Month 8:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year 5935:201 AM|
Rosh Chodesh VIII (Shemini haChodesh)
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 27 October 2011
Rosh Chodesh VIII
For Yahweh and for Gideon!
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el!
Brethren and sisters, I have a prophetic message from Yahweh to share with you this morning so I want to jump straight into that without further ado. This will, I think, not only be of interest to pastors and other leaders of congregations but to all of us (but especially heads of families) who must face a continually changing reality in the world. And the question that we are asking and seeking answers to today is this: what is the nature of our collective calling as believers in this rapidly changing world where personal liberty is being squeezed more and more, a world where it is becoming increasing more difficult to be a Christian or a Messianic? What form is our community supposed to take? What kind of action is needed on our part?
As we look at our nations it should be painfully obvious that we are not free any longer. We are actually under occupation and don't even know it, because the occupiers are not foreign armies (with one or two exceptions) but our own corrupt governments and institutions. This makes it hard to always see clearly what is going on. And though each country has a 'government' on the outside, it is becoming more and more obvious that they are basically impotent to do anything. There has been a shadowy world government now for quite a long time and as it has increasingly asserted its power through its ill-gotten wealth stolen from the masses, so it has become progressively more visible, particularly in the world's most powerful country, the United States. Civil liberties are in tatters as we see the police state flexing more and more muscle. Both in the USA and in Europe, we are living under a rapidly emerging dictatorship that hides behind the illusion of democracy and freedom.
This state of affairs has come about because of national apostacy from the true emunah (faith), even if that emunah (faith) was never pure and undefiled. The churches and assemblies have been abandoning more and more Besorah Emet (Gospel Truth) until they are but hollow shells. Believers have become, to use Paul's words, like a "sounding brass or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor.13:1, NKJV). What did he mean by that? He meant that those who are devoid of emet (truth) and morality who claim the Name of Messiah are like people beating a loud gong, making a big show and relying on the noise they make for attention and admiration. Preachers shout and make pompous claims to be mighty men, believers make a pretense of being great 'spiritual warriors' by going around 'stomping on demons' simply by making a loud noise. And the others think they are so very enlightened because they have found agreement with governments, becoming state instruments or slaves, pious nobodies serving only the devil. Christians have sold their souls. As King David summarised his situation and ours:
Those who have not stayed on the straight and narrow Way will at some point find themselves wholly impotent to deal with the enemy. They will quite simply be overrun, crushed and enslaved. And such was the situation in the days of Gideon, the Judge of Israel. The people of Israel had once again, for the umpteenth time, abandoned Yahweh and turned to pagan gods, just as believers have done today, whether they be the gods of materialism, the gods of self-indulgence, the gods of political correctness, the gods of Marxism, the gods of sexual immorality, or any number of gods to be found in your contemporary cocktail of sin. Whenever believers get their eyes off Yahweh, off His mitzvot (commandments), off His Torah, off His tavnith (pattern), off His order and way of doing things, they start dipping their feet into the pig-swill of inquity until they are knee-deep, then waste-deep, then up to their mouths until they are veritably drowning in it. And the deeper they sink into the mire, the more they are oppressed and harrassed by the enemy, until they have finally yielded to the enemy altogether because they no longer have an divine defence. It always happens gradually and slowly so that you don't know what is happening until the faeces is in your face and you wake up! That is why the Hebrew expression that we render into English, 'obeying the mitzvot (commandments)' is better translated 'guarding the mitzvot (commandments)'. And the only way to guard something is by being near it day and night. And that means studying your Scriptures every day because those who neglect to do so, I guarantee, gradually wander away from them.
"The proud have forged a lie ... but I will keep Your precepts with my whole lev (heart)" (Ps.119:69, NKJV).
In the Book of Judges it is written:
If you want to know why there is trouble in your life, then a likely reason is that Yahweh is permitting it to get you to wake up and repent from putting your trust in anything other than Him. In Israel's case this time round, the trouble came from Midian. They were occupied and oppressed and this had been going on for seven years, the usual 'testing time' that Yahweh measures out to us. Now the Midianites were particularly cruel - they are also described as "Ishmaelites" (Judg.8:24; Ps.83:6), the descendants of Ishmael, the carnal, non-covenant son of Abraham and Hagar. And Hagar, as you know, represents the modern day earthly Jerusalem (Gal.4:24-25), as distinct from the Heavenly One of which true believers are citizens. And believe me, there are plenty of Ishmaelites in the Messianic assemblies today - arrogant, loud-mouthed, prideful, oppressive and carnal. They are not kind people because the demons that drive them are not kind. Thus it is written:
"Then the people of Israel began once again to worship other gods, and once again Yahweh let their enemies harass them" (Judg.6:1a, LB).
A lot of people are like that inside and they will be living like that outside too in the days to come. Yahweh gave us inner mansions to live in if we will but follow His order and tavnith (pattern) but if we refuse to walk in His way then we are literally forced by the demonic to hide away inside and live only a half-real life. Remember, that Yahweh permits this to teach us a lesson in obedience. Even Yah'shua "learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb.5:8, NKJV) so do you suppose that we are better than Him? There are those who think they are heroes or heroines by holding out as long as they can in their self-imposed sufferings caused by sin, but such are the greater fools. They are no different from those Catholics and Muslims who flaggelate themselves. The wise repent and get right with Yahweh because this wallowing in suffering to get pity is just one of the perennial problems of pride.
"The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites took to the mountains, living in caves and dens" (v.2, LB).
No sooner had the Israelites planted their crops than marauders from Midian, Amalek and other neighbouring countries crossed their borders and destroyed them, plundering the countryside so that there was nothing left to eat, taking all their livestock with them (vv.3-4).
I often get people coming to me for deliverance because they have been totally overwhelmed this way. With very few exceptions they do not find fault with themselves but paint themselves as exclusively the victims of the cruelty and wickedness of others. Most do not remain for ministry when I tell them that Yahweh has permitted their oppressions because He wants them to face their own wrong choices and their own spiritual issues. They pray loudly, make fantastic 'name it' claims, and stay as they are, and wonder why they remain defeated. And then they get angry with Yahweh and turn away from Him for a while...or longer. And yes, if we choose to turn from Yahweh and willfully sin, then we must expect to be overrun by demons and for our souls to be devastated until we are spiritually starving. What else can we expect?
"These enemy hordes arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count and stayed until the land was completely stripped and devastated" (v.5).
Sad to say, most - if not nearly all - people are so stubborn and proud that they will hold out for the prophetic "seven years", vainly hoping that Yahweh will accept their excuses to remain in sin. And when He does not hear them, they turn to ministers hoping to get a word for their itching ears. Sadly, there are far too many ministers willing to do this because they themselves do not walk in the Ruach (Spirit) but are in the ministry for vain glory. And when one minister cannot help them, they turn to another, and another, only to be disappointed again and again. And when they find a true minister who tells them the brutal emet (truth), they refuse to hear, and then go away to wallow in self-pity and bitterness, blaming and oftentimes persecuting the true ministers, and even turning away from Yahweh altogether.
"So Israel was reduced to abject poverty because of the Midianites. Then at last the people of Israel began to cry out to Yahweh for help" (vv.6-7, LB).
The story of Israel and the Midianites is both a parable of our own wrong choices and their consequences and a warning of what is coming our way globally in the future, and it is this account I am directed to expound for you today.
What was Yahweh's response to the Israelite plea for help? He immediately reminded them of the past and what He had done for their forefathers. He connected them to their history. And that is why we have history. That is why we have sacred chronicles in the Bible so that we can remember what He is capable of, and will do, if we submit:
The explanation for our woes - whatever they are - is always plain and simple: "You have not listened to Him". And if you have not listened to Him, you have listened to something or someone else. It's that easy. Most of the answers to our problems are ridiculously simple but we like to make a huge drama of them so as to make it look 'impossible', so that we can cry out: 'It's too big for me. I need help. You do it for me, please!'
"Yahweh-Elohim of Israel brought you out of slavery in Egypt, and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who were so cruel to you, and drove your enemies from before you, and gave you their land. He told you that He is the Master. He told you that He is Yahweh your Elohim (God), and that you must not worship the gods of the Amorites who live around you on every side. But you have not listened to Him" (vv.8b-10, LB).
Brethren and sisters, it never works like that. Every single one of us is entirely responsible for our own individual sin issues, and no one else! And it is not to big for you. As I keep saying again and again to incredulous ears, who will not believe it until they have tried it, that it is as simple as flipping a switch. But that is not grand enough for our flesh. We want a great drama and theatre so that we can boast of our own struggle and how we overcame as mighty-ones! Mighty ones? yes, mighty ones - heroes and heroines. Funny that, because 'Mighty Ones' is actually the literal rendition of the Word elohim, which we usually translate as 'gods' or 'God'. We want to be mighty, in control, boastful, and independent. That is paganism. And those are the gods that Israel served when in apostacy, the same gods that rebellious man serves today.
Sometimes I think we should call ourselves Lightswitch Ministries. Again, I repeat, it really is that simple, as simple as "cast[ing][our] crowns before the throne" (Rev.4:10, NKJV) and prostrating ourselves. Hard to believe? It's what the demons resist with every fible of their being. Thus it is written:
All that refuse to bend the knee and make confession of mastership with their lips are simply of one mind with the devil. When the flesh refuses to submit, it is because it regards itself as king or queen. So why do we suppose that if this submission will one day be imposed on every living creature, including demons, that we somehow have the right to be excepted? For those who bend the knee and make confession, deliverance is as simple as flipping a light switch. The struggles that often ensue, the battles that must be fought, are usually the process whereby we are led to that final submission as emet (truth) gradually illuminates us and the shadows of evil are driven away.
"Therefore Elohim (God) also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the name of Yah'shua (Jesus) every knee should bow, of those in heaven (angels), and of those on earth (us), and of those under the earth (demons), and that every tongue should confess that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is Master (Lord), to the glory of Elohim (God) the Father" (Phil.2:9-11, NKJV).
I want to show you today, using Gideon as an illustration, how it is Yahweh works, and why. You know how the Malak (Angel) of Yahweh (the pre-incarnate Yah'shua/Jesus) appeared to Gideon while he was secretly threshing wheat by hand in the bottom of a grape press so as not to be detected by the Midianites. Yah'shua (Jesus) said to him:
But Gideon had problems believing that at first as he questioned the truth that Yahweh was with him:
"Mighty soldier, Yahweh is with you!" (v.12, LB).
Doesn't that sound so much like the flesh talking there? Here was Gideon claiming that Israel was the innocent victim and Yahweh was being unfair and horrible. Yah'shua (Jesus) didn't waste time correcting this false mind-set - I want you to note that - but went right to the point:
"If Yahweh is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors have told us about - such as when Elohim brought them out of Egypt? Now Yahweh has thrown us away and has let the Midianites completely ruin us" (v.13, LB).
Just like that! Gideon reacted as we would expect. He pointed out that he was nothing, that his family was one of the poorest of the Tribe of Manasseh (Americans and Germans listen well - this is your tribe!), and that he was held with the least regard in his family. He was a nobody, despised and ignored (v.15). Yahweh's response was quick and to the mark:
"I will make you strong. Go and save Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!" (v.14b, LB).
I want you to expecially note the Hebrew wording here - it's so important to build our emunah (faith) on it. The text literally reads:
"But I, Yahweh ('I Am will be with you'), will be with you. And you shall quickly destroy the Midianite hordes!" (v.16b, LB)
This is a double promise. 'I AM will be with you' will be with you - that is what Yahweh's Name means - I WILL BE WITH YOU. There is a play on words here. And then to remind Gideon of the plurality of His powers, says: "and thou shalt strike down Midian as ish echad (one man)", remembering that echad is a uniplural word meaning a united body of persons. Just as Yahweh is Echad or One, so will Gideon's Troop be. And what a special troop that was.
"And Yahweh (meaning 'I AM will be with you) said unto him, Surely hayah 'im (I will be with you), and thou shalt strike down Midian as ish echad (one man)".
We don't know how many Midianites were on the battle field. We'we just told there were too many to count.
But before this, Gideon had to get his own house - and specifically, his father's house - in order. Earlier, you will remember, he had virtually said: 'What have we done wrong that Yahweh should allow this terrible oppression?' And yet what had his Dad done, and what had he himself doubtless participated in? After presenting a sacrifice, Yah'shua (Jesus) touched the offering with His staff (representing toqef or authority) and instantly fire flamed up from the rock and consumed the offering. At that point, Yah'shua (Jesus) disappeared (vv.17-21).
You need to remember that Gideon's family was on the verge of starvation. But Yah'shua (Jesus) demanded a goat, some matzah (unleavaned bread) using 35 litres of flour (that would have been a lot for them in their impoverished condition), and a pot of broth. This was the fruit of hard labour, and a substantial sacrifice. But Yah'shua (Jesus) demanded it. What made Gideon the right man was that he did not hesitate, even though this was a big sacrifice. By presenting himself - the substance of great labour, done in secret under restrictive circumstances - Yah'shua (Jesus) sent fire and burned up the offering. Once satisfied with the presentation, He instantly disappeared.
Gideon was, of course, amazed, and like Jacob before him wrestling at Jabokk with the same malak (angel), he realised that he has seen Elohim (God) face-to-face (v.23). He was awestruck and terrified.
We have often spoken about true fear of Elohim (God) and we have a better understanding of it now. He was literally afraid for his life! Brethren and sisters, when we have true fear of Yahweh, we fear for our life because we understand Who we are dealing with!
"'It's all right,' Yahweh replied, 'Don't be afraid' You shall not die'" (v.23, LB).
His soul calmed down, he built an altar to Yahweh and called it "The Altar of Shalom (Peace) with Yahweh" (v.24a, LB). Genuine shalom does not some until we have first met Yahweh face-to-face through His Son, have come to understand that our life is wholly in His hands, and have obtained His Word that we will not perish but have everlasting life!
Thus assured, Gideon was ready to anything Yahweh wanted him to. First order of the day was to get his father's best ox, pull down the altar of Baal in the local town, and then cut down the wooden Asherah goddess poles (which were disgusting fertility symbols), build an altar to Yahweh, sacrifice the ox and use the wood from the goddess poles to light the fire of sacrifice (vv.24-26).
Understandably, Gideon was a bit scared. He knew that in defiling this pagan idol he would be risking his life, so he carried out Yahweh's instructions by night with the help of ten servants. Sure enough, the next day, the enraged locals demanded that Gideon be dragged out to give account and be executed. His father Joash came to his defence, and cleverly exposed the impotence of their false deity:
Of course, Baal did nothing, just as he would do nothing on Mount Carmel many generations later when the prophet Elijah challenged his priests, or when Abam did the same thing to his father's idols in the Book of Jasher. From that day on Gideon received the nickname, Jerubbaal, meaning. 'Let Baal take care of himself!' (v.31).
"Does Baal need your help? What an insult to a god! You are the ones who should die for insulting Baal! If Baal really is a god, let him take care of himself and destroy the one who broke apart this altar!" (v.21, LB).
It wasn't long before Israel was subject to a full-scale invasion by a Midianite army and several other neighbouring countries. Gideon was given the chance to prove himself. Naturally, with so vast an opponent, Gideon's faith waivered somewhat, and he begged Yahweh for a sign that He was with him. You all know the miracle of the damp fleece and the dry floor, followed the next day by a dry fleece and a wet floor caused by the dew, something only Yahweh could have done. Yahweh didn't mind because of what Gideon was being asked to do (vv.33-40).
Brethren and sisters, the situation that followed is the kind of situation we in this generation must prepare for, and teach our children to prepare for. The last generation is going to be full of Gideons. We don't know how many men at arms there were in the Midianite coalition but it was probably in the hundreds of thousands. Gideon gathered 23,000 soldiers, and you can imagine what they felt seeing the vast Midianite hordes. Yahweh instructed Gideon to send home those who were timid and afraid, leaving 10,000 - and this, Yahweh said, that if they won, no one would boast that they had done so in their own strength. But 10,000 was too much as far as Yahweh was concerned, for His purpose was to demonstrate that He alone was the one with the power and in control. Of these 10,000, 9,700 were sent home at the spring of Harod because they drank water bending right down whereas the rest did so scooping the water up with the hands. This small band of 300 souls, against hundreds of thousands of the enemy, was divided into three groups of a 100. That was to be Gideon's army! (7:1-7)
I am sure you remember what happened next. Can you imagine what Gideon felt? 300 troops against hundreds of thousands? That's a bit like tiny Luxembourg attacking huge Russia, or Singapore attacking the USA, and expecting to win! Anyway, Yahweh ordered him to attack, but added that if he was still afraid, he could take his servant Purah, sneak down to the enemy camp, and listen to what they were saying. In one of the tents, one of the Midianite soldiers had awakened after a dream. And in the dream, a giant loaf of barley (the poor man's bread, remember, associated with Yom haBikkurim) came tumbling down into the Midianite camp, and knocked the tent down flat. Another soldier hearing this interpreted this as a bad omen, that Gideon would massacre the Midianites! (vv.8-14)
Now you can imagine how Gideon reacted to that. The text says: "All he could do was just stand there worshipping Elohim (God)" (v.15b, LB). He knew the enemy would take this as a bad omen with all the psychological affect it would have on their morale. He knew that Yahweh had given this man the dream and that He would do the 'impossible' and cause Israel to win. For as Yah'shua (Jesus) would Himself later testify:
Yahweh's ways are not ours and throughout biblical history He has defeated mighty opponents before His faithful servants. Following Yahweh's instructions to the letter, each of the men were issued with shofars, and clay jars containing bright torches. They crept up to the enemy camp under the cover of darkness from three sides, smashed the jars, blew the shofars with their right hands and held up the torches with their left, and yelled at the tops of their voices:
"With men it is impossible, but not with Elohim (God); for with Elohim (God) all things are possible" (Mark 10:27, NKJV).
The enemy, thinking a vast army had surrounded them, were thrown into a panic and in the confusion of the darkness started killing each other, before fleeing in terror.
"FOR YAHWEH AND FOR GIDEON!" (v.20b, LB)
The reason I am sharing this story with you today is because Yahweh wants us to get into this Gideonite mindset. From now on, and until the Second Coming, we are going to find ourselves increasingly in this kind of situation. Human ingenuity will not see us survive, let alone be victorious - we have to know Yahweh's will and get His detailed instructions. I for one have no intention of living in defeat but at the same time I have to warn against emotional surges and impetuousness that would have anyone wildly beat gongs or clash symbols as a display of lawless bravado. Battles are not won by being noisy if the plan is not Yahweh's. Our numerically vastly superior enemy will only be defeated by strict compliance to Yahweh's will.
Of course, we do not have to be in the Israelite situation at all if we will repent, be obedient, and cling to Yah'shua (Jesus). Unfortunately, it will only be a small remnant that will do this. The vast bulk of the Body of Messiah will be in gross apostacy as Israel was in Gideon's day, just as it is today. Our choice is to either follow the crowd or follow the Gideons.
"Then all this assembly shall know that Yahweh does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is Yahweh's" (1 Sam.17:47, NKJV).
After this spectacular defeat, Gideon sent for the troops of Napthali, Asher and Manasseh to drive the invaders completely out of the country. Emboldened by Gideon's victory, these three tribes were obedient - but only these three tribes. Don't expect unity in all the House of Israel until the Final Gathering. We must work with those who are willing and ready, and it will never be all of Israel.
Midian never recovered from this defeat but unfortunately Israel 'recovered' from their victory and return to Yahweh. As soon as Gideon was dead, they not only showed no kindness to his large plural family for all it had done (8:35) but they went straight back to worshipping idols (8:33). They even murdered his 70 sons. The depressing cycle of apostacy, repentance and deliverance continued through the Tribal Confederacy and into the Kingdom period until both were destroyed by Yahweh because of a complete ripening of sin resulting in the global scattering of all twelve tribes. And they remain scattered to this day.
As I look at today's world I don't frankly see much difference. It is depressingly familiar. There is no Israelite Confederacy or Nation on earth today (in spite of the hugely exaggerated claims of some to be 'restoring' it). The national covenant is dead and can only be resurrected and restored by Yah'shua (Jesus) when He returns. Therefore in these times we are as the patriarchs of old - patriarchal families and voluntary associations of patriarchal families, small bands like Gideon's 300, taking on Goliaths when they rattle and threaten to tear out our gates, defeating then and driving them away in the power of Yahweh-Elohim. Each man of Messianic Israel must have as his war-cry, "For Yahweh and for Yah'shua (Jesus)!", for each woman, "For Yahweh and for my husband in Yah'shua (Jesus)", and for each child, "For Yahweh and for my father in Yah'shua (Jesus)!" This is the divine order, the divine tavnith (pattern), and blessed are those who follow it.
A new month has begun with new challenges ahead. Every man in his household must stand ready like Gideon to respond to Yahweh's call. We seek others of the same mind and lev (heart) to stand with us in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and within the set-apart parameters of Torah. If you are interested and if the Ruach (Spirit) is leading you, please contact us.