LET NOT CROOKEDNESS BE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO YOU! - Ezekiel 18

28th of the 2nd month 2015/2016

Shabbat Shalom all,

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35:3 “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees.

In this verse 3 of Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35 we have two different Hebrew words that are translated as ‘weak’.

The first Hebrew word translated here as ‘weak’, as in ‘weak hands’ is רָפֶה rapheh – Strong’s H7502 which means, slack, exhausted, weak, and pictures for us a people who had grown tired of ‘doing’ what is right and commanded to do and as a result had become lazy in their required obedience.

The second Hebrew word translated as ‘weak’, as in ‘weak knees’, is כָּשַׁל kashal – Strong’s H3782 meaning, stumble, totter, stagger, bring down, failing, weakening. Yisra’ĕl were stumbling in their required work of being faithful in obedience to the Torah of Elohim – why? Because of the many false threats and messages that were coming from the enemy which resulted in words of falsehood that twisted and manipulated the truth through vain traditions in order to cause people to fail in their obedient worship unto Elohim!

Today we recognise how the false lies and traditions of men that is being taught as teachings by false ear ticklers, who have deliberately turned away from the Torah, are causing many to stumble and become weakened in their required faith to do all that is commanded and walk in righteousness. Many will say today, according to that which they are taught in error, that it is impossible to keep the Torah, which is an absolute lie from the enemy! Many will say that the requirements of walking in the Torah have been done away with, which is another twisted lie that, through manipulative brainwashing, has presented a falsified picture of an assumed righteousness that is according to the traditions and dogmas of man, while clearly neglecting the correct Scriptural understanding of what true righteousness entails!

In the process, many have literally become weakened in their hands and knees, and the sad part is that they do not even realise it.

Yeshayahu was clearly told to strengthen hands and knees and say to those who were anxious to be strong and not fear, for the vengeance of Elohim was coming and He was coming to save! This is both an encouragement and a warning! An encouragement to the faithful remnant, as well as a clear warning to the rebellious who stumble in their obedience, with the hope that they will hear and turn from their crookedness and strengthen their hands and knees, and guard to do all the Master and Elohim has commanded – for this is righteousness!!! (Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:25)

Weak hands and weak knees are a picture of those who do not have a handle on the truth, and are unable to grasp, with confidence, the Truth of guarding to do all that Elohim has commanded. With weak knees one is not stable in their walk of faith, as their legs will buckle under the pressures and trials they might face, as the deceitfulness of wealth and the worries of this life choke out the Word, causing them to lose their stability and confidence in being a bold ambassador of the Truth!

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:12-13So, strengthen the hands which hang down and the weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned aside, but instead, to be healed.

This is a call to renew spiritual vitality! If you want to run with endurance then you need to strengthen the weak! The Greek word for ‘strengthen’ is  ἀνορθόω anorthoō - Strong’s G461 which means, to make straight or upright again, lift up, restore, strengthen. It is time to make straight that which has been twisted and has caused many to become weakened!!! This is written in the ‘plural imperative’ which simply means that this requires a joint effort. We need to strengthen one another! Having said that however, we also recognise that each one is responsible for working out their own deliverance! We all do certainly have a very clear responsibility toward one another, yet each one must give an account of their own walk before the Father and cannot blame another for any unrighteous ways that they have walked in or for any crookedness that has caused them to stumble!

In a message tonight called, “LET NOT CROOKEDNESS BE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO YOU!”, may we be encouraged to strengthen the hands and make firm the knees, so that we are able to faithfully stand in our Master and Elohim, and after having done all, stand – armed in the Truth of His Torah, guarding righteousness with our all! I would like us to read a very clear and powerful chapter that gives us a very sobering warning about making sure that we must always walk in righteousness and never let our hands and knees grow weak! Please turn with me to Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 18 (Read).

 

I am sure that you are very familiar with this passage, yet perhaps it has been a while since you have read it or meditated on the clear words that are expressed herein, and therefore it is with great joy that I want to remind you of the sobering reality of what is being clearly expressed and taught in this passage!

You may have noticed that the title for this message comes from the words contained in verse 30, which simply summarises the clear lesson that we must take heed of each and every day of our lives, as we face many trials and pressures that can present some very dangerous temptations to allow crookedness to become a stumbling block, risking our ability to remain strong and courageous amidst perilous times, which can have a devastating outcome if we drop our guard of guarding to do all that our Master and Elohim has commanded us to!

This passage emphasises Yisra’ĕl’s love for making excuses for their idolatrous ways, and would easily blame the past generations for their judgements.

They often lived according to their own desires and forgot יהוה for days without number, as they would quickly and easily neglect to walk in righteousness! Every time they would fall away, יהוה would bring judgement upon them in order to cause them return them to Him and guard His Torah. Under a banner of traditional falsehood a proverb of man was taught that said: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are blunted’. What they were basically saying, when using this proverb, was that because their fathers ate sour grapes that they would now have to suffer, and they said that they were being punished for the sins of their fathers. This is a twist on the truth as we certainly recognise that יהוה does make it clear in Shemoth/Exodus 20:5-6 that He is a jealous Ěl, visiting the crookedness of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him, yet shows loving-commitment to thousands, to those who love Him and guard His commands. יהוה does not change!!! His Word remains the same forever, and His clear standards do not change! What is clear is that the crookedness of the fathers is visited on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who ‘HATE’ Him!!! The crookedness of the fathers is NOT visited on those who ‘LOVE’ Him and guard His commands!!! What this proverb, that was developed as an excuse for trying circumstances, actually revealed, was that these people who were saying this were not loving Elohim and were not guarding His commands! They used this proverb as an excuse for their disobedience and then claimed that יהוה is not fair!

יהוה makes it very clear in verse 3 that as long as He lives, this proverb will no longer be used in Yisra’ĕl!!! Do you hear this? As long as יהוה lives this cannot be a proverb that is used as an excuse for unrighteousness and sin! You cannot blame the past and the sins of the fathers for your own crookedness and sin. While we do recognise from Shemoth/Exodus 34:6-7 that יהוה makes it clear that He does not leave crookedness unpunished, we also take note that He declares that He is a compassionate Elohim, showing favour, is patient and great in loving-commitment and truth! What this teaches us is that while we certainly see the effects of what sin and crookedness does from generation to generation, יהוה makes it clear that He is a just Elohim and each person is responsible for their own walk!

He lives forever, and this confirmed for us 5 times in Ḥazon/Revelation as we see the clear reference to Him who sits on the throne and lives forever! (Ḥazon/Revelation 4:9, 4:10, 5:14, 10:6, 15:7).

Our Master and Elohim lives forever, and knowing this we must exercise great caution against using a false proverb as an excuse for crookedness and sin. The Good News we declare today is that יהוה does not lie, and when He says that He does not leave unpunished, He means it. You might say, why is that good news? It is the Good News because He has taken away crookedness by taking the punishment of sin upon Himself, and all who believe in our Master, Saviour and Elohim, is declared right from all sin!

Miḵah/Micah 7:18Who is an Ěl like You – taking away crookedness and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? He shall not retain His wrath forever, for He Himself delights in loving-commitment.

Ma’asei/Acts 13:38-39 “Let it therefore be known to you, brothers, that through this One forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by Him everyone who believes is declared right from all sins from which you were not able to be declared right by the Torah of Mosheh.

Forgiveness is proclaimed, and everyone who believes is declared right from all sin and crookedness, which the Torah of Mosheh – that is to say that the blood of bulls and goats, could not declare you right, but the Blood of our ‘forever living’ Master and Elohim, not only cleanses but declares right!

The Living Elohim, who lives forever, bore our sins in His body on the timber, so that we, having died to sins, might live unto righteousness! (Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2:24). Hear the words of Messiah to Yoḥanan in:

Ḥazon/Revelation 1:17-18And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead, and He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last, 18 and the living One. And I became dead, and see, I am living forever and ever. Aměn. And I possess the keys of the grave and of death.

The Living One became dead and is living forever!!!

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 3:18Because even Messiah once suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to Elohim, having been put to death indeed in flesh but made alive in the Spirit

The clear point I am trying to stress here is that The Living One who bore our sins lives forever, and we therefore must take clear counsel from this word in Yeḥezqěl that there can be no excuse for any crookedness, and we certainly can never blame our fathers for the inherited lies as an excuse to continue allowing crookedness to being a stumbling block for us! Many today are using this very same excuse that יהוה said will never be used in Yisra’ĕl as long as He lives! The wording may have changed, but the vain excuse is still the same and has absolutely no credit. Many are holding fast to crooked ways that have perverted the truth and been handed down through the generations and will basically blame the fathers by saying that it is the way that it has always be done! Or when confronted with the clear crookedness of lawlessness and sin they will be emotionally swayed by saying things like, “What about my dead grandfather, are you telling me he was wrong?” And I will answer. “Yes, now get over it and walk in the Truth and stop trying to reason out whether the dead were wrong or right!” יהוה is a Living Elohim, and He is the Elohim of the Living! What are you, who are alive, doing? Are you walking in the stumbling crookednesses of your fathers or are you walking in the purity of righteousness that the Living Torah of Elohim calls for us to do!

The Good News is very clear – those who believe are declared ‘right’, which is the word δικαιόω dikaioō – Strong’s G1344 which means, to show to be righteous, declare righteous, acquitted, vindicated or justified.

To ‘believe’ involves action and a confident response to the One you put your trust in and follow. Belief/faith without works (of righteousness) is dead!!! Those who do not guard to do all that Elohim has commanded, shall still be in danger of being visited for the crookedness of the fathers, as their lawless works reveal that they do not love Him but hate Him!

Here in Yeḥezqěl, יהוה clearly refutes the claim by this crooked generation that He is not fair and is unjust! He makes it clear in this chapter that the one who is sinning shall die!!! He says in verse 4The being that is sinning shall die”, and again in verse 20, “The being who sins shall die”. He then lists three examples, first of a righteous man, then a wicked son and thirdly, a righteous grandson. Recognising that Yeḥezqěl was a prophet during the time of the exile of Yehuḏah, we are able to clearly understand from the example that is put forth here that a clear lesson could be learned from a perfect example of 4 previous kings of Yehuḏah!  We are easily reminded of the example of the righteous king Ḥizqiyahu, his wicked son Menashsheh and then Menashsheh’s son Amon was also a wicked king. Then the son of Amon, Yoshiyahu, who was a righteous king, began to reign and he had had both a wicked father and grandfather! The example of these kings teaches us what is being proclaimed here in Yeḥezqěl. In fact, Ḥizqiyahu’s father, Aḥaz, was a wicked king too!

The point is made clear – the being that sins dies!!! The being that does righteousness lives!

What is further emphasised in this chapter is the clear patience and loving-commitment of יהוה, yet also reminds of how jealous He is and how serious He is against unrighteousness! One cannot rest on past obedience, nor does past disobedience have to be a hindrance to one’s upright walk today!

If an unrighteous being – that is one who has completely disregarded the Torah and commands of Elohim, turns from all the sins which he has done and shall guard all the Torah and commands of Elohim, and DO right-ruling and righteousness, he shall live and not die, and all his transgressions that he has done shall not be remembered! This we clearly see in verses 21-22 and we see a very powerful truth herein as it says in the last half of verse 22: “in his righteousness that he has done, he shall live.”, showing us that ‘righteousness’ is an ongoing process of obedience that secures one’s life that has been redeemed by the Blood of Messiah!!! Verse 27 further emphasises this for us by saying that when the wrong turns from the wrong that he has done and DOES right-ruling and righteousness, he keeps himself alive!!!

We work out our deliverance with fear and trembling by DOING right-ruling and righteousness, which is to hear, guard and do the commands of Elohim!

The clear warning against stumbling back and becoming weak in our hands and knees is given here in this chapter too, as we take note that verse 24 and 26 makes it very clear that when a righteous one turns away from his righteousness and does unrighteousness, he will not live but will die and all his righteousness which he has done will not be remembered! One moment of crookedness and stumbling can cause one to die, if the trespass and crookedness is not repented of!!!

At these words many will say that יהוה is not fair, yet He makes it clear that it is the crooked ways of man and holding on to the vain excuses of past errors that is not right! The call is clearly given in verse 30, to repent and turn from all transgressions, and not let crookedness be a stumbling block! This message is still being proclaimed very loud and clear, yet sadly there are many ears that are not understanding as their hearts have become thickened by deceit, as the call to have a renewed heart is being rejected because of false traditions that have been handed down and taught as teachings while the commands of Elohim are rejected as being burdensome and legalistic and cruel and unfair!

The call to come out of the whore’s teachings have been loudly proclaimed yet many clearly do not understand what ‘come out and be separate’ means, and risk being thrown onto the same bed of destruction as the wicked Izeḇel, who taught whoring and falsehood:

Ḥazon/Revelation 2:21-23And I gave her time to repent of her whoring, and she did not repent. 22 “See, I am throwing her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their works. 23 “And I shall slay her children with death. And all the assemblies shall know that I am the One searching the kidneys and hearts. And I shall give to each one of you according to your works.

Once again we are able to clearly see how יהוה does not change and is a Jealous and Just Elohim! For we see both here in these verses from Ḥazon/Revelation and in verse 30 of Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 18, that He judges every one according to their ways/works!

In Hoshěa we see the call to return being given, as they had stumbled in their crookedness!

Hoshěa/Hosea 14:1-2O Yisra’ĕl, return to יהוה your Elohim, for you have stumbled by your crookedness. 2 Take words with you, and return to יהוה. Say to Him, “Take away all crookedness, and accept what is good, and we render the bulls of our lips.

Repentance and confession is key to having our crookedness taken away, as we clearly see in:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Being cleansed of unrighteousness does not means we are to continue in it, but are rather commanded to guard righteousness, in order that we live!

Crookedness is unrighteousness, which is lawlessness, which is sin – and I will show you why!

The Hebrew word used here in Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 18:30 for ‘crookedness’ is עָוֹן avon – Strong’s H5771 meaning, iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity, blame, perversity, depravity, which comes from the root verb עָוָה avah – Strong’s H5753 which means, to twist, bend, distort, make crooked, pervert. In Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1 we are told that Yisra’ĕl was loaded with crookedness, and were a sinning nation who had acted corruptly and did not understand! They had ears that did not hear due to a hard and rebellious heart!

The Greek word used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak – O.T.) for ‘crookedness’ in Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 18:30 is the noun ἀδικία adikia – Strong’s G93 which means, unrighteousness, iniquity, wrong, deed violating law and justiceand as an adjective speaks of one who is wicked and unjust. This Greek word is used in:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death.

Here it is translated as ‘unrighteosuness’, and why I am highlighting this here is to point out that ‘unrighteousness’ is ‘sin’, which is the Greek word is  ἁμαρτία hamartia – Strong’s G266 which means, sin, failure, miss the mark, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong, and also carries the meaning of, wandering from the law of Elohim, violate the law of Elohim. I am sure some of you know where I am going with this!

Ok… unrighteousness is sin - ἀδικία adikia is ἁμαρτία hamartia – that is pretty clear! Yet we also know from:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 3:4Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

 Sin is lawlessness!!! The Greek word for ‘lawlessness is ἀνομία  anomia – Strong’s G458 meaning, lawlessness or lawless deeds, unrighteousness and comes from the word ἄνομος anomos – Strong’s G459 meaning, lawless or without law, transgressors.

This verse spells it out very plainly for those who seem to miss the fact that to not walk in the Torah is sin! It is as though Yoḥanan was spelling out this fact very bluntly and straightforward for those who struggle with a Greek mind-set and see no need to walk in the Torah – well right here in the Greek it is clear – If you are lawless (that is to walk contrary to the Torah) then you are indeed sinning!

Sin is lawlessness - ἁμαρτία hamartia is ἀνομία  anomia! With this in mind we see clearly that with ‘unrighteousness’ being ‘sin’, that ‘unrighteousness’ is ‘lawlessness’ - ἀδικία adikia is ἀνομία  anomia!!!

When one turns from righteousness – that is to walk in the commands of Elohim – and walks in unrighteousness – that is to walk lawless and be without obedience to the Torah and commands of Elohim – he is sinning and shall die, for the being that sins dies!!! This is exactly what Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 18 is warning us about! And the message is very loud and clear:                                                  LET NOT CROOKEDNESS BE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO YOU!

Do not let ‘lawlessness’ which is ‘sin’, which is ‘unrighteousness’, which is ‘crookedness’, be a stumbling block to you.

The Hebrew word for ‘stumbling block’ is מִכְשׁוֹל miḵshol – Strong’s H4383 which means, a stumbling, a means or occasion of stumbling, obstacle, and comes from the root verb כָּשַׁל kashal – Strong’s H3782 meaning, stumble, totter, stagger, bring down, failing, weakening, and is used to describe the ‘weak knees’, we mentioned in the opening verse I used at the beginning of this message from Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35:3

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35:3 “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees.

 

Tonight I simply want to echo this clear call being given in Yeḥezqěl:

LET NOT CROOKEDNESS BE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO YOU!

By that I simply mean what the words clearly spell out for us, and that is that we must not be weakened by lawlessness and sin and we must never give an occasion for any crookedness, which is lawlessness, which in sin, which is unrighteousness, to cause our hands and knees to become weak in our called for walk of set-apartness! We must guard against using vain excuses and the holding on to falsely handed down traditions that have been taught as teachings, but turn from all crookedness and guard to do all that Elohim has commanded us to, for that is our righteousness!

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:6By loving-commitment and truth crookedness is pardoned. And in the fear of יהוה one turns away from evil.

 

As we recognise that the day of the vengeance of our Mighty Elohim is coming soon, let us make sure that we strengthen the hands and knees and stand firm in His Truth, and let not kindness and truth forsake you – Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, thus finding favour and good insight In the eyes of Elohim and man.

 

Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 51:6 “Flee from the midst of Baḇel, and let each one save his life! Do not be cut off in her crookedness, for this is the time of the vengeance of יהוה, the recompense He is repaying her.

 Come out and be separate! This is a command, have you heard, are you guarding, or has crookedness become a stumbling block to you?

LET NOT CROOKEDNESS BE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO YOU!

Have you stumbled at keeping the Sabbaths and Feasts of יהוה? Have you stumbled at guarding His Food laws? Have you stumbled at walking according to His Torah in any way? Have you stumbled at how you are to treat others?

Has compromise brought you to the point of letting crookedness become a stumbling block to doing what is right and true? Then hear the clear words of Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel – for your life depends upon it!

Do not blame others for crookedness! Do not let the crookedness/lawlessness of others be a stumbling block to you and cause you to be doing unrighteousness, which is lawlessness and sin!!! Do not let falsely handed down traditions and false teachings of lawlessness (that which teaches that says the Torah is no more valid), which are nothing more than “teachings of crookedness”, be a stumbling block to you!

I mentioned earlier the clear call to spiritual renewal that is given in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12, with the clear command to strengthen hands and knees, and makes straight paths for your feet, which is to walk upright and in righteousness:

Hoshěa/Hosea 14:9Who is wise and understands these words, discerning and knows them? For the ways of יהוה are straight, and the righteous walk in them, but the transgressors stumble in them.

No more excuses for lawlessness/crookedness/unrighteousness/sin - the hearing ear and the seeing eye, יהוה has made both of them, now use it in righteousness and do not stumble in crookedness!

 

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!