Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, September 4, 2022
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
The Believer’s Labor Day by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Tomorrow, September 5, is observed as Labor Day in the United States. This day might seem to be an oxymoron, such as “jumbo shrimp.” On Labor Day, many Americans cease their labor to rest or play. Of course, the real meaning of the day is not to engage in extra labor, but to show appreciation for those in America who labor for or who have labored for our nation. Without America’s workers, our nation would have ceased to exist long ago. Look at everything in the room you are in. Every item has been designed and manufactured by workers, using raw materials obtained by workers, transported by workers to worker-staffed stores, and so on.
In today’s RR, I wish to discuss a few comments about God’s labor and the Believers who labor for Him. Tomorrow, why not show appreciation for America’s laborers AND God’s laborers? You are a Believer because one or more of His laborers loved you enough to tell you about Yeshua HaMashiach.
HISTORY OF AMERICA’S LABOR DAY: In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September to recognize the social and economic achievements of the American worker. American workers, numbering in many millions of men and women, have added immeasurably to our strength, prosperity, and well-being. In 1894, the U.S. Government enacted legislation to make Labor Day an official national holiday.
COMMANDMENT TO WORK FOR GOD’S “LABOR DAY:” Whatever job you and I have now or have had in the past, God has a more important job for us (Matthew 9:35-38): Now Yeshua was going around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.”
We are the workers in God’s harvest field of lost souls. Our labor is to help harvest lost souls for God’s Kingdom. Our work for Him should never cease. Unfortunately, though, the labor of many of God’s workers has ceased or has become so lackadaisical that it is ineffective.
God desires the Gospel to be spread to all nations, as a precondition of Yeshua’s return (Matthew 24:14): [Yeshua said] “This Good News [the Gospel] of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Yeshua reinforced this plan through His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20): [Yeshua said] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Yeshua apparently anticipated a shortage of workers, judging from the preceding Scripture (Matthew 9:37-38): Then [Yeshua] said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.”
In 2019, I wrote RRs about Yeshua appearing to people in foreign lands (commonly Muslims), asking them to accept Him as Savior. Some Internet reports may be found at: Jesus appears to non-Christians in dreams and visions at DuckDuckGo . Missionaries report that they go into villages in which no one has ever mentioned the Gospel, and, as they begin to teach about Yeshua, villagers smile and say something like: “Oh, Jesus (Yeshua). Yes, He came to one of us in a dream. His message was shared to the whole village. Now, we are all Christians (Believers).”
These events have been reported too many times not to be true. In “Biblical times,” holy persons or beings appeared to people to transmit messages from God. God’s plan will not be thwarted because we Believers are too lazy and to unconcerned about others’ salvation to spread the message so passionately believed by Paul (1 Corinthians 2:2): For I [Paul] decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah– and Him crucified.
Can it be that Yeshua Himself feels the need to spread the Gospel throughout the world because time is drawing short before His return and we “Laodiceans” are not evangelizing others? Does the Lord of the harvest (God) lament the scarcity of workers in His harvest field? Who among us are missing in God’s harvest field? I sadly confess that I am missing.
In the 1980s, the Ford Motor Company launched an advertising campaign based on the slogan, “Quality Is Job One.” Spreading the Gospel is “Job One” for Believers. Since this is a Labor Day RR, I will stick to “Job One.” There are other things, commonly based on love for the Father, for neighbors, and for fellow members in the Body of Messiah, that we should follow. I will save these other “jobs” for another RR and discuss only “Job One” (spreading the Gospel message to the lost).
A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY: Our creation is based on times and seasons. Some of these seasons affect our work for Adonai:
● All workers, whether secular or spiritual, have a time to start work and a time to stop. God’s workers are assigned times to work and live life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8): For everything there is a season and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to discard; a time to tear apart and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
● God’s workers must work in the proper season (Proverbs 10:5): He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. In God’s spiritual ”agricultural” season, we are now nearing the end of Summer. In Summer, we need to toil to cultivate lost souls. Soon will come Fall, and the harvest of those lost (now saved) souls will occur, when Yeshua returns to call His followers home.
WAGES FOR GOD’S WORK: A worker deserves and expects payment for his/ her labor. God’s workers receive no earthly wages, but expect heavenly wages (Matthew 6:19-21): [Yeshua said] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
“Treasures in Heaven” will be paid at the Bema Judgment (the Judgment Seat of Messiah). This Judgment establishes the Doctrine of Rewards.
Believers differ in their interpretation of when this will occur. One view is that the Judgment will occur in the first part of Daniel’s seventieth shabua (a seven-year period) immediately after the Rapture/ Resurrection and before the Marriage to the Lamb. During this shabua, important things will happen in Paradise (the Bema Judgment, the Marriage to the Lamb, and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb). During the same shabua, tragic things will happen on Earth (the Tribulation, rule of the Unholy Trinity, and run-up to the Battle of Armageddon).
I have presented above a brief overview of the pre-tribulation theory of the first stage of eternity. I would explain other interpretations (other theories), but, try as I may (and I have tried), I simply do not understand them. (I can confidently reject the preterism theory. Good grief!) The timing and melding of various Scriptures into a logical narrative fit only the pre-tribulation theory, in my little mind. Sorry. Study other interpretations (other theories) on your own.
I do not argue these theories with anyone. God is in control. If I go to Heaven, I do not care about the timing (pre-, mid-, post-tribulation) of my departure. It is like taking an airplane trip to England. I just want to get there safely. I leave the details of the flight to the ground crew, pilots, air controllers, and others to get me to my destination (even if there is a delay in the trip). I do not try to go into the cockpit to advise the pilots how to fly the plane. I leave details of my trip to God, without kibitzing Him how to get me there.
Some Heavenly “wages” God’s workers may expect include:
Crowns: In the B’rit Chadashah are mentioned at least nine “crowns” (special rewards) that can be awarded. There may be more crowns, but listed crowns include:
● The Crown of Rejoicing for Soul Winners (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20);
● The Crown of Righteousness for Those Who Love Yeshua’s’ Return (2 Timothy 4:8);
● The Incorruptible Crown for Victorious Lives of Purity (1 Corinthians 9:25, 27);
● The Crown of Life for Believer Martyrs (Revelation 2:10);
● The Crown of Glory for Faithful Servants (1 Peter 5:4);
● The Crown of Life to Endure Temptation for the Love of Yeshua (James 1:12);
● The Crown of Joy for Converts (Philippians 4:1);
● The Crown for Faithful Perseverance (Revelation 3:11); and
● The Elder’s Crown (Revelation 4:4, 10).
Adornment of wedding garment: Believers who go to Heaven will be spiritually wed to Yeshua. In several passages, Yeshua is referred to as the “Bridegroom,” and we Believers are referred to as His “bride.” For example, see the Parable of the Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Here, wise virgins (Believers) are betrothed to their bridegroom (Yeshua), who is away (in Heaven) preparing a place to live. This parable reflects the Jews’ first-century marriage customs. After betrothal, the bridegroom went to his father’s village to prepare a home for his bride. He would be gone, on average, one year. He would return to the bride’s village, unannounced and usually at night. He would all out her name and request for her to come out and meet him. The reunited bride and bridegroom would travel to the bridegroom’s village for the wedding and wedding feast. Then, the marriage would be consummated and they would live as husband and wife.
To Jews in Yeshua’s time, purity (virgin status) of the bride was of utmost importance. The betrothed bride, a virgin, would keep company only with other virgins (hence, Yeshua’s Parable of the Virgins). They would keep each other morally straight. For the only time in a Jewish woman’s life, she would wear a veil, signaling to any other suitor that might visit her village that she was betrothed and wished not even to speak to a young man. How times have changed!
During the year she spent apart from her bridegroom, she prepared for marriage. She, typically a young teenager, learned cooking, sewing, and housekeeping skills from her mother.
Even then, as is common today, she wanted a beautiful wedding garment. During the year she was separated from her bridegroom, the bride sewed and decorated her wedding garment. We spiritual brides of our Bridegroom Yeshua will want beautiful wedding garments. Our labor for God and others provides the beauty of our garment (Revelation 19:6-8): Then I [the Apostle John] heard something like the voice of a great multitude– like the roar of rushing waters or like the rumbling of powerful thunder– saying, “Halleluyah! For Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him! For the wedding of the Lamb [the Bridegroom Yeshua] has come, and His bride [Believers] has made herself ready. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and clean! For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the kedoshim.” Comment: Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot = “Lord God Almighty” or “The Omnipotent God.” Kedoshim = “holy ones, saints.” From one of Yeshua’s parables (Matthew 22:11-13), we are told of the significance of a man not properly attired in a “wedding garment.” In the Greek text, this attire is called ἔνδυμα γάμου (transliterated, endyma gamoo || pronounced, EN-doo-mah GAM-oo || translated “wedding garment”).
You are now preparing the wedding garment you will wear at the Marriage of the Lamb. Just as the first-century bride was meant t be an innocent virgin, we twenty-first century “brides” should remain pure for our Bridegroom (Ephesians 5:27):Messiah did this so that He might present to Himself His glorious community– not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing, but in order that she might be holy and blameless.
SIDELIGHT: We debate (unnecessarily, in my opinion) whether “works” or “faith” is more important. Jacob (“James”) wrote eloquently about the two in Jacob (“James”) 2:14-26. Read this passage ( James 2 TLV – Honor the Poor Person – My brothers and – Bible Gateway ) to understand that works and faith are interconnected, with one proving and amplifying the other. This passage concludes (Jacob [“James”] 2:26): For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. END sidelight.
GOD’S RETIREMENT PLAN: After years of labor, all workers hope to be able to retire. I have been retired a number of years now, and it is a relief not to have the burdens and stress of work. My wife has created a very peaceful home environment for us, and I am grateful for these sunset years.
All Believers surely know of their “retirement plan.” After years of toil (and, possibly, persecution) for God, God’s faithful workers enjoy the fruits of their labors– eternal life in Heaven. Yeshua promised to prepare homes for Believers in Heaven (John 14:2-3): [Yeshua said] “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be.” Comment: Some translations (King James Version, for example) have Yeshua promising to build ”mansions.” The Greek text presents our future homes as μοναὶ (monai), which is merely “dwelling places” (as properly translated in the Tree of Life Version). I am not trying to downgrade anyone’s “mansion.” I suppose even the most modest “dwelling place” in Heaven will far surpass anything we can now imagine. If we, perhaps, have the entire New Earth and New Heaven to explore, we may choose not to spend much time in any “dwelling place.”
Read Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. The Apostle John was afforded the great privilege of viewing New Jerusalem (Heaven). He only had a brief glimpse, but he was overwhelmed by what he saw. Think for a few moments. Heaven will be far greater than anything ever experienced on Earth. Constraining laws of physics may be altered or abolished. We may be able to move about by thought travel (if you wish to be on the other side of New Jerusalem, think about your destination and you are there). We may communicate by thought, even over long distances. We may have senses now unknown to us. (We may be able to taste sound, hear light, or smell a magnificent aroma of rocks). Who knows? The Apostle Paul, quoting Tanakh prophets, wrote (1 Corinthians 2:9): But as it is written, “Things no eye has seen and no ear has heard, that have not entered the heart of mankind– these things God has prepared for those who love Him.” Happy retirement!
FINDING PURPOSE IN LIFE: Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), has been called “the greatest humorist the United States has produced” and “the father of American literature.” Of many memorable quotes attributed to him, I wish to refer to a seldom-heard quote; “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
If you are reading this RR, you have already completed one of your important days– your day of birth. Have you yet realized your second important day– learning the “why” of your existence?
Many persons live an entire lifetime and never learn why they exist. As an old man, I now wonder why I exist. I have failed God and others so often, why am I still allowed to exist? If you do not know why you exist, may I suggest that you (and I) refer to the Bible? Scriptures clearly teach that God creates every one of His children for a purpose. Our purpose is to worship and serve Him. How? One way is to heed Yeshua’s prayer (Matthew 9:38): “Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.” Are you a worker God may need in His harvest field?
If the Lord of the harvest (God) wishes to send you into His harvest field of lost souls, roll up your sleeves and use Isaiah 6:8 as the example for your willingness to serve: Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying: “Whom should I send, and who will go for Us?” So I said, “Hineni. Send me.” Hineni is a Hebrew phrase, meaning, “Behold” or, more commonly translated, “Here am I.”
Great leaders in the Tanakh have responded to Adonai’s call with Hineni– “Here am I.” Examples include: Abraham (Genesis 22:1), Moses (Exodus 3:4), and Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1). Adonai also answers Hinneni, when we search for Him (Isaiah 52:6, 58:9, 65:1).
If Adonai calls you to work in His harvest field, will you answer, “Hineni– Here am I?” If you refuse, you will not derail His plan. He will seek and find another worker. This worker will receive the blessings and rewards you should have received, but which are forever lost for you. You probably are like me. I have tried to hire an electrician, plumber, or other craftsman, only to find he is too busy to accept the job. Needing the work done, I kept calling until I found someone who could accept the job. The job was completed. The alternative worker who came to my house– not the worker too busy for me– received the reward (my payment for the work). Adonai has a “big list.” If you are too busy for Him, He will call someone else. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha,
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 04-Sep-2022 8th of Elul, 5782
De 21:10-21 Joel 3 2 Ch 3-4 (Jn 19) Heb 9:1-14