11 / 05 / 11
(Revisited from 013010)
“Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
I have felt some of the pain that our Messiah must have felt. Jeremiah felt it those who followed the Messiah felt this pain, as well. I am going to paint you a picture so that you may better understand:
Imagine two people standing before you. Each of them has a message :
Man #1: Is well-dressed and very handsome. He is successful in all that he does and seems to have the world under his control. Everything he touches seemingly turns to gold.
Man #2: Is quite the opposite. He is not wealthy, and as far as looks, well, he is far from handsome. He has a small group of friends who all seem to be down on their luck, too. People walking by seem to ridicule him. In short, by the standards of this world he would not be considered successful.
Both of these men are preaching a spiritual message about how to live here on earth and about salvation. These two men have differing opinions about it, though, which man would you tend to be drawn to? Both man #1 and #2 claim to love and praise God sincerely, and they both claim to be blessed by God. They both have a message which one would you tend to believe is truly being blessed? If you haven’t already guessed, man #2 represents Yeshua (Jesus) and those who followed Him. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 53:2-4:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not we considered him stricken by God.“
We also know from Scripture that He had no place to lay His head (He was homeless but he had a message). We also know from Scripture that Satan controls the worldly wealth and used it to tempt our Messiah in the desert. In our society, though, the multitudes continue to flock to man #1 in their search to know God. The fact is, our flesh wants what the world has to offer. Only when the riches of the world are combined with a spiritual message, people suddenly desire spiritual things.
LET US SEE WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT WORLDLY WEALTH:
First of all, I want all my readers to know that I consider myself wealthy. Why do I think so? Because I have more than today’s food and clothing. THAT is all that He promises us. Anything beyond today’s food and clothing makes us wealthy according to God’s standards. The promise of many churches, though, is that we will be wealthy according to the world’s standards if we have enough faith. My point is, if the proof-test of being blessed by God is wealth, then why weren’t the disciples and all the followers of Yeshua we read about in the New Testament all wealthy according to the world’s standards? Some may have been at first, but once they began to follow the Messiah, they walked away from their businesses or gave up all they had. They were willing to give up everything to follow Him.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) my Lord, for whose sake I have LOST all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ .” (Philippians 3:8)
In fact, when we think about focusing on gaining worldly wealth in this life, the words of our Messiah come to mind:
“and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)
As well as what He told the rich man to do to inherit the government (kingdom) of God:
‘Yeshua (Jesus) said to him (the rich man), “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ‘ (Matthew 19:21)
The truth is: when we focus on gaining spiritual wealth instead of earthly wealth, it is then that we lose THIS life so that we may gain Christ and find true life, eternally. Are you trying to hang on to both? Let us continue then
Here is a challenge for the wealthy (those with more than today’s food and clothing): Pray this prayer with me, “Father, if my wealth is keeping me from knowing you more, take away my abundance and leave me with only what you feel is necessary for me. I do not want to be rich if it is keeping me from truly knowing you more intimately. I trust in you to supply my daily food and clothing like your disciples did.”
Go ahead and try it. What did you say? Hey, I totally understand how hard it is to pray and think this way. We have an example of a prayer about finances in Proverbs which states:
“give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is YHVH?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
Did you catch that? The writer of Proverbs considers having only today’s daily bread as being the middle ground between poverty and riches! What else does Scripture say about those who preach that faith will necessarily bring worldly wealth or that having riches is the proof that He is pleased with your faith?
” who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:5-9)
- Read the physical description of His followers in 2 Corinthians: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (vs 6:10)
‘Then Yeshua (Jesus) said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (He did NOT say it is impossible, just hard. But, how hard is it? ) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom (government) of God“. ‘ (Matthew 19:23)
Hmmmm that is hard. Do I want more money? Yes (I cannot lie), of course I do. But it is my flesh that desires it and does NOT want to have to trust God every time I get hungry (but that is my flesh and I am working on it). You can have a homeless man who is just as much of a sin as the most wealthy if he desires it more than God. The fact is, it is when we have nothing that we truly trust God for every meal and need. That could be why those He sent off to preach the truth were told to take NOTHING with them: ‘These were his (Yeshua’s) instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.” ‘ (Mark 6:8)
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who RICHLY provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be RICH in GOOD DEEDS, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is TRULY LIFE.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver has corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.” (James 5:1-3 and 5)
Gulp so how rich do you want to be? Do you want tomorrow’s food too? Is that too much? I don’t know. But when we see the abject poverty in third world countries, nearly all of us as Americans would be considered rich and fall into the above descriptions. We truly must take this to heart and make some hard decisions about what the future holds and where our treasures should be. Many think their litmus test of true faith is: “I study the Word when I have time and I go to church. Obviously, God is pleased with me because I am wealthy and prosperous.” This message is the opposite of what He seems to actually say in Scripture. (Oh, I know, I know. Just like obedience, there are some Scriptures that we can twist to satisfy our flesh but many of those passages are referring to ’spiritual wealth’).
‘You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.’ (Revelation 3:17-18)
What do you think: in this passage, is wealth a sign of being blessed by God? It seems that wealth is often what Satan uses to deceive people from truly turning to and knowing the God of Israel. Can you see it? “Hey, I claimed Jesus as my Savior, I go to church, I pray, and praise Him and I have all that my flesh desires. Why would I want to change anything about my faith?” Many people do not grow spiritually or seek to be further sanctified by God (they continue to break His Laws) because they are lulled into complacency due to the belief that the material blessings prove they are ‘holy enough’ to gain salvation and please God the way they are. This is verified by the following verses:
“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed ‘and MEN praise you when you prosper’ he will join the generation of his fathers, who will NEVER see the light of life.” (Psalm 49:16-19)
Did you catch that? The wealthy who were praising God considered themselves as being blessed, never realizing that their wealth was actually keeping them from knowing the truth and seeing the light. I have to be honest with you, it is when I am the neediest that I seem to grow the most in my faith; It is when I struggle to get paid from those I have worked for that I search the hardest for His face and truth and what pleases Him.
SO, WHAT ARE HIS CHILDREN TOLD TO DO WITH WEALTH (the amount we have after eating and dressing for the day)?
Let’s see how the early church handled wealth:
“At the present time your plenty will supply what THEY need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what YOU need. Then there will be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:14)
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
“There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)
For all of us who have more than today’s food and clothing, we need to take a step back and examine how we are using the wealth that we have. In addition, we must also realize that wealth is not a litmus test to determine who has been given favor by God. I have seen many wealthy self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ whose children were disobedient, whose marriages were failing, and who had little sleep due to worry, fear, and depression. I have also seen the opposite-those low and middle income ‘Christians’ (still wealthy in God’s eyes) whose children were respectful, whose marriages were a joy and blessing, and who had peaceful sleep with lives of joy, spiritual growth, praise, and peace. The fact is, the less one has, the greater the faith seems to be. Me? I would go to man #2 for advice about life (only after examining His walk of obedience and faith).
STUDY ON TASSELS
Yep … we all hate sticking out like a sore thumb … “You want me to do what? Wear white and blue strings around my waist?” Talk about standing out! BUT, if it’s a command of God … there is no question, “Yes sir”.
(I am using NIV below)
The command: Numbers 15:38-40 … “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”
The command … again: Deuteronomy 22:11-13 … “Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear. If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her …”
• The passage found in Numbers 15:38-40 is right after the recording of the Sabbath-breaker being stoned. As if, DO THIS (wear these tassels) so that this does not happen again (as verse 40 states … “By wearing them … THEN you will remember to obey”. Remember the “tying a string around your finger to remember what you are to remember?” God uses tassels!)
• Also found are the words “throughout the generations” and the verb “TO MAKE”.
• Let me ask you, are these following commands still valid today?:
- Putting a parapet around your roof so that no one gets injured by falling?
- Not planting two kinds of seed in your vineyard?
- Not plowing with and ox and donkey yoked together?
- Leaving part of your field (the corners) for the poor and hungry?
- Rising up when the “gray-haired” enters a room (the elderly)?
- If we find our neighbor’s ox (animal) we are to take it in and care for it until they return?
- Not wearing clothes of wool and linen woven together?
• If yes … then the verse on the tassels is the very next statement of some of the above … not skipping a beat … “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.” … (It then continues on marriage violations) as well as mixed in with the others above.
People may use excuses for not obeying certain commands, such as:
1.) It doesn’t say “forever” or “for all generations”, so it’s not for us today (Can’t use this excuse, it does say throughout the generations!) Did you know that the Ten Commandments do not say “forever” yet we know that it is to be. Hmmm …
2.) They (the Jews) had the tassels to remind them of God’s Law … we have the Spirit now (We are never to negate a command because we know the spiritual meaning … “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23) and “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.” (1 John 2:7) This is how we KNOW that the Spirit is within a child of God … their flesh obeys the Law (For it is through the Spirit that it is done)!
3.) I have even heard that it was used as a similie … you know, describing something else. Let us examine that one for a moment:
Two similes come to mind … Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and another similar one in Exodus 13:7-9. A Simile is comparing two items using the words like or as. Below, in blue, are descriptive words or action words. The underlined are the similes. Note: wearing tassels is not used as NEVER used as a descriptive word for an action. Simply, by wearing them, you are reminded.
(I am using NASB below)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 … “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you get up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Exodus 13:7-9 … “Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. You shall tell your son on that day, saying, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt. And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.” (BY observing this feast, and by doing so, it will be “as if” it were written on our hands and displayed on our foreheads.)
Can you see in the above passages that there is a difference between actually being asked to do something (in blue) VERSUS being told that doing something was “as if” it was like doing something else (a simile … see the underlined items)
1.) You just finished a beautiful vacation that was absolutely breathtaking. You come back to explain it to your friends … “It was as if I was in paradise” (Were you actually in paradise, or was it like you were?).
2.) Again, many people living out in the farm lands of the country often say, “Living in the country is as if you are living in heaven.” (Are you actually living in heaven, or is it “LIKE” living in heaven, “as if” you were?)
The same with the above passages … by doing one thing, it is “as if” you were doing another. As you can see, wearing tassels is never mentioned as a similie. It even explains what they will do when worn.
Let me ask you:
How do you exactly live out “Keeping the Sabbath”? I often look and see what my forefathers have done … I often institute my own precautions, as well. What if our Master (Yeshua / Jesus Himself) did or did not do something on the Sabbath … would that be a good enough test on what to do? Well … He wore His tassels! Matthew 9:20 … “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak.” (Edge is strong’s # G2899 … specifically a fringe or tassel) Are we not to be imitating what HE does? (1 John 2:6).
Matthew 23:5 … “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;” (We often say that the Master had many opportunities to address an issue such as nullifying the Sabbath, but He never did (He simply corrected the interpretation of how to obey it). Same with this passage, He had the opportunity to let us know that wearing the tassels is NOT a command. Instead, He corrects the way they were being worn. The leaders were making their tassels and prayer shawls longer and wider to show others that they were superior to the “common folk”)
4.) (Regarding excuses for not wearing tassels) “I don’t have a 4 corner garment, so I don’t have to wear them.” OR “you are not wearing them right, since you are not wearing a 4 corner garment” (some attach them on their belt loops around themselves).
Here’s a thought regarding how to wear tassels:
• I have been criticized about wearing them on the belt loops of my pants. (Yet, I do not hear criticism of those who hide them by tucking them in?). What is the proper way to wear them? Let me ask you, what if someone was wearing his tassels on the bottom of His pant-legs? To him I would say, “Ah, Great!” (I would then ask him how he came up with that, but great!) What are the four corners of your garments? If you use other Scriptural references to four corners which simply refers to being “around the entire object” … the object, in this case, is me. I have nothing against those who actually wear them on a 4 corner garment (that happened to be what they were wearing at that time in history).
“Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.” (Ezekiel 7:2) (Since Israel’s land is not a square … the combined meaning in Strong’s means “border”, “end”, or “uttermost part” … in word search it also describes it as “It took on the sense of the outer edges, corners, or extremities of something.”
“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.” (Revelation 7:1) (Maybe this is where they got that whole “the world is flat” idea? Instead, I think that the writer meant that there was no escaping the four angels … they covered the earth, they had it surrounded!!))
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth – ” (Revelation 20:7-8a) (Maybe this is why they believed the earth was flat?)
(I enjoyed this next one … most heads are not square, nor do they have edges / corners … except mine … it has a flat top! Get it? (Wow, tough crowd!))
(NIV) Leviticus 19:7 … “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shall thou mar the corners of thy beards.” (I don’t know if anyone told Moses, but God already rounded off the corners of my head … it’s now a ball-shape)
(NASB) Leviticus 19:17 … “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”
(KJV) Leviticus 19:7 … “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads, nor harm the edges of your beard.” (Question: Where would the side end and the top begin? That would be the next controversy, eh?)
Makes you think again … “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.” (Deuteronomy 22:12) (How do I see it? You should be surrounded by God’s Word … these tassels shall be all around you. They are on the edge of my garment (the top of my pants) and my brothers can see them and remember to obey God’s Laws. What does “all around” mean to you? As long as we are practicing … that is what pleases God, I believe.
But what about woman? Are they to wear them too?
Deuteronomy 22:12 simply states to do “this”: “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.” To answer the question about who this command is to, let me ask you, who is Deuteronomy 22:11 to? (“Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.”). Obviously, this is for the woman to do, as much as for the men. I think about Adam and Eve. Adam (the man of the house) was given the command and HE was to pass it on to Eve. That is the job of the men or husband, to be spiritual heads of their household. ALL the commands were to the “Israelites” or “sons of Israel” (unless a certain command was for the woman or man, it then said “a man is not to …..” or “a woman is to do ….”) Below is the Strong’s definition of “Israelites” or “sons of Israel”:
From H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like H1, H251, etc.):
Numbers 15:38-41 … “Speak to the Israelites (many translations have “sons of Israel”) and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of YHVH, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am YHVH your God.’” Could this be to the men, like Adam, the builders of the family name, to tell the woman? Oh … you thought that I would have an answer? I don’t know. My wife has put them on her prayer shawl she covers herself with during her intimate prayer times. We are saved by faith as we try to figure out how to obey God.