Month 5:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:146 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 31 August 2016
Futile Religion VIII
The Faith We're Here to Learn
Continued from Part 7
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us all on this last sabbath of the fifth month.
Blaming Yahweh or Remaining Silent
As some of you know I have been quite ill since I last spoke to you but what you may not know, and which I admit I am reluctant to tell you, is that during this period I did not always follow the counsel I have been giving you these past seven sermons. But I have done better! I cut myself off far sooner than I have ever done before when things have not gone the way I hoped or expected. One of the great lessons we must learn, and I dare say it is one of the hardest, is that instead of blaming Yahweh for things going wrong or not going quite as expected, we should remain silent.
When Job Cried Out in the Flesh
We see this transitioning in Job's experience where he begins as we all do by crying out of the flesh:
"Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 7:11, NIV).
As the emet (truth) dawns on this great patriarch, from His interaction with Yahweh and the advice of his three less-than-helpful 'friends', we notice, at the end, a very radically revised opinion on how he should have dealt with his situation in the beginning:
He Finally Listened Instead
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6, NKJV).
Job was blind but now He could see because He decided to listen to the Most High instead of complaining. At first he blamed Yahweh for his whole miserable situation, not understaining that he was serving as a witness to the heavenly hosts or that there would be, for him, at the conclusion of his listening, not only a deep and intimate communion with Yahweh but also restoration for all his losses.
The Silent Heavens
A two to three days ago I went through a very lonely period of illness. Though I prayed fervently I did not hear Him. But I heard a lot from the Enemy throwing all sorts of things in my face. I began to lose tiqveh (hope) that Yahweh was even interested in my situation and wondered if my prayers were falling on deaf ears. My emunah (faith) weakened. And then, as if to gently chide me, He made it very clear that He was not only present but always working but in a way I did not even consider.
The Rooster Problem
In parallel to my health issues, we have had a problem with our chickens. A minor problem, you might think, but nothing is ever to 'minor' for Yahweh. Unexpectedly we found ourselves with three roosters owing to the fact that we had bred some more chickens to increase our flock and got more males than we had bargained for. Now not many people want roosters. You have to give them away if you are lucky. Unless you have a very big flock of hens, you really don't want more than the minimum or you're asking for fights, stress and a loss of egg production. Winter is rapidly approaching and we needed to get rid of the elder rooster as he did not take kindly to his progeny and was quite vicious. And none of us wanted to kill him for supper (you can't when you've named them and they've become like a family pet).
An Answer to Prayer
So we didn't know what to do and even if we had plucked up courage to stun and decapitate him, our conscience and integrity couldn't have done it anyway because the previous owner had given him to us free on condition that we not kill him...another softie like ourselves. Anyway, I had put an ad up online in a couple of obscure cybermarts not really expecting any result as there are so many people trying to get rid of roosters. On the day when I was feeling really ill, after failed treatment, and feeling Yahweh was silent and distant, what happened? A family with ten hens with no roosters wanted one! Better than that, her work place was only minutes away from us (even though I had advertised over a wide area of Sweden) and to cap it all, she was believer! You have to understand, that believers are very rare in modern Sweden).
'I Will Never Abandon You'
we don't know how Yahweh works or what His reasons are and sometimes we never know. But it is enough to know that He cares for us even when we're asking the wrong questions and are coming with wrong expectations of Him. He has His own agenda. His instruction is simple enough if hard sometimes for our pride to swallow:
"...be satisfied with what you have for Elohim (God) has said, 'I will never leave you; I will never abandon you'" (Heb.13:5, TEV).
There is a condition to this scripture, though, which I know Calvinists (who believe they are always saved no matter what they do), heartily repudiate. This is indeed one of the favoutite 'Calvinism passages'. But the "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you" has a specific historical context...it's a quotation from the Tanakh (Old Testament) - I'm sure you know it because Joshua requotes it when he takes charge of the nation after Moses' death and believers quote it frequently:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified...for Yahweh your Elohim (God) goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you..." (Deut.31:6; also v.8, NIV).
This is a guaranteed promise alright but there's a condition most lawless people would rather not see..."you must do...all that I have commanded you" (Deut 31:5, NIV) or as another transition more literally renders it, "according to every commandment which I have commanded you" (NKJV).
The Promise of Eternal Life and Safety
If you are knowingly violating a mitzvah (commandment), do you really suppose you qualify for this promise? If your desire and your intention and your action to the best of your current ability is to be obedient - and if, when you fail (as we all regrettably do) and you repent and start being obedient again - then the promise is yours in all your imperfection. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
He Never Sleeps on Your Case
"I give [My sheep - those who are following Me] eternal life, and they shall never die; and no one can snatch them away from Me" (Jn.10:28, TEV).
How futile and foolish, is it then, when we get angry with Elohim (God) by accusing Him of not caring and of doing nothing. He cares and He never sleeps. He is 'onto your case' day and night, responding to your emunah (faith) or lack there of, teaching you through gentle chastisements (more often than not unless you are about to break a big commandment in which case His chastisement will certainly be stronger), that it is better to simply trust Him - cling onto Him - than to rant and do the devil's work.
The Other End of Your Chain
Like Paul, the imprisoned apostle in a Roman jail, we all have chains on us of one sort or another - some of our own making (because of foolish attitudes and choices) and some purposefully allowed by the Creator, even though Satan was the original author of them, to teach us vital lessons about living in Him. Three times Paul mentions he is a prisoner of Messiah, stuck in a dingy cell with a guard with him 24/7. But what did he see? How did He deal with his situation? He never 'saw' a Roman guard at the end of his chain but instead He saw Yah'shua (Jesus). And the reason why is that "the man of faith never sees bondage to anything but Elohim (God) Himself" .
What is at the end of your chain? Do you see Yah'shua (Jesus), working for the betterment of your soul, or do you see some circumstance, some illness or some sin? Might you be prepared to see Yah'shua (Jesus) as the author of it, so that finally you can rest, knowing that the final outcome will be to your benefit? I'm not saying that Yah'shua (Jesus) led you into theft, fornication, Sabbath-breaking or whatever your sin may be, of course. He leads no man into sin but He does take upon Himself the burden of our sin when we call upon Him as Saviour and Deliverer to do so, and therefore accepts responsibity for being the Author of that sin as though He Himself were the guilty party. That's called substitutionary atonement. Yes, you may have messed up. But are you willing to let Him clear up the mess in His way rather than in your own?
Choices to Dependency
What will be required in your life - what changes do you think you will need to make - in order for you to develop that dependency on Messiah that you have claimed to have as a talmid (disciple) when in reality not you have not really wanted those changes? I forget who it was who said it - I think it was Tozer - but paraphrasing it went something like: the reason Yahweh doesn't speak to us is because He already knows we aren't going to do what He wants.
Asking Different Questions
If Yahweh is silent to your prayers then maybe it is time for you to ask Him a different set of questions altogether. Maybe you need to ask Him to shine the light of emet (truth) on whatever it is you don't want to do which He might legitimately ask you to do? If your mind is already pre-determined, un-determine it quickly, and surprise yourself with the results. Don't put conditions or boundaries on what He might ask of you. Equally don't go into the unknown. Just don't become a heavenly cartographer,
Trusting in Provisions
Whatever it is we are trusting in apart from Yahweh has to go, however lawful. But you already know that. For instance, I hope that all of you have obediently responded to get provisions against the day of economic collapse, world war, etc.. Once a brother who had lost his job was talking to his pastor. The pastor asked him how he was doing. 'Oh, I'm doing absolutely fine,' was his reply, 'I've got provisions for 6 months'. The pastor, in recounting this incident to his wife later, told her that he would have been better with only a month's provisions because in his present circumstance he would have to wait 6 months before Yahweh would give him a job. He was trusting in his provisions more than Yahweh. Such a man has to lose his provisions - the thing he was trusting in - before he could ever enter into true emunah (faith) and trust in Elohim (God) as Provider.
Dependence vs. Obedience
This is the other end of the spectrum of unbelief. There are those out there who are not making preparations for tribulation times because they arrogantly claim Yahweh will take care of them unconditionally, even though He has said to get stocked up. Such could so easily use as an excuse the story I have just related to you and claim the man was being idolatrous. And he was. But that is not the point. The point is dependence, yes, but also obedience. So you had better be sure you are hearing Yahweh correctly and not simply making excuses. I don't doubt some out there will lose their provisions because they were trusting in self-sufficiency instead of the sufficiency of Yahweh. Those of you who do have provisions must still depend on Yahweh. And that's my whole point.
Fitted to Our Condition
Yahweh's lessons and purposes to us are so perfectly and flawlessly fitted to our condition, aren't they? Well, of course, we never see that until after the event but we should have enough experience under our sleaves to know this is true. Our life in mortality is a School, Course or Program on Emunah (Faith). This makes a lot more sense of Paul's statement:
How is Greatness of Faith Determined?
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Cor.4:17, NIV).
Michael Wells said:
The Long But Necessary Wait
"The greatness of emunah (faith) is not to be judged on how many of Elohim's (God's) promises you have experienced today, or how much material gain you possess, or even how much good health you have received. The greatness of your emunah (faith) is shown in proportion to how long you can wait for the fulfillment of a promise. Again, greatness of emunah (faith) is not proven in what is received but in how long a person can wait without waivering to receive" .
Abraham waited all his life for the Promised Seed. I have been waiting, often impatiently, for nearly 30 years for the events that are about to be unleashed upon the world that will be the fertile soil in which the Remnant is manifested in power. I have been waiting for as long for some members of my family to return to Yah'shua (Jesus) and come home. And I don't doubt all of you have been waiting a long time for various promises to be fulfilled. Be like Abraham. Trust. Cling on. And be vindicated. The best things are always worth waiting for because then we invest more value in them and appreciate them - and the Giver - all the more.
We are surrounded by farmland where my family lives. Fields stretch for miles. Farmers know the importance of waiting. They don't plant seeds one day and then a week later trundle out the harvesters! Yet that's so typical of how we are when it comes to Yahweh's promises...we're just not prepared to wait. MacDonalds-type, instant service religion isn't worth the cardboard or plastic it's served on. It's what the decadent Western world expects and it's about to have all of that violently ripped away from it...and it will be for the ultimate good.
Resting Until Harvest Time
So, yes, brethren and sisters, we must learn to wait, and silently after we have vented and discovered how useless venting at the Creator is. He is patient. He listens sympathetically and sometimes with a slight smile because He knows how silly we are and what we must do. He waits too...for us. The greatness of our emunah (faith) is eventually proven in our ability to rest until harvest-time, knowing that in the interim all the work that must be done is supernatural, work that Yahweh alone can accomplish. And He will...in His own time and way.
Faith Revealed in the Small Things
Understand this also: it is rarely in the big events that true emunah (faith) is shown or proven. There are people who endure terrible persecution and imprisonment, even torture, because of their committment to Yah'shua (Jesus) and yet they were weak in other areas, unable to deny themselves in the little things of life. I can absolutely testify to you that it is easier to lay down one's physical life than it is to lay down the self-life. Overcomers usually require more faith than martyrs. Great emunah (faith) is shown in the small 'insignificant' things of life, proving in the divine scheme of things that they are not quite as insignificant as we believed.
Freedom From Self, Sin and the World
Here, then, is the lesson to be learned, I hope. Once we have completed our emunah (faith) lesson, we will be much more ready to accept without question all that Yahweh tells us. Then we will hear Him a lot more. We will be better equipped spiritually because we won't trust in our idols anymore - in what we feel or see - and we will understand that we are to trust only Yahweh. His answers concerning the freedom from self, sin and the world will not be wasted, for we will drink in each answer with the quiet confidence and fullness of an emunah (faith) that hopes in Elohim (God) alone. We will know that the fulfillment of our tiqveh (hope) is not greater than the promise.
The Coming Yom Teruah Change
So are we now ready for what is to come at Yom Teruah (the Day of Trumpets/Shouting) in just over four weeks' time? I hope so. Yom Teruah will be signalling the beginning of the difficuly but necessary Times of Trouble before the Second Coming in the next generation. Yahweh is faithful even if we may doubt that from time to time because we prefer to trust in our idols and refuse to leave our artificial comfort zones.
Growing in Confidence
As we step out in emunah (faith) so our confidence in Him will grow:
Trust and Trustworthiness
"It is better to trust Yahweh than to put confidence in people" (Ps.118:8, NLT).
From this we learn that trust is related to the degree of trustworthiness. Is Yahweh completely trustworthy? Yes He is, therefore you may have confidence in Him.
That Certain Knowledge
"Yahweh is my light and my salvation - so why should I be afraid?" (Ps.27:1, NLT).
Our confidence is further boosted by the certain knowledge that we have salvation in Yah'shua (Jesus) - whose Name means the 'Salvation of Yah[weh]' - and that an eternal home better than this one awaits us. So stop trusting in unreliable people!
Away From Trusting Unreliable People
"Putting confidence in an unreliable person is like chewing with a toothache or walking on a broken foot" (Prov.25:19, NLT).
It may well be time, then, to start shifting your trust and confidence away from untrustworthy and unreliable people and to the Almighty Elohim (God) instead!
Let us go out from this assembly in confidence and in shalom (peace) so that we can face life with a new emunah (faith) and receive Yahweh's calling to us without doubting. Amen.
Continued in Part 9
 Michael Wells, Sidetracked in the Wilderness (Devotional Life Press, Littleton, CO: 2000), p.71
 Ibid., p.73
 Good News For Modern Man: The New Testament in Today's English Version (American Bible Society, NY: 1966)
 Touchpoint Bible - New Living Translation (Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Wheaton, Illinois: 1996)
 The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI: 1995)