Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Faith of Job: Faith Intact

…The Faith of Job…
Job 1:1-12
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. And that man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and turned aside from evil.  (2)  And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters.  (3)  And his possessions were seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household, so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.  (4)  And his sons went and feasted in the house of each one on his day. And they sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.  (5)  And when they had gone around the day of feasting, Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. So Job did always. 
(6)  And a day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah. And Satan also came among them. 
(7)  And Jehovah said to Satan, From where do you come? Then Satan answered Jehovah and said,
From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 
(8)  And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you set your heart against My servant Job, because there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil? 
(9)  And Satan answered Jehovah and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? 
(10)  Have You not made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. 
(11)  But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face. 
(12)  And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power. Only do not lay your hand upon him. And Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah.[1]

            There is a place in which all of us should have to wander, a place, a time, a season of disquiet, of trial and testing. Call it the fire, the crucible, the cauldron; call it by any name you want, but the result is the same: you will be tried; you will be shaken. This is the place, as J. Vernon McGee was famous to say, “this is where the rubber meets the road”.
            Carl Jung , noted psychologist, once wrote “Is it worth the lion’s while to terrify the mouse?” This line aptly describes the prologue of the story of Job. Job, is a hard read. It is the oldest book of the Bible, estimated to have been written 1500 years earlier than the Torah of Moshe. To most contemporary theologians and scholars, the book of Job (to them) represents that grand struggle of how to answer the age old question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It, they also muse, speaks to the divine justice of God and how He always balances out things for believers in the end. Now, I have expounded on the theme that Yahvey is a God of just weights and scales. We can see this in various Scriptures:  Pro_16:11, Pro_20:10, Pro_20:23; Lev_19:35-36; Deu_25:13-16; Hos_12:7; Amo_8:5-6; Mic_6:10-11.
            But truly what does that mean? It is not necessarily so that Yahvey will give measure for measure; For what will Yahvey give to a man who has lost his arm or leg? Will He grow the limb back?  (He could…) What of the one who has lost their sight? Will new eyes grow in their head? (They might…) No, it cannot be a measure for measure, but more the concept of integrity, of honesty. Surely you can have honest scales without God, but without honesty and integrity you cannot have God at all; He will not inhabit such a place. Let me clarify this statement a bit: (excuse me while I jump down a rabbit trail….). There are a lot of places out there that say they are “Christian”, or let us be a bit more generic “faith based”… The work that they do is supposed to be in line with the religious principles, but we all know that isn’t always true. Their honesty and integrity is lacking, yet surprisingly, good things do happen. The caveat is this: just because God uses a place doesn’t mean He’s in that place. Sometimes, men and women go into these organizations and soon realize that they aren’t quite what they’ve said they were, but in spite of the facilities shortcomings, God shows up and works miracles in the individual’s life. This is the testimony to God’s greatness, not an organization. I say this to put things in perspective. Now, back to our narrative..
            Yahvey does not necessarily balance out all scales this side of eternity. Bad things happen to good people; horrible things happen to God’s people. Sometimes there just isn’t any assurance to a person that God will deliver them from their situation. Many God fearing people have suffered and died as a result of lingering illness or disease. Some have tragically been the victims of violence, rape, murder. All of this begs the question “Where were You God?” and the answer to that question is elusive, and might just not be able to be answered at all.
            And then there are those who, when these tragedies strike, come out of the wood work with all of their favorite pet theories:
1.    You must of sinned and God is punishing you (chastising you, correcting you, just fill in that blank…)
2.    Oh no, it wasn’t God that brought this upon you, it’s satan!
3.    Uhh, well, maybe it was God, He’s making you suffer for His glory…
4.    Ummm, nope, it’s neither God nor the devil, you just ran into a spat of bad luck there.. wrong place at the wrong time…[2]
Where do these “theories” leave the hurting souls they encounter? Usually disappointed with God. For when we struggle, when we hurt, we all want answers as to why this happened, and we want someone to blame. That is just our human nature. Philip Yancey writes:
“…The problem of pain is not one you can neatly solve then file away… We are born slathered in blood and bodily fluids, amid tears and cries of pain; we die in like manner; and in between birth and death we ask, Why?...”[3]
            Job is almost universally looked upon as a book of suffering, and taken on its face value, this is a truthful assessment, yet if we look at it from un-jaded eyes, with the hope that we can find some new insights and not just deal with the suffering, a quite different theme evolves. Actually, there are two major themes in Job that tie in with one another that bring about the over-riding idea of Job.
            The first theme is found in chapters 1 and 2 of Job: a glimpse of the supernatural that takes place every day around us. Here is the conflict that John speaks of in the Book of Revelation:
Rev 12:7-10
And there was war in Heaven. Michael and his angels warring against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels warred,  (8)  but did not prevail. Nor was place found for them in Heaven any more(9)  And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent called Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  (10)  And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.[4]

It is also what Peter spoke of:
1Pe 5:8-9
Be sober, vigilant, because your opponent the devil, as a roaring lion, doth walk about, seeking whom he may swallow up,
(9)  whom resist, stedfast in the faith, having known the same sufferings to your brotherhood in the world to be accomplished.

This warfare has affected every soul who has ever lived on this planet, up to today. Have the events in Revelation 12:9 occurred yet? According to the Word, the answer is no; so the accuser is still in the heavenlies, accusing the brethren day and night…

            The idea that a “good” God wouldn’t allow suffering in His people has been the mainstay of Christian theology since the 19th century. Just as Job’s friends argue this point with him from chapter 3 through 37, theologists have argued this point for the last 2 to 3 centuries. We lean heavily on what Paul spoke:

Rom 8:28
And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose;
And what was said again in:

Mar 10:27
And Jesus, having looked upon them, saith, `With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.'

Mar 11:24
Because of this I say to you, all whatever--praying--ye do ask, believe that ye receive, and it shall be to you.

But what if “all things” turned out to be not quite what you and I believe them to be? The prevailing idea is that God has to follow certain rules here on earth that says He needs or has to reward those who do good and punish those who do evil. Tell this to the believer that is lying in the hospital dying of cancer, or the believing parents whose only child was struck and killed by a drunk driver… Ask the Jewish survivor of the Holocaust what he or she thinks of this. The list goes on and on.

So what is really going on? The story is older than Job, older than Adam, it goes back to the creation of the one spoken of in Isaiah:

Isa 14:12-17
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  (13)  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  (14)  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  (15)  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  (16)  They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;  (17)  That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?[5]

This war shakes all of creation, waiting for the Son of Man to conquer all his enemies and place them under His feet. Till then, the true test of Job is revealed; the battle is for our faith, our trust, our belief, our commitment to the Word of God. The cosmic drama that is played out in heaven day and night becomes each man or woman’s personal drama here on this earth.
Just as a cake in the sum total of all its ingredients, so is this faith that we claim to walk in. Most, I dare say, just toss the word about and do not really understand exactly what it is they claim to have. Most of us don’t even have mustard seed faith; when was the last time you moved a mountain?  
The author of Job reveals the conflict in the beginning of the book; it is the response of Job that will take up the remaining chapters through chapter 37. Yet, strangely, this story written, by most guesses almost 5000 years ago, is our story. How many of us have cried out to God “This isn’t fair! I’ve done everything you’ve asked! Why me?” How many tears have been shed in trying to make sense of a tragedy? How much suffering have we seen and no answer or explanation falls into the realm of reason. Such was Job’s complaint, such is ours. Contrast this with one who knew he had done wrong:
Luke 23:38-43
And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew,
(39)  And one of the hanged criminals blasphemed Him, saying, If you are Christ, save Yourself and us. 
(40)  But answering, the other rebuked him, saying,
Do you not fear God, since you are in the same condemnation. 
(41)  And we indeed justly so, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing amiss.
(42)  And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.  
(43)  And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

Faith. All we are, all we believe hangs upon this word and its proper understanding. I’ve told you before what faith truly is; it is the trusting, believing and committing wholly unto the Word of God, the Risen Word. Let us explore what each of these mean.
What is trust? The word  translated as “trust” is first found in the Bible in Judges 9:15(KJV) and is the word: H2620 חָסָה chacah (khaw-saw') v. meaning “…1. to flee for protection 2. (figuratively) to confide in [a primitive root] KJV: have hope, make refuge, (put) trust…” [6] It comes from the root word:
Original: בּטח
- Transliteration: Batach
- Phonetic: baw-takh'
- Definition: 
1.  to trust   
a.  (Qal)   
1.  to trust, trust in  
2.  to have confidence, be confident  
3.  to be bold  
4.  to be secure   
b.  (Hiphil)   
1.  to cause to trust, make secure   
2.  (TWOT) to feel safe, be careless
- Origin: a primitive root
- TWOT entry: 233
- Part(s) of speech: Verb [7]

  In the Messianic Writings, it is first translated as “trust” in Matt 12:21; the original language word is:
G1679 ἐλπίζω elpizo (el-pid'-zo) v.
1. to expect or confide
[from G1680]
KJV: (have, thing) hope(-d) (for), trust
Root(s): G1680 [8]

Which comes from the word:
G1680 ἐλπίς elpis (el-pece') n.
1. expectation
2. (abstractly or concretely) confidence
[from a primary elpo "to anticipate, usually with pleasure"]
KJV: faith, hope [9]

In the King James Version, Judges 9:15 reads as such:
Jdg 9:15  And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

But in Young’s Literal translation it reads:
Jdg 9:15  And the bramble saith unto the trees, If in truth ye are anointing me for king over you, come, take refuge in my shadow; and if not--fire cometh out from the bramble, and devoureth the cedars of Lebanon.

Matt 12:21- King James:
Mat 12:21  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

Mat 12:21  and in his name shall nations hope.'

 So what’s the point you ask? Trust is not “Oh I believe You are going to take care of me, I trust You…”; trust is “I need shelter Father, I need refuge, I need a place I can run to…” By mixing the old with the new, we can see that “trust in God” is an expectation of safety. Is that trust violated by a tragedy, or if something horrendous happens? No… it is in these times that we need that expectation of safety even greater than in times of quiet and peace.
Next, belief… What is it? In his book “Fossilized Customs” Lew White writes:
“…BELIEF A mental act or habit of placing trust or confidence in an opinion, or the acceptance of something as true or real. To expect or suppose. When something believed-in is exposed as being false, a reaction is aroused. How an individual reacts depends on how well-equipped they are, and the degree to which they want to believe the falsehood. Dresden James wrote “A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over  generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous, and its speaker a raving lunatic”….” [10]

What is belief? In its simplest understanding it is becoming convinced that something is true. Scripture speak of this :
Rom 4:16-22
Therefore it is of faith so that it might be according to grace; for the promise to be made sure to all the seed, not only to that which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all  (17)  (as it has been written, "I have made you a father of many nations") --before God, whom he believed, who makes the dead live, and calls the things which do not exist as though they do exist.  (18)  For he who beyond hope believed on hope for him to become the father of many nations (according to that which was spoken, "So your seed shall be").  (19)  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah's womb.  (20)  He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God,  (21)  and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform.  (22)  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

“…being fully persuaded…” Convinced.  All who believe must walk out our belief; we learn to walk through our unbelief. We have to be convinced, fully and totally in our minds that Yeshua is God and what He has said, He will accomplish..

Rom 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  (36)  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  (37)  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  (38)  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  (39)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The word used for “persuaded” in the Greek is the word G3982 πείθω peithō pi'-tho defined in Strong’s as:
“…A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): - agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield…”[11]

Thayer defines it as:

Thayer Definition:
“…1) persuade
1a) to persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe
1b) to make friends of, to win one’s favour, gain one’s good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one
1c) to tranquillise
1d) to persuade unto, i.e. move or induce one to persuasion to do something
2) be persuaded
2a) to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe: to have faith: in a thing
2a1) to believe
2a2) to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person
2b) to listen to, obey, yield to, comply with
3) to trust, have confidence, be confident…” [12]

Note the highlighted section in Thayer’s definition; belief then, the act of being persuaded or convinced, ties in with our third description of faith – commitment.

What is commitment to the Word of God? Isn’t it nothing more than being willing to obey? What does the word say:
[ Note: I’ll give you a lot of Scripture here; please read it in context…]

From the Tanakah:
1Sa 15:22  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Exo 19:5-6  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  (6)  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Exo 23:20-22  Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.  (21)  Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.  (22)  But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

Deu 11:26-28  Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;  (27)  A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:  (28)  And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

 From the Messianic Writings:

Rom 6:16-17 KJV  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness(17)  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

2Co 10:4-6 MKJV  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,  (5)  pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ(6)  and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Heb 5:7-10 MKJV  For Jesus, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared,  (8)  though being a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered(9)  And being perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him,  (10)  being called by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek;

            And here is where we draw the matter all together; “…yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered…” Here, this is faith; trust, belief, commitment. He trusted God; He believed God, He committed Himself to the Work of God through the Word of God, so that all Scripture might be fulfilled, Php 2:8 MKJV  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

What usually happens though?

There is a famous cartoon, that shows three monkeys holding there hands over their ears, eyes and mouth; we all know it :
"Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil"

Change this around and you'll see a different picture:

"Hear no Torah, See no Torah, Speak no Torah"

We as a body have become Torahphobic.

And unfortunately, like the monkeys, most won’t obey.

            Faith is perfected in suffering; Job would come to learn this. That message would be repeated in the Torah:

Deu 8:1-3 The Scriptures 1998+  (1)  “Guard to do every command which I command you today, that you might live, and shall increase, and go in, and shall possess the land of which יהוה [YHVH] swore to your fathers.  (2)  “And you shall remember that יהוה [YHVH] your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you guard His commands or not.  (3)  “And He humbled you, and let you suffer hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, to make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of  [YHVH] יהוה[13].

Deu 8:1-3 KJV  All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.  (2)  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.  (3)  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

To have faith is to trust in something or someone, to believe in that something or someone and to commit to what it is that something or someone expects of you. James is a book of faith; Job is a book of faith.  James says :
Jas 1:22-25 KJV  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  (23)  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  (24)  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  (25)  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Jas 2:14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Jas 2:17-20 KJV  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  (18)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  (19)  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  (20)  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James is not a book about how to be made forensically righteous; it is about how to live your faith in a practical manner. To just say “I believe” has no practical value. Obedience is the key. Job is a book about how that obedience, that faith is tested and tried by God. Sometimes suffering is the tool He uses.

If you knew the answer to the question “Why do good people suffer?” how would it affect you? If you had an understanding of every bad thing that occurred, what would it do to your perspective? If suffering was explainable, what would happen?

I dare say the answer to these questions would surprise you. We would accept suffer if we understood it, and that would make us just a bit less compassionate, a bit less prone to help, it would alter our perspective enough that we would walk by… Don’t believe me? How many people notice the homeless person on the street? How many of us dig into our wallet at that intersection and give the panhandler a dollar? How many of us turn away from the cries at night, the tears, the pleas for help? How many change the channel rather than be stirred by images of starving children? How many say “There is nothing I can do..”
Jas 2:15-16 KJV  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  (16)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

What is easier, to help those that suffer, or say “…Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled…”? When you suffer, who comes? Who helps? Does not the suffering you have experienced make you more likely to reach out than not? There are no easy or comfortable answers to these questions. You either feel the compassion and are moved by it or you are not. Doesn’t make you a bad person, means we just all have more to learn about the compassion of Christ…

Here is the fire of faith:
Mar 4:35-41
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  (36)  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 
(37)  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 
(38)  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 
(39)  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 
(40)  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 
(41)  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?[14]

So in the crucible of the trial is our faith tried. Like Job, how we respond may change the world; no, let me correct that. How we respond will change the world. The twelve turned it upside down, or right side up, depending on your point of view. Their faith was born in the suffering of Messiah, and perfected in the fire of persecution and their own deaths, yet they loved Him more than life, and held on to spread the good news of salvation. Day and night the accuser rails against the brethren, and day and night the Father allows them to be tried and tested. In the unknown agony of tragedy, someone cries out to God, either in pain, anger, or humble submission. Here their faith or lack of it is tested; here they cry out either “…Master, carest thou not that we perish?…” or as Job:

“…Job 13:15-16 KJV…”
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 
(16)  He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

In the cosmic realm you and I are but bits of dust; but the test of our faith shakes the heavens and if we hold on, will shame the devil. The friends of Job, Bildad, Eliphaz, Zophar and Elihu, all believed in a God that rewarded good for good, and evil for evil. They were seeing in the dark; just like most believers today.  They acted as if God needed them to defend Himself against the railings of Job, things like:

Job 7:19-21 MKJV  Until when will You look away from me, nor let me alone until I swallow down my spittle?  (20)  I have sinned. What shall I do to You, O Watcher of men? Why have You set me as a target for You, so that I am a burden to myself?  (21)  And why do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? For now I shall sleep in the dust, and You shall seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

Job 10:18-22 MKJV  Why then have You brought me from the womb? Oh that I had given up the spirit, and no eye had seen me!  (19)  I should have been as though I had not been; I would have been carried from the womb to the grave.  (20)  Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,  (21)  before I go, and I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death;  (22)  a land of obscurity, the darkness of the shadow of death, without any order, and the shining is as darkness.

Job 16:9  His anger has torn and hated me; He gnashes on me with His teeth…

The answer to this is to go back to Job 13:15. No matter what Job goes through, he does not give up on God. The cosmic wager between God and satan is finished when Job refuses to deny God. He may be angry and perplexed, but he shrinks not from his faith that God will one day justify him again. The parallel to this is found in the Messianic Writings:

2Co 4:7-10 KJV  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  (8)  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  (9)  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  (10)  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Is there suffering without meaning? Does God simply step aside and let the enemy rage, kill and destroy at whim, with no aim in sight? I cannot answer this in all assuredness, yet this I can say as a man: all the ills and misfortunes of the world demand a response: we either curse or we humble ourselves before that which we understand not. How we respond will change the world. We either give satan a victory or we snatch it from his evil hands and give the crown to Yeshua. Either the blood of Messiah is sufficient or it isn’t. That is the true issue at stake in all suffering, in every test of faith. We are being trained for the day when the storm hits and we can lay our heads down, knowing that He is with us, even if He is sleeping in the back of the boat. One day our faith may demand our lives; where will you stand?
We live now in peace, though we may not die that way. May we finish well, though, our faith as Job’s, faith intact.

May God richly bless you my beloved

[1] Modern King James Version, electronic edition, eSword ver 10.1.0, ©Rick Myers, 2000-2012
[2] Concepts adapted from Philip Yancey’s “The Bible Jesus Read”,  ©1999, Zondervan Publishing House, pg 45, with editing by David Robinson; All glory to Yahvey for His leading, and thanks and credit to Mr. Yancey for his insight.
[3] “The Bible Jesus Read”, by Philip Yancey ©1999, Zondervan Publishing House, pg 46
[4]  King James Version, electronic edition, eSword ver 10.1.0, ©Rick Myers, 2000-2012
[5] King James Version, electronic edition, eSword ver 10.1.0, ©Rick Myers, 2000-2012
[6] Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries, Copyright © Jonathan K. Mickelson 2005, 2008 All Rights Reserved.
[7] Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries, Copyright © Jonathan K. Mickelson 2005, 2008 All Rights Reserved.
[8] …Ibid…
[9] …Ibid…
[10] Fossilized Customs: The Pagan Sources of Popular Customs, by Lew White STRAWBERRY ISLANDS MESSIANIC PUBLISHING, Sixth Edition
[11] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, by James Strong, ( electronic edition), e-Sword®, v. 10.1.0,  copyright ©2000-2012 by Rick Myers
[12] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company 
[13] 1Messiah quotes this in Mt. 4:4 and in Lk. 4:4.
[14] King James Version, electronic edition, eSword ver 10.1.0, ©Rick Myers, 2000-2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Torah: Blueprint of the Soul

“..Torah is the blueprint and its study is the soul of creation…”[1]
But I, the LORD, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth.

Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them.”[2]

We tend usually to think of Genesis (Hebrew: Bereishis) with the creation of the world, but let us go and ponder the matter just a bit deeper. While it does tell us of the creation of all things, what Bereishis is truly about is the creation of a people; a people called out and set apart and declared Holy by the Living God. As we study the word of God, what we see throughout these books we call Scripture is the true story of creation – not just the physical elements that make it up, but the more enduring and everlasting element of family – Yahvey’s family. Can you picture this in your mind and heart: the Uncreated One, Perfect, Full, Complete- in need of nothing. This Supreme One set content in His power and Self-existence yet – He had a desire. He wanted a family. He created the heavens and all the hosts there-in, angelic ranks that we can only imagine, ranks of Seraphim and Cherubim, strong angels and Arch-Angels; myriads of them, how many we have no idea- yet these did not satisfy this desire.          

We think of two planes of existence, or “realities” if you wish, that of the spiritual and the physical. Let’s put that in simpler terms, “heaven and earth”. The Torah the sages said is the blueprint of creation. Why? Because of what it embodies – the ordinances, statutes and precepts of the Creator. We can call some of these “laws”, for man has learned to recognize that there are indeed “rules” to the order of the universe, and these “rules” appear to be immutable, or unmovable and unchangeable. All things are under command; in some form or another, there is a structure, a command system in place that orders the movement of stars, planets, galaxies, the cosmos. To the scientist, he seeks an explanation rooted and grounded in the physical; for the man or woman of God we look to the “heavens”, to the spiritual for our answers. The Torah is the Father’s revelation of not only His order of things, but of His character and His government – of how He says things should be done. And what is Torah made up of? Words and letters, the building blocks of creation which are the spoken utterances of God. So Torah is also thought of as the bridge between heaven and earth, but could there be another?

Why did God make man, a creation lowly and frail, one He knew was destined to fail? It was because in this frail being He gave the greatest of gifts – the capacity to love willingly. Within this man He placed the spark of Mishpacha, family. And what is man made of? Broken down, the human body contains the minerals and elements common to the earth. Man is made from adamah, the dirt of the ground and is imbued with the Heavenly Spark, the breath of God. With His breath God instilled the neshamah, the soul, and man became a living creature. So here is the other connection between heaven and earth, a literal living connection. God began His Mishpacha here with the man Adam, and from him would come the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs that would become a nation, a nation that would receive the other bridge, His Torah and these would live it, keep it and guard it – and from it would find life.

Life in its abundance would not be fully realized until the Ha’Torah would arrive, the Living Torah, the Memra (Word) of God made flesh in the person of Yeshua Ha’Machiach. Now, we understand this – yet it is hard for those born of Jewish descent to see Him beyond the countless years of persecution they have endured at the hands of those who would call themselves “Christian”… Yet, in spite of the seemingly endless torment of anti-Semitism and outright hatred and disdain – many Jews have been touched by the Spirit of God and been encouraged to look beyond the prejudice and mis-interpretations of the Holy Scriptures and have seen their Messiah in the Messianic writings of the Jewish believers from the first century. Still, the pain and suffering and remembrance of the hatred runs deep; truly we, the Western “Church”, have to bear the responsibility of the sins of our fathers, men who professed the faith of a Savior and a religion they called “Christianity” – a system of belief that has not only wrought great beauty and even greater acts of mercy and love, repentance and deliverance, but also spawned a legacy of suffering and bloodshed, hatred and intolerance, horror and shame.

How is this so? The answer can only be laid at the source – the heart of man. For what is bound in this heart?

Jer 17:9-10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  (10)  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Pro 12:20
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Jer 7:23-24
But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.  (24)  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Mat 6:21-24
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  (22)  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  (23)  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  (24)  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Now, in this heart lies also a great destroyer, a killer of men’s souls and their walk with God. This is the real issue I want to talk about today. It has a name:


Pro 20:9
Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Guilt, properly viewed, is a good thing. For it produces what God wants:

2Co 7:9-11
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 

(10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 
(11)  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Godly sorrow is what guilt is supposed to produce, not the toxic mix of emotions that we usually come up with in our guilt. To be guilty of something simply means we either did it, or were a partner in the sin. But the love of God is this:

Rom 5:2-10
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (3)  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  (4)  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  (5)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 
(6)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 
(7)  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 
(8)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

(9)  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 

(10)  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

            If He died for us while we were yet sinners, then why our guilt? Our guiltiness is the vehicle God uses to humble us, to bring us to our knees, to cry out to Him for grace because we have transgressed His Holy Law… But, when He comes, and lifts us out of the clay, why do we still insist on holding on to guilt that He by His mercy released us of? The Jewish sages had a name for holding on to guilt – they call it meshuggah; craziness.

            Why craziness? Because they understand guilt in a way in which the Western culture doesn’t. To the Jew, you’ve either done something, or you didn’t. If you did, you t’shuvah (repent), first to God and then to whomever you might have hurt; from there you move forward, and don’t look back. Our Western culture seems to pride itself on how much collective guilt we can have and how many anti-depressants can be sold to counter act the guilt. It helps us to have an understanding of what guilt is.

            “…Dr. Abraham J. Twersky writes in "Let Us Make Man" that guilt is to the emotions what pain is to the physical body. Physical pain is very useful and beneficial. Without pain we would not know that we have touched a flame, or dropped something heavy on our foot, etc. Pain alerts us to stop whatever it is that we are doing which is inflicting damage on us. When a person is whole emotionally, doing things which we know are wrong causes us guilt. The pain we call guilt lets us know that there is something we ought to stop doing. There is guilt which is founded in morals and conscience. That is healthy guilt. Guilt which lacks a foundation is not healthy and needs to be dealt with…”[3]

Jews, by a common stereotype, are said to be masters of guilt. This comes from the image of a Jewish mother using a “guilt trip” upon her children in order to manipulate their behavior. While this is obviously a stereotype, even the Jews themselves use it as humor..

A man calls his mother in Florida.  "Mom, how are you?"
"Not too good," says the mother. "I've been very weak."
The son says, "Why are you so weak?"
She says, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."
The man says, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"
The mother answers, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”[4]

Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Never mind, I’ll just stand here in the dark and suffer.[5]

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman says this:

“…Guilt is a strange thing. When appropriate, it serves us well. When inappropriate, it strangles us.

Guilt is that feeling of responsibility, remorse, and regret that creeps into our minds and takes hold of our souls when we have done something wrong, or failed to do what was right. It is the voice of conscience calling us to task. We can think of it as an ethical early warning system: it alerts us to make a change. In that regard, it is good.

It also has a flip side. While guilt can arise from real events, it can also arise from imagined wrongdoing – and that is a big problem. How can you mitigate something that never happened? What is more, guilt can hang on, clinging to our souls, long past the event that provoked it has been resolved. It can generate a host of suffocating feelings, including failure, unworthiness, shame, anxiety, and self-loathing. This is not good…”
 Avi Shulman writes:
“…Is guilt good or bad? To help us understand guilt, let us see it as a correlation of pain.
A toothache or stomach cramp is a message saying, "We are in trouble. Correct the problem." Touch a hot stove, or allow a needle to pierce your finger, and the resulting pain is meant to indicate immediate danger.
If you could, would you want to eliminate this type of pain? Not unless you would want a small, easily remedied cavity to go unnoticed until the tooth abscessed, an infection to go untreated until it disabled an organ, or your body to be seriously hurt before you noticed.
Understood in this light, pain is a friend, a valuable warning system, a gift from the Almighty.
The intelligent response to pain is to identify its source and rectify the problem. Once this is done, given appropriate healing time, the pain should subside and disappear. It has fulfilled its mission. If after the cause of pain had been removed the person were to seek ways to continue the pain, we would consider this a pathological problem.
Guilt is pain of the soul. It occurs when you violate your own value system. A person who believes that stealing is wrong, yet gives in to temptation, has his actions out of balance with his beliefs. Just as a needle invades the nerve endings in the finger and signals that something is amiss, the violation of a person's value system takes the form of guilt. Once he identifies and corrects the cause, after he has completed the teshuvah (repentance) process, the feeling of guilt has served its intended purpose and should subside…” [7]
            So this pain we all experience from time to time, this pain called guilt, is a good thing, in its proper context. Yet what happens when we decide to dwell in it, to let it overtake us?

            As Rabbi Sheinerman said, it strangles us. Avi Schulman is right also, in that guilt is pain of the soul. Yet, it is more – it is what we call “conviction”.

We think in terms of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh “convicting” us when we do something wrong. What does the Word say though?

Mat 12:35-37
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings out good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings out evil things.  (36)  But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment. 
(37)  For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

The building blocks of our souls are the words we speak. And what words do we speak most? Those that alter our existence, those that hold back the blessing from God; words like :

“…I’m not good enough…”
“…I haven’t yet paid for this sin…”
“…I can’t forgive myself…”
“…They will never forgive me…”
“…God can’t forgive me…”

All day long we conjure up our reality, telling ourselves how many shortcomings we have. All day long we wrestle with the sin that so besets us, beguiles us into thinking we just have to do something about this sin that weighs upon us, this weight, this “conviction”, that somehow we aren’t doing enough to merit God’s forgiveness…  If we are honest, don’t we all have that spot of fear within us, that maybe we went too far, that we missed the boat?

We have all sinned…
Rom 3:23 
“…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”

Knowing this, then, is your fear greater than mine?
Or is your sin so great that you are a “much better sinner” than me?
How heavy is your guilt?
Too heavy for God?

Guilt held onto is deceit. This deceit is born in the pit of hell by an enemy who wants you to wallow in it, to wear it like a shroud, to be always crying out to God to forgive you for this sin, because you just can’t forgive yourself… You are ineffective then for God, for the weight of your own words condemn you and you have forgotten the face of the One who died to set you free.

Torah speaks about sin, about how the record of a transgression is established:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins; by the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Deuteronomy 19:15 (Hebrew World)
“…Two Witnesses – The legal system of Torah is quite clear.  You can’t be convicted by a single witness!  The reasons are obvious.  We have a daily dose of the damage done to innocent people when the accusation of one is enough to determine guilt in the public eye.  The Bible provides protection against this kind of slander.  But there is more to this than justified evidence.  Torah is the expression of the nature and character of God Himself.  It isn’t simply His rules.  It is who He is.  Therefore, God also requires two witnesses against us before a verdict can be proclaimed.
Take a step back from the obvious legal aspects of this verse in the Torah.  Apply the same regulation to another context.  “So when we are guilty of sin, YAHWEH is one witness to that guilt, and the record that is generated of that sin is another.  However, with the reconcilement of Y’shua on the cross dying in our place, that second witness/ record against us is obliterated, and the Torah remains simply to guide us in the path of righteousness for the rest of our redeemed lives.” [8] Two witnesses are needed to convict, but Yeshua removed one of those witnesses, the cheirographon, the record of my debts.  Even though God Himself remains a witness to my disobedience, the second witness is no longer present.  I am absolved of my guilt, not because I am innocent but because the requirement needed to condemn me has no longer been met.  God lives by His own Torah because Torah is who He is.
By the way, if you really want to claim that the Torah no longer applies, then you are left standing before a holy God without any hope of legal defense.  If God’s witness is enough, you are condemned.  Yeshua’s death doesn’t help if only one witness is sufficient.  God does not overlook sin.  Yeshua might have paid the penalty, but if only one witness is needed, I am still guilty as charged.  We must realize that Torah is the basis of forgiveness.  Without the requirement of two witnesses, there is no way out.  Yeshua’s removal of one of the two witnesses is the only way that I can be acquitted…”[9]
This principle of removing the cheirographon, the record our debts, is what is discussed in the Messianic Writings:
Col 2:10-14

“…And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:  (11)  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  (12)  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  (13)  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  (14)  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…”

This passage is misunderstood to be about Messiah nailing His holy Word, His Law, His Torah to the Cross! No! it is about that which bears witness against us, the testimony of our sins, the record of our debt. What we do when we hold on to guilt is deny the work of Messiah upon the execution stake, in effect, saying that it wasn’t enough; we still have to pay penitence for our sin.
Brethren, this is not so.
We hold onto guilt because it is like our addictions; it is a place of familiarity. We lived in guilt and shame so long that we almost don’t know how to operate without it, but it is in forgiveness that now we must learn to live. A hard truth here though: in the world of man, you will always find someone who won’t forgive you, even if you ask for it. So should that stop you from laying down the guilt? Should the fact that there maybe someone out there who won’t forgive you for what you’ve done keep you from t’shuvah, from returning to God? Let God work on their heart!
Let the blood of Messiah cleanse you, for truly you are all you can change.

            It is time to let go of the guilt before it crushes the life out of you. For sure, guilt is really just unforgiveness, usually directed at ourselves, and the heart that harbors unforgiveness is a heart that Messiah cannot live in…

Mat 6:6-15
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  (7)  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  (8)  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 
(9-13)  After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

(14)  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 
(15)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness isn’t just for others, it is to be toward ourselves as well. If we harbor guilt, then we harbor unforgiveness toward ourselves: the pain of our soul should last but a short time, bringing us to the Godly sorrow that leads to t’shuvah. He is faithful and just to forgive, and to remove our sin:

Psa 103:8-12
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  (9)  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  (10)  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  (11)  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 
(12)  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

We can then go before those we’ve hurt, and seek forgiveness. If it isn’t given, we’ve done our part. We have reconciled ourselves to God, forgiven ourselves and sought peace with man. Guilt has done its work.

At the beginning of this lesson I quoted  verses from Jeremiah:

But I, the LORD, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth.
Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them.”[10]

As sons and daughters of God, grafted into the Mishpaca of God, the promise of restoration applies to us also. No matter what you’ve done, it was covered under the Blood of the Lamb; it is held against you no longer. Please, let go. By the building blocks of creation, Yahvey’s Holy Word, He has freed you from the devil’s bondages, and his lies. Become the man or woman Father intends you to be by removing this yoke and trusting in His saving grace.

We all have work to do and we cannot do it shackled by the guilt of our past.
Today is all we have, for tomorrow belongs to God, we have no right to it.

1Co 3:9-15
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.  (10)  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 
(11)  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
(12)  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 
(13)  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 
(14)  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
 (15)  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

What can one build with but their words? When we live in guilt and shame, our words are as wood, hay and stubble; but when we walk in the light of forgiveness, when we walk in the grace and mercy of God, in obedience to His Word, our words then become as gold, silver and precious stones. Saying “I am forgiven” builds a house that cannot be moved; saying “I am guilty” leaves the house on sand and the waves wash it away.

The blueprint of creation awaits, and by its words you are forgiven
The Living Torah, Yeshua our Messiah

May God richly bless you this day my beloved

[1] Quote from Jerusalem Talmud

[3] Parshas Shlach by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green;

[4]  Article, “Jewish Humor-Jewish Mothers”
[5] © Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, Article dated Monday, April 11, 2011
[6] Ibid…
[7]  Article, “Good Guilt” by Avi Shulman, Reprinted with permission from Article can be found at
[8] Andrew Gabriel Roth, cited in Carmen Welker, Should Christians be Torah Observant?, p. 75
[9] Article, “Who Accuses You?”, by Skip Moen