ENDURING UNDER THLIPSIS!- John 16:33

Shabbat Shalom all,

Day 21 of the counting of 50 days from the waving of the sheaf of barley to Shavuot!  3 weeks in, and as always, during this season, we often find ourselves facing some very challenging circumstances as we endeavour to be a bold witness and faithful ambassador of the Besorah (Good News) of Messiah and His Kingdom Reign that has come near, calling for true repentance and belief in the Good News! The Message of redemption and deliverance that Messiah brought and the Kingdom reign that He taught His talmidim (disciples) was to equip them to endure faithfully to the end:

Yoḥanan/John 16:33 “These words I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you have pressure, but take courage, I have overcome the world.

The Word of Elohim is what we have, to recognise the True peace we have in our Messiah King; and while we certainly will have much pressure in the world, we are able to be strong and courageous as we stand firm on the Rock of our Salvation and hold fast to the Living Word, aměn!

In the world we have pressure….! How true is that statement!!! Pressure, pressure and more pressure… is that how it feels at times for most of you? Well take heart … because this is our lot, and our only means of enduring the sure pressure is to ‘hear – guard – do’ the Word of Elohim! What is very clear to us is that we, who are walking faithfully in Messiah, will have pressure in this world – the question is how we are handling the pressure – with courage and joy, or do we find ourselves stumbling under pressure? Tonight in a message called, ‘ENDURING UNDER THLIPSIS!’, I would like us to be reminded of how we are to be a rejoicing people of Elohim, who endure under the heat of affliction and pressure!

Enduring under … what???? Thlipsis…! The What??? The word ‘thlipsis’ is a Greek word that is translated as ‘pressure’ here in the verse I read from Yoḥanan/John 16:33, and it is this word that I want us to explore a little more tonight in the hope of getting a better understanding of our need to be courageous and rejoicing followers of our Master יהושע Messiah! This word θλῖψις  thlipsis – Strong’s G2347 means, tribulation, pressure, affliction, distress, persecution, trouble and comes from the primitive verb θλίβω  thlibō – Strong’s G2346 which means, to press or afflict, to distress, suffer affliction, and in the literal sense can mean, to squash, press, hem in, rub, harassed, and also can be understood as beingnarrow or hard pressed.

Master יהושע Messiah tells us in:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it. 14 “Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard pressed which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The words translated here as ‘hard pressed’ is from the Greek word θλίβω  thlibō, and the Greek word translated as ‘narrow’ is στενός  stenos – Strong’s G4728 which means, narrow (space or passage) as a result of obstacles standing close about). In other words the true path of life is very narrow, and often it will feel like the pressure of so many obstacles of destruction that are pressing hard against us, are doing their best to cause us to not enter in, as we are continually hard pressed on every side – yet as faithful followers of Messiah, we are not crushed!

What I want us to be very clear about tonight, as we look at this Greek word θλῖψις  thlipsis, is that as believers we shall not be exempt from having pressure, affliction, distress and persecution or tribulation – in fact we are subject to it!!!! The

Thlipsis (pressure) we face and go through, as sojourners, consists largely of the persecution and the opposition that our faithful witness and testimony meets in an unfriendly world. In other words, the thlipsis (pressure) that we are speaking of here in Scripture is the direct attack and pressure against our walking in obedience to the Word of Truth. It is the distress and affliction that is launched at us for standing firm in guarding the commands of Elohim and doing them! When you go against the flow of man’s traditions and dogmas, and follow the clear narrow path of Truth, then you will have much pressure – people will say all kinds of ugly things to you, and will face many sacrifices that will have to be made in your bold confession of the truth being physically lived out. ‘thlipsis’ (pressure) to early believers was not so much about the onset of sickness or poverty, or even the loss of friends; but was rather the sacrifices that had to be made, and the great perils/dangers they had to meet as a result of their proclamation or confession  of Messiah! The more we are being refined through the teaching of the Word, the more we realise what sacrifices have to be made in order that our lives are a living witness and proclamation of the Kingdom Reign of Messiah, and we need to be continually reminded to keep standing firm as we hold fast to the Truth and do it with all our might, forsaking all that would dare to hinder our walk of faith! The persecution that arose about Stephanos was ‘thlipsis’:

Ma’asei/Acts 11:19 “Then, indeed, they who were scattered because of the pressure that arose over Stephanos passed through to Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except the Yehuḏim only.

There was great persecution against the followers of the Narrow Way, and after the pressure that arose over the great testimony that Stephanos gave, many were scattered as the pressure against the true followers increased greatly, yet even while many were killed – those who stand fast do not fear the one who can kill only the body!!!

Sha’ul commended the believers in Thessalonica for their steadfastness under pressure:

Tas’loniqim Bet/2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 “We ought to give thanks to Elohim always for you, brothers, as it is proper, because your belief grows exceedingly, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the assemblies of Elohim for your endurance and belief in all your persecutions and afflictions which you are bearing”

Endurance in persecutions and afflictions!!! The Greek word used here for ‘persecutions’ is διωγμός  diōgmos – Strong’s G1375 and comes from the primitive verb διώκω  diōkō – Strong’s G1377 which means, to put to flight, pursue, persecute, and the word translated as ‘afflictions’ is… yes you guessed it… ‘thlipsis’!!! Sha’ul encouraged them for their endurance, and we must recognise how we too are called to endure the persecutions and afflictions that we are bearing for the sake of Messiah. The Greek word for ‘endurance’ is ὑπομένω  hupomenō – Strong’s G5278 which means, stay under, remain, undergo, persevere, have fortitude, endure with patience, and the Greek word for ‘bearing’ is ἀνέχομαι anechomai – Strong’s G430 which means, hold oneself up against, to hold oneself upright, put up with, bear with, endure, suffer. Here are another couple of verses where we find the word thlipsis:

To the assemblies in Corinth, Sha’ul writes about those faithful assemblies in Makedonia:

Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 8:1-2 “Now brothers, we make known to you the favour of Elohim which has been given in the assemblies of Makedonia: 2 that in much trial of pressure the overflowing of their joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the riches of their generosity.

The Makedonians continued to be joyful and generous, even in much trial of thlipsis, despite their poverty, which in enduring as faithful witnesses of the Besorah of the kingdom of Messiah, they turned into opportunities for generosity to be exercised in great measure! Their circumstances did not cause them to shrink back from doing what was good, but rather endured under the intense pressure and proclaimed the joy of being rich in giving of themselves unto the lovingly committed service of the Kingdom!

Sha’ul tells us clearly that our love (that is our obedience) should not be hypocritical, but should be expressed with great joy:

Romiyim/Romans 12:9-13 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Shrink from what is wicked, cling to what is good. 10 In brotherly love, tenderly loving towards one another, in appreciation, giving preference to each other; 11 not idle in duty, ardent in spirit, serving the Master; 12 rejoicing in the expectancy, enduring under pressure, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 imparting to the needs of the set-apart ones, pursuing kindness towards strangers.

Part of our walking in Messiah and letting our love for Him and others being seen clearly is in how we stand steadfast in His commands and endure under the pressure that we will face for simply doing what is commanded, while most in the world do whatever is right in their own eyes!!! Here we see the two Greek words that we have mentioned being used here by Sha’ul – and that is hupomenō – for ‘enduring’ and of course the word of the night - ‘thlipsis’ – for ‘under pressure’!!!

In Ma’asei/Acts Sha’ul told the elders at Ephesos that ‘thlipsis’ awaited him at Yerushalayim:

Ma’asei/Acts 20:23 “And now see, I go bound in the spirit to Yerushalayim, not knowing what is going to meet me there, 23 except that the Set-apart Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that chains and pressures await me.

What he was saying here is that while he did not know exactly what would meet him, one thing he did know was that pressures await him, as witnessed in every city by the Set-Apart Spirit! In other words – we can be sure of one thing – wherever we go, as we proclaim the Kingdom, we must know that ‘thlipsis’ awaits us!!!

Knowing this can be a very scary and sobering thought, especially when the reality of this hits home; yet we are called to endure and do so with joy – being a rejoicing people under the most intense pressures we will face for standing in the Truth!!!

Since we have been declared right by faith and have peace with Elohim through our Master Yahushua Messiah, able to stand in the favour of Elohim by faith and have such a great expectation of His esteem, Sha’ul tells us also in”:

Romiyim/Romans 5:3 “And not only this, but we also exult in pressures, knowing that pressure works endurance

We need endurance – and guess what… ‘thlipsis’ works endurance (hupomenō) – and so without ‘thlipsis’ we can have no endurance (hupomenō), and if no endurance then no approvedness (proven character as the result of enduring trials) and therefore unable to have any expectation that does not disappoint! In fact without having any ‘thlipsis’ to endure, our expectations may just disappoint!!!

Therefore we are to ‘exult’ in ‘thlipsis’! The Greek word for ‘exult’ is καυχάομαι  kauchaomai – Strong’s G2744 which means, boast, exult, rejoice and Sha’ul makes it clear to us in many of his letters that we are not to ‘boast’ in ourselves but rather in Messiah, who makes us strong and able to endure under pressure:

Galatiyim/Galatians 6:14 “And for me, let it not be that I should boast except in the stake of our Master יהושע Messiah, through whom the world has been impaled to me, and I to the world.

We can endure under pressure because of the stake of Messiah, and in our complete surrender and obedience to our Master, we must take up our stake and follow Him, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Master יהושע, that the life of יהושע might also be manifested in our body (Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 4:10)

One thing is sure and that is we are to remain steadfast in love, as we diligently guard to do His commands with joy, and we are not to let any pressure or hardship or suffering cause our obedience to fail! We must not allow the pressures of the world and the battles of the flesh and the accusations and threats of man to cause us to allow our love to grow cold!

Love for Elohim is that we obey His commands and therefore no matter what we face, our love (that is our obedience) must remain true to the Word, no matter the cost or sacrifice it may call for! Many today fall short in their ability to remain steadfast under the increased intensity of pressure that surround them, and we must not let this be… Sha’ul asks the clear question in:

Romiyim/Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of the Messiah? Shall pressure, or distress, or persecution, or scarcity of food, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Absolutely nothing at all should separate us form the love of the Messiah – that is to obey His commands and walk joyously in them.

Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 6:4 “Rather, we commend ourselves as servants of Elohim in every way: in much endurance, in pressures, in hardships, in distresses

We ‘commend’ ourselves in every way… including in ‘thlipsis’. The Greek root word translated as ‘commend’ is συνίστανω  sunistanō – Strong’s G4921 which means, commend, establish, introduce, exhibit, and so we clearly see that our ability to truly exhibit ourselves as true servants of Elohim in every way is best expressed in our ability to endure all hardships; and the witness we express in our ability to endure under pressures as we stand firm and hold fast to the truth and not shrink back when the going gets tough!

As our hearts are continually filled with His Good Word as we meditate on the Torah day and night, we shall be prosperous in all that we do – that is  - we shall joyfully endure; and we therefore need to see the urgency we must have in ensuring that we guard our hearts and minds in Messiah, keeping the soil of our hearts fertile and without weeds of compromise!

In the parable of the sower, יהושע tells us the result of seed that sown on rocky places:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 13:20-21 “And that sown on rocky places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived, and when pressure or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Rocky hearts that have no ability to let the Word take root in their lives, quickly stumble when pressure and persecution, BECAUSE OF THE WORD, arises. The words translated here as ‘pressure’ and ‘persecution’ are ‘thlipsis’ anddiōgmos’ respectively. Notice that the Master says that when pressure or persecution comes BECAUSE OF THE WORD, the rocky hearted stumble!!! The Greek word for ‘stumbles’ is σκανδαλίζω  skandalizō – Strong’s G4624 which means, to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way upon which another may trip and fall, and metaphorically can mean, to offend. In other words if we ‘stumble’ under pressure, our disobedience through compromise can cause others to stumble! This is a very sobering thought, and stresses the need for us to be alert and awake to walking without compromise, lest we cause others to stumble too!!! Hearts rooted and grounded in love will not stumble when pressures and persecutions for the sake of the Word come!

What we must realise, as I am sure we all have, is that with our coming to the knowledge of the Truth by the mercy and loving-commitment and kindness of our Saviour, there comes great persecutions and pressures that must be endured until the end, and we should not be unsettled when pressure come… because we have been appointed to these:

Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 3:3 “that no one should be unsettled by these pressures, for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.

We are appointed to ‘thlipsis’(pressures)  – so do not get unsettled by them – endure under them!

Yoḥanan tells us in Ḥazon/Revelation that he too is a co-sharer in ‘thlipsis

Ḥazon/Revelation 1:9 “I, Yoḥanan, both your brother and co-sharer in pressure, and in the reign and endurance of יהושע Messiah, came to be on the island that is called Patmos for the Word of Elohim and for the witness of יהושע Messiah.

Sha’ul wrote to the believers in:

Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 1:6 “And you became imitators of us and of the Master, having received the word in much pressure, with joy of the Set-apart Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all who believe in Makedonia and Achaia.

We too can learn from these words how we are to be imitators of Messiah, and all those faithful witnesses who have gone before us – who received the Word in much ‘thlipsis’, with joy, in order to be an example to all who believe!!!

How are you enduring under ‘thlipsis’? Are you enduring or stumbling???

Or do most that you come into contact with not even know what you believe? Are you so ‘undercover’ that your colleagues at work don’t even know that you walk the Torah walk and obey the commands of Elohim? If they do not know then how are you walking??? Are you afraid of the pressure that will come with your bold confession of the faith?

We must realise that we who walk in righteousness shall be delivered from all ‘evils’:

Tehillim/Psalm 34:19 “Many are the evils of the righteous, but יהוה delivers him out of them all.

In the Septuagint LXX (Greek translation of the Tanak (O.T.)) the word translated as ‘evils’ is the Greek word ‘thlipsis’.

As we walk in righteousness, by guarding to do all יהוה commands us to and walk in Messiah, we shall face many evils, yet we have the assurance of being delivered out of them all and should therefore take courage that our Master overcame the world, and now we are more than overcomers through Him who loved us.

After having been stoned and left for dead, Sha’ul rose up and continued to proclaim the Kingdom, and we see in Ma’asei how he strengthened the taught ones to continue in the belief:

Ma’asei/Acts 14:21-22 “And having brought the Good News to that city, and having made many taught ones, they returned to Lustra, and Ikonion, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the beings of the taught ones, encouraging them to continue in the belief, and that through many pressures we have to enter the reign of Elohim.

Through many ‘thlipsis’ we have to enter the reign of Elohim – are you up for the task???

It is time for the Bride of Messiah to stand up and rejoice in the ‘thlipsis’, as we waste no more time in our urgent need to proclaim the Truth and allow our lives to represent a clear message of complete loving obedience – with the knowledge that ‘thlipsis’ will come, yet we who shall have endured to the end shall be delivered and enter into His reign!

How are you handing the pressures – the ‘thlipsis’ – that come BECAUSE OF THE WORD? I am not talking about the pressures that come because of your own poor choices – I am talking about the pressures that come as a result of walking faithfully in obedience to the Torah of our Master.

Walking Torah is not hard – I will say that again – walking the Torah walk is not hard – compromising is what makes it seem hard, as compromise only pulls you away from enduring obedience and seeks to justify the lack of true commitment ! So many easily compromise and sadly miss the true joy of the Freedom of the Torah.

As we consider this little Greek word that we find all over the Renewed Writings (N.T.) – ‘thlipsis’, may we be encouraged to not stumble through a compromised lifestyle but rather stand firm on the Truth and be steadfast in our endurance in proclaiming, through our daily lives, the Besorah Message and Kingdom Reign of our Master יהושע Messiah!

This message is given with the hope to encourage you to stand up and stand firm in righteousness, ensuring that you walk upright amidst a crooked generation and not stumble through the pressures to compromise the Truth, even if it costs you your life!

Understanding then the appointed ‘thlipsis’ that awaits the set-apart ones of Messiah – that is you and me – let us then exult in this and get about doing the Master’s business! I challenge you all to proclaim the Besorah over this next week to those who you speak to every day, yet have never shared with them your belief. Also know that with your confession of your faith must come the works that go with it – you cannot tell them that you obey the commands and then compromise in your actions when the pressures come regarding the Word that you have proclaimed!!! Also know that ‘thlipsis’ for the sake of the Word will come to those who are bold in their being the light and salt to the world – be ready and rejoice in the ‘thlipsis’ as you make your continued boast in our Master who will strengthen you in every way!

As fervent soldiers of Messiah – may you too be found to take courage and be ENDURING UNDER ‘THLIPSIS’!

May our Master יהושע Messiah bless you and guard you in every way and may He shine His face upon you and give you favour, causing you to stand firm in Him and may He lift up His face to you and give you shalom.