Month 12:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5939:326 AM|
ROSH CHODESH XII (Shenem Asar haChodesh),
2Exodus 1/40, Messianic Countdown 72/58
Gregorian Calendar Thursday 19 February 2015
Rosh Chodesh XII
Publish Shalom, Follow Through!
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims shalom (peace), who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your Elohim (God) reigns!'" (Isa.52:7, NKJV).
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us all on this the first day of the twelfth and last month of the current year. With the great discussion we had on Aviv over the last week completed a couple of days ago, and knowing what we do about what is coming - at least in part - I expect you share the same excitement and anticipation as I do, though I have to admit that increasing age and the experience that comes with that, also brings a degree of caution because of what we know about the nature of our Elohim (God) - namely, that He tends to keep His metaphorical cards up His sleave until the last minute. So we don't know exactly how this is going to unfold save only in the most general terms.
A Dream in India
It had been my intention to speak to you today about spiritual cleansing and indeed I was up late last night preparing today's message. Around 1.30 a.m. the Ruach (Spirit) withdrew and I knew I had to go to bed as nothing more would come. It was an interesting night to say the least. I had a long, long dream that was so real I was surprised when I woke up to discover it had not been. For several hours I was in deep, meaningful and spiritual conversation with two men from the Indian subcontinent, so it could either have been in India or Pakistan though I think it was India. I have never met these brethren before, nor they me, but we spoke as though we were intimately acquianted with one another's lives. I knew their names in the dream but could not for the life of me remember them when I woke up, though I do know one of them had a name beginning with an 'S' and may have been something like 'Suresh', but I can't be sure of that as that is the first Indian name beginning with 'S' that springs to mind.
This was, as I said, a real heart-to-heart conversation between believing brothers. We were equals before Yah'shua (Jesus) and counselling one another in the deep things of the soul. One of them was an evangelist and the time had come for him to break away from his current ministry to join us (there seemed to be some sort of 'Catholic' connection), but he was struggling with the huge changes this would respresent in his life - and let's make no mistake about it, coming out of the Roman Christian system to the Kingdom is a huge change! The other was also a leader, but what his calling was I cannot say, though it could have been either a pastor or a teacher. We were sharing our stories, confessing our weaknesses, and edifying one another with the Davar (Word). I wish I could have recorded that conversation and played it back to you! The dream ended with the evangelist, being filled with the Ruach (Spirit), relaying a Davar Elohim (Word of God) that was so penetrating that the words echoed in my head for some half an hour after I awakened.
PUBLISH PLEASE AND FOLLOW THROUGH
I don't remember the entire message but two things were most definitely underlined, as it were, and it was these two things beyond a shadow of a doubt that were intended by Yahweh to be today's message this Rosh Chodesh: "PUBLISH PEACE" and "FOLLOW THROUGH"! I repeat - publish shalom or peace and follow through.
Now it may surprise you to learn that there is a direct relationship between 'publishing' or 'proclaiming shalom (peace)' and 'following through'. What this message is not saying is that we are simply to go around saying, 'Peace, peace' to everyone for then we would be no more than hippies and could follow that up with their second mantra, 'Make Love, Not War'. I suppose, given the raging wars in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere, that on the face of it, it might appear as though we are being called to tell the war-mongers to lay down their arms and make peace.
Peace and Salvation
Most of you know, though, that when Israelites proclaim "peace" or "shalom" a lot more than the English word 'peace' is meant, and more so in the context of the New Covenant. It's mentioned nearly 250 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament) so it is by no means an unimportant word. In today's passage, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims shalom (peace), who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your Elohim (God) reigns!'" (Isa.52:7, NKJV), the proclamation of shalom (peace) is coupled to the carrying and declaring of the "good news", "besorah" of a second proclamation, namely "salvation" or "deliverance" which in the B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant is unmistakably the salvation of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
To Make a Soul Complete
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from the verb that means 'to complete' or 'make sound' and to bring about 'well-being'. Thus when a believer proclaims or declares shalom (peace) he is publishing the message that makes a soul 'complete', 'sound' and 'whole' that leads to a sense of total 'well-being'. When this verb is used in Scripture it is often depicting the finishing of a major building like the temple (1 Ki.7:51; 2 Chr.5:1) or the the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh.6:15). When shalom (peace) is proclaimed and subsequently received by someone, RESTORATION OF THE SOUL if what follows, which is to say, it is the bringing of a person into that spiritual state in which he was originally created and for which he was created.
'Shalom' as a Greeting After A Person's Well-Being
Amongst Jews and Messianics, and the Judahites and Israelites before them, 'Shalom!' is commonly used as a greeting and serves as an enquiry after the welfare of the one who is being greeted or even of a whole community: "How are you?" is implied within the salutation. Thus we read:
"And Jacob said to them, 'My brethren, where are you from?' And they said, 'We are from Haran.' Then he said to them, 'Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?' And they said, 'We know him.' So he said to them, 'Is he shalom (well)?' And they said, 'He is shalom (well). And look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep'" (Gen.29:4-6, NKJV - also see 43:27; Ex.18:7; 1 Sam.17:18; Ezek.13:16).
The link between shalom, deliverance (salvation) and the well-being of the soul is no more clearly demonstrated in this prayer of Isaiah:
Righteousness, Shalom, Quietness and Assurance
"O Yahweh, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my ruach (spirit);
So You will restore me and make me live.
Indeed it was for my own shalom (peace)
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my nefesh (soul) from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back" (Isa 38:16-17, NKJV).
Finally, there is the sense of shalom (peace) with which we are more familiar, namely, as a state of being, and particularly, contentment or a state or tranquility as another passage in Isaiah also makes plain, and in particular in relation to righteousness:
The Source of the Shalom Within
"The work of righteousness will be shalom (peace),
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isa.32:17, NKJV).
This is the inner shalom (peace) that David speaks of when he prays for "shalom (peace) be within you" (Ps.122:8, NKJV). It comes from "the work of righteousness" and leads to inner "quietness", and "eternal assurance". And what is the source of this righteousness that leads to shalom (peace)?
Torah and the Character of Yahweh
"Great shalom (peace) have those who love Your Torah (Law), and nothing causes them to stumble" (Ps.119:165, NKJV).
Why does a passion for Torah do this? Because the Torah is the expression of Yahweh's heart, it is what defines His character, and it is that same self character that becomes the inheritance of those who believe and obey.
False Promoters of Peace
There will, however, be those who proclaim shalom (peace) but who yet hate Torah and mislead the people. Yahweh warned through the navi (prophet) Micah:
Motivations of False Ministers of Peace
"As for the nevi'im (prophets) who lead My people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim 'peace'; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him" (Mic.3:5, NIV).
These false nevi'im (prophets) or ministers are motivated by greed or controlled by the church boards who pay them their salaries. They mislead the people with false prophecies and false doctrine because money or reputation steers their soul or they plain couldn't care less. So there will always be those proclaiming shalom (peace) falsely and they must be clearly discerned by their teachings - and the fruits of their teachings - and what it is that motivates or steers their ministry. Sadly, many are in the ministry because for them it is a career and there is no love for Torah whatsoever. True shalom - true peace - is clearly seen to be linked to Torah. And whilst all churches obey (unknowingly, for the most part) about half of Torah, they deny the other half by claiming it has been nailed to the cross...including the half they obey, claiming that that is what the Ruach (Spirit) wrote in their hearts (but predictably not the other half they didn't like).
A Peaceful Death
One other common theme or aspect about shalom (peace) that is reitterated again and again in Scripture is the idea of peacefullness at death for the one working righteousness because of trusting Yahweh and obeying Torah. Yahweh said to Abram:
The B'rit Shalom
"Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in shalom (peace); you shall be buried at a good old age" (Gen.15:15, NKJV).
In Torah, a B'rit Shalom or "Covenant of Peace" is contractual friendship - rather like a marriage covenants, but between friends:
The Essence of Priesthood Revealed
"Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: 'Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the cohen (priest), has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of shalom (peace); and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his Elohim (God), and made atonement for the children of Israel'" (Num.25:10-13, NKJV).
Notice that "Covenant of Peace" is also a Priesthood Covenant - herein is defined the inner essence of Priesthood which would find full manifestation in the coming B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant). Though under the Mosaic Covenant the priesthood was restricted to a tribe (the Levites) and to a particular house (family), here we see that its inner assence consists of possessing the B'rit Shalom (Covenant of Peace), and that B'rit Shalom (Covenant of Peace) comes through trusting Elohim (God) and zealously living and teaching Torah! The inner essence is Melchizedek and would come to realisation through the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) of that Priesthood, Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), who confers it on His followers through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). If you want to know who is called to be a cohen (priest) or a minister in the New Covenant Melchizedek Priesthood, male of female, or whatever Israelite tribe of race, here you have it succinctly and fully laid out.
The Blessings of Abraham Flow from the B'rit Shalom
When Yahweh initiates the Covenant of Peace, as He did with Phineas, the blessings that proceed from it pass down many generations. This is why the House of David was so blessed until the coming of Messiah, even though his descandants and the Israelites in general did not merit it because of their numerous apostacies. It is why the House of Abraham has blessed so many for so many generations down to our own day. Indeed, the whole earth has been blessed because of righteous Abraham!
The False Dichotomy of 'Law' vs. 'Grace' Exposed
"In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (Gen.22:18, NKJV).
To claim, as most Protestants do, that the Tanakh (Old Testament) was only about 'Law' and the New Testament about 'Grace' is to fundamentally be blinded as to the very clear grace - the undeserved loving kindness or unmerited favour - of Yahweh toward His faithful servants both before (like Abraham) and during (like David) the Mosaic period. What could be a clearer example of such abundant grace! The House of Judah and the Dynasty of David were the unmeriting recipients of undeserved loving kindness because of David, who was called the "friend" of Yahweh (as was Abraham - Jas.2:23) because of a similar B'rit Shalom or Covenant of Peace declared by Yahweh to be in effect with the king. And so much of the grace that is currently extended to us as the children of Abraham by emunah (faith) is on account of this original B'rit Shalom (Covenant of peace) with that righteous patriarch!
Generational Blessings of the B'rit Shalom
"Consider Abraham: 'He believed Elohim (God), and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that Elohim (God) would justify the Gentiles by emunah (faith), and announced the Besorah (Gospel) in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have emunah (faith) are blessed along with Abraham, the man of emunah (faith)" (Gal.3:6-9, NIV).
This is so important for Christians to fully understand. For the emunah (faith) that Abraham had toward Yahweh-Elohim also led him to "work righteousness", as King David did, that brings shalom (peace). And when this is done zealously (energetically and passionately with committment), it brings about a B'rit Shalom (Covenant of Peace) from Yahweh's side and this is why the generations are blessed of such qodesh (holy, set-apart) men and women:
"I, Yahweh your Elohim (God), am a jealous Elohim (God), punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing ahavah (love) to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my mitzvot (commandments)" (Ex.20:5-6, NIV - also 34:7; Dt.5:10; 7:9; 1 Chr.16:15).
"[Yahweh] remembers His covenant forever, the davar (word) which He commanded, for a thousand generations" (Ps.105:8, NKJV).
Churchianity (Orthodox Christianity) refuses to accept that Abraham obeyed the Torah claiming it did not come into existence until Moses, but this is patently false, for we read:
Abraham's and Moses' Torah Compared
"I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My mitzvot (commandments), My chukkim (statutes), and My torot (laws)" (Gen.26:4-5, NKJV).
They are therefore without excuse for rejecting the Torah for these are the very same things that Moses restored to the lapsed Egyptianised children of Israel:
Abraham's Sons By Faith
"These are the chukim (statutes) and mishpatim (judgments) and torot (laws) which Yahweh made between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses" (Lev.26:46, NKJV)
For those of you who are new to this work, or who have been wrongly tutored by antinomian (Torah-rejecting) churches, it is important that you clearly understand the relationships between the shalom (peace) that comes from trusting Yahweh and obeying His Torah as Abraham did, who is also our adopted father as believers in Messiah - "therefore know that only those who are of emunah (faith) are sons of Abraham" (Gal.3:7, NKJV), so that when Yah'shua (Jesus) and the shlichim (apostles) speak about shalom (peace) you know exactly what they are talking about.
Shalom and Justice
As is now, I hope, becoming increasingly clear to you, Yahweh's "peace" concerns many different things including justice:
Practical Need of Hezekiah's Shalom Today
"The fortress will be abandoned,
the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
till the Ruach (Spirit) is poured upon us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
Justice will dwell in the desert
and righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of righteousness will be shalom (peace);
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful (shalom-filled) dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free" (Isa.32:14-20, NIV)
Now the historical context is the Assyrian destroyer - remember Isaiah was a contemporary of Hezekiah whose life we examined in depth recently because his time is now being repeated in our own in a parallel prophetic cycle, so the passage I have quoted you is both allegorical and literal - we are absolutely going to need shalom (peace) in the days ahead so we had better understand it properly! Now compare these words of Isaiah with the apostle James:
Working Righteousness by Faith in Messiah and Obedience to Torah
"Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in shalom (peace) by those who make shalom (peace)" (James 3:18, NKJV).
The revelation given today for this twelfth Rosh Chodesh is that we proclaim shalom (peace) - which means sowing or planting it - but it can only be done by those who "work righteousness" which means that in order to be the authentic thing, and not some counterfeit, it has to be embedded in a matrix of pure Torah and must be zealously carried their by our emunah (faith) in Yah'shua (Jesus), whose name means 'Yah Saves'. This is the same salvation received by Abraham and in the same Name, Yahweh. Abraham knew what the Besorah (Gospel) was in advance, as we have seen, and he knew that his own salvation would be established in the eternities by the Messiah. In the intervening years, salvation would be made available on earth through the temporary animal sacrifices which pointed to the Final Sacrifice of the Cross.
Shalom as Absence of War
Hardship is on its way, and is already here for so many already. War is here and more is on its way. True, the quintessential aspect of shalom (peace) is an absence of war but we are only promised this locally and at certain times and not as a permanent state of affairs globally until the Milennium, even though the coming Anti-Messiah (Antichrist) will promise it and seem to be keeping his promise for 3½ years before unleasing his massive pogrom against believers. So whilst we rejoice in the absence of war and that kind of shalom (peace), for those of us alive now and in the last generation the primary meaning of shalom (peace) is the internal condition of the one who is saved because he is trusting in Messiah - and because he is truly trusting in Messiah he is also obedient to the chukim, mishpatim and torot as Abraham was - and as Moses was, and as David was, and as Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles were. We are, I repeat, not promised a war-free world before Yah'shua (Jesus) returns and indeed we are warned that "wars and rumours of wars" are to be the common reality in the last days:
Helping Stop Wars
"Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains" (Matt.24:4-8, NIV).
If called to do so, we should, of course, pray for a cessation of wars or otherwise be involved in the process of trying to stop them by putting social and political rpessure on the élites. The Ukraine right now is a case in point. One set of élites (the West) are fomenting war and another set (Russia) is, by and large, trying to create shalom (peace). Whoever tries to make shalom (peace), whether of the internal kind (those who proclaim the true Besorah/Gospel) or to cause the cessation of war outwardly, are, the Saviour said, "blessed" and will be called the "children of Elohim (God)" (Mt.5:9). Though permanent cessation of war can only be accomplished by either making men's hearts whole in the salvation of Messiah ot by awaiting Divine Intervention at the Second Coming, it is still a noble thing to try to end conflict between nations and factions. I think of the amazing peace-keeping ministry of Andrew White, the Anglican Bishop of Baghdad, who laboured tirelessly to arbitrate between Shi'ite Arabs, Sunni Arabs, Christians and Kurds, before he was forced in the end, because of deteriorating circumstances, to abandon his parish, orphans, and peacemaking work and return to England  while the élite warmongers continue to escallate the bloodshed through their protegé, ISIS. We should all salute his brave, though in the end ultimately futile, efforts. Without the inner shalom (peace) there is no solution to the warmaking in the Middle East.
War is a Part of This World's Reality
When shalom or its Greek equivalent, eirîné, is used in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) the emphasis, as expected, is on the inner sense and not on the outer cessation of war, or for that matter, justice in the world. It is actually a huge load of stress and anxiety off the spirit when you understand, and accept, that war and injustice are part and parcel of this world, whether in the end-times or indeed throughout any part of the world's history. Again, there are small islands of justice to be found and places where, for now, there is no war, and this is a blessing indeed. If the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) will listen to, and obey, the Voice of Elohim (God) to them, they may be led safely to these places.
The Promises of Safety and Martyrdom
There are promises in Torah about safety to those who will trust and obey, but if they will not, then they have no promise. This does not mean that there won't be martyrdom for those who are called to lay down their lives for the Messiah, but neither should we accept as 'inevitable' that martyrdom is the lot of all believers or that it's a matter of 'chance'. Special witnesses, like 11 of the original 12 apostles, were called to lay down their lives, and we too should be willing to do the same, but at no time should we give Satan legal grounds to destroy us because we have believed in lies about safety for Yah's remnant both today and in the Final Gathering.
Supernatural Protection and Judgment
There is an important theological balance to be found here. I myself have witnessed supernatural protection from violence several times, including the dramatic removal from this existence of my adversaries by Yahweh's own supernatural intervention on more than one occasion when they threatened my life. I do not boast in this, for I certainly do not delight in it, and it has nothing to do with any 'powers' that I myself have, but is simply the result of walking in emunah (faith) and covenant obedience and trusting. Do you believe the Davar Elohim (Word of God) in this matter? Here is but one:
Why Do Believers Get Killed?
"Blessed is he who considers the poor;
Yahweh will deliver him in time of trouble.
Yahweh will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
Yahweh will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed" (Ps.41:1-3, NKJV).
Equally there are those who believe that 'offering the other cheek' and in 'forgiving our enemies' somehow means that we have no promise of protection even if we are walking right. Those called to martyrdom aside because of their witness, we shall neither yield to 'martyrdom fever' as a few of the early Christians did, thinking it was a commandment to sacrifice ones life (it is in truth often harder to live for Messiah than it is to die for Him) nor shall we in consequence be casual or indifferent about taking care of our families. It is mpossible for us to look, for example, at the massacres of believers in the Middle East and North Africa to know why so many are being allowed to perish - often horribly - and why others are being permitted to escape. There may be many reasons but we are not given to know why. All we can do is, each of us, make our own choices to be, or not to be, proper talmidim (disciples).
Removing the Wicked Ripened in Iniquity
But equally we are not wrong to thank Elohim (God) when He executes justice for the sake of His people and removes the wicked from the face of the earth. There is a time of ripening for the wicked and when anyone reaches that ripened or completed state, then it is time for them to be destroyed because they will never reform and become responsible members of any society. They are literally possessed. The generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not permitted to settle the already inhabited Promised Land because "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete (ripened)" (Gen.15:16, NKJV). The people living there in their day were not 'ripened in iniquity' and therefore there was no just reason for their removal. Only when a certain level or threshhold of evil has been reached, when men are beyond the pale of salvation because they have crossed so many lines of iniquity, are a people marked by Heaven be destroyed, either by the hand of Yahweh's own people (as happened under Joshua) or by supernatural means (as when Yahweh's malak or angel struck down thousands of the Assyrians besieging Hezekiah's Jerusalem). Joshua-type campaigns are a thing of the past and we need not concern ourselves with that form of cleansing - I have, as I said, witnessed Yahweh strike down evil people without any kind of human intervention and we may expect more of, though He will also use 'natural' catastrophes to destroy the wicked or even other wicked people (as when the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem was murdered by his own two sons).
Convert or Be Killed?
This is a big subject and could occupy a sermon all in itself but is nevertheless important to mention in passing because the times are evil and we need not resign ourselves to a fate Satan wants but Yahweh does not. Absolutely not. We were made to be victorious in Messiah - inwardly first and outwardly too. We must not forget that. This is a time of judgment against the nations and a lot of wicked people are being - or are to be - removed from this physical dimension of time and sprace. You are going to see people who have in our own time - and the ISIS murderers with all their vile attrocities spring immediately to mind - fully ripened in inquity for whom, in the majority of cases, there is no deliverance possible. As As Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' famously said on Fox News once, when it comes to those fully ripened in iniquity like ISIS you either have to convert them or kill them because they will otherwise do precisely the same to you. And in such circumstances one is justified in Joshua-like solutions. The people of ISIS are the modern-day Amorite and Canaanite ripened in inquity. And contrary to what the naïve and foolish liberals claim, simply giving them jobs will not make them responsible citizens. Theirs is a deluded materialistic Marxist view of view of things which is far removed from reality. And I seem to remember that Stalin, Hitler and Mao and their henchmen all had jobs and it didn't stop them from killing.
The Danger of Being Executioners
Having said that, I wouldn't trust many human beings today to undertake such a task of execution because without a divine mandate what happenes is that the executioners at length become like those they are executing. So make sure you are in the place where Yahweh has called you to be - on a daily basis - so that you are not forced into a situation to either convert to Satan's religion or be killed, or be forced to kill in self-defence. We, as a people, are pacifists - we do not believe in violence - but we are also willing to defend ourselves and our families and have the Torah right to do so as a last resort. But our plan is not to be in such a situation by living in tune with the Ruach (Spirit) and in obedience with Yahweh's directives.
When Called to Lay Down Ones Life
We also believe that some of us are called to die for the Master, and are prepared to accept that if so called, but we are not going to pursue death like the extremist death-cultists in the Middle East and Africa and their allies and patrons, let along inflict it on others, or meekly submit to it unconditionally just because someone else, who misunderstands the whole counsel fo Scripture, says we should. "Elohim (God) has called us to live in shalom (peace)" (1 Cor.7:15, NIV) with all peoples no matter that their belief or unbelief, and we will endeavour to do so provided they are not trying to hurt or kill us. It's really as simple as that. Our heart is always responsive to Paul's admonition to "aim for perfection ... be of one mind, live in shalom (peace)" and our prayer is that "the Elohim (God) of ahavah (love) and shalom (peace) will be with [everyone]" (2 Cor.13:11, NIV). None of us wants blood on our hands - ever - but we are realistic enough to know that in a grossly evil world we may, in desperate circumstances, need to defend ourselves when our lives are threatened.
We take the mitzvot (commandments) seriously:
The Tanakh preparing for the B'rit Chadashah
"Make every effort to live in shalom (peace) with all men and to be qadosh (holy, set-apart)" (Heb.12:14, NIV).
That there is preparation for the fuller B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) ethic in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and inter-testamental period may be discerned in a number of Scriptures. Daniel counsels in favour of non-violent piety (Dan.11:33-34) which was largely ignored during the Maccabean uprising, though how much of that original counsel was influenced by the social and political of being in captivity under the Assyrians, Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic rulers is hard to say. Later inter-testamental ('between Malachi and Matthew') teaching does very clearly lay a stronger emphasis on wise restraint (Sirach 41:14; 44:6). Early Christianity combined the Davidic royal themes with the messianic expectatations of an age of peace where swords are made into ploughshares (Is.2:4; Mic.4:3).
Bringing the Nations Under Judgment
This is in complete contrast to the nations who are being brought into judgment, both at the Final Judgment at the end of the age and in the limited judgment in our own time
A Temporary Reversal of Mandate
"Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war!
Rouse the warriors!
Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.
Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
'I am strong!'" (Joel 3:9-10, NIV).
Who are the people herein commanded to reverse the swords-into-ploughshares mandate given in Isaiah and Micah? Here the navi (prophet) Joel is urging Yahweh to dispatch a heavenly army against the nations, confident that Israelites will find refuge in Zion, in the same way that in the last generation New Covenant Israelites shall find refuge in the Cities of Refuge if they choose to and are found worthy.
Under Exceptional Circumstances
"Here the idea of a qadosh (holy, set-apart) war entails extraordinary measures, even the reversal of treasured hopes. Agricultural implements must be transformed into instruments of destruction, and mere weaklings can voice gradiose boasts like that of Moses describing [Yahweh] in Exodus 15:3, wonderfully balanced in Exodus 15:26 by a reference to the deity as a healer" .
In this reversal of millennial imagery, military weapons are to be forged out of the peacetime agricultural tools necessary for life. Thus under exceptional circumstances, a reversal of otherwise mandated restraint is enjoined when Yahweh sanctions it. It is very, very important that you leaders in Messianic Israel hear this for there has never been a time when active, spiritual warfare was desperately needed as now. This kind of warfare is aggressive, focussed, and unrelenting until the enemy is defeated and the spiritual (and physical) territory is secured - and, when necessary, is accompanied by a literal or p'shat physical defence of life and limb as a last resort.
To Be Armed or Unarmed?
Thus Christians are to be both armed (like David) and unarmed (like Messiah, the 'son of David'). We are to "love our enemies" (Mt.5:44) and "put away swords" (Mt.26:52) whilst traveling ministers are to have "two swords" (Lk.22:38), presumably for self-defence against the ubiquitous bandits of those days, though in a general sense a "sword" would have been understood as a metaphor to be prepared to face the world's hostility in response to the message of the Besorah (Gospel).  Non-violence is always the default rule but under exceptional circumstances the rule may, on Yahweh-mandated occasions, be reversed for defence of family and life, as I understand it. It is a matter of historical record that Christians of the first three centuries were prohibited from even killing in the military, and that the reason the Messianic Community (Church) laid down this rule was because of the prohibitions we have already discussed. The first Christians were known for their peacefulness and non-violence, and there were even some rabbinical Jews who taught the same thing, most notably the first century AD rabbinic teacher Yohanan ben Zakkai.
How does one take up arms in self- or family-defence this whilst remaining in shalom (peace)? Aren't the two contradictory? No, Moses demonstrated the balance required in getting this right. So let's look at those passages cited in the NRSV Commentary:
Making War to Guard Shalom
"Yahweh is a man of war; Yahweh is His Name" (Ex.15:3, NKJV).
"If you diligently heed the voice of Yahweh your Elohim (God) and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His mitzvot (commandments) and keep all His mishpatim (statutes), I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am Yahweh who heals you" (Ex.15:26, NKJV).
Yahweh is a warrior and a healer/peace-maker simultaneously. Though that may at first sight appear to be a contradiction it is because of the nature of this world because we are in the business of making war with Satan and making shalom (peace) with Elohim (God) and those men who will receive it. Earth is a battle zone so both propositions are true. And what is true of Elohim (God) is also true of His talmidim (disciples). We must make war in order to guard our shalom (peace) until the reign of wickedness is put to an end by the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" (Rev.5:5), the Conquereor, destroyer of the wicked who refuse to be saved, who is also the "Lamb of Elohim (God), who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29,36)
Therefore we who publish shalom (peace) and announce the Kingdom of our Elohim (God) must also make war so long as we are in mortality. There is no escaping it because there is no Christian Shangri-la down here, and won't be, until the Lion of Judah returns and conquers:
The Enemy's Peace and War-Making
"For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor.15:25, NKJV).
I deliberately stress the warrior side of the talmid (disciple) and of our Elohim (God) here in part to expose the counterfeit who claims to be a peace-maker but denies being a warrior when the opposite is true - the Enemy does not make shalom (peace) and could not even if he in the unlikely event was able to - he knows war, but not wars to destroy wickedness but wars to destroy righteousness. So let us be under no illusions - as publishers of shalom (peace) we are also warriors defending emet (truth) and Kingdom through, and in, Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), who is the source of both shalom (peace) and righteous warfare.
The Messianic Invocation of Shalom
We are going to end today with a few more thoughts about the shalom (peace) that is our primary pursuit for without it we would be able to wage either righteous or successful war. We have seen that in the B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant that the emphasis is on the inner state and not the absence of war, though of course in invoking Yahweh's shalom (peace) on them we are most assuredly petitioning Heaven to shelter them from war by whatever means.
The New Testament Teaching on Peace
Yah'shua (Jesus) and the shlichim (apostles) give us an example to follow in the way they use shalom (peace) which is always a reference to personal state of being (1 Tim.2:2), the equivalent to 'well-being' or 'welfare'. We are to care about others' welfare and well-being. So an individual can be told to "go in shalom (peace)" (Mk.5:34; Lk.7:50; 8:48; Ac.16:36) or to "be at shalom (peace)" (Lk.24:36; Jn.20:19,21,26). Paul frequently enjoins "shalom (peace)" in opening greetings (Rom.1:7; 1 Cor.1:3; 2 Cor.1:2; Gal.1:3 cp. 1 Pet.1:2). "Shalom (peace)" can also refer to an attribute of a relationship with Elohim (God) (Ac.10:36; Rom.5:1; 8:6; 15:13;Phil.4:7 cp. Eph.6:15) and an absence of interpersonal violence (Mt.5:9; Lk.14:32; Rom.12:18; Jas.3:18). And when Scripture points to the Millennium where there is to be an absence of warfare and suffering, then there is by inference a connection to the Hebrew sense of an 'absence of war', but to a looking-forward to it in the age to come. We can taste it here, a reason we are to observe the Sabbath so that we can experience and couple together, for our healing and general well-being, inner and outer rest in Yah'shua (Jesus).
Shalom Never Stands Alone
I am sure that both my listeners and readers cannot fail to have noticed that I preface all my sermons with variations of the apostolic "grace and shalom (peace) to you from God our Father and from the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (Rom.1:7, NIV) and that is because the two are inseparably coupled - you cannot have shalom (peace) without grace, and vice versa. Likewise, "the mind controlled by the Ruach (Spirit) is chayim (life) and shalom (peace)" (Rom.8:6, NIV) and "the kingdom of Elohim (God) is ... of righteousness, shalom (peace) and simcha (joy) in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" (Rom.14:17, NIV). Shalom (peace) cannot be separated from, and is inextricably bound to, grace (undeserved loving kindness, unmerited favour), chayim (life), righteousnes and simcha (joy). We must never forget this, and most especially the warrior lest he fall out of grace and become like the Enemy.
The Sum of the Matter
Brethren and sisters, we have been commanded to "publish shalom (peace)" and "follow through". That, it appears to me, is just another way of saying that we are to be about preaching the Besorah (Gospel) of salvation by emunah (faith) in the death and resurrection of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and then, when they have repented, and been regenerated by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and been baptised by full immersion, by following through with a thorough program of discipleship by teaching the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) the Torah (Law) and admonishing them to obey it .
Personal Evangelism and the Quest for Common Ground
'Following through' means doing a complete job - we are not to preach the message of salvation like the big evangelists of Protestantism and then leave them to flounder - follow-up studies have shown that less than 1% of those who commit to Christ remain committed or active in a congregation - it is also our job to help them grow in regular and active fellowship by teaching them and getting them involved in congregational service and evangelism too. Everyone is a teacher and a witness to some degree, not just the cohenim (priests)! We are a lay ministry and everyone has a part. Even if you are alone, invite people to your home for Scripture studies, prayer and fellowship. Today's main passage of Scripture - Isaiah 52:7 - isn't just a congregational activity, it's personal. How should we start? Well, there is no one way, but one way to start is by finding common ground with people:
"Evangelism is a not a hostile takeover of someone's beliefs but a wooing of the whole person by the truth and reality of God (Elohim). We can find points of identification and common ground even with people whose beliefs about God are completely different from ours. If we build on these points, we can slowly introduce them to God (Elohim) Himself.
"One man named Henry, who meets many Muslims in his travels, often begins a conversation by asking about their home city, family and work. If he's been to their city (and often he has), they instantly warm up to him. From there he goes on into areas of common spiritual interest, telling them about praying to the one true God (Elohim) and the answers to prayers he has received. As rapport is established, he introduces Jesus (Yah'shua), first as a prophet and then as the Son of God (Elohim).
"This kind of friendship evangelism is never argumentative. It focuses on aspects of Jesus' (Yah'shua's) character that may be of interest to the hearer, like his love, kindness and mercy. If we will follow the Spirit (Ruach) in times like these, we will find open doors and responsiveness to the gospel, just as Henry has." 
There is no one way to evangelise and people will do so according to their gifts and character. You may be a fiery street evangelist or you may prefer the gentle approach like Henry. Living for Messiah amongst believers Yahweh and simply radiating His shalom (peace) and ahavah (love) will draw people to you too. When you lead with the Ruach (Spirit) you will witness marvelous things yourself as Heaven shows its approval in your life. There is no greater or worthwhile thing than to win souls for Messiah and to build them up securely in the emunah (faith). This requires time and commitment, and once started, and having tasted the goodness the the Father that flows out because of it, you will become addicted because it is so joyful seeing souls delivered from sin and leading productive and happy lives in the shalom (peace) of Elohim (God). If your mind, heart and spirit resonate with this work and its message, please get in contact with us and join in the good work. You will discover shalom (peace) of a dimension the world cannot understand or know. Let's invite them to share in it. Amen.
 Andrew White, Father, Forgive: Reflections on Peacemaking (Monarch Books, Oxford: 2013); The Vicar of Baghdad: Fighting for Peace in the Middle East (Ibid., 2009); Faith Under Fire: What the Middle East Conflict has Taught Me About God 8Ibid., 2011)
 The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version With the Apocrypha (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN: 2003), p.1227
 This is a controversial passage and has been subject to multiple interpretations. Those of a liberal mindset tend to view the taking up of swords as a metaphor only, citing Luke 6:20-38 and 22:49-51 as prohibiting a hostile response to hostility. Clearly in Luke 12:51-53 the sword is a only a metaphor for animosity. Those of this view insist Yah'shua's (Jesus') response, "It is enough", traditionally understood to mean, "two swords will be enough", to actually mean "Enough of this nonsense!" (The New Interpreter's Study Bible, op.cit., p.1897). Whether you believe Yah'shua (Jesus) is saying 'be prepared for hardship' (i.e. being metaphorical) or whether you think He is saying carrying weapons for self-defence (i.e. being literal) is acceptable - or both - must be a matter of personal conscience.
 See The Way of Yahweh: The Plan of Salvation
 Starting Point Study Bible (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 2002), p.825
Further Scripture Study on Shalom
 Sayings of the Master: Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 5:34 (Matthew 9:22; Luke 8:34); Mark 9:50; Luke 10:5-6; John 14:1,7; 16:33; 20:21,26 (Luke 24:36)
 Sayings of the Tanakh: Psalm 34:14; 120:7; 133:1; Proverbs 12:20; 16:7; 20:3; Isaiah 2:4; 45:7; Zechariah 8:19
 Sayings of the Apostles: Romans 14:19; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; 1 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:14 (James 3:17; 1 Peter 3:10-11)