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A Pillar of Cloud
Pure or Perverse?

by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
(Ephesians 2:12)

"...and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, YHVH, are in the midst of this people. For you, YHVH, are seen face to face. Your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night." Numbers 14:14

"With the pure You will show Yourself pure, and with the perverse You will show Yourself contrary." Psalm 18:26

Most of us carry an image of perversity as some deep, dark, evil proponent when, in fact, there is no moral equivalency associated with its definition at all. The English translated word perverse found in Psalm 18:26 above comes from the Hebrew word 'ikkesh (click on the highlighted words to view content), whose primary definition is twisted, distorted and is used in Proverbs 8:8 to describe speech. The Greek word Yeshua uses in Matthew 17:17 is diastrepho, which means to distort, a turning aside. We see in both languages that the meaning of perverse is not some demented thing, but merely a slight distortion of or turning from the Truth. Hearkening back to geometry class in school, I can remember the professor drawing two straight lines, each having the same starting point at one end but with a one degree of separation between them. As those lines were extended, for the longest time they appeared as a single line. It was only after a length of extension that the separation between them became evident with their eventual end points noticeably miles apart. So it is with becoming perverse. A slight separation from Truth only becomes evident over time. The motivation behind how that slight turning comes to be is not addressed in either definition. That motivation could be very well intentioned.

So, then, if "perverse" is not what it is commonly thought to be - what does it mean, scripturally, to be "pure"? Here, again, there is no moral equivalency associated with the word's meaning. The English word translated pure found in Psalm 18 above comes from the Hebrew word barar which means to purify, select, polish, choose, purge, cleanse or make bright, to test or prove. It is also used in 1Chronicles 9:22 to describe the Gatekeepers of the temple. The Greek word translated as "clean" in John 15:3 is katharos and means purified by fire, free from every admixture of what is false (see what it means to be Salt of the Earth).

How, then, are we able to determine whether we are BEing Pure or Perverse in a situation? It is by how we respond when we are confronted with the circumstances of life. We can embrace the Father's Glory as demonstrated by the Life of Yeshua, allowing the Father to use the circumstance to polish us into a brighter Light of His Image - or we can lay hold of the situation and become determined to fashion it into what we would like to see happen, all in the "name of righteousness" and "all for the glory of God" of course. For me, throughout my life it has been a struggle when I hear Him speak or see a need to continue to wait until He illumines the next step in the path He desires me to take. Waiting for Him to not only say, "...this is what I would have you to do" but, also, and equally as important, "...this is how I would have you to do it." The bane of my spiritual walk has been seeing the path He has laid out before me and thinking, "...I know how to do that" (a slight turning), then skipping merrily off doing what I know to do, sure I am in His Will - until I find myself way off down the road in an utter balagan (Hebrew for a huge mess), apart from where I should be and wondering what happened.

...Polished Gems
YHVH does not need my help in executing His Plans and Purposes in this earthly realm. All He is after is a willingness on my part to be obedient to His Words in the face of what is set in front of me. For some of us (me) that is easier said than done. In a sweet conversation with an equally sweet sister in the Faith, Y'hudit spoke of a hobby someone in her family had of polishing rocks. This person kept a small rock polisher in a back room that, when filled with water and a drop of lubricant, would cause the small stones placed inside to tumble against one another for 24 hours, knocking off the impurities they had collected lying around in someone's driveway. What would start out as insignificant, ugly rocks would emerge as beautiful, polished gemstones - sparkling in the light of day. She recounted of how she remembered this person saying that there would always be one stone harder than the others that would require many sessions before it became radiant, but, in the process, was instrumental in making sure the softer rocks were cleaned and polished thoroughly. Some of us (like me) are just a bit harder and require extra sessions in the tumbler to be polished completely. To become a highly polished gemstone, to be stripped of our own agenda, to be cleansed of the things we have held onto as dear to us, is not a 'fun' process - but, it is an essential process if we desire His Life to become our Life (1John 4:17). When we allow Him the freedom to do with us as He pleases, the end result is that we BECOME Pure and are able to see Elohim in the Purity of Who He Is (Matthew 5:8, see what it means to Become Vulnerable).

Tradition comes from the Greek word, paradosis, which means a giving up or giving over, the act of giving up. For most of us, what we believe is what we have been taught by others. We carry within us a mixture of what is true and what is false coming mostly from our embrace of the traditions of men wrapped in teachings handed down to us as "truth" (Mark 7:6-9). We embrace what we have been taught because those teachings sound reasonable and keeping them is easier than digging out Truth for ourselves (not really, but we convince ourselves so). In so doing, we forfeit the ability to hear YHVH for ourselves by "giving ourselves over" to the agendas of other men. Scripture tells us we do not need some man to teach us of Who He Is. When we embrace His Words by surrendering ourselves to those Words with a willing heart, holding nothing back - Yeshua said we can trust Spirit to guide us into all Truth for He is Truth. However, there is a price to pay for learning of His Truth - we begin to be 'tumbled'.

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture...
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly ." John 10:9-10

Abundant Life
...Abundant Life
What is abundant Life? If you put Life on a graph from 0 to 100 (with 0 being the pits and 100 being the highest mountain top experience) then the line denoting 'Life' within the graph would be 0 and 100 - and everything in between! Abundant Life is experiencing everything - love, loss, joy, grief, gladness, sorrow, success and failure. It is from these experiences, the circumstances of our life lived in this earthly realm with others, that He is able to polish the impurities of our life into the Glory of Who He Is IF (a big little word) we give those circumstances to Him and, while in the middle of the circumstance, proclaim His Goodness. This is what it means to 'embrace' His Life for this is what He did while in the flesh.

It was not until after I had failed through the better part of three decades of life, even while knowing Him, that I came to understand that the Father loves failures - He endears Himself to them (Isaiah 57:15). Today, because I have given Him those failures to use however He wishes, somehow (and I honestly don't know how He does it) He is able to sculpt those failures into something that imparts Life to others who are at a loss, grieving or in the depths of despair. He uses them to encourage and help keep some who would receive the lessons of those experiences from falling into a place of embitterment (Hebrews 12:15). It is only from languishing in that pit of despair that causes one to be able to relate to the pain others are suffering. How can we do that if all we have is health and prosperity? Nowhere in scripture are we guaranteed health and Yeshua makes plain that riches and Spirit do not coexist. Our testimony, then, becomes how the Faithfulness of this One Who First Comforted me with the Light of His Life while still in that blackness sustains me today (2Corinthians 1:4). Sometimes He extracted me from the pit, but more often than not He allowed me to remain there for my spiritual benefit and that I might have a testimony of His Goodness in the face of overwhelming darkness. That no matter what I see, no matter what I hear, no matter what I feel, no matter what I think - He remains Faithful and Good (Romans 8:28, Revelation 12:11). He was able to show me, in the middle of what seemed to be entirely bleak situations, how He had never left me, had not abandoned me, had not forsaken me. He imparted Life to me. He gave me hope that I might share that Hope with others (Romans 5:1-5).

"For YHVH knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Psalm 1:6

It is a laughable fact that statistically most people believe they are above average. It is a very sad fact that most people believe they are not among the wicked. Despite considerable warnings about the narrow way, most religious people, believe that they are on the right path. Most believers in the Christian religion think once you have your ticket stamped, being good is good enough. Christians are being baptized into a way of life that has been syncretizing pagan customs for 2000 years, into a way of life that sees no connection to Torah, into a way of life that is about being a good (and successful) person. But, if we begin to talk about David's definition of the wicked, the conversation ends abruptly. The first Psalm is about the preeminent place of Torah, the only true guiding light for life. The wicked are defined as those who do not follow the instructions of YHVH found in His Words. Just like the statistics about "average," the Greek paradigm of the Christian Church convinces their believers that they are among the righteous in spite of their obvious behavioral misalignment to the Words of YHVH and Yeshua.

Who, then, does scripture consider to be the wicked? In this verse from Psalms 1, the Hebrew term is rasha' - someone who is hostile to YHVH. In Paleo-Hebrew, the definition is "the person consuming experience" - suggesting that the wicked are those who live according to their experience of life, whose standard is not the one revealed by YHVH outside the human frame; but, rather, the standard of what pleases now, inside the human frame. Does it matter if that standard is determined by the Church rather than the civilization? The paradigm is still not revelation. It is accommodated revelation, modified and adjusted to the culture. Yes, the Church does advocate acts of righteousness, compassion, benevolence and moral character, but on what basis? The Bible? The Bible teaches Torah. Every prophet, every disciple, even the Messiah teaches Torah. The Bible does not teach a higher human morality. It teaches a revelation from YHVH - that His Pillars accompany those that unequivocally trust Him in all circumstance. Adjustments of that revelation are the signs of wickedness and that He will change circumstance to accommodate our comfort and convenience is an adjustment to His Words.

the Words of Life
...the Words of Life
Most Christians are good people trying to live good lives and be faithful to a religious God they don't really know. They just have not been taught that Torah obedience is the standard of righteousness. Consequently, they are unable to imagine that Torah disobedience is wickedness. No one has ever taught them that nomos is Torah (law) and anomos is lawlessness, i.e., without Torah. Baptism means nothing without subsequently becoming observant followers of the revelation of YHVH found in His Words. These people have heard YHVH speak to them but they have not been able to hear Him say, "Now follow in My Ways" because, instead, they have heard the Church tell them that their tickets are stamped, now go be a good person - but 2000 years of anti-Hebraic teaching does not make that position excusable. These folks can read and just reading the scriptures should convince anyone that YHVH does have a standard and He expects His people to live by it. Those of us who know this are also expected to help others see it, to help them become citizens of the Kingdom of YHVH.

It was not until I decided to go against all of the traditional "comfort theology" I had accumulated over the years to embrace what I was reading in scripture not to "pray in faith" the circumstances I considered adverse to change but, instead, to wait within those circumstances on Him in whatever form His Goodness appeared in - that I only then began to truly see Him for Who He said He Is. If my waiting on Him in those circumstances meant it would cause me to perish - then, like the boys before Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace, I would perish. When they made that commitment with their lives, they did not know whether YHVH would deliver them or not. Either way, they were determined to not bow to unbelief (Daniel 3:17-18). It was not until I became determined to remain in that place that He brought me into the realization of how seeking for healings, signs and wonders to extricate us from the uncomfortableness we find in our life is just an indication of our unbelief in His Goodness in the present circumstances (John 4:48, 2Corinthians 12:7-9). The external manifestation of His Power is deliberate - to gain the attention of those who do not believe. For we who do believe, who have embraced His Life, that Power becomes manifested internally, within us, to purify, to cleanse and that we might be made whole. This is virtue - an excellence of spirit. This is how we BECOME Light (1John 4:17). We BECOME Light, as did Yeshua, for the benefit of others - not ourselves (James 4:3).

We look upon this brief, breath of a lifetime as trying to make it as comfortable, convenient and painless as possible. The whole of society, indeed, the world is geared toward convincing us that we can extend our life and make it better by doing certain things, eating certain foods and thinking certain thoughts. The reality is - everybody dies. The most important lesson I took from my heart attack (see Preserving Our Life) is that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed the rest of today! Every person Yeshua healed - died. Except for Yeshua, no one has escaped this life with their flesh intact - and His was transformed. The Father knows this. This is why He said to "...take no thought for tomorrow," and, "...He knows what you have need of" (Matthew 6:31-34). We have not been placed here to curry a few more days of favor on this planet. We have been placed here to be a beacon of Light set on a hillside in the midst of turbulence for all to see that others might be influenced to partake of this Life we are so privileged to enjoy (Matthew 5:14-15). The Father is more interested in the eternality of our spirit than He is in the immediacy of our circumstance. We should begin to approach this life from His perspective instead of from our own.

"Since therefore Messiah 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 YHVH." 1Peter 4:1-2

Please feel free to email me at While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.