Month 1:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5936:026 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 17 April 2012
Got What You Asked For?
Why We Need to be Very Careful in Prayer
We should always be very careful what we ask for. Yahweh does, of course, want us to petition Him and He loves to answer prayers and bless us. However, He also wants us to ask for what is right. More often than not, what we ask for which is wrong we do not receive, because the driving force is the flesh and not the ruach (spirit):
"So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them" (Ps.106:15, NIV).
These lawless or Torahless requests Yahweh is bound to reject because He can neither break His own laws nor can He require His people to break them nor sanction them when they ask for lawless things. If we ask Him to kill someone or bless a planned adulterous liason, He obviously will not be hearing us. What, then, of the apparently contradictory sayings of Paul which appear to say the opposite, like this passage:
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3, KJV).
This and one or two other passages are seized upon by antinomians (those who reject Torah) to mean that the Law (Torah) has been abolished and we can basically do whatever we want, constrained only by own feelings and conscience, provided we are not brought under the power (presumably) of what is not right. This is a very risky business because the consciences of most people are defiled (Tit.1:5; Heb.12:15) and not 100% reliable. Conscience only properly works if it is immersed in absolute emet (truth). In a word, existentialism is not a reliable barometer of Yahweh's will.
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (1 Cor.6:12, KJV).
No wonder so many prayers go amiss when antinomians cannot even understand basic scriptural concepts. So what did Paul mean in this passage? Obviously we have to first know what he means by "things".
Firstly we must examine the context. In the preceeding verses the apostle makes is very clear that lawlessness is inadmissable:
Does it sound to you as though Paul is doing an about face and then saying that these things are suddenly lawful? Of course not! He says that if you indulge these things you will be excluded from the Kingdom of Elohiom (God)! So what is Paul talking about when he says that "all things"? but not everything is beneficial? If he is not contradicting what he said in the verses before, what is he referring to? He is simply saying that the "things" are not what Yahweh has already forbidden.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Elohim (God)? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of Elohim (God)" (1 Cor.6:9-10, KJV).
The Torah does not cover every single area of life. There are many grey areas whose proper interpretation believers have disputed over the centuries. That's one reason the Pharisees created a vast codex of interpretations (some even contradictory) called the Talmud, hoping to clarify these grey areas. The result was to put the people in bondage - it was oppressive and, as all human constructions tend to go, went far beyond mere 'interpretation' and ended up creating burdensome rules which Yahweh never intended. We already have messianic groups claiming to be the 'kingdom' inventing their own 'halacha' or laws and in effect making new mini-Talmuds. The churches have been doing this for two millennia with their credes and denominational rules, confessions, etc.. These are often millstones around our necks.
What Paul is saying is that where Yahweh has not already clearly pronounced as lawful or unlawful, we are to use the liberty given to us to seek personal revelation for ourselves and our own families. We must also ask ourselves the question as to why Yahweh has been silent about some issues but goes into great detail about others.
The reason is that there are some things which are more important than others - some are trivial (like how to tie a tzitzit...you can tie them however you want) and others require greater thought and prayer (like why homosexual acts between men are condemned in Torah but apparently not lesbian acts between women ). In making judgments for our personal lives, our families and our local assemblies (until such a time as there is a fullness emet (truth)-mediated unity), we are accorded considerable liberty and must consider what is actually beneficial (and not harmful) to us and others before exercising that liberty. I repeat, this liberty does not extend to the plainly revealed Torah otherwise Paul would not continually dip into it to make plain what is and is not acceptable in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant).
In summary, what is stated morally and ethically in the Tanakh (Old Testament) remains in force in the New. It has to - it's Yahweh's own eternal lev (heart). To this must be added the new mitzvot (commandments) added by Messiah Himself (Jn.13:34), given to Him from the Father, of course, but not the commandments of men. John would write:
What bearing does all of this have on today's opening passage? Quite simply, things may either be lawful but not beneficial, or not covered in Torah and therefore a matter of liberty, in which case considerable responsibility devolves upon ourselves to find out what exactly Yahweh's will is for us. The verses immediately before today's passage read:
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His mitzvot (commandments). He who says, 'I know Him', and does not keep His mitzvot (commandments) (both those of His Father Yahweh and His own new ones), is a liar, and the emet (truth) is not in him. But whoever keeps His Davar (Word), truly the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new mitzvah (commandment) to you, but an old mitzvah (commandment) which you have had from the beginning. The old mitzvah (commandment) is the Davar (Word) which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new mitzvah (commandment) I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true ohr (light) is already shining" (1 John 2:3-8, NKJV).
That is why waiting on Yahweh's counsel is vitally important before we start asking Him for things we may not actually need, even if they are not unlawful. What does Yahweh actually want you to have or do in your immediate circumstances? How much of your own will, prejudices and even biblical ignorance figure in your petitions to Him? If we ask for the wrong things, He may actually give them us...along with something else we don't want in order to eventually bring us to our senses. To the Israelites He have a wasting disease...
"But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for his counsel. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put Elohim (God) to the test" (Ps.106:13-14, NIV).
If your prayers are not being answered then it may likely be because you have asked for the wrong thing even if it is not contrary to Torah. Or the timing may be wrong, or something else - a heart-attitude, for example, or a lack of emunah (faith). or He may expect you to take a step, trusting Him, as Ruth did when she positioned herself at Boaz's feet while he was sleeping, demonstrating both humility, surrender and trust. If she hadn't, likely nothing would have happened! If there is still no movement in the heavenlies, then what you have to do is ask Yahweh to shine the light of emet (truth) on your ignorance and direct you to a solution that honours Him and which ultimately is for your happiness.
Prayer is as complex as communication between living beings is. Emunah (faith) remains its key ingredient. It requires risk-taking on our part and Yahweh certainly prefers that we ask amiss provided we are willing to be corrected by His gracious ahavah (love). It takes time to get to know someone - getting to know Elohim (God) takes a lot! So dare to take the first steps and watch Him work!
 There are actually sound reasons. Paul adds some clarifying words in Romans 1:24-27 but even these are usually misunderstood because of the Augustinian mindset that blinds much of Christendom to many beautiful truths about marriage in Yahweh's Kingdom. Two things you can be absolutely sure of are that:
If anything, Yahweh is making His rules stricter on the men: if you can answer the question why men engaging in sodomy were executed under the Old Covenant but not women who did similar things with each other (indeed they weren't punished at all) then you will come to a much deeper understanding of divine tavnith. For those who wish to pursue this further, I recommend they study the words of Paul in Rom.1:24-27 and carefully examine the verb "exchange" that he uses. But without a proper understanding of Holy Echad Marriage they will not understand why lesbian acts are not condemned in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and why Paul (correctly) proscribes it.
(1) Yahweh did not have a case of forgetfulness or Alzheimers' when He gave the Torah to Moses, and
(2) This is not evidence of misogeny (woman-hating), or that man wrote the Scriptures as liberals claim with their evident biases - it does not support a evolutionary or Darwinian view of religion.