Month 3:29, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5937:089 AM|
SHABBAT 3:4, Omer Count: 7 Sabbaths + Day #21
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 7 July 2013
Seek Yahweh's Face
or Repent Rather Than Wail
"When You said, 'Seek My face,' my lev (heart) said to You, 'Your face, Yahweh, I will seek'" (Ps.27:8, NKJV).
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be upon you all.
The Little Grey Key and the Books
The revelation for today's sermon came about in a most unusual way but in such a way that the message was unmistakable. While out shopping four days ago, I bought a large number of books at a bargain price. Unusually, and to my delight, most of them were in English and were interesting subject matter as well. Once home, I eagerly unpacked the large bag I had been given in one of the shops that day and as I removed the last book I saw a tiny grey key at the bottom of it, perhaps having belonged to a very old chest of drawers or something like that (see leading picture at top). As I held this unusual object (for a purchase of books, that is) I was immediately struck by the Ruach (Spirit) that there was a 'key' amongst the books I had purchased, and that it constituted a message from Yahweh to me.
The Revelation: Seek Yahweh's Face
I was so certain of this conviction that I immediately turned to the pile of 15 or so books and started eagerly checking through them. Amongst the pile of historical, artistic, and political volumes there was a single Christian one in Swedish which I remembered casually picking up as it looked vaguely interesting even though I felt at the time it would be low on my priority list because it was in Swedish. And though I do occasionally read Swedish books, it is very rarely because it requires a lot of effort on my part. I read Norwegian much better but I struggle with Swedish. With the little grey key in one hand and this book in the other, there was an instant connection because of the short and direct title: "Sök Guds ansikte", which translates as, "Seek God's Face".
Signs as a Form of Revelation
Those of you who know me also know that Yahweh's most common method of communicating to me is through the gift of seership. I tend to be wary of 'signs'-based revelatione because I know how easy it is to see signs which aren't there and for the enemy to send plenty of his own to confuse and confound. It's worse when we actively seek for signs. Paul noted that Jews had a disposition for seeking signs and Greeks for wisdom (1 Cor.1:22) and because actively seeking for these does not necessarily lead to salvation, Yah'shua (Jesus) reserved harsh criticism for the former when done in the wrong way - without emunah (faith) and for the purpose of titillating the carnal minded. Yet He also affirmed that His signs of Yahweh's presence and activity were all around people but people were too spiritually blind to see or prioretise them. When Yah'shua (Jesus) multiplied the fish and the loaves, what the people cared about the most was that their bellies were filled and not that a profound revelation was being given to them about the identity of the Messiah even though they were aware of it (Jn.6:26)! They wanted Him to hang around and feed them always so they wouldn't have to fish or farm anymore.
Chastised and Chastising
I knew when I received the sign of the key and the book that I was being both chastened for not seeking Yahweh's face enough and being commanded to do something about it...as well as being directed to share a message to you about it. So the preacher is preaching to himself too today. I was, in receiving this davar (word), simultaneously convicted of sin and I was shown that the reason I was sinning was that I was afraid to be in such close communion that it might reveal His displeasure in other areas of my life. So here I am, chastised and chastising, and suggesting that we both get on with what He has in mind.
Seek His Face Evermore
King David wrote both joyfully and soberly:
My Own Response
"Oh, give thanks to Yahweh! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy Name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek Yahweh! Seek Yahweh and His strength; seek His face evermore!" (1 Chron.16:8-11, NKJV; cp. Ps.105:1-4)
My immediate response to this davar (word) has been to get into praise, something I had resolved to do recently but not fully followed through as I had covenanted. I do that principally by listening to favourite hymns and singing along. Then I sat down and gave keen ear to one of A.W.Tozer's sermons, The Great God of All Creation and took his advice to make Elohim (God) a lot bigger in my own mind than He is currently, and that, of course, mean focussing more on Yahweh and less on people. When our prayer life diminishes, as it can so easily do, either from carelessness, laziness or plain rebelliousness, then Elohim (God) inevitably shrinks in our mind and heart. Then we start drifting like a ship without a rudder or sail. It is no use, however, changing things in our life unless they become habitual. Reformation of behaviour requires the utmost diligence like a soldier in a camp submitted to camp routine and discipline. Seeking Yahweh's face is no less disciplined, no less a matter of good habit.
The Process of Seeking His Face
The ultimate condemnation from Elohim (God) is to be ordered to depart from Him (Mt.7:23; 25:41; Lk.13.27). And to depart from Him is to be figuratively removed from His face, that is, to be sent out of His presence and into darkness. It is to be cut off and alone. Yahweh makes it abundantly clear through Solomon that to see Yahweh's face is a metaphor for prayer that leads to repentance that in turn leads to forgiveness, spiritual infusion, and finally the goal of communion:
The Prerequisite of Humility
"If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chron 7:14, NKJV).
To seek Yahweh's Face is to first humble yourself - it requires getting off the pedistal, exiting the limelight, and rediscovering the servant heart. Stepping away from pride is an absolute must and until you do, no change is possible and the darkness remains even if you think you're doing everything else right. Clearly maintaining the focus and goal of seeking His Face is ultimately the same as declaring that it is communion that is sought. Remember also that the seeking is to be from two directions for we are told in Proverbs that Hochmah (Wisdom) or the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) seeks our face too (Prov.7:15). We meet in the middle ground of human choice since Yahweh has already chosen. Re-establishing contact with the Father demands we tackle pride right from the beginning and as we will see in a moment it was precisely this obstacle that tripped up ancient Israel's repentance after their falling away.
Major Historical Events Taking Place Right Now
If you have been following the international and national news, as I know most of you do in order to stay informed and to be aware of the signs of the times, we are living at a critical time in which history is being made not only by the enemies of the Most High who are pushing for a world dictatorship but also as Yahweh seeks the reunification of the Twelve Tribes of Israel - the reconciliation between 10-tribed Joseph-Ephraim and 2-tribed Judah-Benjamin:
The Blessing of Redemptive Affliction
"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me" (Hos.5:14-15, NKJV).
You do not, of course, need any preacher to tell you that when people are being afflicted because of their sins and are not being allowed by Yahweh to escape that affliction, that they eventually seek His face in prayer and repentance. Incredibly we often hate it when He does that to us but what an act of mercy and grace it is to do so! Many a lost soul bites the hand that is rescuing it.
The Sad Story of a Messianic Jew
A couple of days ago I watched a heart-rending video of a Messianic Jew being converted back to Judaism through the crafty persuasive words of an anti-missionary rabbi. He was clearly under a lot of pressure, since he had formerly been an Orthodox Jew, and Orthodox Judaism was all he had ever known before his conversion. He was disowned by his parents and family for accepting Messiah but was unwilling in the end to pay the price that discipleship demands. Following Yah'shua (Jesus) does require substantial sacrifice sometimes. He instead took the 'easy' way back, as he supposed, made 'peace' with his family and former community, ripped up and burned a New Testament to indicate his rejection of Yah'shua (Jesus) while fellow Jews gleefully looked on, and was soon back in his old ways. One profound change I noticed in him was that where once he had been humble, he was now cocky and arrogant again, and filled with self-righteousness. Oh what a terrible choice to opt for acceptance in the world at the expense of eternal simcha (joy) and shalom (peace).
Judaism and Messiah are Incompatible
This unhappy story only reminded me once again of the total incompatibility of Judaism with the Besorah (Gospel) and why there has to be a straight choice between them. And by Judaism I do not mean the Torah or the Tanakh (Old Testament) but the whole system of religion that has evolved over two millennia claiming to be Yahweh's true Tanakh religion.
New Wine in Old Wineskins
My emphatically saying this does not endear me to many messianics who promote various forms of 'Messianic Judaism' but I have seen so many Messianics return to non-messianic Judaism because they insisted on clinging on to cultural Judaism with all of its mixed up Talmudic traditions and kabbalistic occultism. You cannot put the wine of Messiah into the old wineskin of the former b'rit (covenant) made with Moses - it has to be an entirely new one, not a patched-up, imaginary 'renewed' b'rit (covenant):
Consequences of Embracing the Old
"No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins" (Mark 2:22, NKJV).
You cannot follow the Pharisaic traditions - the "tradition of the elders" (Mt.15:2-3; Mk.7:3,5,8-9) - and follow Messiah because their spirit is stoney dead - it is of death. The B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant "has made the first [b'rit/covenant] obsolete" (Heb.8:13, NKJV). It's over. And while I see many new Messianics eagerly embracing the ways of the old at first, it's not long before they become spiritually stagnant and the old simcha (joy) is gone because Yahweh is not there anymore.
A Bored Messianic Leader
This came home to me about a year ago when I was listening to the leader of a Messianic group who has made quite a name for himself who sighed deeply when he announced that a certain festival had come along again - it sound like a great burden to 'keep the show rolling' and he barely concealed his boredom. Not that there was anything wrong with the festival, of course - the problem was the spirits underpinning his ministry, of which Zionism was prominent.
The Messianics aren't alone in this. Regular Christianity is plagued by similar spirits of various sorts. Even the great A.W.Tozer, whom I cited earlier, and whom I greatly respect, rambled out various Catholic creeds based on the tradition he was taught and went off on a tangent that reminded me a bit of the Pharisaic spirit too. First He was face-to-face with Yahweh and then suddenly he was elsewhere. It's so easy to do which is why we have to dig deep to find and then know scriptural emet (truth) well.
Put Aside All Falsehood
To seek Yahweh's face means you have to set aside all false traditions, covenants, vows and systems of religion that block the way between you and Him. For:
The Palestinian Real Estate Business
"[Yah'shua/Jesus] is the Mediator of the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant), by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first (Old) B'rit (Covenant), that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:15, NKJV).
That is why so many messianics are Zionists because they are focussed on the temporal inheritance of Israel instead of the eternal inheritance of Messianic Israel. They are seeking the face of dust, not the Face of Elohim (God) because Yahweh is not currently in the Palestinian Real Estate Business, with all of its injustices and sorrows, and won't be until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns brining the New Jerusalem with Him! And where do you think the old, contemporary Jerusalem will be? It will be under the New one, ground to dust like the Old Covenant to make way for the New, and like all the previous temporal 'Jerusalems', 'Aelia Capitolinas' and 'Jebuses'. GET YOUR EYES BACK ONTO YAHWEH AND OFF THE DUST WHERE DEAD MEN'S BONES LIE.
All departures from Yahweh are in the direction of self and therefore to that which the world exalts. To seek Yahweh's Face after an absence is a choice to abandon selfishness for selflessness. That is the consequence of seeking the Almighty's Presence because self has to be fully subjected in order to fully commune with Him.
The call to seek and return to Yahweh's Face is invariably ignored by apostate Israel:
The Unturned Cake
"Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to Yahweh their Elohim (God), nor seek Him for all this" (Hos.7:8-10, NKJV).
What an interesting turn of phrase - "Ephraim is a cake unturned". Have you ever eaten a piece of meat that was grilled on one side and raw on the other? Or a piece of bread toasted only on one side? There is a conflict of senses between the roof of your mouth and your tongue with the lower part of your mouth to which it is attached - they are both expecting the same sensation and are 'shocked' when they encounter two different ones. Ephraim is here described to be like a cake that has only been baked on one side. He's only half done - half godly, half ungodly. He has "mixed" his values with those of the world - "the peoples" and their conflicting interests.
A Silly, Senseless Dove
Israel's compromise with the world has eaten him alive and aged him before his time. In spite of the obvious emet (truth) that his abandonment of Yahweh has led to his weakness, his pride in self-sufficiency has deluded him into thinking he is not as wasted away as he actually is and that he can continue longer in sin without it unduly affecting him negatively. But he has crossed critical lines of morality and that descent into carnality is eating him alive. That's why Yahweh goes on to call him "a silly dove, without sense" (Hos.7:11, NKJV) who instead of seeking Elohim's (God's) face goes from pillar to post, first to "Egypt" and then to "Assyria" who, though they are both Yahweh's enemies, are each other's enemies too; and in going between them he thinks he can buy favours and time to procrastinate his repentance:
To Wail or to Repent
"Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense -- they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them; I will bring them down like birds of the air; I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard. Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart
when they wailed upon their beds" (Hos.7:11-14, NKJV).
I want you to notice here the contrast between "wailing upon their beds" in the misery of the consequences of their sinful choices that have brought them no simcha (joy), and "they did not cry out to Me with their lev (heart)". They were not repenting but rather complaining because they saw themselves as having been hard done by Him, whilst remaining willfully oblivious to the fact that they themselves had brought on their own woes. This is "silly dove" behaviour and so typical of the West today that has bought into the lies of socialist self-entitlement with its repulsive pity-partying instead of taking the bull of sin by the horns, admitting personal responsibility, repenting and seeking Yahweh's Face.
The Awakening Amidst Tribulation
It must be pretty obvious by now that the peoples of North America, Europe, Australasia, Latin America and the other Israelite countries of the world - indeed, all nations - are not repenting. They are are wailing and that wail will increase more in volume as the collapse gets underway. People you know now who feel secure in the system, who still have jobs and are still paying their bills, who are still buying merchandise and going abroad on their annual vaccations, will begin wailing when they lose their jobs and homes like the millions who already have. The good news amidst this tale of doom and gloom is that many will wake up to an awful realisation of their sins and many will repent and turn their face to Yahweh's. It is these we are waiting for...and for those who never knew Him who will begin seeking for Him for the first time. Yahweh means to use the approaching calamity to restore broken relationships...the hard way, sadly, since the voluntary, self-initiated soft way of repentance has already been rejected by the overwhelming majority.
A False Unification of the World
Some of you may have noticed that US President Obama and the European Union commissars are trying to reunite the 12 Tribes without repentance based on the antichrist system. He has called for free trade between the USA and EU (two rapidly crumbling semi-Marxist economies) and for a Transatlantic Union - an American-European Superstate so that these failing tyrants can consolidate their power. And British Prime Minister Cameron is calling for Asian countries to be absorbed into the EU too! This is all empire-building based on coersion and slavery. It is the opposite the Yahweh's reunification of, first, Israel, and then the whole world under the domain of Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus).
The Mounting Panic and How Hezekiah Dealt With It
I know many of you hearing or reading me are panicking because you believe the Enemy is about to secure world dominion and establish a global dictatorship. That's understandable given one setback after another in the cause of righteousness. But remember how Yahweh works and how He assures those who, like Hezekiah of old, seek His Face. Jerusalem was surrounded by an overwhelming Assyrian enemy. The odds were hopelessly stacked against Judah and her King. But righteousness does not win by might but by right - that's what the word 'righteousness' means. The Assyrian commander boasted of all Assyria's victories up until that moment, how its Empire had swept away every nation in its path and ground them to dust. He mocked Judah's Elohim (God) and arrogantly declared that his master would do to Yahweh what he had done to the gods of the other nations. And he did so so that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem would be intimidated and fearful. But what was the prophet Isaiah's reply to Hezekiah?
The Divine Assurance
Vulnerability Does Not Mean Defeat
"Thus says Yahweh: "'Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land" (Isa.37:6-7, NKJV).
Have you any idea how vulnerable the King of Assyria was, even with his mighty army and his previous victories? And have you any idea how vulnerable the modern Kings of 'Assyria' are today - the Presidents and Prime Ministers who boast of their strength and mock the Elohim (God) of Christianity? Do you think that Obama, Cameron, Barroso, van Rumpoy, Hollande, Merckel, Putin, Xi Jin-ping or any of the world leaders are any better or greater than the boastful, arrogant, mighty King of Assyria? Provided the people seek Yahweh's Face and repent, they can cause Yahweh to put down this global rebellion against His Reign as easily and effortlessly as He ended the siege of Jerusalem back then. It doesn't matter how many banks, armies or police forces these people control! This is nothing before Yahweh.
A Proper Attitude
The Prayer of Hezekiah
"And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of Yahweh, and spread it before Yahweh. Then Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh, saying: O Yahweh of hosts, Elohim (God) of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are Elohim (God), You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Yahweh, and hear; open Your eyes, O Yahweh, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living Elohim (God). Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands -- wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Yahweh our Elohim (God), save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are Yahweh, You alone" (Isa.37:14-20, NKJV).
That, brethren and sisters, was the attitude of one man seeking Yahweh's Face that saved Jerusalem from the Destroyer. And it is no different from what you and I are capable of doing. The remnant can stay the hand of the Destroyer through repentance and submission for the benefit of many, but that is up to you and me:
The Promise That You Have
"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16, NKJV).
Do you believe that? What obstacles have been cast up in your life that you desperately want to get past but feel hemmed in on all sides, powerless to do anything? Are you cowering in a corner, unconvinced that Yahweh can do for you and your family or congregation what He did for Hezekiah and Jerusalem? All Hezekiah did was seek Yahweh's Face and hearken to the words of the nevi'im (prophets) and it was done even as He had spoken. But perhaps you seek a davar (word) from Him first? The two will likely come together so don't hestitate to seek His Face even without a davar (word) yet. Perhaps we should recall Yahweh's reply to Sennacherib through the prophet Isaiah:
Yahweh's Reply to the Destroyer
Our Situation is Little Different from Jerusalem's
"The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back!
"'Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. By your servants you have reproached Yahweh, and said, 'By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees;
I will enter its farthest height, to its fruitful forest. I have dug and drunk water, and with the soles of my feet I have dried up"
"'Did you not hear long ago How I made it, from ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins. Therefore their inhabitants had little power; they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field and the green herb, as the grass on the housetops and grain blighted before it is grown.
"'But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. Because your rage against Me and your tumult Have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back By the way which you came.
"'This shall be a sign to you: You shall eat this year such as grows of itself, and the second year what springs from the same; also in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this.
"Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the king of Assyria:
"'He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return; and he shall not come into this city,' says Yahweh. 'For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'
"Then the malak (angel) of Yahweh went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses -- all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword..." (Isa.37:22-38, NKJV)
Are you aware, brethren and sisters, that we are in a very similar situation today? Only we aren't all gathered in a city like Jerusalem, but in scattered homes across the globe, all of which are little Jerusalems. Are you awake that every head of household must go like an Isaiah and a Hezekiah combined, and every Pastor of a congregation, before Yahweh's Face with the same emunah (faith) and the same determination to do what is right? He will give you a Davar (Word) for you, your family, and your congregation if you seek righteousness and trust in His Omnipotent hand. Will you declare for Him as Hezekiah of old and laugh at those who challenge, and rebuke those who mock, our Elohim (God)? If you do, be sure it is the true spirit of prophecy ! And if you are not sure, simply quote the Scriptures and trust their promises.
The Enemy Does Not Have His Own Way
No, brethen and sisters, the Enemey does not have it all his own way, and no, he is not all powerful. He is but dust. But then so are we. So maintain perspective.
I declare for myself, for my family, for this congregation and for all who have embraced this ministry in emunah (faith, trusting), the Sovereignty of Almighty Yahweh-Elohim through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) our Master. Now you can, if you choose, go off and wail about your sufferings caused by your own sin and get nowhere, or you can just go and hide and hope the storm will pass over you; or you can stand up like a man before your enemies and prostrate yourself before your Elohim (God) knowing that once you are in right relationship with Him you haven't a thing to worry about. You can live victoriously whilst surrounded by the Assyrian because you know Yahweh will scatter him and execute his king at the hands of his own rivals!
Let us arise and shine in His Light (Isa.60:1), brethren and sisters, and seek His Face every day from now on until it becomes such an engrained habit that not doing it will seem alien! Hezekiah did and so can you. Amen.