Month 12:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:333 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 16 February 2016
The Hope of Today
Change and Meeting Tomorrow
"Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Rom.8:24-25, NIV).
Shabbat shalom mishpachah and welcome to the first sabbath of the twelfth month of the Sh'mittah (Sabbatical Year) and the 333rd day of the year. I hope you will not miss the significance of that number as it pertains to this work.
What Does the Future Hold?
Brethren and sisters in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), I struggled hard yesterday to know what Yahweh's message was for our people today. I know most of you are worried or concerned about the future and are wondering how everything is going to play out. With Venezuela in economic chaos and powerful Western institutions like Deutsche Bank teetering on the verge of collapse, there isn't one of us who hasn't wondered what things will look like a few weeks or months ahead.
Signposts Pointing Into a Fog
People have always wanted to know about the future and will continue to want to know about it. And when Elohim (God) is apparently unresponsive to their anxious questions about the future for themselves and their families, they not uncommonly turn to the nevi'im (prophets) in the hope that they will have a davar (word) for them. But let us first of all be realistic. As Tom Wright puts it:
The Prophets and the Future
Nevi'im (prophets) have no more access to a knowledge of the future than the next man unless Yahweh unilaterally breaks into his time and space and gives him a peek into the future for His own purposes. Not content with such unpredictable revelations which may have no bearing on their particular problems and concerns, people will often try to go into the unknown by indulging in that which Yahweh has forbidden, thereby not only breaking mitzvot (commandments) but getting a demonic kickback that creates confusion where there was previously at least that shalom (peace) that comes with trusting Elohim (God) with the future. I speak of going to soothsayers, astrologers, diviners and the like for dark counsel.
The One Who Comes Out of the Fog to Meet Us
Find a faithful believer who has lived a long life and ask him how many times, and to what extent, Yahweh revealed the content of the future to him and you will find - I dare say, with few exceptions - that it is very little. Yahweh very rarely reveals what is on the other side of the fog of not knowing. Rather, what Yahweh does in response to the cry for assurance concerning the future, is to send someone out of that fog to meet us. I speak of Yah'shua (Jesus). There is no guarantee that Yahweh will give you revelation about the future and it would be unwise to invest too much hope in that. But what He does promise to do is meet you ahead of the fog so that you may be fully equipped with emunah (faith) and shalom (peace) as you enter it.
The Quest for Assurance
In the ordinary course of events there is still much we would like to know about the future but in times such as the present when most, I suspect, are ill-prepared in one form or another, we want to have some sort of assurance that we will be taken good care of in times of approaching calamity.
The Mixed Basket
The Messiah who comes out of the fog to meet us when we call upon Him in emunah (faith), brings several things with Him. Some of these you will want instantly, others you will be unsure about and yet others you will want to flee from. And I can pretty much guess which ones you will want and which you will not.
Rescue, Salvation, and Deliverance
The first we all want - rescue or deliverance. We all want that! And it is not for nothing that Yah'shua (Jesus) is called the 'Deliverer' and 'Saviour'. When we declare that He is our Saviour, be it from sin or from challenging or dangerous circumstances, our tiqveh (hope) and trust is that He will do precisely that. And if we're honest, it is mostly the latter we seek salvation or deliverance from. When salvation is spoken of in the Tanakh (Old Testament) it is principally of the latter kind. The Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) mostly speak of the former. And most of us, if we're honest, are usually seking salvation from the latter category and head for the Psalms and to the monarch who speaks much of rescue from enemies and disasters.
The Fog of Your Own Making
Now you may have your priorities a little different to Mr. or Mrs. Average Believer in which case I ask you to excuse me in advance. Perhaps deliverance from sin is your #1 priority, in which case I congratulate you, because that is the most important thing. Why? Well, apart from the eternal consequences of not dealing with unrepented sin (you could die any day), what you don't want to do is enter into the fog of tomorrow already in a fog of your own making because sin has blinded you. Then you have a double handicap and you will not enter the fog of tomorrow with shalom (peace) in your soul. So please do start by dealing with sin and the salvation of your soul!
Transformation and New Possibilities
Repentance from sin leads to transformation, chief of which for one concerned about the future is the sudden ability to 'see' the One (Yah'shua/Jesus) coming out of the fog of the future to meet you and conduct you further along the way. Once these things start to happen - once you start experiencing the veil lifted from your eyes of disbelief or rebellion and that inner transformation starts taking place, as you enter the fog of the unknown, surrounded and filled by His radiance, you will become aware of new possibilities. What seemed an impenetratable thick fog will get thinner and thinner. Shafts of sunlight will penetrate and the road will become clear enough for you to see ahead a little - perhaps not as much as you would like but enough that you do not stumble. Most importantly of all, you will be aware that He is at your side, guiding you along the way.
The Big Question
It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? And the reason it sounds comparitively 'easy' is not just the fact that the 'nitty gritty' is a lot harder than acknowledging the theory in your head, but the first thing, I believe, that Yah'shua (Jesus) asks you when you call upon Him for help and deliverance is this: Are you willing to change? Are you willing to change your habits, your attitudes, your priorities? This doesn't sound so bad at the end of the list but if it's the first response to your prayer petition your flesh will almost certainly not like it because you don't know what He is going to ask you to change in your life!
Kicking the Ball Down the Road
Change is integral to a life of discipleship in Messiah. You may instinctively 'know' that things in your life have to change at some point in your life but you are more than willing to kick that ball down the road so that you don't have to pick it up now. That isn't emunah (faith) and it certainly isn't obedience. If your answer to immediate change is negative, then you are going to enter that fog about as unprepared as you were when you first asked for help.
Ministers are Like Everyone Else
The Christian life, my friends, is never about 'more of the same', however comfortable and soothing to the flesh that 'sameness' may be. Ministers like myself enter the fog of tomorrow no less informed about it than anyone else. I have a hundred-and-one questions I want answering, and ask for as many assurances about loved ones I am concerned about. I have seen so many go off the way, so many get lost, so many suffer needlessly because they did not want to change. That unwillingness just isn't worth it. When one day seems like the next we are not inclined much to make changes because we suppose that tomorrow will be much like today. But Yahweh has been jogging my memory a bit lately, reminding me not only of the experiences of the past and the lessons that need to be recalled and remembered, but also reminding of revelations He has given me about the immediate future and how I have needlessly suffered when I have not responded with a willingness to change, even though in the past he has given me revelations of hard times that He warned me would be coming and which did come.
A Dictator in Turkey and Fears of World War 3
A couple of nights ago Yahweh took me to the Book of Ezekiel and momentarily away from the Book of Daniel in which I have been immersed for several weeks now. Specifically, He took me to Ezekiel 39 and to that famous prophecy about Gog and Magog, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, to remind me, that though we are not going to see the actual fulfilment of that prophecy any time yet (it is for the next generation), we are going to see it enacted in a particular form in this penultimate generation. Turkey has been in the news a lot because of the sabre-rattling of its megalomaniac president whose Ottoman ambitions have gone to his head. He fancies himself as the ruler of the Moslem world (along with several others I could mention). You may also know that he has declared war on the Kurdish minority in his own country who represent nearly 20 per cent of the population. If Turkey comes into direct conflict with Russia, the fear is that it will bring the rest of NATO with it and a Third World War. I don't know exactly how this will play out because Yahweh has kept this from me - all I can say is that for the last couple of days I have been able to think of little else. I have been reviewing my historical, ethnic and religious knowledge of that country.
The Unrepented Crimes of the Turkish Nation
The sense that I have is that Turkey is coming dangerously close to a terrible judgment and that it may experience a further partition in addition to the one it experienced at the end of the First World War when many new nations like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) were carved out of its former imperial territory. It was guilty of the massacre and genocide of 1½ million Christian Armenians for which it has never apologised and the blood of those victims is yet crying up out of the ground against it. My heart is very, very heavy for this nation for if it does not repent, great calamity will come upon in. It may lose its entire East to Armenia and a new Kurdistan, its Aleppo territory back to Syria, Eastern Thrace and the Dardanelles with the Straits (with Istanbul and Üsküdar) and Smyrna (İzmir) to Greece and/or to an Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Alliance, headed by Russia, and its eviction from Northern Cyprus. I forsee that nation being carved up and it losing as much as 50 per cent of its territory if it does not repent! I do not, as I said, know how this will happen - I only know that Turkey and its people is in mortal danger if its leader pursues his present course. I have seen no vision of this but my heart is full of of dread.
Nations in Travail Globally
Turkey is but one nation soon to be in travail, to join its neighbours being churned up by the Desolator. China is soon to actively join Russia in military action against ISIS. The time of great judgment is imminent everywhere. Be prepared! And do not suppose that similar things, and worse, will not strike the Western nations. The traps are set and ready to be sprung.
Trust in Yahweh
Believer, are you ready to change? And not just a little, but all your life? Are you willing to stop pursuing your own expectations and goals and subject yourself to Yahweh's will for your life? Are you willing to change your habits of your own free will before circumstances overturn the table of your life? It is time to meet Messiah if you have not met Him, it is time to do what you have procrastinated doing, it is time to turn your back on the bands of the flesh.
Make Your Profession Equal to Your Works
"Blessed is the man who trusts in Yahweh and whose trust us in Yahweh" (Jer.17:7, NASB).
If the profession of our lips is Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and our claim to be children of the light and of the day, then it is time, is it not, to lay aside idle ways and kit up for battle?
"Since we are (profess to be) of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of emunah (faith) and ahavah (love), and as a helmet the tiqveh (hope) of salvation" (Eph.6:17, NASB).
As you turn to meet the fog face-on, willing to change and repent, so you will meet the Saviour head-on and He will transform and rescue you and show you new possibilities that you never before dreamed of. Be prepared to lay aisde your own will and plans and see what a better way He has prepared for you! Amen.
 Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope (SPCK, London: 2007), p.xii