Month 7:08, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5937:186 AM|
TESHUVAH Day #37
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 12 October 2013
Shabbat Shuvah 2013
To be Threshed or Not to Be Threshed
"They do not know the throughts of Yahweh, and they do not understsand His purpose; for He has gathered them (the lame and outcasts and those whom He has afflicted of Zion - vv.6-7) like sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion, for your horn I will make iron and your hoofs I will make bronze, that you may pulverise many peoples, that you may devote to Yahweh their unjust gain and their wealth to the Master of all the earth" (Micah 4:12-13, NASB).
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and to this last sabbath or Shabbat Shuvah before the sixth annual festival of Yom Kippur which begins at sunset tomorrow evening when we begin our 24 hour fast.
Misapplication of Scripture
Today's Scripture under study is one that is sadly much abused and has lead those ungodly people who apply it to themselves into an arrogant and murderous spirit. It's one of those passages that curdles the blood of those who think the Tanakh (Old Testament) is dark and primitive by comparison to the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) which in turn leads them either to a liberal, evolutionary view of religion or to atheism. It's particularly used by Zionists in their oppression of Palestinians and by globalist Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical Jews who both relish world dominion and who think this passage gives them the licence to destroy all 'unbelievers', especially 'blasphemous' Christians.
'Pulverise' Your Enemies
Now it is true that in these two verses Yahweh says that His people will "pulverise many peoples" - please note the word "many" - it does not say 'all' or 'anyone except believers'. Rather, the pulverisation will be aimed at those who have obtained "unjust gain" - the robber barons, those who have stolen the wealth of the people - the banksters and their allies. All who have done this will be pulverised or "beaten into pieces" (NKJV). This will be a time of judgment, a day of reckoning, and Yahweh's executor will be His own people, the instruments of His power and righteousness - His end-time judges or elohim who will judge according to New Covenant Torah.
Who are the Judges to Be?
You should not think for one minute believe that this will be done in any anarchistic sort of way. And it will not be done by those who have spiritual issues...by those whose hearts are impure. Yahweh specifically tells us who these judges and executors will be:
Men of the People, Men of the Earth
- 1. "I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted" (Mic.4:6, NKJV);
- 2. He will being these as "sheaves to the threshing floor".
In other words, He will bring ordinary believers who have sinned and genuinely repented and thrash them within an inch of their lives by taking them through the fires of afflication so that they can empathise with humanity at ground level. These will not be ivory tower rulers or those born with silver spoons in their mouths. These will be people who have been brought low through genuinely making teshuvah (repenting). These are people whose pride, stubbornness, inclination to rebel, fleshiness, carnality and tendency to be arrogant will have been beaten out of them. They will threshed like grain, the chaff of sin being beaten out of them through willing and (and sometimes unwilling) submission. These will not be people with malice in their hearts. They will not be those who live off the misfortunes of others or live decadently. They will be men of the earth - of the people - as David, the friend of Elohim (God), was, and as Joshua and Moses were before him.
The elohim Selected
It is no easy matter to remain true when you are being threshed. Under such circumstances only those of authentic godly character endure their stripes. The rest break forth in rage and rebellion against El Elyon, the Most High, as accusers, imitating unknowingly the nature of their true master, Heylel, the Devil. That is what the whole Season of Teshuvah (Repentance) is all about and it's why we are led painfully to the judgment of Yom Kippur so that we ourselves and the malakim (angels) can see what we are made of and to know whether we are indeed worthy to judge and carry out the punishment of the wicked as heavenly proxies without falling into sin. It is by means of this purging - this cleansing - that Yahweh selects and determines who shall be His elohim or Judges in Israel.
I realise that there are those principally of the false 'health and wealth' mindset who find it hard to reconcile pain with sanctification because they are of the instant, superficial, 'fast food' variety of modern 'Christian'. And yet none who is honest can fail to observe that everyone in this world passes through one tribulation or another at some time. We are never promised that this brief spell in mortality will be easy - to believe otherwise is simply to embrace a delusion.
Seeking Purpose in a Hell-Hole
I recently completed the autobiography of the BBC's war correspondent Martin Bell  who lived through the brutal horrors of genocide in the Bosnian civil war between Eastern Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims. I hope none of you here today ever have to live through such ghastly experiences but if you do (and maybe already are if you're in some place like Syria or Libya) I hope that you will find comfort and assurance in the knowledge that in such apparent madness that there is always some sort of purpose being worked out, even in the worst hell-hole. In Syria, thousands of Muslims are being converted to Christ. But you still struggle and you will struggle hard to find that sense, that purpose. As Bell himself noted:
"The moral mathematics is complex and variable and adds up differently the closer one gets to suffering" .
Though Bell is, as far as I know, an agnostic or atheist, his observation is valid in the sense that you cannot fully understand the emet (truth) or find meaning in life without becoming involved in suffering, both others' as well as one's own. If you are really going to serve Yahweh and minister to people you can expect to meet both. We all of us 'moralise' - we all make moral pronouncements, that is to say, interpret or explain in a moral sense, and we do so differently the older and wiser we get. There is nothing constant in human moralisation because we are not moral beings by [carnal] nature but only by conversion through making teshuvah (repentance). We may choose to accept, embrace and try to implement the morality and ethics of Yahweh's Torah in our own lives but we do not really come to understand them until we have got our hands metaphorically dirty by witnessing and experiencing 'the good, the bad and the ugly' in what is going on around us. This life's experience is deeply challenging to us, to say the least, but the only way we can have any shalom (peace) about it is by learning to surrender to Yahweh by trusting in Him and in His providence.
How Shall We View Our Circumstances?
We always have two choices when making a moral judgment - to see as Yahweh sees or see as Satan sees. Always. And that goes for our personal experiences too. "Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools" (Prov.19:29, NKJV), Solomon observed, and yet at the same time he would say "blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart" (Prov.20:30, NKJV). In other words, the same events can be experienced differently based on our choice to trust the Creator, to level an accusation against Him or pretend He does not exist.
Yes, the moral mathematics is complex and variable but only as long as we are in the process of getting a right mind and heart. We all struggle to find the right formula because instinctively we want justice and fairness, and these are not necessarily guaranteed in this life. Just write out a list of all the situations where you were treated unfairly and never got justice. By the time you're old you'll have a book full of them. We have to entrust ourselves to a bigger picture and destiny whose map we are denied access to in order to deepen our emunah (faith) in Yahweh and so develop in character. We do get glimpses of it at the end of most trials if we have remained true for Yahweh wishes always to reward the faithful with the confidence to reach out and support those who are struggling but who have not yet understood.
The Failure of Fiction to Measure Up to Reality
I have long had an aversion for fiction even though I can see some limited value in it. I have enjoyed science fiction all my life and occasionally fiction that is based on the author's genuine experiences in life with real people, but my aversion to it has grown. When you are searching for emet (truth), and if you are doing it passionately, then all you want is reality. Fantasy does not save or deliver because it usually isn't real. That's one reason I like biographies, and especially autobiographies, where people are sharing real life experiences. So I found myself on the same frequency as Martin Bell on a number of occasions and especially when he wrote:
Victims of Lashon Hara
"I could never even think of becoming a fiction writer: with the world as it is and people as they are, so weird and extraordinary, no invented stories could hold a candle to the real ones."
How very, very true! Over the years I, like so many of you, have been the victim of lashon hara or gossipping, and often by people who know next to nothing about me but including some who once did but who chose later to believe in so many lies because of personal choices they made that they came to completely distort who I really am and forgetting who I really was. I am sure you know how frustrating and hurtful it is to have a character portrait made of you that is mostly based on fiction. Worse, these people then share it with others who believe them. I guess that is why Yahweh hates lashon hara so deeply. As Bell noted, people are "weird and extraordinary" - and we are, all of us! So never oversimplify and never distort what you know of people. We need to be very careful in trying to convey what we know about others because distortion and lying can, and does, hurt deeply. Give people the benefit of the doubt and always seek to know their authentic desires because warts you will find in abundance...always. "Ahavah (love) covers all sins" (Prov.10:12, NKJV).
Threshings Have a Good Purpose
Now Yahweh may have many good reasons for threshing us and not just to tame us or break us as wild horses being rendered useful to Him, to ourselves and to others. The reasons why we go through sometimes painful 'breaking in' may not, moreover, usually be possible to understand until long after the testings are over. How we bear up under the threshing means a great deal in determining who we become for we have a choice to either climb to greatness or to shrink into ignominity. Bear your chastisements - your beatings and thrashings - as a true man (or woman), and confess that in spite of the apparent insanity and injustice of it all, that the ultimate purpose is good...because it is, if you are yielded to righteousness. And if per chance you make the error of accusing or blaming Yahweh for your 'ill fortune', repent speedily once you have realised your folly so that you are not recruited unawares by the enemy of your soul who will be sure to lie to you with flattering words. Learn, rather, to bear your burdens cheerfully because "by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken" (Prov.15:13, NKJV). And though meaningless having such emunah (faith) in your sufferings may at first appear to be, you will reap a sure reward in the here-and-now in terms of growing in character. You will mature.
The Nature of Our Journey
Have you noticed the nature of the journey to each of Yahweh's moedim (appointments) consists of approaching, arriving, partaking, and then looking forward to the next one? Chayim (life) is a continuous stream of journeying to familiar landmarks weekly, monthly, yearly, seven-yearly and 50-yearly. It is Yahweh's natural rhythm for us. Yet we never come to the end of our journey! It doesn't end at death and it doesn't even end when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns. And it doesn't end at the end of the Millennium either. We were designed to live life not in constancy but in change, the only constancy being the security and familiarity of Yahweh's Torah and Ahavah (Love). The rope between the two is what we cling onto for safety and orientation even in the midst of great change. Without it, life, when considered soberly, can become a terror.
Life is Movement and We Keep on Transiting
Chayim (life) is movement and death is complete motionlessness. Our physical bodies will die - unless we're the last generation who witness the return of the Master - but the good news is that these bodies of ours will be reconstructed with an unsurpassable and unimprovable upgrade at the appointed time. So even physical death isn't really 'death' in any permanent or absolute sense of the word - it a transition.
Looking Forward to the Resurrection
We've been having an unseasonally warm spell this autumn which has revived some pleasant summery feelings, helped by discovering flowers still flourishing here and there in spite of all the dying and dead leaves generally. In some ways it has felt as though time has been reversed, and enjoyably so. It was unseasonally 15°C for a while, until yesterday when we got a frost suddenly. I can only hope that when we are resurrected we will have a similar feeling but on an altogether grander scale. It will be good to feel physically young again knowing that there won't be any more decay (caused by the entropy in the current material system) and there will be an end to pain and suffering. We are promised these things.
Benefitting From Our Difficulties
In the meantime, though, we must not become discouraged or lose hope when adversity strikes. Provided we are walking with the Master in emet (truth) and righteousness, we can only benefit from the difficulties we face. Know also that they do not last even if at times they appear never to relent. For the last three days my wife has been going through the agony of trying to expell a kidney stone and keeps fervently praying that the 'end' has come. I remember the agony myself some years ago, this being one of the most painful experiences you can have mostly because it can go on for so long and you don't know when the pain will cease. But remember, no matter what your challenges or difficulties may be, that Sukkot always follows Yom Kippur, and very soon afterwards too! There is refreshment and simcha (joy) along the way of our trials and tribulations.
A Day of Judgment for the West
The West is being threshed and it will yet be threshed more. It's woes have barely begun, terrible though we think times are now. If you think there are troubles now, know that you will look back and view these days as days of plenty. We have allowed our leaders the licence to do unparalleled evil for too long and even now they are revealing more and more of their demonic colours. As the whip falls on the backs of the people and their taskmasters become visible for the first time, now more than at any other time previously people have the opportunity to make teshuvah (repent) and get right with Elohim (God). Most thinking people know that collapse is imminent and many of these have taken steps to prepare for it. Those who haven't will, sadly, experience a thrashing that they will neither enjoy nor, in many cases, learn from, even though they will have the opportunity to do so if they will be choose not to embrace defiance and bitterness or stupidity but rather surrender and humility.
Tomorrow evening and for the next 24 hours after that we face our own Judgment. This is the one annual festival that we do not 'celebrate' - we do not assemble to worship and feast but to fast and 'afflict' ourselves as the Messianic Nation of Israel, as Israelite tribes, and as individuals. We assemble to repent collectively as a nation. There's not a lot we can do on behalf of the Body of Messiah as a whole - people like us are raising their voices to call all believers to repentance but only a handful will have heeded - but we can, and do, represent the remnant of the Israelite Confederation in diaspora. There is nothing fancy or sophisticated about Yom Kippur - we're here simply to confess where we have not held up our end of the New Covenant and to ask forgiveness whilst simultaneously committing to surrendering to our Master more. We must therefore with patience endure our threshing until we are declared ready and worthy for the new tasks that lie ahead. We are soon to re-embark on our world mission again after a long 'leave of absence' and may Yahweh show us grace and make us worthy. Amen.
 Martin Bell, In Harm's Way: Reflections of a War-Zone Thug (Penguin Books, London: 1996)
 Martin Bell, ibid., p.268