Month 6:08, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:150 AM|
SHABBAT 6:1, Teshuvah 8/40
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 6 September 2011
The Good Mud-Slinger
The Amazing Calling-Card of Salvation
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el! Welcome to this sabbath assembly and for the message I have for you and which I have been told is for some specific people either listening to, or reading, me today. But let us begin by going into imperial Europe a few centuries ago for a true story by way of introductory illustration.
"Now as Yah'shua (Jesus) passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His talmidim (disciples) asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Yah'shua (Jesus) answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of Elohim (God) should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbours and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, 'Is not this he who sat and begged?' Some said, 'This is he.' Others said, 'He is like him.' He said, 'I am he.' Therefore they said to him, 'How were your eyes opened'. He answered and said, 'A Man called Yah'shua (Jesus) made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed, and I received sight" (John 9:1-11, NKJV).
One day the Empress of Austria was riding over the country in her carriage, and saw a woman a little distance off from the road acting in a strange manner. She soon discovered that the woman was blind, and furthermore, that she was close to a precipice - and that another step might hurl her to her death. The Empress quickly got out of her carriage and hurried to the poor woman, just in time to save her life.
We all admire rescue stories, don't we? It touches something off in our hearts. And we especially empathise with the blind because sight is something we value highly. My 97 year-old mother has been progressively going blind for many years and it is a most distressing experience for her. Millions know what she is going through. It is something that young and old alike fear. Yes, the Empress of Austria did a wonderful deed; but there is one deed I want to share that is more beautiful than this.
Today's scripture is the account of the time when Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), the King of Glory, saw a poor blind beggar sitting in darkness. He was moved with compassion for him and stopped to open his eyes. What I find interesting both about the story of the blind Austrian woman and the blind man whom Yah'shua (Jesus) healed was that neither asked for help. The blind Austrian woman had no idea she was heading for disaster and equally had no clue that the Queen herself would intervene to save her. The blind beggar was sitting on the street asking for alms when suddenly a complete stranger rubbed wet clay into his eyes moistened with saliva.
Now imagine you are deaf and you are quietly sitting on a park bench in town and a complete stranger comes up to you and starts shoving manure from a nearby flower-bed into your ears and then writes you a note telling you to go and wash your ears out in a nearby fountain. After the initial shock you'd probably be pretty upset. I mean, clay is pretty messy stuff, like manure. How would you have reacted?
Let's see it from Yah'shua's (Jesus') perspective and compare it with the blind beggar's. The Saviour saw this man and was deeply moved by his condition. He came unasked to the blind man and brought unsought healing to him. How do you suppose he was upset after he was healed? Would the imaginary deaf man have been upset at the rude intrustion into his peace and the humiliating experience of having dirt pushed into his ears have been upset after washing the muck out of his ears and discovering that he could hear again? Indeed, what does this tell us about the character of Elohim (God)? No doubt, prior to healing, the beggar, if he had lived in our 21st century in some Western country, would have made some protest about the violation of his human rights and possibly even have reported the Master to the police for the commission some sort of 'hate crime'.
Now here is a dilemma. We all want healing, don't we? We all want to be able to see, whether physically or spiritually, or both. But do we desire these things more than we do our imagined 'right' to be treated with respect and to have our free agency upheld?
Now, of course, Yah'shua (Jesus) knew exactly what He was doing, just as the Austrian Empress did. Yah'shua (Jesus) knew the blind man wanted his sight back so that he could work for a living and have a family like the rest of us. The Austrian Empress knew that the blind woman would not have wanted to go over that precipice if she had known beforehand what lay before her. Neither, in retrospect, resented the violation of their free agency in the final analysis. Indeed, violating their free agency saved their lives. Saving life therefore takes precendence.
I am sure you have heard of another story of a very old woman with a walking stick standing on the side of the road. A kindly man thinks he will help her across the street so, without asking her, takes her arm and drags her across the road while she struggles and protests. When they get to the other side of the road she hits him agrily on the head with her stick and tells him that she did not want to cross the road, and struggles on her own back to the original side. Unlike Yah'shua (Jesus) who had prophetic insights into those whom He helped, and unlike the Austrian Empress who knew the choice was very simple and a matter of life-and-death, this well-meaning man never bothered to ask the old lady if she wanted to cross the road when he could have done (assuming she was not deaf). He violated her agency and did her no good. If anything, he got her blood pressure up.
Part of our human problem is our priorities. Sometimes we think our free agency is more important than our need, which can hamper our salvation. And, yes, agency is important but the Creator has the right to go round it at certain times, as proven by the healing of the blind beggar. And so do His agents when they get a clear revelation from Him. When we act on behalf of others, we need prophetic insight from Yahweh before we dare violate another's agency. The boundary is a bit hazy, admittedly, and it is a zone where high risks are at stake. We can risk making fools of ourselves, hurting others, and sometimes causing irrepairable damage. Thus great caution is needed. Violating agency should never be our default mode. And yet someone has to preach the Gospel to those who don't want to hear it because Yahweh says so, otherwise their guilt is on our heads.
Yah'shua's (Jesus') healing of the blind man shows us some interesting hidden truths that I want to touch upon now. When Yah'shua (Jesus) rubbed the clay into the blind man's eyes, He was not coming as a mere philanthropist like the Queen of Austria but He was coming as the very Light of the World making contact with the man's physical and spiritual darkness. Two separate but parallel, connected operations were under way. For Yah'shua (Jesus) never brings physical healing without also in some way bringing spiritual healing and salvation to those who will receive it.
In another account we learn that Yah'shua (Jesus) heals physically and offers spiritual healing that is rejected:
There are so many important things to note here. Firstly, the ten lepers asked for help - Yah'shua (Jesus) did not force His healing on them. Second, note that the healing involved an action or 'going' only their "Siloam" (which, remember, means 'sent'), were the priests who had to lawfully delacre that they were no longer leprous and therefore outcasts so that they could be reintegrated into society. Thirdly, though ten were physically healed, only one received salvation, and then the one who was not a Judahite but a hated Samaritan, the half-Hebrew-Assyrian people who were despised by the Úlitists who thought they were something 'special' because of their ancestry or genes. Here the half-cast has the proper lev (heart) and was saved whereas they who were 'pure-blooded' were too proud and arrogant to recognise their Deliverer, and lacked gratitude for what they had received from Him. You see, the blind man had gratitude too, as we must suppose the blind Austrian woman rescued by the Empress did. The distinguishing feature here between those who are physically saved but not spiritually saved, and those who are both, is a lack of gratitude on the part of the former.
"Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, 'Yah'shua (Jesus), Master, have mercy on us!' So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified Elohim (God), and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Yah'shua (Jesus) answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to Elohim (God) except this foreigner?' And He said to him, 'Arise, go your way. Your emunah (faith) has made you well" (Luke 17:12-19, NKJV).
The first story of the blind beggar reminds us that when it comes to salvation it is Yah'shua (Jesus) who seeks us out first. We may indeed come seeking at some point but it is only because He has made the first contact or movement toward us, based on His foreknowledge of those whom He knows will be saved. Yah'shua (Jesus) comes to us first first, not waiting to be sought. He came to the ten lepers too, but only one followed. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Samaritan was the last to be healed, as we call to mind the saying of the Master:
In His incarnation, the Son of Man brought Himself in contact with our fallen nature to save it. I am pretty sure that not one living human being ever imagined that the Messiah - though He was long expected and long prayed for - would come as Incarnate Deity! Therefore Yah'shua (Jesus) came in a totally unexpected way. We know the Judeans were waiting for a political liberator.
"So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen" (Matt 20:16, NKJV).
This highlights our problem - we know we need salvation but we at first do not know what it is we need saving from and so we do not expect our salvation to take place in the way it does. Yah'shua (Jesus) approaches us and touches a part of us we never dreamed needed saving because we tend only to see the symptoms of our spiritual distresses and not the causes. Accordingly, do you suppose we even know what to ask for when it comes to salvation? Can we, in our ignorance of what we actually need, even have free agency? We don't know what is best for us and the only way we can know is by Yah'shua (Jesus) approaching us uninvited and applying forcefully some rather ugly looking medicine onto us! Only then can we choose to have the clay washed out of our eyes. Only then can we choose to get up, walk over to the place of deliverance, and do what we were commanded to do, however ridiculous the proceedure might seem. Certainly Naaman the Syrian thought it was crazy to wash seven times in the piddly Jordan River to get healing from his leprosy, and he complained about it at first, didn't he? But what he complained about was what he most needed. And he did get healed by finally swallowing his pride and obeying Elisha.
There are some things we are never going to 'get' or understand until after we have been saved. That is where emunah (faith) comes in. Our feeble capacity to think and rationalise will never sort out the issue of salvation. We either choose to believe or not to believe when Yah'shua (Jesus) slaps that dirty old spit-softened clay on our eyes - we either obey or rebel. Yah'shua (Jesus), through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), touches each spiritually blind soul that believes, and brings light and salvation into it.
You will notice that Yah'shua (Jesus) gave the blind man something to do, something requring obedience and action in addition to his emunah (faith). He gives the sinner something to do too, asking him to believe, to rise up, to wash in the fountain, to confess His Saviour and Deliverer, and in gratitude to follow Him into lowly service.
To have clay slapped into your face and not to react obediently to the command to go and wash in order to see will usually leave the sinner resentful and angry in some way. In this way there is a pretty clear separation between the believing and unbelieving. This does not just apply to general salvation but to any principle of divine emet (truth) and tavnith (pattern). One of my less pleasant jobs is to slap these things into people eyes by writing or talking about them and either they will believe or get agitated or angry. It happened just yesterday. I was talking about the Creation Calendar, slapping it into my readers' eyes on Facebook, and it provoked some angry reactions. I was told there was no evidence for a lunar sabbath when I had presented a movie showing overwhelming evidence. I was also told that I was "playing with fire", presumably because I was walking in the footsteps of the sons of Aaron who refused to follow divine tavnith (pattern). nevertheless, it is for us to choose to see or remain blind. I don't argue with people like that and Yah'shua (Jesus) did not pursue the nine ungrateful Judahite lepers whom he had cured, anymore than He did the rich young ruler who would not sell his riches and give them to the poor to follow the Master. We must act in the same manner. Arguing solves nothing. People will either go to the Pool of Siloam - the place to which Messiah sends them to gain spiritual sight - or they must remain seated and angry with the mud sticking on their eyeballs.
I guess you never thought that ministers were authorised mud-slingers before!
Have a blessed Sabbath and please ponder these things. Amen.