Month 10:25, Week 4:3 (Sheshi/Bikkurim), Year:Day 5939:291 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 15 January 2015
Maintain a Conflict!
The Testimony of Yehudah (Jude)
What Kind of Disciple?
"I...appeal to you to join the struggle in defence of the emunah (faith), the emunah (faith) which Elohim (God) entrusted to His people once and for all" (Jude 3, NEB)
There is no such thing as a passive, stationary, armchair talmid (disciple) of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) because this is not a passive, stationary, armchair world, nor have we been given a passive, stationary, armchair Besorah (Gospel). The Besorah (Gospel) is constantly under assault both from enemies within and enemies without. It's always been that way and it will continue to be that way until Messiah returns and puts everything in order.
Maintain a Conflict for the Gospel
The true Besorah (Gospel) is by definition un-liberal and allows for no compromise. "Contend for the emunah (faith)" (NRSV, NAB, ESV), "fight on for the emunah (faith)" (GNB), "content earnestly for the emunah (faith)" (MRC, HRV), "put up a real fight for the emunah (faith)" (JBP), "fight hard for the emunah (faith)" (JB) - however you translate it, the meaning is undeniably clear - indeed, the original Aramaic is even more emphatic, even more imperative, when it says "maintain a conflict for the emunah (faith)" (AENT). This is a very real fight, a struggle, a conflict, a series of battles, a war, in the affairs of humanity and if we fail in this mitzvot (commandment) we must inevitably fail. I like the way Andrew Roth explains it:
Contending Against the Faith
"Maintain the elements of Faith (Emunah) that cause the clash between the two opposing forces. If there is truth (emet) to the proverb that the opposite of love (ahavah) is not hate, but indifference: then the opposite of the Truth (Emet) is not lies, but relativism. Relativism is the doctrine (thinking) that nothing is universally true; everything is relative to circumstances, application, feelings, or emotions. When Yehudah (Jude, Judah) writes, "maintain a conflict" we are compelled to understand that the conflict is "for the faith (emunah) which was once delivered to the Set Apart believers (saints, qodeshim)". The enemy has substituted Faith (Emunah) with socially acceptable religions as it is said; 'YHWH created Faith (Emunah), but the Devil made a religion out of it'" .
If you are socially accepted then you aren't contending for the emunah (faith) but for a man-made religion. Did you also know that the verb is both the imperative - something we must do - but also the rpesent continuous - something we are doing all the time - "be contending for the emunah (faith)" (CLNT)? Since the enemy is not merely fighting againat the emunah (faith) as a matter of principle, but actually contending against it continuously, then the moment we stop contending for it, we lose ground to him. Why do you think the Besorah (Gospel) is in retreat almost everywhere? Why do we hear on an almost daily basis of retreats from the emet (truth) "which Elohim (God) entrusted to His people once and for all"? That emunah (faith) is not in need of further discovery, it was already plainly and completely revealed in the days when it was written down for us as Scripture. We have only to understand what Scripture says - it needs no 'adaptation' to, or 'accomodation' with, modern culture, future culture, past culture or any culture. Because once you start making it 'fit' into a culture - that species, that creature, which is constantly mutating and evolving because of human whim apart from any Absolute and Divine Torah (Law), you have become a Relativist, you have become indifferent to Emet (Truth). You have sacrificed it on the altar of an alien god and exchanged it for some lukewarm, diluted broth with little or no saving sustenance. It loses its saltiness and can no longer preserve the soul.
Disciples are Social Pariahs
There is no applause from the world when we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. To contend for the emunah (faith) is to be a social pariah in a world that hates the Emunah (Faith). There is no recognition from the world when we are contending for that once-and-for-all Besorah (Gospel) - none - but thyere is acceptance when we compromise it for the world. There can, in fact, only be hostility, which is fed into the hearts of rebellious men and women doing the bidding of the devil as the devil and his demons are reminded again and again by us that they are liars, that they are exposed, and that they are doomed for Yah'shua (Jesus) did not die for them! Their cause is hopeless and thus, by being reminded of that, they are enraged, and cause their servants to be enraged too. Thus the once-and-for-all Emunah (Faith) is in the greatest danger not from the hostile world outside the Messianic Community (Church) but from those "persons who have wormed their way in, the very men whom Scripture long ago marked down for the doom they have incurred". Look how ministers from Protestantism are scurrying back to Rome, praising the atheists, and acknowledging equality with all types of faith and religion under a host of false banners that proclaim the devil's elusive 'peace'. "They pervert the free favour of Elohim (God) into licentiousness, disowning Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), our only Master..." (v.4, NEB).
The Subverted Faith
If we yield to these worms, to this Fifth Column, we might as well give up the fight altogether, for they will eat the heart of the Besorah (Gospel) and the Messianic Community (Church) by the by. The Emunah (Faith) is the Messianic Community's first line of defence, and if that crumbles, what remains will be overwhelmed by the by. That is why 21st century Christendom and Messianism is in such a sorry state - it has been subverted, taken over, by the very enemy forces it swore to resist and fight valiantly.
Zeal is Not Enough
Now I know that different groups who believe these verses will insist that their version of the Besorah (Gospel) is "the emunah (faith) that Elohim (God) entrusted to His people once and for all" in the beginning. Their zeal is certainly commendable, but zeal is not enough, and we should reserve such passion for those things which we know are indisputable true. And when we discover they are not, we should yield up our defence of them with equal zeal for the emet (truth). Is essential, once we discover that we are wrong, to surrender to Yahweh immediately, by making the appropriate teshuvah (repentance), changing direction and so redirect our zeal or otherwise awakening it. For it is a deadly matter not to, as Jude goes on to warn us, reminding the reader of the deliverance of the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt and "destroyed those who were guilty of unbelief" (v.5, NEB). He says the same of the malakim (angels) who "were not content to keep the dominion given to them but abandoned their proper home; and Elohim (God) has delivered then for judgement on the great Day" (v.6, NEB). Finally, in the third historical example, he reminds us of Sodom and Gomorrah, who "continued fornicating and followed unnatural lusts" (v.7, NEB), suggesting that these three represent a kind of progressive unfolding or descent into destruction (though the result of their sin is identical), the first (Egypt) being to drowning, the second (the fallen malakim/angels) being "bound beneath the darkness in everlasting chains" (v.6, NEB), and the third (the Sodomites) who "paid the penalty in eternal fire, an example for all to see". Who can doubt that we are again in such a time today?
Indifferent and Compromised Believers
If you are not pursuing the emet (truth) of the emunah (faith), and if you are not at the same time fighting boldly in its defence, not in your own cleverless but according to immaculate heavenly wisdom, then you may be absolutely sure that you are not of the remnant. Then you must expect to be a participant in the scene of destruction that awaits the both the indifferent and compromised believers as well as the bulk of humanity which stubbornly refuses to make teshuvah (repent) of any kind or embrace the Messiah, men who "pour abuse abuse upon things they do not understand" (v.9, NEB). They act "by instinct" (v.10a, NEB) rather than by the Ruach (Spirit) and their behaviour, "like brute beasts", is "their undoing" (v.10b, NEB). They "take care only of themselves", they "bear no fruit" for the Kingdom, they are "dead twice over" and they are finally "pulled up by the roots" (v.12, NEB). They are "grumblers and malcontents" and "big words come rolling from their lips" (v.16. NEB).
Whom Shall We Rescue?
And so Jude lists their sins, one by one, indicating there is no hope for them, for they will not make teshuvah (repent). What, then, are we do do? To whom shall we witness in these dark times, especially amongst believers who have taken a false path? We are to focus our energies on "some doubting souls" whom we are to "snatch...from the flames and save them" (v.22, NEB). For the rest, well, we are to pity them, but our pity "must be mixed with fear", for their state is so awful, they are so "contaminated with sensuality" that we must "hate the very clothing" they wear (v.23, NEB).
Are You Appalled?
If these sentiments are alien to your experience or desires, given that the world we live in is as bad, if not worse, that the world Jude and the apostles occupied, and the earlier worlds he described from Egypt to the Valley of Salt, then we must surely ask ourselves the question, why? Why am I not nearly as appalled as I ought to be? Or have I in some measure been contaminated too, by virtue of so much exposure to their wickedness that I no longer react to it any more? You cannot contend or fight for the true emunah (faith) if you do not clearly see this contrast. And if you do not see it, if you are not appalled, you must beg Yahweh to show it to you before you become a part of their condemnation and judgment! And this is most certainly not a time to be confounded or blinded or confused because this is a time of Judgment. We must be of such fighting emunah (faith) that we are even now "set...in the presence of His glory, jubilant and above reproach" (v.24-25, NEB), for I fear that if we are not that we can expect to fall headlong into the chaos no matter how well prepared we may think that we are.
We are called to enter into the same spirit of revival and teshuvah (repentance) as the first Methodists and others like them from the past but this time we must also be well and truly rooted in Yahweh's Torah, because now Yahweh demands that we embrace the fullness, and not just in part. The revival that is needed cannot diminish but must burn brightly until Messiah returns, and it can only do that if it is rooted in all emet (truth), in His undeserved loving-kindness - in His grace. Yah'shua (Jesus) alone "can keep you from falling and set you in the presence of His glory" (v.24, NEB) but that will require that you cast your all before Him, without reservation, face down, in full contrition. Amen.
 Andrew Gabriel Roth, Aramaic English New Testament (Netzari Press LLC: 2012), p.428