Month Aviv 1:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5937:022 AM|
SHABBAT 1:3, Omer Count Sabbath #1
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 1 May 2013
The Comforter of Our Sorrows
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisrael and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us all as I seek to deliver His Davar (Word) to you today. We have had an extraordinary Passover Season as you know and one they I certainly will never forget.
The Ministry of Obedience
Yesterday, on the last day of Chag haMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) you may recall that I shared a passage of Scripture from Hebrews 10:5-10 in which I laid emphasis on the fact that the main driving force of Yah'shua's (Jesus') ministry was to do the will of His Heavenly Father. I felt the Ruach (Spirit) very strongly drawing me to that yesterday and am still doing so today.
It is Often a Struggle to Obey Yahweh's Will
It is an easy thing to speak glibly about wanting to do Yahweh's will. If we're completely honest and transparent, we actually rarely do. We would like to think that we do but that old fleshy nature - that dark, unremoved starter dough - would have us pursue our own thing:
A High Sabbath Assembly Revived
"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt.26:41, NKJV).
Yesterday our High Sabbath meeting was postponed until 8.30 pm owing to an unforseen event. Following on the heels of my mother's death the day before, it really upset me even though I hadn't actually managed to complete the sermon because of my distress. In fact, by the time evening had come I had pretty much resolved that I would cancel the service altogether because I was in an extreme state of physical and emotional exhaustion until one of the brethren walked into my study and said that he had a very strong feeling that there was a deep and profound revelation hidden up in the seventh and last day of Chag haMatzah (Unleavened Bread) that he did not know about and he was wondering whether if I had received it. It was then I repented, called for an evening service 15 minutes later, and served the Starter Dough Revelation. I can truthfully say that the presence of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) was intense and it was undoubtedly the highlight of the entire Passover Season.
Why the Troubles on the Last Day of Chag haMatzah
But I have not told you what happened that caused the postponement, and almost cancellation, the the High Sabbath meeting yesterday. In that meeting I had born witness that nothing that happens is coincidental and that Yahweh had ordained that my dear mother should pass away while we were gathered to observe the spring festivals but it never seemed to occur to me that the cause of the delay yesterday was also ordained by Him for a purpose. It is that I would like to begin this assembly sharing with you for the benefit of those who were not here.
Dog Trapped Under the House
We live in a former school building built of brick and on a foundation of solid stone. Under one side of the house is an area separating the ground floor from the earth and positioned around the building are various ventillation holes large enough only for a small animal to pass through. The entire area is itself divided by internal stone walls, on which the house is resting, into about 4-5 areas with impassable stone walls. All but one of these areas is accessible if you crawl on your stomach but only one is not. And so it was that yesterday morning one of our small dogs, a Yorkshire Terrier, managed to squeeze through one of the two holes leading into this very low area about the height of the dog itself in spite of the large stones I had placed there to prevent such a happening. Worse, the dog had a long lead on him and took it into the hole with him. Before long - you've guessed it - he got all tangled up and was unable to free himself.
All Attempts at Rescue Failed
For seven hours, with the help of the Fire Department, we tried to find a way to free him, but being as he was a good 15 feet away, untangling the twisted lead required the escape artist skills and antics of a Houdini which we did not have. All this took place during a windy day in which we experienced not only rain but a hailstorm on top of everything else. It was a decidedly miserable time, with a good deal of anxiety for the pet, who simply got himself more and more tangled up as dogs are wont to do. By the time supper time had come the poor mutt was cold, hungry, tired and frightened with us poking long rods inside one of the holes trying to cut his lead, including one with food on it.
Prisoner Under the House
I had to make the only decision that was left which I had postponed hoping I could avoid it. The dog lay directly under the meeting room in our home, the first room we made ready when we moved to our new home as I had resolved to dedicate it as a room of worship belonging to Yahweh. We spent a lot of money on it making it the nicest room of all. I had to ruin the beautiful floor and cut out a hole to rescue the animal. The carpenters came, cut out the hole, and my youngest son, who alone was small enough to crawl with about one foot of head space, went and rescued the dog who seemed none the worse for his long ordeal of poking and taking photographs so we could see what the situation looked like. The meeting room is a mess, the floor ruined, and we had to conduct yesterday's service and todays in our hall under cramped circumstances.
Rescued by My Youngest Son
The Little Things Are Important Too
Was Yahweh trying to tell me something? A dog is not as valuable as a human being and compared to the death of my mother the day before his life was definitely not of the same worth. But he was alive and she was dead, and all life is precious, especially that of an animal you have taken the responsibility to love and take care of and which has brough your family much simcha (joy). Yahweh made sure that the only possible way of deliverance for that animal was through the most valuable room in our house that had been dedicated to Him for worship by human beings. He was making a statement on the nature of His lev (heart): He cares about the creatures He has made too and that wood and bricks are of secondary importance, even for a meeting room dedicated to worship.
My Mother at Rest
Of course going through my mind during those 8 hours was, "How much is this going to cost me?" And you heads of households know that you have to be soberly engaged in such matters. With out finances on the edge at best, living as we do from one pension check to the next, and with funeral expenses looming, I was wondering how on earth to pay for all this work. The carpenters have still got to come back to fix up the floor as best they can. I don't know quite how we will manage this but since it is clear Yahweh's hand was in this, I am trusting in Him to provide.
A Deeper Symbolic Message
However, there was more to this than taking care of the lives we are responsible for. There is a symbolic message here that I want to share with you. In the language if the dream world, if you are familiar with it, basements typically represent the dark and cold recesses of the carnal nature, what a friend of mine once described as the "carnal basement". Part of our basement actually consists of a couple of small rooms you can stand up in but the rest - on the other side of the house - is only about a foot high as I have said and in contact with the soil. And there are all the usual pipes and cables running through it.
Prisoner in the Carnal Basement
Sometimes, because of stupidity and making wrong choices, we can spiritually end up in our 'carnal basement' and sometimes this can be a very, very inhospitable place, as our dog found out. Honestly, I was worried about snakes and animals like badgers being a hazzard for we know that this part of the basement, open to the elements as it is to keep the house aired and dry (which is very important in our climate), has been the habitat of wild creatures in the past. And, of course, if you have made the mistake of sinning and finding yourself in such a place spiritually, the only real rescue is through the House of Elohim (God) for there are no other exits. In the case of the dog, in meant breaking through the floor with the help of rescuers above.
The Price of the Cross
And there's a price to may. Just as I have a couple of carpenter's and fire service bills to pay because of the stupidness of our dog, whose curiosity in what lay in forbidden territory got him into trouble and caused him to suffer for a while, so our own rescue from sin comes with a price too - only that bill was paid by Yah'shua (Jesus) on the Cross. His Rescue Service cost him dearly.
Looking Forwards to Shavu'ot
The last day of Chag haMatzh (Unleavened Bread) points to the seventh and final festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) which is our final deliverance. So Yahweh used a lowly dog who made a silly choice and who made trouble both for himself and us to teach us a lesson about deliverance - that it costs but that it matters. It costs us a part of ourselves - our own starter dough - to help others just as it cost Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself to save us from our sins.
Is Elohim Really in Control of Everything?
Having shared that with you, I have not left myself a lot of time to deliver my main message to you, though the incident is definitely a good preface. As I considered the events of the past two days and all the turmoil and suffering, old questions raised themselves up in me about Yahweh really being in control of everything. (Preachers have the same struggles as everyone else, you know). I did have an incredible experience this morning, though, that I want to share by way of illustration.
Meeting Yahweh in Mother's House
The death of a parent definitely stirs you up so that no part of you is untouched (and, yes, Yahweh has a purpose in that because it dislodges the dirt that accumulates in the soul because of carelessness in the matter of repentance). I have found it excruciatingly painful going anywhere near my mother's house, let alone going into it. Every time I have gone in I have just bawled, overwhelmed by grief. I have loathed being inside it doing what has to be done. Then yesterday - I don't remember exactly when - I told Yahweh that I was handing over the grieving process to Him so that I could do it in the best way possible, not wanting to hide from the deep feelings, but to do so in an upbuilding and wholesome way. He blesses those who mourn and don't try to hide from the pain (Mt.5:4). We do, after all, have to work our way through grief and the many human devices we use to cope with it only bury the problem away instead of dealing with it. So I did this.
Supernatural Comfort Delivered
When In went down to her house early this morning I was expecting to the well of grief to well up again and cascade out. As I neared the house I could not understand why the pain was not surfacing. I went into the house - nothing. I knew the grief was there, because I could sense it, but there was another power in control of it. It wasn't being negated, I was just being comforted. I was amazed. As I walked through the house I could hear Yahweh speaking to me. I emptied the food out of the refridgerator to take up to my house to use it and as I was picking up a loaf of bread, He said: "No, leave it for the birds".
Feed the Birds
You see, all her life, my mother had been an animal-lover and without fail she fed the birds every morning. And when she became to ill to do it herself, I or one of the family would do so. She always had a swarm of birds waiting, of all sizes and types. I would watch them through the larder window sometimes through the netting which meant they could not see me and be easily frightened away. So, like a St.Francis, Yahweh wanted me to continue feeding her birds who had become a part of her extended family even after she could no longer see them. She cared about the little things too and I was being reminded that we must do the same too, just as we had done for the dog yesterday.
The Divine Exchange
As I walked back to my house with bags of food Yahweh reminded me that obeying Him was not such a daunting or frightening thing after all, and that any perceived losses that come of surrendering unnecessary carnal things are really nothing in return for what He gives. The demonic starter dough parsitises you but the heavenly one fills you with Yahweh's own Being and ahavah (love).
The Reason for Suffering
There is a reason for suffering in this life, in all its very forms, and I was experiencing it with Yahweh close by. Trusting in Yahweh is a life-long process but trusting Him early, before the teen impulses of rebellion trickle up from the ever awakening carnal nature below to tempt, gives us a head start in life...which, of course, is why Satan seeks to destroy family life whenever and however he can. That is why we must guard family life passionately, whether as a ferocious mother bear or as a minister of the Davar (Word) with sword drawn.
You Must Meet Elohim Yourself
How would you like to be able to see Elohim (God) in everything and to receive everything He has for you first-hand without having to go to secondary sources like me and other ministers? My job is not to be an endless food supply but to feed until the maturing soul is able to go directly to Yahweh Himself. It is not my job, as a father, to bind my children to the cradle, or as a minister to bind my sheep to my 'assembly' or 'church'. The ownership of my children is only until they are of age or have been married; and my stewardship as a pastor over my congregation is only by their consent as Yahweh leads them. I am not 'Christ's Vicar' as the Roman Pontiff likes to style himself. I have rules for the family and I have rules for the association over which I preside but they are not cages - they can be left. If covenants are made, as they must be for any real kind of depth of fellowship to succeed, in which folks keep their word, then we must take them very seriously. However, when it comes to the local congregation, that covenant is ultimately between each individual and Elohim (God) and collectively to the whole of Messianic Israel.
Awakening the Stagnant Life
But returning to the original theme, that of trusting Yahweh to actually be in every circumstance even if we do not see them for nothing happens that He does not permit whether it is for the healing of our souls or for their chastisement, both of which are to enable us to grow in Him. Stagnant life is not heavenly chayim (life) so who, in their right mind, really wants it? Part of the reason Yahweh shakes us is to awaken us and get us out of the familiarity and false comfort of mediocrity, which is another way of saying He wishes to curb our spiritual laziness!
Yahweh Can Do Marvelous Things For You
If "even the sparrow has found a home" (Ps.84:3, NKJV) because of Yahweh's watchfulness and care of even the tiniest of things, then do you not think He has a spiritual home - an intimate reality and contact with Him - for every one of us too? He even knows how many hairs there are on your head (Lk.12:7) and keeps a tally of their diminishing numbers as we go slowly bald! He is attentive to detail in both the material and spiritual realm. If He so cares for us, then we need not be too over-careful about things. If He can understand the complexity of my soul with its myriad collection of thoughts, memories and feelings, and minister to it so profoundly as He did to me this morning as I confronted my grief, then what, do you suppose, can He not do for us in other circumstances?
The Enemy and Doubt-Planting
Satan has done a good job in planting doubts about the intentions of our Heavenly Father as he did from practically Day #1 in the Garden of Eden when he first lied to Eve. The starter dough of sin will magnify every one of those doubts until you come to live in an unholy terror of Him and run away from Him altogether. Yahweh pursued my mother to her last dying breaths - I was aware of her struggles within as she wrestled over letting go of posessions of which she was inordinately fond of to the point of obsession. She was a wise manager of her things, very careful with money, but in the end let material things rule over her. I know what I felt as the carpenters were sawing into that expensive floor covering yesterday which we have been unable to afford anywhere else in the house, where bare floorboards are still the order of the day. But these things are not important. She could not take her possessions, which she had so carefully inventoried and priced, with her. She never really had any ultimate control over them, as her death proved, as we have no real control over ours. The best we can do is provide for the next generation with a view to passing our resources on to them which is much more satifying that hoarding for oneself.
The Path to Emptiness
Solomon, after pursuing the carnal road, came soon enough to understand the folloy of the flesh:
A Word for the Intellectuals
"I said to myself, 'Come, I will plunge into pleasures and enjoy myself'; but this too was emptiness. Of laughter I said, 'It is madness!' And of pleasure, 'What is the good of that?' So I sought to stimulate myself with wine, in the hope of finding out what was good for men to do under heaven throughout the brief lifespan of their lives. But my mind was guided by wisdom, not by folly" (Eccl.2:1-3, NEB).
He added a word for intellectuals:
Knowing Elohim Personally
"I said to myself, 'I have amassed great wisdom, more than all my predecessors on the throne in Jerusalem; I have become familiar with wisdom and knowledge.' So I applied my mind to understanding wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly, and I came to see that this too is chasing the wind. For in much wisdom there is much vexation, and the more a man knows, the more he has to suffer" (Eccl.1:16-18, NEB)
As an Oxford man who has pursued intellectual things I can testify that this is true too. Having all the answers - assuming you ever could - does not bring you peace of mind or rest in your soul. The only thing that brings us the shalom (peace) and deep, inner happiness that we all crave and need is to personally walk with Elohim (God). And I don't mean having your theology all tied up, however helpful and satisfying that is; I mean that what we need is to know Yahweh personally through His Son, Yah'shua (Jesus), allowing Him to be in control, seeing that He is (without understanding how He does it), and trusting Him to navigate us through whatsoever may come.
On the Verge of World War
As the wicked Úlitists mobilise the world for war - Israel is mobilising at her Lebanese and Syrian borders, Japan is threating to attack China is they land on some disputed islands, China has seized some territory in India, North Korea is breathing threats - and as these Úlitists continue to rob us through the banks until we are improversished, as they fill us with their poisoned foods and make us breathe their poisoned air, as they curse everything that is qodesh (holy) and pursue Yahweh's children to prison and death, we need Him more than ever before. Today especially, which is the pagan Beltane and Walpurgis Day, the anniversary of the founding of the Illuminati in 1776, and the Marxist Religion's 'Labour Day', we need to on the alert against the unseen powers that are continually waging war against us. Messiah is our shield.
An Invitation to Salvation
If you have never taken that step to trust Him - and I don't mean mere intellectual assent but trusting your very being to Him - then I would invite you to do so now by repenting of all your known sins, covenanting not to repeat them, and to invite Yah'shua (Jesus) into your lev (heart). I ask you to trust these words of a grieving husband, father, brother and friend, for I have no motives other than that you should find Elohim (God) for yourself and be free.
I want to thank those of you who have travelled far to have fellowship with us this Passover Season - it has been good having you. May you have a blessed Sabbath rest as we continue the Omer Count to Shavu'ot (Pentecost) of which this is the first of the seven sabbaths! Let us meditate on the 7-40 Omer Principle as we ready ourselves for the next gathering this summer! Amen.