28 July 2010 (Revee/Shavu'ot)|
Day #134, 5934 AM
Give Me This Mountain!
Beyond Messianics and Evangelicals
Time is the ultimate test of faith. What is important is not that you believed when you heard the Word of Emet (Truth) preached to you but that you keep on believing. Endurance is the ultimate test of faith, resting on the promises of Yahweh.
"Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: 'You know the word which Yahweh said to Moses the man of Elohim concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of Yahweh sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed Yahweh my Elohim. So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed Yahweh my Elohim.' And now, behold, Yahweh has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which Yahweh spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that Yahweh will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as Yahweh said'" (Josh.14:6-12, NKJV).
Over the years I have met many enthusiastic believers who have long since fallen away, prefering the fleeting pleasures of the world to the struggles that accompany genuine discipleship. They all have one testimony of the truth one way or another. That testimony is still within them, but pushed away into the unconscience where it is less likely to surface and contradict the choices they have made.
However, there is one thing about an encounter with Yahweh that you can never do: you can't kill it. The worst you can do is deny it boldly while it is staring you right in the face in the brilliance of the noon day sun. If you do that, as Satan did, as Judas did, then you have denied the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), a sin which is unpardonable. It takes a special kind of insanity, an overwhelming pride, an unbelievable stupidity, for someone to do that. And yes, even 'intelligent' people (so-called) do it but they prove themselves totally devoid of wisdom when they do.
Satan knows that Yahweh is real. He witnessed the Creation as, I believe, we did - as Judas did - and still accuses us before His face. There is no way he can deny the ultimate reality. Deep down every man and woman knows Yahweh is real and that He places moral and spiritual demands on us. This truth is that even in our language - and it is unerasable - we speak of atheism (against theism, the belief in God) but there is no such thing as a-atheism (against atheism). The only word we have in our vocabulary for that is theism (belief in God). Therefore it is impossible to deny atheism - only theism. I don't need to 'deny' atheism because I am already in agreement with reality and the way we were programmed by Yahweh to think.
Caleb was an extraordinary man of faith. He didn't just want an inheritance in the Promised Land (which he would have got anyway) but he wanted a mountain that had been covered with Anakim, a race of giants, doubtless decendants of the nephilim. They were a formidable foe for a people small in physical stature without the benefit of modern weaponry. Just imagine not one Goliath but thousands of them! Little wonder the hearts of the Israelites fainted. After the conquest, presumably after the Anakim had been vanquished by Joshua's armies going in the power of Yahweh, Caleb claimed the very mountain which had earlier struck so much fear into 10 of the 12 spies who lost their Yahweh-focus and relapsed into a frantic bout of atheism which infected the whole nation and delayed its entry into the Promised Land. In spite of being faithful, Joshua and Caleb had to wait and suffer along with the rest of Israel until the first generation had died off.
This is something that faithful believers need to remember. Sometimes we must wait for our blessings while unbelieving 'believers' are dealt with by Yahweh and are given their chance to repent. Caleb had to wait until his old age before he got his mountain, not because there was something wrong with his faith or conduct but because there was something wrong with the faith and conduct of the nation of which he was a part by covenant.
Many people today are claiming to be 'Israel' - Messianic groups who think the Republic of Israel is 'Israel', Messianic groups who think that they are (usually exclusively) Israel, and of course Christians in general who regard themselves as a part of, or the, 'new' Israel. And there are as many different concepts and views of 'Israel' as there are groups, denominations and churches. So I think we need to ask ourselves the question: what are we in fact a 'part'of - sharing in both their blessings for faithfulness and curses for faithlessness? And then the even more important question: what does Yahweh wants us to be a part of?
This is a very difficult question. Caleb's mountain was part of something bigger, the Promised Land. And we too are part of something bigger, whether we like it or not, called the 'Body of Messiah', to which are are connected and obligated by covenant too. But because this is not something 'organised' (though men have continually sought to organise it and claim to be 'Yahweh's special ones') it is not something easily seen. We meet true believers - both Christian and Messianic - who we 'know' by the Ruach are a part of the set-apart family of Elohim, but they are scattered here and there and all over the place.
Caleb's mountain was a piece of real estate. Our 'mountain' today in the New Covenant isn't...yet, though it will be in the Millennium. When we join a group, church, union, assembly or ministry we have to be very careful what we are joining ourselves to by covenant because when we do we share in both the good and the bad. This is not an excuse not to join anything for we are absolutely commanded to be a part of a spiritual family in the visible too, for it is there that we grow and mature and serve in the Kingdom-building mandate. There are no lone or solo-Christians except stagnant ones. Knowing where to be is therefore very important. We were not designed to be alone, something Adam discovered early on.
Let me give an example of where a true believer should not be. I know a group of Baptist churches in the USA crawling with unexposed pedophiles. The leaders of those churches know they are there but have never brought them to task. Consequently those churches collectively are under a curse for not extirpating evil from amongst them for the sake of the congregation and for the pedophiles (who are definitely hell-bound if they don't repent and convert). Anyone who is a part of those congregations, however righteous they may be individually, share in those curses. Likewise, if those churches are part of any Baptist Union, then the Union and its consitutents churches (of which there may be thousands or tens of thousands) also come under that curse. Any new believr joining such a church and thence its Union thus shares in the curses of those who are carrying weighty sins whose pastors are doing nothing to discern or clean their congregations up.
One more example. I know some really fine Messianics who have joined what amount to messianic cults that espouse pernicious heresies that lead to immorality. They may not always believe in those heresies, or are in two minds about it, but remain because of their other true teachings, but by virtue of their covenant of association they share in those curses.
I have wrestled with the problem of denominations for several decades now and what Yahweh has shown me is this: first and foremost He sees those who have surrendered and are IN Christ by virtue of being born again and are committed to holiness, and in particular, moral holiness. These are people of character. They may be wrong in their beliefs about Torah and other matters but the essential thing is that their hearts are right. That is not to say that the minutae of Torah aren't important but it is to say that the New Birth and clean living are the first and most important qualifiers that make a people Yahweh's people. Once you have these in place, then it becomes possible to build further. Unfortunately, many Messianics (in particular) are more concerned about observances than they are about character, which is the wrong way round.
Speaking for myself (in order to illustrate), I identify myself with believers at seven different levels as defined by Yahweh's festivals:
- 1. First, I identify at the Pesach level with every single living soul who has made a sincere and genuine committment to Christ - what I call the 'conception' stage - that makes me a 'Christian';
- 2. Second, I identify at the Chag haMatzah level with every single searching believer who is committed to getting the leaven of sin out of their lives (sometimes called 'holiness' believers) by being obedient to Messiah - that makes me a 'Holiness Christian';
- 3. Thirdly, I identify at the Yom haBikkuruim level with every single holiness believer who has been born again of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and entered into a covenant to follow Christ always by means of complete water-immersion - that makes me a 'Born-Again Holiness Baptist' or what I would call a 'true evangelical';
- 4. Fourthly, I identify at the Shavu'ot level with every single born-again holiness baptist or evengelical who has entered into a covenant to obey the Torah and is seeking to do so - that makes me a 'Born-Again Holiness Baptist Messianic' or 'Evangelical Messianic';
I have not met anyone (including myself) at the other three levels yet because I don't believe the Body of Messiah has got that far yet. So as you can see, religious tribal labels (Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Messianic, etc.) are really quite hard if not impossible to apply to the reality of what the Body of Messiah is. Our own community is essentially defined by the sum of these four parameters, and we accept people wherever they may happen to be within that field. For this reason we reject such labels as 'messianic' or 'evangelical' on their own because we are both and neither - we are Messianic-Evangelical.
We are as a people - as Messianic-Evangelicals - heading between these two paradigms (as they have formed historically) and are moving towards a new one (which has not been named yet) - to Caleb's Mountain, which is both a mountain of overcoming the fear of the enemy, and overcoming the 'Anakim' inhabitants themselves or dark powers who, though they present themselves as huge, are in reality but flies before Yahweh. We are heading towards our inheritance and tjhe inheritance of the finally redeemed and purged Body.
We have been in transition (once again) as we prepare for our new walk and journey. We shall remain the Messianic Evangelicals that we have become but become something more in the very near future. We are never static, always moving, journeying to our spiritual Promised Land. And if you'd like to become a part of us, you are very welcome.