...because he held nothing back
by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth (Eph.2:12)
"And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, 'By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice'." Genesis 22:15-18
"Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore before Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Genesis 26:1-5
Perspective. How we manage this undertaking called life depends upon our perspective of Life. For most of us, our focus is directed toward us; on making this life as comfortable, convenient and as painless as possible that we might prolong our lives for as long as possible. Consequently, since our perspective is on us, for us, about us, our faith about Who God Is and how He operates becomes enmeshed in that focal prism. How we perceive Him to Be is based largely on what our perspective dictates. If our focus is on us, then our faith becomes about how God, because He is Good, will arrange for good to happen to us in spite of what we do. We believe God will protect us by making pain, suffering and discomfiture disappear from us because we have confessed Him to be our Lord and Savior and He is Good. And, since we confess Him as such, we don't have to worry much about our actions because He, being good, has already forgiven our waywardness - even before any such waywardness occurs. Much oratory and writings have been sold, particularly over recent years, dedicated to this singular approach to the God of Creation that emphasizes doctrine about atonement - because it feels good to us to hear such words. However, scripture tends to paint a different picture.
For those of us who believe that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we believe the Bible to be the container of the words of this God entrusted to the Hebrew people that we might come to know Him for Who HE says He is - to know the Nature and Character of His Essence. If we believe the words contained in these scriptures as being "breathed out by God" (translated as inspired from the Greek word theopneustos, meaning of God and a derivative of pneo meaning to breathe), then we must rely on those words to validate our perception of Who this God says He is. Words mean things and, if we are to understand the Essence of this Person, we must delve into the meanings of the words of scripture just for what they say - devoid of any traditional template we might try to impose upon them. When we do we will find, as Yeshua persistently tried to show us, those scriptures tend to paint a profile of Someone apart from what we have been traditionally taught - that the Father's perspective about this brief, breath of a life we occupy is quite different from ours (Mark 7:9-13).
The Father knows we are all going to die, every one of us, regardless of our position, power or prominence - no matter how much we pray for Him to deliver us otherwise. Consequently, because He lives in eternity, He is more concerned with the eternality of our spirit than He is with the immediacy of our circumstance. The station our spirit occupies in eternity with Him is directly linked to the choices we make to cultivate our spirit to be like His while on this earth. We have been given this span called "life", not to try to prolong it - but to make some choices within it that will determine our station in eternity, where He abides, with Him who is the Source of Life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). It is an interesting observation to note that nowhere in the gospels does it say that Yeshua healed or delivered any of the disciples. He empowered them with Life so that they could impart that Life to others as He did. The "us" perspective wants the Father to heal "us", to deliver "us" as a means of "bailing us out" from inappropriate choices we have made apart from Who He Is (see Prayer and Healing for a more in-depth look at these scriptures).
"For thus says the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15
Humility is not something that comes naturally for any of us. The nature of man is to want to feel in control of circumstances. But that sense of control is merely an illusion. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Indeed, none of us are guaranteed the rest of today. That awareness is the first step toward humility. The Hebrew word for humble in this verse in Isaiah is shaphal and means to be low in station - either of condition or of spirit. Both James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5 tell us the opposite of humility is pride, but they are both merely stating what they have learned of the Nature of the Father revealed in the original Book, the Torah (the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 22:4). They both continue to say in the lines that follow to "humble yourself". Both Peter (as referenced) and Paul (in Colossians 3:12-13) admonish us to "put on", to "clothe" ourselves in humility. This is something WE DO - just like when you clothe yourself every morning. It is a choice we make what we are to wear.
A disciple is one who actively bends his will toward God's instruction (Matthew 16:24). Without obedience, without choosing to "follow through" with those instructions, nothing is learned. No matter how many times I tell my child how to do something, if he chooses to take no response to my directive, no instruction has occurred. This is why it is not possible to deepen our relationship with the Father until we learn - by obeying, by choosing to do - the lesson, the directive He has for us to learn today which is designed to lead us into the path of humility.
Isaiah 57:15 - CJB, KJV
"Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor."
It is precisely BECAUSE the Father is Good - that He knows eternal life (which is living in the Present Presence of the Eternal One Who is Life) is more important that the immediacy of the circumstance we find ourselves in - that He allows us to experience hardship for it is under the pressure of circumstance that what motivates our heart is revealed (Matthew 7:13-14, Proverbs 4:23). Does He arrange circumstances to crush us? Scripture tells us it is highly unlikely that He does. Yeshua said in this world we will have tribulation, that it rains on the just as well as the unjust (John 16:33, Matthew 5:44-46). What He does is to allow us to remain in the circumstance we encounter until our heart has been proved (Deuteronomy 8:2). It is in our response to those circumstances that determine what is in our heart - humility or pride. Like light and darkness, the two cannot occupy the same space at the same time - you will either have one, or you will have the other (see the Law of Grace for a more detailed observation). It is only in the crucible of pressure, of fire, that our hearts reveal what we are truly motivated by (Luke 3:16). The purpose of testing is to see which way we will choose when faced with dire consequences - to keep His Way or our own (Luke 2:34-35). If we want to dwell in the Present Presence we must first humble ourselves by giving up control of our lives to Him - in spite of what we see or feel or hear or think. We relinquish that control of our lives to Him to the extent that if we perish physically, then, so be it - we perish. Our lives are in His Hand.
The promise we have is that IF we place ourselves in His Hand, NOTHING can snatch us out (John 10:27-30). It doesn't mean we won't get jostled, but we can be assured that we will remain in His Presence. The way we place ourselves in His Hand is the same way Yeshua exhibited His faith in the Father's Goodness. The same way Abraham exhibited his faith in the scripture at the top of this article which was accounted to him as righteousness - because he kept His Commandments, because he obeyed His Voice and, just as importantly, because he withheld nothing from him. These three go hand in hand - you can't have one without the other two (1John 5:7-8). Once we are in His Hand, however, the blessing we are afforded is that nothing can remove us from His Presence in Eternity - His Eternal Presence in the NOW.
The instructions we are given by the Father are two-fold, first by His Spirit and, secondly - as a means of validating what we hear to be the Revealed Essence of His Spirit - in Truth, the Torah. Torah means "instruction in righteousness, in Truth" (go to the Law of Righteousness for a detailed explanation). Not forsaking one for the other, but as a manner of approach we must first hear His Voice as He has told us from the beginning (1Samuel 15:22). What we DO with the challenges life presents to us today IS our worship of the Father (John 4:22-24) and it is the test of our belief in the Goodness of Who He Is (see what it means To Believe). It is not always what we want to hear, but Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Yeshua, as our example, learned obedience through the things that He suffered. If His example is our instruction, why should we think it to be any different for us if our will is actively, purposefully, being conformed to His?
So, just how do we humble ourselves? How do we "put on" this garment of humility? Do we sit in sackcloth and ashes, as do the Jews, bemoaning our fate? Or do we prostrate ourselves on the floor repeatedly crying out how unworthy we are, as do the Christians? If you will notice, both of these approach YHVH from the perspective of us. If Yeshua is our example of how to occupy this space called "life", how did He humble Himself? Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that He became a servant, obedient to the Father's wishes regardless of what it cost Him - He withheld nothing, He held nothing back. He subjected Himself to the whim of circumstance, relying on the Father to redeem Him to the Father's will and purpose (John 19:9-11). He lived this humility right to the cross from where He cried, "Into Your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). This was not the defeated last gasp of a dying man. Anyone who has studied Torah knows Yeshua was quoting Psalm 31:5 which says, "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You WILL redeem me, YHVH God of Truth." He was proclaiming to the elements the faithfulness of the Father to redeem (Hebrew padah meaning to redeem by paying a price). Having lived it, He taught it - telling us that if anyone would come after Him they must first "deny themselves" (Matthew 16:24, Matthew 10:38). To be humble is something we "do" - as the Life Yeshua lived exampled for us to follow.
"Since therefore Yeshua suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." 1Peter 4:1-2
There are two types of circumstance - those that befall us in which we have no choice and those we bring upon ourselves a result of our choice. There is one where we choose to remain in the circumstance of life until the Father moves us, trusting in His Goodness by giving Him thanks; and there is another set of circumstances where we decide to take the reins of control into our own hands to remove ourselves from the forces afflicting us - we tire of waiting on the Father.
What compromises our effectiveness in the Spirit to be used in the present is when we lose our focus as to who we are in Him in the midst of circumstances that surround us and challenge us. Far too often, we think we hear something that sounds like it might be Him and fail to measure it against His Revealed Essence - His Truth, the Torah. As we begin to make selfish choices that appease our flesh and not the Spirit, we get caught in the vise-grip of circumstance and wonder why. Hence, we need His Commandments, His delineation, His distinction, His definition of what comprises flesh and what is Spirit in order to make proper choices. They are our compass. Without them, when we abandon them, we lose our bearing and become overwhelmed by the consequence of our choices. How many believers, people who profess to know God, do you know today who are overwhelmed by the circumstance they find themselves in as a result of their own fleshly choices? They continually call out to friends and family to pray to God that their circumstance be changed instead of giving thanks to the Father IN and FOR their circumstance (see Calling Forth for an explanation). They have made choices in the presence of the Presence that took them out of His Hand for we each have a free will the Father considers sacred - He will not force us into anything. That is why He tests us - to see what will surface in our hearts.
When we read John 10:27-30, we should think of "eternal life" as being in the Present Presence. How did Yeshua say we obtain that Life? He said to keep the Commandments (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-21, Luke 10:25-28, Luke 18:18-22). He even repeated them so that there would be no mistake as to which ones He was referring to. Hence, to "hear" is to discern the Essence of the Father. To hear is to BE by remaining in the Present Presence. The Way we come into His Presence is to keep His words, His Commandments. He says if we will DO this, "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14).
The testing is not to punish us, but to see if we will keep the commandments of the Father - both of what is written and what He speaks to us - under the pressure of life's circumstances. Now, before you start copying and pasting volumes of scripture in an email to show me we are not "under the law". Stop for just a moment and consider this sampling of verses, just for what they say. There are a lot more that for brevity's sake are not included here - and these are all taken from the "New" Testament in the KJV.
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Yeshua haMashiach." Revelation 12:17
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments ." 1John 5:2
"Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God ." 1Corinthians 7:19
"And he said unto him, Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments ." Matthew 19:17
Notice the distinction between keeping the "commandments of God" and the testimony "OF the faith" that Yeshua exhibited? These are two separate, distinct phrases. The last verse listed in Matthew comes from Yeshua Himself, pointing to His keeping of the commandments of the Father as His validation (see John 8:54-55). When we begin to comprehend that Yeshua, Peter, James, John and Paul did not bring anything "new" to the table in terms of the Nature and Character of the Essence of Life, that they were all pointing us back to the Father, the Source of Life - scripture takes on a whole different texture from what has been traditionally presented.
|"And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure." 1John 3:3|
Please feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to share with you what the Spirit is uncovering.