Shabbat shalom family, praise be unto our Mighty and Wonderful Saviour, Redeemer and King, יהושע Messiah!
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 11:16-21 “Therefore say, ‘Thus said the Master יהוה, “Although I have sent them far off among the gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the lands, yet I was for them a set-apart place for a little while in the lands to which they came.” ’ 17 “Therefore say, ‘Thus said the Master יהוה, “And I shall gather you from the peoples, and I shall assemble you from the lands where you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Yisra’ĕl.” ’ 18 “And they shall go there, and shall take away all its disgusting matters and all its abominations from there. 19 “And I shall give them one heart, and put a new spirit within you. And I shall take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 so that they walk in My laws, and guard My right-rulings, and shall do them. And they shall be My people and I shall be their Elohim. 21 “But to those whose hearts walk after the heart of their disgusting matters and their abominations, I shall recompense their deeds on their own heads,” declares the Master יהוה.”
Very encouraging words for us whom יהוה has gathered from among the peoples; the great assurance of how He is calling a scattered remnant back to Him! This past week we celebrated Shavuot on the 1st day, and recognise once again how we are betrothed to the Almighty King and that we are to count the cost of daily living in Him as a faithful Bride. Now having just come through the counting of the omer to Shavuot and celebrating how we are His and that by His Spirit He has given us His Torah upon our hearts so that we walk in and guard His laws and right rulings – to do them, what we must ask ourselves is this – Are we in fact doing just that? Walking in, guarding and doing all He has commanded us? In a message tonight called, “OK WE’RE MARRIED – NOW WHAT?”, I would like us to once again consider our ways and recognise the need for total surrender and obedience to our Husband and King, יהושע Messiah!
And to do that I want us to look at a well-known passage of Scripture that is always a sobering reminder to us to carefully consider how we are living the married life as we wait for the soon return of our Bridegroom. Turn with me to Ma’asei/Acts 5:1-11 as we read the account of Ḥananyah and Shappirah (Read).
The reason I wanted to look at this chapter that many of us have possibly looked at or heard being spoken of so often is simply due to the timing of these events in relation to the season we find ourselves in as we walk according to the perfect timing of our Creator and His Appointed Times. We understand that in each season we go through, according to His Calendar, there are many lessons to be learnt on how we are to continually be transformed into being a true set-apart body of believers that are presented before Him as a pleasing aroma in Messiah!
This short account of 11 verses is a very sobering lesson on the price of impurity and I would like us to briefly look a little deeper at these events.
This took place shortly after Shavuot – where the Ruach haQôdesh (Set-Apart Spirit) of יהוה had been poured out at Shavuot and the Torah written upon the believers hearts! There was great unity being forged and with that there was also great persecutions – yet the body had one mind and one heart; and in this year of the Yoḇel (Jubilee) the true believers were certainly living with a Yoḇel mind-set. Many were being added daily – threats were being issued commanding the believers to not speak or teach in the Name of יהושע by the religious authorities, who could not keep Kěpha and Yoḥanan imprisoned for healing a man of over 40 years of blindness. Victory amidst persecution and the body was growing from strength to strength, becoming as one where no one claimed any of his possession as his own, but all had everything in common as apostles gave witness of the resurrection with great power and favour was upon them all! Wow – can you think for a moment what it was like? We all long to have this same power, of His Spirit working in and through us – and I believe that we will – it is coming! This early community looked after each other and did whatever it took to make sure unity was upheld and nurtured as those who had lands sold them and brought the full price to the apostles feet, who distributed to each as anyone had need!
And so we see a great witness and testimony of the power of יהוה causing His body to live according to His Word with great joy; and from verse 12 we read of how many more great signs and wonders were done among the people; and while persecution heated up – the emissaries were imprisoned and then released and praised and rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of יהושע. This certainly is a great picture and witness to us of how the mighty power of the Spirit if Elohim can and will empower us to be a united, rejoicing Bride, even in the midst of the most threatening persecutions, trials and circumstances that we may find ourselves in. Yet in between the accounts of these great victories, through the empowerment of the Spirit to an obedient and faithful people, we have 11 verses strategically placed here for us as a very important and vital lesson as a reminder that we are to not be found neglecting our responsibilities as a betrothed people!
Let us now look at this couple that faced the consequences of their selfish actions:
Ḥananyah and Sappirah
As we look at the meaning of the names of this couple we find it sad that they did not live up to that by which they were called:
Ḥananyah, translated as Ananias in many translations from the Greek Ἀνανίας Ananias – Strong’s G367 is of Hebrew origin (of course!) – and in Hebrew is – חֲנַנְיָה Ḥananyah – Strong’s H2608 and means, ‘Yah has favoured, or Yah has been gracious’. 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 he could sell:
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 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!
Sappirah in Greek – Σαπφίρη Sapphirē – Strong’s G4551 means ‘sapphire’ and is of Hebrew origin 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’. Now this word should still be fresh in your minds as we looked last week at the need to be a counting people as we looked at the command to ‘count’ (saphar) to 50 as well as the picture of what this word represents for us in its ancient form as a picture of repentance and true confession in turning back to the Master and ‘count’ the cost of true discipleship. (please see the notes of ‘Have you been counting?’ message).
So now we have a wonderful picture being shown to us here in the example of the wife of Ḥananyah – she should have been counting – and clearly by her actions she had not been and as a result she paid the price! Sappirah, as I have said comes from the word to record or inscribe – in other words write; we also note that this verb comes from the noun – סֵפֶר sepher – Strong’s H5612 which means, ‘book, document, certificate, scroll’.
We see both forms of this word being used in Shemoth/Exodus 24:
:3 – “And Mosheh came and related to the people all the Words of יהוה and all the right-rulings. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the Words which יהוה has spoken we shall do.”
:7 – “And he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that יהוה has spoken we shall do, and obey.”
Further we also see in Scripture that the Throne of יהוה is like a ‘sapphire’:
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 1:26 “And above the expanse over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone. And on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man high above it.”
Another picture we can take from Scripture as we look at this word סַפִּיר sappir is that it was also one of the stones in the Breastplate of The High Priest as being in the second stone in the second row. Now when one looks at the breastplate, as we have seen through our torah portions in Shemoth, we see that the names of the 12 tribes were put on the two stones of the shoulder garment in order of their birth, according to the engraving of a signet, and so too we see that the names were to be put on these stones also according to the engravings of a signet and therefore I firmly believe that the order on the breastplate would also be as it was on the stones of the shoulder garment – in order of their birth. Having said this we can conclude that the sapphire stone would have been engraved with the tribe name of Dan, which means ‘judge’. A clear picture when we put all these pieces together which shows how יהוה is truly a righteous judge who rules according to His Written Word!
You may be thinking at this point that what has all this got to do with the account in Acts 5 with Ḥananyah and Sappirah; and I believe what we see is a great lesson on how a couple who were favoured by Yah and we would have thought that they had received His written Word upon their hearts; yet did not live according to the Word that they should have freely received as many others had!
Ḥananyah – a man favoured by Yah – kept back from the price! (verse 2)
This word in the Greek for ‘kept back’ is νοσφίζω nosphizō – Strong’s H3557 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 favourably been given to you by Yah to one’s own use!!! We see a lot of that today as many are unwilling to give of themselves fully to building His body as they are simply looking out for self with little concern or care for others!
This was Ḥananyah – 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 – 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!
Sappirah 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.”
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/Judges 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!
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.”
We must realise that we cannot bring to יהוה a slaughter offering of our lives with blemished motives!
Ḥananyah and Sappirah were in effect ‘robbing Elohim’ of their offerings 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, 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 Sappirah the result of this kind of selfish heart; as his heart 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!
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!
We have been paid for in full, therefore we have no right to keep back from giving our all!
Are you in any way ‘keeping back’ from the price? Your full redemption has been paid by the Blood of יהושע and He has proclaimed the release – have you in any way been keeping back from the price of total surrender as you have not been able to count?
Holding/keeping back only opens the door for Satan to fill your heart – where the Torah of יהוה should be! If your heart is not filled with the Torah and continually being filled each day, then what is filling it? Leave no room for place for the devil in any way!
As we see from Ḥananyah and Sappirah, compromise may be able to be hidden from others in the body and you may even be able to sustain an appearance of uprightness before others – but this is not so before the eyes of יהוה! Only a foolish one would think so:
Tehillim/Psalm 94:7-9 “Yet they say, “Yah does not see, And the Elohim of Ya’aqoḇ pays no heed.” 8 Take heed, you senseless among the people; And you fools, when would you become wise?”
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 29:15 “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from יהוה, and their works are in the dark; they say, “Who sees us?” and, “Who knows us?”
In verse 4 we can see that sin is conceived in the heart and what we must also realise here is that it was not sin in itself to not give all the money from the sale of their possession as no one had said to them that they had to give anything. However the standard had already been set – and that was – GIVE YOUR ALL! What we 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 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.”
Yes, we are now married – do not be found saying ‘Now what?’ – You know what – he who has ears let Him hear what the Spirit is saying to the assembly; and do not try the Spirit of יהוה; but rather, as a set-apart Bride, fear Him and guard His commands! Have you been holding 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 He promises to us 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.’”
OK – WE’RE MARRIED – NOW LIVE LIKE IT!!!
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!