Khazku L’vaveikhem!

“O, You rich men, weep and howl for the miseries which shall come upon you! Your riches are destroyed and rotted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are tarnished, and the rust of them will be a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh. The treasures which you have heaped together will be as fire to you for the Akharit HaYamim. Behold, the wage of the laborers who have reaped your fields, that which you have fraudulently kept back, cries; and the cry of the reapers has already entered into the ears of  יהוה  Tzeva’ot. For you have had your luxuries on earth and have been greedy; you have fed your bodies as for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered HaTzadik, and yet he does not resist you. But my brethren, be patient until the coming of  יהוה , just as the husbandman waits for the precious crop of his field, and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and the latter rain. You be patient also; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of Adoneinu is at hand.”

I recently completed the “Messianic Megilah for Purim,” which is an abridged version of the book of Eisteir, the source of the Purim celebration, and it has questions and commentary to make the Shpiel a teaching opportunity, as well as jubilant and fun for children and adults.  Eisteir is an underrated book in scripture, and gets very little attention.  I have since decided to teach this book, using the Megilah as a guide, during our Congregation’s Torah Study, after the next study, done by Paul Torason over his book, “These Things You Should Have Done,” is completed.

The book of Eisteir is replete with Messianic overtones concerning both the “Former Rains” and “Latter Rains” of Messiah’s ministry on earth.  The primary spirit dealt with in the book is that of anti-Semitism, rooted in ‘Sheker HaMashi’akh,’ going all the way back to the beginning of the history of Yisra’el.  Our upcoming study will likely link the book of Eisteir to Ezrah and Nekhem-Yah, as the episode of Eisteir probably occurred between the 6th and 7th chapters of Ezrah.  Having taught the book of Ezrah concerning ‘spiritual warfare’ some years ago, and seeing how closely related anti-Semitism and Sheker HaMashi’akh are, it is fitting to teach these things again, as we creep ever closer to the last of the Akharit HaYamim.

The passage above, from Ya’akov Chapter 5:1-8, was ‘fresh’ in my reading scripture one day on the bus as I rode in to work.  The book of Ya’akov was written to the Jewish believers in Messiah who were scattered throughout the Aramaic regions east of Yisra’el.  But, this passage seems to have been written to someone else?  It is addressing the wealthy WITHIN THE BODY Of BELIEVERS!  Our sacred scriptures are not written to the world, but only to those who trust in Elohim!  The world mocks the scriptures, and denies them, and fights against them.  The intended audience of the Words of Elohim, in general, are for those who say they trust in Him!  And if one checks the context of this passage, the previous chapter is addressing congregants who are wealthy, how they are treated versus the poor, et cetera.  This passage is written to believers, proven by the last statement, “But my brethren…” which is a reminder to hold out to the return of Messiah, continuing to trust AND obey HIM.

So, how can these previous words of warning apply to believers?  Should unbelievers hear these words and heed them?  Of course.  But, we know they will not.  That is the nature of unbelievers: they deny the Words of G-d.  But, the warning goes out to them as well, and that is who I first thought of in the reading of it.  But, it also occurs to me that there are many believers, or those who profess to believe, who need to hear this dire warning, especially in the day in which we live.  And especially in the lavishness of our lives, even among the most obedient of believers.  We cannot allow our success and worldly comforts distract us from the grander scheme of things!  It is so EASY to forget how very brief this life is, and how very critical to salvation the B’sorah is, and the need for our constantly declaring its Truth, ‘hearing’ it ourselves, as well as causing others to ‘hear’.  We are supposed to be living for and looking for the day of His return.  No matter that it has been 2,000 years since these words were written.

The first part of this prophecy about the wealthy deals only with the wealth, how fleeting and useless it is, and how it is a snare to those who possess it.  And how they will suffer for robbing their laborers.  That probably, admittedly, does not apply to most believers, but it does to some.  I’ve seen and been the victim of those robbing myself and others, professed believers who owed me wages they did not pay.  But, by and large, the average person does not fit in this category.  But, the two passages that stood out are toward the end of what I cited, before the reminder to remain faithful comes.  The first: “you have fed your bodies as for the day of slaughter.”  Some people will not understand that passage.  But, as a boy, I grew up on a little ‘ranch,’ and we kept hogs.  The sole purpose of those hogs was to get fat, so that we could slaughter them near winter and have a freezer full of meat.  Ya’akov is here saying that these people to whom he writes are fattening themselves as if for the same purpose.  Pigs eat whatever you put in front of them; whenever you put it in front of them.  I personally believe this sentence is given for layers of interpretation.  First, we are in the last days, and those who do ‘have’ are certainly obsessed with eating, so much so that the ‘diet industry’ is making a fortune off of those who are trying to keep  on eating yet look more slim.  They literally want their cake, and to eat it too.  But, also, the ‘consumption’ of spiritual junk food is run amuck in our day.  We ‘take in’ far too much bad information, ideas and images that go against the design of G-d, and we just keep on doing it.  We ‘feed’ on it incessantly, instead of consuming HIS WORD.  It is no wonder we have an epidemic of adultery and fornication, divorce, alcoholism, homosexuality, transgenderism, drug addiction and deaths, suicide, and on and on.  Our spiritual diets are fattening us for the day of slaughter, and no one wants to ‘step back’ and take an assessment.  Right thinking is all but gone!  

The next statement of note was: “You have condemned and murdered HaTzadik, and yet he does not resist you.”  This would appear at first to have been written only to the lost.  But, we MUST remember, it is OUR sin, MY sin [insert yourself here] that nailed Him to the tree!  Further, Sha’ul reminds us that anyone who continues to LIVE IN SIN after he has tasted of the heavenly gift TRAMPLES the BLOOD of  BEN HaELOHIM under foot, and spurns the covenant of that shed blood. [Ivrim 10:29]

We are indeed in the “Akharit HaYamim,” and have been for 2,000 years.  But, we who live now are at the end of the end.  Yes, there have been so many wing-nut, false prophets who have caused many to be jaded, crying ‘wolf’ about his return and making the community of faith look foolish at times, but, that does not detract from the hard truth that Messiah is about to come back.   Our scriptures predicted that people would be jaded due to false prophets wrongly predicting His Return [2 Tim 2:18], and also about those who mock as a result of that!  [2 Peter 3:3-8]  As a matter of fact, Yeshua Himself said that He will come in such an hour as ‘you think not.’  Is it possible that that hour, that moment, people have finally given up on His Return, precisely because they are jaded as a result of the confusion of false prophets and lukewarm believers?

His return is indeed at hand.  How soon?  I’m not certain, but I refuse to be jaded and numbed by all the junk out there, and end up not being prepared.  I am looking forward to this Purim, the next celebration on our calendar, more than I ever have.  Writing that little Megilah has done a lot for me, and I anticipate His coming with great excitement, and cannot wait to reinvigorate those who come to the Shpiel with more understanding of where we are, in the “Latter Rain.”