Month 10:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:266 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 1 January 2012
Neither Poverty Nor Riches
Finding the Correct Balance in Life
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el! Welcome to this the eighth day of the tenth month and the first sabbath of the tenth month. I am glad that you are followers of Yahweh-Elohim today, and not of Pope Gregory XIII, self-proclaimed 'Vicar of Christ', who decreed, in a papal bull dated 24 February 1582, known as Inter gravissmus, that today would be the beginning of the ecclesiastical and civil year.
"Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches -- feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, 'Who is Yahweh?' or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my Elohim (God)" (Prov.30:8-9, NKJV).
Only a handfull of countries obeyed this human and anti-scriptural diktat at first, namely, Spain, Portugal, Poland-Lithuania, and most of Italy. France obeyed a couple of months later, others obeying the 'Holy Father' gradually over the centuries, the Protestant nations at first resisting and then succumbing. Norway and Denmark waited until 1700 though they did not follow the Easter mode of reckoning for another 76 years. The Swedes had their own peculiar variation that meant it was 8-10 days out of sync with Rome until King Karl III decided to submit to Rome's way. Britain and her colonies did not submit until 1752 but continued using the old Julian calendar for the tax year...until 1900. The Russians only finally accepted the Gregorian Calendar in 1918 a year after the communists took power. In Europe, the Greeks were the last, yielding in 1923. In Asia, Japan surrendered in 1873 and China in 1912.
Now all nations follow this Roman Catholic invention and in so doing they recognise the toqef (authority) of that Church to change Yahweh's moedim or appointments. So, no, today is not 'New Year's Day' and I am not going to wish you a 'Happy New Year'. Rather, I prayer sabbath blessings upon you if you have submitted to Yahweh's calendar. And I bless the rest that they may find the Ruach Emet or Spirit of Truth and align themselves to it.
Those who follow Gregory's calendar and who think that 'Saturday' is the true sabbath have not understood that the calendar they follow today replaced one which had eight days a week with Saturday as the first day of the week. Not only that, but Pope Gregory dropped 10 days to bring his calendar into synchronisation with the seasons. Thus the last day of the Julian calendar was Thursday 4 October 1582 which was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar which was Friday, 15 October 1582. You see, using a solar calendar there is no way you can know when the 7th day is, let alone the New Year. It's pure guesswork. But enough of calendar talk...
Today's reading of Scripture with its words of wisdom were penned by a man called Agur about whom we know almost nothing. He was the son of Jakeh and his name literally means 'the gatherer'. It's the only proverb penned by him.
I have chosen this passage to set the theme of my address to you today not only because the words themselves are wise but because they describe an attitude that is absolutely necessary for the survival of Yahweh's people in these last days. To borrow the words of David McCasland:
You will discover that the only safety that we can own in life is by pursuing what I call the 'Tavnith (Pattern) Balance'. We have inherited a fallen nature that is equally likely to run rampant and destroy us if we become greedy for too much or if we become so careless that we do not have enough. Agur sensed this danger when he prayed that he might only receive what Yahweh had ordained for him, because then he could be sure that he would avoid the trap of either corruption from having too much or the temptation to steal if he ever had too little. When the collapse happens, as it will, in a very short time, those who have not heeded the Davar (Word) will, alas, be sorely tempted to steal in order to survive, and in so doing profane the Name of Yahweh whom they profess to serve. Remember, there are only 'Catch 22' situations in our lives when we are disobedient.
"Prosperity and adversity are equal-opportunity destroyers. The extremes of life can be hazardous because a person with too much may encounter as much difficulty as one with too little" .
We must apply this sound principle revealed to Agur to life as a whole. We live in a war zone in the world. There are enemies both visible and invisible but perpetual war can wear a soul down, desensitise it, and at length corrupt it. We were not created for war but for shalom (peace) and it is shalom that we naturally yearn for. Since Yahweh everywhere commands us to seek for, and live in, shalom, how can we realistically both do this and, as Scripture also admonishes, "fight the good fight" (1 Tim.6:12) that is forced on us by the circumstances created by wicked men? If you can answer that question, you have solved the mystery of this mortal probation. You have become a balanced person. Or as a politician onced described this condition, you must maintain "a balance between battle-readiness and passion, and the discipline required by peace" .
I doubt most people would consider peace to be a "discipline" but it truly is, at least as much as waging intelligent war. When it comes to these two states, the natural disposition of most people is to take one extreme or the other. They either become radical 'Christian Trotskyites' - engaging in the spiritual equivalent of 'perpetual revolution' - or as 'Christian pacifists' they pursue 'peace, peace, and nothing but peace'. One or two liberal churches spring to mind in fitting that bill.
The believer engaged in perpetual warfare - whether it is with himself, with the world, or with the Enemy, knows no peace - he lives by his adrenalin or psychic highs, knows no rest, and eventually burns out. His 'gospel' is fighting wars in perpetuity. He not only burns himself out but causes spontaneous combustion to occur in those around him into which you may be unwillingly drawn or possibly even become the unwitting target. You cannot find shalom (peace) around such a person. You are constantly on edge, waiting for the next offensive against real or imagined enemeies. And that's part of the problem - if you are so tuned into warfare, you start fighting wars that aren't there and get fatally attracted to the ones that are. You become a replica of the very war zone that you are fighting in.
I was deeply involved in deliverance ministry that claimed my time, night and day, seven days a week, and which nearly burned me out. Then Yahweh told me to down tools and take a much needed rest. I actually couldn't have gone on any longer without getting seriously ill. You cannot wage perpetual war and not pay dearly for failing to. So I have been resting a few years.
The believer pursuing the pacifist vision of life is the diametric opposite. Peace is his 'god' to the point that he at length denies there is any war going on at all, or denies that there is a need to fight if he acknowledges that there is one. He is in denial about reality and instead has his head in heaven without having his feet on earth. He becomes spiritually flaccid, limp, amorphous and unpinnable. He becomes a 'Christian Hippy', lacking the discipline that war demands. And if the truth be told, one who pursues only peace lacks sound discipline of character.
The believer at war and the believer striving for peace come to despise one another. No wonder. They represent two extremes. And because they are separately unnatural in themselves, they rapidly degenerate into a demonic tavnith (pattern). When the proper balance is not sought, emet (truth) disintegrates into two mutually antagonistic lies and the classical Hecate-Lilith good cop/bad cop struggle starts manifesting in the protagonists.
There is nothing wrong with fighting the good fight, and there is nothing wrong in pursuing shalom. Yah'shua (Jesus) our Messiah is both the Sar Shalom or Prince of Peace and Yahweh-Sebaoth, the Elohim (God) of Hosts or Armies. But once you try to separate these two - the alef (alpha) and taw (omega) of His character, you create a perversion or distortion of who He really is. We, too, are built in that image - we too are called to be instruments both of peace and of war - we have the same duality of character as He has. We are to pursue war against unrighteousness and to pursue shalom with all who will embrace it. It is never a question of either/or, but of both/and. Deny that balance and you are soon wandering anchorless as a fireball of anger or a blob of wishywashiness in an occultic-type cosmos.
There is, moreover, not only a balance between war and peace, but also a balance of proportions in the two genders that are supposed to compliment one another. Man was made to be the warrior and woman to be the peacemaker. That is the essential difference between maleness and femaleness. However we are not all one or all the other - there are proportions of both in the genders. Man was created to be six parts war and one part peace, while woman was made to be six parts peace and one part war. Together they form a harmony. But this true gender distinction can only come about in the arena of life if we allow ourselves to be directed, conditioned and shaped by the Davar (Word) of Elohim (God) - in other words, if we voluntarily yield to divine tavnith (pattern). Adverse circumstances, being raised in a home where this sacred balance was absent and where gender rôles were distorted, will of course have a major impact on us as we grow up and affect us negatively in adulthood. There are things we must unlearn and learn. If we don't, we will never find that complimentarity and never know lasting happiness. Men will become flabby, lazy and barren good-for-nothings and women will become aggressive amazons, and never the twain shall meet.
The other day I received a request from an investigator asking me if I would devote some devotionals to personality disorders. I was given a list of various psychiatric categorisations and asked to address the problem of filling in the missing gaps in the peoples identified with these conditions or disorders. I am in part responding to that request today.
The world has produced a population of highly dysfunctional people. We are dysfunctional without Messiah but when the world pursues social politics that deny gender rôles and are hostile to the family, you compound this dysfunctionality many times over. Parenting, for example, used to be something that almost everyone knew how to do but today millennia-old folk knowledge is having to be relearned...using atheistic, psychiatric tools, of course, which do not work. Wholeness only comes about by following Yahweh's Tavnith (Pattern) but even then it's not something we can do on our own. It requires supernatural intervention and empowerment. And to obtain that, man must do something his flesh violently resists - he must surrender all self-sovereignty to Yahweh-Elohim. And that includes surrendering the passion for wealth. Benjamin Harlan in his choral anthem wrote this:
Though Proverbs 30 mostly addresses outward circumstances, we must remember that the key to the balance I have been speaking of is the regeneration and transformation of our lev (heart) which Yah'shua (Jesus) alone can do. When our focus is on desiring this, we discard the scales that meaure quantity and rather focus on the quality which is the Character of the Name - Yahweh. But the only way to receive this 'quality' is to first of all receive the stamp or mark of ownership - we have to first of all be owned. The Owner, by virtue of being the One who possesses, and therefore takes care of, the one being owned, imbues His Character in the one who is thus owned. Owership is the key to the balance expressed in Proverbs 30. That applies as much to the ownership of a man by His Elohim (God) as it does to the ownership of a wife by her husband, because the principle is exactly the same. Only when the ownership is acknowleded in both word and practice, can the desired complimentary echad union take place. Before that, there are always two independent states - and independent states, that do not have an alliance formed by covenant for the mutual benefit in their respect spheres of need, are doomed to be at war.
"Write Your blessèd Name,
O Lord, upon my heart;
There to remain so indelibly engraved
That no prosperity, nor adversity
Shall remove me from Your love."
The late Dr. Carlyle Marney (1916-78), a prominent pastor and ethicist in his time, often said that most of us need to have our "wanter" fixed. Instead of always asking for more, we should seek the balance recommended by Agur, and find our contentment in that. Does not contentment, then, become the realisation that Yahweh has already given us all we need? Of course, if you go around with a set of scales comparing what you have and what you think you should have with what others have, you will never find shalom or attain that desired balance. You will be at war with the world for having been dealt, as you suppose, a bad hand.
In a way, it is ironic, measuring quantitatively, for even were you to get all that your flesh ever desired, you'd not be able to take it with you in death anyway. All you can take to the world beyond is what Yahweh has filled you with; and you can only obtain that by surrendering your own set of weights and measures and simply letting Him provide what He knows you need - and no more.
I'll not pretend this is easy. We are programmed by governments and society from cradle to grave to think the opposite way. We have been taught to demand our entitlements and 'rights'. Such a mind-set is a prescription for the ascendency of the flesh and death of the spirit - a good reason not to fill and program your mind with worldly media. That's all changing in society now as liberal individual 'rights' are now becoming totalitarian government 'rights' because that mythical entity callled the state now claims to own the people it's supposed to serve. That's the penultimate stage before you end up with 'Satan's rights', at which point you belong to the devil, completing the downward process into darkness:
If you have never done so before, and in place of 'New Year's Resolutions' which Yahweh does not sustain (if they are done in the flesh) and which few are able to keep, I invite you to enter into a covenant with El Elyon, the Most High, to renounce ownership claims by Satan, the state, and the carnal self, and surrender your whole being to Him through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). If something is holding you back, ask Yahweh to shine the light of emet (truth) on it so that you can make the necessary life-adjustments that will free you from any legal rights the enemy may have over you.
Have a peaceful Sabbath, rest in Yah'shua (Jesus), and receive regeneration for the war of the world!
 David McCasland, Prosperity and Adversity in Our Daily Bread (RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI: 2006), Jun-Aug 2006, July 26.
 Nigel Farage, Flying Free (Biteback Publishing, London: 2011), p.102.