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Month 9:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year 5935:231 AM
Rosh Chodesh IX (Teshi'i haChodesh)
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 26 November 2011
Rosh Chodesh IX
Be a Kosher Scandal!

    Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh!

    Most people who are in any sort of an influential position want to avoid scandal at all costs. I remember the fear and panic of a former boss of mine when I was summonsed into her office to explain what I had been doing on a TV show talking about, and promoting, Christianity. You see, at my place of work were students (and parents) of all religions and no religion at all and it was important to keep religion out of the work place at all costs in order to maintain neutrality and impartiality. However, I explained to my boss that I had not sought to share my faith at work but done so in my free time in the public arena. The fact that somone had seen me on TV talking about spiritual things, including (as it happens) spiritual manifestations and other supernatural experiences, had, as far as I was concerned, nothing to do with my job. I was diplomatically warned, though, that such spiritual posturing was inconsistent with my position as an employee. The TV station never invited me back again, perhaps because they later discovered some of my teachings online that were too radical for the Evangelical Christian ministry in question, and so avoided a 'scandal' of their own. What my employer would have done if I had appeared on TV again is anyone's guess but at least 'scandal' had been avoided...for the time being.

    A few years later someone else tried to stir things up by contacting my boss and telling her that my religious beliefs were highly dangerous because they were not at all like the standard Lutheran beliefs of the country. But by this time my boss and I had a good working relationship based on mutual trust and that 'scandal' was avoided. Later, after we got a new boss, I started a Christian Club at my place of work which was shut down after a few weeks because some Muslim parent complained but by then Yahweh had already told me it was time to leave. Worse, from my point-of-view, one of my fellow Christian teachers supported the decision because I did not agree with his charismatic brand of religion and because he was trying to score points in the scramble to climb the corporate ladder. Today he has the position he coveted but lacks any kind of moral integrity. Some people will avoid 'scandal' in order to be successful in the world

    The Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is radical. In fact, it's scandalous. It was a scandal in Yah'shua's (Jesus') time, it was scandalous in the apostles' time, and it has been scandalous ever since. It upsets religious, political and social establishments. Indeed, it upsets everyone, to one degree or another, who does not accept it. And it even upsets those who accept watered-down versions of it.

    Nothing is ever achieved by diluting the Besorah (Gospel). There is a huge temptation to make what John J. Parsons calls a "sales pitch for Yah'shua (Jesus)" in order to blunt any negative response and so as not to drive away the insincere. Let me ask you a simple question: have you, in witnessing, ever tried to make the Besorah (Gospel) as attractive as possible? Have you tried to 'help' the one you are witnessing to, to make a decision for Yah'shua (Jesus) but cut corners of the emet (truth), diluting essential doctrines, leaving out controversial ones, or by exuding a warmness whose purpose was to oil that decision-making process? Have you, indeed, witnessed in such a way, to make sure that you were liked and acceptable no matter what? Parsons writes:

      "Often the appeal is made along the lines of the ego's self-interest. Jesus (Yah'shua) is put forth as a solution to life's problems, a panacea for the worries of life, a blessing for your love life, etc.. 'Believe in Jesus (Yah'shua) - because it works for you! You'll be amazed by the results! God (Elohim) will bless you and you'll find happiness and contentment at last!" [1]

    One almost expects this kind of spiritual sales-pitch to end with an offer - "And I'll give you 10% off repentance if you'll accept the salvation offer now!"

    I remember a different sales-pitch in the Mormon Church years ago, one that played on pride. The Mormon 'apostle' was addressing an audience of members and investigators and said something like this:

      "What we have to offer you isn't easy because what we're offering you is the best. The [Mormon] Gospel will make huge demands on you, and it will be tough, but it will be worth it because you'll get to the highest, celestial kingdom in heaven!"

    Both the Evangelical Christian and Mormon said truthful things - having Yah'shua (Jesus) does bless you in all sorts of ways, and following the Way taught by Messiah is tough and will cost you everything you've got. The trouble with both sales-pitches was that they were appealing to vanity, ego and pride. You don't accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as your Master because of the blessings you unquestionably get, or because it toughens you up and develops real character as it unquestionably does, but because to do anything else means total ruination. It's a choice to live or die. We must either repent or perish.

    Yah'shua (Jesus) was never a people-pleaser, neither did He make a cheap sale of the Emet (Truth). He never said how 'nice' it would be to follow Him. And neither do His authentic talmidim (disicples) today. Indeed, He said that few people actually choose this path because they're far too proud and far too self-centred. They honestly think they can make it through life and into the eternities under their own steam. Worse, from the point-of-view of those for whom an image is important to them to be successful in the world system, who don't want to upset the established order or rock any boats, Yah'shua (Jesus) never sought the approval of the establishment, never accepted that the status quo was something inviolate. He didn't care about the pretentiousness, avarice and self-promotion of society; and because He didn't, He was a SCANDAL. Parsons notes:

      "In short, Yeshua's (Yah'shua's/Jesus') life was scandalous to human beings and their various conceits. Encounters with Him were always 'tests' that evoked one of two responses: offense or faith. For example, Yeshua (Yah'shua/Jesus) scandalised his family (Matt.12:48), his community (Matt.13:54-57; John 6:42), the gawking crowd (John 6:26-30), various religious seekers (Mark 10:17-22), the religious establishment (Matt.15:12), the political establishment (Luke 13:32), and even his own followers (John 6:61). His question is always, "Who do you say that I am?" People were either offended at him or accepted him, but Yeshua's (Yah'shua's/Jesus') made it impossible for them to be indifferent about who he was" [1].

    I freely admit that in my early days as a talmid (disciple), being liked and accepted was part and parcel of my witness. I didn't want anyone to be offended and I certainly didn't want to be hated. I tried to guard my reputation as best I could, justifying the guarding of my image by misusing scriptures such as this proverb:

      "Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame? Debate your case with your neighbour, and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it expose your shame, and your reputation be ruined" (Prov.25:8-10, NKJV).

    I chose to ignore, or convince myself, that what Yah'shua (Jesus) embraced as His modus operandi in life did not apply to me:

      "[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil.2:7-8, NKJV).

    I have to confess that I have resisted the call to make myself of no reputation as my Master did, the One I am supposed to imitate. Instead, I had to let Him strip my reputation away through the dark deeds of others. It was very painful, I did not enjoy it for one minute, and I know that I probably would never have done it of my own free will. But having been metaphorically stripped naked and had my name abused and scandalised, I have gained one priceless gift: now I don't care what anyone says about me any longer. I have been accused of everything under the sun and had my name dragged through the dirt but I have this comfort: My Master, who was the Eternal Elohim (God), did the same for my sake, and yours, and what He had to endure was infinitely greater than anything you or I must endure. That gives me shalom (peace) but more importantly for me, at any rate, is that it has swallowed up my FEAR of what others think or say about me. It gives me the freedom to preach and say whatever I want knowing that I no longer have a reputation to protect any longer. Now I can devote my energy to guarding Torah-Emet (Truth). And that is a huge relief.

    People demand to know why I refuse to conform to various Christian or Messianic traditions. Before, I longed to be accepted and kept some of my beliefs hidden in order to enjoy free fellowship. Today I do not care what they think because the Emet (Truth) is more precious to me than what other believers may think. I gain my comfort in the knowledge that the Saviour not only didn't care for the "tradition of the elders" in His day (e.g. Mt.15:2) but turned the tables on these traditionalists by demanding to know why they broke the Torah in order to adhere to their Talmudic tradition. They found their excuses, and ranted and railed at Him, as we know, so the Master turned to the common people and challenged them to resist the prevalent dogmas of their time. We have to do that too - we have no choice if we wish to remain free.

    From being one who used to love and admire the status quo and to lick boots to be accepted, now I do not care a fig for their pretended toqef (authority). I long ago stopped trying to win over religious leaders who have too much of their reputation tied in to a public image of themselves (and oftentimes a salary) and instead devote my time to the ordinary folks, challenging them to look long and hard at the traditions of men that have been told to them as inviable emet (truth). I think that's why I so love the account of the Syro-Phoenician woman and what happened between her and the Master:

      "Then Yah'shua (Jesus) went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, 'Have mercy on me, O Master, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.' But He answered her not a word. And His talmidim (disciples) came and urged Him, saying, 'Send her away, for she cries out after us.' But He answered and said, 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Master, help me!" But He answered and said, 'It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs.' And she said, 'Yes, Master, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.' Then Yah'shua (Jesus) answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your emunah (faith)! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour" (Matt.15:21-28, NKJV).

    At face value, Yah'shua (Jesus) was pretty rude to her! He called her a dog, saying that she was not fit to be fed as she wasn't an Israelite! Indeed, He sounded like your modern supremacist Scheersonite Ultra-Orthodox Jew. Most people's pride would have been so offended at such language that they would have walked off in rage at being so insulted. But when she agreed with His words not to be personally offended, Yah'shua (Jesus) praised her emunah (faith) and healed her daughter. She was willing to be scandalised for the sake of her daughter's well-being.

    You may wonder why Yah'shua (Jesus) did it this way. Actually, He was acting no different from the prophets before Him. He was deliberately rude to test her. Now I am not saying you should necessarily go out and do this, and certainly not if you have not been anointed in such a way to prove that you have the toqef (authority) to do so. How did Yah'shua (Jesus) demonstrate His toqef (authority)? He healed the woman's daughter. If someone comes up to you being obnoxious, claiming to be operating in the same spirits of the prophets, but bring forth no evidence or fruits that it is Yahweh and not the devil driving them, then you can rebuke them and walk away. I remember a time some years ago when I lost my wife and son going in desperation for some online counselling when two women claiming to be 'prophetesses' let rip and at me and accused me of all kinds of untruths. When I asked why they were being so nasty, especially when I was so vulnerable and hurting so badly, their excuse was that they were 'anointed prophets' and were simply imitating Elijah and others. I never forgot that. They totally misjudged me and brought no blessing of any kind. It did not take me long to realise that they were false prophets without any sort of toqef (authority) from Yahweh, that they were operating out of divine tavnith (pattern), and were operating under lying spirits expert at exploiting the weak, knocking them down without ever lifting them up. When I came across them again some time later, and understood the false charismatic 'health-and-wealth' doctrines they believed in, it became clear why they behaved as they did. Therefore be careful of such people who do not produce the fruits of the offices they pretend to, but don't actually, have.

    So why did this Syro-Poenician woman accept Yah'shua's (Jesus') undoubted rudeness? Because she knew who the Messiah was! She knew in whom she was putting her trust because she had doubtless heard of what He had already done. She was not, as some racist commentators claim, a heathen even if she was of Canaanite origin.

    Needless to say, this episode has nothing to do with any supposed superiority of genetic Israelites over Gentiles. Yah'shua (Jesus') words were so out of character with His lev (heart) that only the blind would assume He was sinning or having a momentary chauvanistic, racist relapse. The issue under the microscope here has nothing to do with racial superiority whatsoever. It is about OFFENSE VS. FAITH - of mikshol vs. emunah. And that's all the Besorah (Gospel) is ever about! If the emet (truth) ever offends us, however it is presented, we need to fall flat on our faces and repent! David McCraken has rightly observed, therefore:

      "The opposite of offense is faith, but the only way to faith is through offense". [2]

    Amen to that! Therefore Parsons notes:

      "Contrary to modern church growth theorists, Yeshua (Yah'shua/Jesus) often deliberately delivered his message in the most offensive way possible. For instance, when Yeshua (Yah'shua/Jesus) came to his home town of Nazareth and attended a synagogue service, he was called to recite the Haftorah portion from Isaiah 61:1-2. After the reading, he sat down and said, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:16-21). The people were shocked, scandalized, and offended by such audacity, and asked, "Is this not Joseph's son?" (cp. Matt.13:55-57). Yeshua (Yah'shua/Jesus) then warned them to look beyond their natural expectations (i.e. their offense) in order to see the truth. "No prophet is accepted in your hometown"".

    Most people who have sought to run away from the teachings of this ministry, and others like us, when they could not refute them from Scripture, have done the same thing, usually by finding some lashon hara or gossip which others equally seeking to justify themselves have cooked up. They have to find a scapegoat to have peace in their wrong choice, so they will grasp at anything offered to them.

    I feel sorry for them. Very often the reason they are fleeing is because they fear for their reputation. They fear to scandalise people, loose friends, forfeit positions of authority, and divinde their family. That is why such people seek but never find (Hos.5:6), even though it was right under their noses all along. That is why so few actually find the emet (truth) and stick with it because they are unwilling to be insulted, offended and scandalised. That is why the Syro-Phoenician woman made it - a Gentile - and not the know-it-all, power-mongering Pharisees. That is why in the days of Elijah only one woman - a Phoenician like the woman Yah'shua (Jesus) blessed - the woman of Zarephath - obtained relief from the famine of that time, and no Israelites (1 Ki.17:9-24); and that is why in a land filled with lepers in the days of Elisha, none were cleansed but Na'aman the Syrian, another Gentile, who though initially offended when told to dip himself seven times in the muddy stream called Jordan, nevertheless finally swallowed his pride, obeyed, and was cleansed! (2 Ki.5:1-16). Was Phoenician woman insulted? She might have been but she chose not to, and instead exercised emunah (faith). Though she was starving to death, along with her child, she provided the prophet with the meal he demanded with the last that she had. And you all know what happened after that.

    So what is Yahweh telling us here? That He cares a fig about our race or religious denomination? Yah'shua (Jesus) repeatedly offended ethnic and national pride, so much so on one occasion at Capernaum that they tried to murder him. But you will recall He simply walked right through them, unharmed (Lk.4:28-31).

    I could mention many other 'scandals' in Yah'shua's (Jesus') ministry but let us cut to the quick and not beat around the bush. Unless you are willing to get over being offended, insulted, or hurt for the sake of the Emet (Truth) you will not only not make it but end up as an enemy of the Emet (Truth) as well. And you know what the final destination of those is who decide to do that.

    Do you want a rôle model? Then today I will give you two - two Phoenician women, one from the days of Elijah and one from Yah'shua's (Jesus'). Accepting that rôle model means to be scandalised, offended and hurt, knowing that your emunah (faith) will deliver you. Forget about your image to the world, forget about being liked or accepted by it. That is the way of death. Become a kosher scandal instead! Amen.


    [1] John J. Parsons, Faith and Offense: The Scandal of Yeshua's Identity in 'Hebrew for Christians'
    [2] David McCraken, The Scandal of the Gospel, p.19

    Comments from Readers

    "I think another good example of a kosher scandal was Mary, when she submitted herself to Elohim to become pregnant with Yah'shua... She was treated as a scandal, and where people would have whisperer behind her back or accused her of having committed adultery and having slept with another man rather then Joseph, her betrothed, in order to be pregnant...Yet she was willing to endure the scandal and lies and false accusation, because of her faith and submission to Yahweh Elohim whom she was trusting" (DP, South Africa, 26 November 2011)

    "Thanks for the daily devotionals! I am happy to report that your writings give me no offence! They are a blessing every day" (TV, Norway, 28 November 2011)

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