Monday, December 12, 2016

A Holy Zeal or A Life of Compromise?

In my last post, "Taking a Stand for Holiness and Righteousness", I wrote about the account of the Maccabees reclaiming Jerusalem and YHVH's Temple.  I shared a horrific account that is recorded in the Book of Maccabees 2 where a mother of seven was faced with either standing for the righteousness of YHVH, or compromising her faith and encouraging her sons to do so as well.  I also mentioned a man by the name of Mattathias, who began a revolt against the wicked Antiochus Ephanes, who captured Jerusalem and profaned the Temple of the Most High. But I did not go into detail about the compromising Jews of the time.

According to 1 Maccabees 2, Mattathias was mourning over the desolation of Jerusalem and the Temple. He and his sons tore their clothes and put on sackcloth.  The king's officials came to town and demanded that the people offer pagan sacrifices.  Mattathias was considered a leader of the town, and so the king's officials told him that he should lead by example and do as the king desired.  Mattathias replied:

 "I don't care if every Gentile in this empire has obeyed the king and yielded to the command to abandon the religion of his ancestors. My children, my relatives, and I will continue to keep the covenant that God made with our ancestors. With God's help we will never abandon his Law or disobey his commands. We will not obey the king's decree, and we will not change our way of worship in the least." 1 Maccabees 2:19-22

But as he finished speaking, another man (a Jew) approached and decided that he would compromise and follow the king's order to offer pagan sacrifices.  This ignited a holy zeal inside of Mattathias, and he killed the man right there on the altar!  He then went throughout town shouting: 

"Everyone who is faithful to God's covenant and obeys his Law, follow me! With this, he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind all they owned." 1 Maccabees 2:27-28

Thus began the revolt that led to the eventual reclaiming of Jerusalem and the Temple.  

Mattathias' zeal for holiness is one example of many that have been recorded throughout history.  One of the first can be read in Exodus 32.  The Israelites were waiting for Moses to return from the mountain, but they became impatient and pressured Aaron to fashion a golden calf to replace Moses as their mediator.  Aaron compromised and did what the crowd demanded. 

And Aharon saw and built a slaughter-place before it [the golden calf]. And Aharon called out and said, "Tomorrow is a festival to YHVH.
Exodus 32:5 (ISR, emphasis mine)

Aaron and the Israelites decided when and how to worship YHVH. They also implemented pagan elements into their worship.  This was NOT what YHVH commanded and so YHVH instructed Moses to have the Levites strike down those who had participated in the profanity.  The Levites obeyed with a holy zeal:

 And Mosheh stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Who is for יהוה? Come to me.” And all the sons of Lĕwi gathered themselves to him. And he said to them, “Thus said יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl: ‘Each one put his sword on his side, pass over to and fro from gate to gate in the camp, and each one slay his brother, and each one his friend, and each one his relative.’ ” And the sons of Lĕwi did according to the word of Mosheh. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.
Exodus 32:26-28 (ISR)

Another example of holy zeal can be found in Numbers 25.  A Levite by the name of Phinehas rose up against a man and woman who were also profaning holiness of YHVH at the Tent of Meeting. 

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.” Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.
The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
Numbers 25:1-13 (NIV, emphasis mine)

YHVH approved of Phinehas' actions, and made a "covenant of peace" with him!

 The Father is set-apart and He expects His people to be set-apart as well!  

For I am יהוה your Elohim, and you shall set yourselves apart. And you shall be set-apart, for I am set-apart. And do not defile yourselves with any creeping creature that creeps on the earth. For I am יהוה who is bringing you up out of the land of Mitsrayim, to be your Elohim. And you shall be set-apart, for I am set-apart.
Leviticus 11:44 -45 (ISR)

For years the Church has used the term "holy" instead of simply saying "set apart", and I think this has been a huge mistake.  The word "holy" sounds so vague and gives the impression that it is unattainable. But YHVH has not and will not command His people to do something that is impossible for them to do!  He has even given His people the Torah - His Instructions - so that we can know what to do and HOW to do it!  Being set-apart IS possible! 

I have strength to do all, through Messiah who empowers me.
Philippians 4:13 (ISR)

One of the atrocities that Antiocus Ephanes enforced during the time of the Maccabees was sacrificing a pig in the Temple of YHVH.  We can read about that and even agree that it was horrible, yet many today do not give a second thought about defiling their bodies by eating pork - even though this goes against Yah's commandment (see Lev 11 and Deut 14). Our bodies are called the Temple of the Holy Spirit and of Elohim (God)!
Or do you not know that your body is the Dwelling Place (Temple) of the Set-apart Spirit who is in you, which you have from Elohim, and you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19 (ISR) 

 And what agreement has Messiah with Beliya‛al? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what union has the Dwelling Place of Elohim with idols? For you are a Dwelling Place of the living Elohim, as Elohim has said, “I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you. And I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says יהוה the Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:15-18 (ISR, emphasis mine)
We say that YHVH and His Word "never changes" (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), but do we really believe that? 

When we as YHVH's children define for ourselves what is or is not set-apart, we are profaning His set-apartness! Where is the holy zeal for the things of Yah?!  Sadly, just as some of the Jews in Mattathias' day, Believers today have compromised, preferring lives of comfort over holiness, preferring to fit in with the crowd instead of being a "peculiar people" set-apart for the Most High! 

YHVH sets the standard for holiness - we don't. 

YHVH defines sin - we don't.  

 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:4 (NIV, emphasis mine)

The only thing we do rightfully decide for ourselves is whether or not to walk His Way.  

His Way leads to life.  

Man's way leads to death. 

 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12 (ISR)
 See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love יהוה your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and יהוה your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away, and you do not obey, and shall be drawn away, and shall bow down to other mighty ones and serve them, I have declared to you today that you shall certainly perish, you shall not prolong your days in the land which you are passing over the Yardĕn to enter and possess. I have called the heavens and the earth as witnesses today against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore you shall choose life, so that you live, both you and your seed, to love יהוה your Elohim, to obey His voice, and to cling to Him – for He is your life and the length of your days – to dwell in the land which יהוה swore to your fathers, to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Ya‛aqoḇ, to give them.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (ISR, emphasis mine)

 And there shall be a highway, and a way, and it shall be called “The Way of Set-apartness.” The unclean does not pass over it, but it is for those who walk the way, and no fools wander on it. 
Isaiah 35:8 (ISR)

Personally, I have had to admit that I was wrong.  I have had to repent from doing things my way, even  aspects of "worship" - just like Aaron and the Israelites!  Oh, how merciful Yah has been to me!

I no longer want to live a life of compromise.  I want to have a holy zeal for things that please my Heavenly Father.

What about you?

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