WHERE DO WE FIND STRENGTH?

alternate textThis week’s Torah reading includes Wayyikra (Leviticus) 25 to 27 that may be summarized as follows:

Lev 25: The year of Jubilee is a practical and long term lesson in trust, compassion and the fear of Yahweh.
Lev 26: Yahweh has committed Himself to be the Elohim of his people and nothing will change that.
Lev 27: It is proper for Yahweh’s people to commit themselves to Him by living set-apart lives and bringing set-apart offerings.

Noticeable in these three chapters is the frequent repetition of the words “I am Yahweh (your Elohim)” and “set-apart to Yahweh”. If we should ask the question “Where do we find strength in this life?” we need not look much further than these two statements of power. We shall find strength in the knowledge that Yahweh is truth and that He is our Mighty One. And we shall find strength in committing ourselves to live our lives set-apart to Yahweh.

This reading from Wayyikra 25 to 27 is traditionally accompanied by a remarkable reading from the prophets: YermeYahu (Jeremiah) 16:19-17:14. These 17 verses seem to be a confirmation of the very same theme that we find in Wayyikra 25-27 and provide us with an answer to the question: Where do we find strength in this life? Let us take a closer look at these verses:

Jer 16:19 O Yahweh, my strength and my stronghold and my refuge, in the day of distress the gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited only falsehood, futility, and there is no value in them.”

The first part of the verse speaks for itself. The second part contains a remarkable prophesy, the fulfilment of which we are experiencing in our own time. There is no strength and no value in the lies that our fathers have inherited and there is no point in trying to hang onto these for dear life. Yahweh is our strength and there is only refuge in the stronghold of his truth.

Jer 16:20 Would a man make mighty ones for himself, which are not mighty ones?

Since the beginning of time man has shown this tendency to make and find mighty ones and strongholds and sources of power for himself – only to find out that none of these are lasting. In the end they all fail to provide quality inner strength. This is something only Yahweh can provide, and in the lives of thousands of people He has proven Himself to be the only true and eternal Mighty One.

Jer 16:21 Therefore see, I am causing them to know, this time I cause them to know My hand and My might. And they shall know that My Name is Yahweh!”

It is not up to us to prove that Yahweh’s hand and his might is a reality. He will CAUSE us to know his hand and his might. He will convince us Himself. And, having seen his works and having tasted his goodness and having experienced his powerful promises and the way He fulfil those promises, people shall know that He is Yahweh, the One spoken of in Scriptures.

The first 4 verses of YermeYahu 17 gives a description of the sins of Yehudah and these sins are summarized in verse 5:

Jer 17:5 Thus said Yahweh, Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart turns away from Yahweh.

Here we can see once again how it is a tendency with man to put his trust in people or in fleshly things – things that seem to be sources of strength and inspiration but eventually, if they are things that cause our hearts to turn away from Yahweh, they will bring a curse upon our lives. If the things of this world than we turn to, in order to find strength or security or fulfilment, become an obsession, something that consumes our time and energy and loyalty, they WILL turn our hearts away from Yahweh.

Jer 17:7-8 Blessed is the man who trusts in Yahweh, and whose trust is Yahweh. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and does not see when heat comes. And his leaf shall be green, and in the year of drought he is not anxious, nor does he cease from yielding fruit.

Very much like the well known passage in Tehillim (Psalm) 1, these two verses reiterate the truth that blessings and blessedness are the result of men and women putting their trust in Yahweh. These are the ones that have their roots firmly anchored in the fertile and well watered soil, alongside the waters of life. They do not focus upon (Heb. “yarah”), or fear (Heb “ra’ah”) the heat that is such a huge threat when the roots have no source from where it may withdraw strength and nutrition. And, most importantly, in the time of drought, they are not anxious, but keep on yielding fruit, because their eyes and their hearts are firmly focused upon Yahweh and their roots keep them connected to a source that is all-wise, all-powerful and all-sufficient.

Jer 17:9-10 The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick – who shall know it? I, Yahweh, search the heart, I try the kidneys, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Many of us are much too eager to listen to our own hearts and follow our own instincts, when it comes to matters of trust and belief. This is because we have never taken seriously the statement made here, and confirmed by a number of other passages in Scriptures: The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick. Our hearts are in desperate need of instruction and discipline and sound teaching from the Word of Yahweh. What our hearts tell us, especially with regards to where to find strength and encouragement, is most of the times not the same as what Yahweh would have told us – if we would just allow Him to do so.

Jer 17:13-14 O Yahweh, the expectation of Yisraél, all who forsake You are put to shame. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Yahweh, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O Yahweh, so that I am healed. Save me, so that I am saved, for You are my praise.

Where do we find strength in this world? Many people are struggling with this question, but somehow I feel that only the very brave ones are honest enough to admit that this is indeed what is going on inside of them. I believe that even today we are challenged by the Torah and by the entire Word, Pre-Messianic and Messianic Scriptures, to make Yahweh the expectation of our lives, the fountain of living waters, the source that has been revealed to us, that will never cease to produce endless streams of inspiration and inner strength.

Even if we do not think so right now, we are in desperate need for Yahweh to heal us … so that we may be healed. Even if we have made a choice to follow Yahweh before, but in the meantime have drifted away from Him, we are in desperate need for Yahweh to save us … so that we may be saved. Just think of what may happen to this world if people start looking at the right place to be healed and to be saved. Just think of what may happen to our homes and our communities if more people decide to put their trust in Yahweh and come to a point in their lives where they can honestly say: money is not what I am after, status and popularity is not what I am looking for, personal honour and esteem will not satisfy, but … YAHWEH, YOU ARE MY EXPECTATION AND YOU ARE MY PRAISE! FOR ME, YOU ARE THE FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS! I CHOOSE TO BE HEALED AND TO BE SAVED BY YOU!

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