Sermons Series 3:103, 21 July 2007
Fight the Good Fight
To Gather or to Scatter
"Strive (labour fervently, fight) to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I say to you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24, ISRV)
If there is one element about which the Gospel is consistent in both Old and new Covenants it's that to get anywhere constancy and effort are required. Constancy is provided through the vessel of genuine relationship-forming which is within the community of like-minded souls, whether formerly within the old Commonwealth of Israel or the new Messianic Israelite Community. Constancy is shaped and maintained by being and serving within the community of those who trust and adhere to Yah'shua the Messiah with all their beings and who obey His Torah (Rev.12:17; 14:12). Effort, so as not to be dissipated, must be within the vessel that shapes constancy.
"Also [Yah'shua] told [the people] a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward - faint, lose heart and give up..." (Lk.18:1, AmpV).
When we go through difficult times, whether of our own making or permitted by Yahweh at the hands of others to refine and purify us, one of the greatest temptations - especially when one is exhausted - is to stop praying and to give up. I have known several people who, believing they could not go on, have simply 'abandoned ship' and returned to the world, hoping against all reason and common sense that a wild and reckless abandon to blind chance or fate will somehow lead to good fortune. It never does. This is a fatalistic tendency of the flesh, unfortunately.
Last Yom haChamashee (Thursday) morning I arose a little before 6 a.m. to pray about my current situation and a problem which I could find no solution to, and prayed: 'Father, I release all control to you.' To my great surprise, the answer I got back was a very definite 'no'. He said that in doing this I was abandoning my responsibility and giving back to Him what He had given to me. I had my part and He wasn't going to do it for me. None of us can cop out - we have to be adult and fulfil the measure of our creation.
Years ago I was out on army field exercises in Germany in the north of the country with my platoon and I got lost owing to an error in map-reading. We were in this huge forest where it was very difficult to take bearings. What would have happened if I had said: 'OK, I have messed it up, I got my platoon lost, I hand back all control and authority to my Major'? That would have been tantamount to deserting my troops as we were still lost and I had no way of contacting my commanding officer. I had no right to do such an irresponsible. I was charged with their care and it was my responsibility to bring them back to the camp safely. Instead of giving up and shifting the responsibility elsewhere, I got out my map and compass again, made some difficult decisions, made sure my men could see that I was truly in command and not panicking, and in the end got my platoon out of the forest and back to camp again. It was hard, morale was low as it was getting late (we had no tents) and our food rations were almost out, and the men were grumbling at my shoddy map-reading, but I took charge of the situation and did what I had to do. At length a recognisable landmark appeared enabling me to take bearings and after that it was just a matter of following the map again and getting back to base.
One recognisable Torah landmark of truth is enough to get us home when we're lost - like honouring the Sabbath, for example - because it will lead to other landmarks that take us out of the desert and into fertile spiritual land again. Torah is always a reliable map especially if we are in turmoil inside and can't hear Yahweh too clearly. When He sees that we are willing to do what is right in simple practical things, then He will clear away the mists and speak clearly to us. But first we must be willing to hear and do what He says. He makes this promise:
"This is the man to whom I will look and have regard, he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, who trembles at My Word and reveres My commands" (Is.66:2b, AmpV; cp. Jn.4:24).
Now obviously someone who is in wilful rebellion - who knows that what they are doing is wrong - will not be 'regarded' by Yahweh. That means He won't listen to their prayers. If we shut our hearts off because we don't want to deal with pain or sin issues, then He won't be speaking to that person because it is through the heart that He speaks. Just as no one in their right minds tries to send an IM when a computer is turned off, so Yahweh does not answer prayers from a heart that is turned off. The prayer is just like electrostatic. With the heart closed down, man is forced to turn to human counsellors and try to make sense of Scripture. He will hear only contradictory things, though. He will be divided and torn within himself until he chooses to open his heart again and do what is right. Our Heavenly Father makes this promise too:
"Yahweh is close to those who are of a broken heart, and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent" (Ps.34:18, AmpV).
All Yahweh is asking is that we are true to our hearts, no matter what is there. Closing our hearts down is, I guarantee from personal experience, a disaster. Never do it! And if you have done it, get on your knees quickly and reopen the door wide to Him and let Him come in and fix things. When we close our hearts, we not only invite in dark, rapacious powers who will not hesitate to trample down everything that is good, holy and pure within, but Yahweh Himself says He will not be mocked by such a choice when a believer makes it:
"I [Yahweh] will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke out, they did not listen or obey; but they did what was evil in My sight, and chose that in which I did not delight" (Is.66:4, AmpV).
From time to time, we all get lost. And from time to time, we all want to give up and push the responsibility of being lost onto someone else. We don't have that luxury. The cowardly - those who refuse to accept responsibility to find out what is right and do it - have no part in the Kingdom of Heaven (Rev.21:8). For two months I copped out of my responsibilities and reaped a whirlwind but by the time I had woken up and resolved to do what was right, a lot of damage had already been done. As men called to be leaders in the home and elsewhere, we can't throw in the towel without hurting people and damaging relationships. Fathers and mothers can't abandon their children and entrust them to others. Pastors can't abandon the flock to wolves. Doctors can't abandon patients to quacks.
When we get lost, one of the first things we do is turn to other people for help. If we turn to good, solid Christians, who trust in Yah'shua and obey Torah, who clearly have the Ruach haQodesh, then this can be a good thing. However, we do have to hear Yahweh for ourselves. Looking for prophetic words from others is risky, and looking for counsel from unbelievers is suicidal. During my two month 'absence' I turned to several counsellors, of whom I have already spoken, and one thing that became crystal clear to me after a while was that I did not want the responsibility to change. One lady wisely told me that she could not give to me what only Yahweh could give - I had to hear directly from Him. She was willing to hear what I thought He was telling me and then, as the Ruach led, confirm, not confirm or say nothing. And another thing I have been learning in the aftermath of my two month hiatus, is that Yahweh does not repeat Himself indefinitely to questions we ask but don't respond to when we are expecting a different answer. We have to be willing to hear what we do not necessarily want to hear.
When souls are in distress they want infallible, reliable answers that will meet their critical needs at that point of time. How do you obtain these when your heart is in disarray and good counsellors are not available? Or when your heart is partially or almost totally closed down? Is there a reliable map we can follow? When we can't hear Him, and we are unsure about the counsel we are getting from others, is there anything we can concretely do? The answer is a resounding Yes! There is. And it's infallible. All we have to do is look prayerfully at the mitzvot - the commandments - and we will be pointed back to Yahweh.
You start with the Two Great Commandments which encompass everything else (Mt.22:36-40). Do you love Yahweh-Elohim with all your might, mind and strength? Is that your first priority? Even if you can't feel much because your heart is closed down or numb or you are totally self-absorbed in your personal woes, you can at least declare with your will that, 'Yes, Yahweh remains the #1 in my life in everything and all my love I intend to give to Him'. If you are unwilling to do that, you are in serious trouble. If you want to but feel against doing that, then that is the first thing you must work with through prayer, because your problem is atheism. And until you have done that, you're not going to get anywhere, however 'religious' you may be. You must choose to believe - to actively trust - by committing. You may have been a dynamic preacher, evangelist, missionary, or whatever - it doesn't matter what your past was. You may have been a brilliant Scripture teacher, a fantastic Messiah-centred mother. If everything has collapsed and you find yourself struggling with the First Great Commandment, then Yahweh in His mercy has more than likely surfaced a part of you that is atheistic that you have buried. It may be time for you to get that critical issue resolved. And you really can't do anything else until you have.
Now I guarantee that even in the most dedicated Christian or Messianic heart there's a bit of atheism lurking somewhere. The fact that you occasionally entertain doubts is evidence of this. There is, however, no shame in honestly dealing with this. I'll be frank - there was an atheist part of me that surfaced in my crisis, a part that was never fully reconciled to the direction the rest of me had taken years before and which doubted the wisdom of the religious choices I had made. That protesting atheistic voice was drowned out by the rest of me. So it had to surface. It was 'me'. That unbelieving part was taken to the brink and cried out to Yahweh for salvation, and He answered me, as I shared with you last time.
If you have an unbelieving part, then for your own good and for the good of your loved ones, Yahweh will surface it so that you can deal with it and make critical choices. We can't be left double-minded and expect to be successful for Him or in life generally until atheistic questions have been resolved. I have met so many who have had to come face to face with this ugly aspect of themselves. Some repent and believe, others allow their believing part to be swallowed up by their atheistic part and become heathen again, or reinvent Yahweh in their own image. That is why, as we shall see in a moment, we must fight to know the truth and fight to be true.
You can't go a step further until you have made a choice for Yahweh - or a step backwards for unbelief. Either way you can't stay where you are. It's a critical choice. A word of warning. If you have been involved in false religion, don't assume that Elohim doesn't exist. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. When I left Mormonism I had to throw a lot out. When one is in reaction - because one is upset at having been tricked by false religion - there is a tendency to overreact and throw out the good along with the bad. Immaturity throws it all out. Wisdom is more prudent and discriminating. It takes a man or a woman of strong conviction and character to check themselves to not overreact. This is not a little matter. That 'back-swing', if we don't control it, can cost us a lot of wasted years and hurt a lot of people, especially if we are parents of children in need of our spiritual guidance. Children need a firm foundation and if their parents are swinging all over the place like pendulums they will grow up unstable and unsure, and be severely disadvantaged for adult life.
Once you have made your choice for Yahweh - to love Him with everything you've got - you have to move on to the Second Great Commandment: to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Many people who lose faith often skip the First Great Commandment and build their lives around the Second. It doesn't work because what you end up with is worshipping people and self. What you end up with is paganism where you become your own god and guide. The Golden Rule of treating others the way you want to be treated is a minefield if you aren't first loving Yahweh with all your might, mind and strength. I guarantee you will get lost if you try to live a life of loving others without Him. What you end up with is a kind of salvation by works: 'If I love others the way I love myself, God - if He exists - will surely accept me'. Wrong. Nothing could be further than the truth which is why He has given us the Ten Commandments to explain what these Two Great Commandments mean - the Commandments upon which all the Torah and prophets hang or are suspended from. Omitting the First Great Commandment and living only by the 'Golden Rule' is to reject the Ten Commandments which explain what the 'Golden Rule' actually is.
The First Great Commandment is a summary of the first four of the Ten Commandments:
- 1. Do not worship any other gods (including yourself, other people or demons);
- 2. Don't commit idolatry (put nothing ahead of your relationship with Yahweh);
- 3. Don't misuse the Name of Elohim - Yahweh (honour it with the highest reverence);
- 4. Keep the Sabbath Day holy (don't use it to do your own thing).
I have noticed consistently that one of the first signs of turning away from Yahweh is failure to observe the Sabbath. You'd be surprised just what a reliable indicator of faithfulness or faithlessness this is. And typically you will find excuses like, 'it's what's important in my heart that counts, not external rules and regulations'. Yet that's the whole point - if you love Yahweh, then He owns your outer life, behaviour and habits as well as your inner. That excuse is a barefaced lie. And the Sabbath-test is one of many infallible litmus tests to indicate our standing with Yahweh (Is.56:2; 58:13-14; ). It reveals just how much we love Him. It reveals who our 'god' truly is both now and in the Millennium to come (Is.66:23-24). What you do in the external world reveals the state of your heart on the inside:
"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do" (James 2:18, NIV).
In wilfully disobeying the Sabbath commandment we demonstrate that we are rejecting the first three commandments also.
These are four signs of departure from the one and only Living Elohim. The remaining six - which describe our relationship to others - are other markers we need to pay close attention to:
- 5. Honour your father and mother (show respect for them even if they are unbelievers);
- 6. Do not murder;
- 7. Do not commit adultery (be true to your marriage companion and covenants);
- 8. Do not steal;
- 9. Do not lie (either to yourself, to others or to Yahweh);
- 10. Do not eagerly desire (covet) what does not belong to you.
I have noticed that as the 4th commandment (Sabbath) is one of the first to be rejected when a soul turns away from Yahweh, so the 7th (chastity) follows closely on its heels, especially in our sexually promiscuous world. And as you study the ten commandments, you'll see that breaking one of them results in breaking all of the others to one degree or another. We don't even need to look at the rest of the mitzvot to know where we are in our relationship to Yahweh. Our relationship to the Ten Commandments is usually clear enough - which is why people hate them when they turn away from Yahweh, because summaries like the Two Great Commandments are easy to twist around - without the Ten Commandments we can define 'God' and 'love' any way we want - and that's precisely what backsliding believers do at first. And, yes, Messianics who apostatise quickly stop calling our Father in Heaven 'Yahweh' and start calling Him 'God' because it's less personal, less intimate, and enables us to 'identify' with the millions who also believe in 'God' and who reject His commandments. Why do you think the Third Commandment tells us to honour His Name? It is precisely because Yahweh's Name connects us intimately to every word that He has spoken in Scripture and exposes the lies of the false One World Religion which is all religion outside faith in Yah'shua and obedience to the mitzvot. Once you start discarding even one of the Ten Commandments you are starting to give assent to the Antichrist religion in the world.
Needless to say, those who have rejected Yahweh and have admitted demons are enraged and offended by such talk. But it's the truth and no man or woman can escape from it. I challenge anyone who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian to refute the truth of these words. I would stake my very life on them, and already have. It was clinging to the Two Great Commandments that enabled me to climb out of the morass that resulted from closing my heart down because I knew that opening my heart to Yahweh was not enough: I had to open my heart to all truth too. I had got things upside down, in fact. I was looking at the hundreds of mitzvot and laying more stress on the details than on that which they represent - I was fussing over adherence to the details of Torah and neglecting the "weightier matters of the Torah" (Mt.23:23) just as the Pharisees had done in Yah'shua's day and as a result could not see the wood from the trees. I was, on occasion, making the Two Great Commandments hang on all the rest without knowing it. I'll explain how that happened in a while.
During my two month 'vacation' I learned many things. Firstly, I learned that the individual commandments meant little until you first had heart-contact with the love of Yahweh. It must start there. There has to be a living encounter with Him. In my case, having met Him one-to-one before, it was a matter, not of wakening for the first time, but of reawakening after wilfully going to sleep. For many Christians going through crisis, who have never been born again, it means meeting Him for the first time. Either way, though, the heart contact must be made, and when it is, an exciting adventure starts.
Once your heart has opened or reopened to Him, then you must listen to other people too, especially to those who are the most important to you: your spouses, your children and then others. Once that is in place - once you have that heart-connection - then you can focus on the minutae of Torah. Nevertheless, loving Yahweh and loving your neighbour (spouse > children > others) is obeying the 10 Commandments. They are totally interconnected. Ignore or break any one of them and your relationship with Yahweh or your loved ones becomes dysfunctional and sinful. I love Yahweh by observing His special set-apart day, the Sabbath, revering His Name, having no-one or anything ahead of Him in my affections, being true to my wife, attending to my children's needs and not putting my ministry before my family, and so on. I demonstrate my love by what I do. Ceasing Sabbath-observance, abandoning my family, and so on is not loving Yahweh, it is not loving my neighbour and it is definitely not loving myself because the Ten Commandments tell me how to love Elohim and man.
Yah'shua told a parable to help us avoid catastrophe in our life and interestingly He uses as an illustration a defenceless widow and a less than perfect Judge whose responsibility was to administer Torah justice and especially protect the disadvantaged, like widows and orphans. In the parable this particular Judge "neither reverenced and feared Elohim nor respected or considered man" (Lk.18:2). There was, additionally, this widow "who kept coming to him and saying, 'Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary'" (v.3).
Our adversary is Satan and his human instruments who often present themselves as our friends, helpers and deliverers but who are - sometimes knowingly but more often than not unknowingly - aiding him to enslave and destroy us as they themselves are already enslaved and destroyed. And those who should be our defenders - husbands, fathers, pastors, bosses at work, government officials, military officers, doctors and others in position of leadership and responsibility - are often like that Judge who really is not that bothered to do what he is supposed to be doing. And as happens so often when we badger state officials in order to get them to do something they're neglecting to do, this widow kept bothering this lax Judge to get her rights. In the end, so as not to be driven crazy and worn out (he was even fearful that she would assault or strangle him) the Judge finally relented and did his duty. (v.5).
Now the Judge in this story is, of course, a composite of the failures of human leadership. The widow represents the vulnerability and need to be protected by those in leadership. Yah'shua is telling us that all heads and leaders fail to one degree or another - some more than others. He uses this as a contrast to Yahweh's faithfulness:
"And will not [our just] Elohim defend and protect and avenge us His elect (His chosen ones) who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of man comes will He find (persistence in) the faith on the earth?" (vv.7-8, AmpV).
When we do what is right - when we live "the faith" (belief in Yahweh through Yah'shua and obedience to Torah) and not just any old faith (passive trusting without action in any old 'God' adhering to rules that suit us personally), Yahweh defends our case as the Righteous Judge and acts speedily. As my family kept on reminding me during my two month 'spiritual leave of absence', it required only a single choice to get me out of the hellhole I had made for myself. A single choice. I did make some earlier abortive attempts but I gave up after a short while each time. Sometimes it would last a day or two, sometimes a few hours, sometimes minutes. What was missing was, however, not the decision to do what was right but persistence. What was missing was effort, striving, labouring fervently, or as they kept on telling me, FIGHTING. Finally I did take the plunge, far too late but better late than never, when Yahweh showed me that my time was running out.
Yah'shua tells another story of a man who suddenly gets guests late at night but has no food to feed them. In desperation he goes to a neighbour to ask if he can borrow some bread. The neighbour is very annoyed to be disturbed from his sleep but his persistence results in him yielding and giving him what he wants. Yah'shua commends this persistent man and says we too should persist in prayer to Yahweh in the same fashion.
Yah'shua uses this kind of illustration a lot, even to telling us that entering the narrow gate that leads to eternal life requires EFFORT:
"Strive (labour fervently, fight) to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I say to you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24, ISRV)
Notice that He is saying that many people do find this gate - they then try to enter it but won't be able to. And the reason is they don't fight. They won't fight the enemies blocking them. Maybe they started to and then gave up because they felt they had no strength left. They want someone else to do the work for them - to do their fighting for them. Sorry, if that is your attitude - if you think that all you have to do is make a confession of faith and thereafter sit back in your pew, and let someone else take over, you won't make it. But that's not all. You have to persist and keep on fighting. Boys have to grow up into men, and girls into women. Paul says:
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (1 Cor.13:11-12, NIV)
There is no respite until the race is won. Think about it. Paul says this life is like an athletics race. When you've started the race, you can't just sit down and have a breather and expect to win. Listen to what he says:
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Cor.9:24, NIV).
In other words, if your attitude is anything other than winning by giving all you have, you'll lose. You won't get the prize. Paul says that Christians, like these athletes "go into strict training" (v.25a). And training is not easy! But the reason we bother to do this is because "we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (v.25b). Are you after that crown? Is your goal really eternal life? Are you willing to gamble it all away by pulling out of the race? If so, reconsider and follow Paul's advice:
"Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest ... I myself should become disqualified" (1 Cor.9:26-27, NKJV).
So what is Satan going to tell you? Well, what the devil says will contradict with Yah'shua and the apostles said, won't it? He'll say: 'Take a breather. Pull out of the race. Have a vacation. Forget about the commandments. Forget about those you have responsibility for. You owe it to yourself'.
Do you know what my rationalisation was? I convinced myself that if I didn't 'pull out' that I would have a complete physical breakdown. It certainly felt like I would. I was pretty ill. Actually, I later ended up in hospital for a while but it was not a complete breakdown. I survived though I really thought I had had it. Remember also that Yahweh does promise - consistently - that He will never ask us to do more than we are able to. I didn't believe Him. I thought that I had to take care of myself, that He had given me more than I could manage, was making me carry more than I could bear, that I had to step in or I would fall apart and wouldn't be able to take care of my family any longer. What a lie. What I thought was good for my family was the diametric opposite. I believed in a demonic lie. I took control of my life back to myself and stopped believing that He would see me through carrying out my responsibilities. There were other things involved, as I have already spoken to you about, but this was probably the critical wrong decision I made. In the process everything else was flushed to the surface to be dealt with one item at a time.
I have met a lot of people who have started costly projects and given up midway. They have bitterly regretted it. I quit for two months and am bitterly regretting what I did but I refuse to give up. People need me. I have started again slowly but surely, gaining momentum and finding my stride. It can take a while to get moving again - it does require an enormous effort - but move we must if we are serious about getting that crown of immortality. Some days it is tough starting and I have to fight the lies of the enemy who wants me to believe that it is 'too late' - that I have messed up and might us well just down tools and go to sleep. That is why I wake up early to study and pray. We must begin each day on a sound footing - with a commitment to love Yahweh and our neighbour with open hearts, and a commitment to remain true to the commandments. Nothing else is safe.
I mentioned earlier that I was, on occasion, hanging the Two Great Commandments on the 'lesser mitzvot'. By that I don't mean to imply that any commandment is 'inferior' or can be ignored: Yah'shua said that if we disobey one commandment we might as well disobey the lot (Mt.5:19). In other words, everything Yahweh says is important and can't be trivialised, ignored or dismissed, as antinomian (lawless) Christians are wont to do. However, it is important to make a clear distinction between the wine and the wineglass - between the substance and the vessel. The vessel is important but it's not the main thing. Equally, whilst the substance is important the vessel can't be ignored. Love without direction and purpose ceases at some point to be love and becomes something else, often without our realising it. Wine spilled on the ground isn't much use. Love without the commandments - love that covets that which does not belonging to it - is not love. It's the very opposite even if it feels like the genuine article. It's hate. It may feel wonderful to begin with but if it's lawless, Yahweh will not be in it and it will turn sour and rotten. Wine put in a filthy wine glass covered in bacteria can make you sick, corrupting the wine. Similarly if you have sex outside of marriage, or commit adultery, it may 'taste' good but it is still evil. It is corrupt and its result is anything but good. It is evil, because Yahweh said so in the 7th Commandment. If you disagree, you disagree with Yahweh and are in violation of the First Great Commandment. And if you don't love Him, then how can you love your neighbour as yourself? You will 'love' in your own human, fleshy image of love which perishes. As one pastor I know once said:
Truth without love destroys -
Love without truth deceives.
You can't separate the two - if you do you'll either be destroyed or deceived - or both.
So what needs to be done practically? How do we get out of spiritual defeat and into victory? How do we get back into the business of living? I propose a very simple answer - its a solution I have been using, and really doesn't require any complex action. Paul said:
"So then, just as you received Messiah Yah'shua as Master, continue to live in Him" (Col.2:6, NIV).
In the same way that you were saved - in the same way that you were baptised in the Ruach haQodesh - continue to live in Him. The only way to live victoriously in Him and live the commandments out an abundance of your heart is by continuing the way you began your spiritual journey in Yah'shua. Paul conveys the same sense to the Galatians by asking a question:
"Did you receive the Ruach by observing the Torah, or by believing what you heard?" (Gal.3:2, NIV)
Notice that the Ruach is not received by the laying on of hands, neither by obeying the commandments, but by believing the message of salvation. In short, by believing - adhering to, clinging to - the truth.
For me, as I have testified so many times, when the going gets rough, I try to go back to that night I locked myself in my room at college in which I made a self vow that I would not emerge until I had obtained the goal of my seeking - until I knew what His will for my life was. I wanted His truth. I was determined, and that determination - that persistence - that fighting (and it was a battle) resulted in Yah'shua coming into my heart and making me anew - transforming me completely. He wants me - and you - to live today, and the next day, and the day after, in exactly the same way you began your Christian life on the day you were born again. He wants you to continue in the work that He did on you by His sovereign grace which involved no effort on your part in the salvation event other than to fight to get to that narrow gate and persist until you were through it by opening your heart wide and letting Him fill it the way he wanted to. If you sit back waiting to be led through - if you sit back waiting for Him to open your heart, you'll sit there for eternity. It's your responsibility to get to the gate and it's your responsibility to fight your way through it until you are in Yah'shua's arms and are abiding in His shalom and perfect will.
What was the chief thing that you did when you committed your life to Yah'shua? What was it that brought you out of that spiritual orphanage without Yahweh as your Abba and into the warm fellowship of His love and light as a cherished son or daughter? You exercised faith.
Yahweh had to remind me of that this morning. I awoke, as I usually do, very early, and started praying. I kept asking Him what I should do next. The answers to vitally important questions were not coming. He had told me already that I couldn't just 'hand' everything over to Him - I had to do my part. As I was praying He brought back several scriptures to mind:
"A family divided against itself falls apart" (Lk.11:17, GNB).
Not only families, but if a person is divided against himself - if he is double-minded - then he falls apart too. Then Yahweh led me to another scripture which is even more poignant:
"Anyone who is not for Me, is really against Me; anyone who does not help Me gather, is really scattering" (Lk.11:23, GNB).
Yahweh is not in the business of dividing, breaking-up and scattering. He's a gatherer:
"What therefore Elohim hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt.19:6, KJV).
Since the Creation and the Sabbath Rest, Yahweh has been in the business of holding together what He has created. That's what we're called to do too. People are only scattered after Satan has acted and been permitted to act (e.g. Ac.5:37). He divides families, congregations and nations. In fact, he delights in all forms of civil war, and he begins by dividing us against ourselves by making us double-minded:
"'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered" (Mark 14:27, NIV).
Satan always goes for the leaders first. And what is the 'leader' in us? Our conscience. If he can defile that, he has won half the battle (Titus 1:15). That is why we, who have positions of leadership, are expected to hold our ground and not yield to the enemy - others depend on us. And if we do waiver - and Yahweh only knows that we do - we must, if we are knocked down, get up again and fight. And if we start fleeing, we must repent quickly and return to the front line because whatever our fears may be, it's not just about us but about our dependants too. These are our 'little ones' - whether they are young in faith or simply children under our watch care:
"If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin (miss the mark, lose the way), it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck" (Mark 9:42, NIV).
If you're a man, consider your little ones! Consider the judgement that will befall us if we abandon them to the devourer (Mal.3:11).
Yah'shua taught that those who try to sneak into the Kingdom by any other way than the door of the sheepfold - which is Himself - are thieves and robbers (Jn.10:1). Genuine love is only known by truth, and truth is only known through love. Without truth, the conscience is defiled and misleads. And without an open heart, we cannot receive the truth. The truth liberates and love empowers.
We must return to the basics each day. Yah'shua reminded me of this early this morning. I awoke vexed by unanswered questions. Important decisions needed to be made. I asked Him what to do and got the answer: "What to you propose to do?" I was stunned. I was expecting Him to give me a list of instructions. Instead He simply restated what He had told me the other day - that I couldn't just hand over all control to Him, that I had the responsibility as a father, husband and pastor to make decisions and act.
As I thought about this, I knew both what I wanted, understood my limitations, and desired a certain course of action. But the more I looked at that course of action - the only one I could think of - the more impossible it seemed to be. I knew there had to be agreement. I had to be agreed within myself, and I needed the agreement of my family. Scripture says there must be a threefold agreement between "the Ruach (Spirit), the water and the blood" (1 Jn.5:8). They are the three witnesses. They must be one or echad just as the Elohim are. The Ruach is Truth (v.7). Yah'shua came by means of water and blood (v.6). And the context is our overcoming through faith in Yah'shua as the Son of Yahweh (v.5). Yah'shua's overcoming began with His baptism in water when he set the example we are to follow of repenting of sin - turning away from it - by getting back into alignment with Torah. The final overcoming was by the shedding of His blood - the giving of His life "as a ransom for many" (Mk.10:45). Thus a man- a leader - must be led by the Ruach, must abide by his baptismal covenants and must be willing to lose his life in order to rescue the life of others (e.g. Jn.12:25). He must not make the mistake of Isaac who tried to effect solutions to difficult problems in the flesh (Gen.26:9).
Later, as I sat in the bathroom meditating I heard Him speak very clearly to me: "Turn to page 184 and to verse 6" as I looked at a copy of the New Testament laying on the table next to me. What I read fitted seamlessly into the train of thought and inspiration I had been having earlier:
"If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!' and it would obey you" (Lk.17:6, GNB).
Like me, I am sure you have read this passage a hundred times but this morning I saw something different. Yesterday I was gardening and was transplanting some orchid plants from a wild patch in my garden to the flower beds in the front of the house. I had to first clear away some rather stubborn lupins and was astonished to discover how thick the roots had become and how deep they had gone down. One of my sons was with me and I was explaining how like sin these roots were like when left unattended. I had to go so deep to get the roots up and even then they broke many times until finally I got to the bottom. I knew I could leave no part there or the plant would re-emerge next year. Having removed the offending weed, I headed off to the wild patch to dig up the orchids. Again, I had to dig really deep, and in order to preserve the whole system of roots, I had to dig far around it to get all the roots, and then I had these heavy soil-laden clumps to carry to their new destination for replanting.
Yah'shua said: "If you had faith..." (GNB) or a more accurate translation would be, "If you have faith [as you say you do]..." (NIV). The apostles had faith but needed more. Now a mulberry tree is not a small plant and I guarantee you would neither be able to pull it out of the ground by the strength of your own arms nor be able to carry it the considerable distance to the sea, let alone "plant" it there.
As I read this passage of scripture in Luke I noticed some details I had not seen before: "Be pulled up by the roots!" (ISRV). I tried to pull up those orchid plants by the roots yesterday even after I had done some spade work around them and it was exceedingly difficult. The root grows around soil particles in the ground and cements the plant firmly so that it cannot be easily moved.
What is Yah'shua saying here? Why is He using this illustration? The seed always represents the Word of Elohim (Lk.8:11) - the written Word (Scripture) and the spoken (revelation through the Ruach). The soil is you and me into which the Word is planted. The Word, when it is planted into our hearts, clings to us like the roots of the plant and binds us together so that we become living. The Word plants a Living Tree within us which grows and bears fruit. It is that fruitfulness that pleases Yahweh. By contrast, if we plant lies into our system, its roots too cling around the soul of our heart making removal tough. But unlike the Parable of the Sower, a transplantation is taking place - from soil to sea. What an unusual illustration! Why should we seek the faith that would transplant a mulberry bush and fix it in the sea of all places? Land plants don't grow in the sea!
Why did Yah'shua use the mulberry as an illustration? The mulberry tree was known to attract worms and worms were always associated with decay, death and the work of demons in the Jewish mind. This tree exemplifies our doubts and anxieties, which are the very things we need to have cast out if we are to develop real faith. There was a superstition in those days that water drove out demons much as the mediaeval Europeans believed that garlic and crucifixes could drive away werewolves and vampires. Thus planting a mulberry tree in water - in the middle of the sea - not only gets rid of doubts and fears but also vanquishes the evil forces arraigned against us. In other words, Yah'shua is saying that if we are to flourish and become strong in faith, we need a change of spiritual location. Worm-infested ground is not the place for a mulberry tree to grow anymore than hearts filled with doubt and anxiety are places for faith to grow. Thus the apostle said: "We have faith, Master, but we need You to strengthen it." Yah'shua's reply was simply this: "If you have a minuscule amount of faith - as small as this mustard seed - you don't need Me to strengthen it. You can get rid of your own fears and misgivings. Just uproot this wormy old mulberry tree yourself and throw it into a vat of insecticide" 1
Now we can use this scripture in any situation that requires a strengthening of faith but this one was given within the context of a challenge made by the Master:
"Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4, NIV).
The ground of unforgiveness leads to corruption and death of the heart. Yah'shua is here telling us that forgiveness requires the kind of faith that is needed to move a mulberry tree and plant it into the sea without the use of our hands. This is a heart-action that He is demanding. Until we forgive, we will be eaten alive by the worms of unbelief. The replanting of the soul requires that the soil be shaken from the roots, no mean task. We are to "pull ourselves up by the roots" and be replanted in new spiritual ground. Clearly no passive process is in operation here. This requires guts.
Now I don't know what your situation is but one thing I am certain of is this: no matter who you are, either currently or sometime in the future you are having, or will have, struggles. We're in a war zone and though it seems that other people are our enemies, the real enemy is Satan and his demons who play on fear and anxiety. We have to be uprooted from that and transplanted by faith into a place where demons flee. No one else can fight this battle for you. You can sit back passively and be defeated or you can get up, pick up your sword, and get into battle. As one man wisely said:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" (Edmund Burke, 1729-97).
Believers do not have the luxury of doing nothing. We're in a state of perpetual war in this life whether we like it or not. By having faith in Yah'shua and trusting in His Word, and armed with truth and love, we are in a position to overcome. Or as Paul put it:
"We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom.8:37, NKJV).
I like the "more than" part. I believe it. Nearly 20 years ago I found myself in what seemed to be an impossible situation. All the odds were stacked against me. My wife had packed her bags and taken my children to the other side of the world to a New Age cult. I had no money and legally speaking I had no chance of getting them back. I fasted and prayed for a very long time until I knew exactly what Yahweh wanted me to do and then I went into action with little more than faith. I went to court but my solicitor (attorney) said I had little chance of winning. Those of you who know the story of what happened will remember that the Ruach inspired me to make a request to address the court. The request was reluctantly granted. As I spoke to the Judge I saw the Ruach fall on her and from being hostile she became sympathetic and granted me what I wanted: custody of my children. It was all over in 40 minutes whereas we had been expecting a long drawn-out case lasting days or even weeks that might cost a fortune. I never forgot my lesson in that experience: a man operating in the truth, in love, and the will of Yahweh is "justified by faith" (Rom.5:1) - not any old faith, but the faith - faith rooted in Torah - and his prayers will be answered.
There is one other important element in this equation that I want to share which I think is very important. I have spoken of the burden and responsibility of leadership that devolves on men. However, there are also blessings, and many of these lie in the realm of authority. I have spoken much about this over the years as it has been very important in the field of deliverance ministry. When it comes to relationships - and especially the relationship between husband and wife - it has an additional dimension.
A few days ago Yah'shua taught me something both interesting and challenging about authority. I woke up at the crack of dawn, began praying, and He showed me a strange vision which baffled me for a couple of days. He showed me a snooker/poole cue. At either each end of the cue was an eye, and these eyes were ablaze with what was very clearly a demonic fire - one was, as I recall, green, and the other, red. Immediately afterwards He showed me the letter 'Q' which of course is an abbreviation for 'Question' - all within the context of the big question I had been asking myself over many days concerning an important course of action I have been contemplating. Puzzling over this the whole of the following day, it was not until the following morning when He spoke to me again that I realised that a cue had been depicted because of the sound of the word, and what it really represented was a sceptre of authority.
The sceptre of authority is given to a husband over his wife, and to a father over his children while they remain under him. Similar spiritual sceptres are given to pastors and others in positions of authority. All authority, however, has a legal or de jure aspect and an internal one based on personal righteousness. Yah'shua had both. He had legal authority from Yahweh as His representative, and legal authority from the religious authorities of His day who sat in Moses' Seat (Mt.23:2) to preach as a regularly ordained Rabbi. However, Yah'shua did not appeal to people on the basis of His legal authority, even though He had it - He appealed to the authority that comes from righteousness - from His impeccable lifestyle, miracles and teachings. Notice that when Yah'shua's authority was challenged by the religious leaders of His time, He never appealed to external credentials. We read, for example:
"Yah'shua entered the temple courts, and, while He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him. 'By what authority are you doing these things?' they asked. 'And who gave you this authority?' Yah'shua replied, 'I will also ask you one question. If you answer Me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism - where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?' They discussed it among themselves and said, 'If we say, 'From heaven,' He will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men' - we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.' So they answered Yah'shua, 'We don't know.' Then He said, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things'" (Matt.21:23-27, NIV).
Yah'shua always appealed to the spirit behind His words and actions:
"The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the Torah" (Mark 1:22, NIV).
Messianic Torah-teachers need to take note here. Authentic teaching is authoritative because it is truth, and truth is given by the Ruach haEmet or Spirit of Truth (Jn.14:17; 15:26; 16:13).
Now in my vision of the cue or sceptre there was an eye at each end. A sceptre has two ends - the part which is held by the one possessing the authority and the part which is touched - as Esther touched the sceptre of the King of Persia - to indicate submission to that authority (Est.5:2; 8:4). The sceptre is a kind of bridge. It is not just a legal thing. Torah teaches most clearly about authorities and our respective obligations to them whether those wielding authority are good or evil. We have legal obligations and we will be judged by the Most High as to how we regarded them. But for authority to have life there must also be a connection. When Yah'shua taught in the Ruach haEmet, a connection was made between his Ruach and the ruachs of the people. Hearts were linked and those hearts willingly yielded to that authority because submitting to the One who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn.14:6) gave life. Authority wielded in truth and love gives life. A wife submitted to a husband who loves her gets heart-life and protection. Children submitted to parents who love them are likewise protected, nourished and carried until they are strong enough and prepared to stand on their own in life. True authority is both de jure and life-bringing.
In my vision I was showed that at the time I was on my 'two month vacation' authority was not only administered unrighteously because it was based only on legal rights rather than love, but it was also received unrighteously because the legal obligation was rejected in the absence of life-giving love. Both ends of the sceptre were therefore animated demonically: on the one hand I was demanding obedience on the basis of my legal rights whilst denying the life-giving force of love, and on the other hand obedience was being refused until there was evidence of love manifested. I was saying: "I won't love you until you obey me" and the response was. "I won't obey you until you love me".
What does the Gospel teach? What is the teaching of both Yah'shua and the apostles? To the rulers: "Love whether you are obeyed or not." To those under authority: "Obey whether you are loved or not." Why? Because that is Yahweh's divine order. Is it easy to live like this? No, definitely not. It's extremely challenging, but it is absolutely the Way of the Master. If we do not do it His way, we end up making truth subjective and relative to our personal feelings.
The 8th Commandment says: Do not steal. The 'Robin Hood' Commandment says: Do not steal except from the rich or from whoever you feel deserves to be robbed because they have too much. Yahweh says: a husband must provide for his wife and children. Satan says: a man is only obliged to provide for his wife and children so long as they obey him. And so on. I think you get the picture.
The legal rules or written Torah are given to make order and to create a vessel for love; but there is only life and joy in Torah when it is animated by love. The mistake is in separating the two because no one is loving perfectly even when they do love. If we make our obedience a function of the love of those over us in the flesh then we have admitted a spirit of rebellion and anarchy which lays down conditions, when Yahweh's rules are unconditional. "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (Jn.14:15, NIV). In other words, obedience to the letter of the Law is ALSO love because it is a fence of protection against lawlessness and anarchy which lead to much unhappiness.
The sceptre of authority has two ends. For it to be functioning the way Yahweh wants it to, there must be life at both ends. When there is life one end, it makes it a lot easier to have life at the other, and vice versa. Life at both ends is the ideal. However, for there to be life at one end is not conditional upon there being life at the other. When each end is waiting on the other to respond in righteousness, nothing happens. That is why each end must operate independently in its own sphere of responsibility.
It is actually incredible, when you think about it, that we obey unrighteous secular laws even though we don't like them. We choose to suffer because we know if we break them, we will be punished. If I refuse to pay my taxes, I will be fined or imprisoned pretty smartly. Why, then, do we treat Yahweh's laws differently? Because for the most part His punishment is not instant. We are judged at the end of mortality. So when no judgement comes, we assume that no punishment is coming. That's why the angels carried on rebelling generation after generation, corrupting the seed before Noah was called. Yahweh did nothing so they drew wrong conclusions. And then, though warnings were given for a whole generation, the judgement came swiftly, in one day. And that judgement was death by drowning.
Authority has two inseparable sides, like the two sides of a coin. The one is the authority which is by compulsion, and the other is the authority which comes of free choice. I am obliged by law to submit to the laws of my government. If they are ungodly laws, I am miserable. But how much happier am I when those laws are godly, then I can delight in submitting to them. I am still compelled to obey but now I see the love behind them and do not object to that rule by force.
When we misinterpret Scripture and start saying that we are not obliged to submit until we receive some immediate or discernible benefit (many benefits are invisible to us because we can only perceive their value in their absence when we turn away from truth), what we are indirectly saying is that Yahweh was wrong to ever demand unconditional obedience from us before revealing His love so that we might desire to obey. In making that demand we are making the assumption that we know what the fullness of His love is.
If I push someone hard and they fall over and cut themselves as they are about to cross the road, I may come to many false conclusions if I don't get the bigger picture of why I was pushed. He might have pushed me to prevent me crossing to the other side of the road because he didn't want me to keep an important appointment with someone or he might have done it to prevent me from being run down by a drunk driver. If it was the latter, I would be grateful for my cuts and bruises. Indeed, these cuts and bruises were made out of love for me. Thus something painful may be done out of malice or out of love, one being a violation of my freedom and the other redemptive.
Yahweh set up authorities because He loves us. True, leaders may abuse their positions. There is much temptation in leadership - I don't know of any man who has not abused his authority and power over his wife at some time, or a mother over her children. And based on what you hear in the media you'd probably conclude that men are the main tyrants in society and women their victims. But what's the truth? There are brutish men in abundance and there are women victims in abundance and yet you might be surprised to learn that in the United States, wives or girlfriends assault 2 million men every year compared to 1.8 million women who are assaulted by their spouses or boyfriends. 54% of all domestic violence categorised as 'severe' is committed by women against their husbands or boyfriends. Over two thirds of child abuse committed by parents is committed by the mother. Mothers (55%) are more likely than fathers (45%) to murder their children. Mothers kill sons (64%) more often than daughters (36%) and 78% of the child victims are under the age of 11. One study of inner city child abuse found that 49% of all child abuse is committed by single parent mothers. 2
Now my point in quoting these statistics is not to demonise one gender or the other but to point out that no one gender is prone to sin more or less than the other. Both are guilty. But what I do want to stress is one of the main causes of all this negative impact on the family, namely, when we abandon the letter of the Torah. We must be controlled by something that is greater than our own desires or needs if love is to multiply in the world. Families disintegrate and juvenile delinquency results when: (1) We ignore the commandments; (2) We cease loving. Happy homes result when we obey Torah and love. Moreover, as we have seen, truth without love destroys, and love without truth deceives. To which I would add that deception leads to destruction too. Torah without love destroys, love without Torah deceives, and the deception that results from Torahlessness leads to destruction too. We have to have both Torah and love. The one cannot exist without the other.
I knew a New Age lady who had a big heart for people. One day a young woman who had got pregnant out of wedlock came to her for advice. The girl was in a terrible state and the older woman's heart went out to her. She advised the girl to get an abortion. The girl did, and died, along with her unborn baby. Having a big heart is not enough! The advice given was bad because it was not based in truth. The lie that abortion is OK led to death and destruction. Being kind and loving is never enough because without Law is leads to deception, and deception leads to unhappiness and death.
Yah'shua built upon a foundation of Torah - it is rarely spoken of in the New Testament but it is everywhere assumed. Man is given authority over a woman so that .... He is not given authority, period. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband so that ... She is not supposed to submit, period. Does that sound right in the light of what I have been saying? The answer is that these two statements are both right and wrong. A man is given authority. Period. Legally, he has it, and that is the end of the debate as far as the woman is concerned but as far as he is concerned, he has been given authority so that he can love and protect experientially. A woman is commanded to submit to her husband "in all things". Period. Legally, she must do that, and that is the end of the debate as far as the husband is concerned but as far as she is concerned, she must submit so that she can be loved and protected experientially. As far as the Torah is concerned - and remember, not a single word of it can return to Yahweh empty - the man must love and protect, and the woman must submit, irrespective of what either spouse does. As far as Grace is concerned, the husband and wife can't exist without each other if it is life they are seeking in their relationship. The hedge of protection is one thing, but who wants a life of mere protection? The truth is, we all want to experience love, and we want to experience it abundantly. Yah'shua came not to abolish Torah as the antinomians teach, but to bring it completion or to fill it up. He said:
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV).
or as another version puts it, "have it more abundantly" (NKJV). Do I want the protection of Torah? Yes, absolutely! Can I be content with protection without abundant life? No, never! Yah'shua has come to offer me a better Covenant - the New Covenant - one that has all the benefits of the old one plus! Do you want to go back to the Old Covenant and to a less full love? No! Of course not! You'd be insane to go back to that just as I would be insane to want to go back to black-and-white TV having enjoyed the benefits of Technicolor! There was nothing wrong with black-and-white TV that used valves and analog signals but now we have something much better - colour TV that uses silicon-based electronics and digital signals.
In the New Covenant we have both Torah and grace. They both go hand-in-hand. But we do need to start with grace. The Christian and Messianic world is full of foolish Galatians who have everything backwards and wonder why their spiritual life has become dry and lifeless. Paul warns us not to fall into the Galatian error when he says:
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Yah'shua the Messiah was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Ruach (Spirit) by observing the Torah (Law), or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Ruach, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does Elohim give you his Ruach and work miracles among you because you observe the Torah, or because you believe what you heard?" (Gal.3:1-5, NIV).
Now, please, we must not skirt around this as many Messianics do - those who put the letter ahead of the spirit. Again, I want to stress, you cannot separate the letter from the spirit but neither can you let it lead because the letter is of the head and the spirit is of the heart. They are supposed to be echad or one, the letter written on the heart.
What are my credentials? Is it a certificate that I have been regularly ordained at some Seminary or by a famous minister? Yah'shua had credentials, but He did not use them to validate His teachings. Paul said:
"Are we beginning all over again to produce our credentials? Do we, like some people, need letters of introduction to you, or from you? No, you are all the letter we need, a letter written on our heart; any man can see it for what it is and read it for himself. And as for you, it is plain that you are a letter that has come from Messiah, given to us to deliver: a letter written not with ink but with the Ruach of the living Elohim, written not on stone tablets but on the pages of the human heart" (2 Cor.3:1-3, NEB).
Being a leader, as one minister told me, isn't about ability but about responsibility. We know that throughout history men have put the lives of women and children ahead of their own. At the sinking of the Titanic, men helped women and children to their seats in the lifeboats. Most of the women and children who travelled on the Titanic survived, whereas men comprised the vast majority of the people who perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic. Why? Was it because they were more able? No, it was because they carried out their Yahweh-given responsibly to guard their women, while the women carried out their Yahweh-given responsibility to take care of the children.
Why, then, were the men who returned home from the First and Second World Wars treated as heroes whereas those who returned from Vietnam were often spat upon? What was the difference? The difference was an attitude to Yahweh's Laws. Vietnam was fought in the aftermath of the hippie revolution which rejected all forms of authority. They taught 'free love', or to be more precise, lawless or godless love. They declared that the heart was everything and rules were nothing. Did they expose hypocrisy in those who advanced the rules? For sure. There have always been, and always be, hypocrites, but those laws were not given to perfect people but to those who had need of them. Those laws were given as a hedge of protection for people and they came from the heart of Yahweh. Today's society is run by the hippie generation. Today men are vilified and have fewer and fewer rights, especially when it comes to children. This same generation wants to abolish the family altogether. Did men really change so much over the last 50 years? Not really. There are still good and bad men, and there are still good and bad women, and the need for Yahweh's laws remains as much as ever. Children today need both parents, not visitors. They need mother and father. Indeed, as other statistics also demonstrate, what unites the majority of our prison inmates is that they grew up fatherless.
When it comes to sin, men and women are equally at fault. Blaming one or other gender is just a cop-out by cowardly men and women:
"But now a righteousness from Elohim, apart from law (torah), has been made known, to which the Torah (Law) and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from Elohim comes through faith in Yah'shua the Messiah to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Messiah Yah'shua" (Rom.3:21-24, NIV).
Just as we are not made right in the eyes of Yahweh through obeying Torah, but by trusting in the righteousness of Yah'shua, so wives should not be made right or acceped in the eyes of their husbands on the basis of whether they obey this or that instruction from him, but on the basis of whether they trust him or not. Husbands therefore have to ask themselves these questions: Are they trustworthy? Are they just and fair? Do their wives have a basis for trusting in them? It is a lot easier to obey Yahweh's commandments - indeed, it is a joyous thing - when we have been touched by His love and know that we are cared for. In a similar way, it is a lot easier for a wife to obey her husband "in all things" - indeed, it is a joyous thing for her - when she has been touched by his love and knows that she is genuinely cared for. The New Covenant was not inaugurated to abolish Torah but to breathe life into it through love. Just as a congregation is not just a group of believers gathered together like pieces of a watch scattered across the floor, but are joined, connected and functioning like a watch with all its pieces properly arranged - so a marriage is not just about a husband and wife living under the same roof living independent lives, but it is a real, living heart-connection of man and woman in Messiah Yah'shua. This is the truth. But if they don't live under the same roof - if believers don't assemble - how on earth are they supposed to connect? There has to be a starting point, and that starting point is gathering. As Yah'shua said:
"Anyone who is not for Me, is really against Me; anyone who does not help Me gather, is really scattering" (Lk.11:23, GNB).
You can't create a vibrant Body of believers if you don't first gather them for assemblies according to Torah commands. We are commanded to gather on the Sabbath and at the Festivals. This isn't some slavish, dead thing - it has a purpose. Two chemicals can't react unless you bring them together and a fire can't burn unless you stack the logs on one another. Separation leads to death. Separation and divorce are rebellion against the commandments, and against love, and is to set oneself up against Messiah. Gathering may be tough, it may be painful, but it is necessary because that is the only effective way that any of us can work out our salvation (Phil.2:12).
"So then, just as you received Messiah Yah'shua as Master, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (Col.2:6-7, NIV).
The Ruach burns in me as I speak to you today. I can't not speak these words because there is urgency in the heart of Yahweh which He has placed in mine because of the foolish mistakes I have made in my life. As mortals, we are but "pots of earthenware" (2 Cor.4:7, NEB) containing the treasure which is the light and love of Yah'shua delivered to us through the Ruach haQodesh, "and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is Elohim alone" (Ibid.). But please also realise - and we are apt to forget this - that the Christian life is not supposed to be a cosy, comfy corner somewhere where we can hide from the truth and from reality. It is a struggle, but a struggle worth the while:
"Hard-pressed on every side, we are never hemmed in; bewildered, we are never at our wits' end; hunted, we are never abandoned to our fate; struck down, we are not left to die. Wherever we go we carry death with us in our body, the death that Yah'shua died, that in this body also life may reveal itself, the life that Yah'shua lives. For continually, while still alive, we are being surrendered into the hands of death, for Yah'shua's sake, so that the life of Yah'shua also may be revealed in this mortal body of ours. Thus death is at work in us, and life in you" (2 Cor.4:8-12, NEB).
465 years ago today, Pope Paul III of the Roman Catholic Church started the barbarous Inquisition which cost millions of believers and unbelievers their lives. That institution made two fatal mistakes: first, it changed Yahweh's Torah and invented its own laws; and second, it put its rules ahead of the love of Yah'shua. It compromised with the world and heathenism and turned itself into a whore.
The Body of Messiah today needs true and noble men and true women. But first the men must get their houses in order and understand that "being a man is more than position; it is more than control; it is purity of effort directed at the greater good. That is the essence of nobility, and that nobility is the essence of manhood" 3. That means that the men must repent, followed by the women, for judgement must start in Yahweh's own house with those who rule. Until the men - husbands, fathers, and ministers - repent, there will be no peace, order or an abundance of love in the Kingdom. Indeed, that Kingdom will not stand.
There are many brethren - and sisters too - who have fallen from grace but don't know it and are carrying on pretending that everything is just fine. They are quick to point out and condemn the failures of others in their Torah-obedience but have failed to live up to the same standards themselves. The problem, though, is not usually Torah-obedience or a lack of it, but a failure to recognise - because they have forgotten it - that all the work that needs doing to live a redeemed and victorious life has already been done on the Cross. We have to reconnect to that redeeming grace that ushered us into the Kingdom in the first place, a grace that involves absolutely no works whatsoever, to bring us into touch with our Heavenly King.
Sin is just too powerful for us to defeat in our own strength - it's impossible. Only the Lamb of Elohim can do that by our actively trusting in, and adhering to, Him. What Gary North calls 'low risk constitutional continuity', which is an amusing way of describing slavery, is what keeps us defeated Christians and in bondage. We have to reconnect to Yah'shua and to each other in a fundamental way, sincerely, energetically, and militantly against sin if we are to overcome what a Pastor friend of mine was told by Yah'shua, namely the "thousands of years of lies upon thousands of years of lies" which are in the world and in false religion everywhere:
"Those who choose their own ways, delighting in their sins, are cursed. Elohim will not accept their offerings ... I will send great troubles upon them - all the things they feared, for when I called them, they refused to answer, and when I spoke to them, they would not hear. Instead, they do wrong before My eyes, and chose what they knew I despised" (Is.66:3a, 4, Living Bible).
Please, I beg you, repent, and come home. Return to your spouses, families, to your ministries and to your congregations if you have left them. If you are thinking of leaving them, think twice - reconsider. Strive to enter through the narrow gate:
"Shall I (Yahweh) bring [you] to the point of birth and then not deliver? asks Yahweh your Elohim No! Never!" (Is.66:9, Living Bible).
May Yahweh bless you and keep you in His loving arms and return you to Tsiyon. Amen.
Ken Collins, Ring Around the Mulberry Bush
Common Sense & Domestic Violence, Newsletter #1, 1997
Nobility as Essence of Manhood.
|Glossary of MLT Hebraic, Greek and English Terms |
For other terms and full details please see the Micropedia
AGlossary Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved
Adon(ai) = Master, a pagan fertility god, Adonis; used by many Messianics but not MLT
(a)eon(ian) = 7 dispensation- or age-long time periods, not forever (see le-olam-va-ed)
Alef-Tav = Alpha-Omega, A-Z, first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet = Yah'shua
Amen = truly, let it be so, written Amein by some Messianics
Apocrypha = Hebraic Scriptures not a part of the Protestant canon (e.g. Baruch)
Anti-Messiah = Hebraic term for the end-time Antichrist or anyone opposed to the Messiah
antinomian = lawless Christian who disregards all or part of Torah/commandments
Ashkenazi Jew = East European Jew descended from the Turkic-Japhethite Khazars
Assembly = church, congregation, ekklesia, community, fellowship, koinonia, gathering
Azazel = the Yom Kippur scapegoat
Baal, Ba'al = any other master than Yahweh, usually demonic in MLT terminology
Bachor(im) = firstborn son(s)
Bar/Bat Mitzvah = Son/Daughter of Commandment, covenant to obey Torah at age 12
being = soul, the whole person (spirit and body), e.g. "my whole being"
Beit, bet, beth = house, e.g. Beit Yisrael (House of Israel), Beth Lechem (House of Bread)
Beit haMikdash = Yahweh's Temple in Yerushalayim
B'rit Chadashah = the New Covenant; B'rit Chadashah Scriptures = New Testament
B'rit Milah = circumcision - abolished in the B'rit Chadashah, replaced by Mikvah
canon = authoritative Scripture (Heb. qaneh, Gk. kanŰn = measuring instrument)
Catechumen = a serious, covenanted investigator seeking Mikvah or Baptism in MLT
Chag haMatzah = Feast of Unleavened Bread, second of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Chavurat Bekorot = MLT's Priesthood Order, Holy Order and Assembly of the Firstborn
Cohen = priest; Cohen Gadol = High Priest (also spelled Kohen)
Council of Yah's elohim = the heavenly Assembly of the Firstborn or Chavurat Bekorot
demon = fallen malek or angel in rebellion against Yahweh (Heb. shad; see l-Shaddai)
derech = the Way, Path or Road - Yah'shua and the Gospel are the Way
Drash = moral or homiletic interpretation of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Echad = One, Union of two or more in one (as opposed to Yachid) - see Elohim
Echad Godhead Doctrine = Father Yahweh, Son Yah'shua and Sevenfold Ruach (Mother)
Êl, Eloah, Elah = God the Father, Yahweh
Êl-Elyon = Most High God, Yahweh
Êl-Shaddai = Master/Lord over all shads or demons
Elohim = God, the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), lit. 'Mighty One(s)', 'Ruler(s)'
elohim = Israelite judges, rulers, angels or gods (false deities, idols, demons)
emunah = faith, actively trusting, clinging or adhering to (especially Yahweh or Yah'shua)
emet = truth, Yah'shua is the Emet
Ephraimite = descendant of the patriarch Ephraim and head of Messsianic Israel
Feasts of Yahweh = the 7 annual Moedim (Pesach, Chag haMatzah, Yom haBikkurim, Shavu'ot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot)
Gan-Eden = Garden of Eden, Paradise and state of the purified heart in Messiah
goy(im) = nation(s), Israelites or gentiles not born in or converted to the Covenant
hallelu-Yah = praise Yah(weh)!
Heylel = proper name of Satan or haSatan = the Adversary, the devil
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Hochmah = Wisdom, title of the 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
IDL = International Date Line, false man-made time division in Pacific Ocean
IDL Zone = Area between the true Divine Date Line (Lake Van/Eden) and the false one
Israeli = citizen of the modern Edomite-Khazar Republic of Israel (not Biblical Israel)
Israelite = citizen of biblical state of Israel or a modern follower of the Messiah
Jew = post-biblical term describing descendants of Edomite and Khazar converts to Judaism
Johannine = pertaining to the Apostle Yochanan (e.g. Gospel of John)
Josephite = descendant of the patriarch Joseph, the head of Messianic Israel
Judahite = a person in direct descent from the patriarch Judah, forefather of the Messiah
Judaism = a Talmudic-based religion rejecting Yah'shua the Messiah
Judean = a citizen of the Kingdom or Province of Judah until the 2nd Century diaspora
Kadosh la Yahweh = set-apart or dedicated to Yahweh, 'Holiness to the Lord', MLT motto
Karaites = Jews (from 700 AD) who reject the Talmud and accept only the Tanakh
kashrut = keeping kosher, food laws of Yahweh and correspinding lifestyle
Ketuvim = Writings or Hagiographa of the Tanakh
Khazar = a Turkic convert to Judaism ~700 AD forming the Ashkenazi Jewish community
kosher = clean foods authorised by Yahweh for human consumption
Lashon Hara = evil-speaking, gossip or slander
legalism = false route to salvation through works (self-salvation)
le-olam-va-ed = dispensation- or age-long, aeonian, not eternal, forever or for eternity
Lev = heart, as in Lev-Tsiyon = heart of Zion
Lev-Tsiyon = Heart of the Fortress [of Yahweh], Hebrew name of MLT's founder
Master = Lord, Sir, Adon(ai) - (one in authority, a ruler - a king, husband, prophet, judge)
Malak(im) = Angel(s), heavenly supernatural messenger(s)
manna = wafers of honey, bread from heaven (lit. 'what is this?')
matzah = unleavened bread, see Chag haMatzah
Menorah = 7-armed candlearbra = the 7 annual Moedim and 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
Messiah = Christ; Anti-Messiah = Antichrist
Messianic Community = Body of Christ, sum total of all true believers; all true fellowships
Messianic Israel = all who worship Yahweh, trust in Yah'shua, obey Torah and overcome
Messianic Jew = Messianic convert from Judaism still clinging to Talmudic traditions
Midrash = aggadic interpretation of scripture vi‚ Drash, a scriptural discussion
Mikvah = baptism by immersion of convert into Yah'shua or of wife into husband
Mishpachah = family: nuclear, congregational, tribal or the whole of Messianic Israel
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon = family of the heart of the fortress [of Yahweh]
Mishpat = right-ruling or judgement
mitzvah/mitzvot = commandment(s)
moed(im) = appointment(s) of Yahweh, 7 Annual Feasts, Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh
Nefilim, Nephilim = giant offspring of materialised demons and human women
Nevi'im = prophetic writings of the Old Testament or Tanakh
New Birth = spiritual conversion in the Ruach haRishon, being 'born again' with new heart
Nidah = a woman's menstruation period during which no intercourse is permitted
Olive Branch = collection of revelations, prophecies and visions published by MLT
Paraclete = Comforter, Advocate (NEB), Counsellor, Ruach haQodesh (Gk. paraklÍtos)
PaRDeS = method of textual interpretation (homiletics) - see P'shat, Remez, Drash, Sod
Patriarch = a father who is head of his family, clan or tribe (lit. 'father-ruler')
Pentateuch = first five books of the Tanakh (Genesis-Deuteronomy), also called Torah
peribolaion = headcovering worn by daughters/wives in submission to fathers/husbands
Pesach = Passover, first of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Peshitta = an Aramaic version of the Bible
Prototrinitarianism = early, simplified MLT formulation of the Echad Godhead Doctrine
Prush(im) = Pharisee(s)
Pseudepigrapha = Non-canonical Hebrew writings additional to the Apocrypha
P'shat = literal, contextual, philological, exoteric, outer meaning of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Qadosh Qadoshim = Holy of Holies, most sacred set-apart room of the Beit haMikdash
Qodesh, Kodesh = set-apart, holy (see Ruach haQodesh)
Rabbi = Teacher, term used by Messianic Jews and some Messianic Israelites = Pastor
Refuge, the 12 Cities of = divinely protected MLT fortresses during the 7-year Tribulation
Remez = hint or allegorical level of Hebraic understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Rosh Chodesh = monthly New Moon appointment of Yahweh
ruach = spirit of a person (lit.'breath')
Ruach Elohim = Spirit of God (the Spirit of the collective Godhead or Elohim)
Ruach haChamashee = 5th Ruach presides over Yom Teruah and Yom Chamashee
Ruach haQodesh = the Sevenfold Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (lit. 'Set-Apart Breath')
Ruach haRevee = 4th Ruach presides over Shavu'ot, Yom Revee and Bar Mitzvah
Ruach haRishon = 1st Ruach presides over Pesach, Yom Rishon and the New Birth
Ruach haShanee = 2nd Ruach presides over Chag haMatzah and Yom Shanee
Ruach haSheshi = 6th Ruach presides over Yom Kippur and Yom Sheshi
Ruach haShleshi = 3rd Ruach presides over Yom haBikkurim, Yom Shleshi and Mikvah
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Satan = rebel archangel Heylel, father of lies, devil, chief demon (lit.'Adversary')
Sephardic Jew = West European Jew of mixed blood containing many Judahites
Septuagint = Greek translation of the Tanakh, LXX
Shegal haShabbat = 7th Ruach (Sabbath Queen) presides over Sukkot and Yom Shabbat
Shekinah = Divine Presence and Glory of Yahweh-Elohim
Set-apart = holy, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated, separated (to and by Yahweh)
Shabbat-Shabbaton = High Sabbath (e.g. Yom Kippur)
Shalom = heavenly peace, standard Hebraic greeting invoking Yahweh's peace
Shamash(im) = servant(s), deacon(s), attendant(s)
Shavu'ot = Pentecost or Weeks, fourth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Sheol = grave or pit, euphamism for Hades or hell - also see Tartarus
shofar = ram's horn, blown during Yahweh's Moedim
simcha = joy, keynote of Sukkot
Sod = mystical, anagogic, inner or esoteric understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Sukkot = Tabernacles or Booths, seventh of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Synagogue = Greek word used by Jews and Messianics (but not MLT) for a meeting house
talmid(a) = male/female disciple or student
Talmud = scriptures, teachings and commentaries belonging to non-Messianic Judaism
Tanakh = acronym for Old Testament Scriptures - Torah, Nevi'im & Ketuvim
Tartarus = place of imprisonment under the earth for rebellious angels and Nephilim
teshuvah = repentance, remorse and contrition leading back to Torah obedience
Torah = Yahweh's teachings or Law; New Covenant Torah includes Yah'shua's teachings
Tribulation, the Great = the final 7 years of the present aeon when Anti-Messiah rules
Trinity = Catholic Godhead formula - see Echad Godhead Doctrine and Prototrinitarianism
Tsiyon = Zion, a fortress, a name of Jerusalem and a prominent hill
Tzitzit/Tizitziyot = tassel(s) worn by men in remembrance of Torah
Universalism = salvation of all at the cosmic Yovel, with different rewards and punishments
Yachid = one, single person or item, as opposed to Echad (many in one, unity)
Yah'shua the Messiah = Jesus Christ (the Son)
Yahudah = Judah - see Judahite
Yahweh, Yah, YHWH = the true Name of our Heavenly Father, also carried by Yah'shua
Yahweh-Elohim = LORD God (the Father, Yahweh as Head of the Godhead or Elohim)
Yahweh haQatan = the sent Yahweh = Yah(weh)'shua, Malak of Yahweh's Presence
Yam Suf = Sea of Reeds, the true Israelite Exodus water crossing, not the Red Sea
Yarden = Jordan River (lit. 'meanderer')
Yerushalayim = Jerusalem
Yisrael = Israel (lit. 'ruling with l') = true believers under the New Covenant
Yom Chamashee = 5th day of the week (Thursday, Friday in IDL Zone)
Yom Din, Yom haDin = (the) Day of Judgement
Yom haBikkurim = Feast of Firstfruits, third of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Revee = 4th day of the week (Wednesday, Thursday in IDL Zone)
Yom Rishon = 1st day of the week (Sunday, Monday in IDL Zone)
Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement, sixth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Shabbat = 7th day of the week and Sabbath Rest (Saturday, Sunday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shanee = 2nd day of the week (Monday, Tuesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Sheshi = 6th day of the week (Friday, Saturday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shleshi = 3rd day of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Teruah = Day of Trumpets, fifth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yosef = Joseph - see Josephite
Yovel = Jubilee or Year of Jubilee
Zaqen(im) = elder(s) of an assembly or congregation, or senior members of a community
ZoŽ Life = Greek term for spiritual life in the Messiah
Commonly Used MLT Abbreviations
For additional abbreviations and explanations,
please see the Micropedia
Amp.V(er). = Amplified Version of the Bible
Aram. = Aramaic
AV = Authorised Version of the Bible - see KJV
BCAY = B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh - see NCCG
BoA = Books of Abraham (e.g. 1Abr., 2Abr., etc.)
cp, cf = compare with
CB(Q) = Chavurat Bekorot
CEV = Contemporary English Version of the Bible
ch. = chapter
CJB = Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT = Concordant Literal New Testament
CYe = Council of Yah's elohim
Eng. = English
ff. = and onwards/forwards
fn = footnote
Gk. = Greek
GNB = Good News Bible - see TEV
Heb. = Hebrew, Hebraic
HEM = Holy Echad Marriage, eternal marriage
HO = Holy Order - see Chavurat Bekorot
HOC = Holy Order Collection of revelations - see OB
HRV = Hebraic-Roots Version of the Bible
ibid. = ibidem (lit. 'in the same place'), referring to a book previously cited
ICJC = Independent Church of Jesus Christ, earlier name of NCCF
ISRV = Institute for Scripture Research Version of the Bible
JB = Jerusalem Bible
JBP/Phillips = J.B.Phillips translation of the New Testament
JNT = Jewish New Testament
KJV = King James Version of the Bible - see AV
LB = Living Bible
lit. = literally or literature
LXX = Septuagint, Greek translation of the OT
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon
Moff. = Moffatt translation of the Bible
MRC = Messianic Renewed Covenant Version of the NT
MS(S) = Manuscript(s)
NASB, NASV = New American Standard Bible/Version
NC&C = New Covenants & Commandments - see OB
NCCF = New Covenant Christian Fellowship, earlier name of NCCG
NCCG = New Covenant Church of God, earlier name of MLT - see BCAY
NCP = New Covenant Press, publishing arm of MLT
NCW = New Covenant Witness, MLT magazine
NEB = New English Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible
NKJV = New King James Version of the Bible
Nor. = Norwegian
NT = New Testament, B'rit Chadashah
NWT = New World Translation of the Bible, unreliable Jehovah's Witness version
OB = Olive Branch - see NC&C
op.cit. = opere citato (lit. in the work cited)
OT = Old Testament, Tanakh
p(p). = page(s)
pl. = plural - see s.
PWNC = Prophetic Words of the New Covenant, revelation cataloging system - see OB
QED = quod erat demonstrandum (lit. which was shown to be proved)
RCF = Restoration Christian Fellowship, earlier name of ICJC
RhQ = Ruach haQodesh, Holy Spirit
RSTNE = Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition of the Bible
RSV = Revised Standard Version of the Bible
RV = Revised Version of the Bible
s. = singular - see pl.
S&G = Smith & Goodspeed Version of the Bible
TEV = Today's English Version of the Bible - see GNB
Vulg. = Biblia Vulgata, Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible
WEB = World English Bible
This page was first created on 22 July 2007
Last updated on 22 July 2007
Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved