Witnesses for Yeshua through suffering for righteousness, 1 Peter 3:13-22
Yeshua says that His disciples are His witnesses in the world, and that as He was in the world, so are we to be. (1 John 2:6; Phil. 1:27-30) A disciple is not above His teacher. The Father loved His only-begotten Son, and Jesus suffered and died in obedience to His love for and trust in God His Father.
The Apostle Peter did not want to accept that the Messiah would suffer and be rejected to the extent that He was. And Peter did not want to suffer for being a disciple of Yeshua… until he learned that this is the way of YHVH in this world to fulfill all righteousness, in order to save those persons who repent and believe, and to condemn those who will not.
The Apostle Paul exhorts all believers everywhere to pray for those in leadership and authority in the world (and in the churches), so that we might have a quiet and peaceable life. (1 Tim. 2:1-6) The Lord Jesus teaches, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you!” (Matt. 5:10-12)
Those who suffer with Messiah will reign with Yeshua in His Kingdom.
(Rev. 20:4-6; 2 Tim. 2:12) We are called to bless those who persecute us, not to return evil for evil. (1 Peter 3:9; Matt. 5:44-45; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59-60) We will be vindicated by God, just as Jesus was, and is! (Isa. 53:10-12; Phil. 2:8-11) This theme of suffering before entering into glory runs throughout the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27)
We are not yet in the future fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, when all will be good and, ultimately, perfect. In this present evil world, the righteous believers in God through faith in Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ can expect unjust suffering, just as Yeshua did…and as Paul did (after he himself, as Saul, caused unjust suffering to the believers!). This is the will of God as the Righteous Judge and Savior. We are witnesses to the truth of Messiah being Jesus, and of the Kingdom of God, in which Yeshua/Jesus is the King. And so Peter writes to us in the portion of his epistle that we will look at now. (1 Peter 3:13-22)
v 9-12 Peter wrote that we are to live righteously in this world at every level of our lives, in order to be a blessing, and to inherit a blessing
v 13 And, he writes: who will harm us if we are zealous for what is good?
–Normally, no one. We usually need not fear if we are doing what is good and right.
–Laws and cultural norms protect people who are “good”, and punish those who are “bad”. (e.g., not driving on Yom Kippur is a cultural norm in Israel, not a written law; speed limits are laws). Keeping laws and customs generally protect you and have approval; breaking them does not, at least by those who are followers of what is good.
–Paul writes that we are all to submit to the governing authorities, because they are of God. Not to submit to them, to recognize them, is to act against God. If we choose, in a certain circumstance to refuse to abide by the law, or the custom, we must do so humbly acknowledging their authority to penalize or to punish us. (Rom. 13:1-5)
v 14-17 But… even if we suffer for righteousness’ sake, we are blessed, and should not be troubled or afraid.
–Keep on doing good, and be prepared to tell the opposers why we have such a hope that we would rather suffer now for being believers and living holy lives, rather than joining ourselves to those who do not fear or know or love the true God and Savior. If your employer or commander or husband or wife asks you to sin, e.g., to lie or cheat or steal, do not do so; but maybe there is a way to comply without sinning. We are to have a humble spirit and the fear of God. Let the Holy Spirit work to make our false accusers be ashamed of our good behavior. Our conscience is clear: we know who we believe in, and to whom we have committed our souls for salvation in the day of judgment.
This is a principle in our lives as disciples of Yeshua: in the world we will have tribulation, and we overcome the world by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, and by loving Jesus more than fearing pain and death for the sake of believing and following Him.
Our supreme example for this is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself – God who took on flesh and blood – who is our Redeemer and Savior from sin and our separation from God. The triune YHVH God decide from before time began that He would come to become the slaughtered and bloodied sacrifice for the sin of the world, and for the sins of every human being. He knew that the innumerable animal sacrifices which He commanded Israel to offer for their sins would not suffice, would not truly affect their conscience or produce righteousness. Yeshua was born for that purpose, and was hated without a cause and treated shamefully. This is the love and the wisdom and the righteousness of God!
v 18 “For Messiah also suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh (i.e., He died physically), but made alive by the Spirit (i.e., He rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit).”
–It is Jesus who brings us to God – to God the Father. There are not “many ways to God” – at least not to the one, true, living God. Jesus says that no one comes to the Father but by Him. We do not come into the presence of God on our own merits, but only through our faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for our sins, and in His resurrection, when He opened up the way for all who accept His sacrifice on their behalf to come to God, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.
–Our Lord and Savior suffered as if He were a sinner and a transgressor of God’s Torah; but, no! He alone was the perfectly obedient Son of God and Son of Man. It is written that even though He was a son, He suffered to learn obedience. He learned as a flesh-and-blood human being to put His complete trust and hope in God His Father.
This is our lesson, as well: we are to learn to obey the commandments even through suffering unrighteously, in order to show that Jesus Christ is our Lord, that we are HIS disciples; and in being so, that we are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. Our hope and trust in God is based on His promise of eternal life to those who love Him; and Jesus says that if we love Him, then we will obey Him. A proof is in the illogical suffering for “being good” in the face of evil! May we believe God for His sufficient grace in such trials, even as Paul and Peter could testify.
v 19-20 “by whom (the Holy Spirit) also He went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water.” (Eph. 4:7-10; Jude 6)
–Notice here that Peter believed that the Flood and Noah were real historic facts in human history, and the Holy Spirit has inspired him to use them as examples for our instruction.
–Peter is also encouraging us that believing and obeying God brings salvation, even if a large majority do not agree and ridicule the minority who do.
–Yeshua fulfilled the Word of God in all that He was and did, and I believe that in the ‘strange’ passage here, we can also see the fulfillment of what the Law (Torah) could hint at, but not accomplish. On the Day of Atonements, the sacrifice of atonement allowing God to forgive and be reconciled with His people was accomplished by two goats: one sacrificed wholly unto YHVH God; the other sent away alive to Azazel, to an uninhabitable place outside the camp, carrying away all the sins of all the people and of all that made up their civil and religious life. (Lev. 16) We know that Yeshua fulfilled this substitutionary atoning sacrifice by Himself: in the Garden of Gethsemane to the Father, when He submitted wholly to His Father’s will, sweating drops of blood, and on the cross where He became sin for us, and suffered the wrath of God in our place. (Luke 22:39-44; Matt. 27:45-46; 2 Cor. 5:20-21) In Yeshua’s burial, it is the putting away of all our sins – with their guilt and defilement — to an uninhabitable place, and out of God’s sight, as it were. The sins of the people have been atoned for, and God can dwell with all who accept that sacrifice and shed blood for their own sins, understanding that Jesus did not sin.
While in Sheol/Hades/the underworld (not the ultimate Hell), by the Spirit (Yeshua’s body was in the grave), Yeshua proclaimed (not ‘preached’, since there is not “evangelism” to those who have already died, or to the angelic beings at any time) to the spirits in prison His victory by His death on the cross over sin and the devil, and that by that He has accomplished salvation for sinners, and God is reconciled to man – both to His chosen people and to all others. (Whenever dead people in Sheol are spoken of, they are referred to as souls, not spirits; e.g., Rev. 6:9-11) All of those spirit beings who were disobedient and had participated in Satan’s rebellion, and those who had mixed with the daughters of men in the generations of Noah, now knew that the Son of God was supreme, and was also their Judge. They had made a huge mistake to believe Lucifer’s (who became the Devil) complaints and accusations against His and their very own Creator!
Just as Noah had been vindicated by God through his faith and obedience, and was saved through the waters of the flood by being in the ark which God had commanded him to construct, so Jesus was vindicated by God through His obedience to being crucified to death on the cross for the sins of everyone else – the Just for the unjust. (Phil. 2:5-11)
And God will vindicate us, too, if we are willing to suffer – if it be God’s will — for believing in and obeying Jesus in a world opposed to Him, and by those – even if within our own family, or circle of friends, or our church – who cause us to suffer for His sake. You remember in Yeshua’s first parable about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, the one about the sower and the seed, the second type of person received the Word of God and believed it immediately with joy; but when trouble came because of his faith, he did not endure, because of having no root, and stumbled immediately. (Matt. 13:5-6, 20-21) We need to grow deep in the truth of who our God and Savior is, that we can do His will and stand in the day of evil! And we need to help and support each other in brotherly love.
v 21-22 “There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer/pledge of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19-23)
–Peter is not telling us here that baptism saves us; in fact he is saying that the waters of baptism themselves are something of the flesh and not spiritual. (John 1:26-34) But what he is emphasizing is that being baptized is a declaration in the spirit of our loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ, and this in a world under the strong influence of the arch-enemy, the devil, and his lies. That is what Noah and his family did: they obeyed God with faith, and He saved them through the waters of the flood which destroyed the world then. This is what Israel did on the Passover in Egypt: they were saved from God’s wrath against the first-born by believing and obeying Him to slaughter a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts; but then they needed to also believe and obey when God told Moses and them to cross over the Reed Sea on dry ground, which separated them from the Egyptian pursuers – drowned by those same waters — and from the life they had lived in Egypt.
Noah came out to a changed world from what he knew before entering the ark; the Israelis crossed over to freedom, leaving Egypt and hard bondage behind them. Believers in Jesus are told to be baptized/immersed in water, as an answer of a good conscience that we have chosen of our own free will to become identified with Jesus, who is despised and rejected by His own people and by the world that He created and made. We proclaim that we belong to Jesus! It is an act of spiritual warfare, and we declare through the waters of our baptism that we are willing to suffer rejection in our own society and culture by being baptized in water in His name. Our sins were buried with Messiah. Jesus died and rose from the dead. He has all authority over all those who are living and dead, over all those who believe or do not believe. All are subject to Him. He is Lord of all, and the Judge of all. He was vindicated by His resurrection, and we, through baptism in water, identify with Him by faith in His death, burial, and resurrection. After becoming a believer, I spoke with a rabbi at my mother’s request. I asked him if he still thought that I was a Jew, since my mother didn’t. He said, “Yes, unless you have been baptized”. It is not the rabbis who determine and define our identity, but God; and my conscience is clear. I believed, and I obeyed my Lord and my God.
Again, baptism as a believer is the believer taking responsibility for his own faith in humble subjection and obedience to the Lord. It is not passively accepting what our parents might have done for any of you as infants, or expected of you as “Christian” teenagers, but actively obeying the Lord of our own free will. Nor can we say, as believers, that we already have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, so we don’t need to baptized in water. This is not the testimony of Scripture, and all of the baptisms that we read about in Acts and onward were after Yeshua was already seated at the right hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit had already been given to believers. We have changed our allegiance to the true God and King; we are not giving ourselves an excuse by saying that my parents baptized me as a baby, so I never got baptized because of my own faith.
Circumcision in Israel is a sign of YHVH’s covenant with the Jewish people, and parents are expected to exercise their faith and identification with the Chosen People by circumcising their infant sons. Circumcision does not save any Jewish person, yet under the Law refusal to circumcise a son cut them off from the covenant people; it, too, is a covenant act which consecrated the people to YHVH; but each Israeli and Jewish person must come to his own personal faith in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob through believing in the promised Messiah and Savior, Yeshua, the Son of God… and be baptized in His name.
It is an act that publicly proclaims our faith, which saves us, and the grace of God will help us overcome suffering, to honor His Son for those fulfilling this righteous act of obedience to the faith. Those who refuse to be baptized as believers will need to give an answer to God. (Circumcision today can also be a proclamation in the spirit for Jews belonging to the God of Israel, as more countries seek to ban circumcision of anyone under the age of 18, thus making void God’s commandment to His chosen people.)
So to close, Peter learned what it is to suffer as a disciple of Yeshua, and He was willing to suffer even more in His love for Him (being crucified upside down, according to tradition). Have you/we believed that Jesus took my/your/our sins and put them away forever, so that we can live in the presence of the Holy God? Have you subjected to Him and obeyed Him by being baptized as a believer, regardless of the danger it might put you in among your own people and family and culture? (In Israel and the wider Middle East, also Muslims who come to faith in Yeshua face such danger.) Are we prepared to confess our faith in Yeshua’s/Jesus’ name, even if it makes us a target for some measure of persecution? I know that growing up as a Jew among mostly Gentile American Christians, it was not always comfortable to be known as a Jew – and we did not understand why we suffered from them — but that is who/what I am. In Israel, it is not always comfortable for people to know that I am a believer in Yeshua/Jesus, but that is who/what I am. And Peter is telling us why we will suffer as a Christian. “So let us go forth to [Yeshua/Jesus], outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come”. (Heb. 13:13-14)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, June 16, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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A Father’s Role – Chapter One
The writer is describing a young child who is being taught specifically by his father even though it refers to the mother as the boy being her pride and joy. The implication is that the father has the dominant position of training up his son. He is taking the needed time to teach him life lessons, inserting them deep into his inner being.
In this picture, we see a clear one on one conversation taking place and a depth as the two relate one to the other. It is not a couple of stolen moments in between video games or accompanied by background music or television. This is intentional quality time with the goal of expressing how to live successfully. In today’s world, it is called the Family Altar or Family Devotions, and, it is during this time that the father warns his son to internalize his words with all seriousness, because they are the golden nuggets that will work to grant him sure success.
Chapter 4 goes on to say that, “nothing you possess can be compared to wisdom and understanding” and to deviate even an inch from those two attributes is forbidden, because they are the needed elements to guard your life and even give you a moral compass (wisdom keeps her eye on you.)
This particular father further admonishes his son to embrace wisdom and understanding in a way that doesn’t let go, because it’s those things that will make his life glorious and even add years to it.
Perhaps the most telling advice of the father is found in verse 23 where he says “Keep vigilant, watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” This father knows that his son will need to check his heart often and well, because that is the place where we are so easily lured and tricked. It is from that place that good or evil is birthed, nurtured and matured. If this boy, especially at a tender age, can understand the nature of the heart and its proclivity to be deceived, he is on his way to skillful understand of how to make the right choices. His eyes will be straight ahead, and he will be able to ignore all the distractions which would pull at his heart and urge him to take the most pleasurable path but one which can result in swift destruction. In the end, he is told to “leave evil in the dust.”
I am especially taken by the role of the father in this scripture, because society has usually tasked the mother with teaching the child and being the more hands-on parent who gives guidance and instruction, but Proverbs 4:3 actually places that role on the father and suggests that he is to be the one who imparts the valuable life lessons, imploring his son to listen well to all that is being said. In fact, the father is said to drill him, and the child is expected to commit these truths to memory.
The scripture does not go into specifics about when all this is supposed to take place, but there is a sense that it happens daily and is a regular part of the father/son interaction as the child grows to maturity, so there is an assumption that this is referring to the family devotional time.
What is equally interesting is the fact that the mother is only referred to as the one who is delighted by her child, being her pride and joy. Could it be simply due to the fact that this special father/son (and others in the family) instructional time is already paying off, causing the mother to enjoy the fruit of an obedient, disciplined and well-trained child?
In truth, I don’t think there is anything more attractive to a mother and a wife than seeing her husband taking time with their child, guiding and instructing him on how to live well. It is clearly a sign of proper priority setting, investing valuable time on your greatest asset and seeing it pay off before your eyes.
It is one blessed woman who has chosen the type of husband who will understand the value of pouring godly character and advice into his child.
But it is also the wise husband and father who understands that his greatest legacy is his child, and, while two parents are needed, it is the authority figure, the leader of the family and the protector who can have the most influence on the outcome of a child.
It is a well-known fact that often, due to the lack of the love and appreciation displayed by a father, that a daughter feels undervalued, unloved and, often, all too quickly gets involved with the first man who shows her any kind of affection and attention.
The unique role of a father is to let his daughter know that she is beautiful, precious and special so that she will properly evaluate her self-worth and avoid giving herself to the first taker. It is the confidence which is derived from that special relationship which only a father can give a child – a surety that will build up her image and security that only someone truly worthy is the individual for whom they should wait to be a lifelong partner.
A mother can and should also create that sense of value in the life of her child, but no one can take the place of a father as the perfect model of a selfless, nurturing rock to whom each family members totally and completely trusts.
And where does this wonderful role model get his own inspiration? It is only from a personal committed walk with his own heavenly father – the One who has shown grace, compassion and generosity to him, thereby enabling and equipping him to bestow it upon his own family.
Of course, this is the ideal world. Most fathers are overwhelmed trying to make a living in a world where even two breadwinners are insufficient to make ends meet. After working long and tiring hours, so many men have little or no energy left at the end of the day and are simply looking to unwind by throwing themselves in front of the t.v. As the father becomes unavailable, kids find their own amusement choices, and each retreat to their own corners of the house with the minimal of interaction.
It’s, therefore, no wonder that children are being raised without the needed instruction or moral clarity of their fathers. The effects of this lopsided and non-existent parenting is being profoundly felt and even rocking our culture with rebellion, violence and anarchy in a way that hasn’t been seen throughout our time.
What is missing? Clearly, the needed input and molding of a loving and dedicated father who sets aside time each day to instill and equip his children with the spiritual, moral and ethical armor which will serve them well all their lives and cause them to walk towards a path of wholeness, total well-being and blessing, both to themselves and others.
If you are not doing this, it’s not too late. Figure out what works best for you, take the needed time each day and be that guide and that caregiver who understands the value of those who will follow in his footsteps. Give them what they will need to have a blessed life, avoid disasters and the type of deception which will steal productive and useful years that could have been a wonderful contribution to those around them. Don’t waste any more time. Start today and be consistent.
Tip: Use a more modern version of the scripture (The Message Bible) so that it is understandable, clear and relevant to your kids’ world. Have a discussion of what each scripture means. Try to find practical advice within the text to incorporate and integrate into your daily lives. Make it a fun, interesting and lively time to which your children will look forward rather than a boring, obligatory slot of time which they must endure for the sake of your feeling you’ve done your duty.
This article originally appeared on Makor HaTikvah, June 14, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Cookie is the former managing director of Makor HaTikvah Messianic School in Jerusalem.
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The true essence of prayer
My favorite days are the ones that begin with me waking up already thinking about G-D. Those days, when the transition between sleeping and being awake (that almost dreamlike state), is filled with songs of praise and conversations with the Creator.
It was a morning like that in which I realized one of the most important truths about my faith experience.
I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of sleeping is the few minutes just before my eyes open. I say “few minutes,” but the truth is I am not sure how long these moments, minutes, or even hours take. I just know that it seems to be a blending, or merging, of time. In my mind and thoughts, I see an accumulation of years of events. Sometimes these events involved my wife or my children or any of the other members of my family, both those living and those who have entered the World to Come. Sometimes these scenes are of experiences, like the births of my children or grandchildren. Other times, they may be memories of my time in the Navy and those I served with. I am sure most of those reading this have had these same kinds of memory experiences that seem to take place just before waking up.
Two of these experiences became books that I wrote. The first became a novel called Transient Singularity. The second became a Bible study book called With me in Paradise. But, this article is not about either of those experiences, but one I recently had in which, while I was in the middle of that ethereal semi-dreamlike state, I realized something that had never dawned on me before. In my mind, I was seeing a video-like stream of every miraculous event that has taken place in my life, both since I became a believer in Yeshua and even those before. During these moments, I was reminded of the uncountable miracles that G-D has worked and weaved throughout my life and I realized for the first time that not one of these miracles happened in a way that I expected.
That is not to say that I didn’t expect miracles to happen. My life has been filled to overflowing with miracles. Yet, somehow in the middle of simply being thankful for the supernatural blessings that have taken place in my life, I never really stopped to evaluate the actual miracles themselves. That morning laying in my bed in that time between awake and asleep, G-D lead me through a road map of His miraculous intervention into my life. It was almost as if I was in one of those intelligence headquarters with large screen monitors on every wall. As I looked around, I saw two screens side by side that were playing events from my life. One screen showed my plans for G-D’s supernatural intervention and the other showed His actual intervention. Not once in any of those experiences did G-D choose my plan to bring about a miracle. No, each and every time His intervention was both unexpected and far better than anything outcome that I could have imagined or planned.
We see this over and over in the Scriptures, yet for some reason I never put two and two together before in this way. I have known and quoted Isaiah 55:8-9 many, many times:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Yet for some reason even though I mentally knew this truth, it wasn’t until I was shown the evidence in this dream-state that I understood. G-D isn’t looking for us to direct Him what to do in our prayers, “Do this! Do that! Give this! Heal that!”
No. G-D simply wants us to submit our situations into His hands. That is what true prayer is. Prayer isn’t telling G-D what we want Him to do because He doesn’t know or needs our advice and instructions. Prayer is realizing that He already knows what to do. Prayer is not to remind G-D; it is to remind us.
I learned that the reason I was surprised by the unexpected way G-D worked miraculously in my life was because I was spending so much time telling Him what I wanted, so when He didn’t do things the way I planned and instructed Him to do them, I was surprised by the unexpected outcome.
One of my new goals is to never again be surprised by the unexpected miracles that G-D works in my life because it is my goal to never again try to plan the outcome for Him.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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My book – Lifted Up – available on Amazon
We are very excited about the launching of my new book: “Lifted Up”. It is now available on Amazon as a book and in Kindle edition. Here is the introduction that appears when you go to Amazon to order it. We hope you will read the book and pass it on to whomever you know who would be blessed to read it.
Eddie Santoro was excited with all that was going on in his life as pastor of a thriving and growing congregation in the heart of the city of Jerusalem. Feeling fulfilled and full of energy, he and his wife Jackie were thrilled to be spiritual parents—even spiritual grandparents—to so many in these days. Then suddenly, three years ago, deadly cancer exploded in his brain. The doctors declared a certain and quick death. But God declared life! And Eddie not only survived, he was transformed and prepared to overcome the next battle.
LIFTED UP is more than the incredible account of Eddie Santoro’s trials and victory over multiple cancers, it is the inspirational testimony of being lifted up and transformed. It is the story of learning how to overcome through the power of love and the Word of God.
In this book, you will discover the truth of this same overcoming power that you can apply in your life. Trials and tribulations are difficult to face, but the authority and power that is ours through our faith and our love of Yeshua knows no boundary. In every situation, Jesus is the victor! As you read and apply these truths, your life will be also be transformed and victory will be yours.
We thank you for helping me spread the news of the availability of the book.
Please keep me in prayer this week as we get the results of the MRI on Wednesday, June 20. We will be sending out another update then to let you all know the news.
This article originally appeared in Zion’s Glory Update, June 15, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Eddie and his wife, Jackie, are senior leaders of Ahavat Yeshua Messianic Congregation in Jerusalem and also serve in positions of senior leadership in Revive Israel.
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A calling of separation
What do you think about when you hear the name Sampson? Many of us, when we think about Sampson, think about a strong, talented guy who fell asleep on the lap of the wrong girl. The next think he knew, he was blind and weak and grinding wheat for his enemies to eat. This is not the destiny God had planned for him. But he was indeed gifted.
When we take a deeper look at Sampson’s life we see that his relationship with Delilah was not the first thing that caused him to become defiled, but the last. See, Sampson was called by God to be a Nazarite. A Nazarite could not partake in anything that came from the vine. Not from the seed, not from the skin not even vinegar that was made from wine. A Nazarite could not come into contact with any dead thing not even for the sake of burying a close relative. Coming into contact with the dead would defile the Nazarite and the vow would be broken. The last thing that separated a Nazarite was that they could not cut their hair. Having long hair was a visible sign that a man had taken a Nazarite vow and many times, it was only for a period of time.
Early on in Sampson’s life, he was confronted by a lion which he ripped apart with the strength that God had given him. But later on, he passed by that same way and he saw that some bees had built a hive in the carcass of the lion and there was honey. Sampson was hungry, so he ate that honey from inside the dead lion and he broke his vow.
Then, he took a philistine girl to be his wife. He celebrated his marriage for one whole week and there were thirty Philistines who celebrated with them. Now, the Bible doesn’t say that he drank wine during the ceremony, but it was customary for a person to drink wine in celebrations and it is hard to imagine that the Philistine’s would have understood that Sampson could not enjoy a drink of wine because of a vow he had made.
Then, years later, Sampson broke his final Nazarite vow when he gave Delilah the secret to his strength and she cut his hair while he slept in her lap. When he awoke to her cries that his enemies were upon him, he thought he go out as always in the strength of the Lord and take on his enemies but the Lord had departed from him. And his shaven head was a visible sign that his anointing has come to an end.
“The Philistine’s took him and put out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters and he became a grinder in the prison”– Judges 16:21.
In the end, what is it we can learn from Sampson’s life? Here was a guy who had giftings and a calling and an anointing to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of their oppressor. But he did not value the calling to be visibly separate from those around him and it ended up causing his blindness and his early death.
God has a calling on our lives as well and we have to recognize that His calling is contingent on our separation from the world around us. We cannot live like the world and walk in God’s anointing- it will not work. So, choose this day the calling of God in your life. Make a commitment to not fulfill the short term satisfactions of this life but to enter into the eternal satisfaction of knowing that you have been a good and faithful servant.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, June 11, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.