by Barry Phillips
Venturing into the world of credentialed ministry was an eye-opening experience for a naive, idealistic young man like myself, and I quickly found my principled foundation a bit shaken. Sitting in Minister’s Meetings and around meal tables with men in suits, with titles and esteemed reputations, should cause the novice to feel a sense of inclusion and elevation. I did indeed find seasoned men of renown who were worthy of their reputation. They guarded their words, prayed with devotion and sincerity, and genuinely wanted to help those within their reach. I also encountered those with a different agenda.
When one has studied to show themselves approved, taken the test and passed, they may have the moment of accomplishment sealed with the placing of the framed certificate on their wall. They can look at the script, the shiny seal of authenticity, their name in bold letters and breathe deep in satisfaction. The accompanying title gained lengthens their name and can be used to immediately garner a raised eyebrow of respect when being introduced. The terms Reverend, Bishop, or Rabbi can open doors, afford acquaintance with those in high standing, and solicit privileged benefits. Such titles can also encourage elitism. The holder of such a title may be convinced that they are entitled and that they should be held to a different, more lenient standard. The unspoken yet acknowledged perception is that esteem and honor bestowed to clergy gains one a more favorable standing in Yah’s eyes. Sometimes such men actually believe that.
So the naive novice stood among the ranks of the professionals, discerning the difference between those who served with a sense of humility and those who sought the prestige of their official status. Behind the scenes, away from the crowds and lofty pulpits, how would the beat of the young heart steer his dreams and visions? Would he preach a word that drew the fillers of pews, or would he patiently seek to grow basic folk into mature pillars of stability? What would be his agenda?
In Matthew 8:2-4, Y’shua encounters a Metzora, a man afflicted with Tz’ar’at, commonly translated as a leper. This actual malady is not Hansen’s Disease or leprosy but rather an ailment of the skin that is rooted in a spiritual deficiency. The common rabbinical explanation is Tz’ar’at is caused by Lashon Hara/Evil Speech/Slander or Gossip. The classic example is Miryam, Moshe’s sister, who chided and spoke in negative fashion about her brother and was subsequently covered with the skin disease. So the man who stood before the Messiah had been guilty of separating others with his words and was now likewise separated from society. His speech had not pitied others and likely drew very little pity then from those who met him. His guilt was as obvious as the sores on his body. What would Y’shua’s agenda be with him?
“Master, if You desire [if You want to], You are able to make me clean. And stretching out His hand, Y’shua touched him, saying, ‘I desire it. [I want to] Be cleansed!’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
I rarely fail to weep when I read that passage. I am struck by the compassion and yearning of Y’shua to not only declare the man healed and cleansed, but to also stretch out His hand and actually touch one so diseased. His agenda was not to remain aloof and distant from that which would compromise His standing and dignity. Rather it was an agenda of Hands On Restoration. If we are to follow His example we must do more than raise up a call and shout at a crowd. We must stretch out our hands and get them dirty enough to realistically meet someone’s need. Such people fill our paths on a daily basis if we are willing to recognize them, but there is one group in particular that I want to mention. Those returning to Tzyion/Zion; the Lost Sheep of the House of Yisrael.
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 52:7-8 “How pleasant upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims deliverance, who says to Tzyion, ‘Your Elohim reigns!’ The voice of your watchmen! They shall lift up their voices, together they shout for joy, because eye to eye they see the return of YHWH to Tzyion.”
These who see that YHWH is returning those lost and cut off from Yisrael, bringing them back home, will also see that this rag tag bunch is a possible poor sight at first glance. They are indeed like the Metzora in that they have obvious sins. They have engaged in idolatrous and pagan practices. They have maligned the commands of Yah Himself. They have warred against their brother Yehudah, the Jews. Those who see their restoration have every reason to resist the Hebrew Refugees from returning. But the prophet declares that they will rejoice and shout for joy, seeing eye to eye, sharing the same agenda with YHWH. We must learn to rejoice at the sight of those coming home. Remember that the Prodigal in Luke 15 came home smelling of swine, filthy and unkempt. We might have held our nose and called for soap and water but the Father fell on his neck weeping with joy, kissed, and adorned him like a prince. Why does He do that? Because He wants to. He desires to cleanse them and bring them back home.
He will indeed need you and I to take part in His Hands On Restoration for people who are broken and wandering, seeking the way back to Tzyion. It’s not enough to throw out teachings and calls, but we will be required to stretch out our hands. They hear us, but can they sense our compassion without our touching them? A man who had not been touched in a long time felt Y’shua’s hand on him. He was never the same again.
If we are to see eye to eye, in agreement with Y’shua and share His agenda, we must be willing to do the same. This means not only sharing the message to the Last Days Restoration of the House of Yisrael, but also walking with those who are learning, guiding them through the long process of seeing a different paradigm than what they had been exposed to. People have issues. They’re angry at religious systems, frustrated with professional men of title, and struggle with others who don’t understand their new journey. They need the hand of one who has compassion and a gentle touch to encourage them. They need their sores healed, not just diagnosed.
We have a tall order and challenge. Let us see with Y’shua’s eyes, seeing eye to eye, changing lives and offering Hands On Restoration.