- he became a humble worker in the Communist China that replaced his own world. But our greatest example of all must be Yah'shua - picturing the Creator of this Universe nailed on a cross, having indignity after indignity heaped upon Him, is surely an object lesson in humility and the death of pride. We are to imitate Him. Sounds easy? Well apparently it takes a whole lifetime for most of us to deal with. Go figure.
Truth #5. Stubbornness is revealed when we are forced to do something that we do not desire.
The revealing of our character can be a painful business but the more we look at it squarely and how far short we fall of the divine requirements, the more we come to appreciate the wisdom of the Wilderness Test. So far we have looked at four truths that need to be faced in the wilderness and if you're by now feeling a bit overwhelmed, I don't blame you. The pride question normally knocks the stuffing out of us but there is one last truth that needs to be studied, and that's STUBBORNNESS. The Hebrew word we translate as 'stubborn' is carar which comes from a primitive root meaning to 'turn away' or to be morally refractory. Other English words we could use to translate carar are 'rebellious', 'unmanageable' or 'obstinate'.
Active and Passive Stubbornness
Now a person who is stubborn, rebellious, obstinate or unmanageable is not the sort of person we like to be around. We tend to give them a wide birth. They can be stubborn in two entirely different ways which make them appear different but the root is still the same - they can be 'actively' or 'passively' stubborn. And since stubbornness is so closely linked to pride, the actively and passively stubborn tend to scorn each other and to think that one is superior to the other. The actively stubborn criticise the passively stubborn for not being 'real' and the passively stubborn criticise the actively stubborn for being crude and (as if often the case) possessed of a destructive tongue. That's a bit like trying to decide whether the loudly-spoken Hitler was more or less evil than the softly spoken Stalin. Both were mass-murderers but each conducted their evil in a different way.
Learning to Surrender
A stubborn person refuses to agree, surrender or give in. I am not here addressing the positive side of stubbornness, which is doggedly persisting in doing right in the face of forces trying to make us surrender to evil - that is another kind of 'stubbornness', a good stubbornness, such as represented by Ezekiel (Ezek.2). Stubbornness, in relationship to Yahweh, is not surrendering to His demands and expectations.
Managing on Your Own in Open Country
Yahweh has ways for dealing with stubbornness. This is a tough spiritual issue and usually requires tough remedial action from the Creator. Here's one example:
"Israel is stubborn (rebellious, unmanageable) like a stubborn calf (parah); now Yahweh will let them forage like a lamb in open country" (Hos.4:16, NKJV).
What is Yahweh's remedy? To let such people try to manage on their own, unprotected, like a defenceless lamb. In open territory lambs do not survive long against predators. Only their terror and the desperate awareness of their hopelessness will likely break their stubbornness down and cause them to yield. The "open country" is, of course, the wilderness, but the wilderness without Elohim.
Chizkei Lev - A Stiff Heart
Yahweh said to Ezekiel:
"Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation (Goyim haMoredim) that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children" (Ezek.2:3-4, NKJV).
The words rendered "stubborn" here are chizkei lev which literally means 'stiff' or 'strong hearted'. Such people use "looks" and "words" to try an intimidate (v.6). There is no arguing with them, no reasoning is possible.
"So I (Yahweh) gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels" (Ps.81:12, NKJV).
No Reasoning with the Stubborn
They are given to slander to justify themselves (Jer.6:28). You might as well argue with a charging rhinocerus. The only way to break down such stubborness is to let Yahweh drive them out into a wilderness tailor-made to break down their will and self-dependency. They will learn, by comparison, that life was a lot better and more bearable under Yahweh's administration than their own. They will see that what they thought was a terrible trial or wilderness journey under Yahweh's tutilage as a believer was a lot better than the purposless suffering of the wilderness journey of the backslidden or rebellious unbeliever. They will learn what 'hard times' really means and that everyone is in the wilderness in this life! Does this mean that there is no relief? On the contrary - did not Yahweh provide oases in the desert? There are oases in our lives too to refresh us along the way.
Doing More Than You are Able
With so many things happening in the wilderness simultaneously it can at times be a little hard to follow what's going on. Patience, pride, stubbornness and many other things are being constantly tested. Our lack of faith is revealed when when we are required to do more than we are able - always Yahweh asks us to do more, not because we can't but because He can if we will believe Him and let Him. Right now as I speak to you He is asking me to do something that is making me shrink back. I admit I am procrastinating. But I 'know' that I must, that I cannot possibly do it unless He intervenes, and that it entails great risk. But He has permitted circumstances to arise in my life that effectively give me no choice...other than to surrender ground to the enemy which I have taken after many tough battles, which I do not wish to do. Yahweh wishes our faith to grow, and He enables that growth by forcing us to make choices. It maybe that He wants you to love someone unlovable even more. It maybe to stand up to an unrighteous boss, government, spouse, etc.. It could be anything. But always our faith is challenged because on our own we will not launch out to deliberately increase it. We are dependent on the circumstances that Yahweh places in our way to prod us into action.
In this Wilderness Test our idolatries are also revealed to us when Yahweh asks us to sacrifice or give up something that matters to us. These idolatries, incidentally, may be good or evil, lawful or unlawful, kosher or unkosher. Of course, we have to give up evil, unlawful and unkosher practices as a matter of course - we can't expect to hang on to them and get away with it before Yahweh. But I am not talking but those things which constitute disobedience in Yahweh's eyes but lawful things.
Examples of Idolatry
I know a man who has devoted a good part of his life to helping someone who doesn't want to be helped and probably has no intention of ever being helped to such an extent that he is neglecting nearly all the others callings and responsibilities Yahweh has for Him. This is idolatry. He means well but what he is doing is not in Yahweh's will. Idolatry is simply letting something come between you and Yahweh.
I knew a couple who were so much in love with one another and would do anything for one another who had such a fantastic marriage that everyone was in awe but they were so mutually absorbed they could see no one and nothing else. That was idolatry. That they loved each other so deeply and mutually sacrificially was wonderful but the marriage had become their god. They loved their marriage more than Yahweh. I do not know what happened to them but I can guess.
Salvation: An Event and a Process
Brethren and sisters, this has been a long address to you today, far longer than I had intended, but I am impelled to try and give you such a broad scope in our subject material that you will leave here today convinced beyond any doubt that the Wilderness Test is not only absolutely necessary but something you should want. If you have been born again, love Yahweh with all your might, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself, you will be only too keen to get back into the Wilderness with single minds and hearts dedicated to getting fixed. And I hope you will have learned also that salvation isn't achieved in a day - it's both an event (the day you were born again) as well as a life-long process. If you didn't know it was a life-long process, I hope you will leave here today convinced that it is absolutely so.
Immaturity, Self-Will and Self-Centredness
In the Wilderness, do we just learn about our faith and about our idolatries? Of course not. We also learn about our immaturity when we don't get our way. We have our self-will exposed when we are required to do something that upsets our personal ambitions. And our self-centredness is revealed when we are forced to serve others. So many things are revealed in the desert! Why does Yahweh want them revealed? To get the devil out of our lives because we cannot be owned by two Masters! If we claim Yahweh is our Master and the devil has one part of our lives, then each master will demand a choice of us - for Yahweh or for Satan. That is why we wrestle. And the purpose of our testing in the wilderness is to show us where the devil has us so that we can be rid of him, or to return back to Egypt with him.
Choosing What You Really Want To Be
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matt.12:35, NKJV).
The Wilderness Test exists to show you what you are so that you can continue choosing what you really want to be. It exists to expose our self-delusions...usually we think we are so wonderful...so that we can choose to be filled with wonder about Yahweh who is quick to put things right when we ask Him.
We have seen that testing is inevitable, necessary, continual, productive, influential and designed specifically by Yahweh. We have also seen that those who make wrong choices in the desert soon get disillusioned, distraught, distracted, angry, bitter and hardened if they allow themselves to make one wrong choice after another and not repent. That doesn't mean it's too late for them, only that the return journey is a bit harder. I have known many people who have made bad choices, blame Yahweh, reject Yahweh, and then blame us for their behaviour. But then that is typical of the flesh, is it not?
Escaping the Wilderness Test
Would you like to escape Yahweh's Wilderness Test? You can ask Him, if you like, and if you are persistent enough, He might grant you your request. But I have to warn you, that those who manage to escape the Wilderness Test always end up in a mess. You've seen what the Wilderness Test is for and what benefits it brings. Are you a little curious as to what might happen to you if you escaped it altogether? I can give you two examples of men in the Bible who escaped the Test and lived to bitterly regret it. Can anyone guess who I might be thinking of?
Saul and Solomon Escaped the Draft
The first I want to mention is King Saul the Benjamite who ended up consumed by jealousy. The second is King Solomon who ended up consumed by his own passions. I don't intend to rehearse their histories to you. They acquired glory without testing and they both ignominiously fell. Both are, almost certainly, in hell. Think about their lives and maybe you will resist any of the enemy's temptations to have what they had before they started taking a wrong course. They had none of the benefits of the Wilderness Test to save them from terrible choices. They failed a different set of tests which we will be talking about in the weeks to come.
The Choices We Must Make
Do you now agree with me when I say that testing of universal - for everyone? There is no way we can avoid it - even Saul and Solomon were tested in other ways. But we do have our own personal choices, our own personal input, our own personal responsibilities, and that is shown in how we respond to the tests. No one can respond for us. I know a lot of people waiting for others to respond for them and then when they refuse to choose, and remain stationary, not going anywhere, bogged down, not maturing, not growing, they are quick to blame others. If you are standing in the middle of a road and a lorry or truck is bearing down on you, you have a number of possible responses. But standing there and doing absolutely nothing, expecting Yahweh to do some miracle to move you out the way when you have two operational legs, when there is something you can do, it likely going to see you turned into a bloody pancake. There are bloody pancakes everywhere, people complaining bitterly about their lives because they refused to be tested. They complain at how far away Yahweh seems to be but refuse to believe that they are personally responsible.
Blessings of the Wilderness
Now there are concrete signs or blessings that come out of the Wilderness Test. These include:
1. Gaining assurance of the supernatural at work in our lives;
2. Gaining an assurance that Yahweh is taking care of us;
3. Gaining the assurance of the power of Yahweh in our lives;
4. Gaining the assurance of Yahweh's faithfulness to us; and
5. Becoming witnesses to the renewing and transformation of our minds and hearts.
Pie-in-the-Sky or Reality?
Now the only reason that I am standing before you today and bearing witness of these things is not because of some irrational, wishywashy faith in some imaginary pie-in-the-sky god. I would have to be a complely brainwashed moron were I to do that. I am here before you saying these things precisely because I can bear testimony of these assurances. I have seen the miraculous, watched Yahweh take care of me, seen the power of Yahweh operate in my life, witnessed His faithfulness, and seen how my mind and heart have been progressively changed and expanded because of Him. It has not, however, been easy. Many times I have wanted to give up. Sometimes I have wanted to die. I do not wish to deceive anyone by telling them that the Gospel walk is a piece if cake or that it will not entail personal losses. Yah'shua also spelled the truth out in no uncertain terms and warned that there would be a cost. And whilst this is a truism for all activitists in many kinds of endeavour, both religious and secular, there is one essential difference between the true biblical faith and everything else: there is a concrete result at the end of it that transcends mortality.
A Personal Testimony
I had thought to list all my privations before you over the years but I realised that would just be boasting in myself and be a prideful. What I have been through, as is true of all believers on the Way, and some of my losses have been caused by a combination of the devil testing me and the fruits of some bad seeds I planted in ignorance and in rebellion years ago. We must all take such things into account in our assessments of life. But equally, and more importantly. Many of the difficulties have been as a result of Yahweh's Wilderness Testing and my choice to suffer for Him. I'm still getting uncomfortable things exposed in me. I don't like it but I am committed to this Path because it is the only one that leads to Life Eternal and it is the only one that is giving me servings of eternal life on the way - the oases of which I earlier spoke. I know that what I have gained from the Testings - the five assurances - will never go away...they can never be lost. I have regrets over the bad seeds planted in the past but I have learned - or am learning - to move on. I am acquiring the ability to endure step by step, I am being matured, and I know that provided I continue to walk with Him that I will lack nothing. I try to have the attitude of the apostle James who said:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
Our effectiveness and successes depend upon our responses to the various trials and tests that we meet. Have we made mistakes? Of course we have. But we will be given the opportunity to pass them, even if we have to go through them seventy times seven times, if we will finally let Yahweh have His way. That's a choice you and I absolutely can make and must make if we are serious about making this one-and-only lifetime count in the eternities. We don't get a chance to do it again so don't waist your life pursuing the fleshpots of Egypt. The end of that is slavery and death.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer.29:11, NKJV).
I can honestly say I believe these words. I have no reason to disbelieve them. So I persist along the Path He has ordained me to walk. And I am praying that you will do the same.
We serve a great and wonderful Elohim! He is bigger than every problem we have ever faced, or will face, and knows how to turn our mistakes around for the better. And what we have suffered for righteousness sake, He repays many, many times over, just as He did Job. In Messiah Yah'shua we always have a future - today. We can safely release the baggage of yesterday into His hands and make a fresh start. With Him, everything is possible (Lk.18:27). I have optimism in spite of the past. I have hope where there has been hopelessness. Yahweh can yet make everything that we do with our hands to prosper (Gen.39:3).
Next week we will continue with the other tests Yahweh has lovingly and graciously provided for us. In the meantime, please say 'Yes' to Yah'shua and 'Yes' to the Wilderness Test. Great blessings await you! Amen.
Click here for Part 2
 Michael Wiltcher, Nine Tests Every Christian Must Face
See The Pastoral Office: A Guide to Pastoral Leadership
See Mexi Huitzilopochtli and the World Pandemic Alert
See The Moedim of Yahweh
See Eddie Chummney, Who is the Bride of Christ? (Serenity Books, Hagerstown, MD: 2001)
See Chag haMatzah
See Yom Teruah
See Yom Kippur
Garry Stern, Economy won't dampen Osteen's message of prosperity
See The True Names of Elohim: Exposing the Ultra-Messianics
The latest excuse is that they are needed to breed faster to overtake the Muslims who are taking over the West because of their large families.
See Statement on Plural Marriage
Messianics can't even agree on that - variations include Yahshua, Yeshua, Y'shua, Yahushua, Yehoshua, etc.
Wikipedia Das Boot
See The Deity of the Holy Spirit
Oddwin Solvoll, in Korsets Seier, Friday 17 April, 2009, Dåpsforskrekkelse, p.3.
See The Five Commissions and especially To Make Disciples of All and To Plant the Keys of Truth
See Fruitfulnress, Busy-ness and Rejected Silver
Leviathian: Escaping the Brute Called Pride
See The Way of Joseph and Asenath
The Last Emperor, IMDv Movie Review