I was fascinated by candyfloss as a child, watching how it mysteriously built up on a stick.  It appeared to come from thin air.  And then when you put it into your mouth it just melted away again. During one of our visits to Israel, strolling along the famous Ben Yehuda Street, we took a turn off, and there was a candyfloss seller, with a young soldier enthusiastically making a purchase.  You could see he was enjoying the moment.  Candyfloss, at that given moment probably brought back childhood memories for him; but it wouldn’t have been a very satisfying diet for a soldier fighting on the front lines of battle.

Fun Christianity, like candyfloss, might be enjoyed for a moment, but we in the West have made it a chosen lifestyle.  We don’t see ourselves on the battle-front; that is for the persecuted, and we are fancy free.

People searching for spirit-filled fellowship in the Church find only candyfloss.  It isn’t fun anymore.  Hearts are aching for reality.  When you are a child you think like a child; and that is how it should be…but if we are still thinking and behaving like children when we grow up it means our inner-life is stunted in some way.  Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Because Christians in effect laid down their arms and surrendered to the enemy so that we could have peace in our time, and have lots of fun, the enemy has come in like a flood and robbed us blind.

“Look up for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).   Because our redemption is near it seriously is time to wake up, grow up, and to clean out the leaven.  On the whole the Church is failing to do this; therefore changing world situations will bring it on.  Being a Christian will become too hot in the furnace of affliction for those that do not truly love Jesus.  The end is nigh for pie in the sky when you die.  The fake will bake if he hangs around much longer.  We will look more into this toward the end of this article.

Wisdom doesn’t always come with age.  There are people in churches that long to leave them, but can’t.  They have attended the same church and denomination most of their lives, but now the church has moved away from Scripture (If it ever truly followed the Lord in the first place).  Their hearts ache, but each week they trek to the torture chamber voluntarily.  Their inner being groans for God, for His Word and for His Spirit, but on they go week after week.

Consider the church that Korah started in the desert in direct opposition to Moses and in opposition to God Himself.  The ground loved Korah so much it opened up its jaws and swallowed him, and his followers with him.  “As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions.  So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly” (Numbers 16:31-33).

Korah’s movement began amongst the people of God; not the heathen.  Would you choose to belong to a church like that?  That is what some churches are doing.  They are opposing God and His Word, and indulging religious harlotry instead.  They give biblical terms to what they do but it all comes from their vain imaginations.  Jesus says, “Come, follow Me” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus doesn’t remain in a place that has “replaced” Him.  The Burning bush that confronted Moses was not consumed, but when Nadab and Abihu offered up strange fire, holy fire came down and turned them to toast!  They played with fire and were burned up; roasted for their efforts.  They did it their way, and God did it His way.  These guys were not just any-bodies; they were the sons of Aaron! (Leviticus 10:1-2).  According to Judaism, Nadab and Abihu didn’t have wives [because] they were arrogant.  Their father's brother was [king] Moses; their mother’s brother (Nahshon) was prince [of his tribe]; their father [Aaron] was high priest, and they themselves were assistant high priests.  So in their eyes, no woman was suitable for them.  These guys had already received their death warrant at Mount Sinai: “They beheld God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:11).  Having feasted their eyes on the Shechinah they went on to stuff their mouths and fill their stomachs.  If you have ever wondered why God is going to destroy the world by fire, perhaps you have now discovered at least part of the answer (2 Peter 3:6-7, 10-12).

Prophecy is not a sign of Godliness.  Yet in some churches you come across weird and not-so-wonderful ‘prophets’ and ‘prophetesses’ that are held in high esteem and even hold leadership positions!  God’s movement was with Moses and the people that obeyed.  They were not perfect in obedience and moaned a lot, but God is faithful and took them forward then, and He is still taking them forward now.  It amazes me when I see thousands of people attending meetings led by charlatans, and they love it.  The charlatans will end up as charred dust, and not the gold dust that they crave.  Those that follow them will join them if they do not repent and return to the Lord.

Balaam – [Hebrew – Not of the people; Foreigner]

Balaam, son of Beor looks pretty cool to some folk; he even had a donkey that could speak.  He might have been a sensation on “Britain’s got Talent”, but the donkey only spoke because God gave it the ability to speak; and God did that because Balaam was blind to the Lord.  Balaam wasn’t really cool at all.  We won’t go into the whole story here, but he went the way of all false prophets, which should be a warning to us today.  I repeat, should be – Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.”  Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian.  A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war.”  So there were furnished from the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.  Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.  So they made war against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed every male.  They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword [Emphasis mine] (Numbers 31:1-8).

Balaam, who proved to be an ass himself, didn’t return to his own country but stayed and joined the Midianites.   He suggested to them that the way to defeat Israel was to encourage the Israelites to be immoral and promiscuous.  Is this Satan’s strategy for God’s people today?  Many are on the road to ruin instead of the straight and narrow path that leads to life.  “For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise…” (Ephesians 5:14-15)

Those that want to live a candyfloss life are given the freedom by God to go the way of their choice.  But to those whose hearts are thirsting for the deeper life, as deep calls to deep in this spiritually drought-struck nation (Psalm 63:1; Joel 1:20)—the soul that longs for God, like the deer thirsting or panting for water seeks out a watercourse or pool to drink from, will be revived and refreshed (Psalm 36:8-9).  We need to find one another, to fellowship and to drink from the water of life together (Revelation 22:1).

Makarios – Happy (Blessed)

“He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).

“How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5)

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you” (Psalm 84:4)

“The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Romans 14:22).

Nine verses in Mathew Ch.5 (vv. 3-11), in what we call “The Beatitudes”, begin with the word “Blessed” (Happy) and verse 12 begins with “Rejoice”—This does not describe a “happy-clappy” church programme, but life with God and with one another.  The challenge is for us to be the kind of ekklesia God wants us to be.  If we are in an ungodly church, get out of it.  If you have left a church because you are broken hearted, God heals the broken-hearted and He binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).  “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).  Those that have withdrawn from church because of reasons already stated can themselves become stuck in a rut.  It becomes easy not to bother, yet the Lord calls us to seek and to find and that includes seeking out the like-minded.  The world doesn’t know that we are Messiah’s disciples because of our love for Israel, or even for our love for His Word, important as those things are.  Rather it is “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).  This is the Hebraic teaching that Jesus gives.

If we remain with a group of people, whether it is called “church” or not, that do not live out the teaching of Scripture, we do so by choice and not because God has told us to.  We are not to neglect meeting together with those that love and serve the Lord, but we are under no obligation to meet with those that ‘are not of the people’[of God], and those the Spirit has left or was never with in the first place.  Or, if we have chosen to live out our faith in seclusion while we still have the freedom to seek and find other believers to worship with, we have no Scriptural authority to do so.  If we are committed to Messiah we are members of His Body, and cannot go off doing our own thing.  It doesn’t mean remaining with the dead, but it does mean seeking earnestly the living, and what God has for you (Ephesians 5:17—“Understand what the Lord’s will is”).

The Furnace of Affliction

“Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8) Sin is serious.  It leads to death and hell.  In Exodus 12 the Israelites were to remove all the yeast from their houses (v.15).  As the Feast of Passover which is a remembrance of the Exodus approaches, the Jews clean out all the yeast – leaven – (chametz also spelt hametz) from their homes.  “From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah.  During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Isra'el – it doesn't matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land.  Eat nothing with hametz in it.  Wherever you live, eat matzah” (Exodus 12: 18-20 – Complete Jewish Bible).  Having removed the chametz from the house it is completely burned up in the Bi'ur Chametz ceremony.

Because of sin God would not fight for the Israelites and they were routed by the men of Ai (Joshua Ch.7).  Sin is serious.

Israel joined in worshipping the Baal of Peor (Numbers 25).  They began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women.  We have already seen Balaam’s influential role in the seduction of Israel to worship false gods and commit immorality.  The Lord’s instructions to Moses, was that he should take the leaders of the people and kill them.  In verses 6-9, Moses was giving instructions to execute the violators including the young men that had joined in worshipping the Baal at Peor.

One individual named Zimri (v14) dared to bring a Midianite woman into the Israelite camp (Cozbi v.15 – who was aligned with the Moabites); and did so in plain view of the entire Israelite camp!  He took her into his tent to have sex with her.    The quick response of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron suspended the plague that God sent on the people (see also 1 Corinthians 10:8).  He grabbed a spear, went to the tent and thrust the spear through both parties.  Zimri had taken this woman to his tent while Moses and the whole assembly were weeping before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (Read “The Gift of Tears” by David Andrew, Sword Magazine, March/April 2016).  What is happening in churches today is comparable to this blatant act of rebellion before God.  Phineas dealt with it decisively and according to God’s will, but many of today’s leaders, in various ways, encourage immorality and rebellion against the Lord.  “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).  Jesus taught that it isn’t just our sinful acts that offend God; it is our sinful thought life that condemns us too… “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).  “My son, give Me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).

Persecution of Christians is evidently part of Western culture now.  The Refiner’s fire will sweep through the Church as God cleans out the chametz from His House.  The cleansing will find its fulfilment and completeness when Christ returns and makes all things new.  There will be no more death and Christ will wipe away all tears—“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Fire and Plague

Fire plays a part in the Jewish Passover Feast preparation in burning up chametz.  During Bedikat Chametz, part of an old tradition is to hide ten pieces of chametz in the house the night before Passover.  They are searched for by the children or adults until all ten pieces are discovered.  The ten pieces are reminders of the ten plagues of Egypt.  Plagues and fire are all mentioned in the Book of Revelation.  We prepare for the future and for meeting God by remembering, and living lives that are worthy now.  Don’t wait for persecution to increase thinking that will cause us all to love one another.  We are to put away those things that hinder us from following the Lord whether they are acts of unrighteousness, or slander, backbiting, gossip, false accusation, whatever it is, deal with it at the Cross of Jesus!  (See also Hebrews 12:1).

Choose this day whom you will serve

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

Blessings and shalom,

Malcolm (04.05.2016)