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Overcoming This Present Darkness


   Let me begin by reading from the book of Job. It’s always tenuous to read from this book, and though many great quotes come from it, we have to remember that Job’s friends are trying, themselves, to understand why these things are happening to him as well as trying to help him understand why he is being tormented. They are reiterating those concrete theological lessons they were taught, and in doing so, they missed the message that Yahweh is trying to send them in the example of Job. They are trying to convince Job that he MUST have done something wrong to deserve this discipline of Yahweh. In my simplistic way of thinking, and in contradiction to the beliefs of Job’s friends, the moral of the story of Job is this, “Trust that Yahweh has a purpose in everything that happens in our lives.”

Eliphaz Speaks
   In Job 5:6-16 NIV, Job’s friend, Eliphaz, who is a son of Esau, whose name means “Golden El” or “El of Gold,” is speaking:
For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground [In other words, they are trying to convince him that hardship is always a punishment for wrong-doing, and I’m sure you’ve heard this next familiar line.]. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. "But if it were I, I would appeal to Elohim; I would lay my cause before Him. [He is suggesting that Job take his case to the Heavenly court, a useless endeavor because there is no cause, per se, since the Bible states that Job, in chapter 1:1, “was blameless and upright; he feared Elohim and shunned evil.” Essentially, Job’s case could not be heard, because there are no accusations against him! Eliphaz continues:] He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; He sends water upon the countryside. The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty [meaning “cunning, sneaky, shrewd or scheming”], so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.”
   When I first read these verses, I saw them in the light of vindication that Yahweh has brought to bear in our recent struggles, as a way to set aside this whole affair, once and for all. However, the phrase, “the sword in their mouth,” caught my eye, so I examined several other versions which interpreted it as variations of, “saving the needy from the sword and from their mouth,” or “saving the needy from the sword of the mighty.” But nowhere did I read the translation as, “He saves the needy from starving to death.” Now, how difficult is it to understand the simple meaning of, “He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth,” as “He saves the needy from starving to death”?
   Perhaps it was just as easy for the interpreters who wrote these various versions of Scripture to ignore the plague of starvation that existed in their times as it is for us in this present world. To me, worldwide hunger is a perfect reflection of the moral and spiritual starvation of this present darkness. James [or Ya’acob] states in Chapter 1:27, that “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
   The distress he’s describing must have been related to finding enough food to survive. Back then, a widow, without the income her husband could provide, couldn’t just apply for welfare, get an educational grant due to her circumstances and find a good-paying job. They were dependent on the good will of those around them. More importantly in all this, perhaps, is the fact that the world ignores the last phrase in James’ admonition, “keeping oneself unstained by the world.” Certainly, we should act to prevent starvation, but not just physical starvation. Shouldn’t we pay more attention to the eternal consequences, or punishment, for allowing people to die of spiritual starvation?

Provide Spiritual Food
   Yahshua said, “Feed My sheep.” He wasn’t telling them to go out, buy groceries, and give them to the starving. No! He was telling them to feed them spiritually with the good news that salvation is near at hand. He commands us to feed others with spiritual food. He and His disciples admonish us to go to the ends of the earth and teach truth, justice and what ... and the American way? No. We are to teach the truth. We are not to teach lies, fables, traditions, or the teachings of man in the place of the teachings of Yahweh. Our truth is found in Scripture. It is the standard by which we are to discern that which is righteous and that which is evil.
   So, we will not teach about putting the Messiah back into the celebration of His birthday through understanding the “real” meaning of cutting down a tree, nailing it so it won’t topple over and decorating it with gold and silver. We will not teach celebrating the Messiah’s resurrection at sunrise on a day, and in the way, of pagan worship of the sun god. We will not honor the Queen of Heaven by putting candles on cakes and giving material gifts on our special day; or, celebrating All Hallowed’s Eve by acknowledg- ing and enjoying dressing up as evil spirits; worshiping the Creator on a day other than the day He blessed and consecrated for that purpose; confessing to a man for the forgiveness of sins; praying to anyone or anything other than Yahweh Himself; rearranging or changing Yahweh’s Appointed Times for convenience sake; using names for the Creator that are themselves (or reflect the) names of pagan deities. To do so would be to feed poison to those whom Yahweh has called to His House. Can preachers understand the serious consequences for teaching false doctrine? Apparently not.

Eliphaz Continues
   Well, isn’t it interesting how a small phrase like, “He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth” can lead to a whole sermon in itself. Let’s continue with Job 5:17-27, where Eliphaz is lecturing and telling Job what he should do:
   Blessed is the man whom Elohim corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal. From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you. In famine He will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth. For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.

Eliphaz Spoke to Job
   In Job 5:6-27, a friend says to a man who has lost his wife, his children, his means of earning a living; who is covered with sores from head to toe, and who, if I’m not mistaken, is sitting in a dung heap to demonstrate the shame, worthlessness, hopelessness and the utter powerlessness of his condition. “So hear it and apply it to yourself,” Eliphaz says. Whooo. Thanks, bro! Nice talkin’ to you.
   But, I’m not too sure that Eliphaz is so alone in his endeavor to help a friend in pain. Here, right here, is one of the tragedies of this life. All around us are people who are suffering, and the servants of Yahweh are few; and when we go out and try to teach salvation from the darkness of this world, from the pain and misery that inhabits our lives, we are rejected and ridiculed and ignored. And, our despair grows. And, we, as it were, sometimes sit in our dung heaps, casting all understanding aside, unable to lift ourselves up in light of the severity of our circumstances and knowing the tragedy that will befall those who reject Yahweh’s will. I can relate to Job’s friend. Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say, so I preach. Maybe just helping others, comforting them ... or just being with them is sufficient, until Yahweh’s spirit speaks to us and to the other. Maybe I need to learn more about patience.

Understanding Grows
   Nevertheless, I think I understand a little more of Yahshua’s words. In Matthew 11:28-30, He says, Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
   It’s not that we have no yoke, nor is it that we have no burden. We have yoked ourselves with the love that Father Yahweh and His Anointed One, Yahshua, have offered to us. It is light, because it is not we who are carrying the weight of enlightening others. It is the work of the Set-apart Spirit, the character of Yahweh Himself. Our burden is to understand that He will make all things as they once were: fresh, pure, clean and absent of any hint of evil. It is this good news that we are “burdened” with. If we did not care about others, if we were only concerned about ourselves, we would not sometimes sit in our own ash heap, desperately attempting to discover ways to reach others with this good news.
   Those who are imbued with Yahweh’s Spirit will shake off this fleshly despair by remembering the promises given to those who honor our Heavenly Father and His Son. We have been called and blessed by Yahweh. In that sense, we are like the Messiah.
In the days of His flesh [speaking of Yahshua], He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety [His humility]. Although He was a Son, He earned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by Yahweh as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek [the Righteous King], Hebrews 5:7-10.

Love Endures All
   Yahshua came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. That is, He came to act upon, perform, carry out, implement, do, and comply with the teachings of Moses and the Prophets in order to show us what we are to do and how we are to do it: with reverence and obedience to the Father, keeping His Law and knowing, through Yahweh’s Prophetic teachings, His Plan of Salvation. It is an abomination and a direct affront to our Creator to say that His Anointed One made it possible to set aside the Father’s will and then do our own thing. Those who teach this have obviously confused the Messiah with the Accuser. It is Satan who would destroy Yahweh’s Law and institute his own. Yahshua always points to His Father as He Who Was, Who Is and Is to Come. It was His obedience to Yahweh that proved His love for Him. And, it is our active and faithful obedience to Yahweh’s Word that will prove our love for Him. Our reward is and will be to live with Father and Son in Eternity.
   I want to know the Messiah and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Yahshua the Messiah took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which Yahweh has called me heavenward in Yahshua the Messiah. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too Yahweh will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the [sacrifice] of the Messiah. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Sovereign, Yahshua the Messiah, Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body, Philippians 3:10-21.

A Model For Us
   Let me leave you with a detailed account from the book of the Acts of the Apostles that may serve as a model for our work here, in our remaining time to do His will.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy [Jealousy is the fear of losing one’s entitlement – notice the word “title” in the middle of “entitlement” – or privilege]. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of Yahweh opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin — the full assembly of the elders of Israel — and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people." At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood." Peter [whose real name is Kepa] and the other apostles replied: "We must obey Elohim rather than men! The Elohim of our fathers raised Yahshua from the dead – Whom you had killed by hanging Him on a tree. Elohim exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, which Elohim has given to those who obey Him." When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from Elohim, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against Elohim." His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Yahshua, and let them go. The apos- tles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Yahshua is the Messiah, Acts 5:16-42 NIV.

   So, here we are, descendants, if you will, of those whom Yahshua called. If our purpose or activity is of human origin, we will fail. If we remain obedient to Yahweh, then no one will be able to stop us in our endeavour to teach Yahweh’s truth. I praise Yahweh for His strength which He granted to us to endure the hardships of times past. It seems to me that He has given us a message, and that message is this: “I have divided the chaff from the wheat. You have trusted Me, and I have blessed you to continue My work.” And, like a father as another day closes, He is saying to us, “Now shoo, shoo, go do your homework and go to bed, and I’ll see you in the morning. And, don’t forget to say your prayers.”
   May we learn our lessons well and say our prayers faithfully ... and may we be woken up in the morning by our Father calling our names, lifting us up out of our beds and joyously welcoming us to a new day with the words, “Good morning, My child; today is Sabbath; and guess what I’ve got in store for you!”
   Father, may it be so, in Yahshua’s name, HalleluYah!

-Elder John Fisher

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