09 October 2015

Making choices....whom to follow


The Bible says, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13.7)

This could be a little confusing. Basically the writer of the Newer Testament book of Hebrews is saying this, "If you want to make good choices about theology and about life, look to the people who taught you things, and go with the guys who have a good end-game, whose lives and teachings match where you want to land. Don't follow false teachers. Don't be tricked by your own itching ears. Consider the end, the result, the final landing zone of the teacher... and go with the people who will get you there also."

I know, those aren't the translations, and not the actual text, but it might help someone today who is caught in the either/or place of discomfort brought about by anti-missionaries whose apparent only care for Jewish souls is after they have come to faith in Jesus. I've never seen a "Jews for Judaism" brand anywhere where there is not a messianic Jewish success. They seem only to show up to dissuade and only to make unbelief a thing. That's not a good gig. In fact, that's a very sad mission. It might be better to title them "Jews against Jesus" rather than that they are 'for' anything.

That makes sense to me, that the writer of Hebrews should have had the same difficulties as we sometimes have with anti-missionaries. The two words to note in this Bible book are 'better' and 'warning.' The author says that everything we have in Yeshua, in fact Yeshua Himself also, is better than what we had before. The Messiah is better than angels, than the prophets, than Aaron, than Moses, and we have a better country, sacrifice, possession, promises, covenant, and hope. So count on Yeshua...He's not only Better...he's the BEST!

Then there are five warnings to the Hebrew Christians (a former term for Messianic Jews, which is the current nomenclature). Warning against the five dangers: 1. The danger of drifting (Chapter 2)
2. The danger of not entering into rest (still working to get 'there' on our own) (Chapters 3-4)
3. The danger of not going on to maturity, but rather being spoon-fed (not serving others) (Chapters 5-6)
4. The danger of willful sin, especially staying away from the fellowship of other Messianic people. (Chapter 10)
5. The danger of indifference to the point of denial. (Chapter 12)

There is a progression in these warnings. It starts with being careless about salvation and indifferent to spiritual things until finally one comes to be perfectly satisfied with being indifferent, even hostile to the very God who got you there.

Let me expand these five. First, Hebrews challenges us to ask ourselves how we plan to escape judgment if we neglect and reject so great a salvation, a salvation planned from the foundations of the world. (2.3) Secondly, the place of the Word of God is crucial. The second warning (3.12) is to take care we do not develop an unbelieving heart, and he uses the next several verses to help us overcome unbelief – exhort each other, share in Messiah, hold confidence, even to fear failure. We need to be aware that it is possible to harden our hearts against the Bible/ God's Word, and miss salvation. Third, (5.11-14) When we are not growing spiritually, skepticism, indifference, and apostasy may find room to creep in. An arm kept in a cast for several weeks quickly becomes smaller and weaker than the arm being used every day. Growth takes effort on our part, and it is something we should be working toward every day.

Fourth, in 10:26-31, the author addresses the dangers of deliberate sin, specifically quoting from Deuteronomy 32. Again, these are things his readers are familiar with from Moses’ teachings, but now it is being applied to rejecting Yeshua's sacrifice, a sacrifice sealing a covenant greater than the one brought by Moses. And it involves a separation from the people of God, the community of faith in Messiah. Some messianic Jews were walking away, turning away, even choosing the 'synagogue' over the 'church' (in today's language) and rejecting Messiah's sacrifice publicly. This was a major warning from the author-- don't do that!

Finally in chapter 12 we read the fifth warning, denial of Yeshua. In verse 25 we read, "see to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." The abandonment of the people of God by these backsliding Jewish believers in Jesus was not good. The author is calling them back. Don't deny Yeshua... you will do so, by the way, if you walk with the wrong crowd. Don't spit on the sacrifice. Don't reject me, he says, because I'm sharing with you eternal truths.

Finally, he drops in this comment with which I started. Consider the result of the faith of those with whom you associate. And go with the system which is the better. In other words, which system appears to demonstrate things that you know to be true, and which has resultant behaviors in people whom you respect and long to replicate. That's the one you need to follow. And from whom to learn. And with whom to deeply associate. Make a good choice... go with the believing community. How do we know that? By looking at the end-game... where are they going? With whom are they going? When are they going? On what do they base their going? It's all about Yeshua and what He did for us. Make your choice. Go with the Yeshua people. Therein is wisdom.

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