Month 6:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:170 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 8 September 2012
Repent or Perish
The Storms are About to Break
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el a Peaceful Sabbath to all the house of Israel!
"Unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, NKJV).
With the autumn (fall) festivals only a week away and our annual General Conference only two weeks after that I have, of course, been seriously giving consideration to the overall message that Yahweh would have me deliver to you for the season. Understandably, people have an anxious eye on the gravity of the world financial and political system as it gradually but more now rapidly implodes, and though I could well do some more admonishing to those who still haven't done anything about a storage program, that's not what I am going to talk about today. For most who have not, it's already too late to do it properly. Though everything has been in substantial decline since 2008, we have not seen the 'biggies' yet. All I will say is this: the storms are practically upon us and will now start overtaking those are unprepared and who have escaped trouble so far. So I pray for procrastinating heads of families - fathers and husbands - to get moving now and for their wives and children to back them up!
There is, however, nothing quite like a crisis to start waking people up to getting more self-reliant, is there? A few days ago I sat with my sons and we watched a documentary about a British family who moved to France and constructed a 'Groundhouse', what Americans would call an 'Earthship', made mostly of recycled tyres filled with earth. I have been fascinated by these for a while and have noted how successful they are in desert areas in particular. My eldest son remarked that these people would be OK when the crisis struck, which of course they will be in terms of many things, though I don't think they have done much in terms of food preparedness. But we need more than just material preparations for the coming storms - we've got to get right with Yahweh, and to do that, we have do something that modern man seems reluctant to do - take responsibility for our own own lives.
Most people are pretty good at putting food on the table and clothes on their back, whether for themselves or for their families, or both, but there are very few who occupy themselves with spiritual nutrition or spiritual covering. When the basic physical necessities of live start becoming unavailable, no matter how hard you strive, then finally man's negligence of his spirit begins to tell. When you have exhausted your own resources and ability to feed, clothe and shelter your family then you are forced to seek help elsewhere. Man's first reaction is to turn to family and friends - he will no longer be able to turn to the state for social welfare because it progressively won't exist anymore (except in the concentration camps, of course) - and when other people, be they kin or otherwise, cannot or will not help them, then - and only then - does the carnal man start turning to Elohim (God) in desperation.
As soon as he starts doing that, he then has to look within at himself - his character - to see who he is and what kind of relationship exists between him and Elohim (God) - if any. Once a man who has been avoiding this starts doing so, he comes in for a rude awakening. It does not require him to be an intellectual genius to perform this exercise - it's actually very simple, because we all know how to judge ourselves at the very basic level, because we all have an inbuilt moral compass with which we were born, even if up to now we have chosen to ignore and suppress it. As a man, desperate for the basics in order to survive - and out of love for his family who may be suffering from one lack or another - begins to look inwardly in a desperate quest for Elohim (God), he is forced to look at what makes him up. And what, exactly, makes us up? We are the sum total of a lifetime's thoughts. These thoughts coalesce to become words which become translated into actions which combine to become habits which all taken together become your character - a character which shapes and becomes your destiny...the kind of life you lead, the direction you're moving in:
Such a man, seeking for Elohim (God) because he is desperate to live, will not be slow in understanding (if he is honest with himself) that his life is not at all pleasing to Elohim (God), even if he doesn't know who Elohim (God) is or what the Bible says. He may even have been raised in an entirely different religion like Hinduism or Islam, or as a humanist with no religion at all. Irrespective of his upbringing, he still has that inner moral compass with which he was born, which is his simple road map leading him home to Elohim (God) if he will follow it - a map that will tell him what is right and wrong in basic human relationships and what the essential elements are of Elohim's (God's) Character.
So what do you have to do if you discover that your 'destiny' is leading you in a fundamentally wrong direction? What if you have rejected Yahweh, or pursued a false image of Him and a false Besorah (Gospel)? Either way, you have built your entire life on either an atheistic lie or a bundle of religious half-truths. To get on the right track means changing direction, restructuring your character, altering your habits, changing your behaviour and learning to think right. Most people - religious as well as irreligious - do not want to do this! The carnal man revolts at such a proposition and resists such change emphatically. Only the growling belly, the parched lips, the inner hunger of the soul, and the weeping children cause a man to overcome such fleshy resistance even if it is only for short-term relief. To finally yield to Elohim (God) requires a long, hard struggle. It means surrendering to Yahweh, no easy matter. If this isn't hard enough, try to imagine such a person at the cusp of the world catastrophe such as we are facing now. Just in order to survive, all of these things have to change anyway. Consider your typical affluent middle class American family suddenly thrust onto the street and living in a tent because of bankruptcy and foreclosure. For them everything has changed. New survival skills are needed because the things formerly taken for granted are no longer there anymore. Your entire lifestyle is going to be shaken to the core in most cases but the trouble is most people won't know what to do because they are unprepared.
In his frankly depressing though highly accurate evaluation of the human condition in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon deals philosophically with the basics of life. On the one hand, thinking like a humanist might, he acknowledges that "the end of all man's toil is but to fill his belly" (Eccl.6:7, NEB), but on the other he knows fully well that "a shem tov (good name) smells sweeter than the finest ointment" (Eccl.7:1, NEB) which is acquired only by "fear[ing] Elohim (God) and obey[ing] His mitzvot (commands)" (Eccl.11:13a, NEB). If our homeless, starving and freezing man who has lost everything in a crisis honestly anaylses his life, his character, his habits, his actions, his spoken words, and his thoughts, calling upon Elohim (God) whose Name and Revelation he may not yet know at the beginning, then his conclusion - if he pursues this to the end - will be the same as Solomon's, and he will declare: "There is no more to man than this" (Eccl.12:13b, NEB) - to fear Yahweh and to obey His mitzvot (commandments). "For," he will realise all too soon, "Elohim (God) brings everything we do to judgment, and every secret, whether good or bad" (Eccl.12:14, NEB). There is nothing we can hide from Him and we cannot avoid having our life scrutinised and graded by Him. We are not our own moral, ethical and spiritual masters, and never have been.
Just as war brings out the best and worst in people, so a global economic and political crisis such as the one we are facing will either cause people to fall to pieces or to totally change in a new direction. And those who have Yah'shua (Jesus) are undoubtedly in a far, far stronger position to weather such a storm. So you can imagine that those who know Yah'shua (Jesus) personally because they have been born-again and have been spiritually regenerated, and who have trained their thinking in the tavnith (pattern) of Torah are not only going to weather this crisis but they're actually going to thrive in it, defying all carnal logic and reason! As such, then, when these people demonstrate their spiritual prosperity in these conditions they will serve as mighty witnesses and lights on a hill for those who are clueless and floundering but who are searching for greater meaning in life. Crises may have a dark side, as all corrective remedies for the sinfulness of man do, but they can also serve as the catalyst for awakening. And so crises have been used throughout history by Yahweh for just this purpose.
The most important thing you can possess is a right mind founded on emet (truth) because everything else flows from this. World views built upon anything else than spiritual, mental, emotional and physical reality just cannot stand the test of a strong storm. Moreover, no one crisis is ever entirely like another because Yahweh directs them in such a way that they become instruments in not only judging the wicked in their own particular situations but they also creatively move the righteous toward ever higher levels of reformation and sancification. World, national and domestic crises are the fruits of rebellious men and women pressed to destructiive acts by the demonic powers that have let in because of the lies they have embraced, but they also bear the faithful to new plateaux of simcha (joy) and growth in their relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus).
I predict that unopened bibles will have the dust blown off them and be opened. According to one statistic I have seen, 92% of American homes have have a copy of the Bible in them. And even more amazingly, most of these homes have an average of 3-4 copies of the Bible in them! If having a Bible made us spiritual, or having many Bibles made us super-spiritual, then you'd think America was a super-spiritual country! I have hundreds of copies of Bibles in my home so I guess that puts me in a very small Úlite league of righteousness!
Of course, we all know that possessing a Bible means nothing at all unless you open it, read it, believe it, and live it. Owning a set of medical books, as I do, no more makes me a doctor, though, than owning a Bible makes that owner more loving, graceful, courageous, kind, virtuous, godly, or devoted to Yah'shua (Jesus). Bibles are pretty easy to get hold of these days, even in places like Saudi Arabia where they are officially banned, if you want one, though that was not always so. When Bibles were first smuggled into communist China they would divide them up into portions so that everyone could at least have some part of read and feast on. The time will come when Bibles will be banned and burned again so get stuck into your Bibles and memorise as much as you can! With such a surplass of them, there is not going to be much of an excuse during the present crisis to claim you can't get hold of one.
The battle lines that are forming for the soul, like the trenches that separated protagonists in the First World War, demand a choice. And to make a choice - to seek, follow and obey Elohim (God) or not - demands that having chosen Him, we pursue Him to the very ends of our lives. That means we must accept full responsibility for our lives and who we are and what we are to become, no longer blaming others for our situations. Choosing Him is entirely within our power and no one else's. That means we have to own up to our own sinfulness, confess it, forsake our sins, and with resolve cling on to Yah'shua (Jesus) for dear life, obeying the mitzvot (commandments) of Torah. Whatever our dark desitiny was without Him has to be radically and fundamentally reshaped. We have to grow in an entirely different direction in a life based on self-surrender to Messiah. Tim Gombis said:
The Torah-based Christian/Messianic life is wholly different from all other lifestyles. It alone will allow you to thrive in the storms that are about to break on this already darkened landscape which is the world system. This is not, as I have said, the end, but it very definitely is an end - an end to everything as we knew it, and the beginning of mankind's last chance to repent before the final curtain is drawn and the Eternal Judge returns to render His verdict. Amen.
"To grow in grace is to learn to love, to hope, to unify, and to trust, and no longer to separate, manipulate, manage, and control. It is to move from self-regard and self-protection to other-regard, growing in flexibility in relationships and in openness to others."