Spiritual Instruction for Those Called to Restore Israel
Circumcising Our Hearts:
A Call to the Lord's People to Repent
Arye Powlison (1993)
Before we can call Israel to repent and be circumcised in their hearts, we must examine ourselves to see whether we are worthy to bring that call by having done the same ourselves.
Otherwise, we are nothing more than hypocrites who "say things and do not do them." (Matt. 23:3) Their judgment is the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:51).
G-d must judge His own spiritual household before He judges those outside (I Peter 4:17). He prefers that we "judge ourselves rightly" before that time - but if not, He will judge and discipline us so that He will not have to condemn us along with the world (I Cor. 11:31-32). Nevertheless, Yeshua repeatedly warned that some sons of the Kingdom - even Yeshua's own servants - would resist G-d's discipline and persist in disobedience to the point where He will have to condemn them with the unbelievers (Matt. 8:12, 13:41-42, 22:13, 25:30, Luke 13:26-28).
This is an opportunity to judge yourself in His light. If you do it rightly and repent, He will not have to bring judgment on you for hypocrisy in calling Israel to repent. Nor will He have to condemn you along with those who refuse the circumcision of the heart. Most importantly, He will be able to use you in restoring His Covenant people, which will mean "life from the dead" for the world (Rom. 11:15).
The Meaning of a "Circumcised Heart"
Circumcision is a removal of flesh that is prone to uncleanness, soon after birth. This is symbolic for us of the removal from our hearts of that which is prone to sin, soon after the hearts are born. Your heart is born when Life comes into it. If you have not yet come alive, then you have not found my Lord, for knowing Him is to know Life as if you were only just born; born through the pains of repentance from the dark womb of the world.
Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there." It's logical that he spoke about being born naked, but why did he say, "Naked I shall return there"? Will he go back into the womb and come out again? Nicodemus (John 3) also wondered how a man could enter a second time into his mother's womb. Job hinted at a second birth, and Yeshua explained that second birth to Nicodemus as the new birth of the heart, which allows us to see the Kingdom of G-d. This is the birth into true Life, of which the first is only a shadow.
When we repent from the world, we are to come out of it naked, as Job said, bringing nothing with us. We nevertheless bring ourselves; for though we have repented, we have a heart still prone to sin. This is why circumcision is necessary. Though we have seen new life, we carry in ourselves the old, and this must be removed. The knife that removes it is the sword of the Spirit, G-d's Word.
A Jewish child does not enter the congregation of the Lord until his circumcision. In the same way, when you are spiritually born by coming to know your Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth, through repentance in faith, you cannot enter the congregation of the righteous until He has removed the flesh of your sinfulness.
Why do we need to circumcise our hearts, if the Lord has done it?
When we come to Yeshua, He circumcises our hearts as a sign of the New Covenant we have entered into with G-d, just as the house of Israel is commanded to circumcise their sons as a sign of entering into their national Covenant with G-d. Like its physical counterpart, this circumcision of the heart is a once-for-all event. Moreover, it is a free and undeserved gift, performed by G-d and not men (Deut. 30:6, Rom. 2:29, Col. 2:11).
However, there is also a "circumcision of the heart" that G-d commands His Covenant people to do to themselves, so that their ways will be right before Him (Deut. 10:16, Jer. 4:4). In the New Covenant, the parallel carries through even more strongly in the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Heavenly circumcision, His work, is followed by our cooperation with the Spirit in cutting off our old fleshly nature. This is clearly stated in every New Testament passage proclaiming our new life in Messiah. For example:
An impossible command?
But how can we possibly remove a part of ourselves - even an "old" part that we no longer want? We can't do it by conforming our behavior to a New Testament list of standards. Paul names idolatry, coveting, sensuality, enmities, jealousy, anger and envy - all sins of the heart that do not even require outward behavior to be sin. Who can free themselves from thoughts of envy? Or anger? Or coveting? Or sensuality? You will also ask with Yeshua's disciples (Matt. 19:25), "Who then can be saved?"
With G-d it is possible. He knows that in your flesh there is nothing good, that at best you are groaning for your deliverance. Your body is death, your old mind is death; life is only in the Lord Yeshua. He has forgiven us our sins through His death. "The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9), and "A broken and contrite heart G-d will not despise" (Ps. 51:17). Both of these are true in us.
What is a circumcised heart, really? And what is its opposite?
A broken and contrite heart is a heart in repentance. Repentance is always acceptable before G-d. A heart always in the state of repentance is a truly circumcised heart. It is the only kind of heart that the Lord accepts.
To harden your heart is to remove it from this state of brokenness, contrition and repentance. "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me." (Heb. 3:15) The warning was originally directed to unbelieving Israel (Ps. 95), but here it is addressed to the faithful remnant that loves Yeshua.
The choice between a repentant heart and a hardened heart is triggered by "hearing His voice", that is, by coming within earshot of G-d's Word - also known as a Sword that pierces into our very joints and marrow. It is "living and active... able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) Our heart's response to each cutting revelation (repenting in faith or hardening in unbelief) takes us in a specific spiritual direction (toward Him or away from Him). Whether we are currently in His Kingdom or currently outside, G-d responds to us according to our chosen direction.
Your Heart Revealed
The heart is full of unclean things (Mark 7:20-23). Worse, it is "more deceitful than all else" (Jer. 17:9). So who can know what lurks in their own heart? The Lord of Hosts knows it, but in His mercy He does not reveal it to us, lest we be overcome by self-hatred. Only from time to time He shows us something to humble us, to lead us into repentance.
Why did G-d allow David to see Bathsheba as he did, except to reveal the pride that had come into his heart? Was not this an act of mercy, allowing him to repent not only of the murder and adultery, but of the pride which caused them as well?
Was not Hilkiah's discovery of the book of the Law during King Josiah's reign (II Kings 22) meant to bring about a great repentance among the people? Just so, when G-d uncovers sin in us that we were not aware of, it is a blessing, for it gives us opportunity to repent.
The following principles drawn from G-d's Word will reveal sins of the heart.
Whom do you serve?
What is that treasure which you are holding behind your back? You each know that it is the service of yourself. For you have come to the Lord, not to serve Him, but to have Him serve you.
And He does serve you, and has served you since the beginning of time. But if it is only to receive that you come, you are of all men most miserable, most to be pitied. You are no longer serving G-d at all, but yourself. What reward can you expect from G-d for serving yourself? You are usurping His throne; you will only be punished.
How do you serve?
How is any service to G-d going to be identified? Who, in the Judgment, will be able to point to one deed you have done that is not self-seeking, unless he can show that you had no hope of profit or benefit from its results? It was not for nothing that your Lord and Master commanded you to serve those who could not repay you. This is the only proof in the Judgment that you were serving the Lord, and not yourself.
But if you serve Him truly, what difference does it make whether or not men or brothers recognize your contribution? This leads rather to pride. That is why you must make every effort to do your good deeds in secret. Not false secrecy, which you know or arrange will someday be discovered, but secrecy that cannot be discovered even by those who seek it. This is how G-d your Father does His good. He has hidden it in such a way that the greatest scientists do not even know that He exists, nor can they prove it by their discoveries.
Where is your investment?
Can you possibly take to heaven the wealth G-d has blessed you with on earth? Would you even want to? It will be utterly despised by those who are given the right to look on His Face. What better proof of your faith is there than this, that you exchanged your glory in this world for the glory of the next?
Those who seek G-d seek the godly Jerusalem, the city in which righteousness dwells. But if you seek that city, you are no longer at home in the world; you are a vagabond and a wanderer here. Why then do you seek to make friends of this world? Do you fear that your Father and Master will reject you, leaving you no other place to go?
What do you have in this world, anyway? A mirage that today is here and tomorrow is gone. What wise investor buys a treasure that will turn to dust? And even if it were to last forever, how could you keep possession of it after you leave? You see, you have nothing, absolutely nothing to lose. A hundred years from now, it will all be gone as far as you are concerned. Any betting man runs from a sure loss to even the smallest chance of a win. Yet you cling to the world as if you thought that Heaven's dice were all loaded against you. As your faith is, so it will be for you.
How do you expect your reward to come?
If you wish to be rewarded by G-d, you must invest in His Kingdom. But He is not a fool. You cannot serve Him so as to have your cake and eat it too. You will eat it, and it will be gone. If you demand payment for all that you do, what will there be left for G-d to pay you for? You have done nothing more than the grossest of sinners, and you will get no further reward.
The trials of a righteous man are none other than the goodness of G-d, giving him ample opportunity to invest in a sure thing. But if he rebels against the trials, how can he invest? If you begrudge your services to those who take advantage of you, how can your Father reward you? Or do you so distrust the goodness of G-d that you think that He will not reward the smallest kindness you do for His sake? But if you do it in a way to be seen by men, you already have the reward you were seeking. If you are rewarded for it here, how can you be rewarded there?
If G-d gives you all your reward here, you are like the prodigal son. He wants to give you much better, but you wish to spend it on this life. And even those who do not spend it here are like his older brother, who did not understand that his father's wealth was his also.
Do you envy the Prodigal Son?
We look longingly at those who have enjoyed this life as we imagine we would like to do, while we serve G-d in the misery of deprived obscurity. This attitude is nothing less than unbelief, described by the prophet Malachi (3:14): "It is vain to serve G-d, and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of Hosts?"
And if a sinner truly repents, do you count him the richer for having been able to lead a life of sin first? Why did he leave that life, except to escape the foretaste of hell he experienced in living without G-d's presence? And why are you living your life for the Lord, except to one day enjoy His presence? Your jealousy of the sinner is misplaced. What is there to be jealous of? Worldly pleasures that do not last and do not deliver what they promised. False honor given by evil men, to those who do not deserve it. If you love the truth, you will find no pleasure in these things. And yet, as the elder son, when we have not had them, we are attracted by the glitter of this fool's gold.
Is your heart divided?
How can you serve G-d when your eye is split-focused? One eye is fixed on Him, the other on the world. A man whose eyes are not coordinated very soon ceases to see through his weaker eye. You too will soon cease to serve two masters. Is your stronger eye on G-d or on the world? As long as you see both, you will stumble. When your strong eye takes over, it will be evident which world you are seeking.
Can it be that you really haven't seen how empty the so-called pleasures of this life are? You gaze at them and admire them every day - if not in reality, then in your imagination, in the books you read, the movies you watch, the daydreams you entertain. Your heart is occupied with the things you love.
Who are you fooling but yourself? You put on a show of faithfulness, but if you could have your heart's desire you would be out "playing around". Is G-d fooled by appearances? You are sinning in your heart, while you are managing to keep your physical body clean. Tell me this, you double-minded saint: Which part of you will you take with you to Judgment? Maybe G-d will say, "His/her body was clean, so resurrect it and put it in this showcase over here, but the mind was unfaithful and perverted, so we will assign that to hell."
If the mind is clean, will not the most diseased and filthy body be raised in health and purity to accompany it? And if the heart is dirty and diseased, will not its body be given over to punishment? If that body had been richly dressed and perfumed and beautiful, will it make any difference?
Even if the heart forces the body to obey, keeping the Lord's commands to the letter, He takes no more pleasure in that person than a rich man takes in a son who only serves him waiting for him to die, so that he can have the inheritance. There is no love. There can be no reward. Those who serve like this think that G-d is a man, who looks (or cares) only for the outward technical compliance. He is a fool who thinks this way, but G-d is not fooled.
If you have not changed your heart, you have done nothing. Any changes to your behavior have been only to try to hide your disease, to cover the filth underneath. But it still festers there. It is from there that you are made unclean; it is from your heart that your sin comes. It is circumcision of the heart that G-d seeks. It is the loving obedience from the spirit that pleases Him, not the calculated obedience of a hypocrite.
Do you desire the approval of men?
Paul wrote that the truly circumcised heart receives praise "not from men, but from G-d." (Rom. 2:29) Paul himself discovered that in order be an obedient bond-slave of Messiah, he had to seek G-d's favor and forget about pleasing men (Gal. 1:10). Yeshua warned us that widespread approval by men is a spiritual danger sign (Luke 6:26). He Himself suffered dishonor by men in order to honor His Father and be glorified by Him (John 8:49-54). Yet you still think you can do better than either Yeshua or Paul, and receive praise from both men and G-d.
Before long, just as the Scriptures warn, you find that you must choose between G-d's approval and men's. How far will you go to protect your earthly reputation?
Are you willing to suffer slander and ostracism from men (including worldly believers) for doing what is right, or do you "go with the flow"? Do you adjust the modes and direction of your service to G-d according to the amount of financial or community support you can expect? You leaders: When you are convinced that G-d has given you an important teaching or task, do you "soften" parts that seem to make your congregation or your ministry supporters uncomfortable? You prophets: Have you been editing the words that G-d gives you to speak, for fear of offending the hearers and/or losing your credibility with them? You followers: How quick are you to drop convictions gained from the Scriptures by the Spirit, because your leaders express disapproval?
How are any of you different from the Jewish rulers of Yeshua's day? Many of them actually believed in Him but were unwilling to forfeit the honor of their colleagues, and their positions in the community, by confessing Him publicly (John 12:42-43). Instead, they forfeited the honor of Yeshua personally naming them before His Father (Matt. 10:32). The Pharisees who rejected Yeshua were unable to even believe, because of their desire for one another's honor rather than G-d's honor (John 5:44).
Your fear of man will not allow you to stop at "moderating" your public obedience to G-d. As you seek to please men, you will please them; as human approval of you increases (along with the imagined cost of losing it), your desire to keep it will also increase; as you become accustomed to paying the cost (and reaping the rewards) of keeping it, your fear of G-d will wane until it can no longer stir your conscience and call you to repent. You will eventually deny the Lord, if the price is right, and in turn be denied by Him (Matt. 10:33).
What are you willing to do for money?
Are you willing to sin in order not to lose your job? Are you willing to work in a job that makes you sin or causes others to sin? Are the products you produce being sold by using sexual insinuations or appeals to vanity? Are you any better than a prostitute? Are you beating your competitor by slandering his product? Do you play tricks on him or cause him problems to put him at a disadvantage? Do you do your best only when someone will notice, especially those who manage your work?
Is your fleshly interest easily aroused?
When you come across something indecent in a magazine or on television, do you continue to look? Do you ever scoff at those who are trying hard not to sin? Are you any better than an unfaithful husband, or a stalker? Are you buying the services of those who prostitute themselves for money? Does an appeal to your vanity make you more likely to buy? Does a sales pitch over a nice meal soften you up?
Do you dwell on your brother's shortcomings?
Why did Yeshua command you not to be angry with your brother? When you get angry at him, are you not being self-righteous? "I would never do what he did!" you say. Who is going to believe you? In G-d's eyes you are as bad as he is, for you sin in similar ways against Him. Your anger is hypocritical. So is your unforgiveness toward those in need of forgiveness. Does He not forgive you daily? You are no better than they - the difference may be that you have learned to hide and disguise your sin, while they have not. Are they not being more honest?
Yeshua said that we must accept a brother's repentance not seven times, but seventy-times-seven. This shows that G-d continually forgives us as we repent; and therefore we must also continually forgive our brother. Unforgiveness is a hardening of the heart, as well as stinginess toward your unfortunate brother. There is no such thing as a deserving beggar - but we are all beggars before G-d. Do you wish Him to respond to you in the same way you respond to your brother? You will be like the servant in Yeshua's parable (Matt. 18:21-35).
Are you proud of who you are?
What sort of person are you, really? Have you stopped to consider what has made you the person you are? Do you know what you would do in different circumstances?
If you had been born in India to paupers, would you be a Christian today, or a Hindu street beggar? If you had been born a Moslem, would you risk your life and your family to follow Yeshua? Were it not for your upbringing, could you have become a criminal of the sort that you most despise, or perhaps a terrorist? If you had been born to drug-addicted parents, would you have had any chance for a respectable life? Supposing you had been born to an orthodox Jewish family and were taught that "Jesus" means nothing but apostasy, persecution and bloodshed for your people - are you confident that you wouldn't curse Him and all Jews who embrace Him? What separates you from these people, except the 'accident' of G-d's choice for you? So why are you proud when comparing yourself to them?
Do you think you have proven your worth as G-d's servant because of the job, house or car you've been able to obtain - things that this world values? Or do you think that your education gives you the right to consider yourself an asset for His Kingdom? But there are a million in China and India with an intellect like yours, who have not been able to finish high school. Does the respect of other people make you exceptional? Neither Yeshua nor the prophets had that. Are you then more successful in G-d's sight than they were?
In short, there is nothing you have that others do not also have. There is nothing you have that has not come to you by the circumstances of your birth and life, which are (and have always been) in G-d's hands. And there are no circumstances to which you could not rise, or fall, if G-d should choose to rearrange the moral parameters in your life. He can expose your pride and cause you to be trapped in such a way as to utterly destroy you; or He can pour out on you the grace of His Spirit in such a way as to make you a wonder of this world.
If this is the reality, how can you take any pride in who you are - or even who you are in Him?
Do you trust in your own righteousness?
"Never," you will say. "I know that I am saved by grace, and not by my works." But what about after being saved by grace? Do you not secretly believe, you who are righteous, that your general obedience since coming to faith will induce G-d to exempt you from judgment for an occasional "lapse" of disobedience?
Did David, described by G-d as "a man after My heart" (Acts 13:22), escape His judgment in the matter of Bathsheba? Did Moses, whom G-d testified as "faithful in all My household" (Num. 12:7), escape His judgment at the waters of Meriba? Or perhaps you will argue that those people were "under the Law", whereas you are "under grace". Then what of Ananias and Sapphira, who sat under the apostles' teaching in Jerusalem when "abundant grace was on them all" (Acts 4:33), and who were struck down by G-d for nothing more serious than lying about the selling price of their property?
Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the fleshly scorecard of your performance record? (Gal. 3:3) You have fallen from grace. Nothing you can do for Him, and nothing you have done in the past for Him, can shield you if G-d should decide to allow you to follow your own heart's desire, and just once fall into a sin that requires His judgment. Only His grace can shield you.
Are you blinded by your righteousness?
Not only is it nearly impossible for a man rich in this world's goods to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is just as nearly impossible for a man rich in spiritual goods to enter the Kingdom. He judges that his spiritual accomplishments are more solid grounds for pride than earthly possessions. He does not remember that everything he has was a gift to him from the Lord of Hosts. He does not remember that he was pulled helpless out of the muck. He forgets that even the faith that has saved him was given to him by G-d. For this reason, the "righteous" of this world have a more difficult time in repentance than the wicked.
The wicked person can come more easily to the knowledge of his sin. This is why the tax collector in the Temple (Luke 18:9-14) was more acceptable to G-d than the dedicated Pharisee. The Pharisee's few outward deeds of righteousness had blinded him to the condition of his heart, at the very moment that he was congratulating himself on his spiritual insight. Yeshua said that if such people would only admit to their blindness, their sin could be instantly removed; "but since you say, 'We can see,' your sin remains." (John 9:41)
G-d is constantly trying to bring us to repentance, whether we are righteous or wicked. But in G-d's eyes of purity, we are all wicked. "There is none righteous - no, not one. There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for G-d. All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, not even one." (Rom. 3:10-12, Ps. 14:1-3, Ps. 53:1-3) G-d gives no one room for boasting or pride.
How well do you serve Him - and why?
Serving the Lord with all your heart is the very least that He deserves. Yet in your service your heart is not focused solely on Him - you are anticipating the promised recognition for your performance. You want to obey Him so that He will be indebted to you, so that He will have to say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." But He has taught you to say, "We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done."
You don't really see yourself as an unworthy slave, because you don't really see the service He is requiring of you. Can you go beyond any of the commands He has given us? Do you even begin to do all His commands as He described them to us (Matt. 5-6)?
If someone asks you a favor, do you do it for him? If someone demands something unjustly, do you give him twice as much? If someone asks for a loan, do you give it to him without hoping for its return? Do you have any expectation of being more than a pauper in this world if you do these things? How can you lay up treasure in this world, except by being disobedient to the Master whose name you use as a hedge against the next world? You wish, as Lot did, to have the best of both worlds. You will end up as he did, with the best of neither. You are double-minded and unstable, a slave falling far short of the service that is rightly due your Master.
What do you do in the midst of His abundance?
You pray for hours that the Lord will bless you and supply your desires, but when you get them you will not share them with others. You have become fat. And how much time do you spend praying that He satisfy the hungry of this world? As long as you yourself are not hungry, do you even think of them? For you, godliness has become a means of gain. Your god is your stomach and your bank account.
What G-d said of Israel will come upon you: "So He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls." (Ps. 106:15) You have become rich and wealthy and have need of nothing. Yet you are wretched and poor and blind and naked. You are also lukewarm. The message of Yeshua to saints in your condition is: "Be zealous and repent," before He spits you out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15-19).
What do you do in the midst of His testing?
You will certainly not be content with just food and clothing (I Tim. 6:8). Nor will you know the secrets of going hungry and suffering need (Phil. 4:12). In what way are you better than Israel whom G-d destroyed in the wilderness? If you go three days without water (Exod. 15:22-24), do you refrain from complaining? If you eat the same food every day for years on end (Num. 11:4-6), are you content?
Do you submit to your anointed leaders (Num. 12) without murmuring? Do you obey when they tell you to go out to battle (Num. 13-14), or when they tell you not to go? Are you jealous (Num. 16) of their leadership and authority? Do you not know that they will have to bear a stricter judgment? Or did G-d pass to you their mantle of leadership? Even if He did, you have the example of David to follow in his relationship with King Saul.
He Awaits Your Repentance
How can you escape the anger of the Lord? Only by His mercy. But the anger will certainly come. How will you stand before Him in judgment? His grace is extended to you. Take it. Humbly. And repent. Cast your silver and gold to the moles and the bats. Stop regarding man, who is a mere breath. Should you not rather regard G-d, who holds your life, and all life, in His hands?
What do you hope to gain by delaying your repentance? Do you wish to be like those "fortunate" few who live lives of pleasure and repent at the end? The ability to repent will be taken away from you, as will your ability to hear and recognize His voice. G-d will send you a strong delusion instead (II Thess. 2:11-12).
Now is the day, today is G-d's appointed time for your repentance. Do not delay, for the Judgment comes. It will take you as surely as it will take everyone else who does not listen to His voice. How can you escape the wrath of G-d for the things you do? Only His Son can save you.
Only two answers are possible from the Lord's people.
Two groups of people heard G-d's voice through His Spirit-filled servants in the days of the apostles. Both groups were "pierced to the heart" (Acts 3:37, Acts 7:54), but their responses to that piercing were extremely different. As then, so now there are two possible responses to the cutting of G-d's word: You will repent with a broken and circumcised heart. Or you will harden your heart, cover your ears and go on as you are.
For you who are about to cover your ears and go on:
Your response to this "call to repent" might be anything from indignant anger to callous indifference. You are even now reminding yourself of your spiritual gifts, your thriving ministry, or your community's approval, which will vouch for your good standing with G-d. Or, you are telling yourself that all this is just one man's view of spiritual reality, which you can easily thrust aside as a "different opinion" that doesn't require a response.
Yet the Word of G-d is telling you, your condemnation is already ordained from on high, from ancient times. You were prophesied about by those who came before you. Yeshua said of you, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, did we not do many miracles in Your name, did not You preach in our streets? ....And when did we see You and not attend to Your needs?'" You will be judged with the judgment of those who were called to the wedding and did not respond. You have gone off to build your house, to marry your wife, to plow your fields. But the wedding feast of your King's only Son you have been ignoring.
Repent, before it is too late. Cover yourselves with the sackcloth and ashes of loving deeds and mercy. You cannot just stop and say, "Oh, I am a terrible person - G-d, forgive me!" and then go on about your daily affairs. You are then like the person who, having seen himself in the mirror, immediately forgets what he looked like (James 1:22-24).
Have you really seen yourselves? Yes, I have shown you, but you didn't want to see. You wished to be left alone, to go on serving yourselves. The just will scoff at you in that day, just as you scoff at the plight of those who are needy in heart and body.
For you who are ready to repent:
I have instructions. It is not anything new, for it has all been said before. I am merely trying, by G-d's grace, to remind you from where you have fallen. The church indeed has fallen, even as Paul said it would. Savage wolves have ravaged her. The unbelief of ungodly men has taken its toll on those who are weak. Offenses have come, just as they had to come; but those who offended have paid the price. There are many who must yet come.
And yet you say, "Oh, Lord Yeshua, how long?" Until everything has been fulfilled that the prophets spoke of and warned. Until everything, both the blessings and the curses, have come upon Israel and the church. Until all have fallen away, and then been restored, and fallen away again. Why are you afraid that G-d will be "late" in fulfilling His will? Only because you are not ready to lose everything while waiting for Him. How will you learn not to trust in yourselves? Only when you come to see who you really are - and who He really is.
Who will give his life for the Body of the Lord? Only One, and others through Him. Who will restore Israel? Only One, and others through Him.
The devil will come to test you, and some of you will fall, but you will be helped a little. You must not be shaken by your falls, but repent immediately and start again. You must not let a previous failure slacken (rather it should strengthen) your resolve to persevere. You must not let the view that other men have of you change your perspective or your course.
Hear What the Lord Says:
"You will be degraded in their eyes, but exalted in Mine. You will be the offscouring of the earth. But just as precious jewels are often hidden in ordinary dirt, so you are My precious jewels in this world.
"Do not be afraid of those who can destroy only your body. That is nothing. You will be restored with a more glorious one in the judgment of the righteous ones. Again I say, as I have said before, do not be afraid of them. They are straw men sent to prove your faith. You must be faithful to the end. It is for your blessing that I offer you this opportunity to give yourselves to Me.
"Where are the world's great and glorious men of the past? Are they not all dust? Are they not suffering in hell at this moment? What is your life, that you would save it for yourselves? Are you not afraid to follow in their footsteps?
"What can you bring to the world without Me? What can you do by staying in it, that I, the Lord, cannot do a thousand times better when I desire to do so? And how do you know but that you in your death could not accomplish twice as much as in your whole life to that point? Did not the martyrs do the same? You must die a death eventually. No prophet needs to tell you that. Why not make it a death worth dying, to bring glory to your God? He will certainly reward you if you do it in love for Him.
"Love. Love is the thing you lack. You have grown cold for lack of love. I am the Source of love. Come to Me, and seek it in Me. You will find it nowhere else.
"You must pay all you have for this field; it will not come cheaply. The price is the same for everyone. It was not just to the rich ruler that I said to sell all. You must sell Me your all. You must not reserve anything for yourselves. If you do, you are like Achan (Joshua 7), who took some of the devoted things and hid them in his tent. You will be removed from the congregation of the Lord, just as you removed something from that which belongs to Him.
"The difference between the poor and the rich (but everyone is poor before G-d) is that the poor man readily gives up the little he has; but the rich man is afraid to lose what he thinks he has, because he believes in it more than he believes in G-d. Idolatry is not dead, it has merely taken the form of bank accounts and possessions. But these will all be burned up with intense heat. Why are you trying to save such things?
"You are afraid of suffering. I suffered; why shouldn't you? Do you love Me? Then don't mind enduring what I have endured for you. You have no other calling. You must become like Me.
"Where are you all going? What in this life can compare to a single moment with Me in glory? And yet you do not believe Me, and you have fled from the tempter the way My disciples fled from Me in My hour of trial. Where would I leave you? What can I do to assure you of My love? Who are you, that I should abandon you in your hour of need? Yet you have abandoned Me in Mine!
"You say, 'How have we abandoned You in Your hour of need?' By ignoring the poor who are clamoring to you for help. By feeding the hungry with the bread of affliction. Why not invite them into your homes, like I commanded you to do long ago? No, you are selfish and judgmental. You have 'earned' your meals, and they should earn theirs. So it will be done to you. In the Supper of the Lamb, you will be given what you have earned.
"Have I not given you My own clothing? The same Kingdom given to Me by My Father? The same eternal glory? The same body of glory? The same standing? Why then is your eye narrow toward your brother with the worthless things of this world?
"I am trying to shame you; and you ought to be ashamed, but most of you are not. You don't really believe Me, do you? You are just like those who saw My miracles, and later went and did as they liked. You are looking for a king who would serve your interests, and you will get one who only serves himself. I am here to truly serve your interests, and I am ignored by those who should be serving. How can you escape the damnation of the unjust and sinners?"
What does your Lord expect of you now?
The answer is simple, but not easy. He expects you to hear His voice, and then serve Him in whatever He asks of you - anything, at any time, in loving trust.
Anything, at any time, in loving trust. No "red lines" or "reserved" areas. He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. No private inventory to see if you can "afford" what He asks - if you truly can't, He will make His limitless provisions accessible to you. No refusals on the grounds that His command is too dangerous, too exhausting, too sudden, or too weird. Consider what He asked of His prophets and apostles.
What is it that He is asking of you right now? If you are like Abraham, you will rise early in the morning to obey His voice, and to sacrifice to Him your dearest treasure.
But remember that you are His servant. This means that while you make everything available to Him, you do not decide what to sacrifice or when to serve. Neither personal guilt on the one hand, nor personal zeal on the other, are to govern your response. Nor are other people to dictate to you how and what to give. You are His to send as He chooses, and your resources are His to use as He sees fit. Like Elijah and Elisha, you may be sent by your Lord to sustain only one widow or heal only one leper, bypassing many others in obvious need. And the one He does send you to serve may perplex onlookers, and even provoke hostility from those with fleshly expectations (Luke 4:25-28). You are to disregard it; you are accountable to none but your Master.
The Calling to Restore Israel
When you have learned to hear His voice, to rise up early and obey, to give whatever He asks of you in loving abandon, and to regard no man's opinion of you for doing so... then your circumcised heart will be a fit vessel in His hands to further His restoration of Israel.
Then your service to them will be His own, with the same Light and Life-giving power that marks His every work. Then, as a purified Levite bearing His holy vessels, you will call His Covenant people into repentance:
"Remember, 0 Jacob, the Rock from which you were carved. You who seek G-d, who desire righteousness; you who fear the Lord and talk to each other about His Word to you: Return to the Lord with a whole heart, and do not serve Him only for the sake of those whom you revere on earth.
"Your G-d says that your warfare has ended - turn to Him and have the veil taken away. Cities of Judah, behold your G-d! The stone that your builders rejected is the Cornerstone of His holy dwelling place. To the Law and the Testimony, and there you will see Him! Arise and shine, for the Glory of G-d has risen upon you - your Salvation has come and His reward is with Him...."
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