Month 4:29, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:117 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 22 July 2017
Visions For the Future
Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach Shavu'ot kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah - welcome to the Feast of Weeks (Ex.34:22; Dt.16:9-10), better (though inaccurarately) known as 'Pentecost', the first and only annual Summer Moed (Appointment) (it's not a spring festival) and the spiritual 'hinge' upon which the three spring and three autumn (fall) festivals turn.
Bar Mitzvah and the New Covenant
At this time of the year those of us who have been confirmed, chrismated or have taken Bar- or Bat-Mitzvah Covenants to be Sons or Daughters of Torah renew our covenants to guard, and be faithful to, the mitzvot (commandments) that Yahweh originally gave on Mount Sinai and which Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) brought to completion in the Meridian of Time. We shall be doing that again, as we do every year, toward the end of this assembly. But this was also, most critically and importantly, the moed (appointment) that Yahweh used to anoint the first messianic talmidim (disciples) with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in a way that had never been done before, foreseen by the navi (prophet) Jeremiah centuries earlier as the supernatural writing of the mitzvot (commandments) on the minds and hearts of all true believers, thereby inaugurating a new covenant replacing the one established between Israel and Yahweh through Moses:
The First Messianic Shavu'ot
"'The day will come', says Yahweh, 'when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,' says Yahweh.
"'But this new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,' says Yahweh. 'I will put My torot (laws) in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their Elohim (God), and they will be My people'" (Jer.31:31-33, NLT).
This 'new way', this covenant by totally different means to the previous one, was supernaturally inaugurated when Yahweh unilaterally sent tongues of fire at the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') and turned the door of history on its hinges. They didn't realise it at the time but those Judahites, upon receiving this incredible anointing, changed the destiny of the nation of Israel forever:
Advance Warning But Few Details
"When the day of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and began to speak in other languages, as the Ruach (Spirit) gave them ability" (Ac.2:1-4, NRSV).
Though prophesied by Jeremiah, these believers had no idea exactly when it was going to happen, or how it was going to happen. No person had a clue how Yahweh was going to do this. They were not warned in advance save in the very vaguest of terms:
A Series of Miracles
"Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what He promised. Remember, I (Yah'shua/Jesus) have told you about this before. John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" (Ac.1:4-5, NLT).
So Yah'shua (Jesus) had mentioned this at least two times and told them where to be geographically - within the walls of the city of Jerusalem. You too, in this day, have been told several times by the latter-day nevi'im (prophets) to be in the places set-apart for you and your families by Yahweh so that you will receive both protection and an anointing - what we have termed the Sukkot (Tabernacles) anointing. At least you know when - in what season this will happen...at Sukkot (Tabernacles). The first talmidim (disciples) did not know that their spiritual rendez-vous with Him would be at Shavu'ot (Weeks). All we know is that the Master first announced this during one of the meetings He had with them during the 40 days after His crucifixion "as He was eating a meal with them" (Ac.1:4a, NLT). So the news of the coming Shavu'ot (Weeks) anointing came in the aftermath of the miracle of the resurrection and many appearances to the apostles. Then, after the 40 days were up, He ascended and the talmidim (disciples) waited with great anticipation of the promised spiritual baptism.
An Apparent Disaster
I would remind you that before this great spiritual hinge turned the door of their spiritual destiny at Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') and before the simcha (joy) of the resurrection news and the first appearances had come, the believers were living in hiding, in great fear of the authorities who were hell-bend on stamping out this new spiritual movement. They were totally demoralised and convinced that what had happened at Calvary was an unmitigated disaster. All seemed to them to be lost, all hope crushed, with a very bleak future ahead of them. They thought everything had returned to the way it had been before Yah'shua (Jesus) had appeared in their lives and turned their world upside-down.
Glory and Humiliation
We know that a think wet blanket of doubt rested heavily upon those first talmidim (disciples). In spite of the undeniable and incredible miracles they had witnessed, including the casting out of demons, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the most sublime teachings ever spoken by a man of Elohim (God), everything seemed to have gone wrong. They must have wondered what everything had been about, the purpose of such a rising star being unceremoniously and humiliatingly extinguished.
Trials For the Elect
There is a reason that Yahweh permitted the talmidim (disciples) to go through such an experience of apparent defeat and hopelessness. Every single one of us goes through this, even those who have had the most amazing encounters with the Master, so amazing that the thought they might one day doubt everything would, during that blissful time, seem absurd. And yet, even when we have had so many incredible witnesses, we all go through the dark night of doubt, sometimes many times in our lives. And during these times we are tested, our emunah (faith) is seemingly unbearably stretched to near breaking point, to see if we are worthy enough for the next great revelation and blessing in our life.
Struggles With Illness
You all know my own personal struggles with chronic illness for many years which in the last few days has come to a head, to the point where to me it has seemed utterly impossible to go on. I did not believe I would be preparing, let alone delivering, this sermon to to today. It's been a few weeks since I preached to you last. You too will have your Golgothas's, nothing like Yah'shua's (Jesus'), of course, but great trial and tribulation nonetheless. I could name other tribulations on top of my health issues.
A Short Earth Life vs. Eternity
Testing, though it may seem terrible at the time, is not a bad thing. It is part of the general experience of mortality and no one escapes it. I believe we agreed to it before we were born so we have no grounds for complaint. It's also helpful to remember that this life is but a few inches in length compared to the thousands of miles of eternity that lay before us, something Francis Chan once very graphically illustrated in a sermon when he unravelled a very long piece of rope on the stage where the pulpit was located, though he did not add any piece representing preexistence (since evangelicals do not, for the most part, accept this doctrine for men, even if they do for Messiah).
The First Messianic Shavu'ot
Now as we know from the New Testament histories, even after the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') the qadoshim (saints, set-apart ones) experienced great opposition and distress. You may expect tribulation throughout life. However, with the baptism of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) the first believers were equipped as never before, and they went and took the world by storm with their testimony.
Dealing With Tribulation
What do you anticipate, look forward to, and hope for in the days ahead? Every one of you has experienced difficulties. That's normal. Some of you have been through great tribulations. That means, if you hold on, that great blessings await you in ways you could not have imagined. A few nights ago I was crying out in desperation to Yahweh. I could not lie or sit down because of the pain caused by muscle inflammation, and I could not stand up because of the exhaustion. I really wondered whether I would physically give out. But then I forced myself to lie down, in spite of the excruciating pain, and made a choice - that I would not give up. I lay down on my most painful muscles and declared that I was coming against whatever was the cause of this malady in the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) and calling for it to cease.
No Thanks, Mrs.Job
What followed was not healing but a definite subsidence in the pain, enough to enable me to fall asleep for a while and gain much needed rest. I know not the reason for my own misery other than I believe Yahweh has a purpose and I will see it through without making a Mrs.Job speech. I discussed this recently in an interview which some of you may have read.
The Problems Everyone Has
Some of you both here in this assembly and abroad are going through, or have just been through, terrible things. Some are lonely and frustrated as it feels they are in the wilderness. Some are, like myself, struggling with terrible illnesses, with some having had multiple operations. Some have been betrayed by spouses and lost their children, something I have been through too more than once. Some of you are wondering about your circumstances, whether you made wrong decisions in leaving the cities and/or in prepping. Some of you are gripped in economic crisis. Some have been separated from spouses due to the chaos caused by civil war and mass migration. So many of you are beseiged with doubts. And it's all a part of the weave of life in this mortal sphere.
Vision of the Red Flag in Flames
The following morning after my night of desperation when I was ready to give up all hope, Yahweh showed me two visions. The first was of a red, communist flag, that was on fire around its edges. The flag had an outline of the Moslem moon and crescent symbol alongside the communist hammer and sickle at the top, depicting the unholy alliance between these two devilish systems which is causing havoc the world over. Parts of the world are indeed in flames and more are following suit. That's the bad news, which is old news.
Vision of the Fountain-Lined Road
But a second vision opened to to me and I saw a strait tarmacked road heading toward the horizon through an arid landscape. On either side of this road were regularly spaced fountains of water, about 50 yards apart, shooting jets of water high up into the air out of the ground that covered the road itself and on either side. Could a better way through a zone of fire be prepared? Yahweh will see the faithful and obedient through the present and coming tribulation, so don't be afraid. Trust in the living mayim chayim or waters of life.
The Road With the Torches
This may remind some of you of another recent, similar vision of a road making a 90 degree turn lined on either side by equally spaced burning torches of fire that lit it up, presumably to aid navigation in the dark. This second vision is depicting, not a journey through darkness, but a journey through a waterless place. It seems both these events are about to happen more or less simultaneously.
Light as Biblical Symbol
Light and water are similar yet different biblcial symbols. Light is always associated with Elohim (God). He lives in light (Ex.24:10; 1 Tim.6:16) as well as being Light (1 Jn.1:5). Incarnated as man, He becomes "the light of the world" (cp. Jn.1:1-18; 8:12). To walk in the light brings salvation (Jn.8:12; 12:36; 1 Jn.1:7; 2 Cor.4:6) while a life lived in darkness is a life lived without Yahweh (Jn.3:19; 12:46). So in following the light which lights up either side of the Derech or Way, we will not get lost but stay on course.
Water as a Biblical Symbol - Song of the Well
Water, on the other hand, is a symbol used in all sorts of different though related ways in the Bible. Because water was always scarce in the Promised Land, its absence was regarded as a judgment, so finding it was always of great importance. There's even a poem about it in the Book of Numbers known as the Song of the Well:
Digging for Truth, An Abundance of Water
"Yahweh said to Moses, 'Gather the people together and I will give them water.'
"Then Israel sang this song:
(Num 21:16-18, NIV).
'Spring up, O well!
Sing about it,
about the well that the princes dug,
that the nobles of the people sank -
the nobles with scepters and staffs'"
The digging is done by the nobles, those in authority who hold "sceptres and staffs". Though these princes or nobles do not provide the water itself, they do direct the place to dig for it. Thus these men may be seen as allegories of the nevi'im (prophets) and teachers of Israel, directing the people to wells where an abundance of Messiah may be found. Indeed, you may recall that one of the signposts of the Messianic age to which the Israelites looked forward was an abundance of water:
Water For Those Passing Through Tribulation
"In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill" (Isa.30:25, NIV).
Thus an abundance of spiritual water is promised not only generally in the New Covenant age but also especially in times of tribulation - Yahweh will take care of His people. And specifically, Yahweh singles out the leading tribe of the New Covenant who is to be blessed with the abundance needed to carry out his mission:
Compensation for the Tribulation Saints
"They will come with weeping;
they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water
on a level path where they will not stumble,
because I am Israel's father,
and Ephraim is my firstborn son"
There, then, is the path, the one I was shown in the vision, only a slightly different metaphor was used. Instead of it being beside a stream, fountains of water burst out of the parched ground along the entire way, possibly from an underground river or lake, invisible to us but known by Yahweh! This abundance of water, promised in the Messianic age and to Yahweh's people in times of tribulation, is shown not as mere springs, which in the desert were regarded anciently as places of the special abode of the Divine Ruach (Spirit), but as fountain after fountain after fountain! Why so much more dramatic? Because of the terrible nature of the tribulations to come. Yahweh will compensate in His own remarkable way. The giver of this water is the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the water that makes life possible to man, beast and plant.
Living is Running Water
In the Hebrew idiom, 'living water' always referred to running water, as opposed to the still and stagnant water that one draws up from a well or cistern. We've been having hot weather here these last few days and the plants have been greedily drinking up the water we spray on them. I don't know about you, but there is something I find immensely refreshing about even just looking at water falling on vegetation on a hot day. There's something special about moving water and here Yah'shua (Jesus) uses this to point to that life force which is eternal which is given to all who truly believe as we see from this account of the Samaritan woman by the well.
A Picture of Refreshment for Yah's People
"Yah'shua (Jesus) answered [the Samartan woman], 'If you knew the gift of Elohim (God) and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you mayim chayim (living water).'
"'Sir,' the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this mayim chayim (living water)? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?'
"Yah'shua (Jesus) answered, 'Everyone who drinks this [physical] water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal chayim (life)'" (John 4:10-14, NIV).
Taken together, these two visions paint a picture both of the terrible destruction, both physical and spiritual, that is being released into the world at this time of the invasion of the Temple Courtyard. But for those who will change direction when called upon to do so, carefully following the light of emet (truth) that the nobles of Messianic Israel have brought forth from the wells fo salvation, then no matter what the Enemy may throw as Yahweh's people, they will always be refreshed by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Chayim (life) will flow in their lives.
I know most of you are following the news daily, anxious to know when the Collapse will occur when our whole way of life will be thrown into disarray. It's coming, as must now be glaringly obvious to all but the blinded or uninformed, and it draws closer every day. So now some searching questions, questions we must ask ourselves in the light of our calling, because this isn't just about us individually or as families but as messianic communities or congregations too. People are entering into - or are about to enter into - the chaos and distresses that are on their way with all sorts of confused ideas as to what their part is in the Messianic Community (Church). So bear with me as I remind you.
The Assembly or Church
A 'church' is simply an 'assembly' (localised in time as on the sabbath or during a festival both of which are true today). It is also a koinonia or 'fellowship' within the matrix of the wider national life with all the usual government activities. We, outside the Promised Land, have become accustomed to a separation of 'church' from 'state' in our secular societies and well know the abuses of both. The idea, though, that these two are to be eternally separated in the divine scheme of things, leaving us to focus exclusively on the concrete time when we assemble or in some abstract spiritual sense even when we are not assembled, is negated by the Bible teaching that when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns, so does full theocracy or 'God-Rulership', where the functions of 'church' or 'messianic community' become merged with the functions of what the secular state did before as it does now.
Leaving the Present System
But the present system cannot prepare us for what is to come, nor will it recognise or embrace us much longer. It will, by the by, spit us out murderously, which is why you have been urged again and again to self-sufficiency. Practice for this restored theocratic kingdom comes in real community where the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) are rubbing shoulders outside of the home in the work place or in various social contexts which would otherwise be in the domain of the secular state. In this state domain we are more or less forced to keep religion separate from our work activity.
Leaving the Solo Mindset
This was, however, only ever to be a temporary expediency, an 'exile' of sorts caused by earlier failure to live the theocratic way. There are those, unfortunately (for a variety of reasons) who hope there never will be a return to theocracy, principally those possessed more of the solo mindset (with all its self-interest) who view the former Israelite theocracy as an illustration of what is impossible to live and only 'permitted' by Yahweh to show us what we couldn't do.
Tribulation for Sense
Because fallen man has this tendency to be more 'private' and to 'go it alone', Yahweh has often created negative circumstances to force believers together and into mutual dependency and so into arrangements requiring some level of theocracy. It's about to happen again. Why don't humans like it? Because, for one, they hate the accountability that theocracy brings; and for two, selfishness tends to mitigate against cooperative effort. Most are concerned only about 'number 1' or their immediate family.
If you've never seen the movie, The Mission (1986), with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in the lead rôles, I highly recommend you see it, because it is a beautiful illustration of the kind of community that is one of the major essential elements of the end-time work we are engaged in. Ahavah (love) was its moving force, organisation and discipline the tracks on which it ran.
A United Order Community
The story is of 18th century Spanish Jesuits trying to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal. Jeremy Irons, playing the part of Father Gabriel, sets up what we would call a 'United Order of All Things in Common' agricultural community, the practice of the original Jerusalem Assembly. I'm sure you're familiar with the passage describing what it was like:
The Jerusalem Assembly
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together (in community) and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising Elohim (God) and enjoying the favour of all the people. And Yahweh added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42-47, NIV).
Much has been said about this passage over the years and various interpretations given. At first glance you might be tempted to think that the talmidim (disciples) of this congregation, which was the home congregation of the apostles (and therefore the headquarters of the Messianic Community), did no work, surrendered all their money and spent their time eating and praying together. Certainly more must have been happening here than meets the eye. What Luke has recorded is simply to give us some idea of the kind of echad or unity these people had. This was no hippie camp - a lot was going on. People still had trades, they earned a living. It was a time of doctrinal unity where ("the apostles' teaching") and intense spiritual activity held sway. And there were miracles in abundance.
Miracles of the First Messianic Shavu'ot
So here we are today, at Chag Shavu'ot or the Feast of Weeks, the day on which Torah is the Betrothal Covenant of Israel to Yahweh, the required lifestyle of true believers. Then, many centuries later, on the first Messianic Shavu'ot, Yahweh sent the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in power, in Jerusalem (as promised), and those gathered for the moed (appointment) all supernaturally - for the first and last time - spoke in foreign languages which were recognised as their own by the cosmopolitan crown of visitors come from all over the Roman world to observe the Feast. This was what has come to be called 'Pentecost' and it was supposed to be a prophetic picture of the reversal of the drastic confusion of tongues imposed on Yahweh in Mesopotamian Babel for gross apostacy.
A One-Off Event: The First and Last 'Pentecostals'
This was a one-off event, never repeated. Never did cloven tongues of fire appear again nor did everyone speak foreign languages supernaturally in an assembly. Therefore, biblcially-speaking, the only 'Pentecostals' that have ever existed were in that first group of Jerusalem Christians/Messianics, on that particular day, who supernaturally spoke known, recognisable languages. They ceased to be 'Pentecostals' after that event and there haven't been any 'Pentecostals' since. Indeed, you will not find a single Christian calling him- or herself by that name who has ever reproduced what happened on that day, not even once in their lives.
Babel Reversed for Evangelism
Thereafter - and this is very important for our 'Pentecostal' and 'charismatic' friends to understand - the gift to speak in 'tongues' was only given to a few people for the purpose of evangelism amongst unbelievers so that the Besorah (Gospel) might be communicated without the impediment of language barriers. Babel is reversed for the sake of missionary work. It was never any man's or woman's 'private language' between themselves and Yahweh. I would refer anyone who is still confused about this subject to a sermon I gave on 31 October 2014 because this lie has to be broken once and for all in our midst. There must be no doubt as to the true doctrine.
More Apostacy in the Wider Body
Only yesterday we had to sorrowfully report that a minister whom we have had much respect for - a tongue-speaker of the babbling kind - has succumbed to the New Age charismatic heresy that Yah'shua (Jesus) was not born Divine but became so later. He has also joined the ecumenical insanity and embraced the Catholic Church as 'Christian'. The day before we finally understood what was going on in the 'New Reformation' movement that originated in Denmark, which is also based on the speaking of gibberish, which we now know to be occultic hypnosis. Worse, for America at least, President Trump is getting advice and 'spiritual impartations' from a leading charismatic heretic. We must pray against this dark spirit in the White House.
Let Go of False Tongues
So I repeat, the First Messianic 'Pentecost' which we find recorded in Acts has nothing to do with modern 'Pentecostalism' or 'charismatic' Christianity with its false 'tongue'-speaking, so-called. You cannot bring that baggage with you and be a part of this work. It has to be laid down at the foot of the cross. It must be renounced and abandoned forever because it has nothing to do with the 'Baptism of Fire' or 'Spirit-Filling' and is not the evidence of any kind of salvation. The true practice is only a gift given to a few believers to convert unbelievers, not drive them away with Babel-talk. Those who hang on to the counterfeit will, by the by, find themselves in increasingly dangerous waters as the tribulations unfold.
A Gift for Polyglot Evangelism
Now none of this is to say that the Ruach (Spirit) that was imparted on that First Messianic Shavu'ot did not remain after the Feast was concluded. Of course not. It is what empowered the whole Messianic Community but it is to say that the original gift of tongues - that was given to all assembled that day - did not continue into the day after that Shavu'ot, except amongst those who had been given the gift for evangelism purposes, to be used when needed and directed by Yahweh and not as a part of habitual worship. The gift of speaking supernaturally in a foreign language is like the gift of prophecy or teaching - it is given only to some.
Tongues as Idolatry
False tongue-speaking is idolatry - it gives glory to Satan, the prince of lawlessness. It is a psychic phenomenon, not spiritual, and such stimulation as it gives the practitioner is fleshy and contrary to the Kingdom. So do not compromise with it because it will eventually chew you up and spit you out.
We are Far From Shavu'ot-Endowed
This said, I hope you do not conclude - just because we have one particular important doctrine right - that that makes us holier than anyone else. If there is one thing that Yahweh impressed strongly on me last night it is that we ourselves at NCAY, along with the rest of the Body of Messiah, are far, far away from where Yahweh wants us to be still. We sometimes talk glibly of the anticipated or unfolding Sukkot Anointing when we have not even approached the intensity or fire or purity of the First Messianic Shavu'ot Anointing given in Jerusalem 2,000. Where is the spiritual fire - and I don't mean the psychic 'fire' or emotionalism of the counterfeits? It isn't here yet and it isn't here because sin and idolatry still hasn't been burned fully out of us. We are still the desperately vain children of our fallen cultures to one degree or another, citizens of nations about to be thrashed for gross wickedness, unwilling to break out and risk all for the freshness of Yahweh's Kingdom. May the days ahead burn anything out of us that we will not freely yield.
Dying to Self
This, then, is a continuing plea that we all die to ourselves in deed and not just in word - easier said than done to be sure, but something that has to be done if we aren't just going to play at being Messianic Evangelicals. Let us therefore, if we have been baptised and confirmed, renew our Shavu'ot Covenant and beg Yahweh's grace and unmerited favour for the perilous days ahead, which covenant is the promise to do everything Yahweh commands us to do. If you are in the category of one renewing his or her covenant, or entering this covenant for the first time, please repeat after me:
If I can manage it, I hope to have something more to say in two days' time at Rosh Chodesh. In the meantime, may Yahweh bless us all in the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) our Messiah! Amen.