Hashkama #47 - Be of Good Courage
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 24:4-5)
The world and much of the Church today are bereft of truth. Today’s world is built upon lies, deception and propaganda, and that is not anything new; it began in the Book of Genesis and in the Garden of Eden.
Almost fifteen hundred years ago, a wandering monk called John Moschos described the Eastern Mediterranean as a “flowering meadow” of Christianity. The religion of Jesus of Nazareth— Yeshua HaNazarei Vemelekh HaYehudim—had been born here nearly 600 years before but while, in the early years, it had been a persecuted, militant cult, under the patronage of the Byzantine emperors it had matured and mellowed.
A somewhat “Greecianized” Christianity was now flourishing right across the region. The days of persecution had passed and no intolerant tyranny menaced it; no other religion contested its right to grow and prosper and develop in different ways. “The Eastern Mediterranean world was almost entirely Christian” in Moschos's day, William Dalrymple wrote in his 1997 book ‘From the Holy Mountain’. “At a time when Christianity had barely taken root in Britain… the Levant was the heartland of Christianity and the centre of Christian civilisation… The monasteries of Byzantium were fortresses whose libraries and scriptoria preserved classical learning, philosophy and medicine against the encroaching hordes of raiders and nomads [and] the Levant was still the richest, most populous and highly educated part of the Mediterranean world.” How things have changed—in the Middle East and in the rest of the world Christianity is now the most maligned religion, and Christian’s are the most persecuted group. Interestingly, while nations are turning against the followers of Jesus, Messianic Jews have received recognition in Israel, and the Supreme Court there has determined that a Messianic congregation in Jerusalem should receive the same full tax exemption as a synagogue. Also, for the first time, the ancient Masoretic text of the entire Hebrew Bible has been translated into Modern Hebrew. Hagefen (The Vine) a family business and publishing company run by believers in Yeshua (Jesus) from the north of Israel completed the project after twenty years. How wonderful that the Word has returned to Israel in modern Hebrew of today; and how we look to the Word made flesh returning to the land and people of Israel!
Christianity eventually came to Britain’s shores and spread throughout the land. Our Constitution was based upon Scripture; the Magna Carta arose from a Christian vision that assumed God’s existence; but now we are turning our backs on all of that which made us great, and the cracks are beginning to appear and widen as a spiritual and moral fracking is taking place. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel wanted a king like the other nations. They stopped wanting what God wanted and rejected Him as their King. There has been a reversal in the world since those days. The nations have got rid of their kings. My own nation, Great Britain does not want what God wants. Britain now wants to be like the nations around us. We dropped swearing an oath on the Holy Bible in our courts. We are working on ridding ourselves of the House of Lords and of the Monarchy itself. We no longer want to be a Britain-under-God; we would rather be Europeans-under-the-EU. It is no longer about God. It is all about man, and we know where that is taking us! If Christianity is taught in our schools at all it is done along with a load of worldly religions as though they are all worshipping the same God. Richard Dawkins continues to argue that religion has no place in the 21st Century. Secularism insists that nothing good comes from religion, but in reality it is our Christian heritage that has provided us with the free and open society that we have enjoyed until now—encouraging people to question and reason for themselves. Loathing and denying the truth that God has given us in Creation, leading atheists invoked what has come to be known by sociologists as the secularization thesis. They tell us and want us to believe that modern countries eventually turn their back on spiritual belief. That as people progress they become less religious. However, the leading sociologist Mary Douglas announced the death of the secularization theory in 1982 in an essay that began with the words, “Events have taken religious studies by surprise.” Even prominent proponents of secularization like sociologist Peter Berger have now abandoned the theory since the world is plainly becoming more religious not less—but not necessarily Christian. But—the Window of Heaven has not closed and we still have a window of opportunity to bring change!
Leaders in the West have demoted religion and Christianity in particular as being an irrelevance; and in some instances, an offence against the prevailing establishment. The Church has lost its prophetic edge and has become a non-prophet Body, with, it appears, many profit-making false prophets that create for themselves a land flowing with milk and money. They are what I call Errorists or “spiritual terrorists” causing eternal damage in the lives they touch and destroy with their false teaching—Terrorists without the “T” because their victims are not always aware of the damage that has been or is being caused to them, and they may not wake up to the fact until the Day of Judgment itself, when it will be too late. It is important to test the teachings one chooses to sit under to see whether it is from God, and you do this by turning to Scripture not to the false teaching of the false prophets; not turning to the teaching of the cults, and not turning to Rabbinic Judaism as some are doing. There are Judaizes amongst the Church today, and they can be as fierce and as demanding as they were in the First Century.
The world and the Church needs to see those like Samuel who was fearless in speaking to men about God; and in the Christian Scriptures or New Testament we have the example of Jesus Himself.
“And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the LORD and with people.” (1 Samuel 2:26)
Looking at the life of Samuel we see the contrast between himself and some of the leaders in the Church today. In 1 Samuel 12, Samuel is giving his farewell speech to the people of Israel.
“I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.” (1 Samuel 12:2-3)
The people’s response to Samuel’s discourse was: “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.” (1Samuel 12:4). Samuel did not prosper at the expense of his people. The Prosperity Gospel didn’t come from his lips or teaching. But, you did see it practiced by some of the sons of priests and prophets. Eli’s sons and Samuels’s sons for instance. They were worthless men and didn’t follow the ways of the Lord, and had no regard for the Lord. The Prosperity preachers of today are not following the ways of the Lord and are of a similar brood of vipers as the sons of Eli.
With regard to Jesus we read: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures was the Bible of Jesus. He lived by it and He quoted from it, and He taught and explained it.
There are church leaders in place that do not believe in the Old Testament and that have no understanding of Israel. God’s revelation is that through Israel, the world would be blessed. Much of the Church has grabbed salvation, gripped hold of Jesus, but dropped out-of-sight and out-of-mind the people that Jesus came from, the culture into which He was born, and the people that Jesus is coming back to. For these leaders, the Bible is a book full of memorials but no memory.
In conversation we often hear how pastors and leaders do not understand that God has not finished with Israel. They do not understand about God’s promises and covenants. Instead of bemoaning this fact, should we not do something about it?
We do not like to admit it, but Christians have become followers. We are followers in the sense that we follow Jesus, but there was a time when Christians led in the world of science, literature, music, medicine, the Law, the Arts, education, politics and so forth. We seem now to have settled for what is. Churches have leaders that don’t believe in what they are there to confess. Universities teach false science and false religion and much more besides that is untrue, yet we send our kids to these establishments and expect them to come through untarnished. We have given way and surrendered our powers of reason to the powers of this world. It is in our hands to bring about change. Time undoubtedly is running out, but there is still the opportunity to bring change.
The Palestinian’s are using education to teach lies and falsehood, hatred and violence to their children. Our Universities in the UK (some of them) appear to be using their establishments to promote not only false science but Anti-Semitism. If Christians were to put their minds to it along with their resources, they could raise up Bible schools and Bible colleges where truth is taught. Not just part-truth but the whole truth.
Major Ian Thomas had a vision back in 1946, and today there is the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torch Bearers, and Capernwray Hall in Carnforth, Lancashire where thousands of young people have come from all over the world to study God’s Word. Major Thomas served as an army surgeon during the Second World War. He sent his wife a telegram asking her to attend the auction and to bid for Capernwray Hall. Joan Thomas’ Bible reading for that day was Psalm 31, and take note of verse 8. For a minimal amount Capernwray Hall became the property of the Thomas family. That same evening—September 11th, 1946—they read Psalm 31 again, paying close attention this time to the last verse – “Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your hearts all ye that hope in the Lord.” Those attending Capernwray over the years since have including helicopter pilots, ex-nuns, jockeys, future diplomats, nurses, computer programmers, plumbers, teachers, carpet-layers – people from every land, background, and tongue. They have gone there for holidays in a Christian setting and environment; and they have gone there to study the Word of God.
It takes faith, vision, courage, commitment, hard work and discipline. It takes a people that want to make a difference. The debris from The Fall has filled the earth. The earth needs those that will go out and clean it up with the Word of their Testimony and the Blood of Jesus. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
We could, under God putting our faith into action, bring into being something along the lines of Capernwray Hall, drawing in people from around the world to be taught the truth as found in Scripture concerning Israel and the Jewish people. Bible schools and colleges could be set up not only in the UK but in Europe also. That is a thought for prayer and consideration—do we look at ourselves and say “we are just a small group”? Or, do we confront the obstacles and come against them “in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” Or, as Jonathon said, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few.” (1 Samuel 14:6). Reese Howells and Ian Thomas were just ordinary people doing extraordinary things as they walked with the Lord. Their work survives today. The Bible College of Wales in Swansea has, from the beginning, understood and taught from Scripture God’s purposes for Israel. Not many Colleges do that; and to my knowledge, none of them study the Word of God from a Hebraic perspective.
Both these men built up their work when the world was in a state of turmoil. Reese Howells and those in the College spent many hours interceding concerning Hitler’s war ambitions and the Nazi advances against the nations. Major Ian Thomas came out of World War II and set up the Capernwray School. There are now Bible schools in Germany, Austria, Spain and Albania, and besides those the Torchbearers are established in at least eleven other countries. The work and ministry that Ian Thomas began has really flourished. Our world today is in turmoil; but instead of coming out of a world war, we appear to be entering into greater darkness. It is a challenge to us to move in faith.
Jesus drew all ages to Himself while He walked the earth. The Church is now His Body and is here to obey the Head. Why are the young people not drawn to Jesus in our time? I am speaking particularly of the UK. We say we want to reach the young, and to teach them from a Hebraic/Biblical perspective so what are we doing to tackle this situation? Are we so absorbed with understanding the truth intellectually that we are not producing the life? Jesus attracted people by being Jesus. He described Himself not only as the Truth, but as The Way and the Truth and the Life. Liberal Christianity has lacked all three dimensions, and the result is we have an elderly, lifeless, rudderless Body today.
Reinhard Bonkke attended the Bible College of Wales where he was inspired by the Director Samuel Rees Howells (the son and successor of Rees Howells). Bonkke has gone on to evangelize nations winning many to Christ. As I have already indicated, The Bible College of Wales was founded and established by Rees Howells. He was a man of faith, prayer and intercession; and a record of accounts from 1939, shows that the college’s income, mostly resulting from gifts, matched its expenses down to the last penny. The college has continued throughout its lifetime to rely on God for all its needs.
Rees Howells was the sixth child of eleven, and at the age of twelve, he left school to follow in his father’s footsteps as a miner. However, even the remote town of Brynamman began to change when Wales experienced a revival in 1904 and 1905. Along with many others, Rees was caught up in this powerful move of God.
George Muller was another man of great faith working with children and young people. God worked in the lives of the faithful then, and He is the same today. When we trust Him He supplies all our needs. (Philippians 4:19)
“Be strong! Be of a good courage! Do not be afraid! Neither be dismayed: for the Lord your God is with you…” (Joshua 1:9)
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
chazak ve ématz
Blessings and shalom,