FORSAKE NOT LOVING-COMMITMENT! - Jeremiah 2

Shabbat Shalom family,

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:3 “Let not loving-commitment and truth forsake you – bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart

Two very powerful words that are often neglected to be carefully considered by so many wanna-be believers, who think that they can do whatever they want and still claim that they love Elohim. These two words are ‘loving-commitment’ and ‘truth’. In Hebrew the word translated as ‘loving commitment’ is חֶסֶד ḥesedStrong’s H2617 and means, goodness, kindness, deeds of devotion, faithfulness; and the word translated as ‘truth’ is אֱמֶת emeth – Strong’s H571 which means,truth, firmness, faithfulness, and this word carries an underlying sense of certainty and dependability – and we know that The Word of יהוה is truth:

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

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

Tehillah/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!!!  And in order to do that we need to recognise that loving-commitment and truth must go hand in hand! In fact when we look a little closer at the word for ‘loving-commitment in the Hebrew we are able to clearly see that true loving-commitment is and can only be connected with the pure truth of the Word! This clear and wise instruction given in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:3 to not let loving-commitment and truth forsake you is vital in realising that they go hand in hand; for we are able to realise that loving-commitment without truth can quickly degenerate into sentimentalism, and truth without loving-commitment can calcify into legalism. Tonight in a message called, ‘FORSAKE NOT LOVING-COMMITMENT!’ I would like us to be reminded of our need to be a faithful hearing, guarding and doing people of the Truth, as our loving-commitment toward יהוה is seen in our obedience to His truth, as we walk faithfully in His Torah with great joy!

Before we get to the text I want us to look at tonight, I want to simply run through a little more in-depth into what this Hebrew word for ‘loving-commitment’ - חֶסֶד ḥesed is all about and how important it is for us to realise our need to not forsake it! חֶסֶד ḥesed appears 248 times in 241 verses in the Tanak (O.T.), and is closely linked to another Hebrew word that is often translated too as kindness, favour, grace’ – and that is the word חֵן ḥen – Strong’s H2580 meaning, grace, adornment, favour, gracious and comes from the primitive root חָנַן ḥanan – Strong’s H2603 meaning, show favour, be gracious to, dealt graciously with, given to them voluntarily, shown favour. These two words, חֵן ḥen and חָנַן ḥanan, are collectively used 141 times in the Tanak (O.T.).

For more info on the unique relationship between חֵן ḥen and חֶסֶד ḥesed, I encourage you to go and read the article, ‘UNDERSTANDING GALATIANS’ on our website (http://atfotc.com), as I explain more in depth on the clear connection between these two words, and so for the sake of time for tonight I want us to look more at the word חֶסֶד ḥesed. What we find in Scripture is that חֶסֶד ḥesed is used only where there is a prior relationship bond, be it through family, marriage or kinship, and it is used in regards to a bond or relationship that produces, in the bond itself, a requirement or an obligation for action, where both parties share חֶסֶד ḥesed and can expect from each other, and even demand in a sense, reciprocal responsibilities, and so חֶסֶד ḥesed is not a free gift!

However because of His  חֵן ḥen which is freely given to us we too are now, by our acceptance of His free gift, also required to express true loving-commitment as we grow in our understanding of our obligation to guarding the Covenant! How we do that is by walking ‘in’ The Torah of יהוה, which is His clear instructions for us on how we walk in His חֶסֶד ḥesed; and so the Torah (instructions) of Elohim is the articulation of the obligation we have to the Covenants of Promise, by which we are freely and graciously grafted in to by the Blood of Messiah! We did not earn the right to this Covenant – יהוה made the Covenant out of חֵן ḥen, and therefore we understand that the חֵן ḥen, freely given, entails חֶסֶד ḥesed, which now both parties are to be committed to, and both have an obligation to keep its requirements. If we reject the obligations and requirements of the Covenant, we are in fact rejecting and forsaking the loving-commitment - חֶסֶד ḥesed – of Elohim, and by doing so are rejecting יהוה’s bond to us, given freely by His own Blood!

The importance of חֶסֶד ḥesed is vital for us to understand; as we see that those who hear, guard and do the commands of Elohim grow in wisdom and understand the loving-commitment of יהוה:

Tehillah/Psalm 107:43 “Who is wise? Then let him observe these matters! Let them understand the loving-commitment of יהוה.

A few weeks ago I explained what the word for ‘wise/wisdom’ means and entails and how יהוה takes pleasure in the wise; therefore those who are learning and becoming disciplined and skilled in the Word will understand the loving-commitment of יהוה. Our guarding of the commands expresses our loving-commitment to being obedient unto יהוה:

Hoshěa/Hosea 12:6 “Therefore, return to your Elohim. Guard loving-commitment and right-ruling, and wait on your Elohim continually.

Tehillah/Psalm 36:7-10 “How precious is Your loving-commitment, O Elohim! And the sons of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. 8 They are filled from the fatness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. 10 Draw out Your loving-commitment to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.

These verses from this Psalm are very powerful in clearly showing us that in guarding Loving-commitment we know that we know Elohim as we drink from the pure Living Waters of Life and not from muddied waters of corruption, and we are also clearly told in:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:3-5 “And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands. 4 The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 7:9 “And you shall know that יהוה your Elohim, He is Elohim, the trustworthy Ěl guarding covenant and loving-commitment for a thousand generations with those who love Him, and those who guard His commands

Having now laid a base of understanding of how important it is for us to not forsake loving-commitment by walking contrary to the Word, we are able to hear the clear warning of the Word that Yirmeyahu was told to shout out to a people who were forsaking loving-commitment. A word that is as alive for us today as it was back then! So please turn with me to Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 2 (read).

This chapter is a part of this week’s readings associated with the Torah portion on the journeys of Yisra’ĕl through the Wilderness, that we will be going through tomorrow, and so I find it very fitting for us to carefully consider our daily actions and loving-commitment to obeying the clear instructions of Elohim.

The setting is around 600 or so years before Messiah, and Yehuḏah was facing some pretty difficult times. The House of Yisra’ĕl had been taken captive by the Ashshur, and Yehuḏah had been gripped by the idolatry which king Menashsheh had promoted during his 55 year reign. His son, Amon, was just as wicked and now Yoshiyahu, son and grandson of such wicked kings, becomes king at 8 and rules for 31 years. He provided through his reign some stability, although he initially struggled to do what was right, and so in his 13th year as king Elohim calls Yirmeyahu to be his prophet. Yirmeyahu was around 20; and you can see in chapter 1 that he was hesitant to speak, yet Elohim did not accept his youth as an excuse. Yirmeyahu then set out to bring 13 messages of which today we are reading part of the first in chapter 2. Here he was confronting Yerushalayim of her waywardness. To emphasise this he contrasted Yehuḏah’s former devotion (v:2-3) with her present departure from Elohim (v:5-8).

He reminded them how as a bride they had loved יהוה and were devoted to Him and how they had followed יהוה through the desert and how יהוה had brought them into a land of plenty. They were יהוה’s first fruits and any nation that tried to take them incurred יהוה’s anger and punishment. What is so powerful for us to recognise here is that it says in:

Romiyim/Romans 11:16 “Now if the first-fruit is set-apart, the lump is also. And if the root is set-apart, so are the branches.

We are the set-apart nation, just as He set-apart Yisra’ĕl back then; and just as any who ate of the set-apart fruit became guilty, so too do we see here the clear warning being issued – Yehuḏah were in a sense allowing the nations (world) to ‘eat’ of them – that is to devour them and consume them with worthlessness according to the flesh. The same happens today as we find how the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes is eating away at those who have been called to be set-apart, as they are being ‘consumed’ by the world and starved of the Truth!

Yehuḏah were now at a place where they had departed from יהוה – not because they had found fault in יהוה; and יהוה certainly had not abandoned them in the Wilderness. It was simply because they did not stay in the Word – The priests did not inquire of יהוה or seek יהוה, and they disobeyed and rebelled against יהוה’s Torah as the prophets were giving false messages. Their fathers had followed worthless idols and so they became worthless themselves. How interesting is that statement in verse 5 (Read) – for in essence we become what we follow – are you becoming like יהושע?

The Hebrew word translated as ‘worthlessness’ is הֶבֶל heḇel – Strong’s H1892 and means, vapour, breath, delusion, emptiness, futility, vanity, idols, worthlessness’. In Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 16:25-26 we are told that Omri did more evil in the eyes of יהוה than all those before him, by walking in the ways of Yaroḇ’am and provoking יהוה with their worthlessnesses. Another powerful verse I found is spoken by Yonah while he was in the big fish:

Yonah/Jonah 2:8 “Those observing false worthlessnesses forsake their own loving-commitment.

This expresses it very clearly – when you go after worthlessness, idols, vanity and that which does not satisfy, you will be handed over to the delusion of futility and forsake true loving-commitment!!! Provoking יהוה with futility that has no value is still being done today by so many who have not realised the reality of the falsehood that our fathers inherited and have passed down through vain traditions and theologies of man.

No one was seeking יהוה, as everyone under the false guidance of the false prophets were walking after matters that did not profit, being influenced by the fleshly worship of Ba’al. Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 34 deals clearly with the warning given to the false shepherds who were feeding the flock with falsehood. Here in Yirmeyahu the warning is given against the prophets who were speaking under the influence of Ba’al, which we are able to see a picture of how today so many false pastors and teachers are teaching under the influence of Ba’al – or better put – under the influence of ‘The Lord’ – which is not יהוה!!!

In verse 9 Yirmeyahu’s sermon takes a turn in depicting a type of court scene, if you will, with the words, “I still contend with you”. The Hebrew word translated as ‘contend’ is רִיב ri – Strong’s H7378 meaning, to strive, contend, argue, complain, find fault, quarrel, and in the tense that it is written in it also carries the understanding/meaning of conducting a legal case or lawsuit – after all the Judge was speaking loud and clear as the charges of forsaking loving-commitment were being proclaimed.

יהוה confronts them and basically says, “Look at the nations around you, they haven’t forsaken their mighty ones (yet they are not even mighty ones at all!), yet you have forsaken the One and only True Elohim”

They had exchanged יהוה’s esteem for worthless idols. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, as we sojourn here on our Wilderness journey so to speak, if there are any worthless idols in our lives that we have exchanged for the esteem and truth of יהוה – have we forsaken, or in possible danger of forsaking true loving-commitment!

Verse 13 clearly states what they had done wrong – the two evils that they had done: 1 – forsaken יהוה, the fountain of living waters; 2 – and secondly in doing so, they had made for themselves cisterns that cannot even hold water!

Water, as we all know, is essential for life, and here יהוה is saying that they had left Him, their essential for life, and were trying to make it on their own means and resources, that cannot sustain life.

יהוה is often referred to as being the fountain of Living Waters, and in Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 17:13 we are told that those who depart from יהוה shall be written in the earth because they have forsaken יהוה the fountain of Living Waters!

In Yoḥanan/John 7 יהושע makes it very clear that He is the source of the True Living Water, and whoever would come to Him and believe in Him and drink would receive His Spirit, and would never thirst again! What He was saying is that once you have tasted His life, there is no comparison, you will not need to keep searching for where you can be satisfied, you will know, and have access to His abundant source of life daily!

In Yisra’ĕl, where the source of fresh water was not always freely available, cisterns were often dug out and built to catch either rain water during rainy seasons or from an underground stream, and was stored for later use. Many of these cisterns could not keep the water; either because of cracks in the walls and as a result would just become mud pits; or they were abandoned because of dead animals that had fallen in and polluted the water; or at times enemies would come and poison the cisterns as a means of cutting off any source of life in order to make their prey weak and weary and easy to attack. While Dawiḏ fled from king Sha’ul and wandered in the Wilderness, he cried out to יהוה and expressed his need for his thirst to be quenched:

Tehillah/Psalm 63:1 “O Elohim, You are my Ěl; I earnestly seek You; my being has thirsted for You; my flesh has longed for You In a dry and thirsty land without water.

It is so interesting when you study and understand the land of the Scriptures, for even in the Wilderness where Dawiḏ fled from king Sha’ul, hiding in caves, he could come to places of oasis in a dry land, like a place called En Geḏi which is such a lush place in the wilderness where there is a flowing fountain of fresh water.

According to Scripture, the wilderness is like life – It can be hot, dry, and barren and you can get very thirsty and weary. Yet יהוה is the shade and the streams of living water that can make even the most arid and barren areas of our lives flourish and bloom, aměn! In this world today, we are in a spiritual wilderness and the solution to a full life, as a child of Elohim, is to find our source of living water in יהושע Messiah and Him alone.

The imagery is very striking for us today as it clearly sets before us a question that we need to constantly be asking ourselves – Where do you drink from for life? Is it from יהושע, the Living Water – through His Word; and are you daily being satisfied and equipped to face the day, and telling others of Messiah as you go through whatever wilderness elements you face? Or are you trying to build your own source of sustenance which does not really work at all, but is rather causing you to go round in circles lost in your wilderness, only to find that you are thirsty and weak?

A broken cistern here gives one the picture of something that is leaking. Now to leak simply means to escape through an opening by fault or defect! Broken cisterns leak out the little life that it does hold. Have you ever had יהוה’s richest blessings in your life leak out slowly, and before you know it, it is gone?

The Hebrew word translated as ‘cistern’ is בּאֹר bor – Strong’s H877 and means, a cistern, pit, well and comes from the root word בָּאַר  ba‘ar – Strong’s H874 which means, to make distinction, to make plain, expound on, inscribe and by analogy it means to engrave and figuratively it carries the understanding, to explain, make clear, declare.

This is very interesting to take note of, as we know that when we drink of the True well of Living Water, by guarding the Covenant through proper loving-commitment, we are nourished and satisfied; as the truth is engraved on our hearts and we are able to make clear distinction between the set-apart and the profane. However, the cracked cisterns that were being made here give us a picture of how so many today are making their own explanations, excuses or even doctrines in order to say and justify why they worship the way they do. Yet what we must take note of here is that false doctrines and traditions of man cannot hold the True Living Water – it leaks out, and we need to realise that we are not able to change or replace the Word of יהוה with something of our own making! This was the charge against Yehuḏah back then, and is still the charge being sounded today – to a people who have forsaken loving-commitment!

A cistern is an artificial reservoir for water and typically was built underground. Leaking or abandoned cisterns were often used for burial sites, as well as torture or prison chambers. In Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 38:6 we are told he was lowered in to a cistern, a mud pit.

Cisterns were useful in many parts of the Middle East as springs weren’t always abundant, and so the people would dig wells and cisterns to catch rain water and hold whatever water they might be able to carry from other sources, to be their source of drinking water for the family and their herds and flocks. But when push came to shove, any man in his right mind wanted “living water” and not cistern water. Here Yehuḏah preferred the stagnant waters of a cistern, a broken cistern over what יהוה wanted to supply them. Why would they do that? Why would they prefer stagnant over fresh? Well, because they dug their own cisterns! This meant it was theirs, their water and they could do with it what they want! Coming to drink of the Living water comes at a price – yes it is free and paid for, but it costs you a surrendered obedient life, one that has been bought! This means giving יהוה control in all areas of our lives, and for many this is too hard and they therefore build cistern for themselves.

In verse 25 we see the analogy of keeping their feet from being bare and their throats from thirst, yet they said it was useless as they go after the strangers they love! The Hebrew word used here for ‘feet’ is רֶגֶלregel’ Strong’s H7272 – meansa foot/feet or to walk, and in Scripture this often speaks of one’s obedience to walking according to the commands of יהוה and obeying His call to keep His feasts as commanded; as this same word is used in Shemoth/Exodus 23 and translated as ‘times’ in reference to the 3 times a year all were to celebrate a festival to יהוה, which would collectively cover all 7 Feasts/Appointed Times of Elohim, marking out the clear need to walk according to His word and guard the Appointed Times or Feasts of יהוה!

The Hebrew word for ‘bare’ is יָחֵף yaḥeph – Strong’s H3182 meaning, barefoot, unshod and again speaks of being incomplete in not wearing the full armour of Elohim, as we are reminded of in Eph’siyim/Ephesians 6, that instructs is to have our feet fitted with the shoes of peace, or as the KJV says, ‘feet shod’, and here again Yehuḏah were being charged of having no concern for walking in the commands of Elohim, but rather preferred the ‘strange’ matters. The Hebrew word for ‘strangers’ is זוּר zur – Strong’s H2114 which means ‘strange, stranger, adulterer, adulterous, enemy’, and is used to describe the ‘strange’ fire that the two sons of Aharon brought before Elohim, and were struck dead.

The term translated as ‘I go’ is the Hebrew word הָלַךְ  halaḵ – Strong’s H1980 meaning, ‘to walk, to go, to live, manner of life, cause to live’ and literally speaks of how one lives.

Yehuḏah preferred to live according to the profane and adulterous ways of the world instead of walking in loving-commitment to the commands of יהוה. While they were clearly profaning the Truth for the lust of the flesh and making up their own standards of living, they thought that they were blameless and without any sin.

In verse 23 יהוה asks how they could say that they were not defiled, and in verse 35 they were saying that they were innocent and had not sinned!!! The delusion of lawless living will blind the eyes of those profaning the Word into thinking that they are not doing anything wrong and that יהוה’s displeasure will not come upon them – this is what the lawless think – and they are sadly mistaken!

In verse 33 we see that they were told how they were even teaching the evil women their wicked ways – in other words they were teaching the whore new tricks so to speak; and we see the same happening today as the church will try to keep up with the latest trends and teach the lawless their profane ways, and we see how the competition to put on a show that is better than before becomes that which most churches today are striving for, just to keep the masses hooked under the theologies and traditions of man that they are teaching. In the process they are leading the ignorant innocent to death! In verse 34 we are told that they blood of the lives of the poor innocents are on their skirts and here carries the picture of how this is done in plain sight and not in secret! Yeḥezqěl was told that if he did not warn the sinners of their sins then their blood would be on his hands, and so here we see a picture of what is happening today – the church is not teaching the Torah and not showing people the error of their lawless ways and are therefore clothing people in unrighteous garments – and are doing so without shame. The warning is still applicable today – the blood of the lives of the poor innocents who are led astray by falsehood will be upon the false teachers.

As we see in verse 35, the lawless masses today who forsake the need to walk in the Torah and guard loving-commitment, are adhering to a false doctrine of man and claiming that they are innocent and are not in sin; which simply reveals that the Truth is not in them – in can’t be or else they would walk in it!

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The result of the lawless will be that their delusional worship will be exposed, and when it is they will stand ashamed and put their hands on their heads in shame as they will see that יהוה has rejected that in which they put their trust – because lawless living  - that is living without the loving-commitment of guarding the Torah cannot prosper anyone!

Yehuḏah had her broken cisterns – they worshipped false mighty ones like Ba’al, the fertility mighty one of the Phoenicians; and false prophets spoke in the name of Ba’al; and there was a false sense of prosperity which יהוה had forewarned them about in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 8:11-17, and they had foolishly left יהוה for what were poor substitutes!

Today many people are just as guilty as the same two sins that the people of Yehuḏah committed in Yirmeyahu’s day? Is it possible that at times you have become so accustomed to the Living Water that you have found yourself having wandered away from the fountain to see if there is some other water available elsewhere?

Have you foolishly got involved in building your own cisterns?

What about in your priority in what you read? Some believers spend an enormous amount of time reading magazines, newspapers and other worldly literature, but spend little or no time reading Scripture – why? Perhaps this too is a form of cistern building. While it isn’t wrong to read newspapers, magazines or other materials, you need to ask yourself if these things become more exciting and more interesting than יהוה’s Word. If we are turning away from the Living Word and spending masses amount of time seeking to satisfy our thirst in some other way, we may just be guilty of the same sins as Yehuḏah. Some people are in such hot pursuit of their career that they never get time to meditate on the Word, and while work in necessary, for without work one will not eat, yet if complete fulfilment is found in the pursuit of one’s career alone, then perhaps it could be a form of cistern making! The same thing goes for recreation and entertainment. Work, reading and recreation – all of which are not wrong in themselves - and are good and helpful when kept in proper balance! But when we find that we are looking to these things for satisfaction and fulfilment in life, a subtle form of cistern building may be going on.

We can be guilty of having broken cisterns in our lives by going after false mighty ones today, for whatever you put before יהוה is a false mighty one! Things such as: materialism, or immorality which is a form of idolatry. We can be guilty of listening to false teachers as described in Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 2:1-3 who leads people astray. When we are not walking in unity with each other in יהוה, and are not making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace by walking in forgiveness, and are not seeking every opportunity to build each other up in the most set-apart faith, then we may be building a little cistern for ourselves to hold that stale bitterness resulting from unforgiveness!

May we be reminded, as Kěpha says, that we have the sure word of prophecy that we would do well to take heed of, and shine the light of the Truth, as we guard loving-commitment in this dark place, being steadfast until our Master comes again and finds faith in operation in our lives! This word is clear – FORSAKE NOT LOVING-COMMITMENT!

Let us be faithful in not forsaking the Living Waters for broken cisterns of falsehood and lies – for that would not profit us in any way; and as we sojourn here in our wilderness journey, let’s hold fast to walking in the sure hope of our coming King as we hear, guard and do all He commands, so that we can be sure that we shall not stand ashamed before our Maker, aměn!

While many have left the straight path and have forsaking יהוה for profane forms of fleshly worship, let us heed these very clear words of יהוה spoken to us through Yirmeyahu and FORSAKE NOT LOVING-COMMITMENT!

I close with the words of this Tehillim I mentioned earlier:

Tehillah/psalm 36:7-10 “How precious is Your loving-commitment, O Elohim! And the sons of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. 8 They are filled from the fatness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. 10 Draw out Your loving-commitment to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.

יהוה bless you and guard you and may He lift up and shine His face upon you, giving you His favour and shalom as you guard loving-commitment and truth!