BEING MORE THAN A ‘WOULD-BE’ FOLLOWER OF MESSIAH
Shabbat Shalom family,
Tehillim/Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to יהוה, and trust in Him, and He does it.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to יהוה, and your plans shall be established.”
‘Commit’ your ‘way’ and your ‘works’ to יהוה!!! Very important words that call for a total commitment. The Hebrew word for ‘way’ is דֶּרֶךְ Derek – Strong’s H1870 which means, ‘way, road, distance, journey’ and is from the word דָּרַךְ darak – Strong’s H1869 which means, ‘to tread or march’ and so speaks of our walk, our every step that we take – this we are to commit to יהוה. This word is used 13 times in Tehillim 119, which we know speaks primarily about the love for His Torah and 13 being the numerical value for the Hebrew word אֶחָד ‘eḥad’ – Strong’s H259 meaning ‘one’, we recognise that committing our every step to Him causes us to become as one in Him!
The Hebrew word for ‘works’ in Mishlĕ 16:3 is מַעֲשֶׂה ma’aseh – Strong’s H4639 and means, ‘a deed, a work, act, good work, labour, activity, accomplishment’. We are to commit all we do to יהוה, having nothing hinder us.
Therefore our walk and work is unto Him and all that stands in the way of confident commitment to obedience must be rolled away!
The word used here for commit is גָּלַל galal – Strong’s H1556 and means, ‘roll, roll away, commit, trust’. ‘Galal’ is essence means to roll some object on, upon, away, in, against, from, together, unto, or down. This figure is used for rolling oneself on יהוה and so therefore means to completely trust יהוה, or to commit one’s behavior or life to יהוה, or remove such non-material things as reproach and contempt. To commit to יהוה takes a ‘rolling away’ of those things that have held us back from walking fully and confidently committed in Him. A derivative of this word is Gilgal, which is the place where Yehoshua circumcised Yisra’ĕl after entering the Promised Land as יהוה ‘rolled away the reproach of Mitsrayim’ from Yisra’ĕl and they were separated unto יהוה. By the Blood of Messiah we too have had the reproach of Mitsrayim ‘rolled away’ in order that we may be separated unto יהוה as a set-apart people walking in the Light of His Torah!
Now that He has rolled away the reproach, we can commit our behaviour to יהוה; that is to commit our way and works.
As we sojourn here as ambassadors of Messiah, proclaiming His Kingdom Reign, we are called to a steadfast and confident commitment that requires our all. Understanding this is one thing, but to remain completely committed is another as we must recognise any hurdles or hindrances to our walk of faith that may challenge our commitment. In a message tonight called, ‘THE DANGERS OF CONFLICTING COMMITMENTS!’, I want us to be reminded of our need to be confidently committed, and allow the mirror of the Word to reveal to us the state of our hearts to determine whether we are confidently committed to walking in and staying in Messiah in every way or are there perhaps some conflicting commitments that have hindered a set-apart walk!
A dictionary definition describes commitment as: ‘an act of committing to a charge or trust; or an agreement or pledge to do something, and is the state of being obligated or emotionally impelled’. True ‘commitment’ is about staying true to one’s pledge or agreement and recognising the obligation to do what you have committed yourself to in its fullest form without neglect or compromise.
As we accept to walk in Messiah, we also commit our ways to Him and commit to walk according to the instructions that יהוה has given us by the hand of Mosheh, and revealed to us by the life, death and resurrection of Messiah!
In order to look a little deeper into the heart of the matter, in regards to total commitment, let us look a little closer at the words of our Master and turn with me to Luqas/Luke 9:57-62 (Read)
These few verses carry a great and powerful reality check as the mirror of the words of our King reveals what lies deep within our hearts, and the challenge for all of us who claim to live in Him, is to be more than just a ‘would-be follower of Messiah’! By a ‘would be’ follower I mean that there are many who often use the line of ‘I would… but’ when confronted with the task of committing to something, and so many proclaiming believers do the same thing as the confession of their mouths do not line up with their actions and when confronted will have varying reasons for their delayed commitment, excusing their obedience away with a ‘I would…’ approach! Here in this text we are given three accounts of some ‘would be’ followers, which by the words of our Master, highlight some very critical choices that we must recognize as being vital in serving and following Him with our all.
Two of the three actually make the confession and desire to follow Messiah, while one of the three is actually called by Messiah to follow; and in each case there are some requests given in regards to the call for true commitment, which are clearly answered by יהושע Messiah.
Let us look a little closer at these verses, and how they often hit a little closer to home than we may realise.
With these three guys we can identify their desired commitment into 2 categories that we see still happening today:
1 – VERBAL UNLIMITED COMMITMENT
In verse 57 we see someone saying to the Master the same words so many proclaim still today… “I will follow you wherever you go…!” I call this category ‘verbal unlimited commitment’ because that is all it is – verbal with the lack of true following through on a practical and physical level. In other words it is a commitment of the lips, while the hearts are far from being truly committed:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 29:13 “And יהוה says, “Because this people has drawn near with its mouth, and with its lips they have esteemed Me, and it has kept its heart far from Me, and their fear of Me has become a command of men that is taught!”
יהוה looks at the heart while man often looks at the appearance or even the words that are spoken (often in vain).
Messiah basically quoted these words in:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:7-9 “Hypocrites! Yeshayahu rightly prophesied about you, saying, 8 ‘This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.’”
There is so much lip service that lacks true heart going on today, as people will boldly make great confessions of commitment with their mouths, yet when it comes down to actually submitting to the Words of Elohim, they fall very short of the unlimited commitment they so eagerly confessed to.
What was happening here in this account in Luqas/Luke 9? Well I honestly believe that this ‘someone’ who boldly said to the Master that he would follow Him, actually was serious in his statement and had the intense desire to follow. This guy said that no matter where יהושע would go, that he would follow. The Greek words used here for ‘I will follow’ is ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō – Strong’s G190 and comes from: Α, α alpha – Strong’s G1 which is the first letter of the Greek language and is used here as a participle of union, along with the word κέλευθος keleuthos – which means, ‘a road, or way’ and therefore this word ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō expresses the intention to ‘follow closely or going behind someone who leads the way’ or ‘to attend, to accompany, to go with or follow a teacher’.
The equivalent expression in Hebrew for ‘I will follow you’ is – וְאֵלְכָה אַחֲרֶיךָ – ‘v’elḵa aḥarey’ḵa’ – and is from two root words: הָלַךְ halaḵ – Strong’s H1980 meaning, ‘to walk, to go, to live, manner of life, cause to live’ and literally speaks of how one lives. It is used as a verb indicating that it is an active expression of one’s life. This verb is written in the ‘qal active’ tense and therefore renders the meaning, ‘to go, to walk, come, proceed, depart, move, go away, to die, live, manner of life (figuratively)’, and the other root word is אַחַר achar – Strong’s H310 meaning, ‘the hind part, following part, after, afterwards, behind, following’, and so in the Hebraic mind-set to say that you will follow declares that you will live and walk as the one you are following, and do as they do. To follow Messiah is not for those who just want to go for a stroll to see what happens – it is a commitment to walk and live as He walks and lives!
And with this verbal unlimited commitment, יהושע Messiah who sees the heart, challenged his verbal commitment, for it is one thing to have the desire to follow, yet the question remains whether you are willing to give up all and submit to the Master’s rules and humbly submit to receiving and walking in the orders of the King!
This man’s desire was put to the test – was he really willing to give up all to follow Messiah? What messiah basically told him was that the Master does not have a home here and He does not have a bed to go home to – foxes and birds have homes and a place to lie down – but not the Master – His Kingdom is not of this world – and so this man was basically challenged whether he really wanted to give up his comfort of his own bed and home? Would he follow if the conditions and circumstances get rough? Despite the willingness of this man to go places with Messiah, what יהושע was emphasising was whether or not he was willing to ‘let go of all’ in order ‘to go’ unhindered. Can you really let go of your comfort zones? We can ask the same question today – what little comforts are you unable to let go of? Are you willing to leave all you call home behind was the challenge to this verbal unlimited commitment!
Following Messiah requires our complete commitment as we imitate His character and walk. Sha’ul says in:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 11:1 “Become imitators of me, as I also am of Messiah.”
The word ‘imitators’ in the Greek is μιμητής ‘mimētēs’ – G3402 and simply means to imitate or to follow and we get our English word mimic from. Now a mimic is one who impersonates and copies or is a replica of someone else. The word ‘imitate’ simply means to follow as a pattern, a model or an example; to be or appear like – in other words resemble and to produce a copy of or reproduce.
To follow Messiah means walk as He walked and when He said that He has no place to lay His head, we recognise that we are not to settle into the comforts of what this world has to offer, but rather be about proclaiming the reign that is to come, not being driven by comfort but rather by the Truth!
We are not told how this man responded, however the likelihood is that he could not let go of the comforts of this life, as Messiah used this opportunity to expose a heart that did not line up with the confession. Perhaps this man’s idea of being a taught one of Messiah was different to what Messiah actually calls for – and we see this error in judgement by so many professing believers today – who claim to be committed yet have no regard for the needed obedience to walking according to the Torah, and will claim to follow as long as it remains comfortable for them to do so.
Much of Christianity has falsely romanticised the thought of being a taught one, and many end up becoming very disheartened when they are faced with very challenging and difficult situations and circumstances, as they never truly understood what it meant to count the cost of following Messiah!
The second category we can see from these events is:
2 – DELAYED COMMITMENT
The next two would-be followers both displayed a ‘delayed commitment’. One was called by Messiah and the other volunteered, yet they both had a delayed commitment approach seen by many today. In other words, like so many today who earnestly want to follow Messiah and do what is commanded, they wanted to follow but only after they finished doing the ‘stuff’ they wanted to do! In both of these guys we see the use of “Let me first…” – this was their ‘first’ mistake!!!
Notice that when the challenge to the call of true commitment in following Messiah comes, many will also use these words… “let me first…”, or “ I must first…”. The problem with this is that there is too much ‘me’ here and too much of ‘me first’ here… Messiah is to come first!!! This was putting self-first and Messiah second or third or fourth… depending on how much they thought needed to be accomplished ‘first’. Messiah tells us to ‘seek first the Kingdom and His Righteousness’… not anything else… no matter how urgent or justifiable it may seem – if the following of Messiah is hindered to any other position than first then it is a problem!
Both of these men did not say that they did not want to follow Messiah, they just wanted to get other matters done first. They, like so many today, delay obedience thinking that they will get to being completely obedient ‘when this or that is done’, or ‘if this or that happens’, or ‘after this or that is done’ – does this sound familiar to any of you? The intentions of these two guys was truly sincere, in their willingness to follow, yet they just wanted a little time to sort out some things before doing so.
When looking at these delayed commitments, we may think that יהושע is being very harsh, and the first of these last two excuses to delaying their commitment seems to be a very legitimate one indeed. People will often use death of a relative or close friend as a reason for not showing up for an appointment, and is often regarded as a valid reason to take some time off or to put aside other commitments for a while. While it may seem to some that Messiah is coming across cold, we must recognise that He is not! He is compassionate and sympathises with our weaknesses and needs and understands our emotions. Remember when El’azar had died and יהושע wept – He was not weeping for El’azar, for he knew that He was going to wake him up or raise him from the dead. He wept when He saw Miryam and the others weeping, He groaned in His spirit and was troubled and wept too.
Romiyim/Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Messiah had compassion for Miryam and the others and the pain and sorrow they felt, and He is compassionate toward us all! Understanding this we have to recognise and see what this would-be follower was actually asking Messiah. Was his father really dead or did his father die that day? No, if he was then this would be follower would have certainly been taking care of the burial. The heart that Messiah revealed here, of this would be follower, was one of wanting to stay in his father’s house until he died – why? The motive behind the delayed commitment would most probably have been so as to not forsake his inheritance that would have been lost if he had left home and followed Messiah now. יהושע was in no way speaking against the Torah here, that permits a priest to become defiled for the dead when it is immediate family. And so what Messiah was doing here was not forbidding someone to bury their family, but rather was exposing the true motives for delaying the desire to follow Him.
When He says let the dead bury the dead, what He was in fact saying was that we must let the unbelievers take care of the earthly desires and motives of the earthly matters, after all He is our inheritance!
Instead of worrying about what one might inherit, Messiah told this man to rather proclaim the Kingdom reign of Elohim, which announces the message of eternal life in Messiah and the gift of life that the second death has no power over those who are in Messiah!
The choice of following Messiah with full commitment or not is a choice of whether you are choosing to dig a grave or preach the Kingdom – He has set before us LIFE and DEATH – and we must choose LIFE!
So many today are like the ‘walking dead’ and are dying in their ignorance and lack of knowledge, which we have in these earthen vessels. The question is whether we are just sitting around waiting for them to die off or are we proclaiming the message of life!!!
The 3rd man hears these very heart cutting words and recognises what Messiah is saying, yet he asks if he can at least have a little time to say goodbye. This was not such a big delay – or so he may have thought , especially in light of what the second man had asked – yet what we see here is that this was still a delayed commitment request… “Let me first…”
In the light of the previous request that was very quickly shot down, this one seemed reasonable enough to ask – after all it may have only taken a few minutes or a couple of hours; and this request for delayed commitment seemed so minimal that it would have appeared to hardly even matter.
Perhaps this would-be follower knew of the account of Elisha and Ěliyahu as seen in Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 19:19-21, when Elisha committed to follow Ěliyahu, and first went and said goodbye to his parents and slaughtered a yoke of oxen and had a meal before becoming Ěliyahu’s servant. While there are certainly many lessons we can take from this event of Elisha leaving all, we also must remember that Elisha’s heart of commitment was never in question as יהוה, who looks at the heart, commanded Ěliyahu to go and anoint Elisha as a prophet in his place. This account took place after Ěliyahu had ran from Izeḇel and hid in a cave where יהוה confronted him and sent him back to anoint Elisha, who slaughtered a slaughtering of thanksgiving to יהוה and left all for the sake of the Kingdom.
Messiah who came to proclaim to us His Kingdom and the Torah and the Prophets that speak of Him, our King, took this call to follow to a higher level – revealing the spirit behind the letter, and basically tells these guys who were requesting a delay, to not look back! If you are looking back then you will be unable to plough a straight line!
What things of the past do you perhaps keep looking back to, and in so doing you find that your ability to plough the field (that is the world) with the straight Kingdom message suffers compromise to true commitment that is called for?
It may have been that Messiah knew that if he had gone back to say goodbye that this guy’s family would have tried to talk him out of following the Master. How many times have you had family or friends try to talk you out of walking according to the Torah, and accuse you of trying to be ‘Jewish’ or trying to go back under law. The silly thing with these accusations is that before we started to walk in the Torah we were never under/in subjection to the Law/Torah, as we were living lawless lives!
Saying goodbye to family was not the real issue here – the main point that יהושע was showing us is that there should be absolutely nothing that causes your delay in being totally committed in following Him.
We know from the accounts we have in the Torah and the Prophets how Yisra’ĕl, after facing some severe hardships in the Wilderness, often longed to go back to Mitsrayim. We also see how after the nation had entered into the Promised Land and settled in their allotments that in their inability to destroy the nations they were supposed to, ended up following the ways of the nations and being warned by to not go back to Mitsrayim by Yirmeyahu, they refused to listen and pledged their allegiance to making caked to the Queen of heaven and adopted abominable sun-worship practices, compromising their call and commitment to being a set-apart nation.
Looking back costs – remember Lot’s wife – she turned back and died! Looking back to ‘what was’ has a crippling effect in delaying true commitment called for from the heart.
What יהושע was saying here is that anything that turns your heart from following Him must be avoided at all costs, as we recognise that the Torah is to be upon our heart and in our mouths – to do it and not delay!
When we neglect true commitment to following the instructions of Elohim as contained in the Torah and the entire Word, and Torah observance is compromised in any way, the heart can become infected and sick above all, causing commitment to become delayed, and is even justified through what at first glance may appear to be valid excuses – yet what Messiah is saying here is that can be no excuses for delaying obedience.
Let me ask – how often have you found yourself going back or looking back to the same places of temptation and failure, or going back to the wrong company that corrupts your good habits? Doing this causes a life threatening delay to commitment that is called for a set-apart priesthood, which is turn causes you to end up neglecting the needed time in meditating on the Word and prayer – and you walk becomes severely hindered!
True commitment calls for some bridges to be burned and destroyed – and the practical application of this can vary from person to person – for some it could be bad habits of the past that are continually being revisited, or it could be the inability to be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind as wicked thought patterns are entertained, or it could be an assumed justification for compromise and lawlessness in certain circumstances that you think can be justified!
Through these three examples that we are given here in Luqas/Luke 9 – examples of conflicting commitments, we are given examples of commitment that is nullified or diminished as a result of other commitments that have taken precedence over following Messiah. Partial or restricted commitment toward Messiah is not commitment!
What is also interesting to take not of here is that with all three examples of hindered commitment – we notice how they are all related to home and/or family. While the world often teaches that family comes first – that is what Messiah was addressing here – He must come first if you really want to follow Him! He comes first and with that the need to proclaim the Kingdom – there can be no delays or mere verbal commitments that lack heart and action!
Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword, 35 for I have come to bring division, a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – 36 and a man’s enemies are those of his own household. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take up his stake and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he that has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”
While Messiah is not teaching that we neglect our family – on the contrary we have a responsibility to take care of our family, however what Messiah was emphasising is that when family takes preference over obedience to Him, then there is a problem. There are real dangers of having conflicting commitments – and we are warned by these words of Messiah to not render vain lip service, nor delay our call to obedience!!!
Are there areas in your life where you have made the clear verbal commitment to walking in the Truth, only to find yourself compromising your words? Have you found that you at times delay the commitment required of a true follower of Messiah, as your hard pressed circumstances have caused you to buckle under pressure and justify disobedience away as a something that Messiah will understand, because it is really hard to do what you know you should be doing?
To be a taught one of Messiah requires confident commitment that guards against the dangers of compromising our walk of faith and the proclaiming of the Kingdom reign!
Perhaps this is a simply a sobering reminder of the dangers of having conflicting commitments, or this may be call to restore your need to commit your ways and walk to our Master and King, יהושע Messiah.
As we commit each day, and every moment of each day to commit each step we take and every move that we make to following יהושע, may we be encouraged and strengthened in knowing that it is He who establishes us, aměn!
If there have been conflicting commitments in your life – then hear this call to let there be no more, as you allow our Master to strengthen and equip you to walk as He walked, ensuring that whatever you do, whether in word or deed, you do in the Name of the Master יהושע Messiah.
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!
With His Name on you… walk and talk like it!