The words of Psalms 119 verse 67 are the testimony of many Messianics (those who believe in Messiah Yeshua and keep His Torah). Certainly this verse includes me:
Before I was humbled, I wandered away, but now I observe your words. (ISV)
My personal testimony is hinged to Yeshua’s words in John 14:23: “if you love me you will keep my word….” This was my first life scripture. Satan tried many ploys to dislodge me from my new experience with Jesus, the name by which I knew him in 1973. But it was not to be for another 34 years before I started to understand Yeshua’s “word” was Torah. It was the other end of the verse that I clung to in 1973, “…and my Father will love you and we will come to you and make our abode with you.” These were the words in a paperback Living Bible that was my rock in the storm of unbelief that raged around me.
This word, empowered by the Holy Spirit, prevailed. Satan did not steal away the treasure planted in my spirit. The sanctification process was underway, for which I’m eternally grateful.
I did not wander away from God’s word on purpose or even with knowledge. But I did wander away. Somehow I thought Yeshua’s statement, “if you will keep my word” meant some nebulous collection of his statements preserved in the New Testament. I had no concept that his word had been delivered 1500 years earlier than his earthly ministry; that it began at Mt. Sinai. Nor did I understand that during his earthly ministry, Yeshua filled that word (law/Torah) full of deeper meaning. Not knowing this fact and being unfamiliar with what had been recorded by Moses in the first five books of the bible, my understanding was closed.
The psalmist says, “before I was humbled.” My humbling experience was not a single incident — it was the culmination of many small revelations. It came as an humbling when I realized what I had been missing. God did not chasten me in ways that I saw. When the reality of Torah, its power and purpose, started being revealed to me by the Spirit, I was humbled.
Humbling is an important experience for each believer. This is especially true of the Messianic–when he becomes aware of his unique “one-new-man” status, being neither Jew nor Gentile but being an entirely new species of human. The Messianic’s revelation of obeying Torah and keeping Sabbath opens his spiritual eyes to a new lifestyle of blessing. Pride invariably becomes a temptation, despite the reality that this insight is a gift from God and not of human power. Yeshua warns against this spiritual/relational attitude in Matthew 23:11-12:
11 The person who is greatest among you must be your servant.
12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
This exhortation and warning is especially relevant to the Messianic, as the temptation to judge those who do not have my revelation is strong. The requirement to walk humbly as a servant should characterize the correction and instruction we bring. Out of zeal to promote truth, it is easy to issue a demand for change, rather than offering a servant’s earnest appeal. It doesn’t mean a firm word is not brought. Instead it defines the heart attitude with which it is brought: with respect and a desire for the advancement of God’s Kingdom and the concern for another. The charge of “pride” will be a most common response when the Messianic tries to share his revelation with someone who is comfortable with his present spiritual life and who resists change. Truth is, it is probably not entirely a false charge, and humbling comes as we let God assess us. Personally, I have received some wonderful revelation from some seemingly flawed people. Therefore, I cannot require my mentors be totally free of pride themselves, but I must let God convict me of the same. My sin is personal to me!
Yeshua’s strongest reproof was for those who came from a haughty place of position and hard heartedness. Verse 13 follows the humble-servant verse above:
13 “How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You don’t go in yourselves, and you don’t allow those who are trying to enter to go in.” (ISV)
It doesn’t take much imagination to think how you can “shut the door to the kingdom. You don’t have to be a scribe or Pharisee to come from a position of superiority with a hard, condemning word and a judgmental heart. Listen for the door to slam shut. The sound will be quite distinct in your spirit at first, but if you do not heed it, your ears will become dulled, and the sound calling you to humility and repentance will grow dim.
My Messianic brethren, let’s go on a restricted diet of eating humble pie. It won’t be tasty going down, but inside, it will be sweet and the Kingdom will benefit.