Month 11:11, Week 2:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year:Day 5937:307 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 10 February 2014
Blind and Arrogant
Confronting the Human Condition
"Loiter and be dazed, enjoy yourselves and be blinded, be drunk but not with wine, reel but not with strong drink; for Yahweh had poured upon you a spirit of deep stupor; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, and muffled your heads, the seers.
"All prophetic vision has become for you like a sealed book. Give such a book to one who can read and say, 'Come, read this'; he will answer, 'I cannot', because it is sealed. Give it to one who cannot read and say, 'Come, read this'; he will answer, 'I cannot read'.
"Then Yahweh said: Because this people approach Me with their mouths and honour Me with their lips while their hearts are frar from Me, and their religion is but a precept of men, leart by rote, therefore I will yet again shock this people, adding shock to shock: the wisdom of their wise men shall vanish and the discernment of the discerning shall be lost.
"Shame upon those who seek to hide their purpose too deep for Yahweh to see, and who, when their deeds are done in the dark, say, 'Who sees us? Who knows of us?' How you turn things upside down, as if the poor ranked no higher than the clay! Shall the thing made of clay say of its maker, 'He did not make me'? Shall the pot say to the potter, 'He has no skill'? The time is but short before Lebanon goes back to grassland and the grassland is no better than scrub.
"On that day the deaf man shall hear when a book is read, and the eyes of the blind shall sea out of impenetrable darkness. The lowly shall once again rejoice in Yahweh, and the poorest of men exult in the Holy One of Israel. The ruthless shall be no more, the arrogant shall cease to be; those who are quick to see mischief, those who charge others with a sin or lay traps for him who brings the wrongdoer into court or by falsehood deny justice to the righteous -- all these shall be exterminated.
"Therefore these are the words of Yahweh the Elohim (God) of the house of Jacob, the Elohim (God) who ransomed Abraham:
"This is no time for Jacob to be shamed, no time for his face to grow pale; for his descendants will hallow my name when they see what I have done in their nation. They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob and hold the Elohim (God) of Israel in awe; those whose minds are confused will gain understanding, and the obstinate will receive instruction" (Is.29:9-24, NEB).
Have you ever tried to share some scriptural emet (truth) with a person whose mind is so closed that their only defence is something like:
Only the Ruach Can Convict and Convert
- 1. You're stupid (or ignorant or something like that);
- 2. I've been studying the scriptures longer than you;
- 3. I was raised in the Torah, you weren't;
- 4. My father was a Pastor/Rabbi/Priest/Minister;
- 5. 5 million people agree with me (and how many are you?), etc..
If you have, don't worry. This is the typical response of a person who is blinded for one or more of several reasons. Whatever you do, don't get upset, don't be drawn into their nervous, feverish energy, and don't fret about their salvation. If all they can do is attack you, understand that this is not their time, that you may not be the one called to convert them (someone else may water the seed you planted), or maybe Yahweh must yet metaphorically drag them over hot coals to burn the stubbornness, immaturity and quite possibly fear, out of them. Your job may just be to scatter some seeds and move on. Don't assume you will plant, water and harvest because most people convert only after a logn process involving many witnesses. Let Yahweh have control of the conversion process - only the Ruach (Spirit) can convict and convert.
From Family to Enemy
It's hard letting go of tradition, and it's harder once you have done so, to then weather the storms whipped up by those you once counted as your friends whom you relied on to support you as you once supported them. Suddenly, that safety (illusiory though it was) is gone. Suddenly you may find yourself alone in a hostile environment where before you were amomgst 'family'.
Opposition is Part of the Deal
I would like to suggest to you that every sincere and honest talmid (disciple) must expect to go through this. Yah'shua (Jesus) said that this kind of opposition was axiomatic with true discipleship (Jn.15:20) because you can't leave error for emet (truth) without stirring up a nest of vipers in the process.
The Cost of Discipleship
You see, discipleship isn't just about accepting the emet (truth) and embracing it, it's also about accepting opposition - often painful, and sometimes at the cost of your own life in the extreme situation - from those who blindly defend their traditions, along with the imagined safety and privileges that have come to be expected as part of our supposed well-being. There is always a price to pay in following Messiah.
Abandoning the Old Life
I have often wondered why Yah'shua (Jesus) approached the first talmidim (disciples) and called them to abandon everything they had known. They literally left homes, family, professions and possessions behind in order to follow Him. And when one talmid (disciple) asked if he could go any bury his dead father, the Master instructed him to let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead (Mt.8:22; Lk.9:60). He was to rather follow the Living One.
Vaccation or Vocation?
Though these may seem harsh on the surface, they are really poignant reminders of what the cost of discipleship is and to whom we belong once we claim to have 'surrendered' to Him as allegorical brides. The Besorah (Gospel) is not some vaccation, its a vocation. If, before conversion, we had a vocation as a doctor, teacher, civil servant, plumber, road-sweeper, or any of the hundreds of different vocations and careers, we have to yield it to Yah'shua (Jesus) and make Him our 'vocation' and 'career'.
Demoting Personal Ambition
What that means is that whatever we pursued up until conversion automatically, and from there on, assumes a secondary position or status. A huge readjustment in lifestyle is required and whatever drove our ambitions and hopes before has to be replaced by an entirely new motion and drive. Whereas self-will was in the cockpit of our lives before, that has to be yielded to an entirely new and different Power with different goals.
After the Initial Ordinances
Now you may believe, because you were taught so by ministers who should have known better, that upon reciting the 'Sinner's Prayer', or fulfilling some other condition for admission into the Kingdom like baptism, learning a catechism, or going through circumcision or a Bar Mitzvah, that the hardest part was over. Making a choice for Yah'shua (Jesus) may not be easy, and may indeed be followed by a lot of opposition from people you supposed loved, cared for you and respected your life choices. And I admit, that is tough.
The Hardest Part Wasn't What I Thought
However, as I look back on my spiritual journey in retrospect, what I thought was the hardest part - all the opposition, persecution, family fights and break-ups, interpersonal relationship estrangements - was in actuality the easy part. It didn't seem so at the time but now, as I face what are perhaps the greatest challenges in my life, these seem almost like bagatelles. As I look back at all the theological debates and disputes I got into, for example, and see how tenaciously believers cling to false doctrine (for whatever reason), and recall how upset I used to get at their 'stupidity', I realise that I was, in truth, still a prisoner of my own unredeemed passions. I did not have as much of "the shalom (peace) of Elohim (God) that surpasses all understanding" (Phil.4:7, NKJV) as I thought I did, because I was more concerned about being right (the fruit of my own exegetical works) than in being righteous (the fruit of Messiah's work in me). I was fighting Yahweh's battles, trying to do His work, which He alone can accomplish through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
Signs That We Remain in Self and Not in Messiah
If other's peoples' cockiness, rudeness, arrogance, stupidity and ignorance are upsetting us, it is because they are upsetting the very same thing that still has dominion in our own lives, our own trusting in our works. They're shining a mirror back on us and reminding us that we're still doing the same as them irrespective of who has the correct theology or lifestyle. Their cockiness, rudeness, stupidity and ignorance is interfacing with our self instead of Messiah-IN-me. Why? Because at this critical point, Messiah is still not in me yet, I merely assumed it because I said a prayer years ago or thought I had earned salvational points through my own cleverly-made, wise, righteous choices. And so we miss the mark of grace (undeserved loving-kindness, unmerited favour) and remain the same unsaved persons we were, in that area, as we were before we claimed to be followers of the Derech (Way).
Do You Have Real Shalom or Just a Closed-Down Heart?
Put bluntly, your theological correctless and perceived righteous lifestyle is useless if you have no shalom (peace), and feel no good will toward those who attack it, because our spiritual shalom (peace), as opposed to the fake 'peace' that results from closing down the heart and conscience, is not based on our own righteousness but His. Today I was accused of being a number of things (like being a 'looooony sabbatarian', ignorant, stupid, etc.) by a rather young and cocky Messianic Jew because of the Creation Calendar - I was contemptuously told I couldn't count to 7. As I always do in such situations, I reminded the person that rudeness and ad hominem attacks on the messenger doesn't disprove the message but rather displays immaturity. I said I wasn't going to debate, left my blessings and departed, with the Messianic no doubt believing a victory had been scored against me because they had had the last word.
The Last Word is Not Ours
Only Yahweh has the last word and the emet (truth) is more than able to defend itself. If it's His Davar (Word) we are conveying then it's not ours to defend, is it? Only those who are unsure of what they believe in feel a need to defend themselves by demeaning the one bringing that Davar (Word).
The Blind Cannot Read a Book
You can't expect someone who is blind to read a book, let alone 'see' prophetically. It's not their time and may never be. We can only move on in such circumstances, however heavy of heart, as the Master did when the rich young ruler refused to divest himself of his god - money - and instead follow Messiah. He knew and lived His Torah but his heart deceived him into believing that because Yahweh had rewarded him with wealth that it was alright to covet it. It ruled him instead of the other way round.
Leaving Your Old Life Behind
To leave behind your social environment which, from being 'family' suddenly becomes your enemy upon profession of Messiah, is a tough one. But I want to suggest the hardest thing of all is leave your self behind - your flesh nature - which is constantly accusing and trying to guilt you for having done such 'horrible' things to the family and friends you 'abandoned' because you would not be forced into continuing in their ways, and because they would not leave home and profession as the first talmidim (disciples) were required to. We are apt to forget, if we responded in the way of ahavah (love), that in rejecting the tradions of our peers and family we were never rejecting them as people. The problem is, do unbelieving friends and family ever see it that way?
What is Your Identity Tied To?
Their identity is so closely tied into the lies they believe that the only way they can enjoy the freedom to accept your choices is if they can separate the human being from the belief system of the human being. Most have difficulty in doing that. Rarely, and only if there is maturity that comes of having been refined by life's many trials and tribulations, will you still be accepted as a person. Rarely do people 'live and let live' because their flesh makes them feel the need to condemn in order to feel good about the lies they believe in. Sinners don't like to be shown up as unrighteous, as not possessing the power of the resurrected Messiah within them, especially if they claim to be Christians or Messianics, because of the authentic light shining in the one who has authentically converted. It shakes the pillars of their temple of the flesh, makes them feel unsafe and threatened, so they respond as all worldly people do: with threats and anger.
Giving Up Everything to Save a Loved One
No true believer ever wants to leave a friend or family member behind to follow Yah'shua (Jesus). Paul said he would be willing to give up everything he knew to be true for the sake of making known the ahavah (love) of Yah'shua (Jesus) to his fellow Judahites, because such was his passion for them, - he was willing to give up even his own emunah (faith) for them, were that possible! And that is the difference between the one born of ahavah (love) and the one born of self.
The Gospel is Free But Discipleship Costs You All
We cannot escape this part of the journey that is known as the Derech Elohim (Way of God). Paraphrasing and expanding what one very wise mentor of mine once said concerning the Besorah (Gospel): THE ENTRANCE FEE OF SALVATION IS FREE BUT THE DISCIPLESHIP COURSE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WILL COST YOU EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT. Everything.
Self-Esteem is Self-Worship
I said earlier that persecution and the loss of loved ones who will not follow the Master is an 'easy' part, even if it was murderously and agonisingly difficult at the time (and may still be for some), so what could possibly be worse? The very things the world prizes so highly because they're the things that assure spiritual death and a misery in eternity: self-esteem and self-worship, which amount to the same thing. For the religion of this world is the worship of self, and the god of this world set the example by doing the same. And since he's supernatural and we're natural, worshipping self is to cut the rope that ties us to the true Elohim (God) Yahweh and His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) and thence from our security, shalom (peace) and long-term happiness, the effect is to drift into the orbit, power, dominion and lovelessness of the original rebel malakh (angel). No man is an island and he will either allow himself to be 'boarded' and delivered by Yah'shua (Jesus) or he will allow himself to be 'boarded' and enslaved by the Devil.
A Cariacture of Love
If a man claims to be a follower of Messiah but is so blind that he cannot read the Sefer Chayim or the Book of Life, then he is only following Messiah in word but not in actuality. How can he know? By the way he treats other people, and especially other believers who arene't necessarily teaching the same things, or even correct things, as himself because they're still on the journey of discovery and repentance from false tradition too. Mocking them, attacking their integrity without bothering to see what kind of relationship they actually have with Messiah, is testimony to their lost state. They haven't yet 'seen' the Kingdom of Heaven, which is about supernaturally and lovingly connecting to other people in Messiah, but only see an empty intellectual cariacature of it.
Defining Yahweh's Family
It is a wonderful and blessed thing to walk with like-minded souls, who walk in divine tavnith (pattern) and emet (truth), but in this life these people are in reality are few and far between, because the Remnant is precisely that - a 'remnant'. But we are no more required to exclusively live our lives with this small handfull of people that Yah'shua (Jesus) has brought so far in our lives and turn our noses up at the rest than Yah'shua (Jesus) rejecting the imperfect, for He said that He had come as a physician to save the sick, not the healthy (Lk.5:31). We're not supposed to be an exclusive club shunning the rest who, whilst still the prisoners of false doctrine, nevertheless are born again and do share the same authentic ahavah (love) and passion for Messiah as demonstrated in their works. We're to bless them as much as we are to bless those who don't know Him at all, and work patiently and lovingly with both, not keep them at arm's-length, nor mocking them because they may not know as much as we do or think we know, because we're all still 'works in progress' and none of us knows exactly where we are in our spiritual progression. Yet we must also remain firm in the emet (truth) and never compromise it. We must let Yahweh define His family and not try to do so ourselves. It's astonishingly liberating.
The Great Challenge
Yah's people are known primarily by their humility, teachability and their ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) and of people, not by how 'right' they think they are theologically. Righteouesness is not, in any case, of man but of Elohim (God) alone, and once a man has this revelation firmly established in his heart, he is more likely to stay on the 'strait and narrow' (Mt.7:13-14) than to wander off into the myriads of mires and pits that Satan has everywhere placed to entrap him. He must, of course, remain teachable and willing to change, because there is always change. Those who think they have learned everything and have nothing to change in their lives are living in delusion. We, who have been involved in this end-time restoration, truly know the meaning of the word 'change' as we have had to discard so much false tradition over the years. But the biggest changes are within, from being self-centred to being Messiah-centred, and these changes everyone has to go through, even with a good start of true doctrine, and that, perhaps, is our greatest challenge and labour of all.