Sermons Series 3:127, 17 November 2007
Putting Yahweh on the Shelf
I wonder if you have ever met a Christian or Messianic who has told you that they don't believe in religion but only in Jesus Christ or Yah'shua the Messiah? I have met deists - those who believe in the existence of a Deity or God - usually nameless - who say they are not religious either. Ask anyone if they are 'religious' or not and they will have all sorts of things to say. One thing that has been made painfully clear to me over 30 years being a believer is that people often talk a load of junk and love to hide behind words. Claiming one is not 'religious' whilst believing in Elohim or God is just a way of running from Yahweh and His Truth. To those Evangelicals and other Christians who say they are not religious the apostle James has this to say:
You know me, I don't like it when people mess around with words and play games, and I grow increasingly impatient with people and their excuses for having one foot in the world and one in the Gospel. You can't have both. You have to choose one or the other. James is quite explicit, isn't he? He doesn't tell us what religion is but rather what "clean" or "pure and undefiled religion" is. And he says it is two things: (1) Visiting orphans and widows in their distress - people who have no one to take care of them, and (2) "keeping oneself unspotted from the world" (NKJV).
Clean and Undefiled
A clean and undefiled religious person is separate or set-apart (holy) from the world system. In other words, he has a moral code and specifically Yahweh's moral code. And before the anti-religious go scurrying around for definitions of the word 'religious' in order to stay hidden, I can tell you that your dictionary will tell you that it has to do with believing in, worshipping or being obedient to a supernatural power considered to be divine with the consequence that one adheres to and lives out a moral code associated with that divinity. So when a person says that they are not religious they are either saying that they don't worship a supernatural power or follow no moral or ethical code, or both.
What is Your Moral Code?
Inasmuch as everyone living follows a moral code of some sort (even if it's an amoral one of 'do whatever you want'), even atheists, it follows that everyone is religious in some way. So if a Christian tells you that they don't believe in religion they're either telling you that they don't worship Elohim or they don't follow a moral code - or both What they're trying to persuade you to believe about them is that they follow the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit and don't abide by any set of rules because, they claim, they are led by the Ruach in all truth.
Yet what do you do if someone asks such an anti-religionist if it is all right to commit adultery or not? The Evangelical will say, no, God does not allow you to commit adultery. And if that person then asks 'why?' what does that Evangelical do next? He points you usually to Yah'shua who says you must not commit adultery (e.g. Mt.19:18) who is in turn quoting Torah (Dt.5:18). You cannot be moral without a written or oral code. The trouble with oral codes is that they chop and change depending how convenient the 'rules' are to you. And the moment you express a belief in a code of behaviour, even if you just speak it, you might as well write it down. If what you say then agrees with a religious doctrine or dogma then you are obliged to say: "Yes, I agree with the Bible and Koran (for example) which both say adultery is wrong".
No Such Thing as 'Shelved Religion'
When someone says they have 'shelved religion' they are liars. It's impossible. You can't shelve religion. You can stop believing in Elohim, you can stop worshipping Elohim, and you can adjust your moral code but you don't stop being religious. All they're doing is hiding from the truth. I have no respect for such people. They're not being honest. Give me a militant communist who has a set of beliefs which he openly proclaims and adheres to any day to someone pretending they don't have any in order to run away from Yahweh and the truth.
What Did Jonah Repent of?
Last Sabbath we spent an hour with the children in the School of Tafim discussing the life of the prophet Jonah and in particular his behaviour after he had delivered his message to the people of Nineveh. As you know he was extremely resentful. Most people reading the Book of Jonah assume that three days and nights in the belly of the whale brought Jonah to repentance. It didn't. At least not completely. He repented of running away from Yahweh's calling to him. Initially he just ran in the opposite direction and headed for Tarshish in Spain. He was just plain rebellious.
Was he afraid? It is hard say but I think we can safety conclude he was. He knew all about the Assyrians and what they were like because they were continually raiding his country Israel and doing unspeakable things to his people. They were brutal and unmerciful. So, yes, I am sure he ran because of fear. That was one thing he had to overcome. Three days in the whale's belly convinced him that Yahweh should be feared more than the Assyrians. So after being unceremoniously spewed up on a beach, smelling like half-digested seaweed and looking like some monster from outer space because of all the digestive juices which had bleached his skin and made it all mottled, he did as he was told. He went to Nineveh. We deduce from his reactions that he liked the message he was eventually persuaded to preach: Nineveh would be overthrown and destroyed in 40 days (Jonah 3:4). There is little doubt that, having delivered his message, he fully expected to see the city and its inhabitants destroyed and to return home knowing that one more enemy of his country would not be bothering fellow Israelites again.
The Unexpected Happens
Well, the city repented - all 120,000 of them - in what was perhaps the greatest revival of all time. Revival ministers of the last two centuries would have been envious at such a response! Can you name any minister who has converted 120,000 souls in one day? Well, Jonah's preaching did - and that by a man who did not love them but only feared Yahweh! Isn't it ironic? 120,000 hearts were softened but the heart of the one delivering the message was hard even if obedient. Yahweh's mission to Nineveh had been accomplished but His mission to His prophet had only just begun.
Hardhearted Jonah Wants to Die
Now you don't have to be a minister, pastor, rabbi or some other ecclesiastical officer to fit into the category of a Jonah. You can be a plain old believer, a backslidden believer and even a deist. The prophet Jonah was a man with a calling who was a coward and hardhearted towards bad people. People often assume that Yahweh is hardhearted and that the people of the Old Testament were hardhearted and far less morally and spiritually enlightened or advanced than those of the New Testament or today, but they would be quite wrong, particularly in respect of the former. The fourth and last chapter of the Book of Jonah reveals some wonderful things about the Old Testament Elohim and the failings of men and women: He has a tender heart for the lost, no matter how brutal or wicked they are. Jonah was angry that the Ninevites repented (Jonah 4:1), so angry that the silly man wanted to die! (v.3) Now he knew perfectly well what Yahweh's heart was like because he confessed it:
"I know that You are an Êl showing favour, and compassionate, patient and of great kindness, and relenting from doing evil" (v.2, ISRV).
The Sulking Prophet
Well Yahweh rejected his suicidal spirit so Jonah went off into the desert to sulk and pout. The desert heat was relentless, Yahweh took pity on the man who had inflicted so much misery on himself, and caused a plant to rapidly grow and give him shade. And then, to reveal the sinfulness of this man's heart by bringing him to end of himself and to self-surrender, he sent a worm to devour the very plant He had caused to grow on his behalf and so remove his source of shade. Now Jonah, we are told, "greatly rejoiced over the plant" (v.6) when it sprung up, far more than he did over the repentance of 120,000 pagans! Isn't that amazing? What a stubborn heart! Jonah was furious being "displeased, even to death" (v.9). His attitude was insane as Yahweh pointed out to him:
"You felt sorry for the plant for which you have not laboured, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night" (4:10, ISRV).
The Book of Jonah abruptly ends with Yahweh rebuking his prophet for his self-pity and egocentricity:
"And should I not pardon Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than 120,000 beings who have not known their right hand from their left, and much cattle?" (4:11, ISRV)
It is Not Enough to Just Obey
One gets the feeling there was more to this saga but it is for some reason denied us and I suspect it is because Yahweh wants us to repent of egocentricity. It is not enough to obey Yahweh. There has to also be an intimate identity with his heart which Jonah did not have. Here is the story of a man being obedient to his calling without being born again to the greater truth of love:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing" (1 Cor.13:1-3, NKJV).
What's in Your Hêkal?
Please notice that Paul does not negate any of these good works. They are all commendable. But what's important ultimately is what's in your Hêkal - your Holy of Holies, your heart. If a demon is sitting on that throne in your name, your temple is defiled and unholy and you're separated from Yahweh in a condition of spiritual hell. But if Yahweh is seated on the Mercy Seat therein, your heart can't be anything else but overflowing with love. Then your obedience will reap a huge reward. Then your obedience will bring bounteous blessings.
You know there are ministers and ordinary believers out there doing all the wonderful things that Paul speaks of but who are demonstrating the abominable filth in their hearts by holding resentments, hating people, committing adultery, blaspheming and thieving.
Hitler the Angel
I could write you a long list of good things that Hitler did and promoted. He erased unemployment and hunger and gave people hope. He made Germany prosperous. He was against smoking and drinking alcohol. He was in favour of the nuclear family. He believed in patriarchy. He loved animals and especially dogs. Yet you and I know he was an evil man. You and I know all the horrendous things he did too. It is possible to do many 'good' deeds with a blackened heart, even showing mercy and kindness .... selectively, of course. Hitler liberated many people from Soviet tyranny but brought in his own. These are the fruits of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - they are a mixed basket. They produce double-mindedness. They represent a mass of contradictions, illogic and promote a topsy-turvy world. Satan does good in order to promote evil and he gets his followers to do the same. Are you doing good to conceal evil? To ease your bad conscience? Don't you know that no amount of good works can compensate for bad ones? We are not occultists trying to balance scales - we are Messianics committed to all good and all truth. And the only way we can do that is by total relinquishment of self-sovereignty to the only true Sovereign above.
Suspended Spiritual Life
Yahweh doesn't want His people to be obedient robots. We are left in suspense as to the final outcome of Jonah precisely because a soul that tries to obey Yahweh without first having his heart changed is, in a way, living in a state of suspended animation as far as life is concerned. There is no life for such a person. They can, will and do hide themselves in various ways, offering numerous self-justifications but the fact remains that however much they hide or pretend to be happy, they are in fact miserable.
Happiness and Purity
A soul cannot be happy which does not have a purpose or a goal. And no soul which has a purpose or a goal can be ultimately happy unless it is in Yahweh's will. It can 'survive' or 'hang on' tenaciously all its life and die miserable and unsaved. We may even obey Yahweh as Jonah did in his mind whilst stubbornly clinging on to self-possession of our hearts. We can do the works of dead religion but Yahweh calls us to do the works of living religion. The answer, says the apostle James, is a heart-attitude that loves PURITY. And you can only love purity if you love Yahweh's moral code. If you love His moral code than you love Yahweh's heart, pure and simple! And what will be the spontaneous fruits or symptoms of that changed heart? A burden of care for the disadvantaged of this world who cannot fend for themselves, who have no covering as Yahweh gave to Jonah in the desert, the physical and spiritual orphans and widows of this world.
"Can any hide himself in secret places so that I will not see him? says Yahweh. Do not I fill Heaven and earth? says Yahweh ... Is not My Word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says Yahweh, and like a hammer that breaks into pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]?" (Jer.23:24,29, Amp.V).
We All Wrestle with Yahweh
It is quite normal for believers to come into disagreement with Yahweh and it is not because the believers are right but because they are carnal. Shelving, abandoning or switching religion is not the answer. It never is. That's just running to Tarshish and hiding. And if you have a calling on your life, a calling you agreed to before you were born, Yahweh will pursue you until you meet your obligations and do your duty unless you totally reject Him.
Covenants Before Feelings
This reveals something of the heart of Yahweh that is vitally important for us to understand: He expects us to fulfil our covenants even before our heart is right. A person who does what is right even if he does not feel like doing it is clearly better off than someone who refuses to do what is right because their heart is not yet in alignment with their will. The message is this: the heat of the desert is much better than three days in total darkness and the stench and loneliness of hell that the belly of a whale represents.
The Stubborn Soul
We are dealing here with a particular kind of soul in Jonah and I am bound to say there are plenty of believers who are of the 'elect' who fall into this category. We're dealing with a very stubborn kind of person here, one who takes breaking to get him on the right track because of certain 'qualities'. This kind of person is what is needed in the last days to simply get through this dreadful world. This kind of person needs a stubborn brow like Ezekiel's because he is pretty much alone. But that stubbornness can either serve him or lead him to destruction if he is not careful. Stubbornness added to impudence is the fatal combination (Ezek.2:4)
Choosing Your Company in Joppa
What did the coward Jonah do when he refused Yahweh's call? What company did he choose? He left his own country and went to Yapho or Joppa which in those days was a pagan Phoenician port. It's called Jaffa today and is famous for its brand of oranges. We must not miss the prophetic significance of this city in our story of the man Jonah. The place itself means in Hebrew 'height' or 'beauty' and it is no accident that Jonah went there specifically, apart from its geographical convenience. Jonah's goal was Tarshish which in Hebrew means 'hard' - when you're running away from Yahweh there is always the inevitable outcome of hardness of heart. However, that end-destination gets 'lost', as it were, in the subconscious, because the one who is running is absorbed in the drama of the run. I can assure you Jonah was not idly dreaming of paradise in Tarshish. What he was doing was wrong so the future held little prospect for him - instead, he sought his 'comfort' in Joppa, in 'beauty' and in 'height' or 'fame'. This is a parable of the hardened heart seeking fame and pleasure through vanity and rebellion. Souls who abandon Yahweh must also abandon their inheritance and jump on a pagan ship with an unknown future.
Before long Jonah is submerged in this pagan milieu. His options are few. He's confined on a narrow vessel and when trouble comes there really isn't a place to escape to. He isn't on land anymore - he's on a foreign ship, and those Phoenician ships had figureheads on their bows which were pagan deities or demons. Whenever you reject Yahweh, shelve or abandon your religion, and plunge into the world, you find yourself on a ship on an open sea whose head is a demon. That's your head and you're subject to it, however much you may protest or deny the fact.
When the storm comes, Jonah is powerless to help because he is not in Yahweh's will. The panicking pagan seaman are throwing cargo overboard to lighten the ship much as pagans start regretting their lawless and immoral practices and start 'casting them overboard' in a vain attempt to appease Yahweh. Of course when the 'good times' return they go straight back to their sinning - their repentance is purely self-motivated - it is not done out of any love for Yahweh. You don't throw your cargo overboard when there are good times. This is how all false religion goes - they make 'sacrifices' only to appease and to get a certain result. True believers sacrifice out of pure love and devotion. They delight in giving and surrendering with no thought of the cost or the reward.
Anyway, while the pagan sailors are scurrying around emptying the hold, where is Jonah? What is he doing? Sleeping! (1:5) Now please contrast this with Yah'shua sleeping on the fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Two men, Jonah and Yah'shua, are asleep on boats, but One is resting in the full confidence of His safety because He is pure and devoted to His Father in Heaven, and the other is asleep because he is hiding and has turned his heart off. The captain, who has a better grasp of reality than this fleeing man of Elohim, cries out:
"How can you sleep? Get up and call on your elohim! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish" (Jonah 1:6, NIV).
In other words, how can you be so disconnected from what's really going on here? Wake up! These pagans at least are recognising that their only hope is in supernatural intervention. This Yahwist has simply shelved his Elohim and gone to sleep. He's thrown in his lot with these pagans but really has no serious intention of being a part of them - and yet, because of his choice, that's exactly what he has become even if he hides in the hold. And now Yahweh is going to show him that when you throw in your lot with men of false religion, who worship demons, things can get very hairy when bad times come, because these pagans are after #1 - they will protect themselves first of all, and if they think you're a risk to their well-being, they will have various 'solutions' which might not be in your interests. The pagans were about to cast lots to find out whose fault this storm was - and we're told that Yahweh was the author of it (1:4) - that's a bit like going to a fortune teller, palmist, psychic or a Tarot Card reader to find out the cause of a problem - when Jonah owns up:
"I am a Hebrew. And I am fearing Yahweh, the Elohim of heavens, who made sea and dry land" (1:9, ISRV).
Oh, he's awake now - at least a bit. He confesses His Elohim, Yahweh. But it has taken this storm to start bringing him to his senses in the same way that Yahweh sends the storms and vicissitudes of life to wake up His sleeping and rebellious children. Yahweh isn't going to harm these sailors even though they think at first that they might be the cause of this misfortune - they're always safe, even if they don't think so. This is a wake-up call for one of His own, and they are but actors in this drama.
Jonah had at least been honest one about one thing to these men - he had actually been honest enough to tell them why he was making this journey - he told them that he had "fled from the presence of Yahweh" (1:10).
No Hiding Place
Oh my, oh my! He was in the presence of Yahweh but chose to flee! Well, of course he was in his presence. He was receiving revelation from Him! "The word of Yahweh" came to him (1:1). He was living in a state of grace even though he had spiritual issues that would need surfacing to be dealt with. But now he was in open rebellion and he was taking Yahweh's wrath with him. There was to be no hiding from Him. And his first wake-up call was the realisation that he was bringing a curse upon innocent unbelievers by his foolhardiness.
Even while Jonah was confessing his guilt before these unbelievers, the storm was getting worse and worse (1:11). Yahweh was not going to relent! He was now faced with the first serious choice since his rebellion: will he allow innocent bystanders to suffer and risk losing their lives because of his rebellion? And here the righteousness of Jonah's heart is revealed - at least as far as a group of people - the Phoenicians - who have not been oppressing Israel like the Assyrians were - are concerned. Moreover, is it possible that Yahweh is using this prophet's rebellion to convert some pagans? Certainly there is a hint of such in the text, for we next read of the Phoenicians in mighty prayer:
"We pray, O Yahweh, please, let us not perish for this man's life, and do not lay on us innocent blood. For You, O Yahweh, have done as it pleased You" (1:14).
The Faith of Pagans!
These pagans have more faith than your modern unbeliever! They have more sense of right and wrong that your modern neo-pagan. Now I am not saying they became converts to Torah or to Yahweh. In fact, their action is not dissimilar to that of Pharaoh who, realising he was about to lose everything after the 10 Plagues, finally begged the Israelites to go to save his own life, having lost his firstborn son. But they were not as wicked as he.
Heed This Warning
Now hear me, and hear me well. If you have fled back into the world and taken up residence in the ship of pagan friends or relatives, consider the trouble you are going to bring upon them until you have repented, because Yahweh's wrath will follow you. If you are of the elect, Yahweh will not let you be. You may sleep for a while in the relatively 'safe' ship's hold of their company, but Yahweh will wake you up. You will be forced to make a choice as you see how those with whom you have taken shelter amongst are being dragged into the consequences of your own rebellion. They will suffer. You have chosen to hide in their ship's hold. If you have any heart for them you'll accept Yahweh's judgement and cast yourself overboard out of and away from their company.
Into the Unknown
Now Jonah had no idea what Yahweh had prepared for him. He did not know that a great fish had been sent to swallow him and actually save him. The whale saved him from death by drowning. He was in the predicament that he was in because of his own foolish choice to run and now there was only one way out - total surrender.
Awake and Conscious of Reality
Now the stomach of a whale is not nearly as comfortable as the hold of a pagan ship. There would be no sleeping there. And that was the point: Yahweh was forcing him to be awake. There he sat in misery and terror for three days and nights and finally relented and came to his senses. His prayer tells us about his change of heart towards Yahweh. This prayer is important for all of us because it shows us what Yahweh is looking for because after Jonah had said it with his whole heart, meaning it with every fibre of his being, the tide, as it were, turned:
"Then Yahweh spoke to the fish, and it vomited Yonah on the dry land" (Jonah 2:10, ISRV)
You see, once you are safely in Yahweh's arms - once you have fully repented and Yahweh is fully in your heart - hell can't contain you any more. Yahweh orders it to vomit you out. Satan has no legal grounds over you any more. Let's look at that prayer to see what he elements of genuine repentance consist of:
Elements of Repentance
"I called to Yahweh because of my distress, and He answered me. From the stomach of the grave I cried, and You heard my voice" (2:2).
What we are describing here in terms of spiritual principles is the prelude to Yom haBikkurim or the Day of Firstfruits. Job was already a Yahweh-fearing and -honouring man (1:9). He already recognised and accepted Yahweh's covering. But now he needs to pass through the grave of death from self-life just as the children of Israel did when they passed through the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and were baptised into Moses (1 Cor.10:2). He has to have sufficient faith that though he is dead Yahweh can resurrect him. He has to have the same faith as Abraham had in respect of his son Isaac - he must believe that Yahweh is all-powerful and all-capable.
In the Grave
So here he is in a literal grave. He is slowly decomposing in the whale's gastric juices just as the body rots in the grave under the earth. We know that Jonah's experience is a type of the kind of repentance that Yah'shua demanded of the world:
"This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation" (Luke 11:29-30, NKJV).
Jonah's harvest was 120,000 souls. Yah'shua's is uncountable. Just as Jonah was swallowed up in death leading to repentance, so must those who wish to be acceptable before Yahweh today. And it consists of more than simply uttering the 'Sinner's Prayer' - it's a beginning just as the first steps of a child are the beginning of a lifetime's walking and journeying.
Might You Be a Muslim?
I sometimes wonder if most Christians aren't Muslims. Why do I say that? Because they claim that Yah'shua never died on the Cross and that Mary went back to the tomb to massage Him back to life. I sometimes wonder if most Christians don't pretend to die to self and then quietly massage their carnal selves back to life. Indeed Muslims use the sign of Jonah as evidence that Yah'shua didn't die! 2 Please note that the Sign of Jonah is not for believers but for "this wicked and adulterous generation". It is for unbelievers - it's a warning of what will happen to them if they don't exercise true faith.
Even the Elect Must Be Weighed and Cleansed
Well, Jonah didn't die physically because this sign is about the death of self and the resurrection into a Yahweh-centred life. And this man was a Yahweh-believer! I am sure he happily confessed Yahweh before his battle with the Most High. It's easy to confess by waggling your tongue and vibrating your larynx - it's quite another thing to trust yourself so much to Yahweh that you are willing to die to all self-sovereignty. Can we appreciate now why Yah'shua said:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt.7:13-14, KJV).
Jonah continued in his prayer:
"For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me. All Your breakers and Your waves passed over me" (2:3, ISRV).
Yahweh's Instruments of Deliverance are Many
Though it was the sailors who threw Jonah into the sea, he recognises that that they were Yahweh's instruments.
The Cruel Sea Like Satan's Kingdom
Now I know that at least one of you is terrified of water. Many are. The ocean is a huge and awesome place. Many of my family's friends found themselves at the mercy of the waves in the Second World War and know how frightening that untameable expanse of nature is.
The experiences of torpedoed sailors in the last war inspired Nicholas Monsarrat to write a novel aptly called, The Cruel Sea. All sailors know that the true enemy is the sea, not the opposing sides in war which is why sailors of all nations have a camaraderie for one another and loathe to leave anyone shipwrecked. The vastness of the dark and violent oceans reminds us of the Satan's Kingdom and the reality of what life without Yahweh is really like.
Death is the Final Arbiter
I don't think it is any accident that at a time in the future, after Yah'shua returns, there won't be any more sea (Rev.21:1). It's vastness and our helplessness in it is a reminder to us of the folly of trying to save ourselves as the humanist demands. And Yahweh has left us with sea to remind us of the insanity of trying to make it through life without Him. And whilst many do indeed defy Him throughout their lives to 'prove' they are in control, all of that tumbles away at the point of death and you are forced finally to ask yourself whether your life was useful or useless.
I know what I am talking about here because I had a communist friend, whom I grew up with, who got killed in a motorcycle accident while a student at Cambridge, whose spirit came to be desperate because he couldn't understand why he was still alive still. Some of you may have heard of this story before. In fact he appeared to two of us, quite beside himself - I had to hand him over to Yahweh's malakim so that he could be taken to his place of rest. Imagine being an atheist and discovering you're still alive after you've been killed - you can picture the mental turmoil.
Jonah acknowledged that Yahweh threw him into this 'cruel sea' to break his stubborn pride. And Yah'shua's warning to the generation of His day who refused to believe, notwithstanding all the signs He gave of His Messiahship, applies equally to our own, 'religious' or 'irreligious'. Obviously religion doesn't save us but religious activity is a fruit of genuine salvation - of one who is clean and undefiled and who has voluntarily - and without regrets - separated himself from the world. And in many respects that world is today represented by our modern cities.
The Order of the Wilderness
I am again indebted to one of the brethren who pointed out to me that in the Hebrew mind the word davar (or dabar), which we translate as 'word', means 'wilderness'. Now I don't know about you but when I think of the English word 'wilderness' I think of only negative things. It's root is 'wild' or 'untamed'. We think of the 'wilderness' as a wild, uninhabited and uncultivated religion which can't have anything good to give us, and certainly not for those of us who love creature-comforts. John the Baptist cried out of the 'wilderness' calling people to repent and prepare the Way of the Messiah (Is.40:3; Jn.1:23), in other words, to cut a road or path through the wilderness of their hearts along which He could travel to His throne.
Interestingly, to the Hebrew mind, the wilderness was not some place of chaos but of order unlike the cities which, when you look at them objectively, though having a complex infrastructure, are in reality places of chaos. Why is it, do you think, that when city life gets too much for people, they head off into the countryside to 'get away from it all' and to think. You can't think clearly in a city because of everything going around you. It's hard to collect your thoughts there precisely because it is so busy. The reason the wilderness is a place of order is because it has balance. And that is why it is possible to think clearly there and order ones thoughts.
From City to Countryside
Jonah came from a small town in Zebulun called Gath-hepher, not too far from Nazareth where Yah'shua's family lived. He was sent to one of the mightiest metropolises of the known world - to Nineveh - which would have been a bit like sending someone out from rural Alabama where he had lived all his life to go and preach to New York City. These would have constituted two different kinds of order which I want to briefly talk to you about.
Yahweh's and Satan's Orders
There are, in this world, two kinds of order. The first is Yahweh's order which is born out of the perfect social and spiritual system which is blueprinted in Torah and depicted visually in the Tabernacle or Temple. The second is Satan's 'order' which is an illusion because it consists of a 'balancing' of good and evil, making them supposedly co-dependent.
We all of us periodically go through upheavals which can be very distressing and when these occur, we more than anything else want relief and stability. These 'stirring up times', without exception, present us with two choices: to patiently ride the storm and endure the hardship until the lesson that Yahweh wants us to learn has been learned, or to refuse to continue and instead listen to Satan's alternative which is an escape route from Yahweh's lesson. That alternative is always presented as an easier way. It offers cheap solutions that seem to cost little but which, in truth, cost a hundred times more in the long run. For short-term relief the enemy gives long-term bondage.
Order Out of Chaos
I am sure you have heard the occultic motto, Ordo ab chao, which means 'Order out of chaos'. Satan creates chaos in your life and then offers his own orderly solution. That 'solution', as we are painfully discovering in the political arena, means an increasing loss of personal freedoms.
Yahweh's solution is radically different - He promises to deliver us from evil by leading us though temptation to the other side of the troubled waters of life (Mt.6:13). The moment we see Yahweh's wilderness as a place of orderliness, where purification can take place that leads to wholeness and peace, we are thinking in the right way. Why do you think Yahweh removed Abram from the Mesopotamian metropolis of Ur? (Gen.11:31) Why has Yahweh taken all of His servants into the wilderness in order to perfect them? It is Satan who herds his people into the city where chaos reigns under his 'order'. Nimrod was probably the first to do it when he established Babylon and built a huge tower at its centre. Nearly all cities have at least one conspicuous tower in the centre. Jonah's mission was precisely to bring that satanic order that reigned in the Kingdom of Nineveh to an end. Indeed, I suspect, as many Bible scholars do, that the 120,000 souls were not just of the City of Nineveh but of the countryside too - the whole kingdom. But to bring peace to the land Yahweh's prophet had to be sent to its heart - the city-capital.
The Jonah Experience constitutes Yahweh's activity not only in breaking down cowardice but in shattering all illusion too. How many people are there who thought they were walking in Yahweh's Presence, looking through rose-tinted lenses, only to discover they were actually swimming in a muddy puddle of sin? In the next section of Jonah's prayer in the whale's belly he acknowledges the reality of his situation:
"So I said, 'I have been driven away from Your eyes. Would I ever look again toward Your set-apart (holy) Hêkal (Temple)?'" (2:4, ISRV).
Longing for the Temple
The former object of Jonah's longing was the Temple in Jerusalem and here he yearns to be there again. The physical Temple was the centre of spiritual life in ancient Israel and the object of every true heart's longing. We only have to read the Psalms to know what a Ruach-filled soul feels about it:
"But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple" (Ps.5:7, NKJV).
"One thing I have desired of Yahweh, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Yahweh, and to inquire in His temple" (Ps.27:4, NKJV).
Nothing More Set-Apart
In this regard I want to share my own heart with you today. I absolutely adore the Temple. It is the object of all my earthly desires. This earthly temple was a replica of the Temple which existed - and still exists - in Heaven (e.g. Rev.11:19; 14:17; 15:5; 16:17). Moreover, this temple was not only replicated on earth according to the very detailed instructions given to Moses but it exists in every single soul. For the Hêkal with its three chambers is the most crammed book of revelation to be found anywhere about Yahweh, us, our hearts, and the whole universe. There is nothing more holy, set-apart or sacred because it is a depiction of Yahweh's own heart. To ignore, gloss over or reject the temple as having any relevance in the New Covenant is to miss the whole purpose of existence. That is why Yahweh's servants always had a deep longing for it.
Mathematics of the Soul
Nature, as we have seen, has a pacifying effect on us because it represents a natural equilibrium. It is a self-ordering system. The city, by contrast, has an artificial equilibrium imposed by its ruling powers. And this system is based on Satan's counterfeit of the Hêkal or Tabernacle. Its dimensions, furnishing and religious objects represent, if you like, the mathematics of the divine soul in alignment with the Creator. In it is the kernel of the order which obtains in the whole universe. It is the structure of divinely ordered life.
What is the chief difference between these two systems? The key to understanding this lies in the Devir or Holy of Holies which was separated off from the people under the Old Covenant and could only be accessed by the Cohen Gadol or High Priest once a year at Yom Kippur. Every true, born-again believer who is living a repentant life in the truth has direct access to the Holy of Holies now through Yah'shua the Messiah. There is nothing secret about it to a true believer. All may have direct access to the Father Yahweh through Yah'shua the Son through active faith and obedience which leads to purification. Because of this we can know the Heart or Centre of all things which this room represents and which contains the Mercy Seat between the two cherubim on either side of the Ark of the Covenant.
Satan's Counterfeit Temple
Now Satan's system operates along entirely different lines. His counterfeit 'Holy of Holies' is separated off from the 'Holy Place' by a thick veil and for a good reason: if any human being were to wander into it he would immediately see the lie that Satan is and flee. Moreover, none but the highest level devil-worshippers ever get into the satanic 'Holy Place' because to get there you must have surrendered nearly all your soul to him.
The vast bulk of humanity which has rejected or shelved Yahweh and Yah'shua dwell in the satanic 'outer court' which is itself divided into thirteen partitioned courts of its own. In the satanic 'Holy of Holies' there is no truth at all - only utter darkness. In the satanic 'Holy Place' there are a few grains of truth, needed to keep its human initiates sane though they are in truth nearly totally spiritually dead and few if any of them ever choose salvation because they have made a conscious choice for raw evil.
Beyond this satanic temple is the 13-part 'Outer Court' which contains thirteen different levels of lies mixed with truth - and within each of these compartments, as it were, are millions of different combinations of lies and truth to keep human beings confused and imprisoned. They are linked by an insoluble maze designed to keep people searching but never finding - searching, that is, apart from Yah'shua. The moment you turn away from, or shelve, Yah'shua, YOU'RE IN THAT MAZE. Moreover, the maze has apparent order and apparent purpose because Satan knows that people need this, therefore he supplies this through the millions of different religious and philosophical with their infinite permutations.
This is an ordo ab chao all on its own - the most brilliant and deadly trap ever invented for the enslavement of mankind. No human being could ever catalogue or map it - it is beyond our finite minds. We may describe the little corner of the satanic matrix that we were once prisoners in and which some others may have experienced and can be helped through our own encouragement but really the only way out is by abandoning oneself to Yah'shua. Only He can rescue. Only He can deliver. Only He can save and get us out of that giant satanic puzzle which seems to offer solutions which always lead us down blind alleyways.
What Would You Prefer?
Now I ask you - which would you prefer? Three days in a whale with a permanent solution, or a lifetime - and possibly even an eternity - in a hazy, twilight maze with no exit ever in sight? Our choice is really simple - to be in Yahweh's Kingdom of Ordered Love or in the Satanic Matrix of Controlled Anarchy. And remember, the Satanic Matrix happily accommodates Christianity so long as you're prepared to compromise. Satan can start making Christians and Messianics his prisoners in one of the rooms those 13 satanic 'Outer Courts' the moment we decide not to trust and obey Him in everything:
"For whoever shall keep the whole Torah (law), and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Torah (law). So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the Torah (law) of liberty. For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement" (James 2:10-13, NKJV).
Showing Partiality in Respect of the Mitzvot
This has to be one of the most twisted scriptures in Christendom because people just don't want to KNOW what it really means. Few bother to read the context which is not to show partiality amongst men (vv.8-9). We likewise must not show partiality amongst the mitzvot. Luther hated this passage along with the whole Letter of James and would have ripped it out of the New Testament if he could have because it did violence to his pet theory of 'faith only' and 'sin away'. How have you heard this Scripture presented or 'explained'?
What is important to understand here is that whilst it takes faith to get into the Temple - faith in the Son of Man - it takes obedience to remain in it. You can't pick and choose what you want to follow in Torah. When the priests entered the temple, did they just sit around there with gaping mouths? No, they were busily about their assigned tasks. We too have tasks because we are all called to be new Covenant Priests (1 Pet.2:9). And if you don't understand how the tabernacle functioned or what it was for you cannot possible understand what earth life here is all about or what it is Yahweh has called you to do or what you life must consist of in order to remain saved.
Yahweh and His Universe are complex but He has so structured it for us so that it becomes simple if we but follow his rules. Satan has millions of them, Yahweh less than a thousand, the laws of men are in therir tens of thousands. The complexity and confusion arise in those zillions of rooms in Satan's 13 'Outer Courts'. It's a jungle you'll never get out of alone - I promise you, I spent many years in it trying to make sense of it all - because it is all one grand demonic theatre of illusion mixed with elements of truth to keep you baited. Just record a dozen or so of your bizzare dreams and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
One Fatal Choice Can Cost You Everything
Life is not as complex as it first appears when you keep your eyes firmly trained on the goal. As an amateur historian I am fascinated by events and their complexities. And like many I love to speculate as to what would have happened if this or that had happened. I have been an avid student of the Second World War all my life and have analysed and discovered what the secret of the Allies was and why the Axis powers failed. And the answer is actually simple. The Axis powers were defeated because they lost focus at a critical juncture and allowed their passions - especially Hitler's passions - to drown out all common sense. The defeat of the Nazi war machine occurred in the summer of 1940 when everyone supposed they were unstoppable and continued to look unstoppable for some time afterwards, long after they were 'finished'. One single event secured the German defeat. First, when some Luftwaffe planes accidentally dropped their bombs on London. This prompted the British to launch a tiny retaliatory air raid on Berlin. These two actions did not cost the Germans the war but Hitler's response to the second did. At the very moment at which the British Air Force was on the brink of annihilation, Hitler - in blind rage - launched retaliatory strikes on London and stopped pounding the English air fields. That one decision - in the heat of passion - cost Germany the war 5 long and bitter years later. One decision in which one man lost his mind. And whilst we are not at all sorry he made that decision, it does underscore a vital lesson - WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR FOCUS FOR EVEN ONE DAY IT CAN COST YOU EVERYTHING. That is why it is written:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV).
I have seen so many people's lives ruined by one fatal thought when the focus - usually Yahweh - was lost. They thought that they could 'come back' to where they were later. If Hitler had swallowed his pride, ignored the British air raid on Berlin, and bombed the airfields for just a few more days, it would all have been over and he would have been in London within two weeks, the total master of Europe, making American involvement a year later next to impossible.
Your Focus is Vital
Yah'shua made it perfectly clear what our focus should be - always, 24/7:
"But seek for (aim and strive after) first of all His Kingdom, and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right]..." (Matt.6:33, AmpV).
Any other focus will lead to your getting lost - don't fool yourself into believing otherwise. There have been times when it has appeared to me that all was lost but I have believed the promises and kept my eye on Him when the odds looked impossible. I have come under relentless fire from others advising me to quit. But they have not seen through the eye of faith but of statistical probability. Remember, Yahweh is not ruled by statistics of the laws of men - how insane is that thinking! We're supposed to have learned that the odds are irrelevant - Yahweh gave us the story of Gideon to remind us who's in control.
An Offering of Peace
I am offering peace terms to those who have sought our destruction and still do. However, I want them all to know our resolve:
"When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when Yahweh your Elohim delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies' plunder which Yahweh your Elohim gives you" (Deut.20:10-14, NKJV).
Let me translate this Torah portion into the language of the spiritual realm which is what concerns us in the New Covenant of Messiah. Firstly, this is Yahweh's word, not some middle eastern fairy tale. How do I know? Because I have put it to the test so many times and seen the results ... against all the odds. I know in Whom I am trusting. Secondly, this is a heavenly principle backed up by heavenly law and heavenly powers, and it is related to what Yahweh defines as ownership rights. Notice here that the males are the ones put to the sword, not the females and children, because they are the 'owning' powers. However, they're false and can't coexist with the true owning powers. There's only one Owner in this Universe and its Yahweh. There's only one husband in a marriage and its the man:
"You shall have no other gods before Me ... You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Ex 20:3,5-6, NKJV).
Come to Terms
Now you can protest this arrangement until the cows come home but you might as well ttry to abolish gravity as to think you can just dismiss His Word. Coming to terms with Divine Rule is part of what life is all about. It is my responsibility - and yours as fathers and husbands - to rebuke and strike every false male principality down that threatens the integrity of your family and the Messianic Community - no quarter can be shown because if you do it spells the ruin of both. Show no pity because the stakes are everything you have of any value - that is why the Torah is so strict on dissenters. Lest I be misquoted, I am not talking about physical violence - we are not fundamentalist Muslims. We don't go around blowing people up or assassinating them. Neither am I speaking of psychological manipulation. We're not threatening anyone with hell here. Our warfare is in prayer, in the invisible, spiritual realm. And we will defend family and fellowship like the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae who successfully fought off hordes of Persians bent on conquest and subjugation. This one brave defence allowed those who had wavered to rally round and finally drive the Persians off and save Europe and ultimately what came to be called America. It was a battle between freedom and tyranny and enslavement. The sacrifice of three hundred Greeks meant the deliverance of countless millions around the whole world.
Love in All-Truth is the War-Cry
The battle we fight is for and of Yahweh's love in all truth. We can't lose. We can be savaged and maybe even killed but we can't be defeated. The best the enemy can do is throw sticks and stones. Yahweh is the Master of the Resurrection. Numbers don't matter. It was the courage, persistence and Christian conviction of one man - William Wilberforce - that ensured the abolition of slavery in the British Empire but he only succeeded because he laid down everything to accomplish it. The odds against him were 'impossible'. And even though it took him 20 years and nearly cost him his health, he persisted and won. I am calling all of us to be like him. Will you pay the price? What are the limits or boundaries of your willingness to sacrifice for the Kingdom? What kind of ensurance do you have? Do you have 'stay-ability'? Will you be constant or chop and change? Will you desert at the last moment and 'hang in'?
An 'Appealing' Advertisement
An advertisement once appeared in a newspaper that read like this:
"WANTED. Young, energetic, and dedicated men. Exposure to heat, humidity, rain, mud, millions of biting mosquitoes, poisonous plants, barbed wire, and hard work a part of the job."
I doubt that today many would be tempted by that and yet this advertisement appeared in American newspapers for workers on the Panama Canal a century ago. 22,000 men had already died under the French before they abandoned the project. Another 5,500 died from disease under US leadership. Yet the workers poured in, lured by attractive salaries.
Yah'shua is making a similar job-offer to you and me. The reward is eternal life. Unfortunately, most Christians don't tell you the truth about the cost - they lie to you and deceive you into thinking all you've got to do is sign on the dotted line by making a 'confession of faith' and then just sit back - it's as easy to get into heaven in the false system as it was for a Talmudic man to divorce his wife 2,000 years ago or a Muslim under Sharia law today. About 15 years ago or so I published a similar advertisement in our monthly Journal to recruit trainee ministers which ran something like this:
"WANTED. Energetic, hardworking and dedicated New Covenant Christians to serve in the Priesthood. Exposure to insults, ridicule, persecution, distress, sorrow a part of the job. Patience, even-temperedness, fairness, lovingness, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, chastity and purity required. Salary payable after death."
I believe that being totally honest and realistic about our mission is necessary if we are to avoid the accusation of deceiving people about what the Christian life entails. Of course, I didn't mention all the benefits in the ad and there are plenty, not least of which is immortal bliss which we can taste inside even if it isn't always available on the outside.
What Are You Made Of?
Time and experience have taught me some valuable lessons about life and Yahweh's influence over it. I have particularly learned - usually the hard way - when to fear and when not to fear. We overcome fear only as we learn in real life experiences that Yahweh is a shield to those who trust in Him (Gen.15:1). That shield comes only by faith. Will you trust Him?
Where is your faith, brethren and sisters? Where will you cast your lot? With the many who are ultimately doomed or to the few who are tied by a bond that the many can never know? Are you of the spiritual breed that will stand with little Sparta at Thermopylae? Will you lay down your life for the truth? You can leave no greater legacy to, nor inspiration for, your children than to do that. Can you join with me in the words of Ludwig Uhland 3 who penned this stirring song about loyal comrades on the battlefield:
|Ich hatt' einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nit.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
Er ging an meiner Seite
|: In gleichem Schritt und Tritt. :|
Eine Kugel kam geflogen:
Gilt's mir oder gilt es dir?
Ihn hat es weggerissen,
Er liegt vor meinen Füßen
|: Als wär's ein Stück von mir :|
Will mir die Hand noch reichen,
Derweil ich eben lad'.
"Kann dir die Hand nicht geben,
Bleib du im ew'gen Leben
|: Mein guter Kamerad!" :|
|In battle he was my comrade,|
None better I have had.
The drum called us to fight,
He always on my right,
|: In step, through good and bad. :|
A bullet it flew towards us,
For him or meant for me?
His life from mine it tore,
At my feet a piece of gore,
|: As if a part of me. :|
His hand reached up to hold mine.
I must re-load my gun.
"My friend, I cannot ease your pain,
In life eternal we'll meet again,
|: And walk once more as one." :|
The line is being drawn again. Which side of it will you be on?
Jonah and the Dove
It is perhaps hard to believe, given our contemporary secular usage of the symbol, that I am describing the qualities of a dove. For most the dove symbolises peace because of the bird Noah released from the ark and which returned with an olive sprig in its beak. But did you know Jonah's name in Hebrew - yônâ - means a 'dove' which, though it is the symbol of the Ruach haQodesh and Her shalom or peace, was hardly what Jonah himself experienced? He got anything but peace until he did what Yahweh told him to do. Why was he given this name? What is its prophetic significance to us?
Jonah in many ways typifies the reluctant disciple - which most of us are in differing degrees at different times - we who have a high calling but who yet wrestle with the fleshy or carnal nature. And the dove is not just a prophetic symbol of shalom. It has other less flattering characteristics too:
"Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense" (Hos.7:11, NKJV).
The Irrational Behaviour of Spiritual Blindness
And really, I'm sure you agree, the Adamic nature is totally irrational and senseless. What Jonah did in fleeing his call was madness. How can you run away from Elohim? If Yahweh follows us when we are in harmony with His will, as He did with David, then you can be absolutely sure He pursues us when we aren't:
"If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Ps.139:8-10, NKJV).
Sometimes we are like Ephraim of old, throwing caution to the wind and just abandon all reason. But also true to his name, Jonah was not a dangerous man to anyone but himself. He was not an evil soul. Those who have the dove nature have a pretty distinctive set of character-traits. Yah'shua said to His apostles:
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matt.10:16, NKJV).
Mourn When You Need to Mourn
The one who has the Jonah-nature cannot harm others because they are constrained by gentleness, a hallmark of the sons and daughters of Elohim. The serpentine nature that would bring ruin to people is not in them - only the capacity to be wise. The Jonah-soul is also a romantic at heart 4. And because their hearts are tuned to people and do not seek to harm them, they are also compassionate and tender like the dove:
"I mourned like a dove" (Isa.38:14, NKJV).
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt.5:4, NKJV).
When in distress because of sin:
"We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us" (Isa.59:11, NKJV).
"Those who survive will escape and be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, each for his iniquity" (Ezek.7:16, NKJV).
"It is decreed: She shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up; and her maidservants shall lead her as with the voice of doves, beating their breasts" (Nah.2:7, NKJV).
"My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness'" (Ps.55:4-7, NKJV).
And when they repent:
"They shall walk after Yahweh. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses, says Yahweh" (Hos.11:10-11, NKJV).
The repentant 'dove' comes trembling home led by Yahweh. And though Yahweh 'roars' with displeasure because of their rebellion, it is not to drive them away but to call them home.
The Dual Meaning of Words
When you examine a Hebrew word, and particularly a name, you need to bear in mind that it can have multiple meanings and usages which can be determined by examining their roots. Thus the Hebrew word meaning 'protection' (sithra) has both the positive aspect of being 'protected' and 'hidden' in Yahweh as well as the negative one meaning to 'hide' or 'conceal oneself' or 'be absent' just as Jonah attempted to hide from Yahweh by fleeing to Joppa and Tarshish. And if you break the word down into its components, its ra suffix, meaning 'adversity', 'affliction', 'distress' or 'sorrow' then describes the consequences of the negative aspect of hiding.
You'll find this dual meaning of words to be quite common. Take the name 'Barak' which in its positive aspect means 'be blessed' and it's negative 'be cursed', depending what words or forms it is associated with. You'll find that phenomenon throughout the language.
Jonah the 'dove' is then a type of the believer wrestling with his carnal self and in particular one who knows and communes with Yahweh but seeks to flee his calling because of cowardice and/or a lack of love for his fellow man. And the reason that Elohim pursues is simple: when Yahweh equips us for our calling, He demands that the gifts we have received of Him are used to serve Him and bring glory to His Name - if we try to prostitute or inactivate our gifts He demands an account and pursues us:
"Everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48, NKJV).
This accounting is not only given at the end of mortality but during it too. That is why each year Yom Kippur is appointed for us to do just that. That is why the Day of Atonement is also called the Day of Judgement. And whilst it is true we are judged every week by the Ruach at our 'mini-Yom Kippur' each Yom Sheshi (Thursday evening to Friday evening) individually, we are judged communally as Beit Yisrael or the House of Israel annually in the autumn moed. And each year we fail to repent and make things right, our debt notes to Him and spiritual oppressions just mount up and mount up. To be cast into the metaphorical belly of a whale as Jonah was, or cast from his horse as Paul was on his way to Damascus, is therefore a great blessing and act of mercy. And whilst no one enjoys severe correction while it is happening, we do appreciate it afterwards ... if we repent.
Jonah is the story of a servant of Yahweh who is literally swallowed by his problems because his love was found lacking. This devoted worshipper discovered that his heart was not quite as worshipful as he supposed. He discovered - as must we - that Yahweh's love covers a much wider area of life than we suppose. We assume, because He is strict, that this also means He is not quite so loving either, because we equate strictness with coldness of heart, just as Satan wants us to. We equate law with hate and lawlessness with love, just as the hippies did and as a result sowed such confusion and destruction into modern social relations.
Jonah is your typical élitist Messianic who believes that Israel is Yahweh's chosen few and that there is no salvation for anyone else. Jonah is your typical racist and religious bigot who says that if you don't join us, you're damned. Jonah is your typical fundamentalist who knows who's going to heaven and who isn't. Jonah mistakes his own vision for Yahweh's. Jonah thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does. To him and to modern believers Yah'shua says:
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement" (John 7:24, NKJV)
And if you lack the maturity and spiritual discernment to do that, then:
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:37-38, NKJV).
It isn't for me or you to judge when it's 'all over' for someone. So long as that person is alive, there is hope. Not until someone is dead is our intercession to cease.
Jonah also illustrates something about Yahweh that the ultra-legalists often miss in their zeal to condemn others: Yahweh apparently said something was going to happen that didn't - He said He was going to destroy Nineveh. The narrow-minded and close-hearted would at once (if they were honest, and were it possible) condemn Elohim to be stoned as a false prophet according to the Word of Yahweh because they don't understand His heart.
Every action has a consequence and two possible outcomes - one outcome when no response is given to a prophetic warning and another outcome when repentance follows. Yahweh deliberately withheld the second outcome from Jonah because he had something important to teach His prophet - the quality of DIVINE MERCY. Jonah's own harshness turned back on him with a vengeance - in fact, he condemned himself:
"For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matt.7:2, NKJV).
This is a cosmic law and that is why we should exercise reservation in judging others because there are serious consequences for judging wrongly. Just as there is a law of physics which says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so for every judgement there is an equal and opposite judgement back on the one who judges which is why the apostles taught that "in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Phil.2:3, NKJV). Can you see why?
Did Yahweh's Word return to Him void? No. Yahweh spoke the truth in respect of the Law of Justice. With no repentance the law of Justice must take its inevitable course. The Word is perfectly true. But when the Law of Mercy is invoked by a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then mercy overpowers justice. Thus Yahweh depicts our relationship to Him in terms of marriage, saying:
"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in loving kindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know Yahweh" (Hos.2:19-20, NKJV).
If you only recognise the 'justice' side of Yahweh, you can't know Him, because He is a tender lover who is not only 'right' and 'just' but full of "loving kindness and mercy" just as a husband is toward his wife if she keeps her heart open. But if she closes it - or we close ours to Him - then we can only expect Justice to take its course.
This, then, is the great lesson to be learned from Jonah: closed heart = justice and faithfulness only. Open heart = justice, mercy, loving kindness and a real knowing of Yahweh, as two lovers know one another intimately.
When Torah and Love meet, a state of grace exists. With no love, there is only harshness, rigidity and the Law of Justice. With no Torah there is only anarchistic 'love' which turns out not to be love at all, for there is mercy but no justice. For Elohim is love (1 Jn.4:8,16) but He is also Law, just as Satan is Lawlessness (2 Thes.2:8-9). Yahweh-Elohim is Law and Love, and they are inseparable. That is why we have two hands, two feet, two eyes, two ears, two lungs, two breasts, two nostrils, two kidneys and so forth because they represent these twin principles. It is why the brain has two lobes with radically different functions.
Finally, do you still have any doubts about Yahweh's Word returning to Him void? Does anyone still believe that Yahweh prophesied incorrectly? If you do, let me end by revealing a truth about the Hebrew language which is hidden in our English translations and which serves to underscore the importance of learning that tongue to get the full meaning of Scripture. What did Yahweh prophesy?
"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4, NKJV).
Only He didn't. He actually said:
"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be haphak!"
And what does haphak mean? It can mean two things - it can mean 'overthrown' AND 'converted'! 5 Did you hear that? Yahweh was saying:
"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown [or] converted!"
Do you remember what I was telling you about the double meaning of words? I gave the examples of sithra and barak. Yahweh did not lie, HE SPOKE THE TRUTH and if any of us doubted Him we need to repent in sackcloth in ashes and confess that we judged Him because we were ignorant and foolish. ALWAYS GIVE YAHWEH THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. And if Scripture appears to be contradictory, give it the benefit of the doubt too and check up your Hebrew or Aramaic. Be thorough in your studying. Which means, STUDY!! And I guarantee - because I have proved it so many times in my life - that Scripture always turns out to be right and those who criticise is to be wrong. It is infallible.
I am quite sure that Jonah knew, when he used the verb haphak, that it meant there were two possible outcomes but because of the hardness of his heart he could only see ONE because he only wanted ONE!
Yahweh is calling all people everywhere to repent. As things stand, there are two alternative results. If you don't repent, you'll be overthrown, and the longer you wait the harder it will become. If you do repent, you'll be converted. Thus Yah'shua said:
"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven [because you'll be overthrown]. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me" (Matt.18:3-5, NKJV).
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of Yahweh" (Acts 3:19, NKJV).
From the Greek threskeia (Strongs 2356) meaning 'ceremonial observance'
The Sign of Jonah: A Muslim Conundrum at www.nccg.org/005Art-MuslimJonah.html
The dove is used as an endearing term throughout the Song of Solomon - 2:14; 4:1; 5:2,12; 6:9
|Glossary of MLT Hebraic, Greek and English Terms |
For other terms and full details please see the Micropedia
AGlossary Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved
Adon(ai) = Master, a pagan fertility god, Adonis; used by many Messianics but not MLT
(a)eon(ian) = 7 dispensation- or age-long time periods, not forever (see le-olam-va-ed)
Alef-Tav = Alpha-Omega, A-Z, first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet = Yah'shua
Amen = truly, let it be so, written Amein by some Messianics
Apocrypha = Hebraic Scriptures not a part of the Protestant canon (e.g. Baruch)
Anti-Messiah = Hebraic term for the end-time Antichrist or anyone opposed to the Messiah
antinomian = lawless Christian who disregards all or part of Torah/commandments
Ashkenazi Jew = East European Jew descended from the Turkic-Japhethite Khazars
Assembly = church, congregation, ekklesia, community, fellowship, koinonia, gathering
Azazel = the Yom Kippur scapegoat
Baal, Ba'al = any other master than Yahweh, usually demonic in MLT terminology
Bachor(im) = firstborn son(s)
Bar/Bat Mitzvah = Son/Daughter of Commandment, covenant to obey Torah at age 12
being = soul, the whole person (spirit and body), e.g. "my whole being"
Beit, bet, beth = house, e.g. Beit Yisrael (House of Israel), Beth Lechem (House of Bread)
Beit haMikdash = Yahweh's Temple in Yerushalayim
B'rit Chadashah = the New Covenant; B'rit Chadashah Scriptures = New Testament
B'rit Milah = circumcision - abolished in the B'rit Chadashah, replaced by Mikvah
canon = authoritative Scripture (Heb. qaneh, Gk. kanŰn = measuring instrument)
Catechumen = a serious, covenanted investigator seeking Mikvah or Baptism in MLT
Chag haMatzah = Feast of Unleavened Bread, second of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Chavurat Bekorot = MLT's Priesthood Order, Holy Order and Assembly of the Firstborn
Cohen = priest; Cohen Gadol = High Priest (also spelled Kohen)
Council of Yah's elohim = the heavenly Assembly of the Firstborn or Chavurat Bekorot
demon = fallen malek or angel in rebellion against Yahweh (Heb. shad; see l-Shaddai)
derech = the Way, Path or Road - Yah'shua and the Gospel are the Way
Drash = moral or homiletic interpretation of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Echad = One, Union of two or more in one (as opposed to Yachid) - see Elohim
Echad Godhead Doctrine = Father Yahweh, Son Yah'shua and Sevenfold Ruach (Mother)
Êl, Eloah, Elah = God the Father, Yahweh
Êl-Elyon = Most High God, Yahweh
Êl-Shaddai = Master/Lord over all shads or demons
Elohim = God, the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), lit. 'Mighty One(s)', 'Ruler(s)'
elohim = Israelite judges, rulers, angels or gods (false deities, idols, demons)
emunah = faith, actively trusting, clinging or adhering to (especially Yahweh or Yah'shua)
emet = truth, Yah'shua is the Emet
Ephraimite = descendant of the patriarch Ephraim and head of Messsianic Israel
Feasts of Yahweh = the 7 annual Moedim (Pesach, Chag haMatzah, Yom haBikkurim, Shavu'ot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot)
Gan-Eden = Garden of Eden, Paradise and state of the purified heart in Messiah
goy(im) = nation(s), Israelites or gentiles not born in or converted to the Covenant
hallelu-Yah = praise Yah(weh)!
Heylel = proper name of Satan or haSatan = the Adversary, the devil
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Hochmah = Wisdom, title of the 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
IDL = International Date Line, false man-made time division in Pacific Ocean
IDL Zone = Area between the true Divine Date Line (Lake Van/Eden) and the false one
Israeli = citizen of the modern Edomite-Khazar Republic of Israel (not Biblical Israel)
Israelite = citizen of biblical state of Israel or a modern follower of the Messiah
Jew = post-biblical term describing descendants of Edomite and Khazar converts to Judaism
Johannine = pertaining to the Apostle Yochanan (e.g. Gospel of John)
Josephite = descendant of the patriarch Joseph, the head of Messianic Israel
Judahite = a person in direct descent from the patriarch Judah, forefather of the Messiah
Judaism = a Talmudic-based religion rejecting Yah'shua the Messiah
Judean = a citizen of the Kingdom or Province of Judah until the 2nd Century diaspora
Kadosh la Yahweh = set-apart or dedicated to Yahweh, 'Holiness to the Lord', MLT motto
Karaites = Jews (from 700 AD) who reject the Talmud and accept only the Tanakh
kashrut = keeping kosher, food laws of Yahweh and correspinding lifestyle
Ketuvim = Writings or Hagiographa of the Tanakh
Khazar = a Turkic convert to Judaism ~700 AD forming the Ashkenazi Jewish community
kosher = clean foods authorised by Yahweh for human consumption
Lashon Hara = evil-speaking, gossip or slander
legalism = false route to salvation through works (self-salvation)
le-olam-va-ed = dispensation- or age-long, aeonian, not eternal, forever or for eternity
Lev = heart, as in Lev-Tsiyon = heart of Zion
Lev-Tsiyon = Heart of the Fortress [of Yahweh], Hebrew name of MLT's founder
Master = Lord, Sir, Adon(ai) - (one in authority, a ruler - a king, husband, prophet, judge)
Malak(im) = Angel(s), heavenly supernatural messenger(s)
manna = wafers of honey, bread from heaven (lit. 'what is this?')
matzah = unleavened bread, see Chag haMatzah
Menorah = 7-armed candlearbra = the 7 annual Moedim and 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
Messiah = Christ; Anti-Messiah = Antichrist
Messianic Community = Body of Christ, sum total of all true believers; all true fellowships
Messianic Israel = all who worship Yahweh, trust in Yah'shua, obey Torah and overcome
Messianic Jew = Messianic convert from Judaism still clinging to Talmudic traditions
Midrash = aggadic interpretation of scripture vi‚ Drash, a scriptural discussion
Mikvah = baptism by immersion of convert into Yah'shua or of wife into husband
Mishpachah = family: nuclear, congregational, tribal or the whole of Messianic Israel
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon = family of the heart of the fortress [of Yahweh]
Mishpat = right-ruling or judgement
mitzvah/mitzvot = commandment(s)
moed(im) = appointment(s) of Yahweh, 7 Annual Feasts, Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh
Nefilim, Nephilim = giant offspring of materialised demons and human women
Nevi'im = prophetic writings of the Old Testament or Tanakh
New Birth = spiritual conversion in the Ruach haRishon, being 'born again' with new heart
Nidah = a woman's menstruation period during which no intercourse is permitted
Olive Branch = collection of revelations, prophecies and visions published by MLT
Paraclete = Comforter, Advocate (NEB), Counsellor, Ruach haQodesh (Gk. paraklÍtos)
PaRDeS = method of textual interpretation (homiletics) - see P'shat, Remez, Drash, Sod
Patriarch = a father who is head of his family, clan or tribe (lit. 'father-ruler')
Pentateuch = first five books of the Tanakh (Genesis-Deuteronomy), also called Torah
peribolaion = headcovering worn by daughters/wives in submission to fathers/husbands
Pesach = Passover, first of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Peshitta = an Aramaic version of the Bible
Prototrinitarianism = early, simplified MLT formulation of the Echad Godhead Doctrine
Prush(im) = Pharisee(s)
Pseudepigrapha = Non-canonical Hebrew writings additional to the Apocrypha
P'shat = literal, contextual, philological, exoteric, outer meaning of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Qadosh Qadoshim = Holy of Holies, most sacred set-apart room of the Beit haMikdash
Qodesh, Kodesh = set-apart, holy (see Ruach haQodesh)
Rabbi = Teacher, term used by Messianic Jews and some Messianic Israelites = Pastor
Refuge, the 12 Cities of = divinely protected MLT fortresses during the 7-year Tribulation
Remez = hint or allegorical level of Hebraic understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Rosh Chodesh = monthly New Moon appointment of Yahweh
ruach = spirit of a person (lit.'breath')
Ruach Elohim = Spirit of God (the Spirit of the collective Godhead or Elohim)
Ruach haChamashee = 5th Ruach presides over Yom Teruah and Yom Chamashee
Ruach haQodesh = the Sevenfold Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (lit. 'Set-Apart Breath')
Ruach haRevee = 4th Ruach presides over Shavu'ot, Yom Revee and Bar Mitzvah
Ruach haRishon = 1st Ruach presides over Pesach, Yom Rishon and the New Birth
Ruach haShanee = 2nd Ruach presides over Chag haMatzah and Yom Shanee
Ruach haSheshi = 6th Ruach presides over Yom Kippur and Yom Sheshi
Ruach haShleshi = 3rd Ruach presides over Yom haBikkurim, Yom Shleshi and Mikvah
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Satan = rebel archangel Heylel, father of lies, devil, chief demon (lit.'Adversary')
Sephardic Jew = West European Jew of mixed blood containing many Judahites
Septuagint = Greek translation of the Tanakh, LXX
Shegal haShabbat = 7th Ruach (Sabbath Queen) presides over Sukkot and Yom Shabbat
Shekinah = Divine Presence and Glory of Yahweh-Elohim
Set-apart = holy, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated, separated (to and by Yahweh)
Shabbat-Shabbaton = High Sabbath (e.g. Yom Kippur)
Shalom = heavenly peace, standard Hebraic greeting invoking Yahweh's peace
Shamash(im) = servant(s), deacon(s), attendant(s)
Shavu'ot = Pentecost or Weeks, fourth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Sheol = grave or pit, euphamism for Hades or hell - also see Tartarus
shofar = ram's horn, blown during Yahweh's Moedim
simcha = joy, keynote of Sukkot
Sod = mystical, anagogic, inner or esoteric understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Sukkot = Tabernacles or Booths, seventh of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Synagogue = Greek word used by Jews and Messianics (but not MLT) for a meeting house
talmid(a) = male/female disciple or student
Talmud = scriptures, teachings and commentaries belonging to non-Messianic Judaism
Tanakh = acronym for Old Testament Scriptures - Torah, Nevi'im & Ketuvim
Tartarus = place of imprisonment under the earth for rebellious angels and Nephilim
teshuvah = repentance, remorse and contrition leading back to Torah obedience
Torah = Yahweh's teachings or Law; New Covenant Torah includes Yah'shua's teachings
Tribulation, the Great = the final 7 years of the present aeon when Anti-Messiah rules
Trinity = Catholic Godhead formula - see Echad Godhead Doctrine and Prototrinitarianism
Tsiyon = Zion, a fortress, a name of Jerusalem and a prominent hill
Tzitzit/Tizitziyot = tassel(s) worn by men in remembrance of Torah
Universalism = salvation of all at the cosmic Yovel, with different rewards and punishments
Yachid = one, single person or item, as opposed to Echad (many in one, unity)
Yah'shua the Messiah = Jesus Christ (the Son)
Yahudah = Judah - see Judahite
Yahweh, Yah, YHWH = the true Name of our Heavenly Father, also carried by Yah'shua
Yahweh-Elohim = LORD God (the Father, Yahweh as Head of the Godhead or Elohim)
Yahweh haQatan = the sent Yahweh = Yah(weh)'shua, Malak of Yahweh's Presence
Yam Suf = Sea of Reeds, the true Israelite Exodus water crossing, not the Red Sea
Yarden = Jordan River (lit. 'meanderer')
Yerushalayim = Jerusalem
Yisrael = Israel (lit. 'ruling with l') = true believers under the New Covenant
Yom Chamashee = 5th day of the week (Thursday, Friday in IDL Zone)
Yom Din, Yom haDin = (the) Day of Judgement
Yom haBikkurim = Feast of Firstfruits, third of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Revee = 4th day of the week (Wednesday, Thursday in IDL Zone)
Yom Rishon = 1st day of the week (Sunday, Monday in IDL Zone)
Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement, sixth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Shabbat = 7th day of the week and Sabbath Rest (Saturday, Sunday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shanee = 2nd day of the week (Monday, Tuesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Sheshi = 6th day of the week (Friday, Saturday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shleshi = 3rd day of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Teruah = Day of Trumpets, fifth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yosef = Joseph - see Josephite
Yovel = Jubilee or Year of Jubilee
Zaqen(im) = elder(s) of an assembly or congregation, or senior members of a community
ZoŽ Life = Greek term for spiritual life in the Messiah
Commonly Used MLT Abbreviations
For additional abbreviations and explanations,
please see the Micropedia
Amp.V(er). = Amplified Version of the Bible
Aram. = Aramaic
AV = Authorised Version of the Bible - see KJV
BCAY = B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh - see NCCG
BoA = Books of Abraham (e.g. 1Abr., 2Abr., etc.)
cp, cf = compare with
CB(Q) = Chavurat Bekorot
CEV = Contemporary English Version of the Bible
ch. = chapter
CJB = Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT = Concordant Literal New Testament
CYe = Council of Yah's elohim
Eng. = English
ff. = and onwards/forwards
fn = footnote
Gk. = Greek
GNB = Good News Bible - see TEV
Heb. = Hebrew, Hebraic
HEM = Holy Echad Marriage, eternal marriage
HO = Holy Order - see Chavurat Bekorot
HOC = Holy Order Collection of revelations - see OB
HRV = Hebraic-Roots Version of the Bible
ibid. = ibidem (lit. 'in the same place'), referring to a book previously cited
ICJC = Independent Church of Jesus Christ, earlier name of NCCF
ISRV = Institute for Scripture Research Version of the Bible
JB = Jerusalem Bible
JBP/Phillips = J.B.Phillips translation of the New Testament
JNT = Jewish New Testament
KJV = King James Version of the Bible - see AV
LB = Living Bible
lit. = literally or literature
LXX = Septuagint, Greek translation of the OT
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon
Moff. = Moffatt translation of the Bible
MRC = Messianic Renewed Covenant Version of the NT
MS(S) = Manuscript(s)
NASB, NASV = New American Standard Bible/Version
NC&C = New Covenants & Commandments - see OB
NCCF = New Covenant Christian Fellowship, earlier name of NCCG
NCCG = New Covenant Church of God, earlier name of MLT - see BCAY
NCP = New Covenant Press, publishing arm of MLT
NCW = New Covenant Witness, MLT magazine
NEB = New English Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible
NKJV = New King James Version of the Bible
Nor. = Norwegian
NT = New Testament, B'rit Chadashah
NWT = New World Translation of the Bible, unreliable Jehovah's Witness version
OB = Olive Branch - see NC&C
op.cit. = opere citato (lit. in the work cited)
OT = Old Testament, Tanakh
p(p). = page(s)
pl. = plural - see s.
PWNC = Prophetic Words of the New Covenant, revelation cataloging system - see OB
QED = quod erat demonstrandum (lit. which was shown to be proved)
RCF = Restoration Christian Fellowship, earlier name of ICJC
RhQ = Ruach haQodesh, Holy Spirit
RSTNE = Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition of the Bible
RSV = Revised Standard Version of the Bible
RV = Revised Version of the Bible
s. = singular - see pl.
S&G = Smith & Goodspeed Version of the Bible
TEV = Today's English Version of the Bible - see GNB
Vulg. = Biblia Vulgata, Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible
WEB = World English Bible
This page was first created on 16 November 2007
Last updated on 16 November 2007
Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved