Shabbat Shalom all,

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the reign of the heavens.

Persecuted for righteousness sake is a blessing!!! I know that this can often sound wrong, but what Messiah is clearly telling us, is that when we are being persecuted for living reverent lives unto Him, and walking in the Righteous Right-Rulings of His Kingdom, as we Guard to Hear and Do His clear instructions and walk according to His Torah, in a wicked and crooked world, then we will most certainly face great opposition to the Truth and be persecuted for it. Yet the blessing contained therein is that we know that the reign of the heavens is ours, and it is coming here – where we shall inherit the earth and dwell in it and live according to the reign of the Heavens, as clearly instructed to us through the powerful Word of Elohim. When one is being persecuted for foolishness and sin, then there is no blessing or inheritance to be expected, yet we who guard the Truth and walk in it have a sure promise and a great expectation that shall not disappoint – and knowing this gives us the ability to stand firm on the Truth of the Kingdom Reign that we submit our lives in subjection to!

In a message tonight called, ‘REVERENT LIVING PRESECUTED!’, I would like us to be encouraged to recognise this clear and obvious truth  – that obedient living will be heavily attacked and persecuted – and my challenge to us all is that we acknowledge this and be strengthened to stand firm in the Truth. In line with this week’s Torah portion, that we will be going through tomorrow from Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 33-34, where we see the last words of Mosheh being given to Yisra’ĕl before they were to enter into Kenaʽan, we recognise that this portion is called וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה – ‘Wezot haBeraḵah’ – which means ‘And this is the blessing’. Mosheh begins by reminding them of how יהוה had delivered them from bondage, and at Mount Sinai, from His Right Hand He gave them a ‘law of fire’. The Right Hand of Elohim is metaphoric of the work of Messiah, the ‘outstretched Arm and mighty Hand of Elohim’ that works deliverance; and the term ‘law of fire’, which was for them, was a means to purify and refine them.

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

The Hebrew word for ‘law of fire’ is אֵשׁ דַּת esh dath – Strong’s H799 and comes from two words: אֵשׁ esh – Strong’s H784 which means, fire, flaming, burning, flashing and דָּת dath – Strong’s H1881 which means, decree, law, edict, regulations.

This was a clear reminder of the 10 Words that the entire nation heard יהוה speak, as He came with great thundering and fire, and these words were written on two tablets of stone as a witness before Yisra’ĕl.

This law of fire is ‘at/from’ His Right Hand, and the term יָמִין  yamin – Strong’s H3225 means, right hand, and The Right Hand of Elohim is a title for יהושע, who is the fullness of the Torah – for that is why He came – to fully meet its requirements that we may walk in Him – the Living Torah – and live! This would be encouraging to Mosheh as he would recognise that all that he had worked for would be fully accomplished by the Right Hand of יהוה, and so this forms the basis for his blessing the nation before he departs.

Luqas/Luke 12:49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

These were the words of יהושע Messiah, and from this we clearly see what He was proclaiming – He came to proclaim the ‘law of fire’ for us, in order that we are refined through His Word now, lest we face the fire of judgement at the second resurrection for not submitting to His clear instructions! His desire that this were already kindled shows how He longs to be with His prepared Bride, and so He has ‘blessed us’ by giving us that which refines and purifies, and sets us apart as His called out and chosen Bride – that is His Torah!

Understanding this helps us to also recognise how we will come against great opposition in the world, in the direct resistance to the way we walk and what we proclaim! Before Sha’ul was about to die, he too encouraged Timotiyos to realise that the true reverent ones of Messiah will indeed face great persecutions, and in making this clear he reminds Timotiyos to stand firm in the Truth – in the very Living and Breathed out Word of Elohim that instructs us in righteousness and reverence!

Tonight I want us to look at these words that Sha’ul wrote to Timotiyos and once again be reminded that we shall face persecution, and also recognise how we are to avoid that which can contaminate our reverence and righteous living in Messiah! Please turn with me to Timotiyos Bět/2 Timothy 3 (Read)

A very powerful and very instructive chapter indeed! To sum it up in a nutshell, what we see Sha’ul telling Timotiyos here is simply this: “cheer up, things could be worse!”, or better yet, “cheer up, things will get worse!”

Hard times are ahead Timotiyos!!! I submit to you tonight that they are indeed here right now – and it is going to get harder – it is going to get ‘more worser’! If you are not ready for this, you will be consumed by it!!!

He was basically saying to Timotiyos back then, as well as to us today, “Buckle up – things are about to get messy!”

Certainly not the kind of message you would expect from mainstream Christianity today!

Having already warned Timotiyos to keep away from profane and empty babblings, but rather that he should do his utmost to present himself approved to Elohim, by rightly handing the Word of Truth, and flee from all lusts by pursuing righteousness, Sha’ul begins in this section of the letter with the clear warning to Timotiyos to ‘know’ that hard times lay ahead. The Greek word used for ‘know’ is γινώσκω ginōskō – Strong’s G1097 which means, to know, be aware of, perceive, understand, take notice. He was not to be ignorant that it was going to get tough and often very messy. The Greek word used for ‘hard’ in ‘hard times’ is χαλεπός chalepos – Strong’s G5467 which means, difficult, dangerous, furious, harsh, violent, hard to bear, fierce – referring to times that will reduce your strength.

The times are coming, and I submit to you are now here, where one’s strength gets reduced under the increase of difficult and hard to bear times! Tonight I want us to look at a number of Greek words in order for us to clearly establish the times we are living in, and how we are to guard right-ruling and righteousness with our all. Sha’ul proceeds to express to Timotiyos what people living in these hard times would be or become like; and he mentions 18 descriptive characteristics that describe the kind of people that we will find ourselves living among, and being able to identify these unrighteous characteristics will help us to avoid being influenced by such, guarding ourselves from any form of compromise.

Let’s run through these descriptive words of how men shall be in the last days, and then by understanding these, be able to determine whether or not we are in fact living in such times already!

Verses 2 – 4 gives us 18 characteristics of what men will be like and what we are to avoid:

1 – Lovers of self – φίλαυτος philautos – Strong’s G5367 means, selfish, too intent on one’s own interest, self-centred’.

One does not have to look too far today to see many who are like this, and I am sure that many of us were too like this in many ways, before we started walking in the Torah of Elohim! Westernised Christianity is in itself a very selfish religion, disguised as something sacrificial, yet is primarily all about self, as it promotes selfishness and the pursuit of one’s own interests, while claiming to teach the opposite! So many are too intent on their own interests that they put aside the need to guard the clear instructions of Elohim! Some who are even walking in the Torah find themselves falling prey to this, as they put their own interests first and quickly turn aside from guarding the Sabbath for selfish compromise!

2 – Lovers of silver – φιλάργυρος  philarguros – Strong’s G5366 meaning, fond of money, covetous, excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain’. Once again this is an obvious characteristic seen by the majority in the world today – chasing wealth and stopping at nothing to get what they want, as the desire for wealth drives their lives. The desire for ‘living the dream life’ so to speak drives them to be obsessed with money and riches, always coveting what someone else has as they set their goals on achieving ‘materialistically’ what others have!

3 – Boasters – ἀλαζών  alazōn – Strong’s G213 meaning, boaster, an empty pretender, an imposter. There are so many ‘hot-aired’ people today, who like to boast of what they do not have – they are empty pretenders – pretending to be something that they are not, and by boasting lies they try to steer away the reality of who they are away from themselves. They can even come across as ‘know-it-alls’ as they claim to have insight into all matters of life!

4 – Proud – ὑπερήφανος huperēphanos – Strong’s G5244 means, proud, haughty, arrogant, presumptuous’. In its literal sense, from the two words that this word is contracted from, it can carry the meaning of, going beyond one’s appearance, in other words it is lifting oneself up to a higher position than what one actually is – and we know that the Scripture is clear that the proud shall be brought low!

5 – Blasphemous – βλάσφημος blasphēmos – Strong’s G989 means, slanderous, speaking evil, abusive, reproachful, reviler. You do not have to look too far to see many evil speaking and abusive slanderers! What is very sad is that you will even find people like this among claiming believers!

6 – Disobedient (to their parents) –  the Greek word for ‘disobedient’ is ἀπειθής apeithēs – Strong’s G545 meaning, disobedient, non-compliant, rebellious, bitter, unpersuadable’. All through Scripture we are given a clear theme of children needing to obey the instructions and discipline of their parents, and we are also reminded that the first command with a promise is related to the honouring of parents – which metaphorically speaks of our obedience to the Torah, as obedient children. So many want to claim to be children of the Most High, yet they cast His Words behind them and are clearly non-compliant to the Torah!

7 – Thankless – ἀχάριστος acharistos – Strong’s G884 means, ungrateful, unpleasing, ungracious. We are clearly instructed in Scripture to ‘give thanks’ to Elohim in all circumstances!!! (Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 5:18). When you are not ‘giving thanks’ or being ‘thankful’, have you found yourself ‘moaning’ and being ungrateful – for this is a characteristic that is often so easily seen by so many – are you one of them!

8 – Wrongdoers – ἀνόσιος anosios – Strong’s G462 means, wicked, no regard of duty to Elohim, unrighteous. This is very sobering for us to recognise here, as many who have no regard toward the need to walk in the Torah, do not realise that they are wrongdoers!!! In these last days the righteous will become more righteous as they pursue righteousness, and the unrighteous will become more unrighteous as they continue to have no regard for the clear Torah and refuse to keep the Sabbaths and Feasts of יהוה! Often when one hears the term wrongdoer, they never want to associate themselves with that characteristic, yet when one clearly disregards the instructions of Elohim, then they are nothing more than a wrongdoer!

9 – Unloving – ἄστοργος astorgos – Strong’s G794 means, without natural affection, hard-hearted – We were made to praise and show our natural affection and love toward our Creator, and sadly the love of many has grown cold as they are without the natural affection they ought to have toward Elohim and as a result have become hard-hearted and stubborn!

We are only half way with these ugly characteristics that many will reflect in their lives, and already when we consider

these characteristics we ought to be making sure that none of these are evident in our lives!

10 – Unforgiving – ἄσπονδος aspondos – Strong’s G786 means, truce breaker, irreconcilable – that is unable to be reconciled. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither shall your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:15). How many of you have been a truce breaker at some time or another? Where you have gone back on your word and held a great grudge against someone who wronged you and you forgave them when they came and apologised to you, only to go back on your forgiveness and allow bitterness to take root?

11 – Slanderers – διάβολος diabolos – Strong’s G1228 means, false accuser, slanderer, malicious gossiper, devil (or of the devil).

Yoḥanan/John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you wish to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Your speech and actions reveal to whom your belong! If you gossip and slander then you are of the devil! We are clearly told that whatever we do, whether in word or deed – we must do all in the Name of יהושע Messiah, giving thanks to the Father (Qolasim/Colossians 3:17). Once again, if you are not giving thanks in all, are you slandering? And if you are slandering – who is your father!!!

12 – Without self-control – ἀκρατής akratēs – Strong’s G193 means, powerless, impotent, without self-control, lack of restraint. Many try to make excuses for their lawless behaviour and try to claim that they were made to do whatever they did! This just simply shows immaturity and lack of discipline in saying no to the very things of the world that are screaming for your time and focus!

13 – Fierce – ἀνήμερος anēmeros – Strong’s G434 means, fierce, savage, brutal. This says enough – so many today could not care about hurting another and they can be very brutal in their attack! How quick are you at pointing the faults of others out and doing so with harshness?

14 – Haters of good – ἀφιλάγαθος aphilagathos – Strong’s G865 means, opposed to good, without love of good. Those who stand opposed to doing what is instructed in Scripture are simply haters of ‘good’ – in other words they are haters of the ‘functional design’ of our Creator and are opposed to functioning as they were made to do so! We are to ‘hate evil and love good’ and set up ‘right-ruling’ in the gate – this means that to love good we are to have the Torah and Word of Elohim established in our lives, so that we guard to do all He has commanded us to.

Amos 5:15 “Hate evil and love good, and set up right-ruling in the gate. It might be that יהוה Elohim of hosts shows favour to the remnant of Yosĕph.

15 – Betrayers – προδότης prodotēs – Strong’s G4273 means, traitor, betrayer, surrender – in the sense of giving forward into the enemies hand. So many cripple under the pressure of the world and betray the truth by being given into the enemies hand in pursuing the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.

16 – Reckless – προπετής propetēs – Strong’s G4312 means, falling forward, hasty, rash, careless, thoughtless.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:16 “The wise fears and turns away from evil, but a fool rushes on and is reckless.

The ‘reckless’ are often very confident in their carelessness and give no thought to their actions!

17 – Puffed up – τυφόω tuphoō – Strong’s G5187 means, high minded, proud, vanity, arrogance, conceited, foolish.

Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 6:3-5 “If anyone teaches differently and does not agree to the sound words, those of our Master יהושע Messiah, and to the teaching which is according to reverence, 4 he is puffed up, understanding none at all, but is sick about questionings and verbal battles from which come envy, strife, slander, wicked suspicions, 5 worthless disputes of men of corrupt minds and deprived of the truth, who think that reverence is a means of gain – withdraw from such.

18 – Lovers of pleasure – φιλήδονος philēdonos – Strong’s G5369 means, loving pleasure. Here Sha’ul tells us that those who will become lovers of pleasure, will in fact love their pleasures ‘more’ than they love Elohim. The Greek word for ‘lovers of Elohim’ is φιλόθεος philotheos – Strong’s G5377, and the Greek word translated as ‘rather’ is μᾶλλον mallon – Strong’s G3123 which means, more, in a greater degree, all the more, instead of. Lovers of pleasure love their pleasures more than, or instead of loving Elohim. This is love for Elohim – that we obey His commands (Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:3). Those who disregard His commands and do as they please reveal that they are rather lovers of pleasure!!! Yeshayahu/Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of יהוה ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, 14 then you shall delight yourself in יהוה. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya’aqoḇ your father. For the mouth of יהוה has spoken!

Those who disregard the need to observe the Sabbath Day and set it apart clearly show that they are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Elohim!!! There are many who claim to be true reverent followers of Messiah, yet they at times too find themselves neglecting to fully observe the Sabbath, and esteem the set-apart day of יהוה in its fullest measure. For they too will tend to often give in to the ‘love of pleasure’ as they seek their own time and rest, instead of simply gathering as they ought to do as a body delighting itself in יהוה. Sadly the flesh has a way of easily justifying away the need to assemble on the Sabbath, and will even use excuses of having had a very rough week and need to therefore be alone for Sabbath to ‘switch off’ so to speak… in other words seeking their own ‘pleasure’ rather than that of יהוה! His Sabbath day is to be esteemed above all days and be delighted in, hence the clear instruction given in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews, for us to encourage one another to not neglect the gathering of the set-apart ones, as some are in the habit of doing!

What we are to recognise today is how in this messy state of the world and the overwhelming distracting characteristics of the lovers of self and pleasure, one who earnestly seeks to faithfully pursue righteousness can so easily find themselves influenced by the negative character traits that Sha’ul is discussing here – and these we are to avoid! Bad company corrupts good character, and as we seek to have the pure character of set-apartness of Elohim being established and formed in us, we must turn away from such who display these negative characteristics of the ‘last days’ loveless man!

What is worth noting here in all these characteristics that Sha’ul mentions here is that he starts with ‘lovers of self’ and ends here in this list with ‘lovers of pleasure’. What is being identified here is that many, in the last days, will have departed from their first love – that is the call to pure and undefiled obedience to Elohim – all for the sake of their own selfish pleasures!

So many who display most of these characteristics may indeed assume to have a ‘form’ of reverence, by putting on a big show, yet their lives deny the True Power of the Truth of True reverence!

The Greek word for ‘reverence’ is 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 reflects both an attitude and a way of life. Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 4:7 tells us to stay away from old wives tales and rather exercise ourselves to reverence! This tells me that this is not an automatic condition that happens – it must be exercised and effort, that is ‘great effort’, must be put into reverently living unto Messiah! Let me be very clear – it is possible to fake εὐσέβεια eusebeia – that is to have a form of reverence only in appearance while not having the real thing – this is what many do – they put on a show having a form or reverence but no power to actually live it out! The sad reality is that ‘fake’ εὐσέβεια eusebeia may be, and more often than not, is used for personal profit by false teachers which Sha’ul is clearly warning Timotiyos about here!

The Greek word for ‘deny’ is ἀρνέομαι arneomai – Strong’s G720 which means, contradict, deny, reject, renounce, disown. We certainly see many people who are denying true fear of Elohim as they reject the Word as their lives contradict the Truth!

The Hebrew equivalent to this word is כָּחַשׁ kaḥash – Strong’s H3584  which means, to be untrue, to lie, 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.

Having described most of the world today, we are warned to ‘turn away’ from these!!!

The Greek word used for ‘turn away’ is ἀποτρέπω apotrepō – Strong’s G665 and means, deflect, turn oneself away from, shun, having nothing to do with, turn away completely. When we understand this clear instruction we recognise that we will in fact be turning away from most, and why is Timotiyos instructed to do so? Simply because there are some of these that will creep into homes and captivate silly women who are heavy laden with lawlessness!

The Greek word for ‘creep’ is ἐνδύνω endunō – Strong’s G1744 which means, sneak, sink in, by implication – to put on or clothe oneself with a garment, metaphorically it can mean to put on armour. These lovers of self and their own pleasures have a way of subtly working their way into homes – that is into the intimate part of one’s life and influence those they work their ways into. The word ‘captivate’ in Greek is αἰχμαλωτίζω aichmalōtizō – Strong’s G163 which means, lead away, lead astray, capture, metaphorically can mean to capture one’s mind.  

Who or what are you allowing into your home? What is capturing your mind at home – what is consuming your thoughts and desires? The Greek word used for ‘silly women’ is γυναικάριον gunaikarion – Strong’s G1133 and means, a little (foolish) woman, and this is a picture of one who displays immaturity and a lack of dignity. This metaphorically does not just speak to ‘women’ but to all, as we are called to be a set-apart Bride unto Elohim, and not be immature in our thinking and meditation of the Torah!

So who does get captivated by foolishness and the luring pleasures of selfishness? Those who are loaded down with sin!!! The Greek word here, as we know, for sin 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.  We also know, yet I will once again remind you, that the Greek word used 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.

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

Those who reject the Torah are easily captivated in their homes by the influence of the wicked and lawless – even though they may seem to be always learning, yet never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth! False teachers are continually keeping people busy with false teachings, under the disguise of learning the truth, yet they clearly never come to the knowledge of the Truth – or else they would be obeying it!!!

The folly of the lawless will eventually become evident before all!

We need to recognise that we who wish to live reverently in Messiah יהושע, SHALL BE PERSECUTED!!! This is a sure promise – yet we need to recognise the blessing that this shall bring forth – the reign of the heavens that is ours!

 In closing this chapter Sha’ul tells Timotiyos to stay in what he has learned and trusted – that is the Set-Apart Scriptures that are able to make one wise in this foolish age, and he then makes it clear that the only way that one can walk in true wisdom is by allowing ALL SCRIPTURE to teach us, reprove us, set us straight, instruct us in righteousness and be made fit and equipped to do every good work we are called to!

So many people today will boldly recite this verse, yet the disregard what it is telling them, as they clearly do not allow ALL SCRIPTURE to teach them and instruct them in Righteousness – or else they would be living it!

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:25 “And it is righteousness for us when we guard to do all this command before יהוה our Elohim, as He has commanded us.

What I simply wanted to highlight to you tonight is the clear evidence that by definition of the characteristics that Sha’ul describes how men will be in the last days, that we are in fact in those days, and therefore the clear call for righteous living must be heard and guarded by those who wish to live reverently in Messiah. This chapter warns us of how subtle the enemy is in causing many to fall from righteousness and even make them think that they have a form of reverence.

While we guard to do all He has commanded us to and return to our first love – that is complete obedience to Elohim – then we must be ready and expectant to experience some severe persecutions – this is a clear encouraging call for the faithful to rise up and stand firm in the Living Word as things are about to get messy – or rather  – they already are and will get worse – yet we must stand on the truth and turn away from all falsehood and the influence of wickedness, selfishness and pride.

True Reverent Living will bring on persecution – but do not be alarmed at this, rather being forewarned be ready and stand equipped in the Truth – for the reign of the heavens is ours aměn!

Perhaps you have been facing some very tough trials of late and you are feeling the battles on every side! My encouragement to you is to stay in the Truth and not be led astray by the captivating tactics of the lawless.

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 3:14-17 “But even if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not fear their threats, neither be troubled.” 15 But set apart יהוה Elohim in your hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to everyone asking you a reason concerning the expectation that is in you, with meekness and fear, 16 having a good conscience, so that when they speak against you as doers of evil, those who falsely accuse your good behaviour in Messiah, shall be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the desire of Elohim, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 4:14-16 “If you are reproached for the Name of Messiah, you are blessed, because the Spirit of esteem and of Elohim rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is praised. 15 For do not let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or doer of evil, or as a meddler. 16 But if one suffers being Messianic, let him not be ashamed, but let him esteem Elohim in this matter.

Knowing then that we are living in these last days, let our character be found as one that reflects Messiah and not that which reflects the world and self! And being armed with this truth let us not be afraid to be persecuted for our reverent lives in Messiah!

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!