NOW HEAR – YOU CHOSEN SERVANTS OF יהוה - Isaiah 44

Shabbat Shalom family, praise and bless the Name of יהוה!

Tehillim/Psalm 145:1-3 “I exalt You, my Elohim, O Sovereign; and bless Your Name forever and ever.  2 All day long I bless You, and praise Your Name forever and ever. 3 Great is יהוה, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.

How is your praise of the Name of יהוה going? Are you able to confidently say that you bless and praise His Name all day long? Or are their some things that are distracting your praise? In a time where we certainly are facing some very real battles and struggles, the ability to keep a pure and devoted heart of praise becomes harder than what most would have anticipated – yet, should we allow the troubles of our day to numb our praise? The answer is certainly a very BIG NO! Often amidst the chaos of our daily travels as sojourners it can become very easy to slip into a mode of grumbling and complaining due to a little, or a lot, discomfort; and when this happens we can often find ourselves forgetting the Plain Truth of what we have heard through the Words of our Creator, Redeemer and King. We are to be a people who are a hearing people – and not just a hearing of mere words – but a hearing people that hear – guard and do His Word – then our praise would most certainly be forthcoming and continuous, regardless of the terrain we find our journey in the Wilderness on!

Tonight I want us to be encouraged to be a people who continually bless and praise the Name of our Elohim and Sovereign and Redeemer – יהוה of Hosts!!!

I was struck by a passage in Yeshayahu this week that I would like us to look at and be reminded once again just who it is that we are to be bringing our praise to and whose Name we are to bless.

Please turn with me to Yeshayahu/Isaiah 44 (read)

This great word of encouragement we find in this chapter as a clear message of hope that reaffirms us as His chosen people. The setting of this chapter is very much alive for us today as we can relate to some of the fears that the remnant of Yisra’ĕl were facing, and the challenges that lay ahead for them of a long journey home and the difficult task of rebuilding what had been destroyed under immense pressure from those in the world, who were running after their own idols and worshipping things that are not! There was certainly plenty of things that could cause this remnant to fear – yet the One major reason that they had to not be afraid, the only reason needed – was that יהוה was with them!

We see the phrase ‘do not fear’ being used 7 times from chapter 41 to 44 and it is used twice in this chapter 44, and this urgent appeal to not fear was to remind this remnant of Ya’aqoḇ that יהוה is greater than our fears!

What happens when you are facing constant struggles and battles and even the possibility of failure in some areas of your life? Often the result is a crippling fear that slowly sets in, which may go unnoticed at first, until it grips you and you realise that your joy and strength is being robbed and your ability to be in the Word and be focused on the truth seems to become less and less, even non-existent, and this was where the remnant of Ya’aqoḇ was at. They had been scattered and sent into captivity due to their disobedience and under the influence of the world and its pressure they had neglected to do what was required. Toward the end of the previous chapter we see that true worship and service unto יהוה was non-existent and their sins and crookednesses had burdened and wearied יהוה, and He declares to them that it is He who blots out transgressions, for His Name’s sake, and here this chapter begins with the call to hear and not be afraid! This was a call to return to the Torah and serve the True and Only Creator, Redeemer and King – a clear call that has gone out today to a people ought to be serving and witnesses of the Truth but are sadly mixed up and entangled in foreign forms of worship.

I want us to look at some key elements of what is being declared here as we remember that we are His servants, and how we must not forget that for a moment!

But now hear – וְעַתָּה שְׁמַע – ‘v’attah shama’ – 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 ‘hear now’ is very clear and the word in Hebrew for ‘Hear’ is the root word שָׁמַעshama’ – Strong’s H8085, which carries the meaning not just simply to hear, but rather to ‘listen with attention, comprehend and discern, give heed to what is being spoken’.

Understanding our need to be a people who are listening attentively and giving heed to His Word in a time when most are not let us recognise that this is certainly the time to now be a hearing and discerning and obeying people!

The call to hear is to His called out and chosen servants. The word used here in the Hebrew for servant is 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:

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 25:55 “Because the children of Yisra’ĕl are servants to Me, they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am יהוה your Elohim.

The equivalent Greek word for servant is δοῦλος doulos – Strong’s G1401 and is translated as, ‘slave, servant,  bondservant, bondslaves – both men and women’, and is used repeatedly throughout the renewed Writings and I have spoken on this earlier this year in a message called ‘Talented Servants Serve’.

The word  ‘eḇed’ is used 800 times in the Tanak (O.T.) and is used as a noun and comes from the primitive root verb עָבַד aḇad – Strong’s H5647 meaning, ‘to work, serve, observe, do the work, cultivate, worship’ and carries the understanding of ‘expending considerable energy and intensity in performing a task or function’ – in other words – ‘giving it your all’!

So here we are seeing that this call to here is to a people who ought to be giving it their all – are you giving your all in worship and praise of יהוה?

The root word for ‘chosen’ is בָּחַר bachar – Strong’s H977 and means, to choose, choicest, selected, preferred, and this word is used to express that choosing which has ultimate and eternal significance. We see in Scripture how יהוה chooses a people, certain tribes, specific individuals, and a place for His Name; and in all these cases service and obedience is at the heart of the choosing. Thus יהוה chose Yisra’ĕl to be set-apart and thereby to serve as His witness among the nations.

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light

These are words we need to continually be reminded of – for so has said the One who made us and formed us – and the call is simple – serve as a chosen people and be faithful witnesses of His Light – and to do this right – Do not fear – because the One who has chosen you in the One who helps you, and in verse 2 we see this call being spoken to ‘Yeshurun’ – which means ‘upright one’ and is used as a symbolic term of all 12 Tribes of Yisra’ĕl serving together in unity!

יְשֻׁרוּן Yeshurun – Strong’s H3484 comes from the word יָשַׁר yashar – Strong’s H3474 which means, straight, right, pleasing, be level, upright, just and lawfull.

This is what he has chosen Yisra’ĕl for  - to be straight and upright and walk in His Torah, shining the Light of His Besorah (Good News) amidst a crooked world.  His promises are sure and secure for His called upright ones – as it is יהוה who satisfies the thirsty and with the washing of His Word there is a great harvest that will spring forth. He declares a blessing upon the seed of the upright and verse 3-4 echoes the result of the upright ones who meditate and walk in His Torah:

Tehillim/Psalm 1:3 “For he shall be as a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does prospers.

As the remnant returns from all the 4 corners of the earth it is made abundantly clear to all that the True Redeemer of Yisra’ĕl is none other than יהוה Himself and The Redeemer of Yisra’ĕl is Elohim and besides Him there is no one else; and here in verse 7-8  יהוה asks the rhetorical question – “Who is like Me?” The answer is obvious and He says if anyone thinks that there is then go ahead and declare it and prove it – for it is only He and He alone that has appointed an everlasting people; and again encourages His chosen to not be afraid nor fear because there is no Eloah besides Him and there in no other Rock – not one!!!

In verse 9-20 he emphasises the depravity of idolatry, which is nothing more than empty and vain worship that leads to nothing and ultimately will bring death!

This section between verse 6-20 is possibly the most powerful and effective condemnation of idolatry to be found anywhere, and what we see in this exposing of what idolatry really is – as being formless and lifeless, יהוה is reminding his chosen that all attempts at trying to formulate a worship around what the hands of men can create or from is worthless; and this is exactly what Christianity has done – it has formed and shaped images of who they present the Creator to be, which runs contrary to the very Living Word we have been given. Anyone who makes an idol makes that which is simply emptiness. The word used here for emptiness is  תֹּהוּ tohu – Strong’s H8414 which means, formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, meaningless, formless. Now what is interesting to note is that this word is used way back in:

Berěshith/Genesis 1:2 “And the earth came to be formless and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Elohim was moving on the face of the waters.

 What is being told to us in Yeshayahu is simply that any form or shape of worship that has been constructed or manufactured by man and has rendered the Torah of Elohim null and void and of no effect is nothing more than empty idolatry. It was by the Word of Elohim that form and order was brought forth to that which was formless; and any worship without His Word that brings form and order is idolatry and formless.

The word for ‘make’ in verse 9 is יָצַר yatsar – Strong’s H3335 and means, to form, fashion, create, devise, ordain, plan, frame’.  

Any worship that is formed, fashioned, devised or created without the very Living Word of Elohim is empty idolatry – I think we get that now – well then we need to understand that any worship that claims that the Torah is no longer valid, is idolatry and those who worship in such idolatrous ways are their own witnesses!!! Verse 9 tells us this – they are their own witnesses and they do not see or know and are put to shame – seeing but not seeing, hearing but not perceiving – those who have their ears and eyes closed to the Torah are engaging in empty idolatry.

The question is raised as to who would actually form a mighty one or idol that has no value? Now we would all think that this is a very simple answer, yet why is it then that we see so many differing denominations and religions today – they are simply all idols of no value – shaped by man-made traditions and dogmas that have been fashioned and hammered into the hearts and minds of society at large.

Although the idols are worthless the craftsmen and carpenter has used many skills to produce something that has a shape and figure; and we see this today through the carefully crafted programmes that are offered to keep the masses busy in an assumed attempt at worship.

When it speaks of the man who cuts down a tree and uses half of it to make fire and roast his food on, while the rest he makes into an image and bows down and worships it, even prays to it for deliverance is surely a picture of stupidity, yet how different is it today when we see how many try to first be satisfied in the flesh and then in the flesh try to manufacture a form of worship with what is metaphorically left over. Businesses will fund churches, charity events, social outreaches and missions, after they have secured their own fleshly securities of course, and they will feel good about themselves into thinking they have performed a great sense of service and worship unto Elohim – when in essence this is nothing more than falling before a piece of wood! How about those who claim to be true worshippers, and will attend a weekly hour service while their lives are being consumed by the chasing of wealth and fleshly desires – they come with what is left over (on a wrong day) to bow down to what has been shaped and fashioned through vain and empty traditions!

And their ‘feeding’ on their own manufactured form of man-driven traditions of worship is nothing more than a feeding on ashes, having a deceived heart in the process.

The word used in verse 20 for ‘ashes’ is a metaphor for something worthless as opposed to real food as the ‘food’ they are eating so to speak is empty and lifeless as it has nullified the life-giving power of the Truth by casting aside the heart and spirit behind the Torah. Those with a deceived heart  - those who are feeding on ashes do not even think to test what they are eating!

Verse 20 tells us that they cannot even say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Now in Hebrew the understanding of right hand speaks of that which works or that which one does. We know it is by the Right Hand of Elohim – the working power of Elohim, that He worked deliverance and salvation for Yisra’ĕl – His chosen Bride – the Right Hand of Elohim being יהושע Messiah. Now the one who is doing empty and vain idolatrous worship does not even stop to ask – “Is that which I am doing wrong?” In Ḥazon/Revelation 13:16 speaks about the beast causing many to be given a ‘mark’ on their right hand or on their forehead. This is a mark of worship – that which you do in your worship. We are told in Shemoth/Exodus 13 that Pěsaḥ/Passover and Matzot/Unleavened Bread will be a sign/mark on our hand and forehead, and we also are told in Yeḥezqěl 20 that His Shabbat is a sign /mark between us and Him forever. So what mark/sign we have is all about who and how we worship. Sunday worship and the keeping of pagan rooted feasts is a taking of the mark of the beast on one’s right hand and they do not even question what they are doing or testing the validity of their work of worship against the plumb line of the Torah!

Tehillim/Psalm 115 is very fitting in light of this condemnation of idolatry in verse 6-20 and our need to worship the One who has made us:

Not to us, O יהוה, not to us, But to Your Name give esteem, For Your kindness, For Your truth. 2 Why should the gentiles say, “Where now is their Elohim?” 3 But our Elohim is in the heavens; Whatever pleased Him, He has done. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; They have eyes, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; They have noses, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; They have feet, but they do not walk; They make no sound through their throat. 8 The ones who make them, shall become like them – All who trust in them. 9 O Yisra’ĕl, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aharon, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield. 11 You who fear יהוה, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield. 12 יהוה has remembered us; He blesses us; He blesses the house of Yisra’ĕl; He blesses the house of Aharon. 13 He blesses those who fear יהוה, The small and the great. 14 יהוה give you increase more and more, You and your children. 15 You are blessed by יהוה, Who made the heavens and earth. 16 The heavens are the heavens of יהוה; But He has given the earth to the children of men. 17 The dead do not praise Yah, Nor any going down to silence. 18 But we, we bless Yah Now and forever. Praise Yah!

Verse 21 we are told to remember these matters and do not forget who has formed us, and since we are His let us have nothing to do with any forms of empty and dead idolatry!

We are chosen to serve and proclaim the Witness of the Good News. We need not fear the many forms of idolatrous worship that surrounds us each day, for we know the One who has formed us and called us. While many of the forms of idolatry may increase in their various shapes and sizes and be fashioned to appeal to the masses who want their ears tickled, let us hold firm to the Truth as יהוה Himself will frustrate the babblers and diviners and turn the wise of the world backwards making their knowledge foolish:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Has not Elohim made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 3:18-19 “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become foolish, so that he might become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with Elohim. For it has been written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,

The call to return is given to a people who were facing great struggles and the sure promises of יהוה are yes and aměn in Messiah. The One who stretched out the heavens is the true Deliverer and Redeemer whom we are to be continually praising all day as we recognise that we are called to serve and proclaim as witnesses His Great Love as we walk in obedience and turn from all the is formless and empty. At the end of this chapter we see the name of Koresh being mentioned decades before he would be the king יהוה would use to not only release Yisra’ĕl from captivity but also issue the decree that Yerushalayim was to be rebuilt.

It is an interesting play on words, as we see that כּוֹרֶשׁ Koresh – Strong’s H3566 means, possess thou the furnace, and while Koresh was physically used of יהוה, we see how this application is very applicable today as יהוה is rebuilding His Bride. יהוה is the ‘possessor of the furnace’ and we know that the reference to furnace in Scripture speaks of a refining process which has a dual purpose – it consumes the wicked and brings forth the righteous.

Tehillim/Psalm 12:6 “The Words of יהוה are clean Words, Silver tried in a furnace of earth, Refined seven times.

It is through the consuming fire of His refined Word that He will establish and build His Bride and only those who worship in Spirit and in Truth and have put away all idol worship shall come through the fire unharmed!

Come on you servants, who have been chosen to witness – listen to your Redeemer and Creator – and walk in His ways. There is much idol worship out there that has many shapes and forms – many that even claim to be worshipping the Creator in Truth while they are empty and formless without His Torah. Let us not be found to be making ash heaps out of vain attempts at compromised worship but rather remember the “I AM” who has formed us and stand and witness His Truth; and since we are His let us turn away from all empty idolatry!

This is a call to remember who we are and what we have been called to – and in light of that let us not be found without praise – no grumbling – only praise and thanksgiving!!! In this week’s Torah portion we see once again the effects of rebellion  and grumbling. When Mosheh confronted the rebels in Bemiḏbar/Numbers 16:9, he in effect was saying to them words that we need to take heed of today too and that is he said in a nutshell, “is it a small matter to you that you have been chosen to serve יהוה – what more do you want?”

 

NOW HEAR – YOU CHOSEN SERVANTS OF יהוה – be faithful witnesses of His Truth as you guard to do all He commands and walk in His Torah, meditating on it day and night, as you walk in and stay in Him – walking as יהושע Messiah did.

He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says! Are there any forms of idolatry in your life that needs to be destroyed? Are there some things that you have fashioned with your thoughts and are chasing after that which is as the feeding on ashes and worthless and empty? Hear the urgent call to hear the One who formed you and follow Him and serve as a chosen one should!

Shalom!

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