Torah Portion MIKETZ – Bereshet (Genesis) 41:1- 44:17
Special Hanukka edition 2021/5782
Ruth replied, “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Adonai deal with me, and worse, if anything but death comes between me and you!” Ruth 1:16-17 TLV
Shabbat shalom, dearly beloved!
Some Christian/Messianic believers living within Western societies full of humanism and unbelief seem to be confused about these two issues. They cannot discern between one and the other because their humanistic minds have been conditioned to rebel against all human authorities in the name of “freedom”. Many of them label someone’s true loyalty, devotion and defined commitment to a cause or to their divinely-appointed leaders as idolatry.
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on account of the Cushite woman he married, because he had married a Cushite woman. Numbers 12:1 TLV
This is the reason why most pastors and leaders find it very hard to rebuke their flocks, correct the rebellious and confront the sinful. They find themselves caressing their ears instead and pleasing their senses. There are very few in Western societies that would stay loyal to the non-caressing leaders, to those leaders that love the flock enough to exhort it, confront it, rebuke it and instruct it. For the most part the majority of pastors, bishops and leaders become “motivational or inspirational teachers” rather than true fathers and mothers in the faith – those who use the rod of authority to discipline their children when needed.
“For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled.” 2 Timothy 4:3 TLV
Yes, we leaders are called to inspire by casting vision and even to motivate, but not in the way that humanism does it – by “pumping” people up or by inflating their egos, making them feel good about themselves. Rather we are called to motivate by instructing them to Fear Yah (God) above all things: to fear Him so much as to hate sin.
“To fear Adonai is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and a perverse mouth.” Proverbs 8:13 TLV
It is the Fear of YHVH that will cause people to keep their word, their commitments and to stay loyal to Him, as well as to those leaders, congregations, and teams where they have been assigned to be – even when it gets tough. But too often offenses, bitterness and active sin have people judging and betraying their spiritual leaders. Accusing fingers against divinely-appointed leadership is a sign of rebellion.
They asked, “Has Adonai spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He also spoken through us?” Adonai heard it. Numbers 12:2 TLV
Constant criticism against leadership is a sign of spiritual pride and self centeredness. This is likened unto leprosy.
Adonai’s anger burned against them, and He left them. When the cloud lifted up from above the Tent, behold, Miriam had tza’arat (leprosy), like snow! As Aaron turned toward her, behold, she had tza’arat! Numbers 12:9-10 TLV
Submission to authority is very unpopular these days in the west. So unpopular that Paul the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles would be considered “abusive” to his constituents had he lived in 21st Century America. See how he judged the reoccurring gross sin of immorality in his flock:
“For even though I am absent in body, I am present in spirit—I have already passed judgment on the one who has done this thing, as though I were present. When you are gathered together in the name of our Lord Yeshua, I am with you in spirit. With the power of our Lord Yeshua, you are to turn such a fellow over to satan for the destruction of his fleshly nature, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua. Your boasting is no good. Don’t you know that a little hametz leavens the whole batch of dough?” 1 Corinthians 5:3-6 TLV
Yeshua Himself would be considered unkind and too rough in His manner and way of preaching. See how He said to deal with sin, which sounds ruthless!
“But I tell you that everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body go into Gehenna.” Matthew 5:28-30 TLV
Jacob (James), the brother of Yeshua and main bishop of the congregation in Jerusalem, would also be considered extremely unkind and tough had he lived in our days. Read his “harsh” words:
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of Adonai, and He shall lift you up.” Jacob (James) 4:8-10 TLV
Test yourself! Would you leave a congregation where leaders confronted their flocks this way? And, if you were the one in sin, would you get offended by such “rough treatment” that does not take into consideration your “sensitive nature”? Let me tell you something: if you are more concerned with your “sensitive feelings” than being heart broken for offending Yah by your sinful ways, you are an idolater! You worship “self”, which is the god of this generation.
“For My hand has made all these things, so all these things came to be,” declares Adonai. “But on this one will I look, one humble and of a contrite spirit, who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2 TLV
Furthermore, in our days being loyal and committed to people, walking in covenant with them whether to life or to death, is considered idolatry. Today the covenant friendship between David and Jonathan would have been considered as an “idolatrous relationship”.
The undying devotion and obedience of Ruth to her Jewish Mother-in-Law Naomi would be unheard of in western culture.
Conversely, David called Saul “my father” even after Saul was trying to kill him because of jealousy. And Samuel stayed faithful to Eli even after receiving a direct prophecy from Yah against him. He stayed humble and did not lift himself up against his spiritual authority. The devotion and loyalty of Samuel to Eli was the reason why he become such a powerful prophet. He knew the importance of submission to imperfect authorities and covenant loyalty.
“So Samuel grew up and Adonai was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19 TLV
Unfortunately, these detrimental traits of humanism have been communicated through the internet to the entire world. In what people consider to be more “primitive” societies, however, terms like devotion and loyalty are still cherished, much more than in the west – and pastors and leaders are able to rebuke/correct their flocks with more freedom. Yah is calling us all to honor and obedience of those pastors and leaders He has assigned to us.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as ones who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17 TLV
When we walk in the Fear of Yah, we are very careful how we treat the authorities in our life. Being loyal to your husband, pastor, leader, brothers and sisters in the Faith is NOT idolatry: it is the way of the covenant. We have a blood covenant through Yeshua with each other. This leads us to lay our lives down for Him and His Kingdom and for each other.
“No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 TLV
It leads us to keep our word, even if it ruins us.
“A psalm of David. Adonai, who may dwell in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, who does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart, who does not slander with his tongue, does not wrong his neighbor, and does not disgrace his friend, who despises a vile person in his eyes, but honors those who fear Adonai, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, and does not change,” Psalms 15:1-4 TLV
Too many break covenant, leave congregations and inflict pain of betrayal to their spiritual family because of offenses. Offenses are the bait of satan that keeps the church weak and open to the enemy’s attacks. In every congregation there are imperfect leaders and imperfect people, and attempting to escape that means repeating this lesson again and again. Here is my advice to you:
Cherish the rebuke of your leaders, embrace their correction and discipline, humble your heart when confronted with sin, stay loyal to your pastors and leaders and to their vision, and stop calling those that are loyal and devout “idolaters”. It is high time to learn to keep covenant and kingdom commitments, even to our own hurt.
“who despises a vile person in his eyes, but honors those who fear Adonai, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, and does not change,” Psalms 15:4 TLV
Escaping from challenging relationships because of compromise, offenses or self preservation has left a trail of tears in many congregations and a lack of true laborers that carry their cross and put their hands to the plow without looking back. Part of carrying your cross is staying in covenant where Yeshua has planted you, against all odds.
But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 TLV
That is why He has spoken regarding the issue of “how often shall I forgive my brother?” Forgiveness is a huge part of not breaking covenant in any relationship, including marriages and congregations.
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:15 TLV
Offenses are always born of pride! Self-appointed prophets accuse leaders out of so-called “discernment”. And where their “discernment” is rejected, they break covenant out of spiritual pride and offenses. They think they know better than the appointed leader. Here is my instruction to you:
If you believe that Yah gave you a word for a leader, share it with that leader alone – after much prayer and fasting. Do not go around speaking your judgmental opinions to others, thus destabilizing congregations. If the leader heard you, leave him or her in the hands of Yah, like Samuel did with Eli. But you remain loyal and keep your vows and commitments without causing division because of pride and offenses.
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part;” 1 Corinthians 13:9 TLV
Be humble to leave a margin of error in what you deem to be your discernment of leadership. We only see and prophesy in part. We all have blind spots. Do not judge anything before its time. Escape spiritual pride like the plague! Remove the pointing finger against your leaders.
They assembled against Moses and Aaron. They said to them, “You’ve gone too far! All the community is holy—all of them—and Adonai is with them! Then why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of Adonai?” Numbers 16:3 TLV
Stay loyal, then you will not be a self idolater who caters to your own spiritual pride. It takes humility, true love and honor to stay loyal to imperfect leaders that lead a perfect cause. But that is the Biblical Way. It is very dangerous to rise against divinely-appointed leadership.
“The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with all their households, all of Korah’s people and all their possessions. They went down alive into Sheol, they and everything that was theirs. The earth closed over them and they were gone from among the community.” Numbers 16:32-33 TLV
Work through your kingdom relationships instead of escaping them because your flesh is uncomfortable. Stay in covenant with those less-than-perfect people that are doing their best to follow Yeshua. If they rub you wrong, if their characters are different than yours, learn to love unconditionally and mature in your walk with Messiah. We are called to be loyal, not self preserved and selfish idolaters that escape all discomfort in relationships. This is the key for all healthy relationships, healthy marriages and healthy congregations,
It is Faithful LOYALTY. Let us be People that keep our word even when it hurts us and do not change. Let us become trustworthy and faithful. Then the gates of hell will not prevail!
“Many a man proclaims his loyalty, but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6 TLV
A Happy and blessed Hanukkah to all our loyal disciples and partners.
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