In a beautiful moment, Moses speaking of covenant blessing, mentions the wood cutter and the water carrier: two lowly positions. Yet, their important work is recognized, as lowly as it seems to us, forever in God’s Word. Monotonous, daily tasks may seem to go unrecognized, but the Lord takes note, and honors everything done to His glory. Even stacking wood. So in whatever you do …
“…from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water” … “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (Deut. 29:11; 1 Cor. 11:31). #gospel #Jesus #Yeshua #offgrid #mountainlife #daily #dailygrind #meaning #purpose #stackingwood #home #life
There are days when I feel that I don’t quite have this faith thing figured out; and yes, the wording is deliberate. As we are often prone to do, we look to the right, and to the left; to what he, she, or they are doing better that we, etc.
Perhaps you don’t have this type of experience, but I often feel like others have figured out something that I have yet to stumbled upon, as they seem to have the look of faithfulness.
It begs the question, what does faith look like?
In Hebrews we read:
“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:33-39).
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:1-3, 6).
We often evaluate the effectiveness of faith by outward appearances of good things, ignoring or not recognizing the negative. We assume that the absence of apparent struggle means better life, and therefore better faith, read Hebrews 10:33-34 above closely again.
I do not, however, find that appearances make an accurate barometer of what faith looks like.
The author of Hebrews reminded his audience of the trials they experienced after they came to faith in Messiah. They endured reproaches and tribulations, and often joined with others in their challenges.
He reminds them of the first things of faith, which often run contrary to public opinion and accepted intellectual ideas. He reminds them of others who have come before (Heb. 11); and finally, he explains that faith, the hoped for evidence of the things not yet seen, is the only way to please the Lord God.
He reminded them of where, and from whom they had come.
Yet, what if my experience of faith looks different than that of others? What if my life is altogether fine? Or, I seem to face trouble at every turn? What if I fall somewhere between?
I would say there is no perfect picture of what the life of faith looks like: save for Yeshua/Jesus himself. See, faith is lived within the framework of life, and life is a place of both challenges and joys, victory and setback.
In life we need endurance. The author of Hebrews reminds us that in faith we need endurance (Heb. 10:36). Endurance in faith grows as faith is exercised in every circumstance life offers, until that day, when He graduates us to glory.
Read Paul’s testimony:
“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:23-28).
If we were to measure the fruit of Paul’s faith from his own testimony, according to the expectations often applied today, he would be found wanting; but Paul was able to testify that he had run and finished the race, he had kept the faith (II Tim. 4:6-8).
See friends, faith endures because it is coupled with the hope that keeps us going when giving up would be easier: hope takes hold, and faith holds on.
Faith is not about how we feel in it, but Who we have trusted in: Messiah. He is, and must remain the object of our faithing.
So do not measure your life, or faith according to the standards of this world, or those well meaning saints who make you feel less than. Look to the examples provided in Scripture, with their ups and downs (I Cor. 11:1), remembering that your faith is in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, and in Him, our every need is met (Phil. 4:19). As He said: “follow Me.”
If you haven’t figured this “faith thing” out, don’t worry, as we follow Him, we learn it from Him (Matt. 11:28-30).
Have you ever misused someone’s name, or misrepresented what someone said? Knowing in that exact moment that you were not being completely honest about how you were representing them? Many of us, even if we have not done so as adults, can probably remember misrepresenting something that our parents said when we were children. Human nature, prone to follow the urge of its sin inclination, will often do so to its own immediate benefit – having lost sight of the long term consequences.
As we consider these song of the Mountains, these songs of Moses and Yeshua/Jesus, we quickly recognize that covenant Lord expects, commands even, that those formed in His image will properly represent Him, and act as moral agents in society. In Leviticus 22:32 we read,
“And you will not pollute My holy name, but I will be made holy among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who makes you holy.”
The word I have translated above as “pollute,” חָלַל, can mean profane or desecrate. The root meaning is to perforate or pierce through. The holy name of the Living God is not to be: polluted, profaned, desecrated, perforated or pierced through, among those made holy by it. What is the moral instruction here? And how do we apply it to 21st century living?
I added the verse from Leviticus to help our consideration of the Third Commandment – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7).
Many of us are familiar with this command in relation to peoples corrections of the expletive use of the Lord’s name, more specifically the title “God.” (More on that another time) Notwithstanding the undesirable use of the Lord’s name as an expletive, this is not the direct intention of the command itself. The focus is verbal worship; and how verbal worship influences our actions and representation of Him. Proper use of the Lord’s name not only guards the sanctity of His name, but it also guards His reputation (Ps. 135:13). Does His reputation really need to be guarded? Sadly, yes, as a misrepresentation of who He is can drive people away from knowing Him as Savior.
At the revelation of His name to Moses in Exodus 3:14, He “introduces” His Name: יהוה (often represented as YHWH). His name is rooted in the Hebrew verb אהיה, “to be,” and is often translated to the phrase “I am Who I am.” By using the first person of the verb “to be,” the Lord is revealing His self-existence, self-sufficiency and ultimately His sovereignty. We find a similar revelation spoken by Messiah Yeshua in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
What does His name reveal?
His name reveals the condition of His being, and His character. We find evidence of this throughout Scripture, equated with: His authority, His protection, His doctrine, His strength, His honor, His glory, His holiness, His majesty, His moral standards, His reputation and His saving power (Ps. 8:1; 20:1; 22:22; 86:9; 106:8; 111:9; Prov. 18:10; Micah 4:5; Jn. 12:28; Acts 4:30; Ro. 10:13).
While revealed in Exodus 3:14, His personal name יהוה does appear in the Book of Genesis. The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, used and called upon His name. Yet, we read in Exodus 7:3, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai (God Almighty). Yet by My Name, יהוה, did I not make myself known to them.” What does this mean? The Hebrew text indicates that the patriarchs did not have an intimate knowledge of the meaning of His name. Their relationship primarily focused on the Lord as provider – El Shaddai. In Exodus, however, we are witnessing a deepening of relationship – not only as “God the provider,” but also God as Savior.
What using the Lord’s name implies.
Speaking in the name of, or with the name of another, implies three things: 1) relationship, 2) authority, and 3) a right of possession. Speaking in His name implies that we have relationship with Him, and that we have authority to do so; which was part of the revelation of His name to Moses – Moses was given the authority to speak in His name, by relationship.
The third commandment, then, forbids the misuse or misapplication of the Lord’s name.
לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת-שֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לַשָּׁוְא
Translating, “Do not bring, or carry, the name of the Lord your God to emptiness” (emphasis added).
It is not just to misuse the four consonants that form His name, but to be dismissive of all that His name means. His name seals His covenant offer of salvation. Mishandling His name, or carrying it to justify our own selfish gain, is to treat His character with contempt. How then do we bring the name of the Lord to emptiness? We bear His character hypocritically.
Yeshua makes an interesting statement in John 17:6, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” Yeshua properly demonstrated for us what it means to come in the name of the Lord – which does not lead to our glorification but to our humility – the subject of the beatitudes. The name of God represents His character, His nature – who He is – and by Yeshua’s example, as we walk properly in His name, others give glory to Him (Matt. 5:16).
The Lord wants us to call upon His name, but also to use it properly. In the messianic faith, we use the authority of God’s name by relationship is several ways: 1) we believe in His name, 2) we baptize in His name, 3) we worship His name, 4) we glorify His name, 5) we sing of His name, 6) we remember His name, 7) we bless His name, 8) we trust in His name, 9) and we fear His name.
Yet, we use it improperly, and even profane His name, when we use it hypocritically or attach false teaching to it. Consider the words of Jeremiah in 14:14, “These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds.” Today we find some believers doing this with the “God said…” or “God told me,” or “God told me to tell you…” statements in a destructive or manipulative way. Additionally, we may mistreat others due to inconvenience or mistake in service. We might treat our family one way privately, while presenting another appearance publicly.
These are but a few examples of how we might misuse the name of the Lord. We need to be intentional in how we use and treat the name of the Lord – it is holy.
How does this affect public witness?
When we reduce His name to a bumper sticker idiom – “God is my copilot” – is it any wonder that His name is not hallowed among non-believers? If His name is used flippantly in our personal lives and our congregations, when we do not fulfill our word, society is just following our example. What example are we showing?
What is our duty here?
Rabbi Dr. Joseph Hertz comments, “The Second Commandment lays down the duty of worshipping God alone, and worshipping Him in spirit and not through images. The Third Commandment forbids us to dishonor God by invoking His name to attest what is untrue, or by joining His name to anything frivolous or insincere.”
There are certainly times when we might approach the Lord God with the “right words” but with the wrong heart; as Isaiah says, “Because this people has drawn near with its mouth, and with its lips they have esteemed Me, and it has kept its heart far from Me, and their fear of Me has become a command of men that is taught” (Isa. 29:13). Let us therefore be cautious as to how we use, represent and speak of His name; recognizing that for some, we will be their only contact with the name of the Lord – our lives may be the only Gospel they ever read.
Take seriously the apostle Paul’s words, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified from every good work. But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 1:16 – 2:1). Taking God’s name seriously, sanctifying it, requires that we take Him seriously – living with a God-centered theological perspective. It is easy to use His name, but in our day we find little fear and awe of it.
In traditional Judaism, the title “HaShem” (literally “the name”) is used in place of the divine name, and in some cases the word “God” – for purposes of reverence, fear and awe. His name cannot be brought to emptiness if the sanctity of it remains at the forefront of our mind – if only this safeguard insured proper conduct! To use His name casually erodes our sensitivity to the reverence we owe it, as is said, “familiarity breeds contempt.”
Why must we take the Lord’s name seriously? It is the power of salvation, provision, protection, presence and intimate relationship.
In a word, we bring His name to emptiness when we cause others, by our actions, words, deeds and lifestyle to stumble because of it. It is an awesome responsibility to know we have been saved by it, that we bear it and that we share it; so when we misuse it, He will correct us.
“O my soul, bless the Lord; and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Ps. 103:1).