28th of the 2nd month 2016/2017
Shabbat Shalom all,
Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:31-33 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For all these the nations seek for. And your heavenly Father knows that you need all these. 33 “But seek first the reign of Elohim, and His righteousness, and all these matters shall be added to you.”
These words of our Master are words that most are very familiar with. If this is the case then why is it that many who have heard these words still find themselves worrying about food, drink and clothing? The Greek word for ‘worry’ is μεριμνάω merimnaō – Strong’s G3309 which means, ‘to be anxious, care for, worry’ and comes from the root μέριμνα merimna – Strong’s G3308 which means, ‘cares, worries, anxieties’. יהושע tells us in the Parable of the sower and the seed, that the worries/cares of this life choke out the word, and this is exactly what happens to the seed sown among thorns, which pictures those who hear the Word, but the worries of life choke it out! This Greek word can also render the understanding of, ‘being pulled in different directions’ – have you ever felt like you are being pulled in so many directions that you do not know which way to turn? As we consider the picture of one being pulled in different directions by so many worries and anxieties or cares of this world we realise that in order to be steadfast and firm and not be pulled in any conflicting direction that deflects one from a walk of set-apartness in complete faith, we need to have a firm grip on the truth. A firm grip on the Truth will assure that one is not pulled in any type of tug-of-war match with fleshly lusts that wrestle against the life we have in the Master!
When we consider these words of our Master that clearly teaches us not to worry at all, we must take note of the clear instructions that are given in this regard, as we take note that the things that are worried about are the things that the nations seek after! We are told to seek first the reign of Elohim and His righteousness and then all of the daily needs will be added to us! This is a sure promise given by our Master and we must take encouragement from this. What we can learn from these few words is a vital lesson on seeking what should be sought after, and this takes strong hands!
In a message tonight called, ‘TRUE SEEKING TAKES STRONG HANDS!’ I would like us to be reminded to have hands that are equipped and strengthened to seek, serve and celebrate our Master, in everything we do!
As I meditated on these words I took a moment to consider that if the nations worry about what they shall eat, drink or wear, then I thought, ‘how do they get what they seek after in order to become satisfied?’ The answer is very simple as they do whatever it takes, which may not always be in a legal or fair manner but they will work out a way to get what they so earnestly worry about and seek after. Just think about it for a moment…! Sha’ul tells us that he learnt to be content in all circumstances and from the example we have of his life as a servant of Messiah we are able to clearly see that he did not worry about the things that the nations worried about. Most people today will do whatever it takes to get what they ‘worry about’ and will work hard at doing so. As many grow in their careers you will often find that the more they work and get increase in their provision the more they will seek after and often find that they tend to always be living beyond their means, hence the worry and the urgency to work more and more toward getting that which they lust after in the flesh and this becomes a never ended spiral of worry and deception that chokes out any Word of Truth that may have been planted inside their hearts at some stage of their lives. The focus becomes fleshly and all plans and goals are driven by meeting fleshly desires that they do not yet have.
Kěpha tells us in his second letter that the Mighty-like power of our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah, has given us all we need for life and reverence, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to esteem and uprightness! (Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1:3). We have all we need for life and reverence! How? Through the knowledge of Him and His reign! That is why we are to seek first His reign and His righteousness!
Our proper seeking of the reign of Elohim and His righteousness takes a proper pursuit of knowing יהוה our Elohim.
Hoshěa/Hosea 6:3 “So let us know, let us pursue to know יהוה. His going forth is as certain as the morning. And He comes to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth.’”
A proper pursuit to know יהוה and a proper seeking of His reign takes strong hands! We know that in Hebrew that the picture of one’s hands is often used as a metaphor for what one does. As we consider the reality that our hands represent our work, we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis the sobering question of what our hands are busy with and what are our hands working for! Is it in the earnest pursuit to know יהוה by seeking first His reign or is it in the pursuit of satisfying fleshly needs and desires before any consideration for complete set-apartness is faithfully pursued?
At this point I guess I could ask a simple question of, “What are you working for?” or, “Who are you working for?” or even more simply put, “Why are you doing what you are doing?”
As many ponder on these very simple questions they may find that their answers do not necessarily reflect the picture of one who is seeking first the reign of Elohim and His righteousness but that their hands have been occupied with other matters that have no lasting effect on one’s life of set-apartness! I am not suggesting for a moment that anyone changes their occupation but rather that a simple assessment be done as to “how” their work is being done and what motives lie behind their ability to do what they do every day. Every person has been given unique qualities and talents, yet we have all been given the simple task of seeking first the reign of Elohim and pursuing to know יהוה!
That means that each and every person ought to be able to do this no matter their occupation, for we are to work heartily unto the Master, as we see from Sha’ul’s words in:
Qolasim/Colossians 3:22-24 “Servants, obey your masters according to the flesh in all respects, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing Elohim. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Master and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Master you shall receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Master, Messiah, you serve.”
When any true believer understands who it is that they are serving in everything they say and do then priority for true set-apartness and excellence is sought after, knowing that our Master takes care of our daily needs and that we have the joy-filled assurance of the reward of the promised inheritance of everlasting life!
The point I am trying to make here is that in order to be properly seeking the reign of Elohim first we are to have hands that are strong, which means that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, will be done in the Name of our יהושע Messiah:
Qolasim/Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Master יהושע, giving thanks to Elohim the Father through Him.”
If that which you find yourself doing is not worthy to have the Name of the Master יהושע attached to it then you should not be doing it!!! Sadly we find that many people may appear to be having the upper of stronger hand as they pursue the fleshly matters with an intense energy as they put those matters first, yet their hands will be revealed as being feeble and weak!
As you consider your daily tasks that you are engaged in, are you able to faithfully declare that all has been done in the Name of the Master יהושע or do you find that in some matters set-apartness may have been set-aside and compromised in order to try to take away the worries of this life that have choked out the Word and the ability to stand firm in the Truth?
Our Master יהושע tells us clearly in:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:30 “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than for your entire body to be thrown into Gehenna.”
Mattithyahu/Matthew 18:8 “And if your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be thrown into the everlasting fire.”
We must remember that our Master spoke in parables when speaking to all and here we recognise the clear truth of cutting off anything that causes you to stumble. If you are doing anything that is not worthy of having His Name attached to it and is not working righteousness then cut it off and stop doing it.
The Greek word translated as ‘stumble’ is σκανδαλίζω skandalizō – Strong’s G4624 which means, ‘to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way upon which another may trip and fall’, and metaphorically can mean, ‘to offend’. It also carries the meaning, ‘fall away, led into sin, stumble, to cause another or be caused to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey’.
Some people stumble under pressure due to hands that are weakened by deceit when persecution comes and then quickly compromise.
In the parable of the sower, יהושע tells us the result of seed that sown on rocky places:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 13:20-21 “And that sown on rocky places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived, and when pressure or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
Rocky hearts that have no ability to let the Word take root in their lives, quickly stumble when pressure and persecution, BECAUSE OF THE WORD, arises.
Our hearts must be steadfast in order to have string hands that have a firm grip on the Truth, to do it, making our walk to be in complete set-apartness. If your hands are weak then it reveals a problem in the heart and is reflected in one’s feet (how you walk)!
In the recorded events of king Asa, the 3rd king of the House of Yehuḏah, we are able to learn some vital truths to properly seeking יהוה and the dangers of losing one’s grip on the Truth!
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 14-16 covers the accounts of Asa who, by all accounts, did what was right in the eyes of יהוה! In Chapter 14 we see that the land rested 10 years in his days and he removed all the high places and strange slaughter places and cut down all the Ashĕrim and sun-pillars; and he commanded Yehuḏah to seek יהוה and do the Torah. All was well and then the Kushites came out to battle against them and outnumbered them almost 2 to 1 (580 000 vs. 1 000 000) and Asa cried out to יהוה and part of his declaration in 14:11 was: “… In Your Name we go against this crowd…” and יהוה smote the Kushites, bringing about a great victory with great spoils. In Chapter 16 we see a sad decline of what was once a faithful and strong king, as he grew stubborn and stopped seeking יהוה, which resulted in the rapid decline of his health and in the 39th year of his reign he became crippled.
Despite his downfall due to stubbornness we can still learn a great deal from his life, and it is with a few words from Chapter 15 that I believe we can be reminded to keep our hands strong lest we allow them to weaken and our walk be hindered, as was the end fate of a king who was once strong and then lost his grip!
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 15:2-4 “And he went out to face Asa, and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Yehuḏah and Binyamin. יהוה is with you while you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He is found by you, but if you forsake Him, He forsakes you. 3 “And for many days Yisra’ĕl has been without the true Elohim, and without a Torah priest, and without Torah. 4 “But in their distress they turned to יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl, and they sought Him, and He was found by them.”
Azaryahu the prophet went out to speak to Asa and made it clear to him the following truth: יהוה is with you while you are with Him! We see יהושע repeat this clear message in the words He spoke regarding the Vine and the Branches in Yoḥanan/John 15 where He repeatedly tells us that we are to stay in Him, for then He will stay in us!
How we stay in Him is certainly obvious, yet as obvious as it seems many sadly do not and find themselves feeling weak and forsaken! To seek יהוה must be a continual process:
Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek יהוה and His strength, seek His face continually!”
These words spoken to Asa is a clear message for us to take heed of today as we see in verse 3 that just as Yisra’ĕl had been without the True Elohim and without a Torah priest or Torah; so we have recognised in our lives today that we as a people too have been without the Truth and the Torah, as the Truth had been syncretised with substances of foreign worship which rendered the majority of us to be without the Torah or any who could teach us the Torah; and so I would like to look at some key words in this chapter that will hopefully expand our understanding and encourage us to be strengthened and not let our hands become weak in doing what we know we ought to be doing!
1 – SEEK – דָּרַשׁ darash – Strong’s H1875 means, ‘to resort to, seek out, ask, avenge, consult, investigate, search carefully, make inquiry, question’. We can clearly see that this word carries more than simply just take a quick peek, as it emphasises the need to be digging deep in seeking out carefully and with great diligence, through consultation, and asking. When we are told to ‘seek’ first the Kingdom – we must recognise that this is not an instruction that gives the notion that you look at it and now that you have seen it you can go on your merry way – NO! To seek His Kingdom requires hard work and discipline each and every day. Here we are being clearly instructed to ‘seek’ יהוה; and if we do so He will be found by us! He is not lost! But we need to ‘seek’ Him and this implies an inquiry after knowledge, advice, and insight, into any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in.
A word that is derived from דָּרַשׁ darash is מִדְרָשׁ miḏrash – Strong’s H4097 means, ‘a study, record, writings or story, commentary’. A ‘midrash’ speaks of the ability to search out something and often refers to that which is written to teach, and later became known as a Hebrew word relating to the in-depth study of the word, often done together. The point is that we are to be a people who are earnestly growing in wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures so we can remember what we look like when we look intently into the mirror of His Word!
Most people today are not ‘seeking’ in the sense of what this word entails; and remember this instruction to seek is to ALL! After all if we seek we shall find – who does not want to learn more and more about our Creator, Redeemer and King?
2 – FOUND – מָצָא matsa – Strong’s H4672 – ‘to attain, find, locate, discover’. Here are a couple of verses where this word is found:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the man who gets understanding.”
In speaking of the Words and instructions of our Father:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:22 “For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”
With the concept of being able to find something reveals that it needs to be sought after, not that it is lost but that it needs to be discovered and learnt. While in many ways the Word was lost to us while being right in front of us, we thank יהוה for opening our eyes that we may seek and find!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 7:15 “Therefore I came out to meet you, to earnestly seek your face, and I found you.”
How earnestly are you seeking יהוה? How many times do you find yourself in a state of running around like a chicken without a head or going in circles over an issue or situation and do not know what to do? How earnest is your seeking יהוה and His Righteousness?
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who earnestly seek me do find me.”
He loves those who love Him – and a major part of loving Him is ‘seeking’ Him; because to love Him is to do what He has instructed us to, so how will we know how to love Him if we do not seek out what His instructions are???
The Hebrew word here for ‘love’ is אֵהָב ahaḇ – Strong’s H157 and an interesting side note is that the numerical value for this word for love is ‘8’ – which speaks of fullness, complete and everlasting!
We are to give our full attention to seeking our Elohim with all our heart, soul and mind – anything less would not render true love, but may rather cause one to end up forsaking rather than loving.
We then take note of the words in:
Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 15:7 “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be feeble, for there is a reward for your work!”
When Asa heard these words he strengthened himself and removed the abominations from the land and restored the slaughter place of יהוה. A powerful illustration in itself of how we each need to strengthen ourselves and cannot rely on someone else to do what we ought to be doing in strengthening our hands for pure and unadulterated worship. What we can also learn from this is that in times of feeling forsaken and abandoned, and when we feel weak and cut off, we need to get strengthened and rebuild the slaughter place of praise in our lives and strengthen ourselves into being a true living sacrifice every single day as we get rid of abominable things that have stood in the way of pure and unadulterated worship.
The encouragement given to us hear in verse 7 is to ‘keep going and do not slow down’:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 35:3-4 “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Be strong, do not fear! See, your Elohim comes with vengeance, with the recompense of Elohim. He is coming to save you.”
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:12 “So, strengthen the hands which hang down and the weak knees”
The call to ‘be strong’ would be reminiscent of the clear words given to Yehoshua before entering into the Promised Land! The word in Hebrew for ‘be strong’ is חָזַק ḥazaq – Strong’s H2388 and carries the meaning, ‘to grow firm, fasten upon, strengthen, take hold of’ and can have the concept of ‘grasp between your ears’.
This is what Asa did and as a result the slaughter place was restored and they entered into a covenant to seek יהוה, with all their heart and with all their being and anyone who did not do so would be put to death! They swore to יהוה with a loud voice and with shouting, trumpets and shofars – This was done in the 3rd month and so we see here another great picture of Shaḇuoth and the sounding of the trumpets announcing their commitment to the marriage between יהוה and His called out Bride, as well as a great picture of the Yoḇel of release as we see in verse 15 how יהוה gave them rest all around.
While we see that Asa sadly did not continue to strengthen himself as recorded in Chapter 16, we can learn a great deal from this very clear message in the couple of verses we have read tonight – and that is to be strong, strengthened our hands – that is to do righteousness – and seek יהוה with our all and never forsake doing what we know we must do every day as we restore wholehearted worship in being a daily living sacrifice and raising a great shout of praise unto our King!
How strong are your hands? Have they been weakened by fleshly lusts and worldly pleasures or are you daily strengthening them as you hear, guard and do His Living Word each and every day. We are to be a people who are clinging to יהוה with our all and not let go. If our hands let go and we forsake doing what we ought to be doing then our walk will become crippled like Asa’s did! We are to keep our eyes focused and fixed on יהושע, and one of the greatest tools to having our eyes continually aligned in guarding His commands is to guard His Shabbat and gather! This will give us 20/20 vision:
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 20:20 “And set apart My Sabbaths, and they shall be a sign between Me and you, to know that I am יהוה your Elohim.”
If you are not holding on and clinging to יהוה with both hands firmly gripping His Word – to do it – then what are you ‘clinging’ to or holding on to? In Miḵah/Micah 7:3 we see how a people who had forsaken Elohim were being described as having both hands on the evil to do it well! If you are not clinging to יהוה, then what are your hands doing?
True seeking takes strong hands, which tells us that we cannot just be hearers of the Word but must be hearers and doers of the Word, and in our seeking we must guard to do all He has commanded us or else our seeking will simply be unapplied knowledge that puffs up feeble hands that will cause one to fall through wrong workings!
The Greek word used for ‘seek’ is ζητέω zēteō – Strong’s G2212 and means, ‘to seek, inquire, try to obtain, strive after, to aim at, crave for, and to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating and reasoning’. Pretty straight forward I would say! To seek takes diligent effort; and to seek His kingdom speaks of diligently seeking and meditating on Him and His instructions (Torah) – something we see lacking in a great way today!
In order to fight the good fight of the belief we need to have strong hands that can lift up the sword of Truth and the shield of faith and keep them lifted! As we stand firm in the Master with strong hands that seek first His kingdom in all we say and do then we have the firm assurance that our reward is with Him!
These words can certainly remind us of the words of Messiah in:
Ḥazon/Revelation 22:12 “And see, I am coming speedily, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according to his work.”
The Greek word that is used here for ‘reward’ is μισθός misthos – Strong’s G3408 which means, ‘wages, hire, pay, reward’, and is the word that is used in the LXX (Septuagint) for the ‘reward’ that THE WORD OF יהוה told Aḇram was exceedingly great!
Berěshith/Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Aḇram. I am your shield, your reward is exceedingly great.”
The Hebrew word for ‘reward’ is שָׂכָר saḵar – Strong’s H7939 which means, ‘hire, wages, compensation, fare, reward’ and comes from the primitive root word that means ‘to hire, to earn wages’.
יהוה was basically saying to Aḇram, as well as to all of us today, “I AM what you are fighting for – I AM your great reward – I Am what you will receive if you overcome all that tries to oppress you along the journey – I AM your inheritance!”
Knowing this ought to cause our hands to be strengthened to do righteousness as we seek יהוה and His Reign, which has His Torah and commands to live by, which we exercise great care over guarding to do them here and now as we sojourn as faithful ambassadors of His Reign.
How strong are your hands? It is time for the True Bride to strengthen weak hands which hang down and lift them up and shout the praises of our Mighty Elohim, יהוה of Hosts and not worry at all – for TRUE SEEKING TAKES STRONG HANDS!
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!