Shalom to you, and may the Name of יהוה be praised and esteemed in this place, Aměn!
I am sure that you can all attest to the fact that the more you grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Almighty and the more you do your utmost to walk and live a life of faithful obedience to His instructions (that is His Torah) the more the reality of being truly a set-apart people becomes more obvious and real and the things that you used to hold on to so much now carry little or even no meaning whatsoever. But as one walks in Messiah and stays in Him the reality of the fact that the majority out there do not ‘stay in Him’ and it becomes more evident and at times can even cause one to feel alone as the masses will do their best at telling you that you are wrong. יהושע tells us that in this world we will face trouble but that we are to take courage for He has overcome the world and so as we walk in Him we need not fear – when we do that which is good, that is walking in the instructions of יהוה then we need not fear or be afraid amidst the wickedness of the world’s ways and schemes that are constantly screaming for our attention. I want us to be encouraged today as we read the account of a king who held fast to יהוה despite the wickedness of the rest of the people who did as they pleased in a message called, “Walking Upright Amidst a Crooked Generation”. Please turn with me in your Scriptures to Diḇre haYamim Bět/ 2 Chronicles 27 and let us read of Yotham who was a good king amidst evil people (Read).
9 verses that carry such great insight for us into the life of Yotham – perhaps even a king you have previously overlooked in your readings. The account of Yotham is also recorded for us in Melaḵim Bět/2 Kings 15: 32-38. But just who was this Yotham? Well He was the 11th ruler of Yehuḏah, son of Uzziyahu who did much to rebuild many parts of Yerushalayim and while he sought יהוה, Elohim made him prosper, however when Uzziyahu became strong he became very proud and trespassed against יהוה by entering the Hěḵal (temple) of יהוה to burn incense which he was not permitted to do and he got leprosy for his disobedient act of profane worship and for the last 10 years of his life his son, Yotham was sovereign over the land. Yotham ruled for 16 years, the first 10 of those were as co-regent with his father who was leprous. Yotham’s son Aḥaz whose name means ‘he has kept a firm grip’ did not live up to his name and did not do what was right in the eyes of יהוה – he was a wicked king. But back to Yotham a good guy amidst a crooked generation!
Yotham means – “יהוה is perfect (undefiled or full of integrity)” and can also mean, “May Yah complete” – how awesome is that!!! Here we have a man and in 9 verses here as well as 7 in Melaḵim Bět we can see that he lived up to his name! I would like us to look at these verses a little more closely and see some key words that will help us understand how we too can live upright amidst a crooked generation, aměn!
Yotham had a spiritual heritage from his mother whose father was Tsaḏoq the righteous priest. I see the life of Yotham for us as a great illustration of the restoration of the Tsaḏoq priesthood – those who will walk upright in righteousness!
As we look at Yotham may we realise just what a life of faith in יהוה looks like and calls for:
A LIFE OF FAITH STARTS WITH OBEDIENCE (V2)
Verse 2 tells us that he did what was “right” in the eyes of יהוה. The Hebrew word for ‘right’ here is יָשָׁר ‘yâshâr’ (Strong’s H3477). The word ‘yāšār’ means right, straight, upright and righteous. The Book of Yasher commonly known to us as ‘Jasher’ means the book of the ‘upright/straight’ or the Book of the ‘Righteous’.
We, as children of Elohim are called to walk upright and straight, called to walk and do what is ‘right’ in the eyes of יהוה – called to do what is ‘yāšār’ – called to walk in righteousness and that is to walk in His Torah!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:28 “Guard, and obey all these words which I command you, that it might be well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”
Proverbs tells us that there is a way that seems ‘yâshâr’ / right to man – but that only leads to death – too many want to follow their own way of what they determine as living right according to their own man-made standards yet will sadly only find that any other way other than that of the Torah of Elohim simply leads to destruction! Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many walk thereon – there are many ways of man – yet narrow is the path to life and few find it – that path is ‘in’ Messiah as we walk according to His instructions – The Torah which is life!
Tehillim/Psalm 7:10 “My shield is upon Elohim, Who saves the upright in heart.”
It is the upright in heart that Elohim saves! But just what does it mean to walk upright or ‘yâshâr’?
The root of ‘yâshâr’ is employed in at least 3 ways:
A – Literally – As it means to go straight or direct in the way. The root meaning of Torah comes from the Hebrew word ‘Horah’ which means ‘to direct’ or ‘to teach’ and is derived from the stem word ‘yara’ which means ‘to shoot’ or ‘to throw’.
In other words it means that you aim or point in the right direction and you move in that direction. So to walk upright or straight is to walk in the direction you have set your eyes upon and as those who ‘stay in’ Him we fix our eyes on יהושע Messiah and constantly walk straight! The more intensive form of ‘yâshâr’ means to ‘make’ a straight way and that is to make a direct and level way that is free from obstacles as they would do in the days past when they would prepare the way to receive a royal visitor – making a level path for them to travel upon. In other words the intensive form of doing what is right in His eyes carriers with it great action and dedicated commitment in all we do:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:6 “Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight.”
When we acknowledge Him in all our ways – guess what – He makes our paths straight that we can walk in the Torah of Freedom! But we have a part to play – our faith walk cannot be without works!
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 40:3 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of יהוה; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim.”
‘In the Wilderness’ – we started last week with our Torah portions in Bemidbar/Numbers and as we know Bemidbar means ‘in the Wilderness’ and it literally means for us, ‘the place of words or speaking’. In other words the Wilderness in a time for us to listen and hear His voice – hear His instructions – Hear – guard and do! Hoshěa 2:14 tells us that He is alluring her (His Bride) into the Wilderness and shall speak to her heart – a place of listening! It is through the Wilderness journey, on our way to the Promise from exile, where He instructs us that we are able to make level paths and be a prepared Bride for His return!
Make straight – make ‘yâshâr’ in the desert a highway for our Elohim! We are to be making a straight way – literally getting our lives into living upright in His eyes for our King is coming – will He find faith – faith that is active and alive and upright?
B – Ethically – Uprightness speaks ethically of the manner of life as a characteristic quality of the blameless and discerning follower of יהזשע:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 11:5 “The righteousness of the perfect makes his way straight, But by his own wrongness the wrong one falls.”
Tehillim/Psalm 119:128 “Therefore all Your orders I count as right; I have hated every false way.”
One who walks in righteousness makes his way straight and in doing so all the commands or orders we count as right – as ‘yâshâr’ – and in the process we hate every false way! You see until you have repented of all falsehood and false ways of worship you cannot walk fully straight as you will always find yourself ‘hanging on’ to something of the past falsehood – let go – repent and walk upright!
C – As an idiomatic expression with eyes – that is we see the word ‘right’ or ‘yâshâr’ being used as an expression with ‘eyes’ as in to be right in the eyes of a person simply means to have approval of the person by keeping their instructions! To do what is right – ‘ha yâshâr’ in the eyes of יהוה is linked with obedience to His commands and Covenant:
Shemoth/Exodus 15:26 “And He said, “If you diligently obey the voice of יהוה your Elohim and do what is right in His eyes, and shall listen to His commands and shall guard all His laws, I shall bring on you none of the diseases I brought on the Mitsrites, for I am יהוה who heals you.”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 13:18 “when you obey the voice of יהוה your Elohim, to guard all His commands which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim.”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:17-18 “Diligently guard the commands of יהוה your Elohim, and His witnesses, and His laws which He has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the eyes of יהוה, that it might be well with you, and you shall go in and possess the good land of which יהוה swore to your fathers”
What we can clearly see here is that to do what is right in His eyes – that is the eyes of יהוה is simply to do His commands and guard to keep them diligently! To not do so is to not walk right and therefore only walk by what is right in one’s own eyes only to find that the path of self is destructive unto death!
A life of faith begins with obedience!
Ok So Yotham did what was right in the eyes of יהוה, so we can see that he was a king who walked in righteousness and did all that his father Uzziyahu did – according to the good that he did that is – because we see that Yotham did not go into the Hěḵal of יהוה! At first this may sound strange – how could he have been walking ‘upright’ yet not go into the Hěḵal of יהוה? Well we must read on in the verse… “…the people continued to act corruptly.” Yotham did not go to the Hěḵal of יהוה because the people had continued to corrupt their worship and he did not do as his father did in bringing profane worship unto יהוה. When one reads the accounts recorded in Melaḵim Bět/2 Kings 15: 32-38 you get a closer understanding as to what was really going on at the time. Here we have an upright king who lived right in the eyes of יהוה while at the same time the nation was in rebellion, following after their own lusts and worshipping on their own high places, defiling the very Hěḵal of יהוה, and Yotham would have no part in false and profane worship!
It is hard to believe that the people continued with their own wickedness while the king lived upright – but this is not the first time we see this pattern:
Berěshith/Genesis 6:11 “And the earth was corrupt before Elohim, and the earth was filled with violence.”
Yes you guessed it – during the time of Noaḥ – a man who was considered perfect in his generation – a man who preached righteousness for 120 years amidst a crooked generation! This pattern continued throughout history:
Shemoth/Exodus 32:7 “And יהוה said to Mosheh, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Mitsrayim have corrupted themselves.”
This was at the time when they had made a golden calf and celebrated with dancing and partying and declaring, ‘tomorrow is a festival to יהוה.” They worshipped according to their own ways in what they thought was ‘right’ yet they had corrupted themselves and this was an abomination in the eyes of יהוה!
Corrupt worship at the time of Yotham and still today we see corrupted worship running wild, making room for whatever the people want to hear and do. The word used here for corrupt in Hebrew is שָׁחַת ‘shachath’ which means ‘to go to ruin – act corruptly – be untrue, lying, falsified and morally corrupt’. To become corrupt means to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions.
Sha’ul in speaking of those who have corrupted their worship describes the wicked and twisted in:
Romiyim/Romans 1:25 “who changed the truth of Elohim into the falsehood, and worshipped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Aměn.”
Yotham was set-apart and he respected and revered the sanctity of the Hěḵal that others had defiled through their profane and vain worship!
What we see in Yotham is his determined diligence in doing what was right, not in the eyes of the people but in the eyes of יהוה. While the people continued to build high places and slaughter and burn incense on their high places, what did Yotham do? He rebuilt the Upper Gate of the House of יהוה! This was perhaps in an effort to encourage the worship of יהוה. What is interesting is that while the people were corrupt and worshipping at their high places – Yotham was about building what was important and so his building of the Upper Gate was not in vain! The ‘Upper Gate’ was at the north end of the outer court of the Temple, But what is even more intriguing for me is that the Hebrew word for ‘Upper’ here is עֶלְיׄון ‘elyôn’ which means highest or most high and we know that one of the compound titles for Elohim is in fact:
ĔL ĔLYON – עליוֹן אל – ĔL Most High!
So what we have here is simply this – the people were making offerings on the high places while Yotham built the ‘Upper’ – that is the highest gate of the House of יהוה. While others are lifting up and building their own forms of worship we are to be busy building the highest in our worship and obedient living unto ĔL ĔLYON!
Yotham also built much of the wall of Ophel – Ophel is the mound or hill on the south-eastern slope of the temple mount, a ridge lying between the valleys Kedron and Tyropoeon, called “the lower city”. It formed part of the wall of Yerushalayim which fortified the defense of the city. The word ‘Ophel’ means fort or stronghold or tower or hill and carries great significance in our reading and understating of walking upright today! We know that in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 18:10 we are told that the Name of יהוה is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and are safe. You see what Yotham did was this – he built the high and the low with the desire to secure the defence of Yerushalayim in every direction. He build towns and fortresses in Yehuḏah and as a result of his obedience he had great victory in battle against the Ammonites and for 3 years the children of Ammon paid him a lot in silver, wheat and barley.
What we see here is that the people of his time were greatly entangled in paganism and sun-worship while Yotham stood out as one who did what was right in the eyes of יהוה – he lived up to the name that had been given him – Yotham – יהוה is perfect and undefiled! We can do well today to be as Yotham was – and live undefiled and upright amidst a crooked generation that is busy worshipping on their man-made high places and defiling the Hěḵal of יהוה in offering strange fire.
Read verse 6:
“Yotham strengthened himself, for he prepared his ways before יהוה, His Elohim.”
He strengthened himself – the word here for strengthened is חָזַק ‘ḥāzaq’ which means to be strong or strengthen; to grow firm or strong, be courageous. It also means to become securely established. He was able to stand and fight the good fight of faith amidst a crooked generation because he prepared his ways – in other words – his ways were established in righteous living! It wasn’t just a onetime obedience but rather in all his ways he acknowledged יהוה as he was firmly established in living upright and that is how he grew strong – by living right – even when it may have been hard to! He was firm and determined to do what was right and did not waver between differing opinions – he remained steadfast to the Truth – you see it is like this – when you waver between differing opinions and winds of teaching – you will be tossed about! Let me ask you – when all the winds of teaching that try to confuse you come – are your feet secure in the Rock of your Salvation – rooted in the Truth and able to do what is right in the eyes of יהוה?
When you doubt – Ya’aqoḇ tells us that the man who doubts should not think that he shall receive whatever from the Master but that he is double minded and unstable in all his ways! We cannot afford to be wavering at all – we must remain steadfast to the Truth and walk upright according to the Living Word. We must be like Yotham – strengthened and prepared – steady and determined in walking upright before יהוה!
This kind of total devotion calls for faithful obedience and walking upright calls for us to:
A – Stop being tolerant of evil (Ḥazon/Revelation 2:20-21) “Do not tolerate Izeḇel (Jezebel)”
B – Stop keeping company with evil (Ḥazon/Revelation 2:22-23)
C – Hold on (Ḥazon/Revelation 2:24-25)
Yotham was not tolerant of the wickedness and adulterous worship and did not keep company with the wicked – we have no place going in to pagan temples – you have come out of church – what do you want to do by going back there!!! I say this as many who claim to be steadfast in Torah and walking in יהושע Messiah are at times finding their way back into the mainstream of Christianity in attending their worship services thinking they can reach people that way – come out and be separate – do not go back!!!
In view of what we can learn from the life of an upright king, Yotham, who held fast to the commands of יהוה, let me ask you here tonight:
1 – Can the word ‘yâshâr’ be attributed to your lifestyle or walk of faith? A)Be it literally as you make straight paths – preparing the way for our Royal King to return by removing those obstacles to your faith out of the way and roll out the ‘red carpet’ so to speak? I say ‘red carpet’ as it is only by His Blood that we are able to walk in Him and be found to be made righteous and His Blood has given us the way to make straight our ways before Him. But let me also remind you that He is coming again in vengeance – with His robes dripping with blood – will he find upright active living faith? B) Or ethically as ‘yâshâr’ being found to be the characteristic of your lifestyle as you lead blameless lives exercising discernment able to rightly divide the Truth? C) Can ‘yâshâr’ be used as an expression regarding your actions in doing what is right in the eyes of יהוה?
2 – Are you being strengthened by having your ways ‘established’ in יהוה – and your faith is strong and there are no doubt – and when all those “winds” of vain and profane teachings come you are able to stand firm rooted in the Truth, walking in the Truth – and not tossed about and unstable?
3 – As we saw earlier Noah was perfect in his generation; Eliyahu stood firm against 450 prophets of Ba’al (which is ‘the Lord’) and 400 prophets of Asherah and Yotham was upright amidst vast corruption. Therefore it is safe for us to say that it is not impossible to be upright and perfect and firm in a corrupted world! Again what I must remind you of this repeated pattern we see in Scripture – it is always a remnant or few who choose and determine to live set-apart unto יהוה. Are you?
My encouragement to you is that you strengthen yourself by preparing your ways before יהוה. What are you busy with? What are you building? Your own career or selfish goals or are you building up the Name of יהוה? Yo’ĕl tells us that all who call upon the Name of יהוה shall be saved – the ‘Upper gate’ the ‘highest’ name above all Names needs to be restored that many can enter in and be fortified in Him – are you proclaiming His Name in all you do – does your life reflect one who is doing what is ‘right’ in the eyes of יהוה?
Walking upright amidst a crooked generation is possible and it is called for today – will you heed the call and be like Yotham – His name again means ‘יהוה is perfect’ – will you walk undefiled in a defiled age proclaiming the One who is perfect and under who you serve as you raise the banner of praise to the Most High – ĔL ĔLYON?
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favour; יהוה lift up His face toward you and give you peace!
This is how His Name was to be put upon the children of Yisra’ĕl – His Name is upon you – will you walk accordingly – will you walk upright like Yotham = perfect and upright?
In being determined to walk as Yotham did – upright amidst a crooked generation being built up in the Most High and being strengthened in enduring faith, I will end with the following verse which is very clear:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 18:13 “Be perfect before יהוה your Elohim”