SERVING THE MASTER IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH - Joshua 24:14-25

Shabbat Shalom family, favour to you and peace from Elohim our Father and the Master יהושע Messiah.

As we are just days away from the Pěsaḥ Meal and the Festival of Matzot, I am sure that all of you are very excited as we find ourselves preparing to Feast with our King. What many of you may not have actually realised, is that tonight begins the 10th of the 1st month, the month of Aḇiḇ! And of course this was ‘lamb selection day’, the day when the spotless lamb would be chosen and the inspected for four days before slaughtering it for the Pěsaḥ Meal.  It was during these 4 days that led up to the sacrifice of our Messiah, that He too was ‘inspected’, in a sense, as He challenged the corrupt practices of the Pharisees and Scribes, who earnestly sought to find fault with Him, yet could not!

What we often find in our walk of faith in Messiah, is that during this time of year, or even for some weeks leading up to the Pěsaḥ and Matzot Feast, is how many are often challenged and confronted with some trying circumstances; which in a way is vital in bringing to surface any sin/lawlessness or rebellion that there may be in one’s life as a hindrance to walking completely in the Truth. Getting rid of the leaven is certainly a collective theme or focus for all true followers of Messiah at this time and as we ensure that by the end of the 14th that all leaven is out of our homes, we also recognise the lesson of how this practical application on a physical level has great impact on us on a spiritual level, seeking to ensure our lives are not cluttered with leaven of sin and rebellion.

Sha’ul writes in:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us. 8 So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

With the focus of ‘cleaning out’ and observing or serving without leaven, we recognise that in order to serve and worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, the rotten stuff, or that which can cause rot, must be put out; and in a message tonight called, ‘SERVING THE MASTER IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH’, I would like to us be encouraged to be a people who are continually serving in sincerity and truth!

The Greek words that Sha’ul uses here for sincerity and truth are as follows:

The word translated as ‘sincerity’ is the Greek root word εἰλικρινεία eilikrineia – Strong’s G1505 which means, clearness, purity, sincerity and in the fuller sense of the Greek it can mean, tested in the light of the sun, rendering one to be, spotless and completely pure, and we recognise that this is as a result of the ‘Light of the Word’ bringing to surface the impure and being tested and cleansed. In order to serve the Master in this way – that is in true sincerity - we cannot have anything that is still hidden in the dark from Him! We must make sure that the light in us is not darkness!

The word translated as ‘truth’ is the Greek word ἀλήθεια alētheia – Strong’s G225 which means, truth, truly, according to truth - the Master יהושע Messiah tells us clearly in Yoḥanan/John 14:6 that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – and to walk in the Truth is to walk in Him – in Him in whom there is not spot or blemish – to walk in Him is to walk according to the Truth and in purity of the Truth, as we hear, guard and do His commands!

As we carefully consider His instructions on a daily basis, meditating on His Torah day and night, we must make sure that we do not take lightly His work of redemption and the cleansing that He has brought us, in the washing away of our filth and dirt, giving us clear and true garments of righteousness that we must keep clean until He returns. If we do happen to spoil our garments through sin, we must confess to Him in order that He cleanses us from all unrighteousness, which He is faithful to do to all who come humbly to Him and acknowledge their sin and lawlessness and rebellion! And so as we approach this up and coming Feast of Unleavened Bread, we also recognise how we are to examine ourselves to ensure that we do not eat this Meal in an unworthy manner, lest we eat and drink judgement upon ourselves, for Sha’ul tells us in:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 11:26-29 “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Master until He comes. 27 So that whoever should eat this bread or drink this cup of the Master unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Master. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29 For the one who is eating and drinking unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Master.

The antonym (word of opposite meaning) to the Greek word εἰλικρινεία eilikrineia  - ‘sincerity’ is the word ὑπόκρισις hupokrisis – Strong’s G5272 which means, hypocrisy, dissimulation (which is to hide under a false appearance), play acting, pretending, and our Master certainly condemned the actors of His day who tried to assume the appearance of righteousness, yet when confronted with the Light of the world, their pathetic act was exposed!

Mattithyahu/Matthew 23:25-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are filled with plunder and unrighteousness. 26 “Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside of them becomes clean too. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly indeed look well, but inside are filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you too outwardly indeed appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Hypocrisy and lawlessness tend to be found in the same dish; and while many desperately try to appear to be wearing the right garments, their lawlessness or rebellion to the Truth is exposed under the pure plumb line of the Truth of the Word of Elohim. And therefore I once again say that while the practical obedience to the command of ridding our homes of leaven must be adhered to on a physical level, we must be prepared to examine ourselves under the inspection and Light of the Truth, in order to ensure that the inside of our hearts is clean and rid of any leaven. Collectively we are the ‘House’ or ‘Dwelling Place’ of the Most High, and if there is a little leaven in any of our lives, we are in danger of destroying the rest!!! Serving the Master in sincerity and truth is not a game to be found playing without a care – it is the vital conduct necessary for daily living! And to highlight the seriousness of our choice that we make, in whom we shall serve, and the implication of that choice as we consider this ‘lamb selection day’, I would like to briefly go through a passage in Yehoshua and dig into some key words, as we carefully consider our words and commitments that we make with our mouths to our Master. Please turn with me to Yehoshua/Joshua 24:14-25 (read)

This was part of Yehoshua’s final address to Yisra’ĕl, and here he challenged them to serve יהוה, without hypocrisy.

By the redemptive work of the Master יהושע Messiah, in whom we have the assurance of a promised inheritance, we are to hear these very clear words of Yehoshua to a people who had been given what they did not labour for!!! Having received the cleansing of our Master, as we partake of His body and blood, we also realise that we are to ‘work out our deliverance with fear and trembling’, and in this passage Yehoshua makes it clear on how to do just that!

In verse 14 we see that call to a people who had been redeemed and delivered, being instructed to:

1 – Fear יהוה

2 – Serve יהוה in perfection and in truth

3 – Put away the mighty ones your fathers served

4 – Serve יהוה

In effect Yehoshua was presenting them with the responsibilities of possessing the inheritance that יהוה has given them and the effectual results of choosing יהוה.

1 – וְעַתָּה יְראוּ אֶת־יהוה – ‘v’attah yiru et Yahweh’ – ‘And now fear יהוה’  -

The Hebrew root word translated as ‘now’ is עַתָּה attah – Strong’s H6258 means now, at this timeand with the conjunction of the letter - וְ – ‘waw’ in renders ‘and now’ or ‘but now’, and here the emphasis on the call to ‘fear now’ is very clear and the word in Hebrew for ‘fear’ is יָרֵא  yare – Strong’s H3372 which means, to fear, be afraid, reverence, respect and in the tense this is written in (qal active),  it actually carries the meaning of, to stand in awe of, be awed, to reverence, honour, respect. It is NOW time to FEAR יהוה – it is NOW time to stand in awe and live reverently in total respect to our Master – the very thing that cannot be put off until another time – the call is to fear יהוה NOW – in the present – wherever you are or wherever you find yourself!

The responsibility of possessing our inheritance begins with a reverent fear of יהוה – the fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom.  Yisra’ĕl was being called to have a reverence for the Elohim of such infinite power, and fear to not offend Him and forfeit His goodness, and to constantly maintain an awe of His majesty, having total respect for Him and giving esteem unto His authority, whilst maintaining a great fear of His displeasure in having a continual regard for His ‘all-seeing’ eye upon them! That same call to ‘NOW’ fear יהוה given to Yisra’ĕl back then, has not changed for us today – it is still ‘NOW’ fear יהוה.

I am not always sure if whether most who claim today to follow יהושע, actually fear displeasing Him!!! We are to have such a high and devoted reverence for Him that we would not even think about displeasing Him in any way, so much so that that the reverence of who He is, and what He has done for us, would cause us to continually make right choices in line with His Word. When we fail to do this, we are in fact in danger of not heeding this clear instruction to ‘NOW’ fear יהוה. True fear of Elohim equips the believer to ‘serve’ Him; and Yehoshua tells us how we are to serve Him:

2 – In Perfection and in Truth

The Hebrew root word translated as ‘perfection’ is תָּמִים tamim – Strong’s H8549, meaning ‘perfect, without blemish, complete, sound, and blameless, without defect’, and comes from the primitive root word תָּמַם tamam – Strong’s H8552 meaning, to be complete, to be finished, be at an end. He is perfect and His work is perfect and He calls us to be ‘perfect’ in Him! The Word calls for us to serve יהוה with a perfect heart!

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 18:13 “Be perfect before יהוה your Elohim

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:48 “Therefore, be perfect, as your Father in the heavens is perfect.

Be perfect, often a hard expectation if understood in the wrong way, but what is it to be perfect or have a perfect heart?

To not have a perfect heart often speaks of one who may have even began well, yet did not endure to the end – it can speak of one who does not carry on to completion that which they are called to! It can be a ‘doing right, but…’ kind of scenario. There are to be no ‘buts’ in our committed life unto יהוה!

So when we are told to be תָּמִים  tamiym  - ‘perfect’, we are told we are to be complete, and be mature in our thoughts and actions. We are to move on to maturity, which comes through the perseverance of trials, in order to be complete and not lack anything. It is those who are immature – those who stay on the milk of the Word, who cannot walk perfect before יהוה. Although many ought to be teachers by now, they have not moved on to maturity in the Word and stumble continually through their inability to take responsibility of seeking, learning and growing in the Truth as they would either wait for others to spoon feed them continually, or hold fast to and rely upon the man-made traditions that have held people captive on milk.

The word for ‘serve’ is עָבַד aḇad – Strong’s H5647 which means, to work, serve, become slaves, cultivate, perform, serve, worship, from which we get the word עֶבֶד eḇed – Strong’s H5650 meaning, ‘servant, slave, bondservant, and as a child of Yisra’ĕl, which we have become by the Blood of Messiah, we are servants of יהוה, called to ‘serve’ in perfection and in truth. True service that is perfect must be done ‘in Truth’ or else it is just vain service!

The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ is אֱמֶת emeth – Strong’s H571 which means,truth, firmness, faithfulness, and this word carries an underlying sense of certainly and dependability – and we know that The Word of יהוה is truth:

Tehillim/Psalm 119:142 “Your righteousness is righteousness forever, and Your Torah is truth.

Tehillim/Psalm 119:151 “You are near, O יהוה, and all Your commands are truth.

Tehillim/Psalm 119:160 “The sum of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous right-rulings are forever.

 Anyone who claims to serve יהוה without walking in and giving heed to follow His Torah, commands and instructions are not serving in Truth, and those who claim that the Torah/Law of Elohim has been done away with are sadly riddled with the leaven of the hypocrisy of man’s theologies and dogmas that seeks only to serve self rather than the Giver of Life, while claiming the opposite!

When a true servant who fears יהוה, serves in perfection and in truth, then the putting away of the falsehood that had been inherited from the past is done with urgency and without hesitation!!!

3 – Put away the mighty ones your fathers served!

The Hebrew root verb for ‘put away’ isסוּר  sur – Strong’s H5493 meaning, turn, turn aside, depart from a way, avoid, be removed from, put away, and is used in Scripture in reference to ‘putting away’ that which we should not be associated with and to put away would be to turn aside from and come out of that which is foreign to the Covenants of Promise.

This word implies the concept of: Turn away – leave – depart – come out from among them!!!

As we acknowledge the inherited lies of our fathers, we must act in accordance with the call, as true fearing servants of the Most High, to turn away from and leave that which we were taught in error and come out from the leaven of these teachings of man that have defiled the Truth of true service!

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 52:11 “Turn aside! Turn aside! Come out from there, touch not the unclean. Come out of her midst, be clean, you who bear the vessels of יהוה.

Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you.

Ḥazon/Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from the heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

Sha’ul tells us to ‘lay aside’ every hindrance and sin that entangles us.

What Yehoshua is telling us here in the tense that this is written (hiphil active) is that we must in effect ‘remove, reject and abolish’ the lies of the past falsified and abominable worship practices that has rejected the need to walk in and obey the Torah!

In verse 15 Yehoshua makes it clear – choose!!! He says that if it is evil in your eyes to serve יהוה, then choose who you will serve – whether the Truth or whether the false lies of the fathers!!! Today is ‘lamb selection day’ and we are reminded of the choice we are to make, and in this verse what we can clearly understand from these words is the simple option that is placed before all! After having described how a Covenant people ought to fear and serve יהוה, Yehoshua then says to Yisra’ĕl – if this call for complete and perfect service is evil in your eyes, then make your choice who you will serve! The opposite to ‘evil’ is ‘good’ and in Hebrew ‘good’ can carry the fuller meaning of being ‘functional’, whereas ‘evil’ can be seen as being ‘dysfunctional’ by not operating according to the Master’s instructions. It is then safe to see here that Yehoshua is, in a sense, making it clear to all – that if serving יהוה is ‘dysfunctional’ for you – in other words - if it doesn’t quite fit into your plans or schedule, and it does not suite your lifestyle to throw off lawlessness and inherited traditions and lies that have been erroneously taught as acceptable worship, then make your choice… but know this – in choosing the falsely inherited systems over the Truth – will cause you to no longer be a part of a Covenant People of Elohim. So many today will say that to keep the Sabbath does not work for them – well they have made their choice – and what they must realise with that choice is that they have no right to take His Covenant upon their lips and assume to be a part of the Body/House of Messiah!

Tehillim/Psalm 50:16-17 “But to the wrong Elohim said, “What right have you to recite My laws, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 “While you hated instruction and cast My Words behind you?

He was basically saying that as a redeemed people who had received their inheritance, they were now expected to fear and serve יהוה, throw away the lies and falsehood and serve, and if that doesn’t suit them, then they must choose whichever way they want to go, because if they do not fear and serve as instructed then they cannot be a part of the Covenant people of יהוה; and Yehoshua then emphatically declares that he and his house serve יהוה. What he was in effect saying  to this nation. As a shadow picture of Messiah our Head, was that the Covenanted House of Elohim serves יהוה, and if do not want to serve then you are not part of this House!!!

Of course all of Yisra’ĕl answered and said that they would serve יהוה, like so many easily will do with a quick response of a lip service, and in verse 19 Yehoshua basically tells them that they are unable to serve יהוה, as He is a jealous Elohim. He was making it clear that to serve יהוה, as a true redeemed servant should, is not easy – for He is set-apart and is jealous!!! He was challenging their confession – “Are you up for the task?” so to speak – because if you go back on your word – you will be consumed!!!! Sha’ul tells the assembly in Corinth that there can be no union between the Dwelling Place of Elohim and idol worship of any kind, and so to serve יהוה calls for true set-apartness, which is not an easy task amidst a crooked world. Yehoshua warns that making the True choice to serve יהוה and not walk as He commands will be detrimental to your health!!!

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:26-29 “For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins, 27 but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents. 28 Anyone who has disregarded the Torah of Mosheh dies without compassion on the witness of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think shall he deserve who has trampled the Son of Elohim underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was set apart as common, and insulted the Spirit of favour?

Having understood his words, Yisra’ĕl still continued to say yes to serving יהוה, and he then tells them that they are witnesses against themselves. Twice they has said yes and by their own confession being given twice they had now become witnesses against themselves – for at the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter is established! I find that so many who are hoodwinked into a system of falsehood and lies, are never taught the full truth, as they are only told of blessings in the Word, which they actually have no right to lay claim to as long as they remain in a state of lawlessness. The whole Truth is not taught and so many people do not realise the danger of choosing יהוה and then walking in their own ways or the ways of lies inherited from their fathers – they are at risk of facing death!!! The knowledge of the danger of turning aside from the Truth should cause the true worshippers, who confesses with their mouth and believe in their heart that Messiah has died for them and has risen from the dead, to hold fast to walking in the fear of Elohim:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, receiving an unshakeable reign, let us hold the favour, through which we serve Elohim pleasingly with reverence and awe, 29 for indeed, our Elohim is a consuming fire.

People are perishing and headed for death for lack of knowledge that had been veiled through inherited lies and traditions, and we who have turned to the Master and have had the veil removed must take heed to the choice we have made in serving יהוה with our all! Yehoshua gave these very vital words to impress upon them the weight of the responsibility that lay before them, and we too must recognise the responsibility we have in daily serving and worshipping the Father in Spirit and Truth as true worshippers amidst a very crooked and perverse world that has many false mighty ones that are being served in error!

In verse 14 the people declared a 3rd time that they will serve יהוה and obey His voice!!! A 3rd yes and a clear statement made to obey the voice of יהוה – that is all that יהוה has spoken – which is His Word as given through Mosheh and the prophets and Writings – All Scripture is breathed of Elohim – and this 3rd yes declares obedience to this! Yehoshua then made a covenant with them that day and laid upon them a law and right-ruling! I find this interesting in seeing how 3 times the people made the confession of their willingness to serve יהוה, while knowing and acknowledging the blessing of serving Him as well as the consequences of not serving Him, if they turn away to other mighty ones!

And so we too can see how with the 3 times a year the males were required to go up to Yerushalayim to keep the Appointed Times of יהוה (collectively the 3 times would cover all the Appointed Feasts); how in a similar sense we see that these 3 times that Yisra’ĕl ‘confessed’ their service unto יהוה, after which a Covenant was made, that full and complete reverent service unto יהוה is a non-negotiable condition for a Covenanted people – and the keeping of ALL His Appointed Times is critical to keeping our identity and inheritance intact.

Regarding this up and coming Feast of Pěsaḥ and Matzot we are clearly told twice in Shemoth/Exodus 13, that it is a sign on our hand and forehead – a mark of our worship as a Covenanted people who choose to serve the Lamb that was slain! It does not stop at this Feast, as full obedience in service is required each and every day – as we fear Him ‘NOW’, SERVING THE MASTER IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH!

Just as Messiah was ‘inspected’ or ‘examined’ and found without blemish, worthy to be a perfect Lamb for our sins; may we too use this time wisely to ‘inspect’ and ‘examine’ ourselves, allowing the Light of the Word to bring to surface that which must be put away, as we make the Good confession of our faith to fear יהוה and serve Him in perfection and truth. Let us therefore draw near with a true heart in completeness of belief, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed with clean water, able to come and eat with joy the Pěsaḥ Meal, that we may proclaim the One whom we fear and serve in sincerity and truth!

This is “Lamb selection day” – have you chosen? – are you SERVING THE MASTER IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH!

Shalom!