Who are “workers of iniquity” and what is their fate?

Illustration depicting a set of cut out letters formed to arrange the word sin.

Matthew 7:21–23, What is the will of the Father? In verse 21, Yeshua makes reference to “the will of the Father.” In Hebraic thought, to what is he referring here? What is “the will of the Father”? Keep in mind that when Yeshua gave this teaching the only Scriptures in existence were the writings of the Tanakh, and the first five books of Moses in the Bible, were the central teaching document for the Jewish people—the nation of Israel. Therefore, we would be expected to find “the will of the Father” to be revealed in the Word (or Oracles) of Elohim originating from heaven and delivered to man. The will of the Father was revealed at Mount Sinai and was the reference point of all the Hebrew prophets who were constantly charging the people of Israel to return to the ancient paths of YHVH’s Torah (Jer 6:16, 19; 18:15). As we see in Psalm 40:8, the will of Elohim is nothing more than delighting in obeying the Torah from one’s heart—something this psalm prophesies the coming Messiah would do. 

Yeshua, the Living Word or Torah (instruction, precepts, teachings) of Elohim, came to set Torah on a firm foundation (the whole point of the Sermon on the Mount, as we have seen) by rescuing it from the hands of the hypocritical, greedy, arrogant and self-righteous religionists of his day. Yeshua said in John 7:16 that his doctrine or teaching was not his own, but that of his Father in heaven and that those who do the will of the Father will recognize that his doctrine or teaching is from the Father (verse 17).

In John 7:19, Yeshua asks the Pharisees: “Did not Moses give you the Torah, and yet none of you keep [do, perform] the Torah?” What is the summation of what Yeshua is saying here? He is telling the people that he came to do the will of his Father, to bring to them the oracles or doctrine of the Father as given at Mount Sinai (called the Mosaic Covenant), and that these words are not his and that, basically, he is simply a messenger transmitting his Father’s words to the people—the very words of Moses, which he accuses the people of not keeping or obeying.

This was the message of Yeshua to the people in his day. Is this not a relevant message to the Christian church of our day, which teaches that the Torah-law of Moses is of little nor no relevance to Believers? The idea that Yeshua came to abrogate the Torah-law of Moses is difficult to comprehend in light of such Scriptures as John 14:15, a direct quote from Exodus 20:6, where Yeshua equates himself with YHVH who spoke at Mount Sinai. (See also 1 Cor 10:4.) Do you comprehend the full impact of this? Yeshua, whom the Christians call Jesus Christ, is the very one who spoke out from Mount Sinai and the one who gave the Torah-law and led the Children of Israel through the Wilderness. It is this Torah-law that Yeshua came to uphold and restore as we have seen by our study on the Sermon on the Mount.

We see that many religionists will claim to be followers of Yeshua, but what separates the true followers from the counterfeit ones is whether they are doing the will of YHVH or not. Many will be prophesying in Yeshua’s name, casting out devils and doing many miraculous works in his name, but this is not the proof that they are his. What is the proof? He says in verse 23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”

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The Adulterous Woman, Yeshua, the Cross and YOU

Numbers 5:11–31, The adulterous woman. This passages deals with a curious ritual involving wives suspected of adultery called the Law of Jealousies whereby the woman is hauled before the priest, her head is uncovered and, according to Jewish tradition, her dress is ripped open just above her breasts (b.Talmud Sota 7a). She then has the choice to drink a concoction of earth from the floor of the tabernacle mixed with the set-apart (kadosh) water from the bronze laver into which is dipped a piece of paper that contains the curses written on it. If she is guilty of the charges of adultery when she drinks the bitter waters, her belly shall swell and her thigh (Heb. yarek or side or loins,which are the seat of procreative power) shall rot as a result of a divine judgment. If she is guiltless, the bitter waters will have no effect on her. If she refuses to drink the bitter water and her husband still suspects her unfaithfulness, then he is free to divorce her, even though she has admitted no guilt. According to Jewish tradition, this legal procedure was carried out by Israel’s highest court in Jerusalem (Sota 7b).

Some biblical commentators see a parallel here between the adulterous woman and the trial and execution of Yeshua at the cross. After only a casual reflection on the issues, this may seem unlikely. But ponder this for a moment. Did YHVH liken his relationship to Israel as a marriage? (See Ezek 16.) Did Israel (both houses) remain faithful to her (their) marriage covenants? (See Ezek chapters 16 and 23; Jer 3; the entire book of Hosea.) Under the Torah, adultery was a capital offense (Lev 20:10). Was YHVH faithful to his marriage covenants with Israel? Of course. He is not a sinner (i.e., a violator of his own Torah, 1 John 3:4). With whom was the fault then? It was with the house of Israel and the house of Judah! (See Heb 8:7–8.) Have we all sinned (violated YHVH’s Torah) and fallen short of his glory? (See Rom 6:23.) What are the wages of sin? (See Rom 3:23 and Ezek 18:4.)

“But I am a Gentile Christian, not an Israelite,” you may respond. “Neither I nor my ancestors was ever an Israelite who was spiritually married to YHVH. Therefore, I am not guilty of spiritual unfaithfulness. I have not broken any marriage covenants with YHVH.” In response, first, who did Yeshua come to redeem? (See Matt 15:24.) Are we all not likened to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? (See Isa 53:6.) Did not Paul equate Gentile believers with the house of Israel? (See Rom 9:25–29 and compare with Hos 2:23; Isa 10:22–23.) Who did Jacob prophesy that the descendant of Ephraim and Manasseh would be? (Read Genesis 48:14–16.) In this scripture passage, Jacob speaks of a Messenger from heaven who redeemed him from all evil, he makes the sign of the Paleo-Hebrew letter tav over his grandsons, which is the sign of the cross. He then speaks of them growing into a multitude in the midst of the earth, or becoming like fish in the sea of humanity (see the Orthodox Jewish ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash/Tanach translation of this verse). Who are these descendants who have the sign of the cross, the fish as their symbol and speak of a Redeemer or Savior? Spiritually speaking, are you not that adulterous woman? Furthermore, does Paul not clearly state that ALL those who have put their trusting faith in Yeshua the Messiah are Israel and Abraham is their father? (Read Rom 4:16; 9:8–11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28, 29.)

Now that we have established this point, let’s ask the next question. At the cross did Yeshua bear upon himself all of our sins? (See Isa 53:4–6.) Did he even bear upon himself our guilt for committing spiritual adultery? Did he die in our place by becoming like the adulterous woman that we were? Was the crucifixion like drinking a bitter cup for him? (Matt 26:39,42; John 18:11). Was Yeshua hauled before the highest religious court in the land of Israel in Jerusalem to stand trial prior to his death? (See Matt 26:57–68.) Was he stripped of his garments? (See Matt 27:31.) Was his side ripped open by the Roman soldier’s spear? (See John 19:34.) As a substitution for us, he took the curses against us for adultery that in times past would have been written down on paper (Num 5:23). In light of this, what does Paul say in Colossians 2:12–15, with special emphasis on verse 14, that Yeshua did with those curses against us? For those who are washed in Yeshua’s redeeming blood and have been buried with him in water immersion or baptism (Col 2:12 cp. Rom 6:3–11), does the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren, have any charges to lay against us any more? (Read Col 2:15!)


 

What We Can Learn from Jonah, the Mixed Up Prophet

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25 Life Principles the Book of Jonah Can Teach Us

  • When YHVH gives you some specific and direct marching orders, don’t disobey him no matter how difficult or distasteful they may seem to you. You may not pleased with the unexpected consequences of your disobedient actions. Jonah found this out the hard way.
  • Before pointing our fingers at Jonah for declining the mission YHVH had given him, how many of us have done the same no matter how small or large the assignment?
  • When we disobey YHVH (i.e. sin) instead of peace and tranquility, YHVH brings storms into our lives to redirect us back to him.
  • When YHVH tells us to do one thing, and we want to do something else, we, at this time, must bring every thought of ours captive into obedient compliance to our Messiah (2 Cor 10:5).
  • When we rebel against fulfilling a divine mission, YHVH will pursue us to get us back in line with his perfect will for our lives.
  • Sin and rebellion puts us into a spiritual state of sleep, so that we’re oblivious to the consequences of our actions upon us and those around us.
  • We cannot hide or run away from our sin and rebellion. It will be exposed, even if YHVH has to use heathens and strange circumstances to do so.
  • Only when we humbly confess our sins and repent will the storms of YHVH’s judgment cease and the sea of life made calm.
  • Jonah, to his credit, owned his sin and took full personal responsibility for it without blaming others or making excuses. He didn’t want others to suffer for his folly. He was willing to accept the consequences of his sin. Because of this, YHVH showed him favor, prepared a fish to swallow him, and then gave Jonah three days in the fish’s belly to ponder his errant ways.
  • When in a place of trouble and distress, Jonah prayed and expressed his faith in YHVH. When facing distresses in our own lives, how often do we fail to cry out humbly to our merciful Father in heaven?
  • The eyes of YHVH are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. (Ps 34:15)
  • The righteous cry out, and YHVH hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. YHVH is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but YHVH delivers him out of them all. (Ps 34:17–19)
  • We should be ready and willing to pray anywhere at anytime. Jonah prayed in the belly of a fish. What excuse do we have for not praying no matter when or where in our time of distress?
  • Jonah was a spiritual backslider, yet he repented and YHVH heard and accepted his prayer. Jonah’s example should be an encouragement to any backslider no matter how grave the sins he has committed against the Creator.
  • As Jonah’s three-day tenure in the fish’s belly was prophetic of Yeshua’s time in the grave, so Jonah’s “resurrection” from the depths of the sea points to the resurrection of our Messiah as Yeshua himself so declares in Matthew 12:40. Jonah’s faith in the Creator along with his “death” and “resurrection” points sinners to the Messiah who alone can save us from the sting of sin which is death. Our only hope of victory over death and the grave is through Messiah and the resurrection from the dead he promises to those who are his.
  • Upon repenting of his backsliding and being mercifully delivered from certain death, Jonah humbly submits to YHVH’s mission to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jonah had to repent of his own sin before he was meat for the Master’s use. Jonah accepted the yoke of his mission, and fulfilled his mission with great boldness. When YHVH gives us a mission, we must be bold to fulfill it faithfully and without hesitation. We must be willing to go when and where and to whom he tells us. We must faithfully  do exactly as he has commissioned us, to proclaim what he has commanded us and nothing more or less.
  • When YHVH gives you a prophetic word for someone, don’t let your personal emotions cloud your perspective. Don’t forget that you’re merely YHVH’s spiritual mailman who is delivering his mail, not yours. Period. Jonah let his anger for Nineveh (Israel’s mortal enemy) cloud his judgment.
  • A prophet must accept his divine mission without any preconditioned biases against the message’s recipient and must remain as emotionally neutral and unbiased as possible. He should focus only on fulfilling his mission as YHVH wishes and remain impartial and personally emotionally detached, so as not to pollute the purity of the divine message.
  • No matter how many miraculous things YHVH does in a prophet’s life, and no matter the magnitude of the message, the greatness of the recipient of the prophetic word, or the importance of the mission, a prophet needs to stay humble (small in his own eyes) before YHVH.
  • Prophetic words of judgment are always conditional upon the recipient’s response. If they refuse to repent, the word will come to pass. If they repent, YHVH will relent and the judgment will pass.
  • The Ninevites wholeheartedly fasted, prayed and repented of their sin, and YHVH in his mercy spared them. This is the key to averting YHVH’s well-deserved judgment upon individual sinners and a sinful nation.
  • Don’t wish harm on others no matter how evil you think they are or how much you think they deserve YHVH’s judgment. At all times, orientate your heart and thoughts to that of the Father. He is merciful, gracious, patient and longsuffering and so should we be. His mercy triumphs over his judgment.
  • Don’t wish judgment or destruction on your enemies. If you do, YHVH might spare your enemies and bring judgment on you just to teach you humility. We all deserve YHVH’s judgment, and were it not for his merciful grace, where would any of us be? Instead, we must seek the well-being of our enemies through their repentance and salvation. The missionary of YHVH must pursue his divinely inspired endeavors with a heart of love and mercy that overshadows any personal feelings he may have to the contrary. This is getting in tune with and acting out the heart of our Heavenly Father.
  • Jonah, in not being pleased over the Ninevites’ repentance and YHVH sparing them judgment, evidenced his own self-righteous pride toward the heathens. After all, YHVH had miraculously and mercifully delivered him when he was a backslidden sinner. For Jonah not to show the same grace to the Ninevites that YHVH had shown to him was a manifestation of prideful hypocrisy. We must be quick to extend the same mercy and grace to others that YHVH has shown to us. After all, YHVH loved us all while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8)!
  • The conversion of sinners should bring the saint great joy, not sullen anger as occurred with Jonah. In this situation, he manifested a despicably carnal and rotten attitude!
  • There are few things as repugnant as a saint who falls prey to his base and carnal passions. In this case, Jonah was acting like pouting, puerile prophet who instead of being joyful at the salvation of sinners wished ill on them. Yeshua declares that the angels in heaven rejoice at the salvation of one lost sinner, yet all Jonah could do was to manifest a vindictive spirit.
  • Jonah was a conflicted prophet who spewed both sweet and bitter waters from his mouth. He was a true prophet of Elohim who manifested some truly noble and saintly character traits, to be sure, but he was conflicted in that he had not conquered some of his most carnal and base passions. Such prophets are a liability to the kingdom of Elohim. When in tune with YHVH’s Spirit, they are capable of much good, but when under the control of their own perverse, moody and sinful nature, they are perhaps a greater liability to the kingdom of heaven then they are an asset to it.