Month 3:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:085 AM|
SHABBAT 3:4, Omer Count Day 21/50
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 30 June 2011
Are You Sure You Will Make Heaven?
Shabbah shalom kol beit Yisra'el!
"Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to jacob because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kennezite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed Yahweh" (Num.32:11-12, Amp.V.)
Today's message was given to me early yesterday morning as a prophetic word for this assembly of believers worldwide. This is not a new message but today I do hope to underline more clearly what has been shown me over the years about the obligations of the faithful.
The whole journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, in addition to being a literal event demonstrating the power and deliverance of Yahweh Almighty, is also a picture of salvation in Messiah and a model of deliverane. The land of Israel - the Promised Land - to which all the Israelites on their journey were pointing - represents Heaven. And as Yahweh makes very clear in today's passage, no man sees the promised land of Heaven who does not fully or wholly follow Yahweh. And yet we are told by many ministers of religion - entire denominations consisting of millions of members, in fact - that an initial profession of faith, even if it is followed by a life of total promiscuity and rebellion, will still guarantee that person a ticket to heaven, because they teach, 'once saved, always saved'.
My question to these people is this: if those who - beyond question - were saved from the plagues and when they left Egyptian bondage, and were saved from Pharaoh's army when they crossed the Yam Suf (Red Sea), and were saved from marauding desert tribes like the Amalekites, and were saved from starvation and thirst, but were not saved enough to enter the type which is Heaven (namely, the Promised Land) because in their levim (hearts) they would not wholly follow Yahweh, why, then, do so many modern Christians think that souls will inherit heaven who, having made a choice of Christ, then go on to live lives as spiritual and moral profligates? Or who only live their religion half-heartedly, picking and choosing which commandments to obey? Why do they supposed that they will get an even greater reward than those Israelites promised the Land of Inheritance? Either their ministers are ignorant (in which case they can be forgiven) or they are liars, knowing what the Word says but refusing to teach it, for whatever reason. In either eventuality, they must repent both for themselves and for the sake of their flocks. They must either earnestly seek for scriptural emet (truth) or repent for their laxity and indifference to that emet (truth), for those of us who are teachers and preachers of the Word receive a far stricter judgment than those who are not. It is a fearsome responsibility! Do not, then, be in a hurry to be a teacher or a preacher or an evangelist until you are first willing to follow the Word no matter what adjustments it may require you to make in your life.
All of this naturally begs the question: What is a follower? The children of Israel follwoed Moses into the wilderness, but did that give them automatic access to the Promised Land? Those who believe the OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved) doctrine would say 'Yes!' because they have said 'Yes' to Christ, following their evangeslists to Bible study and church attendance. But do these things make a person a follower? The famous hymn answers this will:
While frantically scrawling my notes down with a couple of cheap pencils from communist China for this sermon as the Ruach (Spirit) led me, I was repeatedly frustrated by the leads snapping because they were of inferior quality. They were useless for the profession that the manufacturers made for them and in the end I had to scrawl the rest of my notes in a pale blue crayon as that is all I had. Do we think we can get away with being anything less than what we profess to be? We will snap and be discarded if we do.
He who valiant be, 'gainst all diasater;
Let him in constancy, follow the Master!
A true follower of the Master is like Joshua and Caleb and their spiritual wards who were not "twenty years old and upward" who had not reached the theocratic 'age of majority', whose levim (hearts) were not so spoiled by willful sin that they were yet still spiritually alive and following their elders in sincerity and truth. In other words there is a period of grace for those who are 'under twenty', spiritually speaking but not for those who are 'older'. So the evangelicals are right, up to a point, when it comes to the extension of grace, but that grace will not cover a sinner indefinitely while her or she continues in willful sin and is not following the Master wholeheartedly. Beyond a certain point there is NO PROMISE. Yahweh proved that by denying entry to the Promised Land - which represents Heaven - to all those at Sinai after the rebellion who were violation of their Shavu'ot covenants and who were over 19 years old. They were not allowed in and were condemned to perish in the wilderness, a picture of Hell. This was to underscore the importance of not making rash, unscriptural assumptions about our salvation.
What were the qualities of the "following" of Joshua, Caleb, the teenagers and the young ones, those who were deemed worthy to enter into the Promised Land, for whom the promises of Yahweh were realised? FIDELITY, LOYALTY and EMUNAH (FAITH) in Yahweh!
"Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in...but Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land" (Num.14:30,38, NKJV).
How will you know whether you are wholeheartedly serving Yahweh or not? Because of the influence for good and emet (truth) that you will have on people:
"Now therefore, fear Yahweh, serve Him in sincerity and in emet (truth), and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve Yahweh! And if it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh" (Josh 24:14-15, NKJV).
They were willing to stick by the emet (truth) no matter what, even at the risk of being stoned to death by the people for their faithfulness:
"Israel served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of Yahweh which He had done for Israel" (Josh.24:31, NKJV).
The whole congregation wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb! They made it plain in whom they really trusted when the crunch came. Following Yahweh wholeheartedly was therefore a QUESTION OF LIFE AND DEATH. Faced with the possibility of death - of losing chayim (life) itself - they remained loyal and true.
"Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: 'The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If Yahweh delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, 'a land which flows with milk and honey.' Only do not rebel against Yahweh, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our lechem (bread); their protection has departed from them, and Yahweh is with us. Do not fear them.' And all the congregation said to stone them with stones" (Num.14:6-10, NKJV).
That, brethren and sisters, is a true follower. There is no better definition. Anyone can say 'yes' to 'Yah'shua (Jesus)' but not everyone will follow Him even unto the loss of their own lives. So do you still want to know who will be saved at the end?
Joshua and Caleb did not lose their lives but they were willing to. All of the original 12 apostles, except John, lost their lives. Millions of believers have since. They may not have got all their theology right, they may not even have understood Torah properly, they may not even have known the true names of Deity, and they may have been members of corrupt religious organisations, but they were authentic followers because they were willing to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) even with their lives. Therefore we who are alive, however theologically correct, shall not judge them for we do not know their levim (hearts) as Yahweh does.
I am not saying you should go and immediately martyr yourself. Sometimes (mostly) living for Yah'shua (Jesus) is a lot harder than dying for Him but we serve with the understanding that it may require the ultimate sacrifice of us. So long as our lev (heart) is right in this matter (and we won't finally know until the moment comes, if it ever does) then we can know we are wholly following Yahweh, as Joshua and Caleb did. At the same time we may not have spiritually 'come of age' and are walking in grace in spite of our weaknesses and imperfections, especially as far as being willing to lay our lives down or not, but we should never assume that that mantle will cover us indefinitely for there is no such thing as 'once saved, always saved'. It just doesn't work like that and such a belief is unscriptural, in spite of elaborate attempts to justfy it by squeezing it out of Paul's teachings.
Yahweh is patient, merciful and graceful with those who are young in the faith, but those who refuse to finally follow Him wholeheartedly after they have 'come of age', having had every opportunity to make their commitments real, should not expect admission into the blessed land of the faithful. The dead bodies of the first generation of Israelites that littered the Sinai wilderness attest to this emet (truth). Yahweh is graceful but He is also just. May we have the sense to wake up and finally give all to the One who gave His All for us!
Comments from Readers
(DP, South Africa, 30 June 2011)
"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Yah'shua, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all Elohim's house. For Yah'shua has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is Elohim.) Now Moses was faithful in all Elohim's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over Elohim's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation,and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"
"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living Elohim. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
"Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
"For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
"Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
"As I swore in my wrath,'They shall not enter my rest,'"
"although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And Elohim rested on the seventh day from all his works." And again in this passage he said,
"They shall not enter my rest."
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
"Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts."
"For if Joshua had given them rest, Elohim would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of Elohim, for whoever has entered Elohim’s rest has also rested from his works as Elohim did from His.
"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 3:1-4:13, ESV)