Yeshua’s model on love, correction, and discipline:
In about 90 AD, Yokhanan had a crazy experience on Yom Kippur [The Day of יהוה , NOT ‘sunday’].
He was told to write 7 letters, one to each Kahal [assembly].
The first one started with “I know your works, how hard you have labored, how you have persevered, and you cannot bear wicked people…”
The second one started, “I know how you are suffering and how poor you are, and the insults of those who call themselves Jews and are not…”
The third: “I know where you are living, where HaSatan’s throne is, yet you are holding on to My Name”…
The fourth: “I know your works, your love, trust, service, and perseverance…”
The fifth: “I know your works, that you have a reputation for being alive, but in fact you are DEAD”
The sixth: “I know your works: See, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it. I know that you have but little power, yet you have obeyed my message and have not disowned me…”
The seventh: “I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold; O, how I wish you were one or the other!”
I began contemplating some different aspects of these statements a few days ago. First, while these are seven letters to seven different earthly congregations, they are also a single message to the One Kahal of Messiah Yeshua.
He begins by lauding the Kahal that assembled in Ephesus, He started with honoring them, because honor was due them. They had works. They were ‘doing’, and they did not abide the wicked, or those who break Torah. He lauded them for that. Yet, He told them to return to their first love: studying Torah! If we read Acts, we find that they were the city where Shaul rented a public meeting place for two years, to teach them the Torah, The Word of יהוה ! [Acts 19:9]. He tells them, “REMEMBER how you fell, TURN FROM SIN, and DO what you DID at first!” You must remember, the wrongly dubbed ‘new testament’ had not been written! ‘Turn’ is “repent”, and in biblical parlance it means ‘turn to Torah’, since Torah tells us what sin is, we turn to it to know how to turn from sin.
Can we ‘hear’ Yeshua’s ‘tone’ in these letters? No. But, can we infer certain things about it? Yes. He is compassionate here, then scolding, then encouraging: “You have this in your favor: You HATE the Nicolaitans’ works, AS DO I !” WHAT? Yeshua hates something?
HATE. It has such negative connotations in our baby-fied society that thinks love is nothing but ‘soft’. Yeshua’s great LOVE for truth demanded severe HATE for error. But, notice, He hates their WORKS! NOT the people! And He praises the Kahal for hating those WORKS. What ‘works’; in their case, ‘controlling the people’ and bilking them for money, explained to another congregation later.
Then, He encourages them again, and makes a promise of blessing: “To the one who is victorious I will give the right to eat of the tree of Life which is in Gan Eden of Elohim.”
So, we have Yeshua giving honor FIRST. Then, we have Him chiding them for their error. Then He encourages and reinforces what they do right, and makes a promise of blessing, conditioned on their becoming ‘overcomers’.
The next congregation does not get praised first, because they were suffering. The first thing Yeshua does is show compassion for their suffering. Ephesus, the first one, was not enduring suffering. This one was. Sometimes we suffer. And He shows them compassion in their suffering. He strengthens them by telling them DO NOT FEAR, and WARNS them that their suffering is not over!
Yeshua does not ‘candy coat’ anything. If it’s bad news, He gives it! But, with the bad news comes a message of hope and encouragement: “remain faithful, even unto death, and I will give you a crown of LIFE.”
It is so tiring to hear people sugar-coat the gospel, and whine and cry about how everyone should just get along. People sin! It is a hard life! Sometimes, the people of God suffer; sometimes they suffer more than anyone else. If one comes to Yeshua thinking life is nothing but cake and ice-cream, they came to Him with a grave misunderstanding, and selfishly motivated. Those who have this understanding are typically those who reject Him eventually, following deceiving spirits that promise “real love” where nothing goes wrong and where one can do no wrong. That is WRONG thinking. SIN is still SIN. And life still happens to believers.
Life is REAL, and we are NOT promised a trouble-free life in this world! We are in fact promised trouble, by Messiah Himself: “IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE.” Isn’t it compassionate of Him to have told us that! And now we know He sees our struggles. BUCK UP! ENDURE! “Khazak V’Ematz!” Because in the next world, THERE there will be no sorrow; we will get there IF WE are faithful! To Messiah and His Torah. He certainly is faithful to us!
This pattern of recognition/honor, correction, and honor with reinforcement is seen through the next messages to the congregations.
It is the third Congregation where the Nicolaitan error is again addressed, and more fully expounded. Yeshua calls it the error of Bilam. What was that error? Profiteering off of the people of G-d by controlling them, and keeping them from the Word of יהוה ! “Nicolaitan” means ‘controlling the people’. This was the beginning of the infiltration of the pagan idea of “clergy vs. laity” in the congregations. When the congregations were established, there were always multiple ‘overseers’ appointed, not just one man. Multiple pastors, multiple ‘deacons’, etc. And NONE of them were paid positions! The only people serving the people who received money from the people were those on missions who had left their homes and possessions and means of income! Shaul himself worked with two other Jews, making tallits, so that he could support HIMSELF. [Acts 18:3]
Is it not interesting that He starts five of these letters with “I know your works”? And two times those works were NOT HONORABLE. Remember, He is addressing believers!
“Avodah”: That’s a very Jewish term, my friends. It points to the Torah, which tells us we must ‘serve Elohim.’ There is so much more to ‘service’ than just “good deeds” [helping the poor, sick, afflicted, and helpless]; there is ‘service of worship’, assembling with the brethren on the prescribed times of assembly. prayers, etc. The Torah instructs us in ALL of these things. Our ‘works’ have to be His Works! Not men’s!
In His message to the fifth congregation, and the seventh, we also learn of Yeshua that He will NOT give praise/honor to those who have not earned it! Look at the message to the fifth congregation: He starts chiding them immediately! “You ‘look’ alive, but you are DEAD!”
Where is lovey-dovey ‘Jesus’ all of a sudden?
Today’s teachers think that we have to drum up ‘praise’ for the unruly child who has done no good; or for the congregant who does not serve the Body, but only ‘wants’ from the body, begging for ‘love and compassion’ without being willing to actually do the HARD WORK of LOVE! Love means accepting offenses and moving past them! It means looking into oneself and being willing to accept ones own error. Love is so much more than a feeling.
If one is not SERVING in His Congregation, they deserve NO HONOR~! Nothing is more disgusting than disingenuous “positive reinforcement”. In fact, it does nothing but perpetuate BAD BEHAVIOR. Yeshua warned these two congregations to straighten up and fly right! “Remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and TURN FROM YOUR SIN! For if you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief; and you don’t know at what moment I will come upon you!” And, “Because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth!….As for me, I REBUKE and discipline EVERYONE I LOVE; so EXERT yourselves, and TURN from your sins!”
We dare not forget that He was speaking to believers in these messages.
Love, “Ahava”, is a wonderful commodity, not an emotion. Love is an ACTION that offers good OR bad emotion! The ‘negative’ emotion of CONTRITION, provoked by tough love, is a powerful thing, and is absolutely NECESSARY in those who trust in Messiah. “FEEL” BAD, if you are not obeying Him! Because if He does not discipline us, we are NOT His children.
Love is SO MUCH MORE than being ‘sweet’. That is only one side of it! And it’s the side we all want. But that is immature, to think that’s all there is to it. It is sickening, what the world thinks love is! Sometimes, love is DEATH! “GREATER LOVE has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Yeshua set the example on how to love. And sometimes, that means being a little tough on people. There is much at stake.