UNLESS YOU HAVE A COMPLETE SPIRITUAL TURNAROUND
These 52 lessons to be printed out and copied and used in weekly Torah studies by believers and Messianic Congregations.
It says in one verse of Scripture that when people break faith with Hashem, the hand of Hashem Himself becomes the great peril of such a faithless and deceitful people. So when people try to explain the Bible and speak about being “saved,” someone invariably asks, “Saved from what?” And the Biblical answer that we don’t often hear from preachers is “saved from the hand of Hashem.” Look at Joshua 22:31…”because you have not broken faith with Hashem, you have saved the Bnei Yisroel out of the hand of Hashem.” Accordingly, in Joshua 7:1 we see the hand of Hashem striking a man with a faithless and deceitful heart. This is foreign to much modern preaching. Preachers often preach that one has to be saved from an unblessed life or from some other negative consequence. But the texts just cited teach that we have to be saved from G-d Himself. Who preaches that? Who preaches today what Jeremiah preached in the 6th Century B.C.E., that man has a deceitful and faithless heart which kindles the burning fury of the true and living G-d (Joshua 7:1). G-d requires repentance (teshuva) and a total spiritual turnaround.
The Moshiach called a little child and set the child in front of everyone (Mt 18:2). To be fully spiritually transformed (we are not talking about a mere external religious conversion from one religion to another religion), to be fully spiritually turned around and changed with the true spiritual turnaround that G-d wants, I have to yield to that child, I have to let that child who still lives…not just in a childhood photograph, but in the heart… I have to let that child lead me back to Moshiach Ben Dovid, the Holy One of Israel.
The Moshiach called a little child and set the child in front of everyone (Mt 18:2). In the audience was Shimon Kefa, not fully in touch with Moshiach, not fully in touch with his “inner child.” For our text says that “unless you become as a little child…” So today Moshiach wants to set the child in you in front of you (Mt 18:2).
When I was a child my mother took me to be photographed on my 12th birthday. I have that photograph in front of me now. There I am with my dog, a certain child-like trust in my eyes and a certain lack of “adult” craftiness in my face, a certain indefinable lack of “adult” mockery and cynicism still gleaming in my eyes, not yet having experienced the jadedness that comes with the loss of innocence. The Moshiach wants to call to that little child in you and in me (Mt 18:2). Can our memory summon him or her forth today in reponse to the summons of Moshiach, His Call to you in the Spirit? The Bible says to think about whatsoever things are pure and the L-rd wants to use that child to take you back to the purer childhood world he once knew.
Oakland City, Indiana. I see a wonderful yard. My memory shows it to me now. I look up at the window above the porch and see a light. It’s morning but the sun hasn’t come up yet. I hear my dog barking. The child’s dog. I want to go behind the house and look for the child’s things. Things perhaps meaningless now but very important to him then. His bicycle, his boomerang, his pogo stick. And then the voice of Mother calling to get dressed for Sunday School. I can hear her voice. And then suddenly the child in my memory is in that little suit and he’s in Sunday School with the other children and I remember the face of my Sunday School teacher, Pauline Chapman, the scar on her forehead, the smile, the intensity around her eyes. I remember in her eyes almost a kind of strange anxiety. Anxiety for her spiritual charges, me one of them. As a child I used to study her face, knowing some holy mystery was written there. There was a palpable holy fear of G-d in her eyes. The child in me is looking at her face still. But the adult in me is not fully turned back to Him. I’m like Simon, Shimon Kefa, and Satan desires to have me. He wants to devour me, to sift me, to find an opening in my thoughts, but G-d wants me to think about whatsoever things are pure. He wants me to let that child in my memory take me back to Sunday School when I was 12 years old, before the Fall. Before Satan in alliance with my idolatrous flesh destroyed the Garden of Innocence that once was. It says Moshiach called a little child, Matthew 18:2. For you see, this child was closer to the L-rd. This child was NOT yet under the sway of Satan. This child’s heart was still tender in the House of the L-rd. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see G-d. The adult boasts in himself and boasts in his status and boasts in his religious knowledge, but the child knows he has no status, he is just a child. The adult is jaded and cynical and self-secure and irascibly questioning and hard and stubborn but the child has not yet entirely fallen from the Garden of Innocence. The child still has ears to hear the call of the Zoon foon Der Oybershter (Yiddish: Son of the Most High).
And that inner child G-d is calling today. It is true that Satan wants to devour us but G-d is calling the child in us to come back to Him. The adult in you is not fully converted back to that child. The child in you can lead you to a full and complete turning of yourself to the Moshiach Ben Dovid. The child had a deeper heart knowledge of the L-rd and that child can introduce you to Him again. The child can show you how to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The child can take you back and show you how to hold on to that Sunday School teacher’s hand with the fear of G-d in her eyes, that tiny Bible you were given, that grace of G-d you experienced. For we are also told to “hold on to G-d’s grace” (MJ 12:28). The G-d of all grace is calling to that child in you today. The G-d of all grace wants to share His eternal glory with you (IK 5:10). The G-d of all grace wants truth in the inward parts. He wants a complete turnaround in you. Moshiach wants this child in you awakened so that He can turn the heart of the child back to Himself, perfecting holiness in the fear of G-d (2C 7:1). G-d does not want to deal with the wiley and stubborn and crafty and manipulative adult hypocrite with the religious spirit. Satan plants his thoughts but the little child craving like an infant the pure milk of the Word, praying in the Spirit, resisting with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of G-d, will be led to green pastures, like David the Shepherd boy.
Unless the grain of wheat dies and is buried in the ground, it cannot bear fruit. Fred had a son. The son of Fred went to visit his aunt Freda. Aunt Freda owned a tavern and was an adultresses who did not know she had only ten years to live. The first time the son of Fred visited Aunt Freda, the son of Fred was only four years old. The son of Fred noticed on that visit that the bartender in Aunt Freda’s bar was also named Fred like the son of Fred’s father. And when the son of Fred came back for a return visit at age eight, he was surprised to see that when Aunt Freda’s husband left for work in the morning, bartender Fred showed up every morning exactly thirty minutes later to spend the day with Aunt Freda. But when Aunt Freda died two years later and the son of Fred was taken to her funeral, he was surprised again, because bartender Fred was nowhere to be seen near Aunt Freda’s body in the casket in the funeral home. Now after three visits to Aunt Freda the son of Fred was ten years old and a few years later the son of Fred was working behind the counter like bartender Fred in a restaurant and was hardening his heart and acting very much like amoral bartender Fred. The son of Fred was acting very much like the son of Fred. And later on when he had a mid-life crisis he was acting like Fred again. Now here is what Moshiach says, Unless you hate your son of Fred life in this son of Fred world, you cannot be his disciple. You cannot be a son of Fred and also a reborn son of the Father. And unless you change inwardly and have a complete spiritual turn-around and become like a trusting, humble (children had no status) born again child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. If you come into the holy Kehillah of Hashem and you haven’t had a complete spiritul turn-around and you corrupt the spouse of a brother or sister, then look out because Moshiach Adoneinu when He comes in the glory clouds will be the avenger in this matter (1Th 4:6). What does a kehillah do when a person like this who can’t see his son of Fred sin walks in the door?
Nothing will change with him until he is gently and lovingly helped to see his sin. This is serious because a man who could see neither his sin nor his Savior forfeited chayei olam (Mt 19:16-22).