Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el!
"It is the Elohim (God) who commanded ohr (light) to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our levim (hearts) to give the ohr (light) of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim (God) in the face of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (2 Cor.4:6, NKJV).
Grace and peace in Yah'shua our Messiah (Jesus Christ) as we complete the first week of the fifth month in this Yahweh's calendar. As we have aligned ourselves now, as best we can, with Yahweh's time-keeping so we are now called, once again, to align that part of our being which exists in the timeless dimension of ruach (spirit) with His Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) so that the inner and outer may be echad (one).
I don't know what part of the world our readers, who may be joining this little assembly in spirit are from today, but if you are from America you have been going through an unprecendented heat-wave that is causing drout. If you are from the United Kingdom you are experiencing flooding and if you are from Europe in general you are experiencing near continuous rain. A lot of people are for sure upset with the very unsummery weather as vaccation plans are spoiled though I am told we in Sweden have been promised a heatwave. I'll believe it when I see it.
For the last couple of days we have had our plumber over here at our houses working on unclogging pipes, toilets, taps (faucets) and showers, and installing filtration systems. The unprecendented amount of rain we have had has caused much subterranean disturbance to our well and resulted in muddy water plaguing our drinking supply. Each time we have flushed the system out and crystal-clear water has once again gushed out of our taps (faucets) we have rejoiced thinking that all was finally well. And then something else has gone wrong, we have turned the water off, but when we have turned the water back on again we have had a muddy sludge come through. This is because the mud has stuck to the pipes and the only thing that will dislodge it is a sudden gush of water at high pressure. Turning the system off and turning it back on, though inconvenient, is actually to our benefit because it has meant we could scour out the main pipes. What has seemed a disturbance turns out to be a blessing.
I was churning these thoughts over in my mind this morning after Yahweh told me what this sabbath message was to be about as I could see a very clear symbolic application to today's theme of steadfast repentance. This is what Yahweh wanted me to preach about, an unusual combination of words because we normally couple 'steadfastness' with things like 'love' or 'emunah (faith)' - with constancy and consistency. And I think part of the problem is that we see 'steadfastness' as something positive and 'repentance' as something 'negative' so the two at first glance seem mutually-repelling. We view repentance as something that happens 'now and then' when we sin and set about putting things right whereas the word 'steadfast' tends to mean 'fixed in intensity or direction', 'steady', 'unwavering or determined', 'regular', 'habitual', 'continuous'. Yet when you come to think about it, the two words are not only actually compatible but complimentary too.
To make teshuvah (repent) is to change attitude with the test of genuine repentance being a change in attitude that leads to altered conduct (Mt.3:8; Lk.3:8). If after such 'repentance' we then revert to our former attitude and behaviour then that in its turn is evidence that we (or some part of us) have not properly seen Emet (Truth) and repented. True teshuvah (repentance) implies an end of the former habitual sinful behaviour but we can't do that if we remain in ignorance of what the sin actually is or ideed its true scope. There can, of course, be many different reasons why we revert to the way we once were (and perhaps indulging in ever greater sinful behaviour as a result) but one typical one is that there has been no genuine sorrow or regret (for having offended Yahweh or hurt people) and therefore no forgiveness from Him either. For repentance that is not authentic does not lead to forgiveness. Repentance is the first condition for forgiveness (Ac.5:31).
The illustration of the water pipe filled with muck may be helpful. I do believe for the most part we do want to repent and that sin does get flushed out but that we don't often realise how deep and extensive that sin is. Repentance must often take place in multiple stages until see see the extent and are able to take care of it. We can only deal with what we are aware of whilst owning the determined or steadfast intention to pursue the rest until it's all gone. As a pipe constantly channelling water from a well gradually accumulates sand, so a life with unrepented sin accumulates a lot of sin that builds up.
Another very important aspect of repentance that we must always be aware of is that it is not possible to bring about the kind of change that Yahweh expects of us because repentance is consistently said in Scripture to be stimulated only by Yahweh's own initiative. The awareness of the need to repent is pressed on us by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
We often read the Scriptures or hear others preach or teach about sin - sin that we know we still have - but this reading or hearing has no impact upon us, causes no desire within us to want to do anything about it but rather to pass the words by. Only when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) supernaturally works on our mind and lev (heart) is there the movement within to actually want to do something about it, because it is only in seeing the contrast between the blessed life and the reality of our life in bondage that we have a desire to move away from sin and can get an objective handle in knowing what to repent of and how to repent! (Ac.11:18; 2 Tim.2:25). To do that we must know the emet (truth) of what righteousness is and therefore its opposite.
There are sadly still far too many believers who have bought into the lie that all you have got to do is simply follow your lev (heart), usually based on the assumption that once you are born again and regenerated that your lev (heart) is all 'clean' and won't mislead you. We are right to recognise that all operations of being are centred in the lev (heart) but it is highly dangerous to fall into the New Age trap ofr believing we are basically 'good' and can trust our 'feelings' and 'instincts'. We can't. The lev (heart), whilst being the centre of the spiritual, psychic and physical life (Dt.6:5; 8:14; 11:13-18; Mt.5:8) is the 'seat' of many other things:
That is quite a collection given that there is a mixture and state of flux between all of these - can we all honestly say that we are completely rid of pride and bitterness? And there is much else besides the items on this list in the human lev (heart) like emunah (faith) and doubt! Our repentance depends on us having a firm grip on these things and recognising the ease at which these sinful areas impact our repentance negatively. They are often so mixed it is hard to know what's what sometimes. Therefore the ground of repentance must always be the Davar Emet or Word of Truth which lies above our own mental and emotional wanderings. It is this we must clutch onto so that the waters of the Ruach (Spirit) can flow clearly and unpolluted through our lev (heart), flushing out all the filth.
- 1. Ahavah (love) (2 Sam.15:5.15); Ac.12:30,33);
- 2. Hatred and bitterness (Lev.19:17; 2 Sam.6:16);'
- 3. Simcha (joy) (Ruth 3:7; Ac.2:26,46);
- 4. Sorrow (Ps.102:4; Jn.14:1);
- 5. Wisdom (Ex.31:6; Ac.28:27); and
- 6. Pride (Prov.16:5; 21:4; Rev.18:7)
Is it so suprising, in the light of this, that Yahweh wants steadfast repentance? We have to keep at it, not because it is something bad, but because it is cleansing and bringing us closer to him. It's a bit like the diet I am on - I can't just do it for a few days and expect everything to be ok, it has to become a steadfast diet. At the beginning it is not uncommon to view good food as simply 'medicine' to be 'taken' but as you get into it you begin to realise that it's normal food, what Yahweh always intended. Likewise with repentance - it is certainly 'medicine' in one way but in reality it's just common sense, like washing or brushing your teeth. As children we may resent having to do these things but as adults we do these things habitually without thinking twice about them because we know that are both necessary and advantageous to our well-being. So in a way you could describe repentance as a kind of spiritual hygiene, something very desirable because it always leads to an improved quality of life both now in mortality and in the eternities.
We're entering a ciritical time for the world and as believers we have got to be alert, and to be alert we have to be rid of the baggage of sin. And to be rid of the bondage of sin we have got to get into the idea of habitual and steadfast repentance! May Yahweh bless us all as we recommit to the discipline of spiritual hygiene! Amen.
"I am He who searches the minds and levim (hearts). And I will give to each one of you according to your works" (Rev.2:23, NKJV).