The Inconvenient Messiah
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 30 April 2005
"My soul, wait silently for Elohim (God) alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be moved. In Elohim (God) is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in Elohim (God). Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; Elohim (God) is a refuge for us" (Ps.62:5-8, NKJV).
Without exception, everyone hearing my sermon today will have had expectations about something only to have them dashed. From the time you were little children and expected your parents would do something for you and they didn't, we have had false expectations. Sometimes the shattering of expectations can be a devastating experience for us. I am sure that many a time you have been fervently praying for something and hoping for it, only to be disappointed.
The Bible gives us lots of examples of people who had false expectations. At the time of the ministry of John the Baptist, there was a great revival. Yahweh's prophet was stirring the people up to repent - many did, but others refused and became angry and murderous in their hearts. John was a bold witness with an impeccable record as a true servant of El Elyon, the Most High One. He could not be faulted in His righteousness and holiness. He fired the imagination of good Jews everywhere who began to have expectations of the Messiah. We read:
"Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not" (Luke 3:15, NKJV).
This man of Yahweh seemed to have all the credentials. He was just, righteous, holy, and indisputably a prophet. And they knew from Torah that the Messiah would be a prophet greater even than Moses. The Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) drew the good and honourable to this man but somewhere along the line some of them got over-enthusiastic - at some point they feverishly hoped that he might be the Christ, the Messiah. And we all know what happens when people get over-enthusiastic and let feelings overtake sound thinking. When that happens we need to backtrack to the point where we were last unmistakably on the way, walking in sound doctrine, and with our hearts properly aligned in Christ.
This has been a tumultuous week with so many if our brethren disturbed and distraught by many trials and tribulations, myself included. At times it has been overwhelming. So I can understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said:
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labour; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) by my coming to you again" (Phil.1:21-26, NKJV).
Satan has, as ever, been hard at work, and when he is hard at work, we are faced with the often unpleasant 'flight or fight' choice. In such circumstances we discover just how firmly our feet are on the Rock of Christ or whether we are leaning on the arm of flesh for comfort and refuge. Reflexly we want to run and hide - that's the fleshy response - but Yahweh calls us to higher things. One way or another, however circuitous, He brings us face to face with ourselves and ours sins until we finally yield the fight and are willing to surrender to Him in all things. And my job, like all pastors who take their calling seriously, is to facilitate that by taking those in my flock to the places within their souls where they do not want to go so that they can have the kind of full salvation they always wanted.
I have titled my sermon today, The Inconvenient Messiah, to illustrate how it is that the Gospel walk is not a trundle down a primrose path. It is a path lined with enormous inconveniences that disturb our comfort zones and complacencies. We all, without exception, want a 'quick fix' to our problems and, if we're honest, we will take the first short-cut that presents itself and convince ourselves that that is the 'best' for us. Brethren and sisters, shortcuts don't work, they just make more problems that force us to go over the original problem all over again. Some of my ministerial clients do this habitually and go around in circles never getting anywhere. They are crying out for salvation and deliverance but won't do as they have been told because that would entail them facing some very inconvenient sin issues that pride is shielding them from. And no matter how plainly you speak to them, they won't understand.
We read of an interesting incident towards the end of Yah'shua's (Jesus') ministry which illustrates this problem perfectly. Let me read it to you:
"For He taught His disciples and said to them, 'The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.' But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him" (Mark 9:31-32, NKJV).
When the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) told His disciples about His coming death and resurrection, He really couldn't have said it more plainly, could He? He said He was going to be betrayed, killed, and be resurrected on the third day. Now they knew what resurrection was. It wasn't some new concept to them. The Pharisees taught it and Yah'shua (Jesus) had taught it. He spoke plainly to them and all could understand. And yet the text says: "But they did not understand." So the question is, how is it possible that a group of people cannot understand plain speech? And the answer is, as the text says, because "they were afraid ..."
Fear was the problem. Naked fear. And fear has a wonderful way (from a demonic point-of-view) of distorting and confusing reality. You see, these disciples were not willing to believe that He meant what He said. How many times have you said something uncomfortable, maybe even painful, and you have got the answer back: "You're joking, of course!" Now we get to the root of the problem. They refused to believe what Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them because of all the uncomfortable implications that it had for their immediate future. They feared being alone. They feared being without someone to guide their every step in the flesh. They feared taking responsibility for hearing the invisible God when they had Him face-to-face in the flesh speaking in plain language. Wouldn't it be easier to ask the Messiah the questions you normally formulate in prayer if He were standing right next to you? Many of my clients have experienced this - they have had the resurrected Christ stand in front of them and speak plainly to them so that they could unmistakably hear. And then later they have had to pray like the rest of us and struggle with the invisible dimension. The invisible, quite frankly, terrifies us because it operates with different rules. To hear the voice of Yahweh we have to be still, listening, patient, faithful, holy, and sincere otherwise we cannot hear His voice. Worse, in some respects, we don't know how in this dimension He will actually speak to us. It can be in visions, dreams, through other inspired people, through open doors, intuitions - many different ways, yet not nearly as simple and straight forward as listening to someone speak to you face-to-face. Yet even that is no guarantee we will understand if we disbelieve because we are afraid. First the fear has to be tackled.
The disciples were afraid to ask Yah'shua (Jesus) again in case He should confirm that He was after all speaking literally. When things are uncomfortable, we look for less direct explanations that are not likely to challenge us so much. Indeed, unbelief is expert at explaining things away when it is driven by fear.
But this was not the only time He told His disciples that He would be crucified and rise again - still they could not, or would not, understand. On one such occasion, you will remember, Peter even rebuked the Master, saying: "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" (Mt.16:22, NKJV). Why did he say that? Fear, And what did Yah'shua (Jesus) reply? "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offence to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men" (Mt.16:23, NKJV).
When we refuse to take Yahweh's word literally, at least in this case or kind of case, and try to explain it away, we are inspired by Satan. Fear that is not godly fear is not of God but of the Enemy. This kind of fear neutralises faith and love. Often we stop Yahweh from healing us because we fear the method He will use to do so and we say: "Far be it, Lord, this shall not happen to me!" ... especially when it comes to letting go of idols, whatever they may be, those fleshy or demonic things we substitute for God.
The disciples were certainly afraid of the consequences of what would happen if they were left alone without the mortal Messiah in their midst but I suspect there was an even more fundamental fear they had: the resurrection itself. Millions of Christians the world around profess a belief in the resurrection but when it comes to the crunch, just how strong is our faith in this? We all know the terrible struggles that Abraham faced when Yahweh told him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Yahweh had promised him that he would have a son who would become the progenitor of a vast multitude of people who would bless the whole world. Yet here was Isaac, a boy or a young man, unmarried and without children. Quite apart from the fact that he was being asked to do something which would otherwise have been rightly viewed as an abomination, even satanic, and quite apart from the fact that he was facing the agony of destroying, by violence, someone he dearly loved with his whole soul, was the equally important matter of the consequences of adding 2 + 2 together: for if he believed in Yahweh's promise that Isaac would be the father of a multitude, then he would have been forced to the inevitable conclusion that to accomplish this, Yahweh would have to bring his son back to life after he had done the terrible deed of slaying him. Yahweh was asking him whether he believed that the Almighty could bring the dead back to life before the event of death had taken place!
We all, if we are honest and sensitive, shudder at what Abraham was being asked to do, and we all at sundry times have wondered what our 'Abrahamic task' will be - what shattering test of faith will Yahweh apply to us to see what we are made of? We never know until it happens, and it may not be just one test, but many. Abraham certainly faced many. He had already nearly lost his wife twice. The things which he cherished the most were being demanded of him to see if he really did love Yahweh above all things.
None of us really wants to think about these things, do we? None of us wants to consider the possibility that we, in our turn, might have to offer up something equally precious. For the most part Yahweh is asking us let Him reveal demonic counterfeits of Him in us so that He can, in exchange, give us the 'real thing'. But even that, in truth, is hard for us, because none of us likes dying to that which is 'familiar' and 'comfortable' to us, even if they are demonic because none of likes to be inconvenienced or disturbed.
I mentioned the word 'familiar'. No one of particularly likes the unfamiliar, even if it is good for us. It's one of those human weaknesses we have in our Adamic nature. Most of us don't want to grow up - mature - and that goes for old people as well as young. We would rather have things 'familiar', the way they always have been, even if they have not particularly served us well, and even if they have made life miserable for us and others. People are really quite daft sometimes. We get comfortable with pain, demonic oppression, insensitivity - you name it, we know how to get 'used' to it and 'accept' it, particularly if we have bought into demonic lies that these are from God when they are not.
I am sure you have all heard of 'familiar spirits'. They're mentioned in the King James version of the Old Testament in many places as a class of demon (Lev.20:27; 1 Sam.28:7-8); 1 Chr.10:13; 2 Chr.33:6; Is.29:4). You may remember that Saul went looking for a woman with a 'familiar spirit' so that he could consult the dead Samuel. Most modern Bibles translate this as a 'medium' or a 'witch', all of which are valid translations but don't convey the original sense of the Hebrew 'owb very well. One of the problems we have sometimes is knowing exactly what an ancient language is saying because words can change their meaning over time. So it's always helpful when one can find a Rosetta Stone now and then which contains the same text in several languages. The word 'owb actually means to 'mumble' or for a child to prattle its father's name - you know, like 'da da da da da!'
If we go to another part of Torah we read the following:
"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead" (Dt.18:10-11, NKJV).
Pretty straight forward, wouldn't you think? And yet not so. Just look at the King James Version:
"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer" (Dt.18:10-11, KJV).
Other English versions make it even more complicated. One versions says 'witchcraft' and another 'divination'; one 'soothsayer' and another 'observer of times'; one 'interprets omens' and another 'an enchanter'; one 'sorcerer' and another 'witch'; one 'one who conjures spells' and another 'a charmer'; one 'a medium' and another 'a consulter with familiar spirits'; one a 'spiritist' and another 'a wizard'; one 'one who calls up the dead' and another 'a necromancer'. Some of these are equivalent, to be sure, but there are some big errors here that will really make a lot of Christians uncomfortable and nervous ... upset their comfort zones so much that they will probably have a crisis of faith as they realise they have believed in a false Gospel.
What do I mean? Well, I mentioned the Rosetta Stone to you which a Frenchman found in Egypt which contained Greek, thus enabling scholars to decode the ancient Egyptian language. Fortunately for us some 70 Jewish scholars from Alexandria in Egypt decided to translate the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint) using words that pinpoint very accurately what some of the more obscure (to us) Hebrew words actually meant anciently.
I am sure you have all heard of the Greek word glossolalia. If you haven't, don't worry. It's the word used by Pentecostals and charismatics to describe what they claim to be 'biblical tongue-speaking' or ecstatic speech. As we all know this is usually not a proper language, but what one might call 'babble'. What you may not have known is that when the 70 scholars translated Deuteronomy 18:10-11 into Greek, they used the word mantevomenos for the Hebrew qecem which we render as 'divination' but which in Greek means 'he who practices glossolalia', in other words, someone who mumbles nonsense! But that is not all, for they also used mantial klidonizomenos for the next in the list of things occultic condemned by Yahweh, which in our English versions we render as 'one who interprets omens' but which in fact is 'he who interprets glossolalia'!
Now if that has not sunk in let me simplify for you. Those who say they are speaking in tongues but who do not speak a recognisable language which is translated in the normal way is practising occultism. This sin is listed along with other occult arts. This phenomenon was well-known in the ancient Greek world and was used to consult the thoughts of the gods, in Greek known as daimonon from which we get our English word 'demon'. In other words, when charismatics practice glossolalia they are talking with demons, just as the pagans did two millennia ago when they consulted the Pythia at Delphi and the Sibyls - these mediums would practice glossolalia and were then interpreted by other mediums.
I don't know how many people we have upset by saying similar things to this. However, if we are to have any hope of drawing near to Yahweh with pure hearts and minds, we must be prepared to have our idols exposed and our comfort zones violated by the truth. When we resist the truth, we are no different from Peter who tried to stop Yah'shua (Jesus) from being crucified or the disciples who were too afraid to ask Yah'shua (Jesus) if He really was going to die and depart from them because they weren't prepared to believe it.
We too have to be prepared to die - to die to all untruth in our systems, however 'comfortable' and 'familiar' they may be. It is no accident that some kinds of demons are known as 'familiar spirits' because that is exactly what they are to us: familiar. But when you start challenging them, they can really get very upset and destabilise us, something which ought not to be if we are built on the solid rock of truth.
Our Lord is indeed most 'inconvenient' to us when we dwell in the demonic or the flesh, disturbing and upsetting us as part of the process of waking us up to save and deliver us. That is one of the more unpleasant but necessary jobs of ministers like myself, who are usually hated for their trouble at first but who, after deliverance - if the victims of error are willing to surrender totally to Yah'shua (Jesus) - are ultimately grateful.
So it is my sincere prayer that Yahweh will disturb and discomfort you, adding inconvenience to inconvenience until all lies are uprooted and you can finally get real peace of soul. Amen.
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Last updated on 5 June 2005
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