THE GOSPEL HEART
Developing Inner Sensitivity
Second Edition (21 November 2016)
"Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that I will make a covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which My covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Yahweh:
Yahweh's Call to the New Covenant Jeremiahs
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, saith Yahweh: I will put My Torah (Law) in their inward parts, and in their hearts I will write it; and I will be their Elohim (God), and they shall be My people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and everyman his brother, saying, Know Yahweh: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Yahweh: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34, KJV).
The navi (prophet) Jeremiah was an unusual navi (prophet) and though his ministry marks him firmly as being one of the spiritual family of the Tanakh (Old Testament) nevi'im (prophets), he was yet different from all the rest. He came from a priestly family in Anathoth, a suburb of Jerusalem. He became the author of the longest prophetic book in the Bible and served as a navi (prophet) for a full 40 years, being called by Yahweh while still a young man. He saw five kings of Judah come and go. He was constantly confronting the people for their idolatry and warned of the impending destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem itself, and for his efforts constantly faced death. He had to deal with lying 'prophets' and was branded as a traitor for his oracles. Even when the Judahites were in exile in Babylon, he had to warn them of false prophets. He was forced to go to Egypt by a band of Judahites where in all probability he died.
The Burden of Jeremiah
Of all the nevi'im (prophets), I think Jeremiah was one of the saddest, because his burden was so heavy. The people would not listen to him, and even some of his own townspeople and relatives opposed him and tried to kill him. He had periods of intense depression over his failure. He did not want to be a navi (prophet) in the first place, but the urgency of his message was like a fire raging within him, and he could not contain it. Jeremiah, therefore, stands as an example of total faithfulness to Elohim (God), regardless of personal desires or circumstances.
A Lonely, Sensitive Man
I personally feel a great identity with Jeremiah sometimes, especially in his loneliness. He was, above all, a sensitive man, even hyper-sensitive. And Yahweh has a very special ministry for sensitive souls if they will listen to, and follow, Him. He calls them to be preachers and witnesses. It is a fact that you cannot do anything with people unless you are sensitive. Pity the patient who finds himself in a hospital tended by a nurse who isn't sensitive. Pity the school that has for a headmaster a man whose nature is thick and wooden. Pity the audience listening to a pianist skilled in technique but lacking in soul. Sensitivity is the key to all great artistry, sensitiveness of soul.
A Degraded World
But some people are thick. And it was the destiny of Jeremiah to be called to preach at a time when most people were thick. Their passions burst from them like fat boys bursting their seams. They sniffed like dogs, and neighed like horses, quivering to gratify their lusts. And the women turned harlot lay sprawling in every dark corner. And amidst all this sweating heap of brutish humanity God called hyper-sensitive Jeremiah to witness of Himself.
The Depravity of Humanity
To give you some idea of just how low humanity had sunk in Jeremiah's day we are given a graphic portrayal of Israel in the second chapter of his book. For we read how Yahweh looked longingly back to the period of Israel's wandering in the wilderness, as if it were a honeymoon with His bride. What a contrast! Israel was bad enough in the deserts of the Sinai under Moses, constantly murmuring and rebelling and even stooping to the idolatrous sin of worshipping a golden calf. Yet by comparison with Jeremiah's time, that had been a golden age!
The Two Sisters
Little more than a century earlier a similar comparison was made with the northern 10 tribes of Israel who had also been Yahweh's bride (Hosea 2:15). In the third chapter of Jeremiah's book, the navi (prophet) depicts Israel and Judah as sisters, both of them married polygamously to Yahweh. Israel had played the harlot and Elohim (God) divorced her and now Judah's guilt was worse than hers (Jeremiah 3:6-11).
The Coarse Brutality of the French Revolution
During the French revolution a Roman Catholic priest was called for the first time in his life to act as chaplain to a marquise condemned to be beheaded in the Place de Grève. How could he do it? How could he kneel there, holding her hand before that vulgar, staring, blood-thirsty mob, reciting in Latin the Salve as the sword fell by the headsman's hand? But he did it. There is courage of a kind not always counted. It is the courage of the sensitive who do not shrink from facing lewdness.
The Qualities of Sensitivity and Courage
And such was Jeremiah. Indeed, I do not think in all the scriptures there is a man to be compared with him for such quality of courage -- unless it be our Master Himself walking to His crucifixion. But this is the measure of Jeremiah's greatness, that he never abandoned the people he served. They guffawed at him; they belched at him; they imprisoned him; they tried to drown him in a pit in which was only slime to suck him under; but still he never ran away.
The Remnant Call
This Remnant is calling latter-day Jeremiahs - sensitive, courageous souls who are willing to suffer every indignity from the people they are to serve. It is a measure of their ahavah (love) and dedication of Yahweh to stand firm, despite their sensitivity and revulsion at the coarseness and vulgarity of those they have come to serve. This ministry is a school of nevi'im (prophets) whom Elohim (God) is calling to be willing to suffer every kind of indignity for His sake in order to reach those that others will not try to reach.
The Luxury of Indigation and Hurt
Sensitivity and courage are perhaps two of the greatest hallmarks of true believers and of the Remnant, and there are few who have them. For not only are we called to bear the stripes of Yahweh's just chastisement of us, but we must be willing to bear the unjust chastisements of men and women. As talmidim (disciples) of Messiah we do not have the luxury of taking offense when we are unjustly accused, of withdrawing in indignation or hurt; we cannot strike back or withdraw from the ministry. That is for unbelievers. But we, like Jeremiah, and every other witness of Elohim (God), must be willing to go amongst the vileness of the worst of humanity, like the Catholic priest, and suffer reproach, insult, and every degradation to minister for others who cannot understand or cope, for the sake of the One who died on Calvary for us. Anything else is simply not Christian discipleship.
The Fate of the Cowardly and Unbelieving
Many years ago I was reading through the Book of Revelation and got quite a shock. I am sure you are all familiar with the kinds of people whom the Master says are bound for hell, or the second death, those who won't make it unless they repent and radically reform their lives: "..the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars" (Revelation 21:8, NIV). But there are two other categories of person who are awaiting a similar fate, and they are "the cowardly, (and) the unbelieving". Or, as the King James Version puts it, the "fearful and unbelieving". And who are the cowards? The cowards are those who, having come to a conviction of the emet (truth), are fearful to do anything about it. These are they who are aware of things that need doing in their lives but refuse to do anything about them. They are the souls who are offended in their hearts but who will not come to peace with Elohim (God). Such are doomed to hell because they are already in it because they refuse to overcome difficulties (Revelation 21:6).
When You Get Discouraged...
I said that I identified with Jeremiah. I say that because I often get discouraged and because I am also a sensitive person by nature. When people hurt, I hurt too. I just can't help myself. The vulgar and the tawdry repulse me. The crude and the coarse I hate and my gut instinct is to withdraw from them and hide. But a higher power compels me to resist that tendency, because I know to do so would be to fail my Elohim (God) and my fellow man, especially those for whom I feel a special closeness in the Besorah (Gospel). My natural impulses would, furthermore, tend to constrain me not to reveal these deep feelings, yet I know that in order to remain in Messiah and to be a blessing to others I must allow those feelings to manifest themselves at the risk of being walked all over.
The Priestly Covenants
As Messianic Evangelicals, we must not hide away our feelings and our thoughts, though we must, of course, be circumspect when it comes to non-believers, not casting our pearls to be trampled upon. One of the most beautiful aspects of this work is the priestly covenants we enter into in the Melchizedek Order to be courageous enough to cultivate and utilise this open sensitivity towards each other. Such, of course, comes only when people are really committed to each other in Messiah and are willing to lay their spiritual and (if necessary) their physical life (as Yah'shua/Jesus personally calls them) on the altar of sacrifice.
The Blessings of Courage and Sensitivity
Courage and sensitivity have many spin-offs, many blessings, because pre-eminently they allow you to understand people. The cold and insensitive have little understanding of human nature and usually have no idea how a person is inside. They can neither read the signs nor respond positively and supportively to the people. Jeremiah's secret was that he understood the human heart. If you were shy, or silly, or stupid, or serious, Jeremiah would know all about you and would tell you just as much in words, until you would in consternation, like Nathaniel asked of Yah'shua (Jesus), ask: "How do you know me?" (John 1:48, NIV). Nathaniel, though, was an honest man, and though surprised at Yah'shua's (Jesus') ability, did not resent the Saviour that knowledge.
Most others do, though, for they dislike being stripped naked and having their weaknesses exposed. Even more, they dislike to be in the power of others, for knowledge about human nature is power. When a man's weakness is known by another, and that other makes it plain that he knows, such can be very discomforting to the proud, whose reaction is typically hostile. But Jeremiah, like all true nevi'im (prophets), did not use that knowledge for evil ends but to persuade men and women to make teshuvah (repent) and receive salvation. Nathaniel was humble. He was shocked that Yah'shua (Jesus) could read him like a book but was sufficiently honest and meek to turn that revelation to his benefit by declaring: "Rabbi, you are the Son of Elohim (God); you are the King of Israel!" (John 27:49, NIV). Not so the wicked and proud who resent such knowledge and invariably respond with varying degrees of bitterness.
Exposing the Wicked
A sensitive man like Jeremiah would not have enjoyed exposing the wicked as he did. A sensitive man takes no pleasure in being the instrument of causing a wicked man to turn his venom on himself. The wicked and proud, the vain and arrogant, prefer to conceal one another's weaknesses and sins so that the status quo is not upset. The world is indeed a case of 'dog eat dog', of 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.' It is the unwritten law of the carnal, fallen man, and is, alas, all too prevalent in the churches in all kinds of guises. Such a luxury, if we can call it that, is, as you all know, not tolerated here, for we cannot live in guile and deceit. Such is painful for us but absolutely necessary, and there is no fellowship quite like that which does these things.
The Gift of Elohim
Sensitivity is a gift of Elohim (God). It is a revelatory device all on its own. It is imparted to many quite a part from any divine vocation. Shakespeare was like Jeremiah, as was Dostoyevsky, and all the creative artists of the world's greatest literature. They give you entrance to a murderer's heart, a coward's heart, a glutton's heart, a hero's heart, a faithful mother's heart, till you cry aloud in wonder: 'How can he know all this?' Could he perchance have been a murderer, coward, glutton, hero, mother, father, child, and son? How does he know, how can he know what it feels to be such characters as these? Does he have to be a supernaturally imbued navi (prophet) like Moses? And the answer is, he knows because of SENSITIVITY.
The Prophetic Gift of Sensitivity
Sensitivity is a prophetic gift that we are either born with or acquire through life's circumstances (often tragedy) or which we cultivate. Such can be used for self interest or for Yahweh. When it is used for Yahweh, you have the makings of a navi (prophet) or a neviah (prophetess). Extreme sensitiveness, which is essential to enter fully into the Melchizedek Priesthood, is a burden to be borne. In many ways it makes life harder. It sharpens pain, it deepens depression, it wearies the body, it tires the nerves. Sensitive people are shy, they retire from the crowd; fears loom up, even unfounded fears, and all this makes the body thin. For the comfortable life -- better be a gourmand, better be coarse; but know this, that all the creative work in reading people stems from sensitiveness which is costly in strength.
And there you have the key to Jeremiah, the key to his shyness -- "Oh Yahweh, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child!" (Jeremiah 1:6, NIV); the key to his anguish -- "I am a laughing stock all the day; everyone mocks me!" These are the words of Jeremiah. They are similar to what Moses said too (Exodus 3:11). Do you fear people laugh at you? If you do, take courage, for it means you are sensitive. If you are afraid, Elohim (God) will turn your fear into courage if you will trust in Him and He will use you for a great work.
My Own Story
There was a time I wouldn't speak to a soul! There was a time when I would hide myself away. But after I was saved I put my hand into the Hand of Yahweh and He has led me thus far. No, brethren and sisters, if you are sensitive and are afraid when people mock or taunt you, be of good cheer, for Elohim (God) will bless you if you will come to Him in emunah (faith). Perhaps we can understand better now why Jeremiah shrank from his call to minister at a time when morals had sunk into decaying putrefaction. But remember, Jeremiah never left these people -- he never ran away. Such was the courage of Jeremiah, and such was his greatness.
The Call of the Prophets and Prophetesses
Every one of you here today is different. Some of you are sensitive and fearful. Others are a little thicker but have courage. And yet others may be both thick and fearful. Whatever, Elohim (God) is calling you to place yourself upon the anvil of the Besorah (Gospel) so that He can supernaturally remake you. He is calling you to pass through the rigours and discipline of the spiritual training given to the nevi'im (prophets) and neviatot (prophetesses), which is one of the callings of this Work. Everyone who has received a testimony of this work is called, for Elohim (God) has enrolled you in the school of the nevi'im (prophets) to be made anew. My job is to put you through your paces and to see that you complete the course. It is not one I particularly enjoy, as I have told you many times, and my heart has already been broken many, many times as I have watched beloved brethren and sisters turn away because of cowardice, pride, stubbornness and cold-heartedness.
A Modern Day Revelation on Sensitivity
We are particularly blessed to have had Yahweh give us so many keys of understanding in the revelations so that we are forced to confront the emet (truth) or run away. Just after the 1989 Annual General Conference, Yahweh gave this Word to us:
An Expert at Reading the Human Heart
"Thus sas Yahweh: all things that increase order, beauty and sensitivity are good and are of Me, whether they be inward or outward, and should be eagerly sought after. Those who are sanctified by My Ruach (Spirit) will be seeking more order or discipline, more beauty and more sensitivity until every aspect of their lives becometh harmonious and balanced, like a finely tuned and coordinated orchestra playing a celestial melody. It is the tendency of this world to disorganise, and the disposition of most men and women to organise themselves to a certain degree and then stop. But the sanctified talmid (disciple) will press onwards, turning his science into art, and his art into pure worship, recreating the Garden of Eden around him, and not being satisfied until his temple, body and home, is a perfect reflection of the mansions above. Therefore seek to beautify and order all that you are and all that you do, remembering to seek a balance in all things, so the outer does not outpace the inner to make sterility of action, and that the inner does not outpace the outer to make chaos and indiscipline. It is important that you teach your children these things from an early age, says Yahweh, ingraining them with good habits that will form the groundwork tavnith (pattern) for their spiritual house upon which you can build as they grow up. For you must not only give them the freedom to express themselves, that their energy may move to and fro, cleansing their souls, but you must also discipline them, balancing independence of action with structure and order. Such things as...increase (of) sensitivity, beauty and discipline...are profitable, for if you are not sensitive to others and the things about you, you will be unable to develop a selfless, Messiah-like ahavah (love). And if you do not seek after beauty you will never understand the House of the Messiah, whose Name is Beauty, and will not be able to enter therein. And if you have no discipline you will be unable to climb out of fallen matter and into purer spiritual realms, but must of necessity wade in coarseness and twilight like a sow wallowing in the mire. You have all been called to be creators, to reverse the decay in that portion of this estate that has been given unto you, to transform ugliness into beauty, chaos into order, and coarseness into sensitivity. And if you do not these things you will never be able to build a [Remnant] Firstborn Community..." (NC&C 138).
Because Jeremiah was such an expert in reading the human heart, it was in the heart that he sought all true religion. There was a majority opinion in his day that a man could only be in touch with Elohim (God) if he stood on Israel's soil. In our day, the equivalent would be to say that it is only possible to be special friends with Elohim (God) in a particular Church or Ministry. There was also a majority opinion that a man could only be in touch with Elohim (God) in the presence of the appropriate ceremony. And there came a king, by the name of Josiah, who put his trust in ecclesiastical reform. There is, of course, truth in all these views. We need to be in touch with sacred places, such as in temples; we need ordinances in order to focus our minds and hearts on the kernel of the Besorah (Gospel), like baptism and the Master's Supper. But Jeremiah shouted from the housetops that none of these is the heart of true religion. None of these things -- Temple, ordinances, priesthoods, etc., saves a man from himself, they do not give courage to the coward, or confidence to the sinner. Only when the heart of man is reached, only when the heart of man is touched by the Davar Elohim or Word of the Living God, touched by fire, touched by ahavah (love), burnt and refined and remade, only then is religion in its stride; and because Jeremiah could minister this, a religion of the heart which touched the heart, Jeremiah has remained the father of all the world's great preachers whom congregations want to hear again. Listen to him:
A Reminder of Yah'shua
"The time is coming when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My Covenant, though I was a husband to them, declares Yahweh....I will put My Torah (Law) in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their Elohim (God) and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh', because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest...I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34, NIV).
And of whom does all this remind you? Is it not Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself in the days of His flesh? Reading people, spurned by people, staying with people, rebuking them, forgiving them, loving them, giving them each in his heart what each man needed. Sensitive, yes; a man of sorrows, yes; Jeremiah, yes; but this was the means by which he read the depths of every human heart, and came to meet them at their point of greatest human need.
The Ideal Believer
This is the true believer. Not a man with the gift of the gab. Not an expert theologian nor a skilled administrator. He might be these, but first he is a sensitive man who has himself found Elohim (God) in the secret place of his own soul, meeting his own need, speaking to his own condition. This is the man who speaks to others, that is the man through whom Yahweh speaks.
Meeting Yahweh Anywhere
And this is what he says: There is no situation in which a man finds himself where Elohim (God) cannot come to meet his need. Elohim (God) can meet him in Babylon, as Jeremiah said, or in Stockholm, in London, in Moscow, or in New York; in depression or in elation; in fear, in repose; in hot sunshine or in the darkness; in assembly (church), in the theatre; in company, alone; because the place where Elohim (God) is is only really met is the secret place of a man's own soul, and that he takes about with him wherever he may go. That is the comfort of the Besorah (Gospel), there is no place a man can be where Elohim (God) with His succour cannot also be. But we must let Him in, we have the key. And no small part of my task, no small part of every minister's task, is to bid you turn that key. Then Yahweh comes in, comes into your situation. And then the room is changed -- the old furniture is there, the old problems are there, but they look different. And when you accept them in His presence you find you can go on. Yahweh's strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor.12:9). That is what the navi (prophet) Jeremiah found alone inside his heart, and so can everyone of us...And that is the real Besorah (Gospel).
We Can Overcome
And when we have come to that realisation, that awareness that Elohim (God) is near and directing, can we overcome our lack of sensitivity and our fear. Then we can come together as a Body according to the mitzvah (commandment) and build the end-time Kingdom. To that cause I have set my hand, my life. Will you join with me?
May Yahweh, the Elohim (God) of Israel, bless you and keep you as you seek for Him and are true to yourself, is my prayer, in the Name of His Son, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), Amen.
From a series of three sermons given in the Bergen (Norway) Assembly, 15 April 1992, to celebrate the inauguration of the New Covenant Christian Fellowships; adapted on 21 November 2016 for NCAY
This page was created on 12 May 1998
Last updated on 21 November 2016
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