Holy Provocateurs—YHVH’s Human Agents to Wake People Up
From the beginning of time, YHVH has raised up secret human agents and sprinkled them—like grains of salt in a wound—in various places at various times to be his mouthpieces to warn humans to repent of their sin and turn to him. These divinely appointed pot-stirrers have been thorns in the sides of both sinners and YHVH’s lukewarm saints. They are his agent provocateurs slipped into the ranks of humanity to incite, provoke and stir humans to action. Are you such a person, or do you know someone like this, who, quite frankly, is nettlesome and irksome to be around? Whether we like it or not, these individuals are simply YHVH’s mail carriers, carry his message of repentance to a sin-sick world.
These agents, who are part of the Creator’s secret service, are unusually zealous and passionate for YHVH. Their mission is to warn people away from evil and to encourage, no, rather irritate them toward him. These people have never been popular, but have typically been barely tolerated by their contemporaries, if not outright hated and rejected. Typically they are loners and have few if any friends. At the very least, they have been nettlesome thorns in the sides of those around them, and at the most have been hated, despised, hunted down and even killed, while often being viewed as a pariah and anathema to society. The problem is that this is their calling and mission, and they cannot run from it. They are YHVH’s divine mail carriers, and to reject them is to reject the Creator himself. Such biblical holy provocateurs whose divine mission was to warn people of impending judgment and to call them to repentance include such notable biblical personalities as Noah, Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Stephen and, most notably, Yeshua the Messiah himself. Despite their unpopularity, these provocateurs have been significantly impactful at chiding, if not scaring, people toward repentance and a more holy, Elohim-centered spiritual walk.
Elohim’s provocateurs are often viewed by those around them as holier-than-thou kill-joys, legalists, Jesus-freaks, Bible thumpers, religious fanatics and zealots, and the list of pejorative terms thrown at them goes on and on. It boils down to this: If you can’t deal with the sin issues in your life, then project your guilty conscience onto the preacher who is calling you to account by labeling him or her with some derogatory epithet. In this way, you somehow justify your sin by transferring onto them your anger as you resort to ad hominen attacks. As a longtime pastor, I witnessed the employment of this tactic countless times by disgruntled congregants. If they could not argue against the biblical Truth you were preaching, then they would attack you personally by criticizing your style of preaching, the length of your sermon, your hairstyle, how hard the chairs were or how hot the building was in summer…and when they had exhausted their arsenal of verbal grenades, off they huffed to terrorize another pastor and congregation somewhere else.
All of this is because YHVH’s provocateurs have the dubious distinction of acting as a sort of societal conscience and moral compass as they go about constantly telling people to turn away from sin and the idolatrous pleasures of this mortal existence and to turn back to the true north of YHVH’s Truth. They passionately declare that the love of this world is enmity with Elohim, and their call to turn away from the mortal, sinful pleasures that are the heartbeat of sinners and to lukewarm saints, and to turn to righteousness and holiness is a perennially unpopular message.
Not everyone is called to the ministry of being a heaven-sent secret agent provocateur, and very few people understand much less appreciate the role that these troublesome individuals play in YHVH’s spiritual economy. Moreover, why would anyone choose to be a divine thorn in the side of humanity? Such people only become targets for hatred, derision, scorn, mocking, rejection, persecution and even death. Who in their right mind would ever choose this as a spiritual vocation?
And being a provoker has never been a popular job. Only a smattering of people have will every heed the divinely mandated warnings of these provocateurs. These human hammers in the hand of the Almighty to smash the hard rock of the sinner’s heart (Jer 23:29) are in the company (though not at the same level) of such biblical giants of Noah, Elijah, John the Baptist, Yeshua, Stephen Paul, and the apostles and all of the other prophets. Even Yeshua’s own brothers rejected him until after his resurrection which was undeniable proof of his divinity.
These provokers never chose this calling; rather, YHVH chose them and compelled them to fulfill their mission to warn those around them. Till the present time, he has had such people sprinkled all over the earth, strategically positioned in all social stratum and geographical locations. They are there to warn sinners to repent, and on judgment day, no one will be able to accuse Elohim of not warning them.
The following is a list of Scriptures that refer to such people whose divine mission is to stir up, provoke, incite, irritate (involving contention and disputation) one another to love and to good works as per Hebrews 10:24, which is the flagship passage of this teaching. There we read,
And let us consider one another in order to stir up [i.e., to provoke, irritate, incite] love and good works…
To be sure, some of YHVH’s provokers are more salty than others. As we all know, salt in a festering wound, though a cleansing agent, can be a painful irritant. With this in mind, Yeshua declared of his disciples,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matt 5:13)
Yeshua also commanded his disciples to confront sin (Torahlessness) within the fellowship of the saints. In other words, the saints are to hold each other accountable against the template of high standards of YHVH’s Torah-Word.
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)
Paul instructed Timothy to,
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Tim 4:2)
Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. (Tit 2:15)
Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1 Tim 5:20)
Of his own ministry, Paul wrote,
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in The Messiah Yeshua. (Col 1:28)
Of the unsaved in general, Paul said,
One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. (Tit 1:12–14)
To the saints, the apostolic writers penned these instructions,
For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. (2 Cor 9:2)
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. (1 Tim 5:14)
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. (Jude 1:22–23)
There are times when YHVH’s people may even want to hear what the man or woman of Elohim has to say, but then refuse to heed the warning. Ezekiel faced this challenge when confronting the errant people of Judah.
“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from YHVH.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezek 33:30–33)
In reality, most people neither want to hear nor obey the warning words of Elohin spoken through the lips of his provokers.
And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” (Isa 6:9–10)
Both Yeshua, Isaiah the prophet and Paul the apostle were all consternated over those who were either unable or who outright refused to hear their words of warning.
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “YHVH, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF YHVH BEEN REVEALED?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HARDENED THEIR HEARTS, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of Elohim. (John 12:37–43 cp. Isa 6:9–10; Acts 28:27–28 cp. Rom 11:8)
Even Yeshua still has a hard time getting through to those who are content in their state of spiritual sleep and lukewarm complacency.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev 3:19–20)
Why do people refuse to hear?
That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, children who will not hear the law of YHVH; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” (Isa 30:9–10)
At the root of man’s refusal to obey the Word of Elohim is his stubborn and rebellious sin nature.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But YHVH weighs the hearts. (Prov 21:2)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer 17:9)
Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim; for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please Elohim. (Rom 8:7–8)
If YHVH has called you to be a provoker, you likely cannot escape this calling. It is futile to do so; Jonah tried and his fate is now an epic tale. This is in your spiritual DNA and it is who you are. Others will not understand your passion or sense of urgency to warn YHVH’s people. But do not be discouraged. You will reap if you faint not. Many others have gone before you, for as we read in Hebrew chapter eleven, there is a higher reward that awaits you that will make the uphill struggle to confront darkness in all of its many permutations here and now worth it.
[Many divinely mandated provocateurs have gone before us] who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, Elohim having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Heb 11:33–39)