And it is with this encouragement in mind that I would like to look at chapter 4 which actually begins the second section of this letter, after having commended them on their work of belief up till now.
Here was a people who had eagerly and faithfully responded to the teaching of Sha’ul on set-apart living; and here Sha’ul focused his encouragement on the reality that motivation for correct set-apart living is out of a love for Elohim. While so many today sadly see living a set-apart lifestyle according to the Torah of Elohim as a set of rules to be obeyed, or a list of do’s and don’ts to follow or a long list of things to be avoided; Sha’ul regarded set-apart living as a true outworking of a loving desire to please Elohim – to please the Master יהושע Messiah, who had chosen them; and his 3 chapter introduction and encouragement helped his readers be prepared to respond positively to the exhortations that would follow.
The instructions given from chapter 4 onwards were in no way intended to get them to do something totally different but rather to simply be encouraged to do more of the same! In other words he urged them to press on; and it is with the same urging on that I come to you tonight with. A simple yet powerful and much needed boost to help you be pushed to excel yet further in the Master. In verse 1 and 10 we see the phrase ‘call upon you’ being used, which is the Greek word παρακαλέω parakaleō – Strong’s G3870 and means, ‘call near, invite, invoke, exhort, encourage, appeal, beg’. This word is used in a variety of forms, for example: a)when summonsing someone to action that is required; b) to beseech others for an urgent response to help; c) to exhort as in the context used to encourage soldiers headed for battle; as well as d) to comfort and encourage especially in times of hardships and grief.
The believers in Thessalonica had certainly been faithful, yet were also facing the persecution that comes with set-apart living and the daily temptation to slip back into worldly customs that surrounded them, and here Sha’ul ‘calls upon them’ to excel in their belief and set-apart living unto the Master.
In verse 2 he further strengthens his encouragement reminding them that they know the commands that had been given them – so press on and keep doing them, more and more!!! All too often today we see many people who are simply seeking new knowledge for knowledge sake without any desire to walk in the knowledge as they just want to know all; while Sha’ul tells them they already know the Truth – now excel in it and press on to experiencing a greater understanding of the truths that they had already been given and were practicing to a limited degree.
Yoḥanan Aleph/ 1 John 2:7 “Beloved, I write no fresh command to you, but an old command which you have had from the beginning. The old command is the Word which you heard from the beginning.”
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2;24 “As for you, let that stay in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning stays in you, you also shall stay in the Son and in the Father.”
We have the Truth and the commands that Elohim has given from the beginning – it is now time to excel in them for in verse 3 Sha’ul expresses the reason for excelling – and that is that the desire of Elohim is simply this –
How do you excel in your set-apartness? Well for starters – abstain from whoring – so that you know how to possess your vessel in set-apartness and respect and not do as the nations do. I find this a timely encouragement for us in light of having just gone through the torah portion last week in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 18 where Yisra’ĕl was instructed not to do as they do in Mitsrayim, nor do any of the abominable ways that are done in Kenaʽan. This instruction was given while in the Wilderness, where Yisra’ĕl learnt to hear the voice of יהוה, and were being exhorted to hold fast to the commands of Elohim and not be found slipping into the ways of the nations! We too, have come out of Mitsrayim and Baḇelon so to speak and are headed as sojourners for the fulfilment of the Promises in Messiah when He comes for us again, and we are to not fall back or shrink back from our obedience but rather do our utmost to excel even more, even when we think we do not have more to give!!! One of the dangers of having come out of Mitsrayim is the same danger Yisra’ĕl faced in the Wilderness and that was to fall into the pagan worship practices of Kenaʽan. We too are to be on our guard to not fall into the trap of mystical teachings of the Torah through the interpretation of oral traditions and mysticism of Baḇelon with its many confusing theologies.
The reason to excel still more in the Master is because of our desire to please Him. Set-apartness in the Greek is ἁγιασμός hagiasmos – Strong’s G38 – ‘consecration, sanctifying’. To ‘consecrate’ means ‘to make or declare to be set-apart and be devoted to a purpose with the deepest irrevocable dedication’. We as chosen, set-apart and royal priesthood unto Elohim declare and make our lives solely devoted to the purpose of serving and worshipping יהוה our Elohim, and as we have certainly learnt through the Torah portions of ‘drawing near’ to Elohim that we can only do so by the Blood of Messiah and as we are continually being set-apart in Him through an on-going process of being sanctified as a people for a possession. The Hebrew term equivalent to this Greek ‘hagiasmos’ is קָדוֹשׁ qadosh – Strong’s H6918 meaning, ‘consecrated, set-apart’ for which we have been called:
Shemoth/Exodus 19:6 “and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl.”
Being set-apart has to do with separation and that is exactly what we have been called to do – be separated from that which is of the world:
Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you.”
To be set-apart we must not be found to be whoring after the nations as Yisra’ĕl did and were vomited out by the land! The word used here for whoring is πορνεία porneia – Strong’s G4202 meaning, ‘fornication, immorality, sexual immorality’ and comes from the word which means harlot, prostitute and we get our English word ‘pornography’ from this word. Now while we must clearly heed the literal and physical meaning here in that we must not engage in any sexual activities that are unlawful and abominable, which we also looked at last week in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 18, however what we can also learn from this is that running after the world’s ways of the flesh and doing what the world does can also be seen as whoring after other mighty ones; especially when one’s attempt at worship conforms to a fleshly man-made systemised form of worship that is against the manner of worship prescribed in the Torah. As the Bride of Messiah we are to keep ourselves ‘pure and undefiled’ and not be found whoring after the flesh.
We are to be found only to be doing the desire of Elohim:
Marqos/Mark 3:35 “For whoever does the desire of Elohim is My brother and My sister and mother.”
Tehillim/Psalm 40:8 “I have delighted to do Your pleasure, O my Elohim, and Your Torah is within my heart.”
Doing what Elohim desires can only be a delight when we recognise and have His Torah within our heart, so that we do it, and it takes diligence and effort and an ability to be a people who will not stop excelling more and more to grow in the knowledge of the Torah that equips us to do the desire of Elohim.
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 19:2 “Also, desire without knowledge is not good; and he who hurries with his feet sins.”
This is very clear – desire without knowledge is not good, and sadly we see so many who have the desire but lack the knowledge and find themselves very quickly on the wrong side of the plumb line of the Torah!
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 4:1-3 “Therefore, since Messiah suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,2 so that he no longer lives the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but according to the desire of Elohim. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the desire of the gentiles, having walked in indecencies, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, wild parties, and abominable idolatries.”
We may live in the world but we are not of the world and we need to endure and excel in continually being a set-apart people, pleasing Elohim in every way;
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:36-39 “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the desire of Elohim, you receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while – He who is coming shall come and shall not delay.” 38 “But the righteous shall live by belief, but if anyone draws back, my being has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of belief to the preservation of life.”
How is the desire of Elohim accomplished many may ask… look at what יהוה says in:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 55:11 “so is My Word that goes forth from My mouth – it does not return to Me empty, but shall do what I please, and shall certainly accomplish what I sent it for.”
A Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word - θέλημα thelēma – Strong’s G2307 for ‘desire’ is חָפֵץ chaphets – Strong’s H2654 and is used in this verse of Yeshayahu that we translate as ‘I please’. It is His Word that accomplishes His desire and when we diligently excel in hearing, guarding and doing His Word, then we do that which He desires, for it is His Word that sets us apart and equips us to be a spotless Bride.
Tehillim/Psalm 51:6 “See, You have desired truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You make me know wisdom.”
We have been called in set-apartness and not to uncleanness and so we must stay clean and in order to do that we must grow more and more in knowledge and discernment that we can love Elohim in the true set-apartness that He desires:
Pilipiyim/Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love might extend more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”
Kěpha tells us to grow in the favour and knowledge of our Master and Saviour, יהושע Messiah (Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 3:18).
And so while, as Sha’ul told the assembly in Thessalonica, that it is not necessary for me to ‘write’ to you about brotherly love, as you are taught by Elohim to love one another – I do too, tonight, call upon you to do so more and more!
We are a small assembly in Messiah and we earnestly desire to please Elohim in all we do and are trusting for greater growth and so too do we want to be able to impact a region just as the assembly in Thessalonica did. Now what is required is a call for more… the call to excel still more and I make this call with urgency.
Sha’ul tells us in Romiyim/Romans 8:8 that those in the flesh cannot please Elohim, and we are to be a people who walk in Spirit and in Truth and in Romiyim/Romans 7:14 he reminds us that the Torah is spiritual.
You are being called upon in the Master יהושע to excel still more!
When The Word does not find expression in the daily life of a believer, then - it has simply not been heard!!!
Are you hearing what the Spirit is saying to us as an assembly?
I believe that we have been doing well, and I commend each of you for your faithful walk – and now I am calling you for more! We have the opportunity to let this light grow and grow all the more as we together walk in Righteousness and give our all. You may have been giving your all, just as they were in Thessalonica – yet today I still call upon you to excel still more – there is always room to excel in the Master for none of us have arrived.
More and More is the call – and to this assembly, for we need to grow, and while we certainly praise יהוה for all He is doing in our midst, we recognise and realise that the collective life of the Bride of Messiah is one of open-ended growth where there is always room for more attention – and this is a joyful thing to do – as we press through together excelling in the challenges of life in order that we, together, get shining brighter and brighter unto the Perfect Day that is coming, Aměn!
It is my hope to simply encourage you all the more to excel in יהוה.
Perhaps you have found that your ability to excel in doing what pleases יהוה has been dampened a little of late due to a crazy schedule; and while I certainly understand the extreme pressure that we all find ourselves under, I stand here today and echo the words of Sha’ul to an already committed people in that I beg you and call upon you to excel still more and may our Master direct us and make us increase as we begin to overflow in love to each other, having our hearts established as blameless in set-apartness before our Master at His Coming and be with Him forever.
May we, together as ‘At the Foot of The Covenant Ministries’, excel still more, as I believe that each of you here have been placed by the Master Himself and is asking for more.