One of the most intriguing things about the message of Y’shua the Messiah, is the complete contrast in responses of people who are exposed to this message. There are many who reject the message of Y’shua – especially if Y’shua is pictured (as He should be) as the Hebrew Messiah who lived and proclaimed a Torah-obedient lifestyle, including keeping the Shabbat and the Scriptural feasts. Then there are also, on the other side of the spectrum, some (shall we say a remnant?) who fully embrace the message of Y’shua. Once they’ve heard the message of Y’shua, they act as though they’ve been waiting for this message their entire lives – and they accept it with sheer joy, relief, excitement and wholehearted commitment!
In the Messianic Scriptures these opposite responses to the message of Messiah are often highlighted. Y’shua himself said repeatedly that his coming would be a dividing factor in families and communities:
Mat 10:34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword …
Mat 24:9 Then they shall deliver you up to affliction and kill you, and you shall be hated by all nations for My Name’s sake …
Luk 12:51-53 Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I say to you, no, but rather division. For from now on five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three – father shall be divided against son, and son against father, mother against daughter …
The early disciples of Y’shua soon discovered the truth of this word of their Master. Wherever they proclaimed the message of Y’shua, they encountered two extreme opposite reactions to this message, sometimes within the same community, or even within the same household:
Joh 7:43 So a division came about among the people because of Him.
Act 14:4 And the crowd of the city was divided, and some sided with the Yehudim, and some with the emissaries.
Act 23:7 And when he had said this, there came a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And the crowd was divided.
The word that stands out in all of the above verses, is the word “division”. This is what we are also seeing today: People are divided because of Y’shua. Whenever the message concerning Y’shua and the truth that He really did not come to abolish the Torah, is proclaimed, two groups of people are formed spontaneously: those who accept the message and those who reject it. For many of us, the effect of this division is extremely difficult to handle and to overcome. It affects our homes, our marriages, our families, our social groups, our working environment. For many of us it feels as though we are being torn apart from those we share our lives with and those we care about most.
The Greek word most frequently used for this division with regards to people’s responses to the message of Y’shua, is the word “schisma”. It is this word that the well known English word “schizophrenia” is derived from. The world that we live in today is not so much a world with a split mind or split personality, but it surely is a world split into two very distinct groups of people: those who embrace the message of Y’shua and those who reject it. Perhaps we should look again at the symbolism of the veil of the temple that, at the time of Y’shua’s death, was rent or torn into two parts (the Greek word for “rent” is related to this word “schisma”). Perhaps this “schisma” was not only to indicate that Y’shua made it possible for ordinary people to approach the Almighty. Perhaps it was also symbolizing that Y’shua’s death would bring about a very distinct division within the households and communities of this world. Should we challenge this division? Should we try to get those on the other side of the dividing line, over to our side? Most definitely. That is what the testimony of Y’shua is all about. Should we try to wipe out the division by becoming more and more like those on the other side? Most definitely NOT. The division will always be there. It is clearly prophesied in Scriptures and it was portrayed and foreshadowed, even before the coming of Messiah. Let us take a look …
The practice in the Tanach of tearing (Heb: “qara”) the clothes whenever something bad had happened, may be seen as a pointer towards the tearing of the veil in the temple and, at a deeper level, the torn-apart communities of this world, because of opposite responses to the message of truth.
Jos 7:6-7 And Yehoshua tore (“qara”) his garments, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of Yahweh until evening, both he and the elders of Yisraél, and they put dust on their heads. And Yehoshua said, “Oh Master Yahweh, why have You brought this people over the Yarden at all, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?
2 Sam 1:11-12 And Dawid took hold of his own garments and tore (“qara”) them, and also all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Shaúl and for Yehonathan his son, and for the people of Yahweh and for the house of Yisraél, because they had fallen by the sword.
A most interesting chapter in this regard is Ezra 9 where Ezra heard the news that “the people of Yisraél and the priests and the Lewites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands” and have thus “taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the set-apart seed is intermingled with the peoples of those lands …”. What was Ezra’s response?
Ezr 9:3 And when I heard this word, I tore (“qara”) my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.
Notice that the tearing or “dividing” of the garment and the robe in this case was a result of Yisraél not recognizing the “schisma” or the division between the nations and themselves. It was a result of the people of Yahweh neglecting the fact of their being set-apart. They are supposed to be completely different from those who follow the patterns and the schemes of this world and completely unique in the sense that the Word of Yahweh is their only guideline.
Another interesting Scripture is when king Shaúl did not listen to the word of Yahweh with regards to the people of Amalek and Shemuél came to him and told him that because he had rejected the word of Yahweh, Yahweh would reject him as the king of Yisrael. No doubt, Shaúl was most unsettled when he learned that he was rejected as king. This is what happened next:
1 Sam 15:27-29 And as Shemuél turned around to go away, Shaúl seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. And Shemuél said to him, “Yahweh has torn (“qara”) the reign of Yisraél from you today, and has given it to a neighbour of yours, better than you. Moreover, the Permanent One of Yisraél does not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.
Only Yahweh, the Eminent One, the Strong and Permanent One, is without “schisma” or division – He does not lie; He does not change; He is undivided in faithfulness, truth and righteousness. And He reaches out to those who are also undivided in truth, obedience and integrity. What should we do if we find out that we have been walking in the ways of Shaúl and disobeyed the ways of Yahweh? The answer comes from the Word of Yahweh – clearly and unambiguously:
Joe 2:13 And tear (“qara”) your heart and not your garments, and turn back to Yahweh your Elohim, for He shows favour and is compassionate, patient, and of great kindness, and He shall relent concerning the evil.