Month 5:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:133 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 2 August 2012
Three Important Truths
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el!
"How blessed are those who know their need of Elohim (God) (are poor in ruach/spirit); the Kingdom of Heaven if theirs" (Mt.5:3, NEB).
We are never more in tune with Elohim (God) when we desperately sense our need for Him - not just now and then but always. In today's passage we are reminded that owning the Kingdom of Heaven only comes about when we recognise this need, acknowledge it, and live by the only means of meeting it - by living a fully surrendered life to Yahweh.
It is an easy thing to profess the theological truths behind these ideas. There are many theologians out there - accomplished and well below par - who do not actually know their need. They find their sufficiency in theology, in public recognition, in being loved by others, and whenever things are apparently going 'well' for them. When you are young and healthy it is not always easy to sense this need. Atheists in particular thrive when things are going well for them but when life starts dealing them a difficult hand of cards they are amongst the first to start unravelling. Hard though it is to appreciate necessarily, we are actually in need of Yahweh all the time. The only reason we fail to recognise our need is because we are unaware for the most part of how He is sustaining us in so many different things every day. We're simply unconscious of His activity. But we would for sure know if he started withdrawing His protective care. I have known many who, having known Him, have turned around and denied Him and His Torah. I have watched as the Ruach (Spirit) has departed from them and as their lives have begun to fall apart; but rather than accept responsibility for rejecting their Provider they blame the people around them. Blame-shifting is, as you know, one of the favourite ways of opting out of accountability and personal responsibility. It is a key character-trait of the flesh.
I had originally intended to make yesterday's devotional my last one and end my writing until further notice. It is clear that the bad times we have been anticipating and talking about for so long now are practically upon us. With the big collapse a matter of weeks away, the time for talking will in any case soon be over. It has always been my prayer that people would sense their need for Yahweh before being forced to by adverse circumstances, and to have to suffer needlessly. To be prepared is always preferable to being caught off guard. Having experienced the latter too many times in my life already I don't want to have to learn the hard way if I can at all avoid it.
The Tanakh (Old Testament) story of the floating ax is, I am sure, well known to you. It's one of those stories that appears in children's accounts of the Bible. In fact, we talked about it not so long ago. But this story also has important spiritual keys pertaining to today's message, so let me begin by quoting the appropriate verse:
Unless you're one of those people of such hart-heartedness that your conscience has become dulled and unresponsive to emet (truth), borrowing something and then damaging, losing or destroying it can be a horrible feeling, especially if you know how valuable the item is. And of course good quality iron ax heads were particularly valuable in those days. I suppose an equivalent today might be to borrow someone's brand new expensive laptop computer and then drop and so destroy it. Even dropping your own is bad enough, isn't it? But someone else's....?
"But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, 'Alas, master! For it was borrowed'" (2 Ki.6:5, NKJV).
The prophet's main concern was that the ax belonged to someone else and he could not return it, presumably causing him to break his word. This caused him immense distress as is proper of one whose lev (heart) is right with Yahweh.
This incident teaches us three very important things:
1. The Principle of Dependence. Only Yahweh is sufficient and to believe we can be totally self-sufficient is not only absurd but highly irresponsible. We depend on Him for both existing and becoming what we are supposed to be. And, as we have already seen, our emptiness attracts His fullness because you can never be filled with anything if you are already filled with something else. We may pray for more of His presence, more of His direction, more of His anointing, but how can He do this if we are already filled with self? If you ask for a cup of grapejuice from someone, how can they fill your glass if it is already full of water? First you have to empty it of the water! Only when you have emptied yourself of self-will, self-desire, self-dependency, self-sufficiency and indeed anything connected with 'self' can Yahweh finally pour Himself into you and give you what you always wanted but which you could never get because you were so full of the dead weight of self. The only way we can be emptied of self is by first recognising this emet (truth) and then by responding by devoting ourselves entirely to Him.
2. The Principle of Stewardship. The prophet who dropped the ax head recognised, by his distress, that he was accountable. If he hadn't cared less, he wouldn't have fretted over the loss. He would simply have shrugged his shoulders and wondered whom else he could borrow another ax from. Here we must understand an important emet (truth): if all our gifts are from Yahweh - our time, talent, strength and ability - we are under a strict obligation to use them wisely as faithful stewards. We owe all to out Creator, every last physical molecule of our bodies and every last particle of our spiritual being - we should not only recognise this but also respond by devoting ourselves to Him.
3. The Principle of Accountability. The prophet who dropped the ax head knew he was accountable - he knew he was responsible and couldn't just 'forget it'. Yahweh's gifts imply responsibility, and for this we must all eventually "stand before the judgment seat of Messiah" (Rom.14:10, NKJV) to give an account. The righteous Judge will praise or punish to our eternal gain or loss.
What is about the befall the world - and what has indeed already started - concerns me greatly. I am concerned about unbelievers, lapsed believers and lazy believers. I am concerned about myself! Why? Because I know only too well my tendency to fail. That young enthusiastic prophet keenly felt his loss when that ax head plopped into the water and sunk to the bottom of the river beyond any possibility of recovery. He was so distressed that he cried out in grief to Elisha, "Alas, Master!" Noticed to whom he called - his prophetic head, desparately hoping for a miracle, like the woman who clung onto, and tugged, Yah'shua's tzitzit. What a prophetic picture this is! As the young prophet cried out to his Master Elisha, and as the Wife in need cries out to her Master Husband, so the true Bride of Messiah cries out to the Master Messiah, even as it is written:
The Master in the form of Elisha was at hand, and, upon the confession of the dependency of the loser, introduced a new element into the hopeless situation. The young prophet knew Elisha was a Man of Elohim (God) and that by calling upon Elisha he was in reality calling upon the Master who was already IN Elishah, El Elyon, the Most High! By recognising his toqef (authority) and the true scriptural tavnith, the desired result was practically instantaneous!
"Whoever calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as Yahweh has said, among the remnant whom Yahweh calls" (Joel 2:32, NKJV; cp. Ac.2:21; Rom.10:13).
I want you to especially note that while Elisha did (through Yahweh) the impossible (made iron float) that the youing prophet had his part - he had to reach out and pick the ax head up! And it is the same with every part of salvation no matter whether it comes directly from Yahweh or through a proxy. The submitted must go to the one being submitted to for his or her blessing or deliverance. Though pride may not like this, it remains true. Look back on times of past deliverances and you will see that it is so. So many fail to receive their deliverabce because they will not take the last step - and go and get their blessing!
"So the man of God (God) (Elisha) said, 'Where did it fall?' And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, 'Pick it up for yourself.'" So he reached out his hand and took it" (2 Kings 6:5-7, NKJV).
The good news is that as Elisha cast a stick into the turgid stream, so Messiah casts salvation or deliverance to us in His Cross. But remember the sinner has his part to play to get it:
If you refuse, do you expect to find the rest that He brings to pass supernaturally? He will make the iron float in your life but you must be willing to wade out into the river (and if necessary get wet and dirty) to finally recover it. If it is your salvation and deliverance you want recovering, isn't it worth it?
"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt.11:28, KJV).
Yahweh wishes to do miracles for us but we have to do our part. Get prepared because mighty big changes are on the way!
Comments from Readers
"Amein! Very good reading, Shabbat Shalom Mishpoka!" (DDR, USA, 2 August 2012)