Month 8:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:229 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Global Judgment - Day #T-70
Gregorian Calendar Tuesday 3 November 2015
The Marcan Charter
A Second Commission of Messiah?
Shabbat shalom mishpachah. It's been a very busy two weeks since I last stood at this pulpit two weeks ago with many spiritual attacks launched against us during the 15 day long Samhain/Halloween season. I must say that since it ended I have felt a lot stronger. I wish to thank all of you who have been praying for me and this ministry. It's certainly been a very tough time health-wise for me. The spiritual ark currently rests on 'Ararat' but still awaits for the waters to receed and for the other mountain tops to be revealed.
The Ordinary and the Extraordinary
The great Ulster preacher, Ian Paisley, once said that "man's productions are all stamped with the ordinary because at best, they cannot exceed the natural. Elohim's (God's) operations are all extraordinary because they are all in the realm of the supernatural" . Our decision to embark on this Messianic Evangelical adventure absolutely depends the belief that the Elohim (God) we serve will deal extraordinarily - in the supernatural realm - with those who are willing to look and seek beyond the mundane, the ordinary and the natural.
Looking to Messiah
Long ago I laid down any hopes or ambitions I may have had for an 'ordinary' lifestyle because I soon realised that to walk with the Heavenly Father meant to walk in the heavenly realm and not just the earthly. For me the earthly is that extra backpack we must lug around as part of our training to get spiritually toughened up through difficulties and challenges. You must realise, therefore, again as Paisley said, that "you will never be saved by your cleverness but you can be saved in spite of your cleverness by simply, wholeheartedly, looking to Christ" . So that is where my gaze is fixed and everything else in this mortal realm is but an appendage. Before we do, we will never "be rooted, established, strong and determined" (1 Pet.5:9) in a way that has any hope of success.
Discovering What Your Faith is Made of
During my illness, when I have had to call upon the Most High more than once, when medicine has failed and all my clever attempts to circumvent pain have failed, I have been reminded many times that the only way to conquer the devil is "by the blood of the Lamb and by the davar (word) of [my] testimony" (Rev.12:11a, NRSV). These are the only two things I have been able to appeal to in order to overcome and thrive. It should not be thought, though, that this is something that only requires a part of our being to be effective, for the scripture continues with the reminder that such witnesses "did not cling to life even in the face of death" (v.11b, NRSV). When you are uncertain that you will live any longer, when you feel your breath slipping away and your strength to combat your invisible and visible assailants draining into a vast chasm beneath you, then - and only then - can you really know what your emunah (faith) is made of.
The Enormity of the Change
There have been enormous and extraordinary changes going on these past six or so months within the Remnant and the the pace of change is sure not slacken in the time ahead. We have grown accustomed to measuring ourselves, others, the world, and even the Besorah (Gospel) by standards that have been passed down to us by other men and women. Our dreams and hopes can no longer be built upon our traditions and cultural expectations because we are moving from one world to another - from one kind of conscious-awareness to another - as our horizon is widened and our field of spiritual vision is deepened. The old man-made rails on which we have spiritually steadied ourselves, the old man-made tarmac on which we have spiritually walked, are being dissolved under out feet and taken out of our hands. And if you continue to hold onto them you will either remain in the world or fall back into the world out of the Remnant.
A Standard of Measuring and Testing
There is an interesting Greek word we use, 'canon', which is not an artillery piece but a rod which has been measured and tested and which then becomes a standard for measuring and testing other things. It's an old word, at least in the English language, and is usually only heard in the context of Scriptural or Biblical Canon. That has been the rod which we have used for two millennia and more by which to measure spiritual emet (truth). As with the Scriptural Canon, so also with Yahweh's people, and especially those who are being raised up to lead the Second and Last Exodus. We too must be measured and tested before we, like the apostles of old, can ever hope to become a standard for measuring and testing for those in our charge. That is in large measure what your testing is for right now, so that you can become a measuring stick that others may employ to measure themselves. The more thorough the testing, the more accurately we are measured, the better kind of living rod or ruler we can become, free of defects, callibrated according to the divine spiritual standard, that might otherwise give a false measurement or false judgment.
Preparing for Exodus Service
We are all passing through these waters not just so that we can be pleasing to our Master or so that we may enjoy greater spiritual liberty but so we can be prepared for service in the field. Moses the prince did not tarry 40 years in Midian just so that he could be a better person and better related to Yahweh. He was being prepared for service in the First Exodus. He was being prepared as a living canon, as a living standard, an incarnte davar (word) as Messiah was, and is, the incarnated Davar (Word). And until the stuff of sin is burned out of you, you will not be called up for service, with signs following.
Examining the Marcan Commission
The concluding part of Mark's Gospel is generally regarded as a talmid's (disciple's) commission or charter or sorts, even though its authenticity is disputed by some because of its late appearance in that writing. For that reason, and others, I find it most interesting, not to mention challenging, so I am going to begin today by rehearsing it to you:
Handling Poisonous Snakes and Drinking Poison
"And He (Yah'shua/Jesus) said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the good news (Besorah/Gospel) to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:15-18, NRSV).
As you know, there are sects - particular in the deep south of the USA, but elsewhere also - who go out of their way to pick up venomous snakes. It is not uncommon for them to be bitten. Some survive, some die. Of course, going out of your way to do this is to tempt Elohim (God) - we are not commanded to go and do these things as a matter of course. There aren't so many - if any - who deliberately swallow poisons, thank Yah, for if they did, I suspect their churches would rapidly become extinct. Muslim apologists love to challenge Christians to do these things to prove they are true believers.
Proclaiming the Gospel and Casting Out Demons
Putting this passage in context is not easy but we're going to have a go at it today since very clearly few, if any of us, are doing all of these things. Proclaiming the Good News, that we are doing, though far from being in the kind of power the first apostles had - yet. Casting demons out we have some experience of, but again, not in the same kind of power that the first apostles had - yet.
New Languages or Tongues
Speaking in new languages? Well, there are those who believe these are not human languages but babble, which I do not believe to be true tongues or languages. A few I know of have had the gift to supernaturally speak in new languages, that is to say, languages that are not familiar to them, but it's not very common. Mostly we only hear the charismatic counterfeits that connect to ancient Apollo worship rather than to the living Elohim (God). Again, we don't have that kind of anointing - yet.
Picking up snakes? We'll come back to that. Drinking deadly poison? None of us have ever been forced to do that by our enemies though one hears of the occasional testimony of believers being delivered from such attempts to murder them. Laying hands on the sick and their recovering? Sorry, our track record is not particularly impressive, is it? At least, we have not seen a great deal of instant healing, if that is what the text is saying...which it might not be, since not all supernatural recovery from sickness is necessarily instantaneous.
Comparing With the Matthean and Lucan Commissions
We must yet ask ourselves why some of these items are included because this is not like the commission given by Yah'shua (Jesus) at the end of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke which read:
What are the Differences?
"Go therefore and make talmidim (disciples) of all the nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Mt.28:19-20a, NRSV).
"Thus it is written...that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:47-48, NRSV).
These are the commissions we tend to recognise and being more lined up with our current abilities. So is there a difference between the these two commissions and the Marcan? And why?
A Second Conclusion to the Gospel of Mark
Let's go back to the Marcan Commission. I think we will better understand the nature of this particular commission by looking at some New Testament manuscripts which include a very different account to the one that has has survived to be published in our Bibles.
Let's retrace our steps and go back to the time immediately before the Marcan Commission. Here Mark is recounting various appearances after the resurrection. We read:
A Second Marcan Ending
"After this (His appearing to Mary Magdalene, vv.9-11) He appeared in another form to two of them (the talmidim/disciples), as they were walking into the country (the Emmaus experience - Lk.24:13-35). And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and He upbraided them for their lack of emunah (faith) and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen" (Mark 16:12-14, NRSV).
At this point we have the Marcan Commission but in other Marcan manuscripts the text continues thus:
Marcan and Johannine Endings by Others
"And they excused themselves, saying, 'This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the emet (truth) and power of Elohim (God) to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal Your righteousness now' - thus they spoke to Messiah. And Messiah replied to them, 'The term of years of Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they might return to the emet (truth) and sin no more, that they may inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of righteousness that is in Heaven'" (Footnote z, NRSV).
Now I can't say, one way or another, whether these words were ever spoken in real life although Jerome seemed to think so. This is but one of two longer endings of the Gospel of Mark, most earlier manuscripts ending at verse 8 and including no Marcan Commission or appearances other than this one. Many of the sayings of Yah'shua (Jesus) never found their way into the four Gospels and it is more than likely that a later talmid (disciple) included this one. The Gospel of John concluded with the additional testimony of a talmid (disciple) or group of talmidim (disciples):
Most of Yah'shua's Deeds Not Recorded
"This is the talmid (disciple - John) who is testifying (in the previous text) to these things and has written them, and we (the other talmidim/disicples) know that his (John's) testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Yah'shua (Jesus) did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:24-25, NRSV).
I am sure that many of those talmidim (disciples) would have liked to have written them down! For whatever reason - the prevention of them doing so by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the fact that paper was very expensive in those days, the demands of the ministry, and so on - for whatever reason, we have what we have, and this is the portion of our Messiah's life that has been bequeathed to us. Certainly it is enough as far as the message of salvation is concerned.
The Bible Was Not Gift-Wrapped in Heaven
The reason I make mention of this Johannine footnote and the alternative rendering of the Marcan Gospel is to remind you that there is - or was - a lot more that is legitimately 'gospel' and not to be intimidated by those who give the impression that the Bible as we have it came down out of heaven ready-made and is all there is, or could possibly bem that inspired and infallible. It didn't come gift-wrapped. The canon was not finally established until about 2˝ centuries after Messiah's death and resurrection, so that sufficient time had lapsed for believers to sift out the authentic from the false - and as we know there were many counterfeit gospels, epistles and apocalypses written by the enemies of the Cross as well as by ambitions and carnal believers too, no doubt. That not a sufficient number of books could be written to contain everything Yah'shua (Jesus) said and did is, of course, an example of Judahite hyperbole or exaggeration, for which that tribe is famous. But it might have seemed so to them given Yah'shua (Jesus) obviously did and said a lot more than we read in the four Gospels. It will indeed be a wonderful day when we can see and hear all the rest of His deeds and teachings.
Nature of the Gospels
We know that in addition to the Four Gospels there were collections of Yah'shua's (Jesus') sayings made by various hearers and witnesses. Many of these are still to be found in the Gospel of Thomas, for example. It was the natural thing to want to do that, at least by those who had the means to do so. That the Gospel writers borrowed from these collections is evident from the overlap of material we see, especially in the synoptic Gospels of Martthew, Mark and Luke, who do not always record the same material, no doubt because of the audiences their Gospels was directed toward. A too lengthy book might put off all but the most hardy and diligent reader, and too short-a-Gospel might cause some to suppose that there was little or no substance to the Christian claims. Mark is the shortest and with two different endings which, though they by no means contradict each other, nevertheless focus on different things.
The Current Lawlessness and Anarchy of the Nations
What interested me in the Marcan percicope  - the alternate ending - was the reaction of the talmidim (disciples) to Yah'shua's (Jesus') criticism which is not at all unlike ours. We see wickedness multiplying, we sense our weakness and poverty of emunah (faith), and we so very much want Yah'shua (Jesus) to bequeath us something 'extra' that will enable us to either cope or triumph. Like then, this is an age of unprecidented Torahlessness or lawlessness. We see especially now, as Muslim terrorists flood into Europe, hidden amongst genuine refugees, such lawlessness spreading like widlfire in our nations. Clearly there have to be huge social changes - changes in perception, changes in how to react to terror - which will require wholesale rejection of the liberal paradigm and the insane 'political correctness' that has not only defied all common sense and overturned the wisdom of millennia, but led to mental confusion and anarchcy. People don't know how to think anymore and they don't know how to react because they have been brainwashed into believing that personal responsibility is bad and that the government must be allowed to control everything. But goverment is failing and we are now left with a very frightened and morally impotent people. Into this vacuum must enter spiritually-empowered believers.
Pleading With the Master
So we can - and must - plead with the Master in the same way that we are led to believe those early talmidim (disciples) did:
Leading the Christians Out of Latter-day Egypt
"This age of Torahlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the emet (truth) and power of Elohim (God) to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal Your righteousness now".
I do believe Yahweh wants - and intends - to do just that. But it is to be - has been, and now is - an orderly process, just as a washing machine runs through a program to produce clean clothes, and we must submit to that divine tavnith or pattern. One thing it is not going to be like is all the superman-type nonsense we have been taught in comics, TV serials and movies. There are no 'magic pills' that are going to transform us and Christendom is not nearly as ready for a new anointing as the first talmidim (disciples) were when they were baptised in fire and started speaking languages supernaturally. We're a filthy generation, debased, perverse, brain-numbed, irrational, emotion-driven and immersed in so much darkness - and, yes, I am talking about Christian 'we', not the unbelieving 'we' who we expect to be, and are, in darkness and filth. Believers just aren't separated enough out of that - they are almost identical to it - which is why another long and painful Exodus is needed so that the world - 'Egypt' - is burned out of them. And, sad to say, most of them will have to die out, because only their children will be pure enough to receive the fullness, as in Moses' day.
Preparing the Leaders
Up until now our message has been for the Remnant leaders, which is why I spoke earlier of the necessity of a living, human 'canon' or standard for those 'Egyptian' believers to follow, because they will need Moses-men. We will, of course, continue preparing them. The Remnant Leaders are being purged now - the Moses', Joshua's and Caleb's. Yahweh is not done completely with them yet, as should be obvious. We're still filthy stuff - a bit cleaner than the rest, maybe, but still not clean enough - not surrendered enough, and therefore not adequately endowed as is proven by our continuing failure to walk in the anointing of the Marcan Commission. We engaged much - and successfully - in the Matthean Commission, yes, but that is not adequate for the leadership of the Final Exodus. Yah'shua (Jesus) expects so much more.
The Morphing of Society
I know some of you are wondering what will happen next Pesach (Passover) as we make the chageover to whatever is about to come, or is in the process of emerging. We can worry about that when we get there. Right now what matters is our continuing responsiveness to Abba Yah's demands of us on a day to day basis. It's obvious now, to all but the brainwashed and blind, that our countries are morphing at lightening speed into something very different to what we have been accustomed to. Everything is changing and will change even more. Science fiction will start becoming science fact. There's a separation going on and I'm afraid it's going to get nastier and nastier as we descend into civil war to mop up the chaos the élites have unleashed upon us. However, we cannot just blame the élites and their demonic overlords, because the only reason the enemy has had such access is because of the sins of the peoples of the West and the world. The vast majority aren't basically 'good' and undeserving of this - the majority have turned away from Elohim (God) and are worshipping themselves and false gods. That's the problem and they are being brought to judgment for that, both the rebellious people and, once they have done the scourging Yahweh permits them to do, the instruments of that judgment will be judged too.
Witnessing a Matter of Life and Death
The Marcan Commission, to remind you again, tells us that "the one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned" so we are talking about life and death here. Perhaps that is why, instead of telling the talmidim (disciples) to go into "all the world" Yah'shua (Jesus) this time tells them to take the Besorah (Gospel) "to the whole creation", implying that there are to be no exceptions. So we are to witness to two separate classes of people - believers and unbelievers. Believers will be saved from sin but unbelievers will be condemned because of their sin. It's a straightforward message, however unpalitable to modern and postmodern people. Yet the eternal destiny of every individual on the planet, from the midst of the teaming cities to the remostest spots in the mountains, depends on how that person responds to the Good News. That makes us responsible for how we present it and in what spirit we present it.
We return to the signs - some of them perhaps strange to us (like snakes and poison) - to be reminded that the Besorah (Gospel) is always to be accompanied by authenticating power (e.g. Lk.9:1-6; 10:1-20) and toqef (authority) (Mt.10:1,8) when it is needed because there is no true presentation of the Besorah (Gospel) that is not accompanied by opposition too. Yah'shua (Jesus) is here simply promising protection (Ac.28:3-4; Jas.5:13-16). Power, of course, doesn't have to be manifested in specific outward signs like drinking poison and living - the greatest sign is a supernaturally transformed heart. Yet rarely is this fully accomplished until there is also a driving out of demons (Mk.6:6-13; Ac.5:16; 19:12). There is only one instance of a poisonous snake bite being rendered harmless (Ac.28:3-5). However, there is none at all in the Bible recording the safe drinking of a deadly poison. So why is is mentioned here? We can only assume that there were instances of this but these were amongst the many signs that were not recorded, or which have not survived in written form. Finally healing is, of course, central when it comes to miracles (Ac.3:1-8; 5:15-16; 19:11-12) and indeed was common throughout the Gospel of Mark (Mk.6;5; 7:33; 8:23).
Marcan Signs as Examples of Promises of Protection
The important thing here is not the specific signs but that the Good News must be proclaimed with the toqef (authority) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and that signs will accompany out witness but of the kind that Yahweh ordains. What's important is that the focus is always on the Master, not the signs. And remember, the Good News can be authenticated in so many different ways, Yahweh making sure that the messenger never supplants the message, which is Yah'shua (Jesus) our Deliverer. The accompanying signs, when and in whatever form Yahweh gives them, point only to the message of the Good News - they are never ends in themselves.
Jim Elliot, a missionary martyred in Ecuador, upon being asked why he chose the mission field over a popular career, replied:
If you believe that time is short but eternity lasts forever, now is the time to make a committment to serve Yah'shua (Jesus). As I grow older, the things of this world interest me less and less as I sense what is arriving around the corner for me. We are at a critical juncture in history when the things that mattered so much to us, like our liberty and security, are being rapidly taken away from us as the world comes under judgment. You can sense that the sentence has already been announced and it is now just a question of when the executioner arrives on the stage. As Obama starts putting troops on the ground in Syria, contrary to his many undertakings that he never would and now risking direct conflict with Russia and China, I sense this may well be America's last interventionist war. It's time to make choices and at least for my generation, the penultimate generation, to make a decision for radical involvement in Kingdom-building in the Sukkot anointing as its first waves begin to impact the Remnant. The time of patient waiting is almost over. It's time to get onboard. Amen.
 Ian Paisley, Paisley's Pocket Preacher (Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Belfast: 1987), p.35
 Ian Paisley, ibid.
 Personally I don't think Mark wrote it because it contains various Greek words and expressions uncommon to Mark though it has to be pointed out that it is retained in the Peshitta. A 10th century Armenian maniscript attributes vv.9-20 to a man named Ariston, the presbyter from the 2nd century mentioned by Papias (ap.Eus.HE III, 39:15. Why did Mark end his Gospel abruptly at v.8? He might have died before finishing it, the original manuscript might have been mutilated or the actual end may have been suppressed. The great Eusebius (4th century), who prepared the Textus Receptus that formed the ground text for the King James Version (KJV), testified that the verses were missing from all the best Greek manuscripts known to them, being only quoted twice throughout the whole of Christian literature down to AD 325