Shabbat Shalom family
Romiyim/Romans 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Shrink from what is wicked, cling to what is good.”
As we all know that love for Elohim is to guard His commands and how we know that we love one another is when we are guarding His commands:
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands. 3 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy.”
Now to guard something gives us the image of an active duty that can only be done in a sober and alert state; and we are to be sober and keep watch as we diligently guard His commands and ‘do’ them. His commands are not heavy as this verse makes it clear, but let me ask you, ‘Have you ever held a light object or weight up for a long time?’. The longer you hold something up the heavier it seems to get. How about when you hold tightly onto something? Over an extended period one’s grip can become weakened and even let go. Well having this picture in our minds of having the endurance to hold on or keep a grip on something, we come to understand that if our hands are weak then the ability to endure will be severely threatened and the only means to actually pull through it to make sure we strengthen our hands or grip. Now, with this in mind, we see that we are to guard His commands – in other words we are to have a firm grip on them in order to do them and יהוה makes it clear that we are to be a people who can hold on with strong hands:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 13:4 “Walk after יהוה your Elohim and fear Him, and guard His commands and obey His voice, and serve Him and cling to Him.”
To cling to Him takes strong hands – hands that will not let go under any circumstance; and in Scripture we see that one’s hands speak of that which we do – that is our work and the only way to do the good works that have been prepared for us as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, is to walk after יהוה and fear Him and serve Him – and in order to do this faithfully, calls for us to hold on very tightly to His Word and not let go by any means. His Word is what equips us to work and His joy is our strength! But how many of you at times do not feel very strong? Have you ever been in a place where you feel like you are losing a grip or feel like you have actually lost the grip on being able to stand firm in the faith and trust יהוה fully; and as a result your hands are not raised in worship but are hanging limp and are weakened? Tonight in a message called, “HOW STRONG ARE YOUR HANDS?”, I would like us to read a passage of Scripture that ought to encourage us to be strong and also warn us of the dangers of not keeping our hands strong. Please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 15 (Read).
As we look at this chapter and the words given to Asa and his response we can become very encouraged by the example of what happens when we listen and obey the instructions of Elohim. Chapters 14-16 cover the accounts of Asa who, by all accounts, did what was right in the eyes of יהוה! In Chapter 14 we see that the land rested 10 years in his days and he removed all the high places and strange slaughter places and cut down all the Ashĕrim and sun-pillars; and he commanded Yehuḏah to seek יהוה and do the Torah. All was well and then the Kushites came out to battle against them and outnumbered them almost 2 to 1 (580 000 vs. 1 000 000) and Asa cried out to יהוה and part of his declaration in 14:11 was: “… In Your Name we go against this crowd…” and יהוה smote the Kushites, bringing about a great victory with great spoils. In Chapter 16 we see a sad decline of what was once a faithful and strong king as he grew stubborn and stopped seeking יהוה, which resulted in the rapid decline of his health and in the 39th year of his reign he became crippled. I gave a message last year on this Chapter 16 called, ‘Signs of Stubbornness’ and the reason for mentioning this is to give an overview of the accounts we see recorded regarding Asa, king of Yehuḏah who reigned for 41 years. Despite his downfall due to stubbornness we can still learn a great deal from his life, and it is with this Chapter 15 in mind that I believe we can be reminded to keep our hands strong lest we allow them to weaken and our walk be hindered, as was the end fate of a king who was once strong and then lost his grip!
I will be looking at a number of Hebrew words and their meanings in order for us to get a better understanding of what we are to do to ensure our hands remain strong and cling to יהוה.
The Spirit of Elohim came upon Azaryahu to speak to Asa. Azaryahu – עֲזַרְיָהוּ – Strong’s H5838 means, ‘Yah has helped’; and he was the son of Oḏĕḏ – עוֹדֵד – Strong’s H5752 which means, ‘restorer’. Asa – אָסָא – Strong’s H609 means, ‘healer/physician’. In a sense we can see that this very vital message from Elohim was to a people who had been ‘helped by Yah’ who is the True ‘Restorer’ and the One who heals.
This was not only a message of comfort but also a prophetic warning to not become weakened in light of recent victories that they had experienced.
And verse 2 we see to who the message was directed – all Yehuḏah and Binyamin. Now when we look at the construct of this clear calling and the meaning of these names we see that this is a very clear call to all of us today:
“Hear me, Asa, and all Yehuḏah and Binyamin”
The word ‘hear’ is the root word שָׁמַע ‘shama’ – Strong’s H8085, which carries the meaning not just simply to ‘hear’, but rather to ‘hear with attention, and comprehend and discern and give heed to what is being spoken’. Certainly we see that this kind of hearing that is called for today is not very apparent among the masses today who are simply having their ears tickled and are clearly not listening attentively, because they forget what they hear and are doing that which Ya’aqoḇ/James warns against – and that is to not be like a man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he sees!
With Yehuḏah meaning ‘praise’ and Binyamin meaning ‘son of the right hand’, we get a clear message that could be better rendered to us today as:
“Hear the Healer – all you who praise the Son of the right hand!”
This message is for believers, who claim to walk in Messiah – a message that Asa forgot and as a result ended up being sick, contrary to what his name described!
So what was this message?
Verse 2 makes it clear – יהוה is with you while you are with Him – we see יהושע repeat this clear message in the words He spoke regarding the Vine and the Branches in Yoḥanan/John 15 where He repeatedly tells us that we are to stay in Him, then He would stay in us!
How we stay in Him is certainly obvious, yet as obvious as it seems many sadly do not and find themselves feeling weak and forsaken! To seek יהוה must be a continual process:
Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek יהוה and His strength, seek His face continually!”
These were the words of Dawiḏ after the Ark of Elohim was brought back from the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom and had been set in the midst of the tent he had pitched for it and had appointed the Lěwites to serve before the Ark of Elohim and give thanks and praise continually; and we recognise how our King and High Priest, יהושע, has appointed us as priests to serve continually before Him, seeking His strength and His face always!
These words are a clear message for us to take heed of today as we see in verse 3 that just as Yisra’ĕl had been without the True Elohim and without a Torah priest or Torah; so we have recognised in our lives today that we as a people too have been without the Truth and the Torah, as the Truth had been syncretised with substances of foreign worship which rendered the majority of us to be without the Torah or any who could teach us the Torah; and so I would like to look at some key words in this chapter that will hopefully expand our understanding and encourage us to be strengthened and not let our hands become weak in doing what we know we ought to be doing!
1 – SEEK – דָּרַשׁ darash – Strong’s H1875 means, ‘to resort to, seek out, ask, avenge, consult, investigate, search carefully, make inquiry, question’. Now when we see that this word carries more than simply just take a quick peek, but rather emphasises the need to be digging deep in seeking out carefully and with great diligence, through consultation, and asking. When we are told to ‘seek’ first the Kingdom – we must recognise that this is not an instruction that gives the notion that you look at it and now that you have seen it you can go on your merry way – NO! To seek His Kingdom requires hard work and discipline each and every day. Here we are being clearly instructed to ‘seek’ יהוה; and if we do so He will be found by us! He is not lost! But we need to ‘seek’ Him and this implies an inquiry after knowledge, advice, insight, into any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in.
A word that is derived from דָּרַשׁ darash is מִדְרָשׁ midrash – Strong’s H4097 means, ‘a study, record, writings or story, commentary’. A ‘midrash’ speaks of the ability to search out something and often refers to that which is written to teach, and later became known as a Hebrew word relating to the in-depth study of the word, often done together. The point is that we are to be a people who are earnestly growing in wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures so we can remember what we look like when we look intently into the mirror of His Word!
Most people today are not ‘seeking’ in the sense of what this word entails; and remember this instruction to seek is to ALL! After all if we seek we shall find – who does not want to learn more and more about our Creator, Redeemer and King?
2 – FOUND – מָצָא matsa – Strong’s H4672 – ‘to attain, find, locate, discover’. Here are a couple of verse where this word is found:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the man who gets understanding.”
In speaking of the Words and instructions of our Father:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:22 “For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”
With the concept of being able to find something reveals that it needs to be sought after, not that it is lost but that it needs to be discovered and learnt. While in many ways the Word was lost to us while being right in front of us, we thank יהוה for opening our eyes that we may seek and find!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 7:15 “Therefore I came out to meet you, to earnestly seek your face, and I found you.”
How earnestly are you seeking יהוה? How many times do you find yourself in a state of running around like a chicken without a head or going in circles over an issue or situation and do not know what to do? How earnest is your seeking יהוה and His Righteousness?
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who earnestly seek me do find me.”
He loves those who love Him – and a major part of loving Him is ‘seeking’ Him; because to love Him is to do what he has instructed us to, so how will we know how to love Him if we do not seek out what His instructions are???
The Hebrew word here for ‘love’ is אֵהָב ahaḇ – Strong’s H157 and an interesting side note is that the numerical value for this word for love is ‘8’ – which speaks of fullness, complete and everlasting!
We are to give our full attention to seeking our Elohim with all our heart, soul and mind – anything less would not render true love, but may rather cause one to end up forsaking rather than loving.
3 – FORSAKE – עָזַב azaḇ – Strong’s H5800 and here it means, ‘to leave, forsake, loose, loosen, abandon, leave behind, neglect’.
This is word I would like to look at a little closer as we can learn a lot from this little word, which I would like us to look at in terms of the ancient script, which is as follows:
Three letters – עָ ‘ayin’ – זַ ‘zayin’ and ב ‘beyt’ and in the ancient script as depicted above each letter carries a unique meaning according to its picture:
עָ ‘ayin’ – – pictured as an eye and carries the meaning of ‘insight and understanding’
זַ ‘zayin’ – – a mattock (sharp digging tool – axe/pick) with the meaning of ‘a weapon/tool that cuts’
ב ‘beyt’ – – a tent floor plan and carries the meaning of a ‘dwelling’.
In the context of understanding what we are discussing here we see a negative aspect of this word that with these three letters together we see the meaning, ‘to leave, depart from or leave behind’ – in other words to ‘FORSAKE’!
This is why I say this:
Have you ever felt like you have been forsaken or abandoned? How many times have you ever felt as if you are own your own and it feels as though you cannot find the presence of Elohim? Well when we look at these letters and their pictures we can see clearly that when one feels ‘forsaken’ in any way, they often feel:
1 – – that they have no insight or understanding and cannot make head or tails of what they are facing? Why?
2 – – it feels like they have been cut deeply!!!
And without knowledge and understanding and insight of the Word, a person in pain or a state of panic will find that:
3 – they have no dwelling place to truly rest in, as they feel like they are in a dark place in their lives.
As a result of this the tendency is to forsake what really matters – and that is to be seeking יהוה. We are urged not to forsake the gathering of the set-apart ones as some are in the habit of doing, and this we must recognise as a very serious instruction to guard, lest we find ourselves in a place of feeling forsaken and without any insight or understanding; and to be in this kind of place will only weaken a person more and more, leaving them without the strength needed to hold on to or cling to the Truth with strong hands! This is clearly a danger that is a real threat to anyone who is not seeking יהוה with their all!
Now when you take the first two letters of this word – עַז az – Strong’s H5794 which means, ‘strong, mighty, fierce, power’ as well as meaning, ‘raging, insolent, greedy’. Feeling ‘forsaken’ can be a very ugly but strong place to ‘dwell’ in or rather it can be a very crippling stronghold over a person. Have any of you ever felt yourself dwelling in the house of the forsaken? When it feels like you are all alone and there is no way out and no one to help you? Every had those terrible pity parties for one and no one else is invited? It is often hard to leave that ‘space’ or place of weakness, even though you desperately want to! Often the fear of possible failure or further failure can cause a person to stay dwelling in a stronghold of shame and guilt and abandonment; feeling all alone and not loved; and unable to find the strength needed to change – can you identify with this in any way? Perhaps some of you cannot, but there are many out there who get into this bad space and hide away!
The antidote is found in the very same word, believe it or not! We have just looked at the ‘dark’ aspect of this word עָזַב azaḇ, and we are warned of the result of being in this place; however this same word is used in another passage of Scripture which we find that the very same root letters having another meaning! It is used during the rebuilding of the Temple walls in:
Neḥemyah/Nehemiah 3:8 “Next to him Uzzi’ĕl son of Ḥarhayah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. And next to him Ḥananyah, one of the perfumers, made repairs. And they restored Yerushalayim as far as the Broad Wall.”
The root word translated as ‘restored’ is in fact עָזַב azaḇ, and here we see the meaning of ‘restoring, repair or being fortified’. As odd as this may seem, what we can see from this is that while what we are feeling may seem like we are forsaken; יהוה could be actually restoring and repairing us. We see two aspects to this word that ought to both warn us and also encourage us.
Without knowledge and insight due to not seeking Him, one may find that His very sharp Word, that cuts deep, seem like a very cruel and painful process that only leaves one despondent and unable to find true rest in Him, all due to eyes that have no understanding, from lack of seeking. On the other hand when we are seeking Him with our all and the veil is taken away when we turn to the Master, we recognise that while His sharp Word that cuts deep may be at times a little painful, we are able to recognise the need to learn and change as His Word shapes us and be found dwelling in Him with joy and peace, able to rejoice when we face all kinds of trials!
Verses 4&5 they are reminded that for a long time Yisra’ĕl had been without the True Elohim and when they sought Him, He was found by them. And in those days there was great distress and disturbances on all the lands. This may be a prophetic shadow picture of what is once again coming; as for a long time many have been without the True Elohim and without Torah and while we are seeking Him and are being found by Him, nations will be in distress as nation will be against nation; but we who call upon Him and seek Him are encouraged and comforted by the words given in verse 7 and that is – while we who have turned to the True Living Elohim and Saviour sojourn here amidst the great distress that is coming upon the nations we must be strong and not let our hands become weak, for there remains for us a great reward at His return!
When Asa heard these words he strengthened himself and removed the abominations from the land and restored the slaughter place of יהוה. A powerful illustration in itself of how we each need to strengthen ourselves and cannot rely on someone else to do what we ought to be doing in strengthening our hands for pure and unadulterated worship. What we can also learn from this is that in times of feeling forsaken and abandoned, and when we feel weak and cut up, we need to get strengthened and rebuild the slaughter place of praise in our lives and strengthen ourselves into being a true living sacrifice every single day as we get rid of abominable things that have stood in the way of pure and unadulterated worship.
The word forsake also has the meaning of “loosen”; and we are to ‘cling’ to יהוה and not loosen our grip through strengthening ourselves in His Word. To loosen simply means to let go and in effect to let go of much needed discipline:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 6:10-11 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to lie down; 11 And your poverty shall come like a prowler, And your need as an armed man.”
We are a people who are commanded to be sober and alert and watchful – awake and not asleep , not even for a moment. Our hands cannot be folded in forsaking to do what His Word instructs us to do. The encouragement given to us hear in verse 7 is to ‘keep going and do not slow down’:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35:3-4 “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Be strong, do not fear! See, your Elohim comes with vengeance, with the recompense of Elohim. He is coming to save you.”
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:12 “So, strengthen the hands which hang down and the weak knees”
The call to ‘be strong’ would be reminiscent of the clear words given to Yehoshua before entering into the Promised Land: the word in Hebrew for ‘be strong’ is חָזַק ḥazaq – Strong’s H2388 and carries the meaning, ‘to grow firm, fasten upon, strengthen, take hold of’ and can have the concept of ‘grasp between your ears’.
This is what Asa did and as a result the slaughter place was restored and they entered into a covenant to seek יהוה, with all their heart and with all their being and anyone who did not so would be out to death! They swore to יהוה with a loud voice and with shouting, trumpets and shofars – This was done in the 3rd month and so we see here another great picture of Shavuot and the sounding of the trumpets announcing their commitment to the marriage between יהוה and His called out Bride, as well as a great picture of the Yoḇel of release as we see in verse 15 how יהוה gave them rest all around.
While we see that Asa sadly did not continue to strengthen himself as recorded in chapter 16, we can learn a great deal from this very clear message in this chapter we have read tonight – and that is to be strong, strengthened our hands – that is to do righteousness and seek יהוה with our all and never forsake doing what we know we must do every day as we restore wholehearted worship in being a daily living sacrifice and raising a great shout of praise unto our King!
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 55:6 “Seek יהוה while He is to be found, call on Him while He is near.”
Tehillim/Psalm 46:1 “Elohim is our refuge and strength, A help in distress, soon found.”
Tehillim/Psalm 9:10 “And those who know Your Name trust in You, For You have not forsaken those who seek You, O יהוה.”
How strong are your hands? Have they been weakened by fleshly lusts and worldly pleasures or are you daily strengthening them as you hear, guard and do His Living Word each and every day. We are to be a people who are clinging to יהוה with our all and not let go. If our hands let go and we forsake doing what we ought to be doing then our walk will become crippled like Asa’s did! We are to keep our eyes focused and fixed on יהושע, and one of the greatest tools to having our eyes continually aligned in guarding His commands is to guard His Shabbat and gather! This will give us 20/20 vision:
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 20:20 “And set apart My Sabbaths, and they shall be a sign between Me and you, to know that I am יהוה your Elohim.”
When we neglect to guard His Shabbat, we risk the danger of losing our clear sight and may end up forsaking Him blindly!
If you are not holding on and clinging to יהוה with both hands firmly gripping His Word – to do it – then what are you ‘clinging’ to or holding on to? In Miḵah/Micah 7:3 we see how a people who had forsaken Elohim were being described as having both hands on the evil to do it well! If you are not clinging to יהוה, then what are your hands doing?
In verse 16 we also see that Asa’s mother was removed from being sovereigness mother and he cut down her abominable image. This makes me think of Hoshěa/Hosea 2:2 where the command is given to ‘strive with your mother’. Now we all know that this picture speaks of striving with that into which you were born and have now come out of – and that being a false syncretised system of worship of which the abominable images need to be cut down and we are to strive with our ‘mother’ – and to do that we need strong hands! What I mean by this is that our ability to walk in and continue to stay in Messiah, as we guard His commands that are not heavy, will strengthen our hands to be well equipped to strive with that which is abominable and false, and recognise that through our seeking out of true wisdom and understanding of The Torah of יהוה, we become stronger and more well equipped to cut down those things that were erroneously taught to us as a result of inherited lies; and able to strive with the ‘harlot mother’ as we are able to discern and rightly handle the Truth!
How strong are your hands? It is time to strengthen weak hands and those which hang down and lift them up and shout the praises of our Mighty Elohim, יהוה of Hosts!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13:15 “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a slaughter offering of praise to Elohim, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.”
Go ahead give Him a slaughter offering of praise, lift up your hands and be strengthened in His Mighty Name:
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you; יהוה lift up His face upon you and give you shalom!