Month 4:08, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:096 AM|
2Exodus 1/40, Omer Count Day 29/50
6/40 Fast of the Firstborn, 6/70 Firstborn Mourning
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 4 July 2014
Kehunnah in His Image
Establishing the Right Foundation
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus) be in abundance in every heart assembled today whether here in Sweden or in spirit abroad.
Discussion in a Car: Am I a Christian?
Yesterday I took some of my children to Gothenburg to meet up with an older brother of theirs and on the four-hour journey down we got to talking about all kinds of things. One subject from my children that has cropped up several times is this: How do I know I am a Christian? A very basic question but a key one that I intend to make a stab at answering.
Letting Yahweh In
To do that I think we first have to ask another question, and it's this: what is Yahweh's purpose in creating us? What is His ultimate goal and what is our part in fulfilling that goal? You can go to any number of Evangelical, Messianic, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or other groupings and get an interesting array of answers. But as I take a broad overview of the whole body of Scriptures, I come to one answer, and it's this: Yahweh's purpose is that He wants to live in you and to share Himself with you. Which is really no different from a husband wanting to live in His wife and to be able to freely give of his substance, his essential being, to her, for her safety, for her comfort, and to complete her, in ahavah (love). And before I trigger a whole barrage of questions and thoughts you may have, I ask that you bear with me to the end so that I can convey the substance of what may seem a very complex matter but which is basically very simple one. Our part is simply to let Yahweh in.
The Adventure is Only Just Beginning
Now here is some good news both for young believers as well as old, and even for unbelievers who are searching for answers. If you feel that you have not yet, or are not currently, experiencing Yahweh living in you through Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), then if you persist in your search, you have got a wonderful experience awaiting you! And to that I would like to add another thought for you to ruminate on, whether you are a younger or older believer in the emunah (faith) - your life in Elohim (God) is only beginning and a wonderful adventure lies ahead of you provided you don't quit.
Unanswered Prayers and False Conclusions
Many people conclude that Elohim (God) does not exist because they feel their prayers aren't being answered, or to quote one of my children, it feels like 'talking into air'. I understand that. For me, when I have found myself in this state, it has felt like 'talking to a brick wall'. There are times of silence, and the reasons for this silence can be several. One of them undoubtedly is because there is unresolved sin in our lives which we are avoiding. Under certain conditions Yahweh refuses to hear prayer until these are resolved:
Reasons for Unanswered Prayer
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, Yahweh would not have listened" (Ps.66:18, NIV).
"We know that Elohim (God) does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will" (Jn.9:31, NIV).
"If anyone turns a deaf ear to the Torah (Law), even his prayers are detestable" (Prov.28:9, NIV).
"When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood" (Isa.1:15, NIV).
There are many who without any sort of justification get disillusioned when Yahweh does not answer their prayers and the reason is usually because they will not repent. Those who cherish or love sinning, those who refuse to do His will when they know what it is, those who refuses to obey Torah, and those who shed innocent blood might just as well pray into the air or to a brick wall, for Yahweh will not hear the prayers of such.
Inheriting the Promises Through Faith
However, what these self same people don't always realise is that their prayers are actually being answered. Sometimes Yahweh says 'yes' or 'no' to requests and at other times He simply says 'wait' - now is not the time to get an answer to that question. It is easy to forget that every single promise that Yahweh gives in His Davar (Word) is only inherited through emunah (faith). Emunah-faith means pro-active trusting - it means we are to continue doing His will as recorded in Scripture and trusting Him to answer our prayers in His time while we get on living out the basics of the emunah (faith). We can't just stop living out the Besorah (Gospel) while we wait for an answer.
Refusing to Hear
Quite commonly Yahweh answers our prayers with responses we do not want to hear, and because we know what the answer is and don't want to listen, that's exactly what we do - we stop listening and that renders us spiritually deaf. So I ask you now - are there any answers to prayers that you have heard but have turned a deaf ear to? You might seriously want to begin by responding, in emunah (faith), to those earlier instructions.
Atheistic Logic Refuted
Be careful of atheistic logic when it comes to prayer. Ray Comfort shares these thoughts:
Example of the Volvo
"Here's a scenario that no doubt happens daily somewhere in the world. A young boy becomes deathly ill. The entire family gathers for prayer. However, despite earnest and sincere prayer, the child tragically dies. Their explanation for the death is that Elohim (God) took him to heaven because He wanted the child there. That's seen by the atheist as 'unanswered prayer'. Or the child miraculously makes a recovery, which the family hails as an evident miracle. Elohim (God) obviously answered the family's prayers by saving the child from death. The atheist maintains that it wasn't answered prayer but that the child recovered because his body healed itself.
"Was the recovery a miracle? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps it wasn't. Only Elohim (God) truly knows. The fact is that we have no idea what happened. Only Elohim (God). However, one thing we do know is that answered or unanswered prayer has nothing to do with Elohim's (God's) existence." 
Let me explain with an example. The other day we bought a new Volvo car. Let's say it has a problem, as indeed we have found that it has. How intelligent would you say I was if I concluded that the Volvo had no manufacturer simply because I couldn't make contact the original owner about the problem? The fact of the owner's existence has nothing to to with my calls not being answered.
Existence is Not Negated by Blindness
The existence of Elohim (God) has nothing to do with the fact that I, who am an older believer, have experienced miracles, visions or hear His voice. He existed before I ever experienced any of these things or even believed in Him. The existence of Yahweh has nothing to do with anyone's testimony. The sun doesn't not exist because a blind man cannot see it or because it's night time or the sky is overcast. So we must not make the elementary, yet costly, mistake of the atheist who concludes that Elohim (God) does not exist because his prayers are unanswered. Indeed the existence of Yahweh doesn't even depend on the existance of the Bible, the Messianic Community (Church), or even the physical universe.
The Idolatrous Nature of Human Nature
Ray Comfort goes on to say:
"Adamant atheist April Pedersen writes: 'The human trait of seeking comfort through prayer is a strong one.' This is true. However, April fails to see that human nature itself is very predictable. If men will not embrace the biblical revelation of Elohim (God), their nature is to delve into idolatry. 'Idolatry' is the act of creating a god in our image, whether it is shaped with the human hands (a physical idol), or shaped in the human mind through the imagination. Those who create their own god then use it as a 'good-luck charm' to do their bidding. The idolater uses his god for his own ends. He calls on his god to win a football game, a boxing match, the lottery, or a war. Idolatry is as predicable as it is illogical." 
And remember this - the sweetest, nicest person can just as easily be an idolater as an obviously evil person. Religious people can be as isolatrous as atheists too. Now the reason I bring all of this to your attention is to spare you an unnecessary, time-wasting and ultimately painful journey into agnosticism or atheism simply because you refused to deal with the simple fact that trusting in 'human nature', so called - the Adamic, carnal, fallen nature which Scripture calls "the flesh" (e.g. Phil.3:3-4) - is nothing less than idolatry, and Yahweh cannot - and will not - respond to an idolatrous prayer. So many people miss the Derech (Way) because they have failed to understand this emet (truth).
Spirit vs. Psyche and Physicality
So let us return with what I began with. Yahweh wants you to experience Him living in you, filling you with His ahavah (love), simcha (joy), confidence and a sure knowledge of His faithfulness. Your essence is not the physical matter you can touch, nor is it the psychic character traits you inherited from your parents - your essence is spiritual and beyond the dimension of both the psychic and the physical. And though we are supposed to be connected to both the psychic and physical, and experience them, properly connecting with them, they are not - and never will be - the 'main thing'. Your spiritual identity is utterly unique, it is not inherited from your earthly parents but comes directly from Yahweh-Elohim. Most people make the mistake of believing that their identity lies in the 'external' components of our mortal being. These are like the clothes we wear - we put them on at birth and we take them off at death. So much of what poses as true religion in the New Age and other oriental faiths is little more than connecting to the psychic body - it is not about the spiritual essence which comes directly from Elohim (God), though they speak of 'God' as though He were to be found in this psychic matter or energy.
Comparing with a TV Set
Our essence is in the design of our immortal spirit. It's a bit like a TV-set. A TV has physical components and functions when electricity is passed through it. Then the components, animated by the electricity, create pictures and sounds for us to see and hear. But the essence of the TV set is neither its physical components nor is it the electricity that passes through it. The physical components - the chassis, screen and internal parts - are like our physical body with its skin, skeleton, organs, circulatory system, etc. The electricity is like our psyche with its sensations, emotions and even thoughts. But the essence of a TV is its DESIGN which has a DESIGNER (or team of designers). Our essence - our spirit - is the design of the Creator who fashioned us exactly the way He wanted us to be.
Proactive faith Explained
Don't take this analogy too far, mind you, because it has limits, but rather grasp this essential emet (truth): you, your essential self, your spirit, is separate from - and yet integrated with - your physical body and psychic body. While here is has one - and only one - choice to make which will affect its (and your) eternal destiny: and that choice is to admit, or refuse entery to, Yah'shua (Jesus) into your heart and to have full ownership. We are motivated to do so based on the promises He makes in Scripture, and it is for us to trust those promises - to exercise emunah (faith) in them - or not. This emunah (faith) is not passive assent or agreement. The Hebrew word emunah always means active faith, meaning that we will always allow that trusting to translate into the psychic realm in our emotional life, and thence into the physical realm in our actions. True emunah, faith or trusting always translates into the whole or rest of our being, the parts we lay down eventually in death, because while we are here Yahweh views our three-part-being system as echad or one. In the resurrection we get the psychic and physical parts back only they are so fully integrated that they can never separate in death again.
What the Churches Often Teach
Now to a cardinal emet (truth) that is so commonly missed by believers. Most churches and messianic synagogues teach you that to grow in Messiah you have to be busily involved in witnessing, assembly (church) activities, teaching, and so forth. They also teach you that in order to grow you have to do certain things and not do certain things, obey these rules or mitzvot (commandments). They teach that we cannot enjoy Yahweh so long as there is any sin in our lives. They teach, quoting Scripture, that Yahweh is qodesh (holy, set-apart) and that He will pour out His anger on believers if they do not obey Him and get rid of that sin.
The Kernel Truth and Religious Activity
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying we can be disobedient, leave sins unrepented of and undealt with, or that we can disobey the Torah. So bear with me. Our problem lies in the false belief that we have to be doing all of these things in order to be accepted by Yahweh, in order for Him to hear and answer our prayers. The core, essence, kernel or prime emet (truth) of the Besorah (Gospel), out of which all other activity can correctly flow, is that we are already complete in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), and there is no way we can ever experience this until we stop all our religious activity and just sit down in stillness and quietness and bathe in His presence, and simply learn to enjoy being with Him, not expecting anything.
We Cannot Earn Yah's Love and Approval
Again, I am not saying that Torah, evangelism, assembling, and all these things aren't important because they are - which is why He commands them. But what I am saying is that until you have taken the time to meet Him privately, all these other things will seem a burden rather than a joy. The first and most important emet (truth) that every true believer must learn and not forget (for we do forget so very quickly) is that there is nothing we can do to earn His ahavah (love), favour or approval. We already have this. He loves us with an everlasting ahavah (love), has always done so, and will always do so.
Images of Elohim
There is no shortage of religious people who want to be actively working for their image of Elohim (God). Just look at the last two thousand years of Christendom and see the abysmal failure most of it has been precisely because what was pursued was religion without an intimate contact with Elohim (God). If people were connected to Yahweh in the way they should have been, there wouldn't be such division, there wouldn't be such woundedness, there wouldn't be so many denominations. There is nothing wrong with religion - what Yahweh hates is idolatrous religion, religion made in the image of man's own fantasies instead of religion flowing out of man in proper communion with His Creator in stillness, shalom (peace) and ahavah (love). Even many Torah-obedient messianics are idolatrous when they live out the mitzvot (commandmts) mechanically. If the spirit of man is not connecting to the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) then ultimately all religion is vain, even if it is theologically correct.
Yahweh's Search for a Priesthood
What was it that Yahweh originally wanted and what is it that Yahweh wants now? What Yahweh has consantly sought for is a kehunnah, which is the Hebrew word for Priesthood. He has always wanted a corporate people for His image and His dominion. What is a cohen (priest)? A cohen (priest) is one who bear His image and carries His toqef (authority). A true cohen (priest) is not someone who just works for Yahweh. A cohen (priest) is one who has contact with Yahweh in their daily life. A true cohen (priest) is one who is filled with Elohim (God).
Busy, Empty Religious People
And this is the frightening truth. A man (or woman) can work for Elohim (God) all his life with some fancy title, doing lots of religious activity, and never be filled with Him. Is this not what Yah'shua (Jesus) meant when He said:
The Witness of Brother Yun
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Master, Master, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" (Matt.7:22-23, NIV).
As many of you know I have been reading about the life of Brother Yun, known colloqially in China as 'the heavenly man'  and the one thing that has struck me forcibly, yet again, is that here is an authentic cohen (priest) of Yahweh. I have no doubt that a lot of his theology is wrong - he's not Torah-obedient, he celebrates Christmas, and doubtless believes in many other wrong teachings. However, there is no question in my mind that he is a living example of the kehunnah or priesthood in action - the inmage of Yah'shua (Jesus) is indellibly stamped on him.
The Common Foundation
A lot of messianics believe that unless the 600+ mitzvot (commandments) are being lived properly, or the Name of YHWH is being pronounced properly, that believers like evangelicals (for example) are not true followers of Messiah. This is nonsense. And whilst this is not to give carte blance to all evangelical doctrine and practice, it's not giving carte blance to all messianics either. The point is you're either built on the right foundation or not, and if you're not, the chayim (life) of the Besorah (Gospel) will not be flowing to you or from you, and your religion then becomes dead religion. It is religion in vain. That is why we, as Messianic Evangelicals, are at home with anyone who has this true foundation. We don't put people into claustrophobic theological boxes, and whilst we absolutely teach and maintain the importance of correct theology and practice, and will not compromise one inch on that, but teach it boldly and unapologetically, we do acknowledge absolutely the overarching importance of being properly founded in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and will therefore call anyone 'brother' or 'sister' who has that foundation. At the same time we deny that we have a common emunah (faith) with anyone who does not have that foundation, even if their theology in all other respects, and in particular in respect of Torah, most closely matches our own.
Approach Him With a Willing Heart
You are a true believer - Christian or Messianic - if you have made the choice to trust in Yah'shua (Jesus) and follow Him, even if your prayers are, for now, like talking in the air or to a brick wall. The most important thing you can do if you are still in that seeking mode of wanting to meet Him personally is to concentrate on that above all else. Make that your prayer! Ask Him to reveal Himself to you but approach Him with a willing heart to do whatever He wants of you, even if you don't know what it is He wants you to do, and even (and especially) if you think what He wants of you will not be to the liking of your fleshy nature. Emunah (faith) is, in any case, not knowing, isn't it? It's simply trusting!
Though Yahweh may be silent a while, He never leaves us empty-handed. If Yahweh has not answered you yet, persist in prayer no matter what, for He will answer you in His own time and way. Like Jacob wrestling with the malak (angel), you must not cease your prayer struggle until you have obtained the desired blessing of knowing and communing with Him. For then you will get a new name and a new nature. Amen.
 Ray Comfort, The Evidence Bible - NKJV (Bridge-Logos, Alaachua, Florida: 2011), p.762
 Brother Yun & Paul Hathaway, The Heavenly Man (Monarch Books, Oxford: 2002)