Month 13:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:384 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 6 April 2016
The Last Sabbath
Preparing for Spiritual Reset
Shabbat shalom mishpachah and may the loving-kindness of our Heavenly Father, Yahweh-Elohim, fill you and bless you through Yah'shua (Jesus) our Messiah on this the last sabbath of the current biblical year. In two day's time we end the current Sh'mittah (Sabbatical) Year and start the biblical New Year and the much anticipated Yovel (Jubilee) Year, a year which I suspect is filling most of you with a combination of rejoicing and dread. There are also a number of you who are wondering what Yahweh will do with this mission He has entrusted to us and what our launch-pad is going to look like when Pesach (Passover) rolls along two weeks' later.
The End of an Age
And what a lot of religious voices there are out there along with a flood of prophecies and calls to 'come here' or 'go there' to this or that group. You must listen to none of them but go yourself to your Heavenly Father and speak with Him so that you absolutely know what His will is for you at this time and whether you are to stay put or move on to new pastures. I know this is a big responsibility for many of you to take but we have truly arrived at the time when every believer has to take personal responsibility in finding out his calling and future and to stop relying on others to tell them. The way the Messianic Community (Church) functioned before is over. We are transitioning rapidly now into a completely new anointing to meet the rising challenges caused by the cascade of evil into this daily ever more wicked world. There can be no more tap-dancing to the rhythm of habitial sinning.
Between Revelation and Fleshy Chatter
It is not uncommon to hear the complaint from folks who grumble that they're just not getting through to Yahweh or not hearing anything back from Him. The heavens seem as immovable, impenetrable brass. Or maybe you're 'hearing things' alright only they lack the resonance of eternity and sound more like the incessant chatter of the flesh and of demons that goes on in the human head or next to your ear. And if that is so, you need a break-through, and you need it now - today.
From Father to Son
Yah'shua (Jesus) once said to His talmidim (disciples):
Listening to and Learning From the Father
"Everyone who has listened to and has learned from My Father (Yahweh) comes to Me" (John 6:45b, Berkley Version).
I got to thinking hard about this sentence a few days' ago. Here the Master is saying to the people of His day - to Yahwists - that everyone who has listened and learned from Yahweh comes to Him - guaranteed. It happens and cannot be stopped. How, then, did the Judeans of Yah'shua's (Jesus') day - the ones who came to Him and remained with Him - 'listen to' and 'learn from' the Father?
All Those Who are True Will Be Taught by Yahweh
In the verse before Yah'shua (Jesus) paraphrased Isaiah 54:13 to support His point that if someone comes to emunah (faith) and makes teshuvah (repents) to Elohim (God), it is because they have been "taught", and hence drawn, by Elohim (God):
The Promise to the Righteous
"It is written in the Nevi'im (Prophets), 'And they will all be taught by Elohim (God)'" (John 6:45a, ESV).
So let us get to the original context, Yahweh's words and promises made through the navi (prophet) Isaiah:
Faith and Obedience is Love
"All your sons will be taught by Yahweh,
and great will be your children's shalom (peace).
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be My doing;
whoever attacks you will surrender to you" (Isa.54:13-15, NIV).
This was a specific promise to the inhabitants of Jerusalem but has application to all generations to those who love Yahweh their Elohim (God) with all their might, mind, strength and being. How did such love Him? By emunah (faith) in His Davar (Word), His Torah, which they obeyed unhesitatingly and joyfully. It was those who took Yahweh at His davar (word) and obeyed it who were, and still are, drawn to the Messiah who has been revealed to the world.
The Need to Be Taught by Yahweh Today
Brethren and sisters, this is a subject we have talked about at great length for many years now but today I want to do two new things with the subject matter. The first is to show you that the 'Torah' may not be entirely what you think it is, and the second is that because of the hour - the crisis of history that we have been purposefully placed in - we need absolutely to be taught by Yahweh if we are to make effective the promises given that "tyranny will be far from [us]" in a time when we are surrounded by tyranny, and that we will "have nothing to fear" when potentially there is much to fear. Please remember the words spoken through the navi (prophet) because they are going to have - if they haven't already - bright and sharp relevence in your way of life any time now, as evil comes up to your face and seeks to enslave or destroy you. "Terror will be far removed" and "will not come near you" if you have gone to the place of Yah's appointing and made the necessary preparations. And Yahweh goes on to say this: "If anyone does attack you, it will not be [Yahweh's] doing". And if the Enemy does attack you, he "will surrender to you".
At War With Christians or the World?
A great theologian once said, paraphrasing:
Stick by Revelation
"If Christians are at war with one another, they must not be at war with the world!"
We have enough opposition from ignorant and rebellious believers to have to contend with the world as well, so I say to you, give the world no opportunity to wage war against you! Stick to what you know, by revelation from Yahweh, what you are to do and say and where are you to be, because if you don't, you are going to need a weapon in your hands and plenty of ammunition, military skill, and your wits about you. That will leave you little time for much else, let alone the work of the Kingdom.
The Proper Definition of Torah
Messianics talk about the 'Torah' a lot, to the point it almost becomes a cliché, don't they? And yet you'd be surprised how little they understand what that word actually means. Ask anyone - Messianic or Christian - to define the Torah and you'll get all sorts of meanings, the most common of which is 'The Law', that 'beast' Evangelical Christians hate so much and attack reflexly like they would a zombie intruder in their home. And yet Torah, properly defined, is instruction or teaching, and it would be a rather silly Christian who declared himself a warrior in the cause against 'instruction' and 'teaching', wouldn't it? (unless he is so full of himself that he doesn't believe he is in need of any sort of instruction or teaching...sadly there are one or two like that). Torah, properly understood, contains poetry, stories, prophecies, testimonies, calls to worship as well as the more commonly understood reference to laws (torot), judgments (mishpatim) and statutes (chukim).
The Meaning of the Word 'Torah' Has Changed
The meaning and usage of words changes in time, of course, as we all know. It's a fact that in modern Hebrew and in English, 'Torah' equals 'Law'. That is unfortunate and regrettable because of the way the word has become so politically and negatively charged thanks to centuries of pagan-inspired Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant propaganda and indoctrination.
How Torah Evolved into Nomos
The fault of this error does, however, predate even the Roman Church at whose feet we cannot exclusively lay any charge and nor can we make it the scapegoat for apostacy. By the time a Greek translation of the Tanakh (Old Testament) was made, known as the Septuagint (LXX), named after its team of 70 Judahite translators, the common practice of Judahites living in Greek diaspora regions was to translate the Hebrew torah into the Greek nomos which in Greek essentially, though not exclusively, means 'the Law'. We don't exactly know how or when this took place back then, only that it did. Constant repetition in a Greek environment redefined the word torah over time. So whilst the Torah most certainly contains laws, statutes and judgments, it cannot only be equated with 'law' in the modern sense of the word. Torah is both 'law' and much, much more.
The First Believers Were, or Became, Israelites
To the believers and converts to Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) of the first three centuries they were not a separate 'religion' as 'Christianity', 'Judaism' and 'Islam' are perceived today with respect to one another. Being a part of the new, or New Covenant, Israel was the standard belief of the first qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) Then as before, anyone who who joined Israel (as opposed to the modern religion of 'Judaism') through conversion also joined the "people of Israel" and didn't just worship Israel's Elohim (God) as Christianity today does (or claims to).
It surprises Evangelicals and Messianics alike to discover that there wasn't a single 'Law' for Israel but many Laws or Torot for different categories of people. The Tanakh (Old Testament) speaks of people living amongst the Israelites without becoming full proselytes or converts. They were called "sojourners" much as I am a "resident" without actually being a Swedish citizen. Like the "sojourners" in ancient Israel, I have retained some of my ethnic and racial identity as an Englishman and Irishman. I obey the Swedish laws without particpating in all the Swedish traditions. Indeed as Messianic Israelites we are all "sojourners" in the countries of our residence even if we may hold the passports of Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Myanmar or wherever we may live. So even if I was living in the UK I would still be a "sojourner", as defined by Scripture, because notwithstanding my British passport, I would not partake wholly of the traditional British way of life. Indeed, my "citizenship", like yours, "is in heaven" (Phil.3:20, NIV), along with my allegiance. Unlike Catholics, whose prime allegiance is to the Vatican, or the Mormons to Salt Lake City, or certain fundamentalist Moslems to the 'Islamic State', the Kingdom I belong to is "not of this world" (John 18:36) but in an invisible spiritual dimension until Messiah returns and establishes His worldwide Kingdom on this world.
How Do We Live in Dispersion?
The apostle Paul, understanding that we are diaspora currently without a national homeland, caused him to ask Yahweh how believers with Heavenly Citizenship should live within the confines of another nation, the Roman Empire, a question every believer has to ask him- or herself depending what country he or she lives in today too. This was the reason the Council of Jerusalem assembled in Acts 15. They asked themselves the question: 'How are we to live in this Roman Empire while we have no sovereignty over the Promised Land?' And the answer was straighforward - we are to live as "sojourners" in Myanmar, Kenya, South Africa, Sweden, etc., in the same way that foreigners lived amongst the Israelites in the days of the Theocratic Kingdom, but in reverse.
Different Torah's for Messianic Israelites
This is important to underline because in Israelite tradition there was never one torah or law for everyone. There was one set of torot (laws) that applied to kol beit Yisra'el - all the House of Israel - and another set of laws that applied to the Levites. Therte are also different degrees of Torah-obedience, depending on your spiritual maturity. Why were new Gentile converts only required to obey part of the Torah to begin with?
In other words, there was only one Torah but separate sets of laws for Nazarites, Levites, new Gentile converts, men and women, other Israelites and even children! And as must surely be obvious, there is a different set of laws for those of us - which is everyone - living in diaspora. But who is teaching this?
"As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should
- 1. abstain from food sacrificed to idols,
- 2. [abstain] from blood,
- 3. [abstain] from the meat of strangled animals and
- 4. [abstain] from sexual immorality" (Acts 21:25, NIV).
Not Possible to Live all the Commandments in the Babylonian System
By way of illustration, look at the struggles we are having today living the Luni-Solar Sabbath doctrine in a world system that abides by a completely different calendar. And the reason the restoration of the Creation Calendar has come so late in world history is because it coincides with the gathering out of the Remnant from the Babylonian system. Only those who are retired, homeschooled or self-employed are basically able to live the Israelite way, and that is the way the Remnant must live. Yahweh is gathering His people so that they can live His lifestyle and rhythmic patterns, but before that, we cannot expect everyone locked into the system - who haven't yet gathered out - to live by the Creation Calendar. It's our duty to inform them of the ways of Messianic Israel and then encourage them to get out of the whore system and into new circumstances. Inevitably, then, those living in the Babylonian system still will be unable to obey all the mitzvot (commandments) they would like to even though I do know believers who have managed to work their way around the obstacles imposed by the system. But it's a struggle.
Coming Out of Babylon in Stages
There are reasons why the Jerusalem Council ordained a minimalist set of four mitzvot (commandments) that new Gentile believers were expected to immediately obey and is it not strange that most Evangelicals ignore nearly all four of them? Three of them are kashrut laws about diet and are universally flouted by Christians and the fourth is about proper sexual conduct which is partially obeyed. But if you flout these basic Four then how can you claim the blessings of Israel, let alone deny Israel's cursings? Yes, there is grace in coming out of Babylon, which must often be in stages, but if you don't obey the first rules of a Messianic Israelites concerning food and sexual conduct, how on earth can you expect to be ready to conquer sin in your life by obeying all the rest? According to one writer I recently read, he catalogued 668 sins in the Bible. The Remnant overcomers are expected to conquer all of them in Yah'shua (Jesus)!
Misunderstanding Paul's Approach to Torah
There are many messianics who turn anti-Paul because they don't understand that there are different torot for different Israelites, because they expect new converts to obey all of Torah. So when he says that some don't have to, they accuse him of being 'anti-Torah', which he never was. Paul or Sha'ul, was a Pharisee who was called by Yah'shua (Jesus) to serve Messianic Israel and the nations in a unique way, but he was still an Israelite - specifically a Benjamite - and therefore always thought as an Israelite thought, namely, of one Torah but several sets of laws for different people, offices, genders and age-groups.
Believers are Yet Diaspora Soujourners in the Republic of Israel
And so it is today. We none of us can go up to a Messianic Theocratic Jerusalem in order to observe the Pilgrim Feasts because modern Jerusalem is not Messianic Theocratic Jerusalem. It is the City of Hagar (Gal.4:24-25) and not the "New Jerusalem" (Rev.3:12; 21:2). It is in Enemy hands, a Rothschild, Illuminist hotbed of wickedness and sin. Therefore we have no allegiance to it or to the state of 'Israel' as a Catholic might have to the Vatican or a Moslem to Mecca. None of the laws pertaining to the Land of Israel are fully in operation, or will be, until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns. Our status, even if we live in the Republic of Israel or the Palestinian Authority Territories, is still as "sojourners", even if the Talmudists build a Temple, create a 'Sanhedrin' and claim some special authortity over believers which they do not, and cannot ever, have. (If you want to know more, please read the very important series, Jacob's Trouble).
Ruth and Naaman
The Tanakh (Old Testament) tells us that there are two ways in which we can commit to the Elohim (God) of Israel. One is the full way of Ruth the Moabite who covenanted saying, "your people will be my people and your Elohim (God) my Elohim (God)" (Ruth 1:16, NIV) and the other is the "sojourner" way of Naaman the Aramean (Syrian), who declared, after being healed in the River Jordan, that were is no other Elohim (God) in the world except in Israel, and proceeded to take some of Israel's soil with him to his home country so that he could worship Yahweh among his own people. He in effect said, "Your Elohim (God) will be my Elohim (God) but my people will still be my people." Both these ways have always been honoured in the Israelite faith, back in the days of Yah'shua (Jesus) and Paul, and are so honoured even in modern Judaism.
Leaving Babylopn in Stages
How does that apply to us? Well, we are forced, like Naaman, not to be in Theocratic Israel but we are now given an interim option to gather out of the nations, starting in our hearts and progressively getting ourselves outwardly and physically into a situation where we can be self-employed or work for other true Messianic Israelites observing as many of the moedim (appointments), like the Sabbath, that can be observed. Those who have the heart, passion, spirit and (ultimately) calling of the Remnant, set about leaving Babylon, inwardly first, and practically second or at the same time. But to make this exit cannot be done in a day, save where your life depends on whether you do it in one day or not, which is why Yahweh has been preparing us all these years.
The Multi-Stage Exodus Plan
The final goal is relocation to the land of Israel to meet the returning Messiah and the penultimate goal is relocation to the Twelve Cities of Refuge which will be entirely outside the domain of Babylon and be supernaturally protected. That cannot obviously ever be done in the flesh which is why the timing of our individual exoduses has to be in Yahweh's full control, in His timing and in His power. And everyone's personal exodus will therefore be a little different. We're at the personal stage right now. After that comes the Final Gathering, and after that the collective Exodus of twelve tribal companies converging from all around the world on Israel, which will have been emptied before our children's arrival, along with the surrounding assembly points in the Middle East. By that time the accounting with Islam will have been made and it will have, to all intents and purposes, been wiped out.
An Orderly and Calm Exit
There are those in the Remnant who are totally stressed out because they are not in a position to observe this law or that one because, for example, of employment in the cities of Babylon. Don't stress, just make your plans to exit, following His timetable, in an orderly and unpanicked way. Listen carefully to the Ruach (Spirit) and obey. Don't procrastinate and don't get sidetracked as that foolish prophet did on his way back to Judah from Israel and was devoured by a lion for his disobedience. We discussed him recently.
Conflicts in Commandments
So you see, we can only do what we can do and need not stress over our failure to do all we would like to do provided we are doing all we can do. Sometimes commandments come into conflict in such situations and we must learn to prioretise. Take Lot who was ordered to leave Sodom with his family. His wife wanted to go back. He had a duty to his wife but his first duty was to Yahweh. I am sure you can think of others. Some of these are dilemmas indeed where no human counsel can be given and you must go straight to Yahweh and ask Him to show you the option you should take. It's then up to our conscience. I want to talk a little about this now.
Small Things Matter
Here in the West we have the expression, "the devil is in the details". Small things matter. And it may be in tiny things that great and important event-hinges turn. You all know how, in the story, the destiny of a nation was determined by a horse shoe nail. So be very careful both about the minutae of Torah as well as generally of little things which may seem unimportant to you but which may, if wrongly handled, have catastrophic consequences. My son missed his bus to college by 10 seconds the other day but the fact that he was 10 seconds late rather than 10 minutes made no difference to the outcome. 10 seconds wan't 'better' than 10 minutes. The consequence was exactly the same. The foolish virgins scurried around at the last minute trying to buy oil for their lamps but it was too late, and the sudden frenzy made no difference either. They were locked out.
In the Details
In the modern state of Israel they have the same proverb but it is worded slightly dfferently to, "Elohim (God) is in the details." Both are true. Yahweh is in the details to bless and Satan is in the details to sabotage. Remember that.
The Process of Torah Obedience
Our full adoption of Torah is a process that we can, and can't, control. We can control what we can do but we cannot control what we cannot do. The important thing is being under the conrol of the Controller, Yah'shua (Jesus), and living obediently to His will day by day. I have tried to rush ahead more than once in my life and got a lot of egg on my face for my trouble. At the same time we cannot procrastinate or drag our heels either.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Today is the last sabbath of the year and the penultimate day of the Sh'mittah or Sabbatical Year. In two days' time the Great Reset starts, Yahweh's Reset. Satan has his reset too and we have to stay ahead of him. We do that by exiting danger areas ahead of time. We do that by having our storage prepared ahead of time. We do that by getting spiritual issues resolved ahead of time before the devil marches in to cause havoc. The Remant must always be ahead of the curve, as it were, anticipating through revelation what's coming next in their particular sphere by being watchful and attentive to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Above all, we must habitually be obedient. Remember, a 'little' thing, in our flesh's estimation, may be huge in the consequences and even cost us our life.
Like Voyaging Colonists
Brethren and sisters, we are like colonists readying ourselves to colonise new territory. We don't know anything about it or what awaits us so we must have our wits about us. The 'rules of the game' are changing in Babylon and where once we could be at ease we no longer have that luxury. But that does not mean we should ever sacrirfice our shalom (peace).
I have an important message to share with you on Rosh Chodesh. Be prepared for anything. May Yahweh bless the remainder of this Sabbath day for you and may you use it wisely.
In Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen.
"With all my heart I give thanks to Yahweh in the gathering of the upright and in the assembly (congregation). Great are the doings of Yahweh, sought out by all who delight in them" (Ps.111:1-2, BV).