22nd of the 11th month 2017/2018
Ma’asei/Acts5:1-11 “But a certain man named Ḥananyah, with Shappirah his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back from the price, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the feet of the emissaries. 3 But Kěpha said, “Ḥananyah, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Set-apart Spirit and keep back from the price of the land for yourself? 4 “While it remained, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your authority? Why have you conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to Elohim.” 5 Then Ḥananyah, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all those who heard of this. 6 But the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out and buried him. 7 And it came to be, about three hours later, that his wife came in, not knowing what had taken place. 8 And Kěpha responded to her, “Say to me whether you sold the land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 So Kěpha said to her, “Why have you agreed to try the Spirit of יהוה? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out.” 10 And immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, they buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the assembly and upon all who heard of this.”
While reading the Book of Acts this week, I was once again gripped by the account of Ḥananyah and Shappirah, who fell down dead at the moment of being exposed for their deception. In a message called, ‘KEEP NOTHING BACK!’ I want to take a closer look at these events and highlight some very critical lessons that we are to learn from this account, so that we can all be reminded how critically important it is for us to becomes more righteous and more set-apart, as we take note of what we are told in:
Ḥazon/Revelation 22:11 “He who does wrong, let him do more wrong; he who is filthy, let him be more filthy; he who is righteous, let him be more righteous; he who is set-apart, let him be more set-apart.”
These words were given to Yoḥanan, after having been shown what is to come and in light of the coming of the Master that draws near, the clear separation of those who are righteous and set-apart from those who are wrong and filthy will become increasingly evident against the mirror of the Word of Truth.
Ḥananyah, which is translated as Ananias in many translations, which comes from the Greek word Ἀνανίας Ananias – Strong’s G367, which is of Hebrew origin – and his proper Hebrew name: חֲנַנְיָה Ḥananyah – Strong’s H2608 means, ‘Yah has favoured, or Yah has been gracious’, which is constructed from the two root words: 1) the primitive root חָנַן ḥanan – Strong’s H2603 meaning, ‘show favour, be gracious to, dealt graciously with, given to them
voluntarily, shown favour’ and 2) יָהּ – Yah – Strong’s H3050 which is the contracted Name of יהוה.
Here was a man whose name means, ‘Yah has favoured’ and yet his actions revealed an abuse of that favour/grace.
Another Hebrew word that is derived from the root verb חָנַן ḥanan – Strong’s H2603 is the noun חֵן ḥen – Strong’s H2580 meaning, ‘grace, adornment, favour, gracious’, and the reason for me making mention of this is to highlight that these two words, חֵן ḥen and חָנַן ḥanan, are collectively used 141 times in the Tanak (O.T.); and what we are able to clearly recognise in Scripture, is that the favour of Elohim is only extended on the basis of His loving-commitment to His covenants of Promise and therefore highlights the reality that the favour of Elohim is only extended to those who are in Covenant with Him and therefore highlights the reality that those who reject the Torah of Elohim and forsake the need to walk according to the Covenants of Promise, are unable to find His favour in time of need! Many today will loosely use the term, ‘I am under grace’, while their lives are riddled with compromise and lawlessness, as they totally disregard the need to be walking in, and guarding, the Torah and commands of Elohim.
Here was a man who had been ‘graciously given by Yah’! In other words, he had been freely given by Yah. By the favour of יהוה, he had possessions that he could sell by choice, revealing that he had been a wealthy man:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 8:18 “But you shall remember יהוה your Elohim, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is today.”
A man who had been favoured by Yah, with the ability to get wealth, in order to establish the Covenant which יהוה swore to our fathers! And you would think that with all that was happening in the body at this time, that Ḥananyah would give freely in return! Sadly, we see that he gave with ulterior motives, revealing the true character of his heart, for he kept back from the price and was therefore being dishonest and deceitful!
The Greek word that is translated as ‘kept back’ comes from the root word νοσφίζω nosphizō – Strong’s G3557 which can also be translated as, ‘to sequestrate oneself, embezzle, misappropriate, steal, deprive by fraud, pilfering, taking what is not yours to take’ and can also mean, ‘withdraw covertly and appropriate to one’s own use’.
Withdrawing covertly and appropriating that which has been favourably given by Yah, to one’s own use!!! We see a lot of that today, as many are unwilling to give of themselves fully to the building up of His body, as they are simply looking out for self with little concern or care for others, while having the appearance of reverence!
This was Ḥananyah of Ma’asei/Acts 5 – looking out for #1 and this is nothing more than selfishness in its fullness, as selfishness only leads to doing whatever it takes to look out only for #1 (that is self), and perhaps one’s spouse too – even if it means having to lie to Elohim! Selfish people will lie, cheat, manipulate others and distort the truth in order to get their own way, and this only leads to hypocrisy, which is a deliberate deception that tries to make others think that they are more spiritual than what they actually are! And in an attempt to keep the cover up they will do their utmost to put on a show before others, while not realising that they are unable to deceive the Almighty!
Shappirah knew about this and did not own up, even though she had an opportunity to repent – and this is what selfishness will do – cause one to hold on to the lie, even in the face of death!
We are reminded clearly that the way of lawlessness and pride leads only to destruction:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 1:19 “Such are the ways of everyone greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.”
Shelomoh is simply summarising the ways of the wrong – they take away life from another!
They do this because they are greedy for gain and selfish and think only about themselves and have no regard for another!
Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 6:9-10 “But those wishing to be rich fall into trial and a snare, and into many foolish and injurious lusts which plunge men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some, by longing for it, have strayed from the belief, and pierced themselves through with many pains.”
The Hebrew word for ‘greedy’ in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 1:19 is בָּצַע batsa – Strong’s H1214 which means, ‘to cut off, break off, gain by violence’, and the word used for ‘gain’ comes from this root word and is the Hebrew word בֶּצַע betsa – Strong’s H1215 which means, ‘gain made by violence, unjust gain or profit, dishonest gain’ and is also understood as ‘covetousness’.
When Moshe was instructed to appoint leaders, he was told to seek out able men, men who hated ‘unfair gain’:
Shemoth/exodus 18:21 “But you yourself, seek out from all the people able men, who fear Elohim, men of truth, hating unfair gain. And place these over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”
While Ḥananyah and Shappirah may have been a wealthy couple and possibly even considered themselves as leaders, their deceptive and selfish heart had been exposed as being unworthy and died as a result!
Selfishness not repented of will only result in the taking away of the life of its owner. We belong to יהוה, bought a price – the full price – and so we must not in any way be selfish or else the life (His Breath/Spirit) will be in danger of being taken away!
We also see an example of this selfishness and the result thereof in:
Yehoshua/Joshua 7:11-12 “Yisra’ĕl has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of that which is under the ban, and have both stolen and deceived, and also put it among their own goods. 12 “And the sons of Yisra’ĕl shall not be able to stand before their enemies. They are going to turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I am not with you any more, unless you destroy that which is under the ban from your midst.”
A favoured people had sinned and taken what was not theirs to take! They had stolen and deceived!
The Hebrew word for ‘stolen’ is גָּנַב ganaḇ – Strong’s H1589 which means, ‘to steal, kidnap, be stolen, take without consent’, and the Hebrew word translated as ‘deceived’ is כָּחַשׁ kaḥash – Strong’s H3584 which means, ‘to be untrue, to lie, deny, disown, fail’, and we see this word being used in:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 30:8-9 “Remove falsehood and a lying word far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me my lawful bread; 9 Lest I become satisfied and deny You, and say, “Who is יהוה?” And lest I be poor, and steal, and seize the Name of my Elohim.”
The Greek equivalent to this word is ἀρνέομαι arneomai – Strong’s G720 which means, ‘contradict, deny, reject, renounce, disown’, and Sha’ul warns Timotiyos to turn away from people who deceive and deny, people who have a form of reverence, yet deny the power of the Truth being fully functional in their lives:
Timotiyos Bět/2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of reverence but denying its power. and turn away from these!”
Turn away from who? Those who are untrue to the Covenant and do as they please, without seeking the clear guidance of the Word as being the prescribed standard for set-apart living! Turn away from those who claim to be righteous yet they claim that the standard of righteousness has changed!
The Greek word that is translated here as ‘reverence’ is the noun εὐσέβεια eusebeia – Strong’s G2150 and carries the meaning of, ‘well-directed reverence’, and at its root it carries the meaning, ‘to be true and to adore, speaking of one’s devout worship and being dutiful in one’s obedience’.
This word, applied to a believer, denotes a life that is truly acceptable unto Messiah, indicating a proper attitude toward יהושע Messiah, who saves him. It comes from the adjective εὐσεβής eusebēs – Strong’s G2152 which describes a ‘pious, devout, reverent man’. These words are a construct of two words: 1 – εὖ eu – Strong’s G2095 which is an adverb meaning, ‘good, well done’ and 2 – σέβω sebō – Strong’s G4576 which is a verb that means, ‘to worship, revere, Elohim-fearing’. So true reverence, even in the Greek understanding is a ‘good and well done, Elohim-fearing worship’!!! εὐσέβεια eusebeia reflects both an attitude and a way of life, that is well pleasing to our Master, through the continued display of complete set-apartness without compromise!
When we understand what true reverence toward Elohim means, we will find that we will do our utmost to give no room for compromise, and forever strive for perfection in the Master, no matter where we find ourselves or in what circumstances we may be in.
Let me be very clear – it is possible to fake εὐσέβεια eusebeia! In other words, it is possible to have ‘a form of reverence’ in appearance only, while not having the real thing. This is what many are doing today, as they are simply putting on a show, having a form or reverence but no power to actually live it out, as their neglect for a well pleasing and good Elohim-fearing worship is non-existent, as clearly seen through their neglect for the Torah and the need to guard the commands of Elohim!
I think that we can all agree that we do not see much reverence toward Elohim today! A twisted message has caused many to not have a true reverence for Elohim whatsoever; and they do as they please while at the same time think that they can demand to walk in the Promises of the Word! The false prosperity message seeks to claim all the promises without actually walking in obedience as they want the presence and promise of יהוה, while turning their noses up at the need to be fed their daily lawful bread, walk in The Word and obey the clear instructions for set-apart living.
Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1:3 “as His Mighty-like power has given to us all we need for life and reverence, through the knowledge of Him who called us to esteem and uprightness.”
Here Kěpha is very clear – יהושע has given us all we need for life and reverence – through the knowledge of Him!!!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah may have had a form of reverence, yet they denied its power by being deceitful in their outward show and had their inward deceit revealed which resulted in their immediate death!
They brought a blemished offering before Elohim and one that they were not compelled to bring, yet chose to, with the vain hope of trying to look good before others!
Mal’aḵi/Malachi 1:14 “But cursed be the deceiver who has a male in his flock, and makes a vow, but is slaughtering to יהוה what is blemished. For I am a great Sovereign,” said יהוה of hosts, “and My Name is feared among nations.”
The Hebrew word that is translated here as ‘deceiver’ comes from the root word נָכַל naḵal – Strong’s H5230 meaning, ‘to be crafty, deceitful, swindler’. Yisra’ĕl had been rebuked here in Mal’aḵi for bringing defiled and blemished offerings, and we see the following be asked:
Mal’aḵi/Malachi 1:8 “And when you present the blind as a slaughtering, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Bring it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favourably?” said יהוה of hosts.”
These are clear rhetorical questions that are being given here as a severe rebuke for the pathetic display of an assumed fear and esteem that they were bringing before יהוה. Of course it is evil to present the blind, lame and sick as a slaughtering:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 15:21 “But when there is any defect in it, lame or blind, or has any evil defect, do not slaughter it to יהוה your Elohim.”
This speaks about not bringing to יהוה what is blemished!!!
A blemished offering is simply that which is not perfect according to the Word and many are bringing a defective offering of their lives as they are riddled with compromise and the constant justification for their disobedience and lack of proper submission to guarding the Truth in fervent love!
Why do people bring blemished offerings? Because they do not fear יהוה! Where has the fear of יהוה gone and where is His esteem? This is a question that this message in Mal’aḵi/Malachi was asking back then and continues to ask the Bride of Messiah today!
If there is any defect in our daily walk, then we are unable to present our bodies as a living sacrifice! So many people give their second best to יהוה, while they will ensure that they give their best to their employers and friends.
We must realise that we cannot bring to יהוה a slaughter offering of our lives with blemished motives!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah were, in effect, ‘robbing Elohim’ in their blemished offering, in compromising their ability to give their all, and their love for self and the wealth of this world caused them to stray from the faith; and what we can learn from this account too, is that compromise, no matter in what shape, size or form it may be, only ends up bringing devastating results; for when you compromise you bring yourself down to a low state, where you open yourself up for Satan to have the opportunity of taking advantage of you into believing falsehood and lies!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 23:21 “When you make a vow to יהוה your Elohim, do not delay to pay it, for יהוה your Elohim is certainly requiring it of you, and it shall be sin in you.”
You got to ask yourself what were they thinking? Were they trying to secure their own position in the world at the expense of the community that was now being greatly empowered by the Spirit of Elohim? These are the kinds of actions that begin to separate the sheep from the goats! Were they trying to create some kind of ‘safety net’ or ‘nest egg’ in case this new community way of total surrendered living to יהוה that they were experiencing would not succeed or survive? We could make many assumptions as to what they were thinking but what we can clearly see is that their actions made a clear statement that declared that they were not wholeheartedly given to the building of community.
And it is the same today, as we see the actions of many believers saying a whole lot more by their actions or lack thereof, than any words they may or may not say, in making it clear that they are not really interested in being a part of the body of Messiah, and will only do as much as is required to suite self!
We see here with Ḥananyah and Shappirah, the result of this kind of selfish heart; as their hearts only resulted in trying to make a show before men in order to give the seeming appearance of righteousness while their hearts were certainly not operating in righteousness, but rather in deceit!
יהושע tells us that the scribes and Pharisees loved to make an outward show while their hearts were dirty, and we are also instructed by Messiah that we are not to make a show of our deeds before men in seeking praise but rather not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, for our reward is from the Father and not from men. Those who seek the praise of men have received their reward already!
Pilipiyim/Philippians 2:3 “doing none at all through selfishness or self-conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Selfishness will only result in keeping back from the price!
The Name Shappirah, in the Greek is Σαπφίρη Sapphirē – Strong’s G4551 which means ‘sapphire’ and is of Hebrew origin, coming from the Hebrew word – סַפִּיר sappir – Strong’s H5601 which is a sapphire gemstone and this word comes from the verb סָפַר saphar – Strong’s H5608 which means, ‘to score with a mark as a tally or record, to inscribe, to count, declare, number, tell’.
The Hebrew word סָפַר saphar – Strong’s H5608 is the denominative root verb of the word סֵפֶר sepher – Strong’s H5612 which means, ‘a missive, document, writing, book, scroll, letters’, and is used to describe the Book of the Torah!
What is also worth taking note of is that the sapphire stone that was on the breastplate of the High Priest, was the middle stone of the second row, which represented the Tribe of Dan; and as most of you will know, the name of Dan means ‘judge’.
So, here we are given the account of a man whose name means, ‘favoured by Yah’ and a woman, whose name would certainly be a reminder that guarding righteousness by being properly dressed in the armour of Elohim is critical, yet this couple abused the favour of Elohim and died for their act of unrighteousness!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah are a very clear example for us, in warning us to not abuse the favour/grace of Elohim in any way, and guard righteousness at all times so that there be no selfish motives being found in our hearts at all!
As taught ones of Messiah, who have been bought with His Own Blood, we are to be letters of Messiah! We are to be the ambassadors of Messiah, by being letters that represent the Word and show that the Book of the Torah is inscribed on our hearts as we bear the fragrance of Messiah by having the true fragrance of His favour, as we guard to do all that He has commanded! In doing this we must always remember that, in Scripture, there is no favour that is extended by Elohim outside of Covenant! Being outside of Covenant and being lawless will nullify any favour/grace that one thinks they may have or be under, when the True Judge comes!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah did not live up to the meaning of their names, as they clearly misrepresented the Master, and as a result, they were put to death by the Master and Judge of all creation!
The example given of this couple, is a very severe and necessary warning for us today, as we must take heed to be on guard against any form of arrogant pride, selfishness, haughtiness and arrogance, that assumes that the favour of Yah excuses away disobedience from the heart! They ‘kept back’ and died as a result!
The Greek word for ‘kept back’, which we have already looked at, is νοσφίζω nosphizō – Strong’s G3557, and is only used 3 times in the Renewed Writings (N.T.). Twice here in the account of Ḥananyah and Shappirah and again in Sha’ul’s letter to Titos:
Titos/Titus 2:9-10 “Servants should be subject to their own masters, to be well-pleasing in every way, not back-talking, 10 not stealing, but showing all good trustworthiness, so that they adorn the teaching of Elohim our Saviour in every way.”
Here it is translated as ‘stealing’ and is also translated in other translations as ‘pilfering’, which highlights to us the clear fact that Ḥananyah and Shappirah weren’t showing good trustworthiness and were not adorning the teaching of our Master, Elohim and Saviour, but were cloaked in deceit and stole by robbing Elohim in their blemished offering!
Sha’ul reminds us in Titos that Servants should be subject to their own masters and not steal! We are
The Greek word for ‘servant’ is the word δοῦλος doulos – Strong’s G1401 and is translated as, ‘slave, servant, bondservant, bondslaves – both men and women’.
This word is used repeatedly throughout the Renewed Writings, as we take note how Sha’ul, Ya’aqoḇ, Kěpha and Yehuḏah called themselves a ‘servant’ (doulos) of יהושע Messiah.
Romiyim/Romans 1:1 “Sha’ul, a servant of יהושע Messiah, a called emissary, separated to the Good News of Elohim”
Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:1 “Ya’aqoḇ, a servant of Elohim and of the Master יהושע Messiah, to the twelve tribes who are in the dispersion: Greetings.”
Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1:1 “Shimʽon Kěpha, a servant and emissary of יהושע Messiah, to those who have obtained a belief as precious as ours by the righteousness of our Elohim and Saviour יהושע Messiah”
Yehuḏah/Jude 1:1 “Yehuḏah, a servant of יהושע Messiah, and brother of Ya’aqoḇ, to those who are called, set-apart by Elohim the Father, and preserved in יהושע Messiah”
In the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak) the word δοῦλος doulos – Strong’s G1401 is used as the equivalent Hebrew word that is used for ‘servants’, which is עֶבֶד eḇeḏ – Strong’s H5650 meaning, ‘servant, slave, bondservant’.
The Hebrew word עֶבֶד eḇeḏ – Strong’s H5650’ is used 800 times in the Tanak (O.T.) and is used as a noun and comes from the primitive root verb עָבַד aḇaḏ – 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’!
A true faithful servant of יהושע Messiah is one who serves with their all and does so in complete set-apartness. Sha’ul told Timotiyos the following:
Timotiyos Bět/2 Timothy 2:3-5 “Suffer hardship with us as a good soldier of יהושע Messiah. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in the affairs of this life, in order to please only him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And if anyone competes in a game, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
Ḥananyah and Shappirah ‘broke the rules’, so to speak and did not receive the crown of life as they fell down dead!
In the ancient pictographic script, the word עֶבֶד eḇeḏ – Strong’s H5650 is pictured as:
Ayin – עֶ
The original pictograph for this letter is which is a picture of ‘an eye’ and represents the idea of ‘seeing and watching’, as well as ‘knowledge’ as the eye is the window of knowledge
Beyt – בֶ:
The ancient script has this letter as , which pictures ‘a tent floor plan’ and means, ‘house’ or ‘tent’. It represents family and the importance of those who are inside the tent as opposed to the tent structure itself.
Dalet – ד
The ancient script has this letter as and is pictured as a ‘tent door’. It can also have the meaning of ‘a back and forth movement’ as one goes back and forth through a tent door and so speaks of an access point. It can also carry the meaning of ‘dangle’ or hanging as the tent door would hang from the roof pole of the tent. It speaks a great deal in terms of understanding the door of the Tent of Appointment as being the only means of access.
When we look at this word in the ancient script for a servant, we can see that it speaks of:
ONE WHO WATCHES AT THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE
And this is what our Master calls us to do; and when we consider that יהושע Messiah is The Door, then we further see our need to continually be looking at Him, guarding to do all His commands and guarding His Sabbaths and Feasts (His Appointed Times) – and this is how we too keep watch over the House/Body of Messiah!
The plural word – servants – in Hebrew, is עַבְדֵי – aḇḏey and is pictured as follows:
As you will notice, the extra letter added here is the letter:
Yod – י
In the Ancient Pictographic Script, this is the letter ‘yad or yod’ which is pictured as – – which is the picture of an arm and hand and carries the meaning of ‘work, make, throw’ from the primary functions of the arm and hand and can also represent worship or giving thanks in the extending of hands as a gesture of this. This also reveals to us a stretched-out arm and hand.
This can give us the meaning:
ONE WHO WATCHES AT THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE WORKS/SERVES
This highlights for us that true servants are not sitting around and waiting for others to serve them but are busy doing the will of the Master and are obedient in serving as they should, not hiding their talents but working with them, bringing praise and esteem to Elohim!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah may have come to the door of the House, in type, and had the outward appearance of being servants of Elohim, yet their hearts were revealed, showing that they did not come to serve Elohim and His body but were serving themselves!
As we carry on, with the words that Sha’ul wrote to Titos, in Titos/Titus 2:9-10, which highlights that servants serve and do not steal, we take note of what follows:
Titos/Titus 2:11-14 “For the saving Gift of Elohim has appeared to all men, 12 instructing us to renounce wickedness and worldly lusts, and to live sensibly, righteously, and reverently in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed expectation and esteemed appearance of the great Elohim and our Saviour יהושע Messiah, 14 who gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people, His own possession, ardent for good works.”
The saving gift of Elohim has appeared to all, teaching us to live right and He has redeemed us from all lawlessness! That is, He has redeemed us from breaking all His commands, and bought us back from death with His Own Blood, so that we can now serve Him in sincerity and Truth, and be properly equipped in His Torah, to be trustworthy law-abiding servants of His Kingdom! We, therefore, should be ardent for good works!!!
The Greek word that is used here for ‘works’ is ἔργον ergon – Strong’s G2041 which means, ‘works, labour, business, employment, behaviour, deeds’.
In Mattithyahu/Matthew 5 our Master יהושע Messiah tells us that we are the light of the world and that we must not hide the light, but that we should shine the light of His Truth in everything we do, and that our light should shine before all men, so that they see our good works and praise our Father who is in the heavens! Guess what the very next words of the Master are, after telling us to let our ‘good works’ be seen by all….:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete.”
The clarity of His words are made plain in telling us that we shall be unable to let our good works be seen by all if we destroy the Torah and the Prophets! In other words, works done without the perfection of the Torah are not deemed ‘good works’ by our Elohim, no matter how good they may seem in the eyes of the flesh!
Ya’aqoḇ makes it very clear that belief that has no proper works is not a belief that can save a man!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah’s works were without proper belief and a as result they fell down dead!
While this account deals with the deceit of what they brought as a freewill offering, we must recognise that this teaches us to be on guard against any kind of deceit in any area or aspect of our lives, and so this lesson is not merely limited to what one gives, or appears to give, financially, but is a lesson on making sure that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, we are to do all in the Name of יהושע Messiah, highlighting that no deceit should be found in any of our dealings, whether in word of deed! We must also remember that our Master sees the heart and motives behind any words and/or actions!!!
This is a lesson on guarding against a life of service that presents a blemished offering through compromise as we are to be a daily living offering that is set-apart and well-pleasing to Elohim, for this is our reasonable worship! Anything that deviates from pure set-apartness is not considered reasonable or pleasing!
Many may ‘put on a religious face’ before others in order to be seen as being set-apart, when their hearts are riddled with compromise, yet we must remember that while man looks on the outside, יהוה sees the heart!
Do what is right – all the time – and keep nothing back!!!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah brought a blemished offering by being deceitful about the price. Remember that no one compelled them to bring anything! They didn’t have to sell their land and give all the money. Even if they had sold their land and had given half, but had been honest about what they were giving, it would not have been blemished or deceitful. The sin was that they lied about the price and deceived by putting on a show and kept back some of the price secretly!
This example that is written for us, as part of the clear mirror of the Word, must cause us to be reminded that we are to be on guard against any form of deceit! How honest are you being in your walk of set-apartness? Well, what we must remember is that honesty cannot have differing measuring scales, so one cannot measure how honest they have been, but rather realise that they are either honest or not! There is no such thing as 90% honesty!
Holding, or keeping, back from what is required, as a true set-apart servant of Messiah, is dishonest and deceitful!
When I say, ‘what is required’, I mean, firstly, that which is required by a proper submission to obeying the commands of Elohim, and secondly, which is included in the first, fulfilling one’s vows, honestly from the heart and not by means of an outward show to be seen by others.
True servants serve and do not need, or seek for, accolades for what they have done, as they simply serve, and after having served they keep serving and keep nothing back!
The sin of Ḥananyah and Shappirah was not that they reserved some of the profit for themselves but that they had lied about the price and gave the appearance that they had not reserved any for themselves! Have there been times where you have found that you have held back or kept back from being complete in your required set-apartness, while presenting as if you have not, as you have told others, or given the appearance before others, that you have given your all, when in fact you have not, recognising through the mirror of the Word that you have actually kept back for yourself what should have been given on done wholeheartedly unto the Master!
Their sin was twofold:
- 1)It was disingenuous, which means that they were not being straightforward or candid, but were rather being insincere, even pretending to be unaware that they had deceived Elohim!
- 2)They broke a vow! They had clearly broken that which they had originally purposed in their heart, by keeping back that which was so be assumed to have been given, in appearance! They could only have kept back that which was purposed to be given, showing that the actual intent of their heart was to deceive and when promoted with the opportunity to repent they both lied and died!
They kept back from the price!
The Greek word that is translated as ‘price’ in Ma’asei/Acts 5:2 & 3 comes from the root word τιμή time – Strong’s G5092 which means, ‘(to value, honour), a valuing, price, honour, honourable use, mark of respect’, and is used in:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you were bought with a price, therefore esteem Elohim in your body and in your spirit, which are of Elohim.”
Bought with a price! Can you see the lesson here? Having been bought with a price, a price that we could not pay, we have the responsibility to make sure that we do not keep back from the price by compromising what we have been bought and redeemed from!
Now, hear the clear call being given for pure set-apart service and worship – and that is a call to give your all unto Elohim! As we worship with our all and live our lives in the complete set-apartness that is called for then we are the fragrance of Messiah:
Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 2:15-16 “Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death, and to the other the fragrance of life to life. And who is competent for these?”
Therefore, in understanding our need to worship/serve in Spirit and in Truth, we must realise that there can be no compromise in our lives, for that would render our ointment as no longer being a sweet-smelling fragrance before Elohim, but rather would become a stink of death!
Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment stink, ferment; a little folly outweighs wisdom, esteem.”
Dead works and compromise will only contaminate the perfumer’s ointment and render it as ‘stink’ before the Master. Let me ask you – “are there any dead flies in your ointment?” Flies, in Scripture, can be referenced to that which renders a false and corrupt worship that leads to death; and the title בַּעַל זְבוּב Baʽal-Zeḇuḇ – Strong’s H1176 which means, ‘lord of flies’, and was a false mighty one that was worshipped by the Philistines at Eqron that Aḥazyah had sent his messengers to inquire of instead of seeking יהוה (Melaḵim Bět/2 Kings 2:2). It is also a title that is commonly used, in referring to Satan as the prince of demons! We also take note that the 4th plague in Mitsrayim was of flies and was a direct attack on the established worship system, of which you can read more about in out Torah commentaries. Our Master came to redeem us from being a smell of death, in order to be the true fragrance of life, which we can only be if we keep nothing back and do not keep back from the price He has paid for us, by living in complete set-apartness, becoming more righteous and more set-apart!
This account of Ḥananyah and Shappirah, is possibly one of the most important lessons we have in Scripture, especially as we consider that these events took place after the resurrection of Messiah, highlighting the clear truth that the standard of righteousness has never changed, and with the Torah being written upon our hearts, we have an even greater responsibility in being true ambassadors in all we say, think and do, making sure that we do not conceived wicked deeds in our hearts and present them as an offering before Elohim!!!
In verses 3 & 4 the Greek word that is translated as ‘lie, lied’ comes from the root word ψεύδομαι pseudomai – Strong’s G5574 which means, ‘to lie, speak deliberate falsehoods’. Kěpha makes it clear to Ḥananyah that he had not lied to men but to Elohim.
The Greek word that is translated as ‘lied’ in Ma’asei/Acts 5:4 comes from the word ψεύδομαι pseudomai – Strong’s G5574 which means, ‘to lie, speak deliberate falsehoods, to deceive one by a lie’. Another word that comes from this root is the noun ψεύστης pseustēs – Strong’s G5583 and means, ‘liar, one who breaks faith, false and faithless man’, which is translated as ‘liar’ in:
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:4 “The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
The Greek adjective ψευδής pseudēs – Strong’s G5571 which means, ‘lying, false, liars, deceitful’ is translated as ‘false’ in:
Ḥazon/Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, and untrustworthy, and abominable, and murderers, and those who whore, and drug sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the false, their part is in the lake which burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
This verse clearly highlights for us the true fact that liars and all who speak falsehood will not escape the second death and those who say they know Elohim yet disregard the need to guard His commands are liars and will not go unpunished or escape the judgement of the second death!!! There are many liars who think that they are safe, yet their disregard for the Torah of Elohim and an assumed ‘grace’ that they believe has done away with the Torah will cause them to be severely punished!
Ḥananyah and Shappirah were not trustworthy witnesses, but were liars!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness does not go unpunished, and he who breaths out lies does not escape.”
Dishonest witnesses and liars will not escape punishment!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:5 tells us that a trustworthy witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies!
A Trustworthy Witness does not lie! A false witness just breathes out lies and for this he will not go unpunished!
The Hebrew root word translated as ‘false’ is שֶׁקֶר sheqer – Strong’s H8267 which means, ‘deception, disappointment, falsehood, lies’, and comes from the root verb שָׁקַר shaqar – Strong’s H8266 which means, ‘to do or deal falsely, lie’. The root word שֶׁקֶר sheqer – Strong’s H8267 is used in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 19:12, in the command to not swear falsely in the Name of יהוה and not profane His Name through false speech! We must let our yes be yes and our no must be no, for whatever goes beyond these is from the wicked one!
A false witness has a lying tongue and a lying tongue speaks of one who makes promises but does not keep them! Have you made promises you did not keep? Have you ever said yes for something but meant no, or vice versa? This is an abomination to יהוה and if one is found to have a lying tongue then they stand the risk of not being a part of the House – for יהוה is cleaning His Bride and He will not allow an abomination in His House!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to יהוה, but those who deal truly are His delight.”
The lies of Ḥananyah and Shappirah revealed the wickedness of their hearts!
Luqas/Luke 6:45 “The good man brings forth what is good out of the good treasure of his heart, and the wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of the wicked treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.”
After her husband had dropped dead and was buried, Shappirah being unaware of all that had happened, was tested by Kěpha, and she too lied and kept back from telling the truth of their schemes and as a result she too fell down dead! She tried the Spirit of יהוה. In fact, when Kěpha addresses her, he asks her why they had both agreed to try the Spirit of יהוה, revealing that they were in this together. The Greek word that is translated as ‘try’ in Ma’asei/Acts 5:9 comes from the root word πειράζω peirazō – Strong’s G3985 which means, ‘to make proof of, test, tempt, put to the test, tried, trying’, and comes from the primitive root word πεῖρα peira – Strong’s G3984 which means, ‘a trial, experiment’.
When messiah was led into the Wilderness the ‘trier/tempter’, who is the devil, tried/tempted Him and Messiah made it clear in:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 4:7 “יהושע said to him, “It has also been written, ‘You shall not try יהוה your Elohim.’”
He was quoting from Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:16 and so, Ḥananyah and Shappirah, by their dishonesty, were trying/testing Elohim and as a result they dropped down dead.
I know I have emphasised this repeatedly in this message, and I have done so with good reason, as we are to let the account of Ḥananyah and Shappirah be a clear mirror of warning against lying and trying our Master, Saviour and Elohim, knowing that He looks at the heart!
As I mentioned earlier, while this account deals with them holding back a monetary value of the price of the property that they had sold, the sin was not in the value that was held back but, in the fact, that they had lied about it, by attempting to look as though they had given all. This lesson carries into every area and aspect of our set-apartness that is called for and reminds us the dangerous outcome of keeping back from the price!
We, who are in Messiah, have been bought at a price and therefore must guard against lying about the price! He gave His all for us and so too do we need to give our all and keep nothing back from the price that was paid for us.
What we need to recognise here is that, if your walk of faith in Messiah is not done with a wholehearted, and sold out, approach of giving your all to the body of Elohim – then any half-hearted efforts are not accepted before Him; for יהושע makes it clear that He will vomit out the lukewarm!
Just because we are married does not give us the licence to slack off – on the contrary we are now expected to give our all. When we acknowledge and receive the free gift of life and have the abundant favour of יהוה extended toward us in Messiah and accept our bridal call for set-apart living then we must take care to NOT go back on our marriage vows with our King!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 20:25 “It is a snare for a man to say rashly, “It is set-apart,” And only later to reconsider his vows.”
By one’s bold confession in Messiah, one is making a clear oath to serve and walk in set-apartness and continue to grow therein, having counted the cost and not being in a compromised position of reconsidering one’s confession but rather upholding it in sincerity and truth!
As you look intently into the mirror of the Word, and meditate upon the 11 verses in Ma’asei/Acts that record the fate of those who kept back from the price, may you be encouraged, strengthened and equipped in the Word to fix your eyes upon the Prince and Perfecter of our belief/faith and cling to Him, giving Him your all, as you guard the good deposit that has been entrusted to you and bear a trustworthy witness of our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah.
KEEP NOTHING BACK!
Have you been holding back or keeping back in any way? Then take heed to this sobering account of 2 who were, and recognise the true delight and joy it is to give your all – for our Master promises to us the following, in:
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 32:38-41 “And they shall be My people, and I shall be their Elohim. 39 ‘And I shall give them one heart and one way, to fear Me all the days, for the good of them and of their children after them. 40 ‘And I shall make an everlasting covenant with them, that I do not turn back from doing good to them. And I shall put My fear in their hearts so as not to turn aside from Me. 41 ‘And I shall rejoice over them to do good to them, and shall plant them in this land in truth, with all My heart and with all My being.’”
KEEP NOTHING BACK!
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you shalom!