Have you ever noticed how easily others become offended when you tell them why you are Torah-observant? It isn’t necessary to say in so many words that they are ‘wrong,’ or ‘blind’ or ‘deaf’ or ‘disobedient!’ Just the fact that you say you believe in keeping YHVH’s Sabbath day is all it takes for them to be offended. Tell them you observe the Feasts or have chosen to follow His dietary instructions and watch them become defensive, aggressive, abusive or silent. I don’t think we should be surprised by this reaction. He said if we became His people, we too would be rejected. But, we are to be living stones. We are to become like the One who is described as a precious cornerstone, and a rock of offense. He is the stumbling stone. How do we share the ‘rock of offense’ without offence to others?
We are instructed to be like him; learning to walk as He walked. He was the living stone, and so must we be!
“As you come to him, the living stone who was rejected by people but was chosen and precious in God’s sight, you, too, as living stones, are building yourselves up into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, so that you may offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Yeshua, the Messiah.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
“This is why it says in Scripture: “Look! I am laying a chosen, precious cornerstone in Zion. The one who believes in him will never be ashamed.” Therefore he is precious to you who believe, but to those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, a stone they stumble over and a rock they trip on.” They keep on stumbling because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:6-8)
Who Stumbles on the Rock of Offense?
So who is stumbling? According to Peter’s letter, those who stumble are those who disobey the Word. Of course, those who are ‘disobedient’ are offended by those who are trying to be obedient! Are we kidding ourselves when we believe we are ‘obedient’ when we are not patient, long-suffering, kind, gentle, etc.,…you know…all those fruits of the spirit we are supposed to get when we become His children?
Let’s look at both sides of this. Might the defensiveness that we observe in others be their own embarrassment? They might not be angry at you! You just happen to be ‘in the way’ (pun intended). Anything you do that is different from them points out how different our beliefs are!
It could be a conviction from the Ruach that they are not really walking out their faith! They point fingers and quote scriptures that they think will end the argument. Very often they are only isolated verses that are taken out of context. They try to provoke you to debate.
In their offence, they try to put you on the defense. But, Peter says that we who believe in Him will never be ashamed. (1 Peter 2)
We also learn from Proverbs that those who are wise will listen, be grateful and love you for your correction. Those who are mockers (take lightly the Word of Instruction from the Father) will hate you and not listen!
Proverbs 9:8 Don’t rebuke a mocker or he will hate you. Rebuke a wise person, and he will love you.
Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds a father’s correction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
So, we need to be careful how we proceed. Are they mockers? Or are they lost sheep?
What about Those who Say they Love YHVH?
According to Proverbs, those who are wise will welcome your instruction. Maybe you won’t be around to see the dime drop, but it isn’t about you anyhow! Are you concerned for your brother, or are you just trying to be ‘right?’ Are you trying to build up disciples for Him, or exhibit your superior knowledge? Don’t let pride get in the way of instructing others with love.
“Now we who are strong ought to be patient with the weaknesses of those who are not strong and must stop pleasing ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building him up.
For even the Messiah did not please himself. Instead, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written long ago was written to instruct us, so that we might have hope through the endurance and encouragement that the Scriptures gives us.
Now may God, the source of endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other as you follow the Messiah Yeshua, so that with one mind and one voice you might glorify the God and Father of Yeshua, the Messiah.
Therefore, accept one another, just as the Messiah accepted you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:1-7)
I am learning that it is not my call to make, nor am I able to judge between who is truly seeking the Father, and one who is just a pain in the (stiff) neck. Seems to me that what we really need to identify is our hope ‘through the endurance and encouragement that the Scriptures give us.’
Guess we all need to chew on that one a while.
So, how do we respond?
How are we to respond to those who are ‘offended?’
It is human nature to want to counter an attack with a volley of your own. Then we have dueling scriptures, or worse! Sometimes we allow the ‘discussion’ to devolve into an argument of ‘tit for tat’ that seeks to destroy the argument, but also seeks to destroy the person who is not on the same page!
Sometimes, being ‘right’ trumps being ‘kind.’ Sometimes ‘winning’ the argument means ‘losing’ a friend. In Peter’s letter he said, “you, too, as living stones, are building yourselves up into a spiritual house …”
How do we Build a Spiritual House?
What are the fruits of the spirit? According to Galatians they are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-3)
Are any of these ‘fruits’ a recent phenomenon? Are we to infer that only the New Testament ‘church’ has had access to these character traits? I submit that is impossible! Every one of these spiritual gifts was manifested in the Old Testament.
Didn’t Abraham have faith? Didn’t David exhibit joy when he danced before the LORD? Didn’t Ruth show love to Naomi? Wasn’t Job long-suffering and patient? I could go on and on… We stumble when we think that all of these spiritual gifts were absent from the patriarchs. Just as we have always had grace, we have always had access to the Father’s spirit. The Spirit is what animates the Words written in stone. It is the spirit of Torah that imparts these gifts. In other words, understanding and doing His instructions speaks directly from His spirit to ours!
So, if the words written in stone communicate the Spirit of YHVH, when we accept and do those instructions we are following the spirit of the Law. Put another way, we are being led by His spirit when we follow His Torah! It gives life to our walk.
We are all on a journey to become more like Him. Paul tells us we must die to our ‘self.’ So, if we understand that Yeshua is the Torah made Flesh, and He is called a living stone, then when we are obedient to Torah in our flesh (that means Doing it, not just contemplating it), then we too become Living stones!
One might even say we become a spiritual stone!
What better way to build a spiritual house than by using living stones!?
We become ‘living stones’ when we have the Word written on our stony heart. Isn’t that the real key to Jeremiah’s words?
“Look, days are coming,” declares the YHVH, “when I’ll make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke my covenant, although I was a husband to them,” declares YHVH. Rather, this is the covenant that I’ll make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares YHVH. “I’ll put my Law within them and will write it on their hearts. I’ll be their God and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-3)
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: (Ezek 11:19)
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26)
He will place in us His LAW, written on our stony hearts, and give us a new spirit: a heart of flesh. Before we go off half-cocked and start beating folks over the head again to follow Torah, notice Ezekiel says that it would be ‘one heart.’ Unified! We will be Unified in the Spirit that is His Law written on our hearts!
If we still have a stony heart, then maybe we need to work some more on becoming a living stone. I am not saying to compromise one bit on the truth. You will offend people! Expect it! Just remember that we are to be righteous…not right. Behave as living stones. Then we shall be like Him.